Friday, September 12, 2014

Bloom: Painted, Stitched, and Embellished.

I am working on a new piece titled Bloom. It incorporates many techniques that I have been working on improving lately including painting, stitching, creating depth and dimension, and color value.
 I am almost finished, and I am down to the final hand embroidery now. This has been a really fun and challenging piece, but I have had a lot of fun creating it.
 It all began with a little square of fabric that I started as a demonstration on how to create a central motif without any marking in a workshop last summer at the Mendocino Art Center. I wanted to do something different, so I painted the dimpled longhorn beetles in metallic pink and purple with Lumiere paints.
Then I decided that I might as well add a few embroidery stitches to it and use it as a little sampler.
The piece floated around my studio for the past year. It would surface occasionally, and I would often think that I should do something with it.
This first image is a mockup I did in Photoshop to help me decide on the proportions and composition. I call this my cartoon, and it is actually the most important part as far as I am concerned. I often do a lot of preliminary sketches just to help my ideas gel.
 

That was a photograph at the upper right of the initial painted and hand embroidered piece.

All of the hand painting was done with my Textile Design Stencils.

The stencils I used were the Beetles, Moths, Poppy, Small Stones, Lattice, Passion Flower, Moths, and Springtime. I love combining them in different ways.
 The finished piece is 36" x 52".

The inspiration for this piece was the amazing diversity found in nature, and how we are rewarded for taking the time to notice and appreciate the details of our surroundings.



The gold and blue circles were hand dyed silk that was appliqued on. I hand painted the two strips and the background separately before putting them all together. I was concerned that if I made a mistake I would have to redo the whole thing, so this was a much less stressful situation.
From there on it was all just filling in the blanks. Although it is involved, that is the easiest part for me.
 
This is the Indonesian lantern fly framed by the poppy. The curved vertical unstitched areas create nice little ridges between the rows of stitching.
These are dimpled longhorn beetles. The center was painted with the passion flower stencil, but I haven't decided how to embroider the middle of it yet.
Now you can see the detail of the background. The gray stripes are 1/2" wide. 
I will post a full image when the piece is done. I still have some hand embroidery to do on it. Here are the details of what I used to create the piece: Better Black Kona cotton, wool batting, Neopaque and Lumiere paints, Aurifil thread, DMC and Weeks Dye Works embroidery floss.
 I would love to hear from you, and don't hesitate to ask any questions.
Also, I have two WORKSHOPS coming up in the next couple of weeks if anyone is interested.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

New Directions


Here is a little drawing of nasturtiums from last Friday, June 27th. This is my first time working with a dip pen with a nib, and I had fun with the scribbly lines. I colored it in with my Faber-Castell Watercolor Pencils and added a bit of water to it. This piece was quite fun, and it just feels happy to me.
 I had not been able to make it to my art class in ages, and I have really missed the opportunity to draw for three hours every Friday afternoon. I have also missed seeing my teacher Mimi La Plant and all of the other students as well. Everyone in class is so incredibly talented. I am so impressed by the skills of the others, and it gives me something to strive for in my own work.
 I could always draw stylized designs well enough, but when it came to realism I was at a total loss.
 it has taken a lot of hard work to begin to develop my eye and see the things that make objects come to life. I am still struggling with contours, but I am sure that will get easier in time.
 Anyone who thinks that artists can just automatically either draw or paint should see how hard everyone in our class works to develop their skills. I think that it takes an awful lot of perseverance for anyone to truly excel at anything: even creating art.
Although people often remark that I make things look so easy when I create my fiber art, I have been doing it for so long that I am not even consciously aware many times of all of the little steps that have become such ingrained habits.
 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It Must Be Spring: Almost a Tutorial

     I have been thinking about bright happy colors lately. In my weekly ongoing for art class with the fabulous Mimi La Plant, we have been doing color studies for the last several weeks. We have been doing LOTS of mixing, and learning to use warm and cool versions of each primary color to create the perfect mixable hues. It is challenging and rewarding.
     Mimi is such a great teachers, and color happens to be a specialty of hers. I am so happy to have the opportunity to study with her and learn from her vast experience as both a painter and an art professor.
     So, I am challenging myself to work in new color palettes and spread my little wings. Pink has never been a favorite of mine, but now for some inexplicable reason I seem to be drawn to it.
     This project was supposed to be a tutorial on painting, but as often happens I was too anxious to get started. I forgot to take a beginning picture of this t-shirt that I purchased for $8.00 at an outlet store. And then, by the time I started painting, I completely forgot about the tutorial. In case you wondered, I never ever get distracted.
Stencils used are my Textile Design Stencils, and the paints are from Jacquard.

