Structural Delay

I ran into a bit of a structural problem while sewing the pieces of my art quilt top together. Some of the panels in my piece are cotton sateen; other panels are cotton sateen covered with acrylic gel medium….so those panels are stiffer. I used satin stitch to sew these different panels together. After a few times squashing my rolled up quilt top through my sewing machine, I noticed that the fabric was tearing in small places along the satin stitch seam line, but only the fabric that was stiff was tearing a bit. I realized that the mulitple needle punches that make up satin stitch were actually acting like a perforated line on that fabric. I needed a solution, quick. Above, you can see (faintly) a tear in the fabric on the top of the seam, on the left side.

I fused about a yard of Wonder Under onto about a yard of muslin; then I cut out the wavy shapes of the seams from the muslin/fused fabric, and then actually ironed the fused fabric onto the back of the quilt top. If you look carefully at the photo below, there is a faint neutral colored area on the bottom side of the seam, on the left side, just above the letter T. Part of that creamy colored area is the fabric itself, but the smaller area near the seam is the muslin. And believe me, it’s hardly noticeable.

It took a while to do this as it was rather tedious and it put me in a bad mood.

This is my piece so far, the square window shapes haven’t been assigned permanent locations yet:

Piece of Mind

As I reported earlier, I’m busy piecing together the top to my January 8th art quilt. Haven’t come up for a name yet for the project. This is bottom 3/4 of the quilt, it measures 62″x52″:

So, once everything is pieced together, I will use reverse applique to cut out shapes from the top. I will need a vertical border on each side of the top. I don’t think a horizontal border is necessary, but 2 verticals will be nice I think. I dyed some yardage today, so I’d have enough for 2 strips for either side; the quilt will be about 7 feet tall when done. I want more saguaros, to connect the political message with the unique nature of Tucson, and what’s more unique than a saguaro?

In this quilt, I’ve used only 8 colors of procion dye: 2 yellows, 1 red, 4 blues and gray. By sticking to the same palette for the entire project, there is more unity and I get variety by mixing the primary colors in different proportions.

For the border fabric, I took an 8 foot length of sateen, scrunched it up in a large plastic tub and poured different color dyes to create a gradation of sunset-type colors:

The fabric turned out okay, but it needed more Ooomph.

The most interesting hand dyed fabric is dyed several times, to create layers. To try something different¬† I screen printed a color remover onto my dyed fabric. I used thiourea dioxide, an easy to use chemical, much safer (for people as well as for fabric) than bleach, and followed the directions (somewhat) on the link just mentioned, which describe how to add the chemical to print paste. The bigger containers below have plain print paste, which I always have in the back of my fridge so I can screen print at a moment’s notice.

Here you can kind of see the saguaro shapes screen printed onto the dyed fabric, with debris from the storm in the background.

You know, the directions in the link I mentioned state to steam the dried print paste (a steam iron is fine) to set the color remover. I didn’t do this. I just let the fabric sit and dry out in the hot, hot sun for 30 minutes and after this, I tossed the fabric in the wash. This is how it looks:

I really like the effect. I’m going to dye it more tomorrow. Here’s how it looks “auditioning” as a border on the left side of my pieced top:

So far so good! This was a very productive day, but I felt sad about my palo verde tree: it’s going to have to go. Here’s what it looks like now, it’s falling over a bit more, just a few days ago it was completely perpendicular to the ground!

Looks like I’m going to need a chainsaw. Or, more accurately, someone to use a chainsaw for me!

Cochise Stronghold: Turn Back the Clock

I first went to Cochise Stronghold when I was 11….and that was a long time ago.We used to go out there when we visited my grandmother in St. David, Arizona; the (then) public road was right by her home, and from there it was about a half hour drive to the foothills of the Dragoon mountains, where massive piles of boulders make up the stronghold. It’s a very magical place.

I had a chance to revisit the stronghold today. One of my mother’s brothers, Thomas, lives in St. David and is very familiar with the area; the once public road out to the mountains is now private, and has a security code. The layout of the small forest service roads in the mountains is different due to human/drug smuggling that occurs in the area. So having a guide sure helped; also along for the ride was my mom and my brother Eric.

This is a view near Council Rocks:

I immediately remembered “shark rock”:

There are many, many metates in the area. Long before the Apaches lived in the area, ancient Mogollon peoples were a part of the land.

