Monday, December 17, 2012

Six Inch Mounted Fiber Art is Addictive

Once again, today I turned to the swatches of fabric that Deborah Stanley gave to me.  This time I wanted to experiment with a quilting design for the Quilts on the Wall "Maps" quilt theme that will be submitted in March, 2013.  I had been in a quandary about how I should quilt around the figure in my quilt, but when my eye fell on the print in one of Deborah's swatches, I figured I could adapt it and that it would be just what the doctor ordered.  The scroll quilting around the flower in this 6" mounted quilt is what I am now using,  The scrolls in this piece are cut off due to the size of this work; however, they will be full and connected scrolls in the larger "Maps" quilt.

More frequently than not, my freemotion quilting "practice" pieces are turning into little works on their own.  Now that I've refined the process of making 6" stretcher bar frames, I may never again look at practice pieces as only practice. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gallery Wrapped Fiber Art on Stretcher Bars

Six Inch Fiber Art Gallery Wrapped on Stretcher Bars
Yesterday I posted a note about using a Craftsman Band Clamp to square up stretcher bars.  Here are two examples of how fiber art can be gallery wrapped onto the 1" x 2" stretcher bars.  I cut 4" strips of black fabric, folded the strips in half, and ironed the strips for a sharp mid-line crease.  I then stitched the strips with a 1/4" seam as facing to the  6 1/2" square fiber art.  Finally, I mounted the art to the stretcher bars by pulling the facing to the back side and stapling it securely.  Waalaa--gallery wrapped fiber art ready for hanging.

As a reminder, here is a picture of the Craftsman Band Clamp that made this mounting project a quick and accurately squared one.
Craftsman Band Clam -  Squaring Stretcher Bars   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Great Clamp to Square Up Stretcher Bars

Bar Clamp Squaring Stretcher Bar Frame
For anyone who makes his or her own stretcher bars on which to mount art, the band clamp by Craftsman is an invaluable tool.  Recently, I've been making 6"x6" works with facings that gallery wrap around stretcher bar frames but have been unable to find stretcher bars with these dimensions.  I use 1"x2" lengths of wood, miter the corners and then wood glue and staple the sides together.  Without this band clamp I'm afraid nothing would be perfectly square.  The bonus is that once the sides are glued and tightened in the clamp, the corners can be stapled while still in the clamp and even before the glue is dry.

In the picture above, you will see one of the stretcher bar frames with the band clamp squaring it.  Tomorrow's post will have pictures of two new work that were mounted on the stretcher bars I made.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sketching with Thread (Continued)

Embellishments Added
As I looked at the piece I posted yesterday, it dawned on me that it might benefit by the addition of a representation of animate life.  I put some red fabric with stabilizer in an embroidery hoop made for use with sewing machines and freemotion embroidered a ladybug image and then stitched it atop one of the flower petals.  Then beading seemed appropriate, so out came the beads and on they went to the quilt sandwich.
Closeup of Embroidered Lady Bug and Beading
What started out as a practice piece became a stand alone mini art quilt.  Now I need to decide whether I am going to bind it or it on put a facing on it and wrap it on a 6" x 6" frame. 

More to follow...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sketching with Thread

Ever since I read Twyla Tharp's book on building the creative habit, early every morning I sit at the sewing machine and practice freemotion quilting, even if only for a few minutes.  More often than not I do not have a predetermined idea of what I will make, but today it was different.  The fabric that Deborah Stanley gave to me last Saturday was calling for something more than random freemotion stitching.

I began with a  7" x 8" fabric sandwich of commercially printed fabric .  It was very light and had tiny little blue and green dots on it.  Because it was so light, it was almost invisible here so I didn't  post a picture but you will see it as you see the process develops.
 I also had some left over water thinned Setacolor fabric paints that I had used in another project and wanted to see if drawing with it might produce a painterly effect..

Thinned Setacolor Fabric Paints

Stiff Fabric Painting Brush

First Application of Thinned Fabric Paints
 After the fabric paint dried, I used an Ultra Thin Retractable Sharpie pen to do a loose floral sketch.
Loose Sketch with Sharpie Pen

 I then dropped the feedogs on my sewing machine and set about freemotion sketching a more detailed floral image.
Thread Sketching
 Sharpie now has a product called "Stained" markers for use on fabrics and I deepened each of the floral units near their centers with the pink marker.  The red was much too dark and would have made for a contrast that was too stark.  Here is the unbound finished practice piece. 

Close-up of Stitching and Highlighting.
Until I have used all the fabric swatches that Deborah gave me, I just may continue to create freemotion sketched practice pieces that have a semblance to something that is recognizable, even if nature may never produce anything akin to my loose application of color and line.

