Friday, July 31, 2009

New Species

'Chirp' has eyes and legs now, to go exploring - crystal beads and art wire did the trick.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Bird in the Hand ...

I spent a fair bit of last weekend reorganizing and creating space in my studio area. I emptied two sets of plastic drawers I had been using for storage in the carport, and filled them with some of my fabric, scissors, measuring tape and other such items. The storage stand I had been using in the space where I put the drawers, I then moved beside my cutting table and the stuff piled there I moved elsewhere... One thing really led to another with the end result being a much more inviting workspace. I find that it takes time and experience to find what location works best for my supplies, and how they might most handily be organized. In 2 and a half years, I have moved from a sewing machine on the kitchen table with a portable tv table of stacked fat quarters next to it, to taking over the dining room, to filling a hall closet, to various versions of my current basement studio. Since my Pfaff was stalled and I ran across this bird pattern online at which looked easy and applicable to hand sewing, I decided to make one. I used backstitch, thinking it would make the seams nice and strong so stuffing wouldn't poke through. However, when I turned it inside out, there were numerous openings, so then I was back to the Pfaff, where fortunately, after taking the bobbin out and reapplying it, the machine decided to work. 'Chirp' still needs eyes, but the beads I have weren't quite right, so I feel an artist date coming on...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glue Resist

Ever since I've heard about using blue gel glue as a resist, I've wanted to try it, so today I did. Just a quick doodle of glue squeezed from the bottle onto a scrap of cotton, dried, painted, dried and then washed out with hot water. The glue comes out thicker then wax and I think it would serve small projects best.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quilting Pages

I've begun quilting 'Desert Bloom' and have sewn a sleeve ready to put on the back once I'm finished. I'm using thicker variegated Valdani thread for the top and it has not been a smooth process, with the usual puzzles as to why thread suddenly breaks, why there is a clunking sound and why this process repeats after rethreading, adding a new needle, adjusting tension, etc. I will persist and when my Pfaff is stitching properly, I am enjoying drawing as I go - no plan but a spark of inspiration to do the flower petals on the pink square and moving from there to smaller blossoms, cactus and outlining existing foliage. I was thinking today of how each quilt is like a page in the book of my life, capturing a period of experience in its layers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Desert Blooms Again

About two years ago, I was inspired by a fabric depicting scenery that I associate with the American southwest, to begin randomly putting pieces together towards making a full size quilt. I have warm memories of a magical time I had while in Santa Fe, and I wanted to use the colours of the fabric as a jumping off point to locate others that felt like a 'desert bloom'. I chose velvets, rayon, upholstery fabric and cotton, and added chenille squares I made. I had never put blocks together - and these ones are just simple irregularly sized block shapes - and I also wanted a haphazardly pieced look, so I was deliberately not sewing careful quarter inch seams. I wish now that the wonkiness was more pronounced, with more curved lines instead of relatively straight ones. The top two photos show design variations I was trying. Then I tried printing a photo of the emerging quilt in black and white and realized I had mostly medium values and that the size and direction of the squares and rectangles was not working out that well - I had been adding pieces without a plan, revising as I went along, but I wasn't satisfied. Then birthday and Christmas sewing took precendence and I needed to take this mostly unsewn quilt top off of the design wall to make room for others. Yesterday while tidying the studio, I came across it and felt inspired to resurrect it. I've let go of making it large and am using part of it for backing. I've added one luscious piece of Elin Noble's itajime fabric that suddenly called out it wanted to be part of the fun. Do you see it in the upper left corner? The photo directly above this text shows the top as it is now, and the one above it is the quilt backing. I've cut batting ready to make the sandwich, after I sew on the chenille.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Teacher for the Night

I completed my 'Trust the Process' stitched collage today, adding a key to the center, sewn on with gold embroidery thread, and stitching around the outer edge. I won't post a close-up, since it contains magazine images and there may be copyright issues. I found using the design reference sheet that I made to prompt me to translate words into visual language, was a useful exercise prior to intuitively scanning magazines for images. I've depicted stages of the creative process in a circle, with two figures -a female in white free falling trustfully and a male in black with a painted mime face and expression of alarm - opposite each other on the circle, with a joyful woman blowing an elongated stream of bubbles with a giant bubble holder, arcing back and forth between the two figures - holding the tension of these opposites. I've also included the skeleton of a fish to mark the death or completion in a process, which gives way to a bear underwater, or the start of something new 'bubbling' in the unconscious. There is also an ancient pregnant stone figure, kissing lovers stretched out in the sand, three riders on horseback 'running with it', a fabric 'world' or bubble held by gravity and a backdrop of a blue star-filled sky with tall thin dark trees reaching to touch them. I took a photograph of the collage and printed it onto silk, but I chose not to use that version because the colour is much less vibrant. Members of my art quilt group also did this exercise, but not all the collages are completed yet, so I haven't taken a photo of them together as our 'collective artist wisdom quilt'. I have also signed up for a collage design class with Johnathon Talbot later this fall.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Soul Map

I've completed this quilt now - the backing and sleeve are on, and I'm keeping it simple because I want to have the stitching be the main focus. I'm calling it 'Soul Map' because as I took each stitch listening to my intuition without knowing where it was leading or having a plan in mind, I thought about how that mirrors life; one choice building on another to eventually reveal an outcome or pattern.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Slow Stitch and Group Pitch

I've been continuing to stitch with embroidery floss onto this quilt, enjoying doing a little everyday, the unpredictability of pattern created by intuitive choices and the fun of not having a destination. I've also come up with a group exercise to offer my art quilt group next week, and I'm excited to see how it goes! Each participant will contribute some phrase of personally useful wisdom based on their experience as an artist - like 'Trust the process' - which we will discuss and then use as part of individual collages using the design principles and elements to express them, as well as fabrics, papers, stitch and embellishments. Once the collages are done, we will combine them temporarily onto black poster board in a grid, so that the black will provide sashing and border in a photograph of our 'collective wisdom quilt'.