December 26, 2009

Wild Tote Bag

My boss loves to travel all over the world to shoot fabulous photos. Her latest adventure was to Africa. One of her Christmas presents to me was a book entitled An African Moment. It is filled with HER photos of gorgeous landscapes and every wild animal you can think of. I thought she would enjoy having a tote bag that reflected the African animal theme and made her this Wild tote bag.
I thought she would like it but wasn't fully convinced because it is just a little bold, but she loved it! She is completely in awe of anyone that can sew, so it's pretty easy to impress her. LOL

Here's the pitiful progress made on the chenille piece. You can see some of the layers of color peeking out through the cuts. I have to say that it takes forever to cut through these random channels of quilting. I'm still not convince that it's worth it, but will continue on as my patience allows it. It looks like I'm almost finished, but this photo only shows around 20% of the piece. It's definitely a labor of love and I hope it doesn't end up in a pile of UFO's like the ones below.Am I the only person that has a lot of UFO's (UnFinished Objects)? I doubt it. I know some people finish each project before they start another. Not me, I generally have 2-3 going at the same time. This photo is of perfectly acceptable quilts in various stages of development. Top left is a quilt top made of 1" squares, top right is a wonky 9 patch that is layered and pinned, bottom left is chenille that would make a great pillow, bottom right is quilted, maybe another pillow or a bag.

What makes me stop working on a project when it's so close to completion? I don't have a good answer. Some people say that once we've learned the lesson needed, we move on. It appears that I've learned a lot of lessons! I have at least 10 projects worth finishing that will be completed in 2010. There, it's in writing, now the commitment is real and I have to do it.

December 13, 2009

Unusual Log Cabin

Here it is . . . the finished log cabin quilt I made for Leslie, my Blockhead buddy. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out and Leslie loved it. The piecing was a challenge because there were so many points converging at the end of each football shape. I feel it was worth the extra work to get this unique kaleidoscope & star combination. Each block measured 3-1/2" and the overall quilt is around 14" square.

Here's the quilt that I received from Jean. The inspiration I gave her was a photo of a macaw. She used the colors in the photo and created this wonderful snail trail quilt. Thank you Jean, I love it.This is the base fabric that I'm using for a surface texture experiment. Something sturdy and colorful. Hmmm . . . what could it be?This pile of scraps is the middle layer of this colorful sandwich. This technique uses tons of leftover scraps. If you're a pack rat and have lots of patience, this may be for you.If you want to know more, here's the link to the Country Channel TV that Sandy sent to me a couple of weeks ago. Be sure to search for all episodes of Talking Threads.

I'll show more as progress is made. I started with a piece 24 x 30", I should have started with a 12" square. Don't follow my example unless you're a glutton for punishment!! LOL

December 3, 2009

Fall Foliage in Southern California?

Many people believe that Southern California is always warm. Well, it's not true. As a matter of fact, it's pretty chilly. My heater is on right now. I know a lot of you are laughing at me . . . you think I don't know what it's like to be cold, but you're wrong. I grew up in Massachusetts and it's very cold there. I must admit though, my blood has thinned a lot in the past 30 years!
This is fall foliage in Southern California. Not quite the same as the east coast, but beautiful non the less. The colorful trees is one of the things that attracted us to this neighborhood.

I came across these bare branches at the lake and thought it would make a good thermofax screen.

Here's a piece in progress. One of my groups has an exchange each year. Leslie's inspiration was a photo of a butterfly. I decided to print the butterfly on fabric and use it as the focus in this unusual log cabin setting. This is half of the finished square. When finished, it will form a very cool circle with a star in the middle. Leslie prefers traditional quilts, so I tried to combine the best of both traditional and artsy. Right now, it's on the small side, I'm going to have to get creative with some borders. Any suggestions? I need to finish by Saturday. Yikes! Back to work.

November 28, 2009

One of a Kind Shopping Bags

My husband and I have decided to be more friendly to the environment. It started by filtering our own water and using a metal water bottle, and then progressed to reusable shopping bags. I really didn't want a bag that said Trader Joe's. I decided to use some of my hand-dyed, painted and screened fabric to make a shopping bag that was truly one of a kind.
I started with a set of instructions that was fairly simple and proceeded to change everything about it. I think the only thing that remained the same was the length of the webbing used on the strap! I kept coming up with a better way to do it . . . I just can't help myself. In the end, it's still pretty simple, but the way it goes together makes a lot more sense (at least to me).
Here's the first bag I made using hand dyed denim on the outside. The interior has a beautiful batik.
Once my husband saw the fabric combination below, he decided he would also like a special shopping bag. The fabric on the left is a commercial fabric, the fabric on the right was sunprinted, then it was printed using a thermofax screen.

