Saturday, December 31, 2011

Monoprinting with the GELLI Plate

I've been experimenting with gelatin monoprinting for a couple of years, and posted about it in 2010.  Since I also teach that class locally, I was curious when the new GELLI printing plate came onto the market last spring.  At first, I was adamant about sticking to my "homemade" method and not caving in to the idea of needing to buy the latest and greatest gadget. That was until I went to class with only enough prepared gelatin for my expected class of  7 . . . that had increased to 9 students.
I bought it!  It works!
I've reconsidered, and now the class supply list includes a GELLI printing plate for each student!  The benefits:  I no longer have to mix up three large pans of gelatin the night before class. No more spilled and hardened gelatin in my refrigerator.  There's no waste, since this new product lasts indefinitely.  Each student brings their own printing plate to class.  And it answers the question once posed to me by a very strict vegan:  What's the alternative to using Knox gelatin, which contains animal products?   The GELLI plate!

However, I've noticed one interesting phenomenon when printing on fabric with this new surface.  I was using acrylic paint, so I mixed textile medium with it.  When I rolled that onto the plate with my brayer, the paint mixture immediately began to separate, resulting in this background texture:
My first GELLI print on fabric, with snow? leaves?
A second attempt with straight acrylic paint gave me a solid-covered background.  So the textile medium does a little random dance on the GELLI surface, which is pretty cool!
I might (no, I WILL) miss the cracks and gouges that come with using real gelatin.  They produced some interesting, organic lines on the printed fabric.  And I'll miss the cool feeling of the sheets of gelatin in my hands.  Yes, I liked that!
Painted GELATIN plate with an interesting crack.
And now we're here at the end of 2011.  I feel pretty good about this year's theme word, FOCUS.  I got better at it.  The theme for 2012 is MAINTAIN MOMENTUM.  How about yours?   Please leave a comment and share your mantra (if you have one) for the new year.  Thanks for following along with me, and I'll see you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

More Holiday Fabric Postcards

The winner of my first blog post was nandas (Nancy of Portland, OR) and the prize was one of my fabric postcards.  Now that she's probably received it, I can show it here.   I love the quaint message it sends:

The winner of my first blog contest received this fabric postcard.
I have a collection of vintage postcards that I often use (in part or whole) when designing fabric postcards.  This year I added tiny accents of glitter paint, and I like the added sparkle.  Here's another:

Another fabric postcard enhanced with glitter paint.

The next one is very special.  I made it for my son's girlfriend, Brandi, knowing that she loves mermaids.  (So do I, which is why I 'd previously downloaded this vintage postcard!)  I quilted the outlines of the major features with cotton thread, then switched to a copper-colored rayon for the hair, which added a nice texture.  The original colors of the postcard were very light and ethereal, so I added some tints of color using LuminArte's Primary Pigments (ground colors mixed with pure mica pigments) for a bit more intensity:
Brandi's Dream.

It's hard for me to admit this:  I grow very attached to these little beauties, so much that it's difficult to send them out into the world.  But my other friend Nancy wisely advised me to release them for others to enjoy!  No one else can enjoy them if you keep them all for yourself.  She's so right.  Anyway, I can always revisit my photos of them.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Postcards Exchanged (fabric, of course!)

 Here are the fabric postcards made by members of Fiberexplorations for our 2011 holiday postcard exchange:

Fiberexplorations' 2011 fabric postcards.
As we've done the previous two years, everyone brought a potluck dish and we sat down for a lively dinner and conversation.  Erica, our resident wine expert, treated us to Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine, which was wonderful.  After dinner, we drew names to see whose card we would receive.  (Until that time, none of us knew who would receive our card, or whose card we'd receive.)   In the following photo, we're each  holding the postcard we've received:

Holding the postcards we've received.
And another photo to document the makers of each postcard:
Holding the postcards we made for the exchange.
 In my next post, I'll include photos of all the Architecture Challenge quilts.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winner of first blog contest!

Vintage Christmas postcard.

The winner of my first blog contest (fairly chosen by the Random Number Generator) is Nancy D-D from Portland, or "nandas."  Congratuations, Nancy!  I'll get your holiday-themed fabric postcard in the mail this week.*   Please contact me via email with your address.  And thanks to all who entered!  Please stay tuned for future contests.  This was so much fun that I'm going to dream up some ideas for more contests, either monthly or bimonthly.
(*I'm not posting a picture of it until you've had time to receive it in the mail.  I wouldn't want to spoil your surprise!)
Tomorrow night is Fiberexplorations' holiday dinner meeting.  We'll draw names and exchange the fabric postcards we've each made.   I hope to have good lighting so I can photograph each one and show them in my next post.  Keep watching!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blog contest deadline extended; more on Fabric Postcards!