Here’s a great photo of my mom and her brother:

And here’s a shot of me, Eric and my mom:

And here’s another lovely photo of my mom; you can see in the background that the rocks in the background would be a very effective place to hide:

There’s also a ruin of what I believe was once a Butterfield Stagecoach station and inn; there’s even less left now than there was 30 years ago, here’s yet another shot of my sporty mom in front of what’s left of some of the walls:

I got a mug shot in front of the old adobe bricks, too:

It was a great day, not too hot this morning, and a long drive out there and back to Tucson; and when I got home, a huge storm hit, the strongest I think I’ve seen here. I think a microburst hit my neighborhood. Power poles are snapped just a few blocks away but I luckily have power; however, my palo verde tree was uprooted and currently sits at a 45 degree angle in my yard:

This would just be a big tree-removal bill, normally, but the top of the tree is resting against my electric power line. I’m hoping the power company will come out tomorrow and make this situation safer; no doubt I’ll have to pay to remove the tree. While it’s hard to see in the photo, about half of my fence blew down as well; the panels are now propped up so I don’t see the rentals to the north of me.

It’s always amazing to me how the summer skies here can be blue as a bell in the morning…..and then by 5:00PM you can be caught up in a frightening storm.

My friend and neighbor Bruce, who has a reliable rain gauge,  told me we got 2.25 inches of rain in less than an hour today. Wow. Just 2 miles away, 3.65 inches in an hour was reported on the news.

Believe me, 2.25 inches is more than enough.

Let the Piecing Begin…

I’m taking some time off from work to get some sewing done; so far so good. I started piecing together all the bits of fabric I’ve made over the past 6 months or so, this fabric will be my “quilt top” so to speak. This is the first section:

I pieced the 3 sections together with a straight stitch and then satin stitched over the seam; here you can see a close up here I’ve satin stitched one seam, not the other:

Here you see both seams are done:

Here is my project as it evolves; more later!

Paper and Cotton Capitols

I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder so I’m feeling better in that arena of life; nothing like joint mobility. I’m still fussing at getting my laptop set up; that takes so much time.

I laminated some photocopies of the US Capitol building onto some hand dyed cotton sateen today. First I figured out where on the fabric I wanted the photo to be centered; then, I turned the paper over, taped it in place, and then brushed acrylic gel medium on top of the fabric to transfer the pigment to the cotton:

Here are several sizes of US Capitol building photocopies waiting for their fabric assignments:

Here’s one finished piece, which is about 8 inches wide:

This one is much smaller:

Eventually, these small pieces of fabric will be used for small cloud-shapes in my quilt project. I’m planning on 19 small clouds.

Techno Snafus and Delays

I got a new laptop a few weeks ago and finally unpacked it and set it up. I’m hardly a techie, but I’m not completely incompetent either; that said, I’ve asked a colleague’s husband–who has a small business helping people w/their computer networks–to come over this weekend to help me get my backup hard drive to talk to Windows 7, and to also help me with a new wireless router. I’ve spent way too much time online troubleshooting.

I did also finally get a cortisone shot in my shoulder which has so far only made things much better.

This past weekend I made some more fabric for my January 8 quilt project. Here I have enlarged photocopies of the text of a famous RFK speech, I’m kind of arranging them on my dining room table while the Giant’s game is on, trying to figure out the best layout for them…

..because they’ll be laminated onto a bit of saguaro fabric yardage I made a few weeks ago. Here is the collage of text, arranged on a bath towel stretched over a piece of plywood. The green fabric is slowly being placed over the paper and then pinned down to keep it all in place:

As you can see some of the paper is burned on the edges. That was done in the kitchen, because I could use the exhaust fan over the stove; it was way too hot and windy outside. You can see what a mess my stove was when I was done. The wet towel is there to put out any errant flames.

Here is the fabric pinned to the towel-covered plywood in my “wet studio” on my patio. I later screen-printed acrylic gel medium on top of the fabric to transfer the text.

I also finally got the sewing machines dusted off, oiled up and running again. I wanted to see how the laminated fabric does as revere applique, here is a blue piece of fabric (top) and the laminated fabric on the bottom. I sewed a curving line on top of the blue fabric, then cut away to revel the laminated fabric underneath:

Here’s how nice my old Riccar looks in it’s fancy new ergonomic home, it’s very comfortable to sew:

The fabric with the laminated text turned out great, will post that next time.