Posted in Art, Environment, Homeschooling, International, Poll, surface design

Creepy before and after

Our new home has a backyard, greatly appreciated after so long in apartmentland.  The enthusiasm may wane when the grass starts to grow and needs to cut, we’ll see.

Only thing is, this is part of the deal …

IMG_0002AT LEAST it’s not facing the house, but it’s firmly settled in the ground and not for us to remove (rental).  Young Sprout did NOT like seeing this from the house, let alone playing near it.

First attempt was to place a garbage bag over the top.  That lasted a few days and then blew off into the bramble bushes.  The middle of the bramble bushes.

IMG_0003This is somewhat of an improvement.  From the house, seen in profile it rather looks as if it’s facing a firing squad, and apparently Young Sprout and Pirate Girl have used their rubber dart guns for target practice, although I’m positive they would not have ever seen a firing squad since they don’t watch a lot of movies.

I used some recycled Indonesian cotton that had been used as packing in an international move and is great for surface design, soy wax resist, etc.

Posted in productivity, quilting, stash, surface design

New Quilt Unveiled

Nothing was posted about this earlier because I wanted to surprise the recipient.  If she totally hates it, she can always pretend that the back is the top:

All my life I’ve struggled with completely finishing things, so bingo might be a better hobby than quilting, I sometimes feel.

Anyhoo, this has been bound, labeled, and provided with its coordinating tote bag.  And after going back and forth on it for a few times, I put handles on the tote bag.

This photo shows the bag.  Almost every piece of fabric has a story, either where it came from or how it was made.

See the blue and red swirly fabric towards the bottom of the bag?  That was a serendipitous piece created when I was using a hatband that had turned out too tight as a wiping rag when I was dyeing fabric.  For years this was a piece that was waaaay to beautiful to cut.  see here for a close up photo. The pink and green paisley to the right of it comes from either Susan Purney Mark or Daphne Greig.  Many small squares of it have been floating around Victoria, and I’ve collected pieces from both of them.

The fun thing about making this is that it grows itself and is a fast stash buster.  I’ve tried designs that purport to bust stash but require a lot of time and patience to work with smaller pieces that can’t be strip pieced.  After the twin bed topper was done I had no less scraps than before I started.  If my scraps continue to grow it’s because I keep an eye open for small pieces that other people have given up on!

When making this fabric I set a few parameters:

The same fabrics can be touching because I want to fool the eye and not be too obvious about where one piece starts and the other leaves off.  See how I did it with marbled fabric:

No, no set in seams here, thank you very much!

I’m working with strips and with pieces that are smaller than a fat quarter.  If you click on this photo Andrea Hamilton’s mid-arm quilting shows to much better advantage on the light fabric.  We chose Valdani Gem Symphony.

Nothing representational really, although I do have one butterfly on my cushion.

The fabrics are mostly solids, tone on tone, neutrals, batiks and surface design pieces. However in the spirit of nothing representational, I’m not using batiks with really in your face pictures on them, like flip-flops.

I’m not allowed to get too precious and agonize over whether adjacent fabrics look good together.  Some do, some don’t.

Some of the fabric is too beautiful to cut and some was what I couldn’t sell at the Guild garage sale!  And some came from fellow surface design folks who were cleaning out their studios and desperate to see the back of their own stash.

Since the fabric is used to make larger items there is not a set block size.  I sew pieces to each other and build long strips about 7 to 10 inches wide and as long as the width of a twin bed quilt.  Then when I’m going to make something I play around with these strips and figure out the final design.

And although some oriental carpet makers and Amish quilters put deliberate errors into their pieces because perfection belongs to God alone, I doubt I’ll ever come close to needing to do that!  There’s a non deliberate error in the tote (one handle is twisted, aaaarrrgggghhhh!

and another (really galling) one in the quilt itself. 

Posted in creativity, quilting, surface design

Just Magic Challenge

The local fibre arts group I belong to that meets at Satin Moon decided to set ourselves monthly challenges this year to keep things interesting.

The challenge for January was anything starting with J, which one member dubbed the J-Cloth Challenge.  Here’s my finished piece, well finished except for the hanging sleeve.  The centre medallion is a sketch I made in the fall in Melanie Testa’s drawing challenge.  Thanks to Spoonflower it’s now on fabric and you can even buy it!

