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!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Look for Fall!

So . . . whadda ya think?  Do you like this seasonal look?  I'd like your opinion!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Crosscurrents: Finale!

Now that I finally have people reading my blog, it's a bad time to neglect posting and keeping things updated!  Sorry that I disappointed anyone by not sticking to my plan of daily updates on the Crosscurrents workshop.
My progress at end of Day 4.
Little green centers (cotton lame') added to X's.

One of my favorite "units" was the one below, which I started on Day 4 and finished the last day.  It's based on Lisa Call's style (the example in that link shows her typical use of solids and repetitious stitching), though mine is a little different. 

First, the base is made of 9 fabrics, stitched together at an angle.  A stabilizer was added to the back, then I used a fabric chalk marker to lightly sketch in a grid on the front, totally ignoring the lines created when I stitched the 9 pieces together.  I began straight-line stitching, changing the direction of the stitching lines within the grids to create lots of movement. I believe Lisa does her stitching in the quilting stage, but my goal was simply to make an interesting "background."

On our last afternoon, each workshop participant talked about their work and what they learned that week.  For me, I learned to think differently about backgrounds.  Rather than simply a base to add your work to, I learned that the background could more accurately be described as "the first layer," and to make it as interesting as every other part of my design.  I now realize that multiple layers give a richness to your work, and can be the element that beckons the viewer to come in for a closer look.  I'm not sure I'd previously heard the phrase "Would it make a man on a galloping horse come back for a closer look?" but it really makes sense to me now.  And finally, I liked Rosalie's term for negative spacesthe spaces in-between! Like the background (or "first layer"), those spaces provide another design opportunity.

More tucks.

During the week, I left my piece of Black Cherry-dyed shibori hanging on my design wall because it gave the impression that I'd made more progress than I really had.  But as I explained this during my turn to sum up my experience, several classmates encouraged me to include it.  I hadn't thought the color worked with my overall design, but I've played around and casually made some tucks and fabric inserts, and now think it might work.  I think tucks (which I used successfully in my piece for the Bits & Pieces exhibit) may become a recurring element in my work!

There's still one more story to tell from this week, but I'll save it for the next post.  Thanks for reading about my explorations!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Crosscurrents: Day 3

Day 3:  still designing and constructing units.  I should be starting to consider how these will all fit together, but I feel like I still need to construct one or two more units (and maybe a few mini-ones) before putting them all together. 
We crossed the halfway point of the workshop today (Day 3), and everyone's work is amazing..Here's a quick look at my progress thus far . . . no more words; I need to sleep!

Day 3:  everything constructed thus far
A remake of my first unit from Day One
Day 3:  A line of vertical tucks with surprise color bits
Tomorrow is Day 4.  It's going to be a good one!  After our class, Jean (Wells) has invited all of us to her house for dinner, followed by "show and tell."  Then at 8pm, it's the season premiere of Oregon Art Beat.   Half of this episode is a feature  story about Jean and her contributions to the quilting world.  I can say that I was there at the film shoot (along with other members of our Intuitive Color and Design Group) and had the privilege of participating!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crosscurrents: Day 2

I used so much creative energy on Day 2 that there was no energy of ANY kind for posting an update last night.
Day 2:  some X's, crossed lines, cross-currents.
 In the last half-hour of Day 2, I stabilized a piece of black dupioni silk (in upper right of  photo below), then added random rows of machine stitching to it.  Along with the white-and-gray background piece next to it, I quickly created more crossed lines using leftover fusible-backed fabric strips.
Day 2:  old and new pieces
My design wall on Day 2

My design wall now includes a long piece of Black Cherry shibori-dyed fabric created a few weeks ago.  Not sure I can use it in this project, but it fills out my wall area nicely!

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Crosscurrents" Workshop with Rosalie Dace: Day One

I feel so fortunate to be taking the 5-day Crosscurrents design workshop with S. African art quilter, Rosalie Dace.  What an incredible teacher!  The workshop is at the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, OR.  In the weeks leading up to this workshop, our assignment was to pay special attention to the shapes x and +, which have intersecting lines, and collect images of these shapes.
My design wall: Day one

Day One was all about PLAYING, EXPERIMENTING,
and trying out different ways of designing with intersecting lines. Tomorrow we'll begin our actual design compositions, but Day One was all about exploring.

 Rosalie brought a wonderful selection of images that featured intersecting lines.  I sketched a few ideas from them, but went back to a previous little sketch in my design journal.  Here's how it looks now that I've interpreted it in fabric:

My first piece.  (Ignore the dark line on the right; I don't have a photo-editing program on this laptop!)
Exploring that idea further, I had a good start on my next piece.   Then Rosalie came around and asked the magical question   " . . . what if . . .?"  She gave me that extra little push that I needed, resulting in this piece:

Designing in layers.            

 I knew about "what if . . .?" but now realize I hadn't been asking it enough when designing art quilts.

 I began one more composition before quitting time.  It's not finished yet, but here's where I left off:
3rd design, still in progress.
I'm very excited for Day 2!  And something special happens Thursday evening -- Jean Wells, who's also in this class, has invited all of us to her house for dinner that evening.  Then at 8pm, it's time for Oregon Art Beat's season premiere (Ore. Public Broadcasting); one of the two featured stories is the one about Jean, filmed this past July!  I was privileged to be at the filming as one of her "students" working through the critique process.  It will be so much fun to see the results of that day's filming, done in the classroom and at her home studio!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shibori, revisited

I had the urge to put color on fabric one weekend in mid-September, so I gathered my supplies and wrapped 8" strips of (dry) soda-soaked PFD fabric around PVC piping.  I recently splurged on some new Procion MX dye powders, but couldn't decide which to use.  My son (Max) was home from college for the weekend, so I asked him to make the choice between Eggplant, Black Cherry, and Rust Brown.  Without looking up, he proclaimed Black Cherry as the dye of the day.  (Probably because he doesn't like eggplant -- has he even tasted it?? -- and anything with rust in the title probably sounded unappealing.)
Fabric wrapped, scrunched, and tied on PVC pipes.
Ready for the dye
Dyeing in progress

The results
I was very happy with my results, both the shibori and the two extra fabric pieces I scrunched up and submerged in the dye bath.  I want to use these pieces, not add them to my bag of "experiments"!