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.