Saturday, October 29, 2011

Getting back to work

Now that the remodeling is finished, I have no more excuses for not being in the studio working. But I sure am out of the habit, in addition to feeling very un-creative.  So I thought I would prime the pump by doing some fabric painting. Several weeks ago I bought a Gelli plate from Gelli Arts. This is a substitute for a gelatin plate except it doesn't deteriorate nor does it need refrigeration. I thought it has a lot of positives, first off being that you don't have to plan ahead to mix up the gelatin. So I got mine out and began to play with it. The first thing I noticed is that it is much firmer than gelatin. When I tried putting leaves and other stuff on it to make an impression, they tended to slide around a bit. Also, I often put too much paint on and so ended up with a very blotchy print. I haven't quite decided if I'm in love with this or not - I think it needs more practice.

Next I watched Kerr Grabowski's Adventures in Surface Design I've taken classes from Kerr and also have her Deconstructed Screen Printing DVD, and both are fabulous. This new DVD focuses on paint, instead of thickened dye as in DSP. She does some screen printing with torn paper stencils and also works with water soluble crayons and oil pastels. These would be some fun techniques to add to my gel printed fabrics.

On this piece I tried to use her technique of doing a repeat design. I didn't line my screen up very well so the prints are a bit offset, but it's not a big deal. The green layer is from the gel prints. And I also used a curved tip syringe to do some scribbling.

On this piece I drew on the screen with the oil pastels, and then pulled the transparent paint base to transfer the colors to the fabric.

This is a torn paper stencil along with brush strokes. I think this piece of fabric will look a whole lot better when it's cut up.

I used the fabric crayons to do a rubbing from a sink mat onto the fabric, and then screened it with yellow paint.

For this piece I did a rubbing onto the screen, and then pulled it with yellow paint. This works a bit like deconstructed screen printing since the crayon slowly transfers to the fabric and you get color outlines.

For this one I drew directly on the screen with the crayon. It was a grid with random x-es. The x marks deconstructed and lasted a lot longer than the grid. By the fourth pull, the grid was pretty much gone.

I suspended this piece of fabric, filled a syringe with watered down paint and then drew lines, letting the paint drip down the fabric. The paint was pretty dilute and it mostly just spread out. It would be really cool if the paint would form drip marks and not be absorbed into the fabric, but I don't have a clue how that would be accomplished.

Random brush marks, then dip the fabric in very dilute paint, wrinkle it up, then let dry. The dilute paint migrates and makes interesting effects.

Here again I drew on the screen, filled circles and scribble lines. I love the outlines around the circles and lines as the crayon dissolves from the screen onto the fabric. One major difference between working with paints and working with thickened dyes is that the paint cannot be allowed to dry on the screen. If it's not washed immediately, it dries and the screen is ruined. Thickened dye can be allowed to dry on the screen and then it becomes part of the next design also. These little remnants of color really spark up the fabric. I guess I will have to get out the dyes....

Post remodel observation: Since the kitchen level is now insulated to nearly an R-15 and the rest of the house has no insulation we are finding that the kitchen is the warmest room in the house. Used to be the coldest, and in the dead of winter I always had a space heater running under the table to keep me warm. But now we have a dilemma. The thermostat is on the kitchen level. When it's set at 68 degrees, it's fine for that room, but the rest of the house is at least 2 degrees colder, and it's noticeable.  If we jack the thermostat up to make the rest of the house 68 degrees, it's almost too warm in the kitchen. Insulating the rest of the house is not an option, so we're going to have to think of some other method of redistributing the warm air. It's tough in a split level house to get good airflow. And it's supposed to snow tonight. There have only been 4 recorded snows in Baltimore in October. With leaves still on the trees, branches will fall. Bummer. 

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's pretty much complete except for a very few minor things. The POD arrived on Saturday morning at 7:30am and we had it totally emptied out by the evening. That doesn't mean everything was put away, that took much longer. And I'm still not sure that everything is in its permanent place. There will be some re-arranging. 

A trip to IKEA resulted in these bookcases that are in the mudroom. They will hold the odds and ends and shoes and boots and gloves and scarves that never seem to have a home. I think we will add a second shelf above the coat rack. There is room and there is never enough storage space. I have to go back to IKEA for some more shelf liners but I think I need to put blinders on. It's very difficult to get through there without picking up lots of stuff. And they conveniently position carts and bags along the way so that when you fill one up, there is another just waiting for you.

The view into the dining room area. The dining room table and the buffet have not yet been put in place in this picture. 

There isn't a picture of the other side of the room, the family room, because the furniture there is stacked on end. I'm going to do my best to sell it asap. It's old but still in decent condition, and it's perfect for a rec room or college student's apartment.

It's amazing to go back and look at the pictures. Here is the post from the "garage" stage:

And here is the old space:

I can hardly remember what it looked like! Doesn't take long to forget.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

So close....

We are almost there. Another visit from the plumber and from the electrician and the work will be complete. The dumpster left today and the POD comes back on Saturday. I tried to get it sooner but they were all booked up with deliveries already. Meanwhile I've been moving stuff from the temporary kitchen into the new kitchen and trying to put things in logical and efficient places. This is a challenge. And of course, keeping in mind that there is a ton of stuff on the POD that will also need a place to stay.

The first official meal is spaghetti. We had to give up our weekly spaghetti because it was just too difficult to cook when I could only use one heating appliance at a time. 

