New Piece!

I finished the most recent piece I was working on; I wanted it done so I could photograph it and submit it to the member show at the Tubac Center for the Arts this December.

Last time I posted, I’d straightened up the quilted desert marigold piece. This past week, I picked up where I left off.

I used a zig-zag stitch to attach 4 strips of quilt batting to each side of the marigold center, making a large rectangle; I then put a piece of yellow fabric on the bottom for the backing, and I cut matching strips of the fabric I dyed last week on top of the strips of newly attached batting. Here you can see the quilt sandwich in process, I’ve just started laying down the pressed strips of fabric on top:

Once I attached a strip, I machine quilted it with an abstract stipple pattern; I guess this is the “quilt as you go” part of the process:

Then I cut 4 strips of green fabric from my hand dyed “stash” of fabric, the green strips bring out the green flower stems; I carefully measured and placed each strip over the areas where the raw edges of the fabric were exposed. Then, I straightened up all 4 sides:

Finally, the last step is the binding. There is apparently some sort of quilt sprite or elf at work in my studio space, because out of nowhere I found a pre-assembled binding strip, abandoned from a prior project. Finding this saved me a bit of time! I’ve always liked a black binding with faint polka-dots. I think it’s my universal binding and I tend to use that fabric often for bindings. I just had to press the binding strip I found (it was perfectly long enough) and then draw a 1/2 seam allowance line along the length of the strip to keep me on track as I sewed it down:

Here is the almost-finished piece: not the best photo, as you can’t see the entire binding, but it is straight and hangs nicely: all I have left to do is whip-stitch the binding to the back of the quilt. This was good enough to photograph and submit to the Tubac show.

I would’ve probably gotten more done this week, but Thursday night I made 15 pounds of German potato salad for a big family reunion this weekend in St. David, Arizona; my mother’s 9 siblings and some of their families are in town for a memorial service for my maternal grandmother, who died earlier this summer. Luckily I have a big enough fridge to accommodate all 15 pounds. I also roasted a turkey breast (sadly, I could only afford a commercial factory bird) and made cranberry sauce.

Now it’s time to put it all in a cooler and get ready for a long weekend with family!

Quilt-As-You-Go Part 2

Well, I finished last week’s quilt-as-you-go sample and it turned out really good. I was inspired: finally, I’ve found a solution to a problem that’s been dogging me a while. I started straightening up my quilt piece:

Here it is, nice and even:

I needed some fabric that would make a good border, so I made up a new batch of dye concentrates, I think I mix up the same 7–8 most of the time:

And out to my wet studio I go…..ha ha ha:

I sponged on layers of dye; the fabric was soaked in soda ash water first, then wrung out. The initial dye application was blurry, but as the fabric dried (remember, it’s very dry and hot here) the sponge marks became more distinct. This is what the fabric looked like mid-way through the process:

Here’s the fabric as it rests for a few hours to let the dye work it’s way into the fabric even more:

I also dyed some black and white fabric for the binding. This fabric turned out really interesting, it looks almost skeletal: this is just one piece of fabric scrunched and dyed in black dye:

I attached strips of batting to my quilted piece, then made my quilt sandwich with fabric on the back, batting, and now strips of my newly dyed fabric; here’s how it looked as I was assembling it:

And here it is now that I’ve machine quilted 3 sides of it:

One more piece to go, then I’ll attach the strips and voila, I think I’ll have found the perfect setting for my desert marigolds.

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.

Finished Quilt Top

Here’s what I’ve got now; this is my “quilt top”. This will be roughly the finished size, which is 66″x92″ now. I’ll be adding more appliques and sheer fabric shapes. And the 6 windows. 6 is not an easy design number; 5 and 7 are so much better! But that number drives the design, for better or worse. Perhaps a bad design number will encourage me to come up with the best design possible, given the limitations. We’ll see!

Taking Shape….

This is a very vague mock up of some of the fabric I’ve put together for my new piece:

I really like the fabric on the bottom, here’s a close-up: I’m tired of cutting out contact paper shapes, that’s for sure.

I experimented a bit with pleating some yardage and dyeing just one side, to get some vertical shapes: here’s the pleated fabric and the tub of water for the partial dye-bath:

And here’s the fabric actually in the dye bath:

This is a nice technique to use to get vertical stripes, and it’s something I learned from a book by Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. I had to do this four different times with four different colors to get the vertical striped fabric you see in first photo above.

Soon I’ll be able to sew all the fabric together for the quilt top. Very exciting!

44th Anniverary of the RFK Assassination

Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of RFK’s assassination. Very sad to think about that, and how things would be different now if he had lived. His words are going to be a powerful part of my January 8th piece I’m working on now.

This is how my latest paper lamination turned out, I think it has real potential. I mad a collage of photocopies of photos I took of the RFK grave site at Arlington National Cemetery and laminated them on top of some saguaro fabric I screen printed last year with a thermofax screen.  I burned some of the photocopies. Here’s a close-up:

I feel less enthusiastic about the mountain fabric, here it is layered on top of more mountain fabric:

I’m slowly getting all the fabric together…soon this piece will start coming together because I have the finished work in mind. More screen-printing ahead this weekend!