FYI:  The contest announced here on Nov. 29  has been extended until tomorrow (Thurs., Dec. 8) at midnight.  The prize is one of my fabric postcards!  Follow this link to enter.
The first fabric postcard I ever made, and still one of my favorites, this reindeer (a Laurel Burch fabric) was simply freemotion quilted with satin-stitched edges:

Joanna Price's holiday reindeer, 2005.
Blogger is now cooperating, so I can add more info to my previous post about fabric postcards.  Shown below are the 4 layers:  the top (or "base fabric"), cotton batting, Timtex, and the back (several examples shown, stamped with "Postcard").
The 4 layers of a fabric postcard.
Besides the examples above, here are the backs of three different fabric postcards (clockwise, the handwritten example is mine, followed by postcards made by Lisa Encabo and Chris Deibel):
The backs of 3 finished fabric postcards. Always sign and date them!
 Next, the postcards I've received from past holiday exchanges within Fiberexplorations:
Hand-appliqued, hand-beaded by Chris Deibel, 2009.

Always one for a Hawaiian theme, this was from Lisa Encabo in 2010.
Time to start stitching some more!

It's Fabric Postcard Time Again!

Making fabric postcards!
It feels like Santa's taken up residence on my kitchen table!  I needed this large surface to spread out the bits and pieces I use for making fabric postcards.  A few were finished (or at least nearly so) last year, and many more are somewhere in-progress. 
Next Monday is Fiberexplorations' third annual holiday dinner/meeting, hosted this year by Deb.  We all bring a potluck dish and a fabric postcard, then draw names and exchange the cards.  It's always a treat to receive a piece of art made by another member of the group.  I'm trying to upload the cards I've received from the past two dinners (from Chris in 2009; from Lisa in 2010), but blogger isn't cooperating at the moment!
Instead, I'll show you how I assemble my 4-layered fabric postcards.   The top layer (or "base fabric") is usually pieced or includes some fusible applique, such as the two examples below.  Strips of green fabrics were randomly stitched together, backed with fusible web, then cut into tree shapes.  Then they're fused to the base fabric.  A layer of cotton batting goes under this base fabric, and those layers are quilted.   NOTE:  I use either fusible web or a fusible spray baste to hold the layers together during construction.

Strip-pieced trees fused to base fabrics (batting layer visible underneath).
Sometimes I go to my vintage postcard collection, and photocopy some of them onto pre-treated fabric sheets for ink-jet printers.  Fusible web is added to the back of the photocopies, then sections are cut out and fused to the base fabric.  Other fabrics (with fusible web already attached), are fussy-cut and added to the design:
Vintage postcards trimmed and fused to base fabrics (batting layer visible underneath).
Sometimes (after the quilting is done),  I pull out my box of ribbons and begin adding some surface embellishment.  Angelina fibers, tiny seed beads, glitter glue, and fairy dust are all great additions!  Just be sure nothing dangles or protrudes from the postcard, or you might not be able to mail it.
Ribbons and other sparkles!
The finished size of my postcards is 4" x 6".  I used to start off by cutting my base fabric that size, but this year I'm cutting it and the batting  4.5" x 6.5" so there's room to trim after quilting.  Yes, these can go through the US Mail;  just take them into the post office and ask that they hand-cancel the stamp (rather than putting your fabric postcard through a machine).  Fabric postcards can be mailed at regular letter rates (not postcard rates).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Work by Kathleen and Deb; First blog contest!

Here's a peek at some of the other projects our members are working on:

Kathleen's deconstructed/reconstructed/eco/repurposed/all-purpose bag got plenty of oohs and ahhs, and it's even lined!
Kathleen's bag
While Kathleen was thinking winter (note the snow in the bird scene at the bag's bottom), Deb was still in the moment with autumn leaves:  Do you see how that relates to yesterday's post?  (Clue:  see the photo caption on my Nov. 28 post!)
Deb's "Autumn Leaves"
Let's make that into a little contest, shall we?  It will be my first!  At midnight Thurs., Dec. 8,  I'll randomly draw a name from all who leave a comment with the correct answer to the above question.  To the winner:  one of my lovingly handmade fabric postcards.  Please be sure your email address is accessible from your comment so I can snail-mail your fabric postcard.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Deb's pet portrait in Quilting Arts magazine!

