As you can see from the last photo, I've got my stitch party hat on, ready for this new year. I've started to pin silk strips together, along with a little cotton. And the moon is a blue moon tonight and seemed to dance amongst the clouds, getting lost in them most of the time. Happy New Year to everyone who is reading this!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
In the darkest days of winter when even the moon feels cold and the sun is eager to absorb the new year's warm tiger fire, the Winter Bear dreams of holding all living things in her great belly, protecting them from harm as she slumbers and waits ...
Monday, December 28, 2009
If you go out in the woods today.... Today marks one year of blogging, for me, and I've created a composite of two photos - one taken last year at this time and the other from just recently - I'm excited to see what emerges once I open the door to this next year.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Here are a few more photos of the hand stitched piece I have nearly completed. I've run out of the colour of embroidery thread I need and I wasn't about to brave the stores on Boxing Day! 2010 is the year of the tiger and I used a piece of prayer flag which had the outlines of a tiger on it as an approximate guide to stitch one. I say 'approximate' because it's so small it was hard to tell what was what. Then yesterday when I was listening to a book, I nodded off for a paragraph or so and found myself dreaming of stitching triangular rays just inside the velvet circle. This morning I added them in - I guess this planet is the sun, and the tiger essence will be the fire, as otherwise, it's pretty dark.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Here are a few more close-ups of the handstitched linen, cotton, velvet and silk piece I'm working on. I'm enjoying how its coming to life and surprising me with what wants to emerge. In the top photo, I selected the fabric thinking of the glints of the moon on the sea and the stitch meanders like the wake it casts over the water... Only my moon is becoming a panda! But another moon has emerged from its dark velvet sky, so all is well. I've also been thinking about how drawn I am to go in two seemingly opposite directions - one being abstract machine pieced large art quilts and the other small detailed handstitched works. Each type can unfold in the intuitive way I like to work, imbued with personal meaning, yet have a very different quality and feeling, and the phrase that comes to mind is 'equal opposites'. And a panda is both black and white... So I'm steeping these dreams to refine my fibre art focus and I have written a poem about the meaning of this time of year for me:
My fingers let go
of the perforated white bag
that cushions its dark, barely visible contents
like seeds hold flowers
deep in the hush of the white ground.
Now it stops
in its rush
as it contacts the surface
to slow and descend,
suspended while sinking,
and a red cloud blossoms
in the hot, clear water
and I feel thick promise in the back of my throat
as I wait fo the tea to steep.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We had our first dusting of snow this morning and that fit the mood of the hand stitched piece I have been creating, which is centered around a winter moon. Both of the photos show a part of the whole. For me, this time of the year holds both a slowing down to reflect and a rising culmination of celebration. I've been thinking about how I like to work by following my intuition and it occurred to me that this is why I generally start playing with the materials without pre-planning or making sketches. If I wanted to replicate or capture the essence of let's say a pinecone - then I might explore photos of them, examine actual cones or draw one. But what I'm after is what I don't yet know - I want to be surprised by what emerges, not have a plan. This takes alot of trust and being with the pleasure of the process, rather then being invested in an outcome. Also at this time of the year, I begin to think about what I might like to focus on for the year ahead - a rough plan that is not meant to limit my creating, but to deepen with it and keep it alive. So there's a kind of tension between staying with what wants to emerge and also having a larger vision. I notice how many aspects of fibre art interest me - dyeing, felting, piecing, handstitch, etc. - and I think switching between them is enlivening. I also think of how, if I limited myself, I might explore deeper aspects of one or a few techniques, which may offer greater growth. I don't have answers for now and that's okay, because I trust they will arrive - like the dormant seeds waiting in the dark underground that will one day greet the sun .
