Monday, June 24, 2013

Shabby Chic scarves - Group shot

I have been busy snipping and stitching new mixed fiber scarves again... just can't seem to get enough of these! I'm trying to build up my inventory for our annual Open Studios Tour at the end of August. I have posted a couple of pix recently, but thought I would take a group shot of what I have done so far:
As you can see, they come in many sizes and colors.

I'm working on number 7 as we speak, and have loads of fabrics and yarns waiting in the wings... or all over the floor to be more exact!
Below is the scarf I'm currently working on... snippets of fabrics, yarns and ribbons sandwiched between layers of Sulky solvy, a water soluble stabilizer.

Once again, I must give credit for this wonderful technique to my blogging and FB friend, Sherrie at "Sherrie Loves Color!"  If you go to her blog and do a search on scarves, you will find many of her posts about her technique, and fabulous examples to inspire you!  Thanks again, Sherrie...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Which one?

For the past 4 or 5 years, I have participated in the annual Flagstaff Open Studios Tour... a two-day event with an average of 75 artists who participate at about 40 studio locations.  To kick off the event, we have a 'Prelude' Exhibit at the Coconino Center for the Arts, starting with an Opening Reception.  This year it will be Saturday, July 27th.  Each participating artist is allowed to show one piece, representative of their artwork to allow patrons to see their art and decide which studios they would like to visit during the Tour... we are spread out all over Flagstaff and the county, so it's a challenge for patrons to get to all the studios!
Having said all that, I have been working for several months on two fiber art pieces, thinking that one would be suitable for the exhibit.  I finished them both yesterday, and now I have to decide which one I will submit:
"Snippets and Squiggles" is done using raw-edged applique, machine and hand stitching with a few buttons as embellishments.  I stitched it directly to batting, then zig-zagged the outer edge.  It is mounted on gallery wrapped black canvas.  Dimensions are 16" x 20", mounted.  Fabrics are a combination of commercial prints and hand dyed fabrics.

"Carnival" is a batik fabric that I have embellished with hand stitching and beaded accents.  The batik fabric was backed with solid color fabric, and I fused the outer edges, then mounted on a 12" x 12" gallery wrapped black canvas.
I have not yet determined what price I will be asking, but each piece took at least 20 hours from beginning to end.
I would love to hear input from anyone who wants to give me their opinion.  Right now, I'm leaning toward "Carnival", because I think it has more artistic merit.  But whichever doesn't go into the gallery will be offered during Open Studios, so they will both be available.  I just know that a larger crowd will see whatever I put in the gallery.  I'm very glad to have 2 to choose from, and that I have finished them so soon.... now I have time to beef up my stock for Open Studios, as well as a slew of other things I'm working on!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gelli-Art prints with thickened dyes

As promised, I did some experiments  with thickened dyes, using my new Gelli-Art plate.  The instructions caution that using dyes with the plate could stain it, but since I'm a dyer first, a printmaker second, I decided it was worth a try... I was not disappointed!  First a confession... I used some thickened dyes that have been stored away for between 6 months and a year, so I am not sure how well they will bond to the fabric... I will see how they wash out.  Their thickness ranged from almost runny to one that had the consistency of jellied cranberry sauce... quite a range!  Here's the story:
My work area set up... the fabric is muslin, pre-soaked in soda ash solution and dried.  Then I used a dry iron to press out the excess wrinkles.

Here is some of the dye I rolled out onto the plate with a brayer... notice how it kind of shrinks, leaving a natural pattern?  This didn't happen as much with the thicker dyes, but I did think it was interesting! 

This was really interesting, and I took a print from it... came out nice!
This is the back of the fabric as it lay on the plate.

Here, I used a texturizing tool to create a pattern.

My first two prints - the bottom is the print of the plate shown above.

I have placed a glob of the thickest dye on the plate here - I brayered it out, then texturized it below.

Here are the last 2 prints.... I like them a lot!  And as I said, the dyes did not stain the plate.  I cleaned it off with water and a little hand soap, then dried with paper towels, returning it to its original package.  My next step will be to mix some fresh dyes with the new Superclear thickener I just bought from Dharma Trading... I think I will get more consistent results thickness-wise, and hope the colors of the dyes will stay vibrant.  

Day 2 of printing with thickened dyes
I was going to mix some fresh dyes, but decided to continue with what I already had on hand:
Here's a shot of the plate after I spread some Robin's Egg blue dye over it.

Day 3's Green print  overprinted with the Robin's Egg blue

I cleaned the blue off the plate, and loaded with thickened Fuchsia, then brayered it... again, the dyes shrink back from the plate, leaving interesting patterns.  But I had wanted to use one of my stamps to create a design, so I attempted to stamp before covering with my fabric.

