Sunday, January 27, 2013

Contrast in fiber

Recently, I posted about some exercises I had done with black construction paper, cutting out shapes and gluing them onto white card stock.  I decided to translate one composition to fabric, and used black fabric fused to a hand-dyed piece of fabric in warm tones.  Here is the original paper design, and the fabric piece:

I had a mat from a frame handy and decided to see how the piece would look framed.  I like how the background glows through the black pieces, and it does tell me that this is a viable way to design abstract fiber art pieces.
I did a second experiment yesterday, this time working from the mountain scene I created based on a photo:

Here's the black and white design

Here's the original photo

Here's the fused fabric.  I'm not that thrilled with how this piece came out.  I think I would get a better design using the black over a color, as I did on the first example shown above.  Either that or use fabrics with more color contrast. I need to give this some more thought!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Another exercise in contrast

After my initial exercises which I posted about yesterday, I decided to try one where I used the black and white to create a design from a photo I took back in 2011 of a distant mountain range.  I love the shot, and have wanted to create a fiber art piece using the photo as my design, but couldn't seem to come up with something that I thought would work.  Yesterday, by using the black construction paper, I was able to simplify the design and like what I came up with.  Here is the original photo:

And here is the black and white design 
It's a step in the right direction.  Now I just need to figure out how I want to execute it using fabric!  But what a great design tool this is... not at all how I thought I would be using it, but that seems to be the direction I'm taking this year... breaking out of the mold, finding new (to me!) tools to help me expand my creative horizons.  Now, on to the next step!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Study in Contrasts, part 1

Beth Berman has captured my imagination again!  She has been posting recently on Mark Making, but she posted about Visual Exercises here the other day, and it really caught my attention... enough to make a special trip to town to buy some black construction paper!  Her black and white shapes brought me back to some exercises my high school art teacher gave us to study shapes, light and dark, basic design.  Well, this morning I cut out a few shapes with my black construction paper, then I decided to glue them to white card stock to study them.  Here's how they turned out:
This one reminds me of an Easter egg... it started out a circle, but by spreading the black pieces out, it changed the shape to an oval.

For this one, I kept the pieces closer together, so it retained more of the circular shape.

This one was a hoot to assemble!  I did my cutting in the dining room, then had to carefully transport all the pieces back to my studio.  Then came trying to reassemble them in the order they belonged before I glued them to the card stock... I almost blew it, but finally got the last few pieces going in the right direction.  I actually assembled this horizontally, but when I looked at the finished piece, I decided I really like the vertical position better.  I look at these, and realize I can use this exercise to help me design art quilts, just based on shape and contrast.  I can't wait to do more exercises, and may go back to get some grey paper to add to the complexity.  I highly recommend this kind of exercise to anyone who wants to clear their creative palettes and have a little fun, while refreshing their brains!  No doubt, I will be posting more exercises in the coming weeks, and I hope to extend the exercise to using one of my designs for fiber art, then I can do a side-by-side comparison... can't wait to try it! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mixed Media Exercises

I am continuing to take baby steps into the realm of Mixed Media.  This morning, I decided to do a little experimenting with textures.  I have some gel medium in my stash from a previous project, and found some items to attach to an unpainted piece of card stock, to get comfortable with using the medium.
I tore a strip from some newspaper I had nearby, and used a small paintbrush to apply the gel medium to the back of the paper, then gently smoothed it down over the card stock. Next, I tore a piece of corrugated cardboard to create irregular edges, then removed some of the kraft paper covering the corrugation to expose the texture.  Again, I used the medium to attach to the card stock.  Then I took a piece of cheesecloth, removed the finished edges, poked holes in it along the length, then positioned it diagonally across the cardboard and paper.  I dabbed the gel medium through it with the brush.  And finally, I took some scraps of the craft paper from the cardboard, rolled them, dabbed the end with glue, then applied a little more to the bottoms, and placed them on the card stock.  I realize this is kind of a bland piece, but again, this is my first step into doing these techniques, and I'm more interested in learning how right now, than I am in creating finished pieces.
Next, I decided to create some 'distressed' papers, with the idea of testing how they work in making grounds for dimensional pieces.  I used newspaper, brown paper bag, aluminum foil, parchment paper and glossy magazine paper.
Wadded up once, then smoothed out. 

More wadding up needed!

Part of a brown bag before being distressed

One of several iterations

Pretty well distressed, with some tearing

This doesn't take a lot... I have had tons of pieces of foil in my past that looked just like this!

