Update on Paper Shredding Fabric Design

080815 blog 1 diaspora

This is what I’ve got so far in my ambitious diaspora project. The size is roughly 58″x58″. The concentration camp image is almost done; above that is the Lincoln memorial image, you can see it in pencil barely, and I’m going to start filling that in today. I’m auditioning text for the other spaces, not sure where that will all go yet. Also, the conquistidor shape, a rubbing from my recent visit to Santa Fe, will factor in somehow, as will the national weather service hurricane symbol, which you can see to the left.

Here’s a close up:

080815 blog 2 diaspora

And here is the stack of color photocopies (I’ve spent close to $100 on these) which I’ll be ripping up and fitting into the piece, somehow. I recently shared with one of the women in my bi-weekly art quilt group that I was spending my time shredding paper in my art studio; she asked me if I felt like a hamster. Not a lot of fabric is designed by ripping up paper and taping it together! Next time I’ll post a photo of the paper debris on the floor. It’s impressive. But, not until the Lincoln memorial design element is complete.

New Paper and Silk Lamination Project: Wild Cotton

Last year, the year I didn’t blog, was hell.  But I did manage to take photos then with the idea I’d do art again one day. I took this photo at Sabino Canyon last October, during an unusual fall wildflower bloom. This is wild cotton, and for more info on the plant check out this helpful blog:

wild cotton photo for blog

I’ve blogged before about a very cool technique to make fabric, using color photocopies and transferring the pigment from the copy to fabric. It’s been ages since I’ve done any art, and the time finally is right, so since getting back from Santa Fe I’ve been working on this project. I took the above photo, along with a few others, and made photocopies which I then turned into a collage. Here is the roughly 18″ x 24″ collage outside ready to be laminated to silk. I like to work outside for this part of the process as it can be messy.

wild cotton paper lamination 1

I then pinned silk organza over the collage, and used some tape as well.

wild cotton paper lamination 2

I then screen-printed acrylic gel medium over silk-covered collage; and then I quickly rinsed off my screen and squeegee, as acrylic gel medium dries super fast. The collage dried in about 10 minutes in our hot summer sun. The next step is to remove all the paper, so that all is left is a lovely piece of silk—with a collage transferred on to it. I start the paper removal process manually; this is the piece looking at it from the back. You can see all the bits of masking tape used to adhere all the little pieces of photocopy paper together in the collage:

wild cotton paper lamination 4

Once I’ve pulled all the paper off I can by hand, the piece is soaked in cool water for about 10 minutes, and then I use a scrubber to gently remove the paper. Gently. I’ve scraped a hole in silk before so….be…..careful….when….scrubbing! And note the sieve. Personally, few things drive me nuttier than wet paper. It’s gummy and sticky. After a little bit of scrubbing, the fabric goes back in a tub of cool water for a rinse, and then is returned to the scrubbing table for more scrubbing. I pour all the used water through a sieve to strain out the paper and dispose of it properly. Never be tempted to dump any of this stuff down your sink. It will clog in a way you likely can’t imagine so don’t do it!

wild cotton paper lamination 5

This is the finished piece:

wild cotton paper lamination 3

I am inspired by how translucent this piece is, and it’s an impetus for me to use this technique for a piece I hope to finish in time to enter in a nationally juried show. More on that next time!

Drawing Practice

I took out the charcoal today to practice drawing, something I haven’t done for a while. To actually make a drawing is almost a sculptural process of building up layers of marks made by charcoal, chamois, eraser and of course my impatient forefinger on paper.

I took a drawing class at the local community college 8 years ago and loved it. But I never did much more of it. Trying to keep up with fiber art and music was always challenging enough. During the recent few months, in which I’ve helped my mom after she broke her ankle, I quit my job and started my own business. And, it’s slow going, which means there’s more time for art. What I remember liking about drawing was the flow state I associated with the process. And a flow state seems an ideal place to come up with my next art quilt project,

I picked this view of my yard to draw:

060415 charcoal still life

And, this is what I’ve got so far:

060415 charcoal still life 2

It’s almost done. A helpful way to get in the zone for the next project!