I painted the pink strip down the center by drawing the curvy shape on freezer paper, cutting out the center section, and ironing it to the shirt. Next I just placed my stencil over it and painted. Once the paint dried a little, I peeled off the freezer paper and repeated the process on the sleeves.
Now I am starting the embellishment. I recently received a shipment of hand overdyed embroidery floss and pearl cotton from Weeks Dye Works, and I am in love with this stuff. The colors are gorgeous. It's interesting in these photos how different the colors of the floss look on the white background of the first photo versus the way the colors look on the green in the second photo.
 This is a sample for a workshop I am teaching next weekend at the CNCH 2014, a fiber artisan's conference, that will be held at the Oakland, CA, Conference Center. I am so happy to have been invited there, and there are already 19 students registered!
 I am participating in Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Friday blog roll, so please check out her site along with the other artist's involved. Thank you.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

LINEN BAGS

For quite some time I have wanted to make some heavy weight linen bags. After searching for several months, I finally found some heavy upholstery weight linen that I am really happy with.
I absolutely love the weight, textural appearance, and the feel of this fabric. Sometimes I have a desired result in mind for a project, and the reality of the finished product is far from what I had initially envisioned. It was certainly not the cases with these bags.
Cotton Duck Cloth: Front
I had made my initial prototype with cotton duck; it was fine to begin with.
Cotton Duck Cloth: Back
Next, I made three bags in the heavy-weight linen. Even though the linen was very heavy, I knew that the bags would need additional support. I wanted them to  retain their shape even when sitting empty.
I went to the local fabric store to purchase what they had on hand to use as a stabilizer.
I happened to have a fair bit of Annie's Soft and Stable stabilizer on hand and decided to use it as I had been itching to try it out. Annie's bags are very beautiful, and her products are great.







I washed the linen first, and then dried it in the clothes dryer to remove any sizing. I then hand painted it with my Textile Design Stencils using Jacquard's Lumiere and Neopaque paints. After heat setting the paint with my iron, I assembled all the layers of the bags: outer fabric, stabilizer, and lining.
I finished the bags at 10:00 pm: the night before I left to setup my vendor's booth at the EBHQ (East Bay Heritage Quilters) Show in Point Richmond near San Francisco, CA. I think that I got to bed at 11:30, and I was up at 4:30 the next morning to prepare for the 6 hour drive.
 I didn't even have time to photograph the bags before I left, so here are some quick snapshots in my booth.

 These bags were a really generous size: 22" wide x 14" deep. The stenciling came out really well on the linen. The funny thing was that when I first painted a sample, the stencil stuck to the linen so well that I thought that something really sticky must have gotten on the back of the stencil. It was only the fibers from the linen grabbing hold of the plastic.
 I do have one bag left if anyone is interested: Linen Bags 

Special Note:
I am happily participating in Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday blog roll, so please check her fabulous blog out here: Nina Marie Sayre
Thanks Nina Marie!
 

Sold!

Last Sunday when I came over to my studio to pay bills and catch up with my bookkeeping, I had a really nice surprise. I had an e-mail from the Sewell Gallery in Eureka, CA, who represent me, and they had sold one of my large pieces.
The funny thing is, it was an older piece that I had pulled out of storage to fill in space if need be amongst my newer work. This piece was made in 1999. You can see the details of this piece here along with other pieces that were in the exhibit: Exhibition Gallery
A New Realm Beckons, 44"h x 59"w

This piece started as all white fabric with the exception of the solid black. The background was overdyed with Procion three times, and then it was painted with black Versatex ink on the back side. The ink work was done with an Identipen, and the fans were paper-pieced from gradated hand dyed fabrics then hand appliqued onto the background.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Deadlines: Love Them/Hate Them

 For the past few weeks I have been in manic mode creating new work for an exhibit that opens today at the Sewell Gallery in Eureka, CA. I will post a few close up shots for now, and later I will post photos of the opening, the exhibit, and full shots of the work for anyone who is interested. I would love to hear your comments if you have any. Thank you very much for taking a look at my work.
 The work falls into two different little collections which I will expand later: Contemporary Wholecloth and Fun with Colors and Shapes.
 Impressions Close Up
 Noshi Close Up
 Beetles In Space Close Up
 Grasshopper Moon

 Escape Close Up

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Little Bees Hand Painted Tunic


 

 This purchased tunic in a cotton/linen provided the perfect background for my new Bee Stencil. I loved the neutral colors of the taupe and cream color combination, so I decided to further enhance the color scheme by painting the bees in gold and silver Neopaque paint. I have already washed this garment several times, and the paint has not faded one bit.

