December 31, 2010

Batting and Bags

Here are a few projects that I finished up in the last couple of weeks. My Fibervison group had a dye day using Rit liquid dye. A variety of items were dyed and over-dyed, fabric, lace and batting were the most popular. I dyed three different types of cotton batting: Warm & Natural, Soft Touch and Mountain Mist.
They all dyed equally as well, however, the rinsing was a little rough on the batting and a few thin spots developed. Mountain Mist was my least favorite going in to the experiment, but it held up the best. The papery outer layer protected it. A surprise was waiting for me when the Mountain Mist dried. One thickness of batting separated into two pieces.How cool is that? Two for the price of one! (The photo below shows the layers pulled apart.)
If you want to give this a try, we followed the directions in the Dec/Jan issue of Quilting Arts by Judy Coates Perez.
I made these shopping bags for my kids (grown adults really) for Christmas. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of Jason's before he went home.
Sean likes anything abstract and the fabric for this bag was selected with that in mind.
Rachel's favorite color is orange. I figured this tropical fabric would make her happy . . . and it did.
Thanks for hanging out with me this year, it's been a lot of fun. I hope you all have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

December 15, 2010

Painted Fabric

This piece was painted with Dye-na-flow and scrunched until it was dry.This base of this fabric was screen-printed with construction fence under the screen. Once dry, the whole piece was painted with Dye-na-flow. The paint filled all the areas that weren't already painted. I didn't really like this piece until I added the final layer. You just never know.
The first layer was black textile paint through a thermofax screen, second layer was yellow Setacolor, the third layer was Dye-na-flow.
I grew up in MA where there are plenty of old apartment buildings and fire escapes, but there aren't many in Santa Barbara. This one is part of the historic Hotel Santa Barbara. This building is 3 stories high; the tallest in town is five stories. The building codes are very strict here, both size and style are scrutinized. It generally takes about 5 years to get a building permit. Patience and deep pockets are required.

December 12, 2010

Fun with Soy Wax

Here's my latest experiment with soy wax, Dye-na-flow and found objects. Each piece started with fabric that was previously colored in some way. I figured another layer of color couldn't hurt.
I hope you can see the waxed images that were stamped on the fabric. I used a pool noodle extender to make the largest circles, the medium circles were made with plastic thing that held a roll of paper. The smaller circles were thread spools and the smallest circles were made with the end of a dowel.This photo shows the piece with wet red, blue and purple paint. The wax will resist the paint and leave the original color showing.
Here's the final piece with all the wax removed. Very fun, lots of movement.
This piece uses the potato head masher and thread spools. I was really anxious to see how this piece turned out.
Orange, red and yellow paint was added. You can really see the wax impressions now.Dry fabric with wax removed. I love it! The colors are very happy.
I always put another piece of fabric underneath to catch any excess paint. No sense wasting good paint. Again, it's usually a piece that needs a little something.
Here's my final piece. I used the pool noodle and thread spools again. This time, I purposely cracked the wax to see what would happen.
Red paint added. You can see the red seeping into the cracks.
Here's the dry fabric with the wax removed. This is what happens when you start with a dark background. It's a bit moody, don't you think?
This was a lot of fun and easy too. I'm sure I will be doing more.

December 7, 2010

De ja vu?

If you've been following my blog for a while, you've already seen a similar photo of junk on my curb. We're at it again. This time we're landscaping the back yard. The first step in any landscaping project is removal and that's what we did here.
Those bags are filled with a 20 feet of bamboo roots. I think we got most of it, but we'll find out for sure in the next couple of months. The canes have been cut, stacked and taped into bundles for the trash men to haul away. Bamboo is so tough it breaks the chipper, so we can't recycle any part of it as green waste. Good riddance!
I've been having a lot of fun with dye, soy wax and paint. I'll take some photos and post them next time.

