Thursday, April 30, 2009

Glue Resist Fabric

I haven't been getting in the studio much this week. Maybe it's because Anna has volleyball two times a week now. Maybe it's because I have the auction quilts looming over my head as the deadline quickly approaches. I don't know, but I was able to do some more glue resist fabric.

This first picture is more words. I decided to try some commercial fabric as well. The orange piece in the upper left is commercial fabric, but I did not put enough paint over it so it is hard to see where the glue was.

This second picture is just drizzles and doodles. The red piece and purple piece are folded over so you can see the difference between the front and the back. They were both commercial pieces as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Anna has started a new session of Y volleyball. They had their first game last week after only two practices. This time Anna has a really good coach (they ask for volunteers to coach, so it is usually a parent). The coach had asked them before the game to concentrate on moving to the ball and having fun. They lost, but as we were walking out, Anna said she had fun. That's what I want for her; to have fun and be part of a team.

As Anna and I were talking about the games, I said part of the reason they lost was because her coach asked them to serve behind one of the two lines marked on the floor (one regulation line and, I guess, the other a recreational line), The other team was serving wherever they wanted to on the court. The Y league doesn't really care about where they serve because they just want everyone to have a successful experience. But Anna said, "I'd rather play by the rules and lose than break the rules and win." That's my girl!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stage 4: Quilting and Finishing

The last stage of this piece is the quilting and finishing. When I drew the idea in my sketchbook, I did not have any particular ideas about the quilting. Most of the time, my ideas don't include quilting lines and I have to think about them as I'm working or after the piece is all together. Sometimes, the quilting is part of the initial idea.

This piece, I wasn't sure how to quilt. I drew out some ideas on a clear sheet of plastic (with a dry erase marker) on top of the quilt. Here is what I decided upon. I think the curvy lines are a nice juxtaposition to the rectangular blocks. I decided to echo the leaf shape in one section to help tie it together. There is also a thought behind the growing leaf shapes (I'll explain another time).

To completely finish it, the edges have to have some treatment. Most of the time, I put on a traditional binding. I did not want that extra little border for this piece, so I did the facing technique. I will also need to put on a sleeve for hanging and a label on the back.

This is the "play-along" piece for the Twelve by Twelve group's current theme which is identity. I am way early in completing it. Therefore, I will put it on my blog again when they reveal theirs and give my explanation on how it fits with this theme.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stage 3: Piecing

Continuing on with the explanation of my work progression; the next step is piecing. Here I have the pieces sewn together. But something was bothering me. It was the proportions of the bottom layers. So I put it on the wall and pinned places to create different dimensions.

After a couple of tries, I decided it was the striped line that was bugging me. I ripped the seam and turned it upside down. This made it feel more grounded to me. Then, I messed with the proportions a little bit more.

Next: quilting and finishing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Even though Anna's actual birthday was several weeks ago. We finally had her party yesterday. It was a beautiful day, so I'm glad we waited. She wanted to have an outdoor party this year (which is always iffy in the springtime). It was held at a local park. Anna wanted to have a hula hoop party.

Friday night we were cutting sprinkler tubing and making circles with connectors. We made eight. Anna and I had picked out some colorful duct tape for decorating the hoops (you can get it at Michael's). Below, Anna's friend, Jesse, is getting started.

When the hoops were all decorated, we had some hoop contests. One was to see who could hula hoop the longest. Since we could have been there all day with that one, we had to make it harder by having the person spin their body while hooping and then stopping and reversing the body spin. Eventually we had a winner. There was also a contest to see who could do the most hoops. The funniest was a team relay race to walk and hoop down to a tree and back.

Below is everyone with their decorated hoops. Only one person did not show up, so Frank decorated that hoop.

Anna decided she wanted to have cupcakes instead of cake. She also wanted to try out some food coloring spray that we saw at JoAnn's. Here's how they turned out. Note: The spray is a bit messy and would be better on a flat surface, like a sheet cake, if you are doing a stencil.

On Friday at school, they had class pictures taken. Anna wanted me to curl her hair that morning. My curling iron, that comes out once every 5-10 years, is still functional. We curled her hair. But the one thing of hairspray I had didn't work, because it rarely gets used as well (we are pretty much wash-and-wear people here). I warned Anna that her hair might not stay curled until they took the pictures. By the time we walked to school, most of the curl was gone. She was quite disappointed.

I told her we could curl her hair for her party day and take a picture right away. That morning she washed her hair. I put some mousse in it and blow-dried it. Then I curled it, which took quite a while. I remembered Grandma had left some hairspray downstairs and got that to put on (she didn't like the smell, which was unscented. Neither did I, which is why I don't use the stuff.) Below are a couple of the pictures we took, in the same place as a few weeks ago. Now the tree is in bloom and her curls lasted a bit longer.

This first picture is the one Anna likes best, probably because her curly hair is in her face.

This is the one I like the best. I remembered after the first picture to turn the flash on my camera. (If you are taking pictures outside in the shade, it really helps to have your flash on.) I pushed her hair back behind her ear, because I wanted to see all of the beautiful face! Sounds like a mother, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stage 2: Auditioning Fabrics

Yesterday I showed you the sketch I started with for this piece. Now it's time to pull out some fabrics. First, I have to go back a little. For the orange pieces in the picture below, I used the glue resist method on some of my dyed fabric to write words. After it was dry, I painted over it. I didn't necessarily want the words to be readable but create texture.

After that was finished, I already had some ideas for colors for the rest of the piece. I got out my scrap box of greens and blues and started pulling out pieces. I also had to pull some bigger pieces off the shelf. In this piece, I'm using mostly hand dyed fabrics. This is when the studio gets messy, as I pull out and then just leave the discarded fabrics in a pile.

