Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Two projects

Report on the soy wax experiments:

I need way more practice. Here is the first piece, done with kitchen implements.

I was very impatient and ironed the wax out before the paint was dry. This caused some shadowing where the paint is lighter around the wax imprint. And the colors are nothing to write home about.

Second piece:

The blobs were created by dipping a piece of fabric in the wax and then pressing it to the fabric, sort of like sponging paint. Interesting shapes. Both of these fabrics will make excellent backgrounds for more surface design.

Today I started with the drain covers that are pictured in the previous post. A little practice helps to figure out how long to let the tool sit on the fabric - the longer it sits, the more wax gets onto the fabric, and the less distinct the image. For both of these fabrics, I plan to add more layers of wax and paint.

On this blue one, the wax imprints look sort of like shells, don't they.

Next project: I have finished quilting the red and yellow piece and now I have to add the backing. This is the first time I've quilted a piece before adding the backing and I'm not sure I like it very much. The reason I did this was I thought I might pillowcase the backing onto the front part and that would be the easiest way to preserve the uneven edges. (I could have zigzagged the edges; I've done that before; but didn't want to do it here.) Thought I had better practice first, since I have a feeling that I might be getting pouffiness on the back.

I stitched a very narrow seam allowance, with tiny stitches, snipped into the corners and turned it. Totally unsatisfactory - dog-ear corners, rounded points, curves where it's supposed to be straight, and the backing rolls and is visible from the front. Back to the drawing board. And I punched through the quilt trying to poke out a corner and get it pointy.

This is edged with narrow strips of matching fabric adhered with wunderunder. Some of the pieces were cut with straight edges and some with wonky edges. I used both a straight stitch and a free motion zig zag. This works much better. There's a little bit of fussiness to do on the corners, which may drive me nuts on the big piece, but it looks a whole lot better to me. I'll match the edging to the colors, red or yellow, and it won't be very noticeable. Back to work.

Friday, January 27, 2006

At the Hardware Store

Needed some more things to dip into wax so it's off to the art store aka Lowes. They have such cool things - drain covers, drawer pulls, and other unidentified stuff. As long as I can stay out of the way of the clerk guys who always want to know what I'm going to use it for. I used to try to explain but now I just say it's for an art project and they go away.

I did some fabric today but I haven't gotten all the wax out yet, so you'll just have to wait to see it. And tomorrow is the trip to Joanie's opening. Probably won't get back to this until Sunday...

Thursday, January 26, 2006


I played around with various scenarios on how to preserve that shadowing with different types of stitching. I tried defining the overlaps with zig zag stitching and also just stitching shapes that mimicked the overlaps and nothing looked good. I made up a couple of sample pieces that I could stitch on and try out my ideas without doing it on the quilt and having to rip out stuff I didn't like. Here is one of the samples with lots of different stitching on it.

I finally decided to echo sort of the crosshatch stitching by going back and forth and making another layer of rectangular shapes. It's sort of like Lisa's stitching except I'm not following the underlying shapes and it's not so close together. Tried several different threads and finally settled on a heavy weight variegated cotton, yellows for the center, and red for the outside parts. I'm about 2/3 of the way finished quilting.

I want to preserve the uneven edges so I'm going to try pillowcasing this. I'm only quilting with the top and batting. When that's done, I'll trim the batting to the edges and stitch the backing, then turn it and do enough more quilting to hold it together. Hope it works.

I ordered 25 lbs of soy wax today so I can play with that in earnest. And on Saturday I'm going to Joanie's opening at the library. Can hardly wait to see the work installed!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The most depressing day of the year

I read in the paper that today is the most depressing day of the year according to a "formula" that includes the weather, the amount of debt you're in, your salary, the length of time since you broke your New Year's Resolutions, and a few other factors. But it's not all gloom and doom. We have 30 minutes more daylight since the winter solstice, and the rate of increase is increasing. Snowdrops have stuck their heads above the dirt and they look like they will bloom in just a few days.

And if you look closely, there are little seedling sprouts in amongst the debris. No clue what they are, but something thinks spring is coming.

The sun has moved higher in the sky according to my latest photo.

Nearly 8 inches difference in a month. It took 3 weeks to move the first 4 inches along the tape measure, and only 10 days to move another 4 inches. I'm sure there is a formula somewhere that charts all this stuff, but seeing it as it happens is fun. Plus it gives me something to look forward to during February, the most depressing month of the year, imho. A lot of people pick January for that dishonor, but my birthday is in January. A minor highlight, for sure, but it helps.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

NJ trip and a revelation

I knew it was going to be a good day when I saw the sunrise from my back yard. On Thursday I drove up to Rayna's house to visit with Linda from Belgium and Helene from Paducah and the rest of Rayna's crit group. Linda is in town because she has a piece in the SAQA at Noho show and came over the pond for the openings. Helene and I came because it was a good opportunity to get together with the gang.

This is a brick wall at the train station. I think it's going to become a thermofax screen - it's a very interesting design.