We knew Deb's quilt was special when we revealed our pet portraits last December for the Feeling Petty Quilting Arts 2012 Calendar Challenge.

"In the Moment" by Deb Sorem
 The latest issue of Quilting Arts (Dec. 2011/Jan. 2012) features Deb's colorful quilt as one of six Judges' Choice winners.  Who could resist this happy fellow?  As Deb explained, "One way to reduce stress is to live in the moment, rather than fret about the past or future.  No one does this better than my happy, loveable golden retriever."
Congratulations, Deb!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Architecture Challenge Reveal

I've had formatting problems with this post -- just ignore the weird spacing, etc.!
The Fiberexplorations group met on Monday night to reveal our quilts for the Architecture Challenge.  Most of us still have a bit more work to do before these pieces are completely finished.
Here they are, beginning with Deb's pieces.  Yes, she made two, both featuring arches, which are key elements in architecture (and highly visible on the Ladd and Bush building).   Each quilt holds special, personal meaning to her, not evident to other viewers.
Deb's TWO (!!) pieces, featuring arches
The piece that Chris is constructing was quite unique-- it's wool applique and done by hand:

Wool applique by Chris
She found her inspiration in the center motif of the following architectural element:
Scrollwork freize (?)
Joanna's untitled (and unfinished) purple piece

Torrie and Maureen used the fluted freize as their design inspiration, as did I in my first (unsuccessful) attempt. At least I think that's what this exterior architectural element is called:

Fluted freize (?)
Note the embroidered ribbon Torrie used, along with the faux trapunto she created along the top and bottom:
Torrie's piece, titled "Prism"
Maureen was celebrating her birthday with her family, so we didn't see her that night or get a photo of her piece.   I'll add that soon, as well as a pic of Kathleen's quilt.
Nov. 28 update:   A clearer photo of  Lisa's quilt is below.  It features men's shirting fabrics and zippers, in a Courthouse Square block arrangement.  Coins coated with resin embellish this piece, which brings to mind a gentleman banker in his Brooks Brothers suit, button-down shirt, tie, and well-shined shoes. (Personally, the zippers made me think of two other bank-related items:  a safe-deposit box and a bank vault, both of which are "zipped up" tightly for security and hold coins!)
Lisa's "zipper quilt"
Another update to this post:  I don't have a title for my purple architecture quilt yet, but today a possibility came to mind:  Architexture!  Whaddya think?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tomorrow night is the big reveal -- the meeting where we share the quilts we've made for the Architecture Challenge.  A few members have shared their quilts-in-progress, but the majority have not, so most of the work will be a surprise.  It's always a thrill to see how each individual interprets the same subject, in this case, the architecture of downtown Salem's Ladd & Bush Bank building.
After struggling for weeks to find a way to incorporate the architectural image I created from a hand-carved stamp, I finally set it aside.  I couldn't find a way to make it work (it was really too large for this project), so I stopped worrying about it and started over.  I looked through my own surface-designed fabrics, my five design journals, and the work I did in Rosalie Dace's workshop.
My five design journals
I already had many pieces from my surface design experiments.  Surprisingly, many of them were in shades of purple.  Why?  I took an online fabric-painting class through Quilt University about five years ago.  We used transparent Setacolor  paints (diluted 50/50 with water).  I laid the piece below on a large plastic gridded surface -- it was just a handy place to hang the fabric (in the sun) to dry.  Then I received one of those serendipitous surprises -- the grid, even from underneath, had been sun-printed onto my painted fabric, and I now had about 2 yards of it!
Sun-printed purple fabric
I wonder if anyone else discovered this new and extremely appropriate fabric from Moda (below)?  It was an exciting find, and I painted some pieces with a light wash of purple:
Architecture fabric!!!! (mine tinted purple)
The only goal for this weekend is to make this challenge quilt.  I really don't like waiting til the last minute, but it seems that deadline pressure motivates me.  But before I get back to work, here are a few shots of the chosen elements for this piece.  To see all of the finished quilts, check back on Tuesday.  

TEXTURE: Two fabrics, densely stitched.

