Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Great Lakes Fiber Show

Most of my garden is now planted, not all of it, but enough to allow me to get to other things again!  It had been several weeks since the Great Lakes Fiber Show, but I want to mention a few things.  It was only my second visit to the annual event, and some years have passed since my first visit.  I am not a knitter, crocheter, spinner or weaver, so the appeal of the event is a bit limited for me.  I do a little felting, that is it for me with wool (not counting wool fabric, of course).  Despite my apparent lack of interest in animal fiber, I found these guys:

Tunis sheep!!  I'd love to have a few sheep on my tiny homestead someday.  I'm not sure that will ever happen, but I might find a way.

The only thing that I purchased at the Fiber Show was fish leather.

Not quite what I expected to find at a decidedly sheep and llama/alpaca event, at least it is still an animal product!  Since I love incorporating unusual textures in my fabric collage, I was happy to try this unusual leather.  It is thinner than cow hide leather, so it should be easier to work with.  I would raw-edge applique it to whatever I add it to, it will still create a very bulky seam.  My vintage Singer 201 should have no problems sewing through it.  My plan for the weekend is to embellish a couple of Artist Trading Cards with some of the fish leather scraps.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Springtime Distractions

The springtime vegetable planting season is on, and therefore, my posting schedule here will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks, as it has been for the last two or so.  I have a trip to the Great Lakes Fiber Show to report on, and some observations from my ongoing flower pounding adventures.  There might even be some explorations with eco-dyeing here later too.  For now, it is time for a Take Five List: five music CDs I have just received from the library:

1. Essential Tchaikovsky
2. Casablanca  original soundtrack
3. Led Zeppelin: Early Days
4. The Civil War original soundtrack
5. The Best of Leonard Cohen

Have fun trying to connect those five, I have eclectic taste in music!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Backsides (of quilts!)

I finally started quilting the purple collage that has been featured here periodically.  It was good to sit down at my little Elna "Grasshopper" again, but the long hiatus in sewing has resulted in a regression of my already meager free-motion quilting skills.  I'm not concerned about my skills on this one, as so far I am only outlining the major pieces of fabric.  The quilting isn't readily apparent, something that I like.  There are quilters out there who make some amazing designs with thread, but for my style of art quilting,that doesn't work.  I want my quilting to be structural, and not a feature of the overall design.

I'm not a fan of scrutinizing the backside of art quilts.  I understand the importance of having even stitches with balanced top and bottom thread tension, and the concept of good craftsmanship throughout a piece, but in art quilting, the maker often has different qualities that she wants to emphasize.  All the interest in my art quilts is on the front, the back is my place to anchor everything.  There is nothing great to see back there.

I suppose my feelings about the backsides of quilts comes from my very early days in acrylic painting.  Paintings of any type are usually framed, and the back of the piece is often covered in the framing process.  No one wants to see the backside of a painting.  This is a portion of the flip side of one of my high school efforts:

Nothing at all of interest to a viewer!  There is a reason why one side perpetually faces the wall, and so it goes with art quilts in my world.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Making Buttons

At about 2:30 this morning, I realized that I cannot remember the last time I either sat at a sewing machine or had needle and thread in my hands.  It is not that I have been sitting around, I have been reading through a sizable stack of library books, doing various planning for classes and other business ideas, and trying to pull, trim and dig my garden into shape.

I had a quick orientation on the new 3-D printer at work today, and as part of the training, I had to make something with it.  I decided to make some buttons, here they are:

Bright, aren't they?  They are not of great quality, considering that they are built up from a string of melted plastic, but they would still be serviceable on a garment.  The lines are somewhat visible, the process is very similar to an embroidery machine building up an image with stitches.  These button will end up on some artist trading cards.  The down side is it took 26 minutes to make five buttons, not something feasible for any sort of quantity production.  On the plus side, it is possible to scan a button that needs a match, and print out a similar one.

