Saturday, December 31, 2011

In Honor of the Prayer Flag Project

I have been deeply moved by the Pray Flag Project and even though I am not a contributing member, the project spurred me to create a small prayer flag mobile to hang at the front door of my house.  No longer will I ever see a snippet of fabric in the same way again.  The potential of these fabric swatches is limited only by the size of one's heart.
All I did to make this mobile was stitch through each raw edged swatch,  take a few more stitches with no fabric, and then stitch through the next swatch.  Some of the fabric chains are long.  Some  are short.  Most snippets have words written on them with permanent marker, but a few await another ah-ha moment.
I cut a small diameter dowel into two equal segments and bound them together with crochet thread.  In order to attach the chains to the dowel parts, I merely punched holes into the first fabric of each chain and slipped the swatches onto the dowels and adjusted their placement to achieve a balanced mobile.  Since this will hang outside in the elements, I used indoor/outdoor wood glue to keep the chains from slipping off of the dowels if the wind should kick up.

The prayer flag chains dance in circles and move with the slightest breath of air.  Now, whoever comes to my door will be greeted with one-word thoughts that can only transport the heart to a good place.
I offer  my greatest thanks to those talented souls who contribute to the Prayer Flag Project for they have all given me pause to dwell upon only uplifting thoughts.

Happy New Year to All!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Evening Light - Saving a Memory

Last evening while I was paying bills by the soft light of an old lamp, I was compelled to put the check book aside for a few moments and to merely enjoy the light.  A pencil was at hand, as was some printer paper, and a very quick sketch developed.  A light watercolor wash followed.  Then it was back to the much less enjoyable task of writing out checks and balancing the books.  The sketch was put aside and might have become fodder for the "circular file" since it was rendered on the back of piece of paper that had computer printout on the other side BUT...
It kept being shifted around the studio all day today and I just didn't want to chuck it.  I wanted to remember that moment when the soft light captivated me.  To try to replicate the sketch on watercolor paper would lack the magic of the light filled moment.  Instead I scanned it, printed and overprinted it, reduced the size and auditioned it as a greeting card element and then...
I reduced it again, this time to 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" ACEO card size.
Now I have a set of 6 greeting cards and 2 ACEO limited editions.  After spending the day with this quick sketch, the lamp light will be imprinted on my memory for a lifetime, even if the sketch has a limited lifespan.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Migration" - An 8" x 10" Art Quilt

This new work was a purely intuitive adventure in pattern, color, texture and design.  It began without an end in mind and with "quilt-as-you-go" piecing of various fabric patterns.  It was finished with a satin stitched edging.  Each of the pieced elements were free motion quilted differently.  Onto this background I screen printed two birds and free motion satin stitched around each figure.  This completed focal element was stitched onto a larger soy fiber quilted piece and then stretched and stapled to an 8" x 10" artist's stretched canvas.  Soft edges are created by the soy fibers.
"Migration" - Front
I finished the raw edges on the reverse in a rather unconventional, but effective, manner.  I used a pallet knife to apply stucco patch to the fabric edges and then feathered the edges to the stretcher frame.  After the stucco patch was completely dry and rock hard, I painted it to coordinate with the soy fibers.  The bird  figure on the back was made by using a reverse mask stencil taken from one of the bird figures on the front of the work.

"Migration" - Back

When the stucco patch is completely cured and hard as a rock, I will paint it with colors to compliment the soy fiber quilted fabric.   Again, another day of exploration and discover has been great fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Looking Back on Katrina - ACEO to Art Quilt?

We will never forget hurricane Katrina and the devastating effect this furious lady had on a wide swath of our country and our national consciousness.  As it raged ...
across the South, it relentlessly covered almost unfathomable miles of land.
Years later, hope is returning...
Perhaps these recent trading card renderings will develop into art quilts one day to pay homage to the resilient spirit of those who sustained nature's fury and emerged with hope and commitment in their hearts.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smile: A Random Act of Joy

Every time I visit Mia Bloom's Blog "Graffiti Inspirations", ,, I can't help but smile and have a nice, warm, good feeling come over me.  She is painting inspirational words on canvas board and leaving these around town.  Whoever finds them, is fortunate, indeed.  As a result of the impact that her work has had on me, I figure that if more folks smiled when going about their daily lives, that kind of good feeling might be contagious.

