Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Another Shop to Buy my Fabric!

I am pleased to announce that my hand dyed fabrics are now available in Southeast Ohio!  The Old Bank Mercantile has a small selection of my dyed vintage damask tablecloths and large napkins, some fat quarters and half yard cuts, creativity kits, embellishing yarns and dyed vintage fancy pieces (crocheted or embroidered items).  

The shop is located at 180 Broadway, Quaker City, Ohio; open Tuesday through Saturday.  Quaker City is not too far from the intersection of interstates 70 and 77, in the general vicinity of Cambridge and Salt Fork State Park.  If your travels take you to the region, please make a little side trip to check it out.  The shop is located in a 100-some year old bank building (could you tell from the name?).  The owners are still working on restoration, and have kept original fixtures when possible.  Their huge batting rolls are kept in the bank’s vault!  Stop by, support a local business, and support historic preservation.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Creativity Is a Way of Life

Some months ago, I was having an amazing day working on a sewing project, things were going spectacularly well, and before too long it was a quarter to six in the evening.  I was hungry!  I become very crabby about having to cease my creative progress to make something for dinner, but once I started cutting vegetables and cooking, I felt much better emotionally.  I realized that the process of making something is for me, the key to my well-being.  It does not matter what I am making, there is something soothing about working with my hands and seeing an end result.  

I just completed my third batch of canned tomato sauce, from a garden that I started from seed.  Truly my own hard work from start to finish, and I will have delicious pasta sauces and soups this winter. Maybe if more people made things for themselves; useful things, beautiful things; this world would be a better place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

More Fun with Fabric Collage

Here are some of  the same collage pieces that I was working with in my last post, on a lighter, smaller background.

images copyright RPS, please do not re-post elsewhere

It is amazing how moving pieces, overlapping, adding some pieces and taking out others changes the look of a work in progress.  Looking at the above images, ask yourself what elements appeal to you, and what ones you would change.  If you are a traditional quilter, think of the creation of an original composition as an extension of auditioning fabric for an existing pattern.  You are simply adding shapes to the decisions that you must make regarding fabric color and texture.  

If you are serious about creating your own original compositions, there are things you can do to help on your creative quest.  Get to know other creative artists, even if they work in other media.  Ask them for feedback on your art pieces.  Take classes, visit museum and galleries.  Read about making art.  Two books on design and making art that I highly recommend are: The Creative Artist by Nita Leland (North Light Books/F & W Publications, 1990) and A Fiber Artist's Guide to Color and Design by Heather Thomas (Landauer Publishing, 2011).  Look for them at your local library, if they don't have them, ask for them through interlibrary loan.

Most importantly, make stuff!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Collage in Progress

A day late, here is one of many ways to create something original out of fabric.   

I do not usually start with a finished vision.  I pick out a fabric or two, or a large embellishing item, and build a collage from there.  While ironing the vintage fabric scraps that I purchased last weekend, two pieces caught my eye – an odd bird shaped piece and a little hexagon.  These two pieces are the foundation of this evolving piece.  I selected a purple dyed damask napkin for the base, and started playing with the layout of other fabric pieces. 
Image copyright RPS, please do not repost elsewhere

I next selected two long, light colored calico pieces for some contrast of value.  Creating a skewed L shape in an arrangement is a recurring design device that has gotten stuck in my brain from a workshop that I took a few years ago.  I keep using it, as it creates a sort of half frame that keeps the viewer’s eye moving around the whole piece – something that you want in a good composition.     
Image copyright RPS, please do not repost elsewhere

Adding more pieces, I deliberately have no focal point here.  I’m not trying to recreate a concrete image.  These collages are meditative studies of texture, color, pattern and shape.  I want my viewer to have something to gaze upon that is a delight to the eyes. 

When playing with collage arrangements, take a picture of each one.  Seeing a smaller image of a composition often helps you evaluate it better.  Make one arrangement, snap a photo, take all the pieces off, start over.  However, set a time limit, otherwise you could spend days on one piece.  You want to create a finished work, move along with it!  Give yourself an hour to play, then look at your photos and pick one to make.  Rebuild the one you like, and start stitching.
Image copyright RPS, please do not repost elsewhere
A different look, though I'm not liking it as much as the first one.  See how different a collage can become by rearranging the pieces and adding or leaving out things?
Image copyright RPS, please do not repost elsewhere
Ugh, too much going on!  After adding pieces, this one really is not working.  I still will add stitching, fancy yarns, paper and who-knows-what else.  The little details will be too much for this option.  Next time, I'll have a few more design possibilities on a smaller napkin background.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Coshocton Wrap-up

