Saturday, September 7, 2019

Layered leaves, Fractured landscape, done and up

     One of my pieces in the Fox Run show is the Layered Leaves hanging, 24" x 30".  It is discharged black fabric, applique leaves (no fusible or raw edge), quilted by machine and hand, and bound. I used Superior's Twist thread for quilting and perle cotton for the hand stitching. 
     Another piece, Fractured Landscape, was made from leftovovers  in my other landscape, Summer Wonder. I sewed the pieced squares to heavy weight interfacing and zig zagged the edges with the Bernina 830. I glued the squares to smaller sized matboard and then glued them to a 10" x 10" wooden pallet (coupon at Joanns) I whitewashed.
Again, the colors are off- the blues are too acid and the greens are too dark. I took the photo outside, but it didn't help.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Love those landscapes

     The landscapes that I am familiar with- local to me and the Adirondacks, inspire me continually to paint and sew.  I never tire of them. I have never been able to capture them in fabric in a large scale like some as Ruth McDowell has. It eludes me. So, my landscapes in fabric are small. Some of the problem is I hate fusibles as I think the fabric looks like paper when quilted. I also grit my teeth at raw edge because it looks annoying unfinished and unraveling to me. So, to make pieced landscapes has been a tough road for me. 
    Starting Sept. 1st, I am in a show at Fox Run, a gallery in a continuum of care facility in Orchard Park, NY. I need to make new work and have spent the last month rushing to do it. See mess below.
     Using small strips of blue batiks cut into columns and resewn, I created a sky that would not be just a blue hunk of color, but the dynamic differences of tones in the sky. Then, I cut the landscape hills and ironed the top edge under and layered the fabrics.

     All of the landscape hills have been blindstitched with tiny stitches of monofilament (Bernina 830) and  excess fabric trimmed from back.   I tried a whole range of choices for the background after binding. I needed to cover an 18 x 18 canvas for the mounting.

     I chose this one and mounted the landscape after stapling the background fabric to the prestretched canvas (coupon at Joanns). I sewed the landscape at the corners using monofilament thread with a button behind on the canvas to distribute the pull of the threads and make it easier if I have to remove the quilt. 
     Here is Summer Wonder.
Color is off, but the whole canvas look.
     I ordered a new camera (yikes) and am working at getting better lights on stands, so hopefully my photos will be truer to the real colors.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sewing machine studio

    I know some of you will dismiss what is posted here as excessive, impractical, ridiculous, or laughable. Regardless, this setup works for me and keeps wonderful vintage machines doing what they do better than any new machine- sew straight stitches. All of these combined cost less than the piece of expensive junk lemon quilters Pfaff that I bought new 9 years ago (long gone).
     I have a table my husband made for my most used machines and I have it set up like a woodshop. In a woodshop, different tools have different functions. No one would think of having one saw or one drill. There are circular saws, band saws, table saws, hand saws, radial arm saws, etc. In my studio, each machine fills a role and in some projects I may use all of them as in wall hangings I just finished for a show. This enables me to have a good workflow with minimal set up time and work on multiple projects.
     Each machine has a particular function is set up to do it.
      This LBOW (Light Beige Oyster White) Singer 301 Slant needle is my piecing machine. I have another I use for retreats or travel. The best straight stitch machine ever. The motor is direct drive, no belt, and is incredibly faster than any new one. The slant needle area give phenomenal visibility.
      This Singer 15-91 is also a direct drive machine. I use this for sewing on all my bindings and pockets on the premade tote bags I use for comfort quilt giveaways. Absoulutely rock solid and powerful.
      This is my newest 301. I have a black one, but this mocha 301 works better. It is used for FMQ smaller quilts than put on the long arm. It quilts flawlessly with perfect tension and great speed. The quilting foot is on and ready to rock and roll at a moment's notice. I never name machines, but after using it recently I called it Mocha Momma because it really cooked.
      This Singer 401, another slant needle, direct drive, but a drop in bobbin, is my zig zag machine. I used to use it for blind stitch, but the finer one on the next machine took over. It is a powerful, smooth, awesome machine.
     The Bernina 830 was purchased because I needed a free arm machine for some uses. A friend in Pittsburgh recommended it and I found a great one on ebay from a sewing machine store on the West Coast with all its accessories. This machine makes a tiny blind stitch with monofilament flawlessly for applique. Plus the freearm so I can sew inside things. An all metal machine but for the camstack, it is easy to clean, oil and maintain- a real dream of a machine.
    I also have a Singer 15 treadle that I use sometimes when I just need to get calm sewing, but it is not in the rotation you see here.
    I truly use all these machines and they are a pure joy to sew on. I do my own maintenance, which I love. I am always in awe of the craftsmanship in these machines.  
     There is a lot of help and parts available in using vintage machines- don't dismiss them in favor of fluff features like built in cutters, bobbin winders or knee lifts. For sewing smoothly (no jumping machines), perfectly, and economically, vintage has my full loyalty. My expensive longarm is the one machine that always gives me fits.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Designing in the next generation

    Due to some scheduling issues, I was able to have my granddaughter over most of the past week and a half. She has always had a strong eye for design (I posted some of her work in the past). I asked her to look through my fabrics to find something for a pencil pouch she needed for school. She did find that, but found other things she wanted to do something with. 
     I don't have photos of her pencil pouch, but she found some fairy fabric that she wanted a small "blanket" from. She also chose the flowers on the back "for the fairies". I quilted it with some variegated rainbow thread she picked out. 