I considered beading this, but Young Sprout greatly admires it so I think I’ll leave it child proof at least for a couple of years.  Plus, his last name is different than mine and it’ll be cool to be able to say “Just Magic, in the collection of Mr. Young Sprout.”

This detail shows Dale MacEwan’s sunpainted fabric. It’s the pale pink and green in the middle between the green batik and my red and green shibori made in Susan Purney Mark’s class.

Combinations of red and green fascinate me.  It’s often found in nature from rhubarb and red leaf lettuce to geraniums, yet not exploited that much by artists for some reason, nor in decoration.  Maybe people think it’s too Christmassy?  What do you think?  Can those apparently overdone combos like orange and black or pink, red, and purple be revamped into something that doesn’t scream “Boo” or “Goo”?

Posted in quilting

THE formula

I’ve been busy making binding.  Another quilt is off at the Quilt Spa where Andrea Hamilton is working her magic on it.  Meanwhile since it has to be mailed off to arrive in Washington State by the end of the month, I got busy with the binding.

Afraid I can’t share pix of this one just yet as it is a candidate for Susan Purney Mark’s upcoming book on Shattered Angles.  But here’s Geode, which Andrea quilted for me, which was in the Geophysical exhibit at Quilt Canada in Calgary.

The instructions for bias binding on are nice and clear, and in my bookmarks.  But after making the binding I suddenly remembered  the one bit of the formula they left out.   AAAAARRRGGGGGH!

When deciding how big of a square to cut, they tell you to calculate the area of the binding by measuring around the perimeter of the quilt, adding 10 inches for safety, then multiplying by the width of the binding.  You then find the square root of that number, which is typically something that goes to several decimal places, so they tell you to round up to the next inch.


Round up to the next multiple of your binding width.


So if the square root is 20.763, and you want the binding to be 2″ wide, don’t round up to 21″, round up to 22″ because that divides evenly by 2 and when you match up your lines and start cutting all of the binding will be 2″ wide.  Last time I was making binding I had this all figured out, but yesterday I forgot until it was too late.  Oh well, at least it’s black and there

is more where that came from.  I measured along the length of the binding and I have Just Enough to go all round the quilt with 6 inches to spare instead of 10.  Fingers crossed, people!

What’s your biggest source of frustration when quilting?   Let’s share war stories!

Posted in baraka, creativity, stash

Most fun since coloured paper clips!

Susan Purney Mark has been generously sharing upholstery fabric samples, and I discovered an original use: colour copied at low exposure , they make terrific pages for my daily to-do lists.  The lists are written on front and back by the end of the day so I figure why not have something that makes me smile instead of a boring plain white piece of paper?

Coloured paper clips used to be premium priced.  Then I guess the office supply stores realized they needed to actually move them off the shelves and into the offices of the world, and the price went down.  At the time I was in charge of ordering supplies where I worked, and was amazed at how happy everyone, even the dead serious grumpy people, were with something so simple.

Posted in Environment, quilting

Parting is such sweet sorrow …

garage sale rejects… especially when it comes to one’s fabric stash!

Our guild is having its annual garage sale next week so I bravely went through my bins and pulled out fabric I could sell to fellow addicts quilters.  No prizes for guessing what I’ll do with all that money.

After bagging and pricing my pile, these are the ones that upon mature consideration I decided I just am not yet ready to part with.  Actually there’s even a few more because just yesterday I bought Susan Teece’s Roses and Windows pattern and decided to keep some pink and burgundy fabric until I’ve made the roses.  After all it is an annual sale.  Susan did a workshop on this in May but with traveling to Phoenix it wasn’t possible for me to attend.

There’s a rationale of sorts behind my other keep choices in the photo.  The red is what I used to screen print the animal faces and with matching fabric the possibilities of making a jacket are that much easier.

The black and white bears and the green turtles are in honour of my preliterate assistant and partner in creativity.  The green bandana on the right is a Lily Pulitzer Race for the Cure design, and it occurred to me that this might be useful for a workshop Susan Purney Mark is developing for spring.  And the other fabrics suddenly presented more possibilities than I had seen as I pulled them from their bins.

Does anyone else go through these gyrations?  It boggles my mind that I supposedly cleaned out my stash before moving here, sold some to Fabric Traders, and STILL have a pile to go!