The Coshocton Canal Quilters show is in the books.  I sold a little, bought a little, met some new faces, and discovered a great local pizza place.  Should you find yourself in Coshocton, Ohio, whether it is to visit Roscoe Village, or for something else, I recommend Crowtown Pizza on Second Street.  If you are reading this blog for the first time after finding me at the Coshocton show, welcome to my world of ramblings!  If you bought something from me, thank you.  I’d love to see what you make from my fabric.
I often have people tell me, whether it is referring to art quilts in general or the unusual textiles that I sell, that they like what they see but don’t know where to start in making something unique.  There are many ways to address the “blank page” challenge.  One quick way to get started is to pick out three or four fabrics that you like, cut a few simple shapes from them, and start playing with different arrangements.  Decide on a finished size, keep it small, and when you get an arrangement you like, start sewing.   

As I mentioned in the opening of this post, I bought a few things over the weekend including some neat vintage quilt blocks and fabric scraps.  I have enough fabric to work with already, but these vintage treasures kept calling me.  I’m inspired to create something with them. 

In the next post (hopefully on Thursday), I will give an example of the playing with shapes method of starting a composition. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What to do with a Hand Dyed Napkin

If you are in Central Ohio, I hope that you can make it out this weekend to the Coshocton Canal Quilters show at the Coshocton Presbyterian Church, North Fourth and Chestnut Street, Coshocton, Ohio.  Admission is $5, hours are 10-6 Friday and Saturday, noon to 3 on Sunday.  I will be selling all sorts of lovely hand dyed fabrics, embellishing fibers, dyed vintage doilies and fancy pieces, and other vintage goodies. 

I have three suitcases full of dyed damask napkins; here are some ideas for using them.

1. Cut them!  Use as you would any off the bolt fabric.  I recommend fusing a lightweight stabilizer to the back before cutting.  Most of the damasks really don't have a "wrong" side, they look great from either side.

2. Use as a base for an applique design.  The damasks work great with wool applique too.

3. Make a fabric collage using a damask napkin for a base.  Make several napkin collages and join them together into a larger wall hanging.

4. Make useful kitchen items from them: place mats, mug rugs, table runners, appliance covers, etc.

5. Make purses and bags from them.

6. Make a quilt - any size!  They combine beautifully with commercial prints and quilting enhances the damask. 

Unfortunately, my hand dyed damask napkins are not available on my Etsy store, you'll have to come see me at a show or find them at Silk Road Textiles in Cincinnati.  I'm working on a couple more retail sources where they will be available.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Auction find! Singer Sewing Machine adversting

I'll admit, I am rather easily distracted.  While I am still basking in the glow of new fancy threads from my Lexington trip, the excitement has dimmed a bit due to this:

Image copyright RPS, please do not post elsewhere

Something I had never heard of before, an annual almanac put out by the Singer Sewing Machine company.  It is my latest find from the frequent junk auction near my residence.  It is filled with the usual suspect information akin to the still published Old Farmer's Almanac, but of course peppered with useful articles and advertising about Singer sewing machines.  This particular one still has a string through the hole in the upper corner, for hanging in an easily accessible location and its condition indicates that it was consulted frequently.  It is a fascinating look back into another time; a postal rate chart (two cents an ounce for a first class letter), time of transit table from New York City to various locations around the world (two days to Quebec, 33 days to Singapore), an article on "The Family Medicine Cabinet."  No one now knows what Jamaica Ginger was used for, on page 30, it was recommended as a stimulant for severe pain.

Also on page 30 is the following advice:
     "Every sewing-machine operator should have a piece of white (cloth or paper) and a piece of black to put under the needle in threading.  When the thread is black use the white cloth; with white thread the black.  One who has never tried this will be pleasantly surprised with the help it gives."
Image copyright RPS, please do not post elsewhere

Some of the Singer promotional articles are a historical gold mine.  I'm especially intrigued by a discussion of their cabinet making processes in the almanac.  And then there is the proclamation that Singer sewing machines were "America's chief contribution to civilization." (p. 45)  Arrogant?  Maybe not, the 1997 special edition of Life magazine listed the invention of the sewing machine at number 67 in their "100 Events of the Past 1,000 Years," and quoted Gandhi as claiming that the sewing machine was, "one of the few useful things ever invented." (p. 57)  Learning to sew certainly has changed my life.