          She also found some leftover animal panel pieces someone gave me. She wanted a pillowcase, but all the pieces were too small. Never mind, she found fabrics she liked and told me to sew them together. I explained that the pieces would have to be double sewn in french seams because in a pillowcase, raw edges would fray all over the pillow. She was undaunted. So, on the design wall, we figured out what pieces would go where, with the animal strip in the middle. She tried to match colors from front to back. Having the pieces on the design wall next to each other helped. It was more work than I liked to french seam every seam in the case- I don't own a serger. She loved the pillowcase and appropriated one of my pillows so she could take it home "all done."

     She did ask me if I could take out the handcrank next time she comes over to work on a project. All my urging for over a year I guess surfaced when she saw what could happen with the fabric.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Discharged leaf art quilts

      In my last post, I wrote I have to work at what I do. I always had strong visual ideas. I had no art in school until high school which was was rudimentary busy work. I had no art supplies. Initially, I did not go to art school (art ed) as I was discouraged by counselors forecasting looming layoffs in teaching (it did happen). I didn't get my graphic design degree until much later and my art ed certification and masters at 42. I struggled to learn fundamental art and design concepts and skills and college did not help. Back then, art at the SUNY schools was all about feeling and abstraction and therapy and making marks. There was disdain for techniques and color/values/composition-they said it had no soul. I had to learn on my own sketching, examining, taking workshops to what was close to where I wanted to go. One of the reasons I became an art teacher was to bring children a solid art program. 
     Art is my passion in creating and finishing. Process and product are not separate for me. When I am done with a project, I want to move on.

     Since last summer, I had a bunch of fabric that I discharged leaves. Real leaves were harmed in the making of the discharged fabric. I weighted them down with pennies and sprayed the bleach/water mixture over all kinds of blacks, dark greens and other solid colors. The black worked best, but I did use the green in two border strops. 
     Everytime I took the pieces out, I had no clue. Well, now I am forced to come up with some work for shows. I made two at once because when I stuck working on one, I go to the other.
     I have this hate relationship with fusibles. When I needed leaves, I cut freezer paper leaves out and wrappd the edges of the batiks to the back and used a glue stick and dry iron. I removed the paper and then used a blind stitch on my 70's Bernina with monofilament from YLI and an 11 needle to applique them onto the backgrounds. I made a lot more leaves than I used. The sketches I made were not what it ended up like. I don't like doing applique, but sometimes, you just need it.
In process figuring made fabric border

Finished top of art quilt, 24 x 24, but not quilted
The rectangle art quilt, 24 x 30
     The mess of fabrics from making these was put away, but then the landscape quilts fabrics have spilled over also (not seen).

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The heART of it

     I don't like interruptions. Even vacations. Somehow I got pursuaded to take two this summer. And then all the summer get together stuff, my children's remodeling projects (ceiling removal, floor refinishing, revamp entire front garden, etc.), the flu in June and on and on. So, I am overall mentally derailed artistically.
    I am one of those people who have to work on a pretty daily basis to keep my direction going and the projects flowing. It is work for me.
     So now, I am facing two huge deadlines- a show starting Sept. 1st and our guild show Oct. 3 and 4. Not done. And hard to move ahead quickly on the remaining projects. Despite notes and sketches, I am like "what was I thinking? What does this mean?"
     On vacation in the Adirondacks, I took a class with the masterful Kurt Gardner on photographing sunrises. I brought home over 300 photos taken in a three hour window. Most are not good, but I was learning and adjusting the camera like crazy to follow the swiftly changing conditions. I did take them all off the camera and labeled them. 
    Before I show photos of the art quilts I am working on, here are some ADK (Old Forge, NY) lovelies from my workshop, no retouch, with my old Canon DSLR.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Recent work- on paper

     I shared some of my Maine sketches a few posts ago, so I will be brave enough to post some recent watercolor paintings. I love waterlilies and I take photos of them in the Adirondacks around Old Forge, NY. I am ready to leave for our yearly one week stay. Last year's photographs were used as reference for this year's paintings. Keep in mind, I probably shoot over 200 photos, and maybe 10-20 of them are useful for paintings.
Painted on Arches paper that was brushed with gesso first.
Arches bright white cold press 140 lb paper
A half sheet of Arches cold press 300 lb paper. You think fabric is expensive. this paper is in that ballpark.
     Also, a dear friend's mother is going through a bad time with bladder cancer. My friend shared a photo of her mom two years ago from her 90th birthday holding her great granddaughter. I finally, after many sketches and attempts, girded myselft up, painted, framed and delivered it. They were happy with it.
      Keep in mind, I am a very amateur photographer and I cannot get the true colors of the paintings across in these posts. Transparent watercolor is hard to reproduce.