Monday, December 7, 2009
I've completed this quilt now, except for a sleeve. The bottom photo shows how I've quilted it like a tree, with vertical lines for the trunk (bottom left), branches reaching out on either side and the candle at the top radiating gold thread outward. The piecing also looks loosely like an abstract tree.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Here are some gifts I've worked on today - I'm not planning them, but playing around until something emerges. The star potholder came about when I entered the studio and saw the green, negative star image where I'd laid it on an angle on another fabric square when putting things away the night before. I liked the jaunty feel of it, so another potholder was born. The quilt top below it isn't complete yet - I've been enjoying cutting, sewing and piecing strips and this also led to a pieced potholder. For the quilt in the third photo I used white thread to help define the star in the centre, as it was too similar in value to the background square that I had fused it to.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
This morning the sunlight made a patchwork on the stairs. I'd been thinking about making something with winter fabric using a positive/negative approach and the idea of a candle shape to signify the light that is extra precious at this time of year, came to mind. I drew one and made a template which I traced onto fused fabric and then cut it out to end up with a positive candle shape and a negative candle outline. I fused the outline onto the red/green/white fabric and then decided it would become a potholder, so I fused that onto the green/gold fabric and sewed it together, adding zigzag quilting with variegated metallic thread around the candle outline, but it doesn't show up as well as I expected it to. With each project, I learn something new. If I were to make this potholder again, I would also only use fusible once, because the hand of the fabric is quite changed - although with a potholder, a little extra body won't matter much. Another thing I didn't foresee was how the fabric underneath the white one shows through. I had planned to use the positive candle shape for my next potholder, but decided I didn't want to hide any of the red/green/white fabric, as I like it. In my eagerness to sew, I forgot to sandwich in the bit of trim for a hanger, so I sewed it onto the potholder top afterwards and covered the ends with a button - after quilting it first, which you can see in the close-up of the back.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I've completed making this felted sweater into to a bag, now. The flap has a magnetic catch, so the button on it is just decorative - much easier to open and close. I decided to line it as well, and chose two colours of rich looking velvet from the recent samples I was given, which does make the bag heavier, but I love the feel when I reach in.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Yesterday I made huge progress reorganizing my studio - moving shelves, design wall and removing a fridge. With space at a premium in the basement and shared with others, moving anything means moving everything and that's pretty much what I did. I now have a place to sit when I ponder a design issue or just need to give my feet a break and guess what's inside the seat...
these fabrics and more! I thought Christmas had come early this year when a member of my art quilt group generously gave me heaps of luscious fabric samples to add to my stash. Unfolding and discovering each one was a delightful surprise and I was flooded with possibilities of how I might use them and which combinations I might put together. I have several groupings out getting to know each other, but I never quite know what the muse has in store for me next and it turns out to be:
a wool sweater I shrunk into felt that is in the process of becoming a bag. I've cut the sleeves and collar off, sewn the bottom closed and turned the bag so the row of buttons is on one side and is also sewn shut. I'm working on hemming the handles and top edge now. There are two outside pockets on either side of the bag, which will be handy, and I might put more inside. I'll post another photo when it's complete.
One other small experiment I did prior to my studio expansion was stitching small to large - see the pinkish stitches on the bottom right corner and how they enlarge as they move left. Every tiny step adds to my learning, and I think of the quote by Lao-tzu which I like: 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step'. What step will you take today?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
In choosing a backing fabric for the tablerunner, I was challenged to find a coordinating fabric large enough amongst my stash, but I did. I considered piecing together a backing from a few chunks of various fabrics, but I decided that I wanted it to be reversible and a single fabric would be nice. I didn't put a middle layer in because I want the runner to be flat and not puffy. It's finished like a pillow case and top-stitched around the edge, which you can just make out in the close up photo.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As the days get colder and darker, I find myself turning to simple sewing and a slower pace - a postcard is now complete and this table runner is in the making. I enjoyed arranging the squares of fabric, trying to vary the colours, values and prints while only having a limited amount of precut squares that I bought a few years ago at my quilt guild's garage sale. I've begun sewing them together.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I've nearly completed this gift - just part of the sleeve left to sew on. I added two border strips instead of four because four seemed to box the horses in and they want to be able to roam! It's quilted minimally, with stitch in the ditch, because I want to keep the focus on the fabric (and I do have more gifts to make:). I tried my couching foot out for the first time today and it worked very well. If you're a keen observer, you may have noticed that the yarn in the photo that's being couched down is not surrounding the horses as a highlight, but is sewn onto the wrong spot. Oops - I had a little unpicking to do!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This is a gift I'm making that I will probably add dark borders to, sandwich and quilt. I've been wanting to play with stripes and this was my opportunity! At first I had planned to alternate directions of stripe consistently, but I found instead that varying the directions and size of the striped patches was more interesting. I also have deliberately not matched stripes while sewing or cut them so that they are perfectly straight. To me, this feels more alive and creates a bit of movement and unpredictability.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I'm calling this 'Navigating the Depths' and this speaks to how the seas of life can be sometimes - chaotic on the surface but the still calm waters are there deep down, holding everything afloat. I've included meaningful symbols for me and the possibility of buttoning the two ends together speaks to how every ending brings a new beginning - life continues or arises in a new form.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
While on a walk in the woods today, I tried taking photographs while purposely moving my camera to see what kind of blurred effects I could get. I think the top photo looks like the painted page of a sketchbook. I saw many kinds of mushrooms and in the photo just above this text, I was drawn to how transparent the leaf is to allow some of the mushroom's colour to show through. I was thinking about how chiffon or organza might be used to show that effect. In the photo of the maple leaves, I saw how they created a line on the pavement and then I combined that photo with another blurred photo I took to add a rainbow of colour. Photo play is a quick way to capture an idea and a blog can be like a sketchbook that records experiences, techniques and photos.