Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Paint, dye and glue

Today I painted one of the blue glue gel resist pieces I worked on yesterday - the one of the sun and water - an impromptu drawing. The photo above it is a glue sketch I did of Lawren Harris' 'Mt. Lefroy' - not exact but another experiment I've been wanting to try. I also did two more glue resist fabrics - a circular one of an art deco style fish on linen and another that is a mixture of random patterns and drawings. So it looks like I have more painting ahead! I also dyed the cave style fabric - hoping the dye stick drawings would resist the dye, which they did - and the other ugly fabric I received as part of the challenge to make ugly fabric better, and I think the golden yellow improves both.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


After further designing of this quilt top, I am 'falling' for it in spite of the ugly grey fabric. The addition of the cascade of leaves and the pinwheel block mimicking their motion offers more interest and I've got it sandwiched with the edges finished in pillow-case style. I've begun quilting and will see where that takes me. I've also been washing fabrics in preparation for dyeing and doing more blue glue gel designs so they will be ready for painting tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ugly is in the Eye of the Beholder

At my last art quilt group meeting, we tried out Pentel dye sticks on freezer paper and transferred it to muslin by burnishing with a utensil of choice. I was aiming for a cave art style and reproduced it a second time by recovering the original after the first transfer. The top of the photo is the freezer paper version I drew and beneath it is the transfer. One member of the group had asked us to bring an ugly fabric which we are to transform for the better. Mine is the grey one. Of course, some people's 'uglies' were attractive to me. This is proving to be interesting - I've been thinking about how to mute ugliness in general - covering it up, amplifying beauty near by, altering in some way - or - exploring and potentially changing my perceptions. I wanted to try things new to me, so I went with a more traditional approach (measuring and quarter inch seams) - first choosing the Japanese yellow, grey and white fabric because I like it, then adding lighter and darker values for contrast, cutting all into 4 inch squares, then cutting further and repiecing. I still find that grey fabric terribly ugly, but it's at least muted by the addition of other fabrics and a decrease in size. When I was recently buying supplies for an upcoming class on making placemats that my quilt guild is offering, I started by trying to match a tablecloth that I have, and was successful in finding a potential border, base and backing. But the more I looked at them, imagining working with them, the more my energy dropped and I knew I had to instead choose fabrics that I love, so I did. When I brought them home, I saw they match a different tablecloth that I have, so that is a bonus. I've also found new storage space for my silks by combining the contents of two drawers into one.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blood Cloth

Yesterday I overdyed this linen cloth with black, using clamps and a heart shape. I also dyed the largely white piece I'd dyed earlier this week and one more new one that is turquoise and cream. I plan to further their development. I also found a bunch of silk scarves at a garage sale but they smelled musty. After washing, then washing with vinegar added, then soaking overnight in a baking soda bath and then washing with soap again, they finally smell okay but have bled in places onto each other - which must make them 'blood relations'.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Meaning is the Key

I am feeling really pleased with how my cloth is turning out. I began today by writing text onto the quilt with fabric pen and then added lighter value pencil crayon to make the letters more legible. Then I added pattern to the moth wings with copper paint and sequin waste. Next I added cheesecloth to my brayer and rolled it through copper and black paint and onto the background of the cloth around the labyrinth - you can see this effect in the photo directly above(I was thinking of string theory and the universe). I made a stamp with a key by taping it to a wooden block and then stamped it in gold paint into the center of the labyrinth (photo above the one of the cheesecloth design). I then added feelers to the moths with felt pen (nocturnal creatures who navigate by feel, as I liken how we intuit and create meaning) and then cut a star out of craft foam to use to rub shiva paint stix over. The light stars drew my eye more then the central key, so I thought about how I might alter that - maybe make a trail of gold glitter leading to the key, through the labyrinth? But I was loathe to make it too gilt - I was aiming for some subtlety and a sense of the ephemeral. I ended up putting gold glitter on the stamp of the key to heighten its contrast and I think that works pretty well. You can compare the difference of the key before the glitter and after in the second photo from the top. Each time I made an addition to the cloth, I felt the risk of possibly ruining what I'd done so far - yet I also felt the pull to keep making it more interesting and infusing it further with what I was trying to express. On a different note, yesterday I signed up for Gail Harker's 'A Journey of Visual Discovery: Journals and Sketchbooks. Gail usually teaches at her Creative Studies Center in Washington, but she is here in Victoria in a few months to teach this course and its an opportunity to see whether I might sometime want to take more of her stitch-related courses. I have always kept journals and in recent years I include visual information, but I want to develop my sketchbook abilities further because I still tend to largely use text in mine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Surface Design Steps

Here's what I've got so far towards developing my theme on cloth. I painted and stamped, as well as drew a labyrinth stencil on freezer paper and then painted it. I'm finding it both challenging and interesting to try to express 'the experience of meaning'- to capture something so illusive, visually. I also attended my quilt guild tonight, where Martha Cole presented an excellent talk, slideshow and display of her quilts. A bonus was that she also had some of the books she makes out for viewing, which are truly fabulous.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cancellation, Completion and Carrying On