December 4, 2010

I'm So Lucky

I'm so lucky to be surrounded by supportive people. My family is always there for me, no matter what. My like-minded fiber friends feed my soul in a way that nobody else can. The Internet has allowed me to meet many wonderful artists that are willing to share their lives, work, ideas and techniques. It truly has become a very small world.
My friend, Linda, surprised me with a large bag at our last Fibervision meeting. Inside was a lot of hand-dyed fabric (over 5 yards) that she dyed herself. Beautiful, saturated colors, very moody and mysterious,
and a gallon Ziploc bag full of thread balls. OMG . . .what an impressive collection of thread balls.
My jaw dropped, I couldn't believe my good fortune. Only someone that knows me very well
would know that this messy pile would be a cherished gift!
I've been saving these ends from washed fabric for years and bet I have one of the largest collections in southern CA. I think I've posted photos of things I've made in the past. Here's one piece that uses a number of these knotted beauties.
I really love this piece, but don't own it any longer. I really should make more, it was a lot of fun to work on.
Here's another gift I received in the mail. I admired the rusted fabric Elizabeth was making and she was kind enough to sent me a beautiful piece.
A huge thank you to Linda and Elizabeth for their gifts and many thanks to all of you out there for all your support and comments. Keep them coming!

November 30, 2010

Things That Make Me Smile

I love this potato head potato masher. I think he's adorable . . . my husband thinks I'm crazy.
I haven't tried it yet, but I think he's going to make a great stamp for soy wax or fabric paint.
These whimsical paper clips are great too. Of course, I never use them as paper clips. I'll have to flatten them a little, but I think they will work great with sun-printing. Has anyone ever used them?

November 29, 2010

What is a Line?

When does a line stop being a line and become a shape? It seems like an easy question, doesn't it?
After drawing many lines and thinking about them, there were two things that I kept noticing. If a line is wider than it is long, it appears to be a shape instead of a line. If the beginning of a line connects back to itself, it appears to be a shape.
I'm pretty sure most people would agree with those two statements. I don't, but it's probably because of my background as a graphic artist. I am constantly using lines to construct shapes and see them and treat them as separate elements. I can choose to feature the line or hide the line, but the line always exists.
After spending way too much time thinking about this, I started an experimental piece. I drew lines on the paper side of fusible web and ironed it to the back of fabric. The first thing I did was cut the piece into four equal parts, then I cut on each line and placed the positive pieces on a background making sure to leave space between each piece. All the pieces were fused in place.
I was hoping to visually connect the four pieces with machine stitching even though they were physically separated. I stitched along the outside line and continued the stitched line whenever the physical line ended.
The visual connection was weak, so I added a second line, but it was still weak. I added vertical and horizontal stitching between the four sections, but the connection remained weak.
The only way I could visually tie the four pieces together was by adding paint to the areas where the lines had been machine stitched. Once I did that, the line appeared to be a connected.
Conclusion: There are too many variables and more samples would have to be done in order to know if the stitching itself could make a visual connection. That's not going to happen, I'm over this experiment!
If I were to try more samples, I would reduce the space between the four sections. This sample has 1 inch between each section. I would also use a solid colored thread, I used a variegated thread with a section as dark as the background. Unfortunately, it completely disappeared in areas.
Do you think that too much time was spent on this small piece (14" x 19")? Probably, but I'm not finished yet. I'm adding seed stitching to all the purple areas. The fun just never ends!

November 15, 2010

More Hormones

A while back, I asked your opinion about a background for a hormone piece I was working on. I must admit that I was a bit surprised with your comments. I didn't expect people to feel emotional about the background. I was thinking about contrast and color, and many of you were thinking about how the raging hormones would look.
When I'm not sure about how a fabric or shape looks, I photograph it. For some reason, the answer is always clearer on my monitor than on the design wall. Sometimes, it takes a long time for me to make a decision, possibly months. That is what happened to the hormone piece. Originally, I liked fabric number 1 the best, but I didn't like it enough to think it was THE ONE.
Here's my newest choice. Much hotter and a different texture completely.
I feel that the hormones stand out well against the color and the texture doesn't compete for your attention. Is this THE ONE? It's a strong contender, but something else is needed.