Latest Fabric Designs

I don’t mind the trial-and-error involved in art making; I just prefer the trial part, it always seems more open ended at least. The error part stinks!

Last weekend I made some fabric that didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. Drat!

I had this idea to make fabric with a large mountain motif. Here in Tucson, the Catalina Mountains are a familiar sight, so I drew a large shape of the mountains and then traced it onto contact paper (what you’d use for kitchen shelving) using my “light table” a.k.a patio door:

Here is a rather dim view of what the contact paper shapes (white) look on white fabric out on my patio on a hot day when the glare from the sun, even on my patio, made everything seem very white:

Here are the same shapes with dye screen-printed on top. Warm weather is very good for dyeing. The 4% ambient humidity might frighten some folks who dye, but I find that by adding enough urea to my dye solutions, that seems to be just enough of a wetting agent. As I’ve said before, I don’t batch my dyed fabric. It’s usually sun-dried and tossed in the washer within hours of being dyed.

I usually have better luck, but the above fabric didn’t turn out very well. I was planning on getting a fabric that I’d screen-print again, but what I got isn’t worth it. Sigh.

Though before learning the outcome (before it went in the wash) I made some foccacia, following a recipe in The Olives Table cookbook which I just got as a gift from my Aunt Mary. I find making some yummy food in the middle of a day of art making feels very luxurious. The focaccia recipe in that book is fantastic, here are how mine looked, slathered w/olive oil and peccorino romano and about 5 minutes from being done:

Anyway, a whole work week went by and today I picked up from where I left off, this time trying a different spin on the whole mountain theme. Here we have a panorama view of the Catalina mountains, made from color photographs photocopied and then taped together. I burned the edges of the bottom one and will do the same for the top one, as I like the effect:

Here they are on top of some previous screen printed fabric, also of the Catalina mountains. My plan is to laminate these photocopies onto silk organza, and then to layer the silk over the original fabric:

This is the roughly 20″x30″ piece of organza, pinned down on foam core with one of those contact-paper mountain shapes stuck on top. Not giving up on that idea! This fabric was screen printed this afternoon but not washed. Since it’s a sheer, and since the yardage is smaller, I’m hoping for a better outcome since the effect is supposed to be subtle. We’ll see tomorrow!

Screen Printed Shadow Fabric

Above is the fabric I posted about last time; this is how it now looks with a fourth layer of dye, which I sponged on yesterday afternoon. Now it has even more depth.

I screen printed some new fabric today. I made stencils of 2 shapes–a man and a girl, I did a test run a few months ago–and cut them out of solid white contact paper and stuck them to some white cotton sateen:

Here’s a general idea of the yardage. This is one of two bath-towel-lined boards with cotton sateen pinned to the top; the fabric wasn’t entirely flat and secure the whole time, which is technically sloppy but makes for some interesting shapes:

And here is what the first layer of screen-printed dye looked like:

I waited for the first layer to dry, then carefully unpeeled the stencils and reapplied them to the stiff (the dye mix has sodium alginate, a thickening agent, which dries stiff) fabric. They aren’t quite as sticky as they are the first time, but with care they can be used twice. Which is good, because cutting those shapes over and over again gets a bit tiring!

This is what the fabric looks like after a second application of dye:

This is the same fabric, after being washed:

The second bit of yardage started yellow, too; this one had turquoise as a second layer and this is how it looks now:

From the detail below, which is looking pretty good I think, you can see a few examples of less-than-technically-perfect screen-printing technique; there are some blotches and variations in color.

I will screen-print both of these again with 2 different colors. But not until later this week. So far I think it’s looking pretty good.

Flour Paste Resist and Canning Beets

I took a few days off from work and managed to get a few things done. Such as cook all those beets.

I decided to make pickled beets. My secret weapon was to be horseradish root (see above) but the recipe I used called for so much apple cider vinegar, there really is not much else to taste.

Good thing I have another 10# of beets to pickle. I can make a sweet-and-sour pickle next time. And yes, all the jars below went into a hot water bath and all sealed very nicely. That’s 2 1/2 gallons of beets!

I also managed to get some fabric dyed for my January 8th Shooting quilt.  I want to have a big piece of sunny-sky fabric; because, although the topic is not an upbeat one, the weather was really beautiful that day.

So here I have some cotton sateen clipped to a padded piece of big plywood. I’ve brushed flour paste in the shape of clouds on to the fabric; it dries yellow. I think I like flour paste resist so much because of my affinity for baking and cooking. I mean, how convenient, right?

After I sponged on the dye, and after the flour paste complete dried, this is what my dyed and puckered fabric looked like.

The first dye application is light; you can hardly see anything in the fabric below, but this is how it looked after the first application of dye, and with the cloud-shapes once again painted with flour resist.

This is how the fabric looks after 2 applications of dye. It’s getting better….

Once again, I dried the fabric, clipped it to the plywood and brushed on the flour resist. I put some soda ash water in a sprayer bottle and misted the fabric as I sponged on the dye; this seemed to fix the dye better than soaking the fabric in soda ash water and then letting it dry. That’s what I did the first time, which is why I think the initial dye application was so faint.

Here is the fabric, mostly dry (any gray is from dampness, not dye!); it’s almost done. I think it needs one more bit of dye and I need to tone down the yellow a bit.