I embellished the design with a bit of hand embroidery using a simple running stitch which was done with 6 strands of DMC cotton embroidery thread. I did a backstitch periodically to keep the  threads from pulling or puckering.

I even made a necklace and bracelet to match using freshwater pearls with gold and silver spacer beads. It was my first piece of jewelry that I had ever made, and I am so happy with the way it turned out.

I wore this tunic to my opening at the Sewell Gallery in Eureka, CA, with a really beautiful gun metal gray metallic chiffon scarf that my friend Nancy Branch gave me for Christmas last year. The scarf added the perfect finishing touch.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Work: Ruthanne Rocha

 Last week I finished quilting this magnificent piece by my friend Ruthanne Rocha who is a retired schoolteacher living in Miranda, California. It is still in progress, so I will show more photos of the work once it's completed.
The inspiration for this art quilt came from photos Ruthanne took of the Masai women in the Serengeti while traveling in Tanzania 18 months ago.
Ruthanne travels the world and takes tons of gorgeous photos while also creating the most wonderful travel videos that you could possibly imagine. When she arrives back home, she spends many long hours narrating her films and adding authentic traditional music from that particular region.
Ruthanne thoroughly researches the history and culture of each country before she visits, and she travels with a group of people who relish visiting places that are off the beaten path.
The colors in this piece are drop dead gorgeous. Ruthanne has made several pieces of hand beaded jewelry that will now be added as embellishments.
The piece will be called Masai Women of the Serengeti (I think). This women was mauled by a lion and had severe scarring on her face. The faces are machine stitched and are solid threadwork.
I've decided that I want to be Ruthanne when I grow up, although I'm not quite sure when that will be.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ferns: Making Progress

Here is the latest version of my fern piece. As you can well guess, I didn't finish it in time to give away at Christmas. However, I did fall in love with this little piece somewhere along the way.
Since the last photo posted, I repainted the background with more Setacolor. I am much happier with the color now. I darkened all of the areas between the ferns with a russet and a teal paint and then added more gray and turquoise to the sky to get rid of the distracting white.
 I then dug through my stash and found this raisin colored silk that came from an old kimono. It was too bright, so I wadded it up and splashed some dark brown and black paint on it and set it in a window to dry. I am much happier with it now.

And the dragonfly is a female Halloween Pennant ( Celithemis eponina) that I made using metallic silk organza for the wings and dupioni for the body. I added the detail to the body with Tsukineko inks and my Identipens and then hand appliqued the body on.
The "streamer' like pieces are simply bits and pieces of different silk stitched onto solvy which was then dissolved. I call them kite tails.
 I am anxious to get back to work on this piece, but now I am too busy with work, so it will have to wait for a while.
When I occassionally find the time to create my own work I am reminded of how much I love doing this and why I started in the first place.
 In case you wondered, I picked another piece from my inventory to give to my friend so that I didn't feel too guilty about keeping this one for myself.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

New Work

This is a piece that I painted some time ago, and I would like to finish it as a Christmas gift for a friend. It is painted on 16mm silk crepe with Setacolor. I find that the images around the outside, the ferns, are too dark. Overall, the piece has too little value to be of interest.
 The other problem is that it is a square, measuring 30", which I find bothersome.  I would like to add "columns", or strips of fabric, on the sides to finish it off. That is if I can correct the color.
My art teacher suggested that I try adding some purple in the areas between the ferns, and then overpaint the ferns with a brighter green.
Any suggestions would be greatly welcome.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Finished is Better Than Perfect

     My primary business for the last eleven years has been longarm machine quilting for others. It's funny, but November and December are often my slowest months  of the year as everyone thinks I'm completely swamped with work.  I have learned to expect this slowdown and consider it a wonderful gift to have a bit of free time. 
      Another aspect of my business that I'm developing is a new product line: my Textile Design Stencils. With the development of my new designs, marketing, video development, teaching, and writing, I have a lot to juggle, and these tasks usually get neglected when I'm busy machine quilting for others.
Video camera graciously loaned to me by my brilliant step sister.
I'm so intimidated by this apparatus that I have a hard time even opening up the gear bag.