Non Stop Knitting

The last 4 months have seen me do little typing–away from work that is–and no sewing. Why? Because I still have tendinitis in my left shoulder, which started in the middle of machine quilting my “Six Windows” piece, and that was 6 months ago.  And to make matters worse, I got a cortisone injection that only caused me more pain. So. Not much sewing going on for a while.

I have at least been able to knit and I made a simple hoodie for my nephew; here it is, hanging up after I blocked it:

051313 blog 1And here is Damian wearing it is a few days later in Madison, Wisconsin:

Damien's birthday hoodie blog 1

This is the next sweater in progress, another top down hoodie for my nephew Luke; this one has a cable down the middle: I’m getting adventurous!

051313 blog 2Aside from finally having some knitting success–thanks to the good folks at Kiwi Knitting here in Tucson for their instruction–I’ve also had some success on a larger scale: I submitted my “Six Windows” quilt to the Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibition near Washington D.C. this summer, and it was accepted. I’m very pleased, as it’s a well known national show. And I know people will really appreciate seeing it.

Six Windows Quilt blog 1

Project Projection

This is how it starts when it comes to making shadow shapes: the overhead projector gets dragged into the living room. This is the biggest shadow shape I’m using, here it’s projected on some Pellon True Grid taped to the wall. I outlined it with a sharpie, cut it out, and pinned it on top of a large piece of shiny nylon tulle. I put stabilizer on the back of the quilt top; here I am feeding the shape through my machine and sewing the outline:

Pinning everything together and laying it out requires my large braided rug to be used as a work surface:

The next step: dyeing yarn for the outlines for the shapes. I’m using bright colors to liven things up; the piece is a bit gray so far.  The largest shape requires 20 feet of yarn. I’ll dye small amounts of fabric or yarn in my kitchen sink:

The first completed shape is orange and it’s on the left side: it’s meant to be subtle.

I’m sewing down the second outline now….updates soon.

A Foray Into Quilt-As-You-Go

Above, two unfinished projects made of laminated silk fabric. Well, the one on the right I technically “finished”, I just don’t like it. Both are quilted, but neither one has a decent border; I think I didn’t know how to treat the fabric once I’d finished it, and thought perhaps it needed a setting more…exalted…than “just” a quilted border. I thought maybe a wooden frame. I believe I’ve posted about my attempts to use a miter saw to this end. Not pretty.

Now I’ve changed my mind about needing a wooden picture frame, and not just because woodworking is so bleeping difficult. I’m feeling more inclined to remain committed to fabric art….and that means all fabric. No frames. Of course, this perspective has a pragmatic component: I need a few pieces to submit to shows, and the pieces all have to be art quilts. I’d like to submit a piece for this December’s Member’s Exhibit at the lovely Tubac Center for the Arts, just 45 minutes south of Tucson. I’d also like to submit 4 pieces for consideration for a new SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association) competition, and the deadline is November. And of course I’m working hard to get my January 8 Shooting related piece ready to submit to the Tucson quilt show in just 4 months. I’ve created 3 deadlines for myself.

I’ve been reading about quilt-as-you-go; there are many ways to construct a quilt by assembling quilted fabric piece-by-piece. Too many to mention here. I’ve just kind of put something together. I’m making a sample now to see how it looks, and if I like the result I’ll use it to fix the pieces shown above.
Here is a small 12″ x 12″ block. It’s an unfinished bit of thread-painting I did in a workshop many years ago with Libby Lehman, this is one of her patterns; here I am quilting it:

Now I have a small quilted block with no border, just a lonely block looking for a perfect setting. I cut four strips of batting, each 5 inches wide, to fit around the block, and zig-zag stitched the batting strips to the quilt block:

Here are 4 strips of lavender fabric on top of the batting; looks like a nice harmonious match:

Now I’m quilting each strip onto the batting:

Tomorrow I’ll show you the next steps I’ll take to finish my quilt-as-you-go sample, and then I’ll know if I think it’ll work as a technique for my laminated fabric pieces.