Parchment paper after a few rounds

A glossy magazine page.  The photo was pretty busy, so it's hard to see the crinkles to well in this one.
That's all I had time for today, as we are going to town for several hours, but I'm trying to get in at least a little time each day on this.  So you will be seeing more posts soon, as I continue my journey!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Play Time has begun!

Many years ago, I spent a lot of time painting with acrylics.  I am self taught, which means I learned as I went with no formal training.  I painted mostly abstracts and landscapes, and still have most of my paintings.  But after awhile, I found I couldn't paint anymore.  Years passed, during which I began dyeing clothing and fabric, delved into art quilts, and pretty much devoted my creative energies to fiber arts.  But I have found that I still  have interest in other mediums, such as Mixed Media.  Over time, I have come to know quite a few talented fiber artists online who engage in other creative outlets as well... one of them is Beth Berman, a very talented artist in Maine.  In a recent blog post, she was discussing mark-making, and  referred to 'Drawn to Stitch' by Gwen Hedley... you can see the post here.  Well, I decided to order the book, and it came last night.  I have just begun to read it, but I know I am going to enjoy experimenting with the materials and techniques she has written about.
Another source of constant inspiration to me has been Melody Johnson... no matter what Mel is up to, I'm interested, enthused, and longing to play with her in her studio!  She has always been nice enough to reply to my e-mails and comments, and I wanted to share a recent post of hers here about her mixed media experiments.  She is multi-talented, and loves to share what she is doing with readers.
So having given you some of my sources of inspiration, I will proceed.  Yesterday, I picked up some drawing paper and paper palette, drug out my ancient Liquitex acrylics and a series of brushes, and proceeded to do a little experimenting.  Right now, it's all about re-introducing myself to mixing paints and applying them.  The first 2 pictures are of my first 'ground' and the palette paper I used to create a monoprint on the ground to start with:

Interesting note on the palette paper - I had the drawing paper taped to a piece of corrugated cardboard, and I placed the palette paper on top, paint side to paper, then brayered the paint onto the paper.  I got the added bonus of texture from the corrugation, which was a "happy accident"!  I let the initial paints dry some, then went in with paint brush, pencil eraser, and a piece of plywood with paint on the edge to create some marks.  Later, when the paint had dried, I added some marks with felt tip pen, then washed over the piece with paint that was thinned with water.  By no means do I consider this anything other than an exercise, but I'm saving these 2 pieces, because there is a good chance I can use them later as part of a composition.  I like that about the Mixed Media concept... mix, match, blend.
Here are a couple more grounds I did today, using a cool color palette:

Again, just experimenting and playing.  The bottom one is on card stock, which I did not tape to my work board, and as you can see, it's curling.  The drawing papers were taped to the board as I painted on them, and have stayed flatter as they dried.
Finally, in an effort to remind myself that this is mixed media, I decided to throw a couple of pieces of dyed or painted fabrics up on the design wall with them to see if anything gelled.  Not yet, but I'm starting to become intrigued by the possibilities!  Needless to say, more posts are forthcoming.  I do think I will need to break down and add more paint to my collection... my palette is severely limited, so I hope Michael's has a sale on real soon!  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Flip and Stitch set

I had so much fun making the Flip & Stitch table runner that I decided to make a couple of placemats to go with it!  Fortunately, I had enough fabric and batting to complete them.  Here's how they look all quilted and on the dining table:

I hope to think up some more projects that I can make using flip & stitch... I really like how these came out! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Flip and Stitch Table Runner

Recently, I used the 'Flip & Stitch' method to create a carrying case for my new laptop... it had been a while since I had used this method to create anything, and I had forgotten how much fun it is.  So I decided to use that method again when I wanted to make a new table runner for our dining room table.  I had just organized my fabric stash by colors, so it was fairly easy to select a group of fabrics I could use, and I had a piece of batting large enough, as well as some muslin for the backing.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any 'in process' photos, but here's how it turned out:
It has some stripped pieces I created last year after I got Rayna Gillman's book "create your own free-form quilts", which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn to play with piecing.  At any rate, I used the pieces along with scraps of un-pieced fabrics, and decided to go with an angular layout.  And I had lots of fun figuring out what to do to quilt it - fairly simple mostly, although I did do some free-motion quilting on the blue leaf-motif batik and one of the strips with copper color and a flower and vine motif.  I like this well enough that I think I'll put together a couple of placemats with the same or similar fabrics... great way to use up some of my stash, isn't it?