I lay the fabrics next to each other in the general way that they will be put together to make sure everything is working together.

A side note: Some people think I have a lot of fabric (which I do). Part of the reason is that the fabric is my palette of colors. With paint, you can mix any color you want. With fabric, you have to use what is already there. With more fabric, come more choices (and even then you sometimes don't have just the right color). More and more I am preferring my own hand dyed fabric because I am setting the palette that way.

The picture above is not very good but I was mostly using it to record the order of the striped section because I was going to start piecing them together. The camera is good for recording the arrangement you have so you can always go back to it to make sure you have it in the order you want.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stage 1: Sketchbook

I am currently working on an artwork and I thought you might like to see one way I work. First, I get an idea in my head. I try to make a sketch of it in my sketchbook (sometimes I don't get to it soon enough and the idea slips away. But not often.) It truly is a "sketch" I do. It is a thumbnail to help me remember what was in my head.

Some people keep beautiful sketchbooks. They are a work of art in themselves. Maybe they are testing colors to figure out the right ones before jumping into the project. Sometimes they have variations on a theme or are trying a technique. As much as I would love to have something beautiful like that, it's just not the way I work.

My preferred sketchbook size is 5.5" x 8.5" with spiral edge (and preferably made from some recycled content). I do not have one bigger than that, but I did get a smaller one for travel which I am also enjoying. This size is easy to carry around and not so big that I am overwhelmed with a white page when I open it.

Here is a page for the piece I'm working on. I'm sure you won't be able to read my handwriting. The main idea is drawn in the lower middle of the page. Then I drew the top square to show how I wanted the fabric in the center square to be. Next to that, I wrote some ideas on how to make the fabric look like that.

The little square on the bottom right was another idea I had for the central square. There are some notations of colors as I already had a good idea about that. Also, I have some notations as to the number of sections.

On the very top right are a couple of measurements. When I am working on the piece, I sometimes write some measurements or do the math on the sketch. At the top left is the theme that made me think of this idea in the first place. I will explain how that fits in later (as you probably can't tell from this). Stage 2 tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the Wall . . .

. . . and on the floor.

Anna's school's auction is approaching quickly and I must finish the project I promised. Above are fabric squares that each student in the class did. They used the glue resist method (that can be found in one of the previous Quilting Arts magazines). The white lines are where they put the blue glue gel and after it was dry, they painted them. Then I had to wash out all the glue.

I will be putting them in two different wall hangings. I think these are the settings I have decided on. If anything looks really off-balance, please let me know. I think I will have to put some small sashing in-between the squares as they seem a bit too busy right next to each other. I'm thinking primary colors.

Can you guess which one is Anna's? (Hint: look for a cat!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter 09

Hope you all had an enjoyable day. We have. The twelve-year-old was up early to hunt for eggs. This is the last year the Easter bunny will be hiding eggs. He may still hop in and leave something in the basket. Anna was not happy hearing that. Anyway, she was happy to discover what "he" left behind this year. You can see some of the stash above: a bowl of beads, a bowl of chocolate, a pile of loops (to make pot holders), some earrings and change. He also left a couple of books, a watercolor set and some stamps.

In the afternoon, Anna and I went to a dance concert (didn't realize it was going to be Easter when I bought the tickets). It has been a most gorgeous day. So after the concert, I planted some seeds, outside and in peat containers (I'm a little behind on this). Hope something will sprout!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Birthday Girl Today

Here is Anna today. The tree in the background is the same tree that is in the background in the previous picture (which was taken years ago). It is a bit slower to bloom this year. Anna used some of her birthday money to purchase some beads which she made into the earrings that she is wearing here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday Anna! My little girl (who is almost as tall as me now) turned 12 years old today. How did she spend her day? She started it off with a special birthday breakfast of chocolate almond croissant and bacon. Her class had a field trip at the museum today. Then I whisked her away from school early to have a special lunch out with Daddy. Then it was shopping, chocolate and making treats for her class tomorrow.

This evening Anna and I went to a lecture by Dr. Jane Goodall, an amazing, lovely lady. Anna got a stuffed elephant. Sounds like a pretty good birthday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Finish of Something #2

I finished this piece yesterday. I posted the start of it here. But it wasn't going anywhere. So I cut off the top part and like it much better this way. The leaf motif I quilted on top also reminds me of candle flames (I didn't do that on purpose). The tan fabric in the middle has some star textures that you can't really see in this picture.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Make it a Dozen

I saw these cute little eggs on another blog. I thought I would try to make some of my own. I copied the pattern but mine did not turn out quite as egg shaped as retro mama's. Anna likes them and they are bright. There is one that I do not like because the two different fabrics had too much contrast. I think it is best when the two different fabrics have the same value.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Urban Landscape



I have managed to complete another piece in the little series I am working on. This one is called Urban Landscape and I wanted to see which way you like it best.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I forgot to let you all know that the 12 x 12 group put up their latest pieces with the theme of windows on their blog. Unfortunately, I did not get around to playing along this time, although I think it is a great theme to explore.

The picture above was one I took in France five years ago. Anna seems so small in it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Fool

Yesterday was April Fool's day and I finally had some dedicated time in the studio. No fooling around. After several weeks, the guest room is converted back to the sewing room and I felt very happy to concentrate on my artwork.

I managed to finish the piece above, which I call Rural Landscape (not Happy Fool. That was just me working on it). It is part of a series with Urban Landscape. When I finish the series, I will put all the pictures together for you to see.