Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's not art, but it was fun

I just finished a little baby quilt for my friends Heli and Erik who had their second son, Laas, in January. I can post a pic now, as I finally sent it to her last week.
It was made from two packs of charms squares that I received as a gift at our last quilt retreat in Reedsburg. I used the squares to make pinwheel blocks and added some yardage as borders and backing.
The funny thing is, the very first quilt I EVER cut and sewed into squares was given to Heli at a baby shower before her first son, Juhan, was born. It was flannel cut into strips and made into a rail fence pattern. At that time (about 5 years ago), I knew nothing about machine quilting--just a little about patchwork. So, I tied the quilt and used satin for the binding.
After that, I started reading magazines and books about piecing and sewing...and the rest is history.

While I am thinking about or working on art quilts, I find it fun and relaxing to do a little something like this, especially for friends. It's wonderful just to finish something, it gets me out of my head and into the world for a bit, and it cheers my heart.
I just learned another friend will be having her third daughter this summer, so I have fabric all ready for her baby quilt. And, of course, my own grandchild is due in July, so I'll have a few things to make for that little rug rat as well. Fun!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Good Trade

I almost forgot to talk about my trade! A couple weeks ago when I posted my first batch of snow-dyed fabric, I mentioned that I did not care for one of the pieces:
I got a lot of nice comments about all my snow-dyed pieces, but a lot of people liked this one in particular.

One person, in particular, loved it: Diane from Texas, who had posted some snow dyeing of her own on her blog. And I loved them! I loved her oranges--she loved my fugly. So...we traded. I sent her the burgundy/yellow/blue piece, and she sent me...a gorgeous hand-dyed silk scarf!

Here it is hanging on my workroom door (right ext to my QA calendar...) Even though it would be excellent for a quilt, I can't bear to cut it . I'm gonna wear it!

More snow-dyes and other stuff

Right now its snowing like a summbi*ch, and it won't stop for another 6-8 hours. So I already have more fabric soaking in soda ash to do yet more snow-dyeing. Here are a couple pieces I did last weekend before the old snow melted away:

Looks like great sunset/sunrise fabric. Or something else!
I also got a "commission" this week--to make 12 pairs of black, white and pink earrings and three bracelet sets for my daughter, Julie, who is the manager of a White House Black Market store in Seattle, WA. She'd like to give them as gifts to her staff. So, I whipped 'em up and packed 'em up and they are on their way to Seattle right now. That is, if the Fed Ex plane can get out of town with all this snow flying...

Her store sells only black and white clothing, along with an accent color that changes with the seasons. Right now it's pink. Hence the pink beads.
I am very happy with the lot of them. I hadn't done any beading for a long while. A few summers ago, I made a load of jewelry and hit the art/craft fairs around southern Wisconsin. It was great fun. I had a canopy and tables and all. I sold a fair quantity and made a little money--enough to pay for all the fees and travel and even had some leftover to buy more beads.
Notices have been coming in about the art fairs scheduled for this summer. I have half a mind to do it again. We'll see...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A fun project finally finished

Sometime last summer, I agreed to take part in a quilt challenge on a quilting message board of which I've been a member for upteen years. Most quilters on the board do traditional quilts, but a few of us have ventured into the art quilt world. So--this challenge was for an art journal quilt. The challenge moderator, Cie from Florida ( sent us a little packet of stuff to use--a piece of calico, an assortment of trims and buttons, a couple teeny crocheted pieces and even some beads. We were to use 70% of the fabric and all the trims. The piece was to be merely 8 1/2 by 11". I honestly don't remember when this challenge was due, but I'm sure I had plenty of time to do it. It was, unfortunately, just one of my little projects that got pushed aside for other things.
Anyway, I was inspired right away by the calico. It reminded me of my mother--not that she wore calico often--but it had a retro/old fashioned feel. It also reminded me of full-skirted shirtwaist dresses woman wore in the 50s, so I had my idea.