Log Cabin e-book from Fons and Porter

E-Book Cover
I am happy to report that I have been given the opportunity by Fons and Porter to review their Log Cabin Quilt e-book.  I received the book today and am quite impressed with this publication.  It provides a variety of illustrated examples of traditional log cabin, courthouse steps and chevron blocks with layout options.  Strip widths needed for block sizes that range from 4 ½” to 13 ½” are provided in easy to follow charts, as are color coded and numbered assembly diagrams.  Moreover, materials needed for a full quilt are clearly listed, along with cutting and finishing directions.  Thread types, quilting pattern suggestions, and even a trapunto feather design that approaches a tutorial in itself, are explained in pictorial detail. 

I am not only impressed with the clarity of the directions but also with the very valuable tips so that a finished log cabin quilt will be picture perfect.  There is also a tremendous, step by step illustrated description of how to end binding in a way that is “lumpless”—almost invisible.  This is the best description of how to do this that I have ever seen and I will definitely follow this process when I bind the quilt that I am presently working on.

Great thanks to Fons and Porter for the opportunity to review this e-book.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Artistic Expressions: A Random Act of Kindness

Random Act of Kindness - Fabric Gift from Deborah Stanley

 Sometime ago I wrote a blog entry about how the writings of famed choreographer, Twyla Tharp, in her book, The Creative Habit:  Learn It and Use It for Life, had motivated me to start every morning with the practice of freemotion quilting.  At our last meeting I shared a growing work of joined practice pieces which was beginning to take on a life of its own. I always have a stack of 6" square sandwiches of fabric and batting sitting at my sewing table so that I don't have to fish around for practice fabric each morning.  Today, much to my amazement and delight, Deborah Stanley presented me with a fantastic array of pre-cut fabrics and batting to use in my freemotion practice each morning.  Not only is Deborah a fine artist but she consistently seeks to mentor others.  She is penultimately smart and kind, characteristics that do not always walk together in one human being

Under Deborah's leadership the Southern California Artistic Expressions group met today for an inspirational three hours to share our exhibits, the current delphinium group project that has been accepted into the Mancuso Houston show, and to discuss various topics that centered on creativity and artistry.  This is my rendition of the delphinium floral theme that will be with the exhibit.
"Floral Lure"
To visit the Artistic Expressions site, just click on the flower on this blog's sidebar.  It looks like this:
Or click here--Artistic Expressions

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kindness Chronicles - 1st Sunday of December

If we keep our antennae out and alert, most days present opportunities to extend a kind hand.  If we miss these opportunities, it is more our loss than a loss to others.  I've had no opportunities for earthshaking kindness opportunities, but a few which came as gifts to my days were:

- Giving the young, thoughtful mailman his thank you gift for the year early.  Usually,  I wait until the last delivery day before Christmas but this year I thought it might be nice for him to have it early so that he could use it when buying presents for his young children.

- Letting two elderly folks, one in a walker, go ahead of me in the Post Office line.  The woman in the walker and I struck up a great conversation and I certainly would have been the loser if I had not offered my place in line.  With tears welling in her eyes she told me that she was sending a present to her grandson who is stationed with the Army in Afghanistan.  She said that the package contained a special gift that would keep her close to him always because she feared this might be the last year that she would be around to send him presents, and then she hugged me.  Now, I ask you...who really was the recipient of the kindness?  You're right.  It was I!

- Giving duplicate copies of my Quilting Arts magazine to my tenant, a traditional quilter, who doesn't see herself as an artist, although I know she is.  The thrill that she expressed made this a special moment for both of us.  Creativity breathes new life into every day and to watch her eyes light up made my day.

- Sending a pattern for a cardboard cat hotel to a friend who isn't in a position to buy a "real" cat hotel. 

- Giving a homeless person a bit of money and coupons for two, buy one, get one free, sandwiches.  I had walked past the fellow on my way into a store but I didn't want to create an uncomfortable moment by standing in front of him as I fished through my wallet.  Fortunately, he was still there when I exited the store and I had the cash and coupons in hand.  When I reached my car, I looked back and caught a glimpse of him walking into the Subway Sandwich shop.  It was good to know that he would not be hungry, at least for that day.  Since the money and coupons would yield 4 sandwiches, perhaps he was able to pass a meal on to a couple of other folks.

- Putting up a humming bird feeder for my tenants to enjoy.  I had purchased this for myself but now the joy will be three fold.

- Encouraging and consoling a friend when her precious canine, and only "family member" on the West coast, had suddenly died. 

Though none of these acts were either stellar or of saintly proportions, the mere opportunities to extend a small, caring hand were the greatest gifts I could be given this past month.