Some scraps of card stock lay in my work table and beckoned to be used rather than tossed into the trash.  Unlike Mia's works, these are not art.  They are merely little words that may elicit a smile from those who find them tucked on shelves, on tables, on park benches or at bus stops across the city.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tea for Two (on a cold winter's day)

As the cool days of Fall move into the cold days of winter, what could be better than sharing a hot cup of tea with a friend or loved one?
This 19" x 22 1/2" quilt features a fabric painted background with overlaying original stamps and original stencils cut specifically for the focal image of this work.  

It was fun watching this piece develop from a  piece of fabric that I had painted with blues and whites only.  It sat on my work table for a while with nothing more than these two colors.  Then came the introduction of stamped images that I had developed.  One day a tea pot and a couple of cups sat next to the fabric, and the rest speaks for itself. 
 Focal Theme Closeup
 I could have batted, backed and bound this piece and it would have stood on its own, but I believed it needed to be framed--not with a picture frame, but with more fabric.  

I had some blue and white gingham in my stash of fabrics that was left over from a "Dorothy" costume dress I had made for my granddaughter several years ago.  The blue was right and did not clash with the painted blue.  Moreover, I felt that the gingham sang "warm and cozy and kitcheny" and would be right for the theme. 
 Feather Stitching Closeup

I had been using feather stitching on another work and since I was in feather "swing", a swag of feathers seemed appropriate.
 Lettering Closeup
The lettering was first penciled onto the fabric and since I already had the free motion foot on my machine, I gave executing the letters with a close, somewhat narrow zigzag stitch and it worked.  

 Mitered Corner Closeup
The closeup of the double fold binding makes it appear as if this is homespun fabric, but it is not.  The weave is close.  This merely shows that one continuous binding strip has mitered corners.  

Reverse with 4" Hanging Sleeve and Signed Label
If possible, I always try to make a label that reflects the theme on the front of my art quilts.  This one is stenciled, backed and appliqued to the back of the quilt.  It contains my name, city and the date, 2011, when the quilt was made.

Elf Costume for Adults - Make Your Own Pattern

Although this entry has absolutely nothing to do with art quilts, it was great fun making it.  At this time of year, fun and celebration are the order of the day, so if you need a costume for a holiday party, you might have a go at making something like this elf costume.

My daughter is hosting a holiday "Ugly Sweater"/Costume get together at her home this month.  Since all my outlandish holiday sweaters have gone their way to charity, I started looking on-line  for something funny that I might wear.  My, oh my, the prices were outlandish so I resorted to Plan B and headed for my stash of fabrics.   I had lots of green and red felt and left over faux fur from another project and that was the start.

Elf Hat with Ears
All I did for the elf hat was measure around my head for the opening and then cut two sides of a modified cone shape from red felt.  The triangular pieces were cut from scraps of felt and sewn to the cuff of the hat.  I did make a pattern for the felt ears so I can show how they were made here.


Ear Pattern
The dotted lines were the cutting line and all other lines were indications of where to stitch.

Ear Pattern Pinned to Felt

Ears Turned Right Side Out and Lightly Stuffed

Topstitching Around the Edge of the Ear
to Form Contour

Turning the Edge Before Stitching the Spiral

The ends need to be turned in before stitching the spiral or the entire edge will not turn in as a final finishing step.

Ear Ends Turned and Pinned After Spiral is Stitched
(Spiral is turned the opposite way than it is on the pattern)

Completed Ears
The completed ear units were sewn to the elf hat by hand.  I found that placing them about 1/2" forward of the two side seams of the hat worked out well.


I did not make a pattern for the vest.  I merely laid a sweatshirt that fits me on top of two layers of green felt, marked the felt with chalk and then cut it out.  I cut up the middle of what would become the front and then folded back the cut edges and pressed both sides to look like lapels.  I stitched from the bottom of each side to where the arm holes would be and then cut a bit of an angle at the bottom of the armholes so that square corners would not be sticking out.  The garment underneath the vest is a sweater that I have in my closet.  The red, green and yellow triangles are the same size as those that around the edge of the hat and were topstitched with a fancy stitch .  Wa elf vest.