Thursday evening we took the train into NYC, went to dinner, and then to the reception. The gallery is small and there are only 12 pieces in the show, and as usual there was at least one that was taking up my spot :) Two pieces had already sold. Thursday night is gallery night in Chelsea, the area around the gallery, so there were lots of people going from venue to venue seeing what's there and eating the free food.

Friday morning before I left to come home, Rayna gave me a quick demonstration on doing soy wax resists. Oh my, I bought an electric frying pan on my way home and will be ordering soy wax real soon, I think.

Meeting with Rayna's crit group was energizing. Each member had work to share and none of it was ordinary. I brought the piece I've been working on and when I held it up the sun coming through the window backlit it. Oh my, it looked cool!

You can see all the overlaps of the fabrics and how they make a secondary design. I think it's particularly interesting in the yellow section. I had planned to layer this with batt and backing and do the normal quilting thing, but seeing this in a new light (!) has made me stop and think about that. I want to preserve that interesting design but I haven't a clue how to do it. Leaving it unbatted might work, but it would have to be backlit to get the full effect. Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Stitching and a neat box

Check out this neat box:

I got it at Starbucks. They're selling some kind of coffee (duh) in this box. I don't drink coffee, but my sil does and he buys some at Starbucks when we go there on Sunday mornings for our usual get-together. (I just reread that and realized that I need to include that my husband, daughter, and granddaughter are also at this little get-together.) I sort of drooled over the box so he took the coffee out and gave it to me. It's all very precisely laser cut and everything; too bad there is Starbucks information on it. Maybe I'll just cover that up.

Sewing on the current project
With conficting advice from several people whose opinions I value, I have decided to put the designing aside and sew together the background and let my subconscious work on the design. This stitching of the background is the tricky part and would be made immensely easier with wunderunder. But I've never been really happy with that on a large project and I never plan ahead to use it efficiently. So instead I stitch all these overlapping pieces fabric down to a backing layer. Sometimes I go around the edge of each piece and sometimes I use an overall grid which will catch every piece but not always on the edges. There is a lot of pinning involved which means I get stuck (literally) alot. Everything is pinned to something called Gossamer, which is a very lightweight nonwoven polyester fabric. It's available from Stump's Prom, which is a supply house for party items.

Getting this under the needle of the sewing machine requires careful maneuvering, because of all those pins.

You can see the Gossamer and how lightweight and transparent it is. I think it might be like Lutrador but since I've never seen that stuff, I don't know for sure.

This is the grid. There is going to be lots of machine quilting on here so the edges and corners of the fabrics eventually will be secured. Once I get the whole thing gridded I will go back to the design phase and decide about those circles. I have something else/additional in mind and will be trying that also.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Progress of various kinds

I've taken some really lousy pictures of the work in progress. First off I can't get an unobstructed view of it so I had to hold the camera above my head and shoot downward towards the wall. Keystoned badly, which I tried to fix in Photoshop, with limited success. And also the pictures are a little blurry. Well, OK, alot blurry.

The first iteration:

The circles were quartered and then laid across the midsection. In my humble opinion, this sucks. Got rid of the circles:

This looks alot better, but it's nowhere near finished. Stay tuned.

Sun position at Noon today:

We've made progress since the last picture, more than an inch along the tape measure.

I belong to New Image, an art quilt group that was started about 25 years ago. The members have changed over the years, with a few of the originals still hanging around. New Image is known for the HIVE Project, a room sized exhibit that boggles the mind. Our most recent project is Hardware, an exhibit based on the concept of hardware and how each artist interpreted it. Each piece had to be exactly 15" high but could be as wide as we wanted. The exhibit is designed to be hung in a straight line around the room. We made a postcard catalog of 12 images of pieces in the show and packaged them in a custom designed box with the word Hardware embossed on it. A really nice package, and you can have one for your very own for $12 plus $2 shipping and handling. Contact me for more information.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Four way tag and a new project

Four Jobs You've Had: Secretary, Aerobics Instructor, Dirt Washer, Geographic Information System Analyst

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over: Star Trek movies with Patrick Stewart; Seabiscuit; Dances with Wolves; Harry Potter

Four Places You've Lived: Chicago; Northfield, IL; Bloomington, IL; Baltimore, MD

Four TV Shows you love to Watch: Without a Trace, CSI, Medium; Law & Order and all its permutations

Four Places You've Been on Vacation: Alaska, Europe, Utah, Wyoming

Four Websites You Visit Every Day: Melody's blog, Lisa's blog, Rayna's blog, Shockwave Daily Jigsaw Puzzle

Four Of Your Favorite Foods: Chocolate, Chicago deep dish pizza, peanut butter, any version of useless carbs

Four Places You'd Rather Be: Triennial Kleeman family reunion in Nags Head, NC; visiting family; any National Park out West; at home on Sunday night when my kids and grandkids come over for dinner

Four Albums You Can't Live Without: This is a toughie - I like classical music and music from my youth, but I don't have a fave album

Four People You'll Pass This On To: Martha, Nancy, Joanie, Rayna

A new project

The beginnings of my newest piece, back to my first love, circles. Somehow these are going to be combined with those pastels. I've got a plan and a sketch, but I'm not sharing that yet. It will be interesting to see how far from the sketch the final pieces deviates.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Today is sunny for the first time in over a week, maybe even 2 weeks. On December 21, the day of the winter solstice, I took a picture of a shadow precisely at noon, and marked that spot. Today's picture shows that there is progress - the sun has moved higher in the sky. The white arrow indicates the point on Dec 21 and the black arrow is the equivalent today. Just call me Geek.