My goal for the weekend is to do some sort of stitching, and hopefully I will have something beautiful to share on Tuesday,

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trick or Treat!

I know it is not Halloween time, but I found a surprise "treat" recently.  I'm working on a chicken themed quilt, and I was going to cut into one of my vintage livestock feed bags for it.  This is the bag I selected:

I noticed some traces of faded post-manufacture writing on the bag, and by chance I looked inside the bag...

Some ambitious youth had made the feedsack into a trick-or-treat bag!  I am so amused by this, that I am thinking of making this a whole cloth quilt, and not using it for the chicken project.  I might just split the bag, and turn the "fill'er up" side out, pairing it with the remaining "right" side for a quilt top.  I would stitch the letters to make them show up better, and perhaps add color to the faded printing.  I'm not sure what else yet, but I will come up with something more to do with it.

What I would love to know (and sadly never will), is where the kid who used this as a trick-or-treat bag lived.  It is a large bag, it once held 100 pounds of feed.  I'm assuming he (this must be the work of a teenage boy) lived in a rural area to have access to chicken feed bags, but in a rural area, population is sparse, houses are far apart...  slim chance of filling a bag this size with candy.  Perhaps he was traveling to a city with visions of lots of candy.  I give him credit for dreaming big!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Missed Opportunities

I spent the past week working on the paper aspect of my business name, making paper collage cards for the May edition of Zanesville First Friday.  I thought that the cards would be a nice low-cost impulse buy for shoppers, as Mother's Day is quickly approaching.  A very reasonable plan, however, I simply forgot to put them out on my table.  I found them fifteen minutes before the event ended while I was looking for something else in my project bag.  That's OK, I wanted to add a little more drawing detail to some of them, and they are not specifically Mother's Day cards.  Maybe I'll remember to put them out next month!

Sales were improved for me last night, as compared to the past two months.  I think that being out in the hallway, instead of a vacant office helped a bit.  I noticed that many of the people roaming the halls were not looking at anything, they just seemed to be walking the halls.  I wasn't the only vendor who noted that phenomenon.  If you attend a visual arts event, please look around, the artists are there to share what they make.  Even if you don't or can't buy anything (and believe me, I am in the camp that is often not able to buy), at least talk to some of the artists and give some positive comments on their work.  A few good words go a long way.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Flower Pounding

I continue to be amazed at the multitude of techniques for fabric surface design.  I just made a quick trial of flower pounding, inspired by one of the books I just purchased in Fredericktown: Flower Pounding by Ann Frischkorn and Amy Sandrin (C&T Publishing, 2000).  Flower pounding is just as is sounds, hammering fresh flowers into prepared fabric.  The fabric (cotton muslin) is prepared just as you would for dyeing with plant dyes - alum and soda ash.

A quick tour of my property for blooms yielded violets, lilac, bluets, spring beauty, pink dogwood, redbud and weigela.  Here is a sampler of those flowers:

The lilac was most disappointing.  I love the clusters of the tiny pale purple flowers this time of year, and the air now is heavy with their scent.  The pounding process on the lilacs only resulted in a murky pinkish-brown.  The bluets and spring beauties, tiny delicate wildflowers, dissolved into a pulpy mess.  The redbuds had nice color, the weigela was another murky mess.  The pink dogwood - oh, my!  It actually came out darker than the fresh flower, and the parallel veins imprinted onto the fabric -lovey!  The violets went splotchy, but notice the color of the flowers.  Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  What would happen with violets in a dye bath?  I have one little piece of prepared silk that didn't make it into the last plant dye session.  It might take a lot of violet flowers to do it, but I am going to try dyeing with them.

One important matter when you are collecting plants or flowers from the wild: be sure you are not picking anything that is rare or endangered, and no matter what, only take what you need.  For every one that you pick, leave at least ten of the same plant undisturbed.

Oh yes, here's more of the lovely pink dogwoods:

Happy spring!