Monday, December 16, 2013

5th Annual Holiday Potluck

We had the Fiberexplorations' 5th annual holiday potluck & fabric postcard exchange this past weekend. This year, Nancy hosted us at Passages, her ridgetop home in the Cascades.  I can't tell you how beautiful everything was!  It was a bright, cold, and sparkling Saturday afternoon, but we were warm and cozy inside, as Nancy's husband, Gary, told us the history of Passages and how it came to be named.

More than one of us proclaimed that if we lived there, we'd probably never leave.  It felt like we were nestled inside someone's dream vision of the ultimate tree house.  Here's a view from their music room, high in the Douglas firs:

Nancy's view
Gary took photos of us as a group, but it's my fault that they aren't included here.  My camera is persnickety, and all the shots were blurred.  We'll try again next year!

On the other hand, our fabric postcard exchange was a big hit again. There was no theme this year, as you can see, and they were all unique:

There were several long tables set out in Nancy's spacious studio-in-the-treetops, and that's where we ate our linner (combo lunch-dinner).   Every potluck dish was incredible, and all the major food groups were included, which can be rare at a potluck.  One offering deserves special mention, as it seemed to generate the most taste-approving sounds, and that was the rum cake that Lisa brought.  (But credit goes to her husband, Laine, for making the cake!)

As the sun dropped lower in the western sky, we realized that we did, indeed, need to return to the valley. We said our goodbyes, while Nancy and Gary insisted that we each take one of their special wineglasses as a keepsake.  The glasses were printed with the word Passages, which will always be a reminder of this holiday afternoon in the mountains,  celebrating with great food & drink, laughter, stories, and creative friends.

Thanks, Nancy & Gary!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Progress on the Photo Safari Challenge

I've been working on my piece for our Photo Safari Challenge and I'm 85% serious about trying to finish by my personal deadline of Nov. 11.   Hmmm . . . as usual, I change my mind every hour about the direction I'm heading.  In the past couple months, I made lots of initial sketches as I abstracted shapes from the park photos.  I'd play with an idea for awhile, then discard it, until I chose a loose design idea as my starting point.

I also set myself a goal of working with colors I've never worked with before -- neutrals. 
Soft grays, ivory, light blues, lavenders, and greens.

I was envisioning soft colors that imparted a calm and soothing mood, but it was too calm for me, even with the tiny inserts of the mosaic print that I've been waiting to use.   It was time to add a few strips of  darker values to the strata I'd already stitched.
Two sections stitched, contrast added, and still "blah."

That added some much-needed contrast, but it still wasn't talking to me yet.  So I went with the Portlandia cliche and put a bird (or two) on it.  And with that addition, a personal theme emerged . . .

and I knew it was time to turn away from my sketched idea and work from intuition.  Next step:  cut up the large sections I'd stitched together and reuse smaller bits of them in more interesting ways.
Sneak peek at revised design idea.

Note for tomorrow:  Have fun, lighten up, breathe, and think about why the birds are included in this quilt and why I'm humming snatches of Neil Young's Expecting to Fly.

Monday, November 4, 2013

About this party I went to . . .

I spent part of Saturday getting ready for a Sunday evening party.  The event couldn't have been better timed for chasing off the blues that threaten every fall when we change back to standard time.  Though it's just a minor detail, I should mention that this was a solo party, where I was both host and guest, and the division of both roles dissolved in all the fun I had!
It was MAGICAL and COLORFUL, with some wonderfully SURPRISING results!
What is it?

Marbling fabric!
Three of my marbled fabrics.
On Saturday, I pretreated my fabrics with an alum soak, which acts as a mordant to bind the the paints to the cloth.
I love the magic of adding paints, one drop at a time, to the methocel solution (the "sizing") and watching  as the paints rapidly expand to fill the surface area.  When the next color is added, it's almost as if there was a race to see which droplets can fill the most space!

Black just added.

In the photo above, the blue was added first, then yellow, then black.  [Sorry for the striped illusion -- that's the plastic tablecloth underneath.]
After the black expanded, I added drops of another blue to the center of the black areas, which expanded, pushing back the black into an outline shape (below).
A 2nd blue expanding inside the black.