Here's the finished bag. I'm happy to say that Mike loves it!

This is the fabric combination for the next bag. The purple is a commercial fabric and will be used for the lining. The fabric on the right was screenprinted using blue glue on a screen. Once the denim was dry, I added color in some of the squiggles with Dye-na-flow.

Hope those participating enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebration. Two of my three kids came home for a short visit. Although our dinner was delicious, it definitely wasn't traditional. Somehow, all three of my kids turned into vegetarians. One will eat dairy products, one will eat dairy and fish and one is vegan. We decided to have Macadamia nut encrusted Halibut with grilled tofu, home made applesauce, carrot salad, grilled asparagus and stuffing! Everyone was happy and it was wonderful to spend some time together. What more can you ask for?

November 22, 2009

Fabulous Fiber Pins

Of all the items I made for the boutique at the Elverhoj Museum, the fiber pins were the most fun to create. The first examples are felted using wool roving. A surprise package arrived in the mail from my buddy, Susan Italo. She gave me some of her solar dyed CVM Corridale wool. OMG, I couldn't believe how luscious the colors were. Thank you Susan!

The pins below were made using a stiff sheet of felt as the base. I stitched and drew on the sheet with markers and added a variety of thread and yarn. I cut it into shapes and dipped it into melted UTEE and heated it some more. I then added a background of thick felt and stitched it together with beads.

I'm currently working on tote bags. Photos will be shown in the next post.

November 11, 2009

Making up for Lost Time

A number of things have happened to me in the last few months that prevented me from creating much of anything. I'm finally feeling better and am making up for lost time.
Three of my quilts were juried into the Redefining a Material World exhibit at the Elverhoj Museum in Solvang from November 14 - January 24, 2010. The opening reception will be this Saturday, November 14th from 4:00 -6:00 pm. If you happen to be on the central coast of CA in the next few months, stop by the museum to see the show. You'll probably recognize the image on the front of the postcard because it was in the design stage in my last post. I was finally able to finish it this past month along with another "cellular" quilt called Macrophage. Below is a detail shot.I also made quite a few postcards and pins to sell in the boutique. Below is one of my needle felted postcards.

It feels great to be back!

July 20, 2009

West Coast Wonders

Sorry it's been so long since the last post. Thanks for hanging in there with me and sending emails. Unfortunately, my arm and neck became so painful, I had to stop typing and using a mouse. I switched to a trackball mouse and absolutely love it. Unfortunately, the problem hasn't really disappeared, it's slowly moving through my body, creating havoc wherever it decides to stop. I'm visiting a kinesiologist regularly and hope to have this cleared up very soon.
If anyone is going to the quilt show in Long Beach this week, keep an eye out for my "Smoked Out" quilt in the West Coast Wonders special exhibit. It will also be traveling to Houston and Chicago and will return home sometime next year. I will be in Long Beach, but would appreciate photos of my quilt in Houston and Chicago.
I took a 5 day workshop with the fabulous Rayna Gillman at Quilters Studio. After 3 days of being together, Rayna and I were finishing each others sentences. Here's a piece that I designed during a quick (15 minute) study. The crazy hand-painted fabric was a gift from my buddy, Andi Perejda.Here's a piece of screen-printed fabric that I chopped up and put back together. Both pieces are off to a good start, but definitely need more work. Hopefully, I will get back to work / play soon!
I also had the pleasure of meeting Terri in person for the first time. We chatted like as if we have known each other for years! It was a great group of talented women and I enjoyed the whole experience. A huge thank you to Pam and Stan for inviting me to stay in their home. We went out for a great Mexican dinner and plenty of Margaritas! Pam, please send me your email address.

June 7, 2009

The Expanded Square (Or Half Square Triangle)

Generally, Fibervision has a workshop after our business meeting. Andi led the last workshop which was based on an article in Quilting Arts by Jane Dunnewold. If you save your old issues, look in issue 27, June/July 2007. Basically, it is a study of balance between positive and negative space. You start off with a black paper square (or half square triangle), cut shapes, remove the shape, and transfer it to the opposite side of the square or half square. Sounds easy, doesn't it? It can be simple or very complicated and confusing. The two examples below are pretty straight forward, however, I designed two squares that are more complicated.
This one was cut from a half square triangle. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to develop this one into a repeated pattern before my right arm started hurting. Every time I type or use the mouse, the forearm hurts. This is the only repeat that I was able to finish. As you can see, a simple design can develop into a wonderful pattern. I love the strong graphic quality and will be doing more as soon as my arm is better. Enjoy!