Yesterday I was very disappointed to learn that the 'Mark Making on Fabric Intensive' workshop I was signed up for with Hilary Young this week was cancelled! I had washed my fabric and done some brainstorming with respect to a theme in order to choose the most appropriate supplies to bring, as well as organized other aspects of life, so I decided to go ahead this week as if I was at the workshop in my studio, attempting to create a meaningful piece of complex cloth without a teacher. I dyed fat quarters today, and am especially pleased with the ones pictured above - although the colour of the last one is much more blue then the photo shows. I just love the excitement of unscrunching the wet fabric to see how the dye has taken - what designs and colours have resulted. One piece that sat in bright scarlet and yellow for hours came out largely white because the dye hadn't penetrated the folds. The middle photo is silk and I also dyed some linen and cotton. Some pieces I will over dye again to improve them to my satisfaction. I also added the binding, sleeve and necklace to complete 'Entering The Flow'.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stars in Her Eyes

Yesterday was the final day of Martha Cole's workshop and what a day it was. The photos show my workspace at the beginning of the day - you can see another quilt I began last year on the wall that I brought in case I had time to work on a second one. I completed quilting 'Entering The Flow' and added beads and buttons - there will be a third button I add on after I bind it. In the morning we talked about the steps of the creative process and the importance of managing the anxiety which is inherent in going through it. I was impressed to hear that when Martha is developing a body of work for a show, she might generate 700 ideas/drawings/photos, as a first step. I do not usually generate ideas this way - I tend to sense ideas wanting to push through to see the light of day more like seeds and I am curious to see which is the one that wins out and gets to actually manifest. I don't have the idea worked out - it is more like a jumping off point that unfolds step by step. Of course, I'm not creating 30 pieces for a show with a looming deadline, and in creating the ad-lib way I do, I run into problems that I might have been better prepared for if I had thought more in advance. I think I learn with each piece, though, and I just have a different way of working - at least at this point. I really resonated with Martha's passion, curiosity and expansiveness - and her sharing of herself. The workshop felt transformational to me in a deep way I had not expected. We were given questions to ask ourselves about our strengths/weaknesses/preferences in the creative process and about where we would like to be in terms of our work in 5 or 10 years. And we also reviewed how the workshop had been - our struggles, insights and changes. At the end of the day, we each presented our work to the group. I spoke about the theme of stars that emerged in the first day's work and carried through in some way to the star-like stitched radiations in the eyes and quilting of the flowers of 'Entering the Flow' - that also mirrors how I felt in the presence of an excellent model for me or 'star' (Martha) and a star-studded group. Working in that atmosphere was delicious and sustaining. No wonder the woman in the quilt has 'stars in her eyes'! I'm thinking of calling the quilt that, but I'll wait until I've got it completed to decide.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back into the Flow

Day two of the workshop with Martha Cole and I brought this quilt to work on. After quilting the pink hair, I wasn't happy with the brightness of it, so I used purple pencil crayon to shade it and added yellow and white crayon to the flowers - note the coloured upper two and the untouched lower one to compare the difference. Then I didn't like how purple I made the hair and Martha saved the day with a great tip - cover it with masking tape, colour over the tape with pencil crayon and ample pressure, remove tape and voila, alot of the pencil crayon colour is taken up with it! So I was able to get the fabric back to a shaded pink again. We talked about our skill sets with respect to fabric as a way to clarify what we might put into play, and to become aware of what we like or dislike, what we're profficient at and what we want to try. We also rated ourselves on a scale of our visual preferences - again to raise awareness of our particular way of working. And Martha treated us to a show of some of her work - much of it largescale enhanced digital close up photos on fabric of trees. I am really appreciating her professionalism, as well as that of the other participants - and seeing everyone's evolving work.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Serious Play

I've spent today at Martha Cole's workshop, where I covered batting with scraps, then drew cards she has made to take a next step, followed by another next step, with the result in the photo above. We are exploring serious play, pushing past any reservations to get to new work and new ideas - and I am appreciating the discussion, Martha, seeing the work of the others and the whole experience, which feels like an excellent choice. My first card instructed me to add some hot pink to the piece, which I did, in the form of a star. That step led to me later choosing to add more stars, stamping stars and adding 3D texture in the form of shooting star-like tails in several spots - which also made me think of show ribbons. Somehow, this quilt encompasses a feeling of joy for me - even though it's incomplete and done in a plunge-in style without careful designing, it is as though doing it this way yields me the inner prize. I tried to accentuate the star effect further with the couching of yarn along the radiating lines - near the end of the day, we took notice of what we liked and amplified that. Humans are like star shapes in that we have our four appendages plus head off of a main body, similar to a 5-sided star, and each of us is the star in our own life. Taking this workshop feels like being among the stars!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Filberg Fibre

This is a tye dyed clothing booth I saw while at the Filberg Festival in Comox, yesterday. There were many booths selling felted items, clothing lines, knits, bags, scarves, leather crafts and other sewn products (as well as pottery, woodwork, etc). One booth had gorgeous felted sea shells that had been shown previously in an art show.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sooke Art Show

I was delighted today to see how many fibre art pieces were included in the Sooke Art Show, and I understand a new category was created for fibre art/mixed media. I also stopped into Kathy and Selby Saluke's open studio, where I enjoyed more fibre art.