I waited a few moments for the paints to finish expanding and contracting, to see what it would look like.  [The center white dot is a reflection, not paint.]
The party was getting pretty noisy by then, with all my squeals of delight and exclamations of "Wow, just look at that!"
Before I swirled the surface paints around.
Instead of a rake, I used a skewer and moved the surface paints into twirling designs. Then I blew through a straw and directed the paints using puffs of air.  Magic! 
The final step was to place the pre-treated fabric on top of the floating paints, lift the fabric onto a tray, and carry it to the sink to rinse off.  I'm always amazed that the paint stays put!  All that's rinsed away is the methocel solution. The fabric is then hung until til dry, then ironed on the reverse side to set the color.  Here's the result:
The marbled fabric.

Some of the fabrics I marbled during this session:

I suppose you could say I was again exploring my love of blues and greens.

And at the end, something strangely beautiful.  Remember the first photo I posted above?  Here it is again:

What is it?

After I poured off the leftover methocel solution, all the paints had sunk to the bottom of the tray, making a gorgeous mess.  Too pretty to destroy . . . so I went through the marbling process again, placing a piece of fabric onto these paints, and "printed" the results:

I may call this "Sunken Treasure."
My party died down around 9:00 pm, and I was left with a big clean-up job.  It was well worth it, though, and next time I may even invite some guests.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A new way to monoprint!

Are you familiar with the textile work of the English mother-daughter duo, Linda and Laura Kemshall?   I recently viewed one of their free sample videos from DesignMatters TV (DMTV)Exploring Monoprint.

This method of monoprinting was entirely new to me and I couldn't wait to try it out last night.  All I needed was fabric paint (I used black, and later, added a little green and blue), a Plexiglas print plate, a brayer (or soft, sponge-type roller), plain paper,  fabric to print on, and a ball-point pen.*  Oh, two more items:  tape and a temporary adhesive spray.  (All I had was temporary fabric basting spray, and it worked fine.) 

*Actually, Laura called it a "biro," but it looked like a simple ball-point pen to me.  Can anyone tell me if they're the same?
Assembled supplies for monoprinting, Laura Kemshall-style.
I looked through my design sketchbooks to get ideas for lines and marks to use.  On my first try, I drew the lines on paper first, then copied over them during the monoprint to get this result:

My first print on fabric.
 For the other prints, I didn't draw designs on the paper until it was layered over the fabric and inked plate.

My 2nd print on fabric.
and here's the paper those lines were drawn on:
Before re-inking the plate again, I looked at it held up to a light, and the small amounts of blue and green paints I'd added to the black were apparent:
The plate after printing.
For this to make sense, you may want to see Laura's instructions on the free video.

Here are the other two monoprints I made on fabric.  As it was late in the evening, you can see that my design ideas weren't flowing too freely.
This one features fake backwards writing at the top.

Monopoly houses?  Time to quit!
My next experiment will be to follow Linda Kemshall's instructions from another of their free DMTV shows (further down that page) on Waxing Papers.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Feelin' Lucky!

Quiltopia weekend is here in Salem, Oregon!  Last week, The Oregonian (Portland's daily newspaper) published an article about the event, which included photos of some of the quilts made by my coworkers at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest, the event's sponsor.  I was excited to learn that my quilt Hello Mr. Sun was included in the article -- twice!  (One photo was a full view; the second was a detail shot.)

You may remember this quilt from my post last November.  It was made as a sample for a class I've been teaching, Serendipity Quilts, from the same-titled book by Susan Carlson.  Here are the photos from The Oregonian:

"Hello Mr. Sun" (Photo by Josef Brugger)

The caption read:  Joanna Price, a frequent teacher at Greenbaum's Quilted Forest in Salem, sewed this sun artwork as a class model from a book titled "Serendipity Quilts." An array of fabric art will be on display at the 2013 Quiltopia festival in Salem. 