Detail: sun-printed, screenprinted fabric.
The elements, ready to be assembled and stitched.
And big news:  Beginning the first of the new year, these quilts will be exhibited in the building that was the inspiration for this challenge -- the Ladd & Bush branch of US Bank!  They liked our theme and want to work with us to share it with the community.  Thanks to member Deb Sorem for making that happen!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mushroom dyeing: once is enough

My most recent surface design (dyeing) experiment turned out to be a stinking mess!  When I saw these weird mushrooms in my backyard last weekend and noticed how they'd stained the grass around them, I thought FABRIC DYEING!  Don't they have an interesting "border" design? 

Mushroom in my yard.  Type???
 I harvested more than a bucketful!
Shroom Family
An 18" garter snake was hiding under this crop, below.  Just to prove I could, I caught the snake by the tail and proudly showed it to my husband.  Sorry, no photo!
"Turtle shell" shrooms!

Big Daddy Shroom!  (12" across)
I took some of the harvested fungi and placed them on my PFD fabric.  Wearing rubber gloves, I smooshed and smashed them into the cloth.  They were juicy!  Next, I rolled the fabric into two bundles, with the mushrooms still inside, then double-bagged them in plastic.
Shrooms smashed and bundled in PFD fabric
After 2 days on the backporch, I thought my project might need heat to yield better results.  After photographing it, I placed the mushy bag on the hearth in front of our gas heater.  (I wonder if the word mushy has its origins in mushroom?)
After 2 days . . . yum
Last night, I turned the bag over one rotation.  Five minutes later, I saw that it had begun leaking a thin, dark brown liquid onto the hearthstone.  I quickly cleaned up the mess and decided to stop the experiment.  Back on the porch again, I unwrapped the bundles and nearly gagged from the smell!  I persevered and got the fabric rinsed out, and the rest of the nasty mess went outside in the trash.
The result. 
This morning I studied my mushroom-dyed fabric.  It's not pretty.  It IS organic, though, and does look like some of India Flint's experiments in her wonderful book, Eco Colour.  I'm not sure how or even IF I'll ever use it, but I'm pretty sure I won't repeat this stinky experiment again!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Going backwards, again

I'm going backwards again, posting something that should have been done in late September!  However, since I looked forward to my Watercolor Journaling class with Jane Lafazio at Art & Soul for such a long time (actually, I've wanted to take a class from her since I learned about her work a few years ago), I can't NOT post this!
I had a copy of Danny Gregory's book with me, An Illustrated Life, which came in handy when Jane related the story of her art life.  If I've got this right, it was when she first discovered Danny Gregory's watercolor-journaling style that she left behind her more formal style of watercoloring for this freer, more spontaneous way of working.  And now, in turn, Jane's inspiring others to give sketching and drawing a try.  (I never even considered learning to sketch and/or watercolor until I saw Jane's work, and I know I'm not the only she's inspired to take up pen and moleskine!)
Love this book!
page 145, autographed.
Our first exercise in Jane's class was to do a pencil sketch, after choosing a subject from her traveling collection of silk flowers and little birds.  I wasn't the fastest in the class (and I have no natural talent), so I found myself wishing I'd been practicing drawing on a regular basis.  In a previous class a few years ago, I learned the basics of drawing, how to see like an artist, blind contour drawing, etc., and most importantly, that regular practice is the only way to get better at it.
We then drew over our pencil lines in black ink, then added the watercolors.  Mine wasn't great, but wasn't horrible either. I like the imperfections.  It provided lots of opportunity for progress (especially in learning where the stem should join the blossom)!
Sketched and watercolored lily.
My 2nd piece had some problems.  He looks pretty cross, for one.  I won't point out the others (like giving him something to perch on!), and there's not much left to do before he's finished.  This poor birds just wants it to be over with!
Not-quite-finished blue jay.

So that was Art & Soul 2011 (Portland).  Just one class this year.  No new (and unfinished) jewelry projects to tempt me away from needle, thread, and fabric.  Well, maybe an exception can be made for a short, but regular, sketching practice!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Inspiration: Cascades in the Summer

It's time to post some of the photos I've taken over the past few months.  Most were taken as possible sources of inspiration for design, while others were meant to capture a summer memory.  Here they are:
Yes, part of Clear Lake is turquoise! (as seen from our canoe)

near Camp Sherman

Ponderosa Pine (can't you feel the warm sun on your back?)

Closer view of Ponderosa pine (press your nose against the sun-warmed bark; it smells like vanilla)

Old fencing nailed to Ponderosa pine

Pine drops

Mt. Jefferson, glimpsed through the trees

Canyon Creek Trail to 3-Fingered Jack

Wildflowers on Canyon Creek Trail (late Aug. 2011!)