November 14, 2010

Tour of Mexican Ports

Here's an unusual angle of the Holland America cruise ship we travelled to Mexico on.
The harbor at Cabo San Lucas isn't large enough for cruise ships, so we had to take one of the smaller boats ashore. My husband took this shot on the way back. Although it looks huge, the Zaandam is actually a medium size ship that holds about 1400 passengers. I still can't figure out why they would hang this sign on the rooftop of a restaurant. Bad translation perhaps? It did get my attention, but I didn't eat there. The harbor was pretty, but I wasn't in the mood to have people trying to sell me trinkets. We decided that tours were the way to go. And here we are . . . a Town, Country and Tequila Factory Tour in Puerto Vallarta. In the foreground is the fruit of the blue agave. They cook it in the brick oven for 8 hours, then process and ferment it. The pulp tastes a bit like sweet potatoes. Wonderful tequila (bought two bottles), gorgeous setting, colors and . . .
yummy tacos too!
Our third and final port was Mazatlan. Beautiful beaches and a fantastic outdoor sculpture collection. Yes, these are aliens climbing a ladder, and there are more aliens on the ground!
These are the famous (and crazy, IMHO) cliff divers. What a gorgeous dive. They have to time the waves perfectly in order to survive, the water is only 7 feet deep.
Hope you enjoyed the short tour of Mexico.

November 13, 2010

Wonky 9-Patch Finished

Can it be true? I actually finished some old projects. First, was the log cabin that now resides with my son in Topanga Canyon. Next in line were a couple of small wall quilts which I forgot to photograph, and the latest is this wonky 9-patch baby sized quilt.
I really like the cheerful colors in this one.
Here's a close up showing the wonky quilting. It feels great to finally get this finished.
And here is the next pile of quilts I'll be working on. I backed all of them with batting and added a ton of safety pins. A couple of years ago, I started quilting through the top and batting only. No backing. I do a fair amount of quilting and like the stability that the batting provides. When I finish all the stitching, I sew all the layers together, all the way around, with no opening. I cut an X through the backing layer and flip the whole thing inside out through the X. I quilt around some of the major areas, cover the X with a label or with the hanging sleeve and it's done. I'm not sure how long I'll continue to use this method, but for now, it suites me just fine.
Does anyone else out there quilt through two layers? I'm sure I can't be the only one!

November 7, 2010

Where Has the Time Gone?

So much has happened since I last posted. Here are a few highlights: the Santa Barbara quilt show, an exhibit with Fibervision, a trip to PIQF and the most exciting news, even though it's not quilt related: my husband won a 7 day Blues Cruise to Mexico.
Imagine 90 concerts in 7 days and three ports to explore. Here's part of the lineup: Johnny and Edgar Winter, Los Lobos, The Lowrider Bank, Elvin Bishop, Cafe R & B, Kelly Hunt, Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, etc.
I've never considered myself much of a portrait photographer, but it looks as if the tables have turned. I really got some great shots of the performers on this cruise.
Edgar Winter

Johnny Winter
This is the first time that the Winter brothers performed together.

Roach from Cafe R & B
Howard Scott from The Lowrider Band (formerly known as War)
Tommy Castro
Many Thanks to Tommy Castro for pulling my husband's winning ticket at a local performance. The cruise was a fantastic experience! In fact, we enjoyed it so much, we signed up for next year.

September 7, 2010

Which Background Do You Like Best?

If you're like me, you pull a zillion fabrics out of your stash, and one by one, you put them on your design wall, and by the time you get to #30, you can't remember what any of them look like. Sound familiar?
If I think there is any possibility of a fabric working, I take a photo. For some reason, looking at the choices on the computer really helps in the decision process. Does it takes the emotion out of the decision? I'm not sure, but it works for me.
Here are some backgrounds that I chose for the "Hormones" piece I showed previously. I would love to hear your opinion, good or bad. Maybe you hate them all.

Number 1
Number 2
Number 3
Number 4
All of the backgrounds are either hand-painted or hand-dyed by me.

August 20, 2010

Summer Distractions

Summer doesn't seem to be the most productive time for me. Too many fun distractions going on. We have a lot of festivals in Santa Barbara. In the past month or so, we've been to the French Festival, the Greek Festival and Fiesta. Here are some of the dancers at the opening of Fiesta (La Fiesta Pequena) that was held at the Santa Barbara Mission.
I took a whole series of photos of the Mission as the sun went down. The evening was very colorful and energetic.
Last weekend we travelled up the coast to Cambria. On the way, we stopped to explore a small town called Los Alamos. We ate lunch and visited a nice gallery. Here's a couple of photos from the historic downtown area.
It was a great way to begin a very relaxing weekend.