Here's the detail shot:

Detail, "Hello Mr. Sun" (Photo by Josef Brugger)

Quiltopia is a 3-day festival that includes a quilt show with vendors, plus the Salem Fiberarts Guild's Annual Handweaver's Sale and Demos, both at Mission Mill MuseumThe Quilted Cottage Tour on Sunday is a self-guided tour of two houses filled with quilts.  Other activities involving quilts are also part of the festival.  For more info, click on this link.

I'm pretty thrilled about my quilt being included in the article, along with the many "congrats" I received from my friends.  That little bit of attention and acknowledgment's left me feeling happy, lucky, and thankful!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Photo Safari Challenge

Photo Safari is the title of our newest challenge.  In August, our group met one Saturday morning at Bush Park (Salem) with our cameras.  The goal was to photograph a wide variety of subjects, including architecture, flora & fauna, shadows & light, manmade and natural elements, etc.  Back at home, we had to choose a set of 12 of our best shots, and at our Aug. meeting, we drew names to determine whose photo set we'd receive.

The Crooked House in the children's play area, Bush Park.  (Photo by Caithlin)

Nancy looking for a subject to photograph.  (I photographed this from inside The Crooked House.)
 From there, the challenge guidelines were simple:  the finished dimensions had to be between 84" and 144" total inches.  From the set of 12 photos you received, you could choose to digitally enhance or manipulate a photo using software, print a photo onto fabric to use in a quilt, or work from a photo to design a representational or abstract composition.  Or your design could simply be "inspired by" one or more of the photos you received.

A basket of bougainvillea hangs inside the conservatory. 
They white-wash all the glass windows for the summer to filter the sunlight.

While discussing a due date for this challenge, most members agreed that trying to finish something before the holidays was asking too much, and that our Feb. 10, 2014 meeting would make for a good due date.  But me and my big mouth -- I had to speak out and say "that's too much time; it's six months!"  Consequently, they assigned a special due date for my challenge piece -- Nov. 11.

Identity unknown, but it's pretty!
Any long-term reader of this blog knows that I have a tendency to procrastinate until the last minute, and sometimes I may have to stretch a due date just a tiny bit to make a deadline.  But I'm truly getting better!   I know that the Nov. 11 deadline was assigned to me in jest, but I'm determined to prove to myself (and maybe to others) that I can meet a reasonable deadline.  And while I still believe that 3 months is adequate time for me to complete this challenge, I know that many members have more demands on their available "creative time" than I have.

I received Caithlin's set of 12 photos and have been musing over design ideas.  The choosing and indecision make up a large part of my procrastination.

Not to get off on a tangent, but does anyone know the identity of the green & silver plant above???

Comments, anyone?  Please!  It's getting lonely in here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

To OFFF in well-worn shoes

Yesterday, Deb and I braved typhoon-like weather to visit OFFF (Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival) in Canby, an annual 3-day event.  In addition to vendors' booths, OFFF features fiber art workshops (dyeing, felting, spinning, weaving, knitting, etc.), as well as animal husbandry classes (such as Using Herbs For Deworming Sheep And Goats and Managing The Angora Wool Rabbitry).

We weren't there for classes, though -- just on the lookout for some beautiful wool.  We both want to do some nuno-felting on the loosely-woven blue-green fabrics we painted a few days ago.  As soon as we saw this selection of wool, dyed in a gradation of golds, greens, and blues, both of us said "That's the one!"

Wool roving, dyed gold-green-blue.
Once I got home and placed it with my painted fabric, I knew it was perfect!

Wool and cloth for nuno-felting.
But the day wasn't all wet and dreary; a mishap provided some humor.  In such stormy weather, I couldn't wear sandals, so I pulled out a comfy old pair of navy clogs (circa 1995-ish).  They were made by Clarks, and I used to have a brown pair that I wore til they fell apart.   As we entered the show, I noticed that the right shoe suddenly felt really loose.  I looked down and saw that the stitching (connecting the top to the sole) was undone from the toe along the entire right side.  That meant navigating the vendor's booths with a slow shuffle, hoping the shoe would hold up til I got home.