May 24, 2009

Group Quilt

Several months ago, my Fibervision group got together for a funny face portrait workshop led by Rene Jennings. Our friend and Fibervision member, Susan West had just lost her home of 25 years in the Tea Fire. We decided to combine these small quilts into a group quilt for her. Each portrait is an 8-1/2 x 11 finished quilt that is attached to a quilted backing. It turned out great! Here's the finished quilt.
We gave the quilt to Susan yesterday at the Fibervision meeting. Needless to say, she loved it. It's probably the most laughing she's done in the the last 6 months. If you want to see a close up of my quilt, look here and here is the second funny face I created.

May 22, 2009

Are you a topper?

I could easily go through life creating quilt tops. Surely, I'm not the only one!
I learned how to machine quilt quite a few years ago, but I never really felt comfortable deciding how to quilt it. When I finish a top, I layer it with batting and backing fabric, pin it, and then I go brain dead.
I hang the top on my design board and stare at it, waiting for an image of the perfect quilting pattern to appear. Well, let me tell you, it never appears. How should it be quilted? What will it look like? It seems the fear of choosing the wrong design is enough to paralyze me.

Usually a looming deadline kicks me in the behind and forces me to take the quilt to my sewing machine and start quilting it, whether I have a plan or not. Once I get started, I relax and the quilting design works itself out. Most people are amazed when I tell them that I have this internal struggle, because it doesn't show in the final product.

I've heard of all sorts of ways to test out a quilting pattern, but they're too structured for me. I started asking the best quilter I know, Susan Italo, lots of questions. She's been really generous with her knowledge and quilting library (thanks Susan). I'm hoping that some of her quilt magic rubs off on me.

I've been making a lot of quilt samples on plain muslin, practicing different patterns, searching for the ones that are comfortable for me. I decided to paint one of my quilting samples with textile paints and here's a portion of it. What will I do with this? I don't know, but it still doesn't feel finished. Any suggestions?

May 18, 2009

Needle Felted Postcards

These postcards started with a piece of gray wool that somebody put on the free table at our guild meeting. It was the perfect background for these needle felted postcards for the Surface Design group "Anything but Cotton" trade.

I worked on these while we were visiting our daughter in Evanston, IL. It was the perfect travel project. The front is made with wool roving and decorated with beads, the back has painted Lutrador. I hope the recipients enjoy receiving them as much as I enjoyed making them.

May 17, 2009

Postcards Received

I received three wonderful postcards in the "Anything but Cotton" trade from the Surface Design group. What material(s) do you think I used to make my postcards?My camera didn't capture the iridescent quality of this postcard. Annette used polyester brocade and velvet.
Jan made this luscious postcard from silk, wool, and a variety of yarn.
Tracy couched a lot of yarn onto a background and painted it with metallic paint. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture the shimmery gold paint on this postcard.
A huge thank you to my trading partners, it was a fun trade. My postcards are finished and will be mailed tomorrow. I was a bit distracted during the wildfire and was a bit late getting my postcards finished. I'll show them to you next post.
I was going to take a workshop with B. J. Adams, but I ran out of vacation days, so had to back out of the class. So, I decided to try some of the FME techniques that she uses on my own. This little tree is thread painted on a tulle background. I like the way the tree looks, but I'm not thrilled with the tulle. Next time, I will use a water or heat dissolving stabilizer.
I think this would be classified as thread drawing. It's pretty quick and easy. I can see this technique being used with quilting designs too. Both techniques could be quite useful, so I'll stick them into my bag of tricks.

May 12, 2009

Funny Face

Here's my newest Funny Face. I just love making these! I think it might be impossible to look at it without smiling.
The idea is to turn the left brain off and let the right brain take over, in other words, create intuitively. It's all about having fun. I didn't intend for the portrait to resemble anyone in particular, but I've already heard two comments about how much it resembled an un-named relative.
I've got a lot of embellishment to do, but I thought you might enjoy seeing it in progress.

This piece was made using leftovers from other projects. I pulled random pieces out of my scrap basket and attached them to a muslin foundation. Once the pieces were arrange to my liking, I quilted the top to muslin and batting. I stitched along all the edges and turned the piece right side out. Some hand stitching and embellishment is already underway.

May 11, 2009

PhotoEZ Screenprints

Wow . . . I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted. Where does the time go?
Here's some of the printed fabric I made using the PhotoEZ screens I made from bubble wrap. As predicted, both samples printed great. The red sample looks pretty similar to how real bubble wrap would print. This sample shows the Photoshop manipulated outline of bubble wrap. I really like the way this one turned out, it will add a wonderful layer of texture and it's very unique.The graphics for this last screen was made in Illustrator by manipulating the letter"o". I'm involved in an alphabet challenge, and this is one of my experiments. I'm not sure if I'll use it, but I enjoyed playing with letters.