The refrigerator is still not pushed back into position because the ice maker line leaks. Hence the visit from the plumber.

Looking towards the (empty) dining room. Waiting for the table, chairs, and buffet to come home.

Here you can see the stove with my painted tiles on the backsplash. The tile guy thought they were really neat. In front of the sink is the new felted wool rug I bought over the weekend at a studio tour.

Back door with tile entrance and the mud room, which is already collecting stuff. We need to put up a pole for hanging coats and get some cubbies for storing stuff.

Standing in the corner of the dining room. That little blue thing on the floor is Rosie the cat's feeding dish. We will be getting 3 more stools so that the grandkids can eat at the island when we have Sunday dinner. 

The family room area. Looks pretty naked right now. The desk that belonged to my Mother will go in this area and we will have some chairs aimed at the TV.

And the view of the bathroom. 

Good bye, old kitchen. You served us well for many years.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


A lot has happened this week. First, the plumber came and hooked up the water supply to the sink. Goodbye, outdoor washing station. Running water inside, so 21st century!

Then the electricians arrived, so along with Steve, our main contractor, his helper, and the 2 electricians, it was a hopping place. At the upper right of this picture you can see the shims they are using to even out the spacing on the boards being used to box in the support beam. The support beam, which has been holding up the house for more than 50 years, has a little bit of a sag. Don't we all. But after it's boxed in, it will be all nice and even.

The pendant lights are installed, the recessed lighting has been recessed. Up to now there have just been hanging bulbs. The electrical outlets are all faced, the dishwasher is installed.

The stove is in place. This is an amazing stove. It has 2 ovens, a small one on top for warming, pizza, and little things like that. Then it has a lower oven for the main meal. There are 5 burners on top. And 2 can be "connected" so that you can put a griddle on there and it will heat evenly. And a warming burner. And a special burner that can be adjusted for small, medium, or large pots. Amazing what they have come up since I last purchased a stove. Fifteen years ago.

We also bought a new chandelier. That is a broom stick that looks likes it's hanging from the chandelier. Look at that island top. We could make fudge on there.

I was so excited to have a working oven! Luckily I hadn't packed away the mixer and its accessories. Had to borrow some cookie sheets, but I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies to christen my new oven. All the workmen were thrilled. 

The tile man is here yesterday and today, laying the floor tile and the back splash. He really liked the painted tiles I had done. They look wonderful above the back of the stove and add a nice bit of color. It looks like we may be completely finished by the middle of this week. Then I have to get the POD back and get it unloaded and start putting stuff away. Need to plan a bit where things will go because once they have a place, they will probably stay there. I think we will be getting rid of a bunch of This End Up furniture that we have had forever. I thought that company went out of business, but apparently not. I found their web site and they still carry the style of furniture we have; it's called "Classic". That means the old stuff, I think. Anyhow, if I were to purchase new what I have now, it would cost $2,000. Wow, but I won't be getting that much for it now. It has some signs of wear and tear. I'll put it up on Craigs List and see what the market will bear.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

8 Weeks

This is the 8th week, not that I'm counting or anything. All of the cabinets have been installed and they are getting their hardware. The range hood is in its place, waiting for an electrical connection, and a range to vent.

To the right of the window are the cabinets that will hold the microwave and my mixer in an appliance garage. So I won't have to haul a heavy mixer out from underneath a cabinet, which will be nice. Maybe I will use it more often, like for making bread and other high calorie treats.

The plumber is coming today and I sure hope that he gets the sink hooked up because we are really tired of washing dishes outside, not to mention that it's now cold and dark at 7pm.

Over the weekend I gave a lecture and taught a class at a local guild. I took 25 quilts, the earliest dating from 1994 and ending with ones I just finished. It's really interesting to see how my work has changed over the years, at least to me. The group enjoyed the talk, and some even came up afterward and said they were inspired to get back into their studios and get to work. It's a good feeling to know that I've motivated people.

After the lecture I taught a mini-workshop of hand stitching on quilts. When the group asked me to do this class, I thought it was sort of odd because I don't really do a lot of hand stitching. At least I didn't think I did, but when I went to my quilt database and searched on hand work, I came up with quite a few pieces, more than I would have thought. I tried to include as many of those pieces in my lecture as possible, but it seems that a nice percentage have been sold. Can't complain about that. Anyhow, in preparation for teaching this class, I got out some hand dyed threads and a little book of embroidery stitches that I bought years ago, and began experimenting with stitches. It was fun using the basic stitches and playing with variations on them and I think I have inspired myself to include more hand stitching on my work. 
I need to get back into my studio and get to work. This remodeling has been disruptive, but I am feeling the siren call of my fabrics and thread and sewing machine. The place is pretty straightened up and I still need to sew on some sleeves and other maintenance work, but it's time to just get in there and do the work.

This is my acquisition from the SAQA Auction. It's by Deborah Boschert Deborah is the SAQA co-rep from my area, and she and I worked together for 9 months before I "retired" and she got another person to co-rep. I've been really fascinated by Deborah's work and I'm very excited to own this piece. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011


On Friday the countertops arrived. The place is really shaping up. The appliances are here but obviously not yet installed. We need the electrician and plumber to come back and make the hookups. Can hardly wait for the dishwasher to be installed. Actually, I would settle for a working sink. It's getting a little dark and chilly to be washing dishes at the outdoor station these days. I'm hoping it will all be complete by mid October. Maybe I should start a betting pool on the finish date...