Only it didn't.  We left the show as the rain and wind started up again, ferociously.  We had to step over downed tree limbs and watch for others that were falling.  Deb slowed down for me as I shuffled through the cold, stinging rain, and at one point I actually walked out of the shoe!  Once we were back in my car, we had a good laugh over that poor shoe, which, by then, was also coming undone along its left side.

I photographed those old Clarks when I got home, then the next place they went was the trash. 
Goodbye, Clarks.

I'm way overdue for a new pair, don't you think?  Do you have any recommendations for comfy, casual, everyday shoes?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fabric Painting with Deb

Deb and I got together yesterday afternoon to do some fabric painting.  We used a variety of textile paints, blended and mixed colors, then brushed, dabbed, and dribbled them onto fabric. 

Deb's first piece, nearly dry.

My first piece, still wet.

I rolled up my first piece so the colors would soften and blend, then put it in a plastic bag to take home.

Once I got home and ironed it, this is how it looked:

Sunset colors.
On our next pieces, we mostly used Setacolor paints and diluted them about 50/50 with water; the colors flowed nicely over dampened cloth.   This time we painted on some mystery fabric of Deb's -- a very soft, loosely woven blend.  We agreed these would make lovely scarves, especially with the addition of some nuno-felting!

The loosely-woven fabric, freshly painted.
I'd brought along my painting boards for us to use.  They're foam core, covered front & back with clear Contac paper to keep moisture from seeping in, and I've used them for years.  When we finished painting for the day, I noticed how they were stained with layers and layers of paint, a testament to many sessions of fabric painting.
My colorful painting boards!
Here are my two painted pieces after I ironed them to set the colors:

Painted fabrics, ready to use.

The sunset-color piece on the right might work in my next challenge project, and the green-blue piece is still insisting on being nuno-felted!

What do you think?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Exhibit: Exploring Fiber Art

I can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier in the summer!  The Cannon Beach (OR) History Center & Museum is featuring our quilts in a summer exhibit titled Exploring Fiber Art.   The postcard announcing the 10-piece exhibit featured Kathleen's Confetti Aspens, as you'll see below:

Exhibit postcard from the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum

The back of the postcard included a short description of the exhibit and a list of members whose work was included:
Back of the postcard.
"From tree-swept landscapes to abstract patterns, Fiberexplorations will astound you with their style and passion."  (source: 5th Annual Plein Air & More Art Festival supplement to the Cannon Beach Gazette)

Exploring Fiber Art will be on display for a few more weeks, through Sept. 30.  The museum is located at 1287 S. Spruce St. in Cannon Beach; summer hours are 11am-5pm, Wed. thru Mon. (closed Tues.)  Admission is donation-based.  For more on the museum and its exhibits, see

Friday, September 6, 2013

PC Challenge Quilt Accepted into Two Shows!

Our Painted Canvas challenge quilt has been accepted into two regional juried shows!

Fiberexplorations' PAINTED CANVAS Challenge Quilt

The shows are
 2013 NW Quilting Expo in Portland, Sept. 19-21.
MQX Quilt Festival PNW 2013, also in Portland, Oct. 9-13.

We've come a long way, baby!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Erika Close awarded 1st Place ribbon at Ore. State Fair 2013

1st place ribbon for "Industrial Nature"
Fiberexplorations member Erika Close took home a first place ribbon at this year's Oregon State Fair for her quilt, Industrial Nature (also shown in this post from the Sisters' Outdoor Quilt Show).  Erika's quilt was categorized in the Professional division.

"Industrial Nature" by Erika Close

Detail of leaves and quilting
Erika began this quilt in a workshop by Jean Wells.  Rather than using a traditional binding, she used the portrait finish technique that Jean teaches.  In this method, the quilt is finished, then mounted on a larger quilted piece that works as a frame. 

Quilt entries at this year's fair were up from 150 last year to 220 this year, according to Salem's Statesman Journal newspaper.  Volunteer committees have taken charge of this quilt competition, as well as other "creative living" contests.

Congratulations, Erika!