You can barely see the stamped design... 

This is one of the dark pieces I printed yesterday... now it has mostly fuchsia blended with it, but I really like how it looks!
Here, I used  golden yellow and fuchsia, leaving them side by side. 

I took another of my prints from the previous day and overprinted with the yellow-fuchsia combo...
Above is the back of the print, and below is the front.  

And finally, I over printed the last piece from the first day of dye printing, using fuchsia and the same texturizing tool to cross over the original print.
I wrapped the pieces in plastic, jelly-roll style, and batched for about 24 hours.  Here they are after I laundered them:
The Robin's egg blue came out quite a bit lighter, as did the green.  The other colors held up well, and I'm very pleased with the result.  I will definitely be using my Gelli-art plate with thickened dyes again in the future!

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Gelli-Art experiments

I posted here a few days ago about my new Gelli-Art printing plate, and wanted to keep you posted on my further experiments.  I started with acrylic artists' paints on day one.  Today, I did some experiments with Tulip fabric paints I had in my collection, and tomorrow I plan to try thickened dyes.  Also, I am using a stencil and some hand made stamps in today's experiments - the first day, I used some grasses and leaves collected from my yard.  Below are some pictures of my process and results today:
First, I prepared my work area, selecting what paints I might want to use, getting my tools out and creating a stack of fabric pieces to work with.

I dug out my stencils and stamps... even found one rubbing plate, although the others are hiding somewhere!

I decided to use some Tulip Neon Fabric paints in Yellow, Orange, Lime Green and Hot pink.  Did not know until after the first print that they have glitter in them!  Anyway, above is my first print using a stencil from The Crafters Workshop... nice, not too heavy in pattern, and I actually remembered to pull the ghost print (see left side of picture). 

I reloaded the plate, this time adding the hot pink, and selected one of my hand made stamps to do multiple stampings... see photo below for the finished print.

Added more paint, and used another hand made stamp

Love the colors on the stamp!  And darn it,  I forgot to pull a ghost print!  Just about this time, my camera told me to replace the batteries, and unfortunately, these paints dry really fast!  So All I got was the print from the plate.

Here are the first two prints... I like how both of them came out.

This one was disappointing, but it's because the paints dried so fast that they did not adhere well to the fabric... if you look closely, you will see that they are curling on the top of the print.  But I can't blame the plate for that! 

This is a closeup of the first print, to show off the ghost print.
After two days of using paints, I am looking forward to using thickened dyes tomorrow... they stay wet a lot longer, so I'm sure to get some interesting results without having to rush so much!  I have pre-soaked some cotton muslin in soda ash solution, and they will be dry soon.  And I have a fresh supply of thickener to mix the dyes with, so I'd better get to it so I will be ready for tomorrow's session!  Bye for now...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Are we done yet?

I've been working on a free-form art quilt for awhile now, and think I'm almost done... and yet, I see a couple of areas that seem to need something, and I'm not sure what!
I have added some couched embroidery floss and some buttons since the last post... maybe a few more scraps of fabric as well.  Today, I trimmed it and ran a zigzag stitch around the edge.  My first inclination is to mount it on a painted canvas, if I can find one the right size.  I did that here and like how it came out. 

I put a black mat board over it here to see how it would look with a black background.  I could conceivably mat and frame it, but finding a decent frame for a decent price is always a challenge.
Whichever way I decide to prepare it for hanging, I keep looking at the turquoise shape in the lower left quadrant... it seems to need something bright, but I haven't found the right 'something' yet.  I have lime green buttons, some lime green fabric, some bright orange...  just not sure yet!  Hopefully it will come to me soon, as I'm hoping to have this ready for the Prelude Opening Reception in July... meanwhile, I have another piece in progress too, so I may have at least 2 to choose from!  As always, stay tuned...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My new toy!

As you may recall, I am a Resident Artist over at "... And Then We Set It On Fire" which is a blog devoted to learning and using various Surface Design and fiber arts techniques.  This month, Judith DeMilo Brown is hosting, and she and 3 guest artists are covering how to use the  Gelli-Arts Gel Printing  plate.  I have been eyeing these for quite awhile, and this was my opportunity to dive in and get some first hand instruction on how to use them!
As you will read if you check out the posts this month, you can use acrylic paints or craft paints on paper and fabric.  But I am also planning to experiment with thickened dyes, although Gelli-Arts cautions that the gel plates will be stained by dyes.  I am not concerned with that, and really want to try dyes so I can see if they would be useful for dyeing clothing items.  But first, I need to get comfortable using the plate, so this morning, I decided to try using acrylic paints.  I didn't get a lot of pictures... this is a fast-paced technique since acrylics dry so quickly, but I did manage to get some:

Here is my work space.  I decided to use some fabrics from my stash that were various sized, and were probably (but not guaranteed to be!) cotton.  Since I am not using dyes here, I did not have to do any preparation of the fabric other than a quick press to remove wrinkles.  I had gathered some leaves and weeds from the yard to experiment with, but had other items on hand just in case I wanted to use them. 