I've finished up all the dyes and here are the results:

Above is a combination of Cerulean Blue, Blue-Violet, Ultra Violet, and Navy.
Below is a combination of Golden Yellow, Clear Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Deep Yellow, and a bunch of the blue mixture to make green. It's really a nicer green than what's showing up here.

The red piece is Light Red, Chinese Red, Soft Orange, and Scarlet mixed together.

This last piece is the combination of Khaki, Chocolate Brown, and Black. This fabric photographed far better than it actually looks. So if you think it looks bad here, you should see the real thing. You would think you couldn't go wrong with something named Chocolate Brown.

And lastly, here are some threads. Size 12 pearl cotton. I've wound one of the skeins around a drinking straw.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm dyeing...

fabric, that is. My stash is woefully short on pastels. Of course, that's not by accident since I tend to favor the rich, deep values. Plus when I dye fabric I tend to put a lot of concentrate into the fabric. My previous technique for dyeing pastels consisted of dyeing the fabric and then bleaching it out. Very inefficient, not to say a little hard on the fabric.

In order to counteract my tendency to over color, I mixed the concentrates very weak. Ann Johnston uses 2 T of dye powder to 1 cup of water. Then to dye pastels she only uses 1 teaspoon of the concentrate. I used 1/8 teaspoon of dye powder to 1 cup water. Now I can use lots of the concentrate and not worry about the fabric getting too dark.

I used 16 different dyes (if a little is good....) and dyed 10 yards of fabric. True to form I used nearly all the yellow and have lots of red and blue left.

I think I did pretty well, and there are some good pastels in there. Some are a little too dark and I'm not real fond of that pink on the left. Maybe it will get more dye tomorrow.

I also wound some size 12 pearl cotton into skeins and will dye them tomorrow also. I've heard that some people can actually sew with the size 12 through the needle in the sewing machine, but I've never had any luck with that. It makes great thread for big stitch hand stitching - wonderful accents and you can actually see the thread. Subtle is not me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


It's been nearly a month since it snowed here. Last snowfall I shoveled with old shovels that had lost their sharp edge so it was frustrating. So I bought a new shovel. Not realizing that I had bought a new shovel, my husband bought one also. So now we have 4 snow shovels and an ice breaker-upper. My plan is to leave them right outside the back door so we won't have any snow for the rest of the winter. Maybe it will work. Either that or somebody will come along and lift one or more of them.

A bit more fiber related -- for a proposal I'm working on I've been cutting headlines and phrases out of the business section of the newspaper and gluing them all down, with the intention of eventually making a thermofax screen. I scanned the collage and I also scanned a piece of fabric. Brought them both into Photoshop Elements and combined them into one image. I decreased the opacity of the words layer so that they would sort of fade into the fabric. This got printed out as the cover sheet for the proposal, with my name and some other stuff on it also. It goes into the mail tomorrow, and I will hear back sometime in February. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Is it Tuesday?

Today was a day for some errands. Went to the Post Office to send a box off to Lands' End. I used the usps.com Click-n-Ship service to print up a prepaid Priority Mail label. Then I can just walk into the Post Office and hand it off to the clerk. The really great thing is that I don't have to stand in line to do that. I did that when I shipped Christmas presents also; prepaid the shipping, walked into the place and handed 2 boxes over the counter instead of waiting half an hour in line. You can order stamps online also. Remember that the rates are increasing as of Monday!

Then it was on to the Dump to drop off recycling. We have curbside pickup that alternates between papers one week and bottles and cans on the alternate. Except that since our pickup day is Monday, nothing has been picked up lately and I don't have room to store that much recycling. I love going to the dump. It feels so good to be ridding myself of all that detritus. Just heave it over the wall and they take it away.

Then back to FedEx to ship a quilt to Form Not Function. I usually use UPS but there was a $6 difference round trip in what FedEx charged versus UPS. So I got myself an account with FedEx and created a shipment with a prepaid label and also did the return label. Since nowadays it seems that the artist has to foot the shipping bill both ways. It's getting more and more expensive to enter to shows. Whine. Whine. I'd like some cheese with my whine, please.

Anyhow, just so there is a picture with this post, this is the quilt I sent off. It's called Sun Days and it's 28" x 22".