Sunday, July 20, 2014

Boring but Necessary

A lot of the work I make requires boring, repetitive straight stitching.  This creates the background canvas for the fun part, the actual art part.  To while away the time, I try to come up with how long it takes to stitch one row, or one section, or the whole piece.  This background I'm working on now is 8 feet long, and it takes me two minutes to sew each row.

This background I'm working on now is 8 feet long, and it takes me two minutes to sew each row.  At that pace it will take me 6 hours to finish it.  Of course, I can't stand that much mindlessness, so I take frequent breaks,such as this one, for a quick blog.

I've already started on the art part, and here is a little peek at the hand stitching.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Making Time

My daughter Julie is an artist, using mainly pen and ink and watercolor.  Since she has a full time day job and a ten month old, she doesn't have much time to create.  Whenever she comes to visit, we try to set aside some time to make art.

She likes to start with a sketch, which she usually brings with her. We then scan the images, print them out and make a thermofax screen from them.  Once she has that, she can take the image home and make lots of prints to paint them with the watercolors.

This time we wanted to see what the image would look like on textured material.  This was a cast off piece I had tried using for something else.  It has a group of french knots on the right side which gave it even more texture.

While mommy played, grandma hugged. It's a pretty good deal.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Encaustic Explorations

I'm continuing to work with encaustics, and figuring out how I can incorporate them into my fiber work.   I started out with sheer fabrics, like organza, and while I like the translucent quality, I haven't been able to put wax on it without the wax looking blobby and streaky, not the look I'm aiming for.   I've been spending a lot of time on in vitro fertilization, and the picture below is of an embryo beginning to multiply.

I'm already interpreting it in fiber, but I wanted to see what I could do with encaustic.  I stitched the fabric to the wool batting, shrunk it, then applied the wax.  At first I molded it into flower like shapes, but they looked too flower like, so I flattened them out a bit.

 The background is just plain black, but I think I will use my wool batting/shrinking technique on it too.  I'm thinking I can add some hand stitching if I need it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How I Work

I know I've talked about the way I work before, and in the current series I'm working on I have a really good example of that.  This first piece is in the early stages, where I've decided what I want to do, but haven't finished deciding how I want to do it.  I've dyed the fabric black, then bleached out what I want.  If I leave large black areas in the piece, such as this one, I usually go back in and overdye the black,  because it often looks dark green or navy after the first dye.  This will sit on my design wall for a few days while I think about the next step.

Sometimes I will add in color before I stitch it, sometimes I wait until it has shrunk up a bit after washing to add the color.  It depends if I want a more solid look or not.  On the piece below, I am stitching first, then I'll wash it and thick about what I want to do next.

This is a piece I'm in the middle of stitching. My design wall is over to the right and I spend a lot of time glancing at it during the day.  Mindless row stitching gives me time to think about what I want to do with the other pieces I'm working on.

The piece below is done with the machine stitching, and after washing it a few times to shrink it, I added some color with fabric paint.  Now I'm doing some hand stitching, and thinking about how I want to finish it. The top two pieces and this piece are part of a series within a series, from the body parts, I'm working on a mini series about in vitro fertilization.

This last piece is done, and I'm applying the backing and sleeve.  I never used to do the back and sleeve until something was accepted into an exhibit, but I really find it boring and hate doing several at once.

So there you have it.  Five pieces in various stages of making.  I don't always have this many pieces going at one time, but I rarely have less than three.  I think I make better art when my mind can shift around from process to process.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

SAQA Auction

The SAQA Auction is coming up and I started thinking about my donation a couple of months ago.  I even started a sample piece to see if I liked it.  This piece started out white, then I dyed it turquoise, over dyed it black, and bleached out some of the black to bring the turquoise back.  Then it sat on my design wall for a very long time.  I threw some thread at it, I turned it upside down, sideways, then said forget it I'm not wasting any more time on this.

That's when the guilt set in.  Then they extended the deadline and I felt even worse.  Then my friend Paula submitted a piece, and she's the busiest artist I know. Her donation is on this page

I found this piece of fabric which was a discard from a larger piece in my stash.  It already had the interesting marks, so I added the stitching and the buttons.  I ended up really liking it so off it went with about 15 minutes to spare.  It's called "Undecided"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Road Trip

Believe it or not, I have four new pieces I've made over the last year.  I have been reluctant to show them publicly in case I decide to enter Quilt National this year.  It's a very frustrating problem for me, because this blog has always been about the work I create, which is part of the reason I haven't been blogging much.  I finally decide to let this piece out of the bag, because I wanted to use it for the SAQA Portfolio 21 book.

It's called Road Trip and measures 46w x 70h.  It's my interpretation of full body angiogram images. Paula and I continue to get some wonderful images from people who have seen our work and want to help us out.  I recently received some images of an aortic valve replacement that I've started working on.  I know most of you don't share our excitement about these images, but to us they are golden.

Another thing I'm not going to share is the rejects I've had lately.  I've spent a lot of time on a couple of  pieces that just aren't working.  I usually make small mock-ups of an idea before I commit to it, but sometimes those smaller versions don't translate well to a larger piece.  It's taken me a lot of analysis to figure out why they aren't what I want to portray, and unfortunately I didn't give up on them before investing a lot of wasted time. Why do I do that?  I think I'm just hoping I'll like it better if I add this or that to the piece, without realizing it's a bad design to start with. Back to basics. Simple lines, minimal color, my voice. Sometimes that's a long process.

When I need a break, a mind shifting, I turn to the encaustics. I have no preconceived notions on

what I want to do with this, so it's very relaxing. I think I have found someone in my area who  has a lot of experience with textiles and encaustic so I'm hoping to take some classes with her.

I'm hoping to get a little rhythm going in creative mind, funny how sometimes it just flows, and other times jerks you around.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Down Time

My Bernina is in the repair shop, which , like many of you, is causing me lots of frustration because I spend most of my days sewing.  I'm trying to turn it into a positive by immersing myself in this new to me encaustic process.

Most encaustic is made using a board or hard surface under it.  I have lots of these boards, but I am drawn to using just fabric.  In fact, if I think about it, I'm not really doing encaustic, I'm basically coating my fabric in wax to try to achieve a more textured look.  I love what fiber artist Debbie Lyddon is doing, check her out here

My biggest issue right now is trying to seal the wax and get a smooth surface without setting the cloth on fire.

I'm a work in progress on that one, as you can see in the photo below with the singed area in the lower left corner.  I'm thinking I need to use more wax if I'm going to try using a torch on it.

I'm working really small right now, just 6 inches,  but I'm already thinking about some larger pieces I want to make.

My machine won't be ready for another week.

I've sorted and reorganized all my art books, gone thru my shoes for Goodwill donations, cleaned my desk, and spent way too much time surfing the web. Today I'm thinking about cleaning out the kitchen drawers, hopefully something will come up to distract me from that.