     So, these last couple of weeks I've been trying very hard to upgrade my technological skills. The most difficult lesson I've had to learn is when to just stop worrying  the minute details to death that plague me so. It's been incredibly freeing to let go of the frustration of things that won't work right, change of their own accord, or are so mind boggling in their complexity.
A beautiful quilt I'm quilting for Kemset.
     Right now I am reveling in the fact that I have grown in great leaps and bounds as I tackled tasks that have long daunted me. Tomorrow I am back to the longarm quilting as orders are thankfully beginning to roll in again.
My next challenge is to develop project and time management skills, and I would really love to hear from any of you who have suggestions on this topic.

Free Giveaway: Silk Scarf of Your Choice, Shipping Included
"Like" my new Facebook Business Page
You'll be automatically entered in the drawing for December 15th.
Click the Link above to go to my page.

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Weekend Project: Settee Makeover

This weekend I am going to recover the cushions on and old rattan settee that belonged to my great grandmother. It is signed on the bottom by the maker with a date of 1920. My mother said that she remembers it being on her grandmother's front porch when she was a young girl.
I found this really soft chenille fabric several years ago and repainted the settee to match probably five years ago, and it has just been sitting there all this time. I plan to also redo the cushions.
My friend Jeanne Blonski is coming over tomorrow to work on quilting a wallhanging, so I thought it would be a perfect time to tackle this long overdue project. I also want to remake the pillows using the existing fabrics. It should be fun. I'll post the photos of the finished project.

I know this fabric doesn't really go with the style of the furniture, but it was so warm and soft that I couldn't resist buying it.
 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Purple Poppy Dress


Here is another of my upcycled clothing pieces that was hand-painted with my Poppy Stencil. This was a 15 year old cotton knit turtleneck dress that spent the last several years hiding out in the back of my closet. I have so much fun making these pieces, but it is even more fun to wear them.
The ruffles are made from hand-painted silk organza. Now I have started embellishing the clothing with a little bit of hand embroidery and beading. It's amazing what a little bit of texture and sparkle can add to a piece.
 
I think I this could be an ongoing project. I just pick it up in the evening when I feel like doing a little handwork and add a few more stitches. I am putting together a tutorial on this project for my Free Newsletter that is coming out next week if anyone is interested.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Surface Explorations

Although I have been dyeing fabric with Procion MX dyes for more years than I care to remember, I was always plagued by niggling little unanswered questions about the process. People kept asking me to teach dyeing workshops, but I knew that I had a lot of research and experimentation before I felt capable of proceeding.
Fabrics dyed in the same dye pot: cotton on top and silk on the bottom.
 I realized that sometimes you really do just have to do the work before you can move forward. Well, I did the work, and I figured out the answer to my biggest problem; why did I achieve such different results between the silk and the cotton that I dyed?
I was so pleased with my results that I wanted for others to benefit from my findings as well, so I was absolutely thrilled when Jane Davila contacted me about writing an article for the premier issue of the new E-Mag Surface Explorations. Jane and her staff have done a magnificent job with this publication, and I am especially impressed with the high quality photography and the zoom capability that allows you to see every single thread in clear detail. Hats off to Jane and her staff!

Bonus Project! In my article I included complete instructions on dying a 12 step color wheel in cotton and silk along with many extras. So please have fun with this, and I sincerely hope that the information is as helpful to you as it has been to me.

  Several of the authors are doing a blog tour, so please check out the links below. The links don't show up very well, but click on the dark area to the right of the name and they will work.
Mon 4/16 Lindsey Murray http://quiltingdaily.com
Wed 4/18 Jackie Lams http://studiolams.com

Thu 4/19 Lyric Kinard http://lyrickinard.blogspot.com
Fri 4/20 April Sproule http://sproulestudios.blogspot.com
Tues 4/24 Jane Davila http://janedavila.blogspot.com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Fun!

I haven't made any bags for a really long time. In another life, I was once a handbag designer for a large Canadian firm. Back then, I had to worry about the drafting of the dies for the die makers, cutting layouts, the percentage of waste  for each new style, and of course the cost accounting.
Now I only have to concern myself with which color or motif to use next. I had a wonderful time creating these little bags, and I sold several at the East Bay Heritage Quilt Show in Richmond, CA, last month.
This is what I started with. I cut my panels from my hand dyed Radiance and ultra sateen. Below are a couple of my favorites that I sold at the show. I had to take the photos on the fly before they disappeared with their new owners. The bags were all printed with my Textile Design Stencils.

Here is my Beetle Bag that I made with black ultra sateen.I love the colors on this piece. I hang these bags on the wall as art when I'm not using them.












The bag on the right is my Thistle Bag. This bag was also printed on black ultra sateen. I have a few more of my finished bags available on my Website.