I didn't have red pants in my closet and I don't believe I probably ever would buy any so, once again, Plan B was activated.  Catholic Charities Thrift Shop had a pair.  They were too big, but a little taking in of the side seams was all they needed.  The rest was a cinch.  I used some faux fur remnants and hand stitched them to the outside of the hem.  Bonus!  The pants were a bit short so this worked out just fine.


I found a pattern on the internet but when I cut it out, it was for a child's foot.  Oops.  What to do?  Geez, another Plan B had to be worked up.  I took a pair of flat shoes from the closet, laid them on paper, drew around the sole and cut out the pattern about 1/2" larger than the sole of the shoe so that I can wear these elf shoes over my real shoes.

Elf Shoe Sole Pattern
(cut 2)

Elf Shoe Side Pattern 
(cut 4)

I had to make sure that the distance from the point at which the toe curls up to back of the heel was the same length as the distance from the center of the sole toe to the center of the sole back.

Cutting the Pattern

I doubled red felt pieces and cut out the side pattern twice.  It would have been nice to be able to have 4 layers of felt and cut through them all at the same time, but that stack would have been too thick to cut neatly.
Sewing the Shoe Top

Next, I sewed a 1/4" seam from the dot on the mid point of the top, around the toe, down the bottom and back up to the dot on the middle of the back.  Then the felt was cut back somewhat close to the stitching line.
Sewing the Sole to the Shoe Top

Working right sides together I first pinned the center of the sole toe to the center of the shoe top unit at the dot below the toe begins to curve.  Then I pinned the center of the sole heel to the center of the shoe top unit at the dot at the bottom back.  Next, I pinned around the entire edge and then sewed the sole to the shoe top.  The edges were then clipped close to the stitching line and the entire unit was turned right side out.

Folding Down and Securing the flaps

Two pictures are provided to show how the flaps were folded.  First the flaps over the top of the shoe were folded back.  Then the two tips of the flaps were folded back to the center and stitched in place.  A star and little bead cover were added as embellishment, as was the gold cord bow, and the dangling, plastic "crystal".  The two flaps at the back of the shoe were also folded over and pressed in place to make a back cuff.

Rubberized Outer Sole

Since these felt "shoes" are going to be worn over street shoes, and since they will be subjected to a variety of walking surfaces, they needed to have a non-slip bottom surface.

A friend gave me a piece of black rubberized shelf liner that I used for the sole.  I used the sole pattern but cut it a smidgen smaller so that it would not show on the front of the shoe and I glued it to the bottom of the shoe with  a product called Professional Welder that works on myriad surfaces.  

Hoorah!  I'm ready for the party.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Screen Printing with Window Screening Material

Using Window Screening Material to Make a Screen Printing Tool
Background:  After constructing wooden framed screens to cover vent holes on one of my houses, a small rectangular piece of screening remained.  It lay on my kitchen counter for days before I figured that it could be used someway in an art project.  Today a light bulb went off and it seemed like a perfect little piece to experiment with making a screen printing tool with readily available materials.  Here is how it progressed.
I'll start with the completed screen and work backward.
The project began with a piece of 2 ¾” x 9 ¾” screening material.  At first I zigzag stitched a narrow border of self adhesive metallic material around the edge to give the screen stability. 

Then I stuck a few pieces of Scotch™ tape to what became the back side of the screen. These would act as resists when ink was pulled across the screen. After one pull of silk screen ink, I could see that it needed a wider border to reduce the risk of extra ink going over the edges onto fabric and to increase stability.

I used wide aluminum tape on the front and then turned the piece over and applied the same  tape over the sticky side of the tape on the front. A screen printing tool emerged. 

I had a piece of fabric that already had some “smooshed” color on it, so I figured this would be a good piece on which to audition the effectiveness of the new tool.This close-up photograph shows the result of two ink screenings. 

The purple print was done with only a narrow metallic tape border.  Because stability was compromised, the image edges are not crisp.  The yellow print was done with the wider metallic tape border and the edges are very crisp and clear.  The screen grid is visible on both and provides additional visual interest.
Now I want to make a larger screen printing tool for which I will use a wooden frame and staple the window screening material to the frame, similar to the way in which silk screen is attached to a wooden frame.