As many of you know, there have been a lot of wildfires around my house in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, we're having another one, the Jesusita fire! This fire quickly spread through the hills of three neighboring cities, Goleta (where I live), Santa Barbara, and Montecito. Over 30,000 people were evacuated and another 15,000 were in the evacuation warning area. The winds blew embers up to 1/2 mile away and would start another fire. Needless to say, it was horrific. Nobody was safe. I've never been so grateful to see the fog roll in.

The last report I heard said it was 65% contained, and as long as the Santa Ana winds don't blow tonight, we should be fine. I think 80 houses were completely destroyed and 20 or so damaged. I was packed, but didn't get evacuated. Many of my friends were evacuated, but all of them are safe and none of their houses were burned.

Firefighters from all over the surrounding states came to put this fire out. I am in total awe of these brave individuals, they are true heroes.

I guess I'll get my sewing machine out of the car, I need to finish some postcards for an Anything but Cotton trade for the Surface Design Yahoo Group.

April 7, 2009

Love My Bubble Wrap

I've used bubble wrap many times to print on fabric or paper. It is one of the easiest background textures that I've found. In order to get the best texture, you should pop the large bubbles; it doesn't seem to make a difference with the small bubbles.

While trying to figure out a new way to use bubble wrap, I had one of those "What If" moments. I decided to put the bubble wrap directly on the scanner to see what would happen. The scan has some interesting textures, but the ink coverage would be really thick. I proceeded to play in Photoshop until I came up with the next example.Hmmm . . . I like! I think this one will make a nice print, but . . . I decided to take it even further.

Wow, very cool. I decided to make a PhotoEZ screen of the last two examples. I haven't had a chance to print with them yet, but I think (hope) they are going to look great. In the past, I made a couple of screens that just didn't look good when printed, they ended up looking mushy. At this point, I've accumulated a pretty extensive set of PhotoEZ and Thermofax screens; you would think I could tell ahead of time, but I still can't be sure what the final results will like.

Which one do you think will look best when printed?

April 4, 2009

Colorful Circles

I've been meaning to post the quilt that Jean Morrison made for me as part of the Blockhead exchange. The inspiration I provided was a photo that I took of some clay circles (my favorite shape) attached to a wall. The original photo was pretty interesting . . . but I still had to to play with it to improve the colors. Here's what it looked like when I was finished.And here is the quilt that Jean made for me. Wow, did she ever color my world. Thanks Jean, I love it. She picked my name again for the challenge next year! BTW, Jean is a wonderful photographer, you should check out her website. I wish she would post on her blog more often (hint, hint), but she's in the middle of remodeling her house (I know the feeling).

March 31, 2009

A Creative Weekend

I love the weekends. I usually get some free time to spend with my fiber friends, but this weekend was all play and not much work.
Fibervision had their monthly meeting on Saturday. The business meeting was pretty quick for a change. We had art talk, show & tell, a quick lunch and bead shopping at a store that is going out of business. I can understand why it's going out of business . . . this store has been open for one year, directly across the street from where we hold our meeting, and none of us ever knew it existed. Huh? How can that be? I saw a going out of business sale on Craigslist, so 12 of us piled into the shop. I'm sure she was as surprised as we were!

Here's my haul . . . there's several types of glass beads, a fused glass pendant, a cross section of some type of nut, semi-precious stone beads, copper bells and some funky happy face beads. How's that for an eclectic assortment?After the shopping, Lucilla led a fun workshop making a collage out of photos and text from magazines. It was a round robin format with only 2-1/2 minutes to work on each collage before it was passed on.

On Sunday, I went with three friends to the Glendale Quilt Show. I'm sure you're not too surprised that I found some items that I just had to purchase.This book really grabbed my attention and begged to come home with me. It has some interesting techniques that I hope to incorporate into one of my upcoming challenges. And look at these beautiful soy fibers. Silk fusion is a technique that I've been wanting to try for a while. One of the vendors had a kit that contained the silk fibers, textile medium and instructions. Her instruction said that The Ultimate glue works well for heavy duty uses, so I decided to buy a bottle and give it a try.

After the quilt show and lunch, it was onto a SAQA meeting in Brentwood (LA). It's the first informal meeting of this type that I've been to; but plans are underway to have one each quarter. It was a fun afternoon spent with some very talented artists. Lucky me!