Posted in productivity, surface design

Deconstructed Screen Printing Workshop

deconstructed scrnprnt0001

Just one of the fabulous fabrics I worked on at the Susan Purney Mark workshop on deconstructed screen printing on Saturday.  This had been previously rolled up with bubble wrap and dyed in a baggie.

deconstructed scrnprnt0002

This started life as sunprinting with Setacolor Transparent red and green (well okay, it started life as unbleached cotton, if you wanna be pedantic).  At the last moment before I laid it under the screen, I had the thought to use the “wrong” side of the fabric with slightly lighter shades of the original paint, and I believe it’s more effective because of that.

Susan was gamely teaching this technique to two of us, and other low-immersion dyeing techniques to the other three students.  We were all learning from each other, which is a hallmark of any great learning experience (and so much discouraged in formal education, sadly).  Click here to see Susan’s account and photos of us hard at play!

The other student who was taking screen printing used the wrong side of her fabric.  Then she made a round screen with a strong horizontal line, and by making multiple prints achieved a landscape effect.  Riffing from that, I made my round screen with landscape in mind.  However, looking at it you would never guess:

meerkat faces0001

I’m appealing for help here, folks: What are they? I can’t NOT see faces here, but which critter?

For some reason Saturday was mostly a red day for me, but I did a couple of non-red pieces:
paisley scrnprnt0001

This is a screen print using soy wax as the resist medium. I’m pleased with the way the turquoise and peach combined. This piece is coming dangerously close to “too beautiful to ever cut or sew.” However Spoonflower provides a way to preserve these designs so that there could always be more.  Will post more later about Spoonflower.

By the way, the colour used in the workshop was Procion dyes thickened with sodium alginate.

Posted in creativity, productivity

Announcement ~ Open Studio Coming Up!

I was inspired by visiting Quilting Arts Virtual Studios Tour to challenge myself to also open my studio to the blogosphere.  Several participants said the tour forced them to tidy up and get more organized, and that has to be a Good Thing, right?

So, no pix as yet, but stay tuned for Saturday, October 24 when All Will Be Revealed.  Also a small giveaway will start at the same time to add to the fun.

Hmmm, now it’s announced I better set to and tidy up.  Also I have peel and stick monkeys on the outside of the door, which have become invisible to me, but recent dinner guests thought that it was the bathroom door, LOL!

Last week worked for 34 hours but a lot of it was editing rather than art or fibre, to the point where I almost felt poisoned with increasingly dramatic nightmares.  But I worked on the baby quilt challenge on Friday and did deconstructed screen printing with Susan Purney Mark on Saturday and that has started to redress the balance somewhat.

Posted in surface design

Starting a New Piece

The provisional working title for this is Shy Beast, he is on the pale blue background. All of these fabrics were created in one session using the marbling technique taught by Susan Purney Mark. Have been mulling ideas over for a while and had him up on my wall so I could think about what needs to happen. Even pressing the fabrics to start auditioning and scanning helped me come up with more ideas of how to do this piece, which I want to keep to fairly small dimensions. Although the beast is 12 by 7 inches and there has to be significant surroundings or he won’t look shy!

I have auditioned other fabric, both my own altered/hand dyed and some commercial, but at this point I feel the fabrics shown here are going to be the main parts. Plus scanning is time consuming and less fun than designing!

Posted in surface design

Marbled Madness

Hard to believe this was a first attempt using shaving foam and Dy-Na-Flow. So often the very first attempt at a new technique is fine to keep in the sketchbook but not something you can really feel proud of.

Susan Purney Mark gave the workshop and I was delighted with most of what I produced. It’s fast and I quickly got into a rhythm of primping the foam, laying down the fabric, smoothing it out, lifting it up, scraping off the excess foam, and laying my finished piece to dry. By the end of the afternoon I was like a kid at the beach, exhausted but begging to do “just one more, PLEEZE PLEEZE!”

Apart from the ease of the technique, the other great thing is that it is truly not messy. In fact I have had another session at home using my Jacquard Setasilk colors, and there were no splashes on the rug or the walls.

and since inquiring minds want to know …

this past week I worked for 33-1/2 hours
the previous week, 39-3/4 hours (this counts attendance at the Victoria Sewing Show)