This is the back of my first piece after I had loaded the plate with paints and placed some of the leaves.

Here is the first print; background is the plate with the leaf clusters still in place.

This is a ghost print of some fox tails in the foreground; in the back is the plate with some new colors waiting to be brayered.

Paint spread on the plate, waiting for the next step.

A print with some netting

  Here are the prints from the first session.  I'm very pleased with the upper right and both prints in the middle.  The others will work for backgrounds, and I'm not necessarily done with the ones I really like!  I will study these before trying the process with craft paints and thickened dyes, but I definitely think I will be doing a lot with my Gelli-Art plate in the coming months!  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Greenhouse and Garden report

I haven't posted much lately about the greenhouse, but there has been much progress since my first planting of seeds April 25th!
The tomatoes were purchased at a local nursery, but were much smaller when I transplanted into their containers.   And the lettuce were the first seeds I planted in April.... really, the lettuce was my main reason for wanting to have the greenhouse built!  I love salads, and wanted to be able to grow my own salad fixings! 
I harvested my first little pile of lettuce leaves this morning to add to my lunch... can't wait to try it out!

The radishes, shown on the right above, were planted in the same time frame as the lettuce.  I may be able to harvest some soon!  On the left are some basil seedlings and bell pepper... both in the early stages of development, but coming along nicely.
Above are some cukes I planted in a raised planter the other day... they spent their formative days in the greenhouse, but the weather is warmer now and they should do well in this environment.  I have them well protected from the prairie dogs and elk, and have a trellis in place to train them on.  Right now, I have a strip of shade cloth clamped to the trellis to protect the cukes from the intense sunlight... we have sun for at least 6 hours a day, and it gets pretty warm!
Yesterday, I brought home some color to add to several planters: 


 It's a start, but I think I'll be bringing more home soon!  Monsoon season will be here before you know it, and then the yard will be bloomin' all over!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Crazed about scarves!

My blogger buddy Sherrie of "Sherrie loves color!" recently blogged about a new scarf she made - you can see it here - and it reminded me that I have been wanting to try making one ever since I saw another of her posts last fall... they are so beautiful, whimsical, very chic!  So, I finally broke down and bought the Sulky solvy stabilizer which she uses in her process, and dug out lots of decorative yarns, pretty scraps of silky fabrics, etc.  I followed her directions, and here is my first scarf:
Some of the fabrics in this scarf are at least 20 years old, but they worked very well in combination with the various yarns I put with them.  I love how it looks, but as I mentioned in an e-mail to Sherrie, the scarf is a little stiff.  I'm guessing I didn't remove all the stabilizer after I finished stitching the piece together.  It's been hand washed twice, but I might try a third time, followed by a textile softener I use when laundering my scarves.  
Meanwhile, I have a slightly different version I'm thinking of trying, although it might not work.  But in preparation, I decided to use up some of my dyes and some cheesecloth:
I want to change the subject briefly here... ever since I started dyeing back in 1998, I have heard from a large number of reputable sources that Procion MX dyes could only be stored for about a month before they would lose their capacity to bond to fiber, and any projects using older dyes than that would end up very faded.  So for the longest time, I would throw away unused dyes that had been sitting for over a month.  I know that professional tie-dyers tend to want their shirts to be uber-vibrant, and I get that.  But since I also do a lot of fabric dyeing for various projects, I gradually began to experiment, just to see how well the dyes did after being stored for longer periods.  The examples above are from dyes that have been stored in the garage for various lengths of time, but of all the dyes, 2 have been stored for over 14 months, and one for over 6!  So if you dye, and have been concerned about using the dyes before they lose their strength, try storing in a cool place away from the light... I know that Dharma Trading's Lemon Yellow and Bright Green fade faster than some of the others, but generally, I wouldn't be concerned unless you absolutely must have a very bright color!  
Back to the scarves... I am considering using the cheesecloth instead of the stabilizer to hold the snippets of cloth and yarn together while I stitch the scarf... only concern I have is because the cheesecloth is so loose-woven, it might become tangled in the machine while I'm stitching.  I'm going to give it some thought before I procceed, and maybe do a very small swatch to see how it acts.  I'll post again when I come up with my next one, and let you know how it turns out.  Meanwhile, thanks again, Sherrie, for all your wonderful inspiration!