Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sunflower Silk

I truly have far more ideas than I have time.  There are three future posts in my head, based on some observations I have made from children's' books, and I am lacking the time to develop and type them... at least this week.  I have simply tried to jam too much into this week.

Anyway, here's the result of a little fabric dye experiment I managed to do over the past weekend:

I dyed silk with sunflower seed hulls, scraped up from beneath my bird feeders!  I'm not sure I will bother to do that again, the color isn't anything great.  I might try growing a variety of sunflowers cultivated by the Hopi for dyeing their wool rugs.  Maybe a different variety will yield stronger colors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Time Goes By

The three day weekend was not as productive as I had hoped, at least in the way of sewing.  The weather was too nice to stay inside!  I did a good bit of yard work and planning for this year's gardens.  I am pleased to report that my two little woad plants are doing well.  I am embarking on a seed saving venture with these biennials, so maybe in a few years I will be able to get some blue fabric from them.

The only thing I have to share in sewing progress is this:

How about that for extreme couching!  That is a whole bunch of fancy yarn, dyed lace trims and silk sari ribbons, all machine zig-zag couched.  It is a piece of a larger fabric collage.  I hope to have enough of it finished soon to share here, maybe in a month.  I am thinking of making a small piece, 8 X 10" that is just a mass of couched fibers.  It takes a long time to do these rows of couching, but I love the look.

This will be my only post this week.  I have another installment of the art journaling workshop tomorrow, so I'll have something about that next week, some book recommendations and musings on why I have checked out a small stack of children's books from the library, when I don't have children!  Yes, it has something to do with art quilting...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Thought for a Down Day

I have been really stuck in the winter doldrums lately with making things and writing about making things.  Time to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes, which I will share here:

"Art is not to be awaited; it is to be chased down, cornered and beaten into submission with a stick."
(Michael Perry, Population 485.)

This quote sums up my philosophy that creativity and the construction of art objects is challenging, sometimes difficult work.  It is something that must be constantly cultivated, it does not happen perfectly at first attempt.
Image copyright RPS, please do not copy or repost

That is all I have today, time to get to creating.  I have a three day weekend coming up, hopefully I will have something new to share on Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rust Dye Results

Yikes, is it really Tuesday already? A blog post day?  I'm not ready for this!  However, I have washed and ironed the rust dyes pieces of fabric from last week:

I am enjoying playing with composition through placement of the objects: tools, chains, horseshoes, sad irons, trivets, spigot handles and miscellaneous odd unidentifiable pieces.  I have found some odd pieces just walking around old abandoned farm sites and even along the roads.  The fabric square on the right in the bottom picture was rusted from a vintage Christmas tree stand, picked up in a public hunting area!  I'd like to find another stand like it, as the piece I have has a good sized chunk missing, and I'm not sure how much longer the remains will hold up to the abuse incurred from being saturated with water and vinegar.  It is so far, my favorite piece of rusty metal for the effects it produces.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rust Dyed Fabric

The rust dye technique fits perfectly with my overall theme of vintage things and re-purposing.  It is very easy too, simply arrange some rusty metal pieces on a plastic tray, cover with plain prepared-for dyeing fabric and spray with a solution of 50% water, 50% white vinegar.  Keep fabric moist until desired effect is achieved (could be a few days).  Here is a glimpse of my latest round of rust dyeing:
I still have to wash out the fabric, so I'll post updated pictures of the fabric itself next week.  I've heard recommendations of washing the rust dyed fabric in water with a handful of baking soda in it to fix the rust.  I do not treat the fabric with soda ash, nor do I use other wash detergents in the rinse out.

I've had difficulty in securing rusty objects, despite my habit of frequenting junk auctions.  The problem is not a lack of rusty things, but the prices!  A while back at my local auction, I had my hopes on a medium sized tackle box filled with rusty scissors.  I had visions of fat quarters imprinted with the scissors, would have been a great seller at the quilt shows.  The box of scissors went for $17!  Much, much more than I wanted to pay.  They were rusted, they should have been cheap!

The antiques dealers are asking what I think I way too much for rusted stuff... $6 a piece for rusty tools, for example.  I thought that rust would drive the value way down.  I don't know if people are buying them and refinishing them to use again, but still, for the work one would have to put into it, paying anything over $1 doesn't make sense to me.  Of course, for what I want to do with rusty junk, it further ruins them, so they'd better be cheap to start with.  I'm just going to make them worse, but it is all for making unique fabric.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Onion Dye

I have not been accomplishing much these past couple of weeks, but I have dabbled in a couple of odd projects.  Both were fabric dyeing projects, and ones that I could start and leave sit to do other things.  First was a batch of silk, dyed with onion skins:
It took me two years to save up enough onion skins to be able to dye a few pieces of silk.  I am not a fan of onions; I only use a little bit of them here and there in cooking.  I am pleased with the lovely color, even though it is similar to the color that the dahlias yielded last fall.  Isn't it amazing how much darker the silk chiffon dyed? (The chiffon is the  rumpled fabric on the right.)  For the first time in my plant dye adventures, the basement did not smell like rotten... something during the simmering process.  It simply smelled like I was cooking onion soup, not a bad smell, just not something I would ever eat!

Tomorrow, I will show off my latest rust dyed fabric.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Art Journaling

I mentioned in my last post that I am enrolled in a three session class on art journaling.  So, just what is meant by art journaling?  As I am discovering from the class and from a small mountain of library books on the subject, it could be taken several ways.  Usually, an art journal is a personal journal that is illustrated with drawing and painting.  It could also be a journal about the art that you make, or a journal about the art museums and galleries that you visit, and I’m sure there are few other possible definitions.
I’ve attempted to keep journals of sorts for some years now, and I thought that this class would introduce me to a new skill.  As it turns out, I have already been art journaling to some degree.  My journal of life events is augmented with my own photographs, and sometimes drawings.  I have another journal of art quilt ideas and notes on the progress of my quilts.
Image copyright RPS.  Please do not copy or repost

Above is a journal page documenting the first fabric box I made for a guild challenge.  There are scraps of the hand dyed fabric I used, and one of the viewer's choice ballots that were cast for my box.  No, I did not win viewer's choice, but a few people noticed it!

Yet another journal is a record of the quilts I am making from the lessons in The Art Quilt Workbook by Jane Davila and * and A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design by Heather Thomas.  As I am still learning the ins and outs of sewing and art quilting, this journal is a way for me to record my mistakes and the things that I get right.  It is not easy to remember everything when you’re learning a new skill.
Image copyright RPS.  Please do not copy or repost

I also have the fabric book that I made from Fabric Embellishing: The Basics and Beyond by Chandler, Kettle, Thomas and Vleck.  Not only is this a sampler of techniques, I also added mentions here and there of events in my life as I made each page.
Image copyright RPS.  Please do not copy or repost

I guess I am ahead of the game a bit with this class, but I have already picked up more ideas to try, and I am really looking forward to the time with other creative people.