This is "Washday". This is the whole piece, and a pic of the detail.
The calico is used as the grass in the background. I wanted it to look different than it does in the dress, so I painted it. I made the clothing from scraps, and used the trims in the packet to embellish them. The little bloomers are my favorite, although I like the way the dress turned out. The sky and cloud are commercial fabrics.
It does remind me of my mom, as she hung clothes on the line every week, even in winter, when the clothes would freeze stiff then dry. We had a ringer washer, and that, along with the clothesline, made washing a full day chore. As a child, I helped her by handing her the clothes so she could hang them on the line using those old, one-piece clothespins. When the spring-types ones came on the market--she was very excited. They were more fun!!
I still miss the scent of my clothes after they'd hung on the line all afternoon. I do not, however, miss the scratchy towels. Mom never spent money on fabric softener!
Even though I have a modern washer and dryer, I still try and hang sheets on the line very chance I get, to re-capture the feeling. I now wish I could find the old clothespins--I liked those better.
I managed to use a little of most of the trims. A piece of yellow ribbon, a few buttons and the tiny bugle beads were all that I didn't use. The pic is my leftovers.
This was a fun project. It is also my very first journal quilt, and I thought it fitting to honor my mother. She died more than 12 years ago, and I still miss her every day. But--I know her spirit is well and is with me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Snow Dyeing

I've wanted to try snow dyeing ever since our MArQ meeting a few weeks ago, where Nancy Kimpel showed us her snow-dyed fabrics. They were really gorgeous. So, since I had a free weekend, and since we still have several inches of snow on the ground despite the warm temps last week, I tried it.
Now--I took a fabric dyeing class with Nancy back in August, but I have not done any since. Fortunately, I found my notes! So last week I scrambled around town looking for dyes and soda ash and urea.
No one in town carries urea (even Farm & Fleet!), so I never did find it. Now I'm wondering if my results would be different if I had. Looks like I'll have to get it online.

I checked with Nancy to make sure I had the steps right, and plunged in.
Here are the results:
These two, I thought, came out really nice. Good marbling and nice color. Since I want to do a few sunset/sunrise pieces, these will come in handy. But then...I saw this one:

Note to self: Never again try to combine burgundy, bright yellow and navy blue. I guess I'll be able to use bit of this--the red into the yellow is kind of interesting...but...well, we'll see. These were done by the method Nancy and others have used: fabric in the bin, snow on top, pour dye over, wait. When they were finished, I had a goodly amount of dye left in the bottom of my bins, so I threw a couple more pieces of fabric in them. Only one came out:

The others were pretty muddy. But, again, I may be able to use bits of them for something.
I now realize what it is about hand-dyeing that is so compelling:
Random reinforcement!
You try a few techniques, and things don't turn out exactly as you pictured. So you keep trying. Now and again, you produce a beautiful piece of fabric. Then, thinking you can duplicate it, you try again...and again...just knowing that the *next* one will be perfect! Just like gambling! You just never know when you're gonna hit that jackpot!

I am totally addicted!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Word for 2010

For a few weeks now, people on the Quiltart list have been discussing words for 2010. The question asked was: What word would inspire you, drive you, excite and motivate you as an artist in the coming year.
Many responded with really good words; words with which I would agree: create, forward, joy, anti-procrastination (which I think we agreed was accomplishment or energy...), explore, stretch, play, ME!
My word for this year is

I wrote it on a piece of paper and stuck it to the wall just next to my (Quilting Arts) calendar and above my ancient radio/cd player. Since I cannot work on anything creative without music, I will be sure to see it every day. The reasons I chose this word are very personal, but mostly it's because last year, I found myself stymied and bogged down by obligations and responsibilities that were not of my own making. I didn't create as much as I wanted to, and even though I attended two retreats and a couple of classes, I feel like I didn't accomplish enough, art-wise. It was a frustrating year in many respects.

So--now it is 2010--a brand new year with fresh hope. While the same obligations and responsibilities still exist for me, I have decided that I shall grant myself a sort-of freedom from them. Certainly, I would not shirk my duties, but neither will I let them get in the way of what I want to do for myself. Just a different way of looking at them...not as barriers, but simply necessary chores which I will be happy to dispatch.

In this year, I will have freedom.

Freedom from fear, failure, doubt and self-pity.

Freedom to create, accomplish, enjoy and take joy in my art and my life.

A little perspective, maybe...

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Mystery Quilt

So, even though I decided to devote 2010 to making more art quilts, I spent the first day of this new year making a traditional one. I participated in the Planet Patchwork's ( New Year's Day mystery quilt, where instructions are posted every hour, and you make the quilt top not knowing what it will look like when it's finished. I've done one of their one day mysteries before, for New Year's Day, 2007.

I used commercial fabrics by Moda; the Berries and Twigs collection from last year. I like the way it turned out.
This is a quick pic. This weekend I'll try to sandwich and quilt it with a leaf motif. If I don't get to it, it'll be a good project to take to my quilt retreat in April.