Friday, March 27, 2009

Day Lily

I have so many projects started and so many things that I want to try, that I was getting seriously bogged down! To get myself going again, I decided to just work on small pieces for a while. Of course, rather than finish a WIP, I started something new.

Looking through our photographs, I found a photo of a day lily that had once graced our backyard. I thought it would make a lovely small quilt. I opened the photo in Photoshop and played with it for a while. Cropping, and some filters, gave me the image on the right. I sized the image at 8x10 inches. (You can click on the images to see enlarged versions of the pictures.)
My next step was to use my inkjet printer to print the image onto a cotton fabric printer sheet. I then made a quilt sandwich and machine quilted the piece. The image had printed on the pale side, so I used magic markers to enhance the color, and then continued with extensive thread painting until I was satisfied with the mini art quilt's resemblance to my original Photoshop image.

Since I was planning to mount my mini art quilt onto a gallery-wrapped 8x10 inch canvas, I scanned the back of the quilt to show off the extensive thread painting.

My last step was to paint an 8x10 inch canvas with dark green acrylic paint, and mount the mini quilt onto the canvas. I was pleased with the final result. And here's my Day Lily mini art quilt!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Frog Blog #3

Flossie & Frank

There are two earlier Frog Blogs: Le Tour de Frog, and Herbie in France.

Flossie is the quiet, contemplative type of frog. She enjoys meditation, and writing in her diary. A small chocolate torte and a sweet cup of cocoa add to the afternoon's pleasures.

Flossie also enjoys spending time with her friend, Frank. And while Frank and Flossie are happy with their lives in Lily Pond, once in a while it feels good to get away. They decided that a day at the beach was just the ticket!
(Note of interest: The quilt in the background of the picture is called Dunescape and was made by Flossie's friend, Jean.)

Another trip that Frank and Flossie took together was to Frog Rock. Frog Rock (off of old Route 44) is in Connecticut and is a landmark of natural stone that dates back to 1918. Flossie climbed to the top of Frog Rock and sat there waving while Frank prepared to take her picture. Frank and Flossie enjoyed a picnic lunch before they headed back home to Lily Pond.

Of course, things don't always go smoothly, even in a frog's world! Living on a budget these days can be a challenge for anyone. Frank was hoping to find enough spare change to take Flossie out for ice cream. In the photo, Kermit has joined the pair to help Frank make a different kind of withdrawal - getting his arm back out of the bank! (Note of interest: the quilt in the background, also made by Jean, is called Turkish Bazaar.)
After a "successful withdrawal," the three friends headed to the nearest Cold Stone Creamery for a well-deserved treat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Art Quilt That Keeps On Giving

In 2001, I made an art quilt I named Dunescape. Dunescape is 43" x 53" in size.

I entered this quilt in our local Crystal Coast Quilters Guild annual show, and it won Viewer's Choice that year. It now hangs on the wall in our bedroom, and it's the first thing I see every morning.

In March 2008, I started two online shops at Etsy. (There are links to my shops on the right side of this page.) Paper Press contains notecards made from my artwork, including my art quilts. Dunescape is featured in one of the notecards, full-sized (without the border), and in another card that features a detail of the quilt. Since I cropped the picture of the art quilt to get the detail image, I decided to "crop" the name of the quilt too, and the name went from "Dunescape" to "Dunes." I also included Dunes in a notecard set, By the Sea, with four other beach-related images.

My second Etsy shop features my art quilts, and a wide variety of colorful ACEOs (Art Cards, Editions & Originals) and prints with images from my fiber art, paintings, and photographs. Dunes is an ACEO in that shop.

One might think that would be enough exposure for the poor quilt, but I just drafted it for a Reader Challenge at one of my favorite magazines, Cloth, Paper, Scissors. The theme for the contest is "Life's a Beach"! How could I pass that up?

For the Reader Challenge, I had to actually create a new piece of work to submit. Since there are size limits for the challenge, I decided to make a small art quilt and mount it on a painted 8"x10" gallery-wrapped canvas. I started this project by printing out Dunes onto a piece of cotton fabric, using my inkjet printer. I made a quilt sandwich and added new nubby fabrics in the sand and dunes areas. After the piece was quilted, I mounted it on the painted canvas. Then I embellished it with lace, yarn, guinea fowl feathers and reindeer moss. Here's a picture of the final project. (Click on the image to see an enlarged version.)

If you compare it to the photos above, you'll see that the main differences are in the embellishments.

Now maybe Dunescape itself can take a break and just rest on my bedroom wall for a while!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Frog Blog #2

Herbie in France

This post follows an earlier Frog Blog which you might want to read first.

Herbie arrived in France and quickly got involved in the Tour de Frog. Herbie had been into cycling ever since he outgrew the tadpole stage. While he certainly wasn't as famous as Lance Armstrong, he was well-known in biking circles, so he wasn't too surprised to hear his name called out loud. He glanced up and his eye met those of a very colorful frog who was waving the American flag. As she smiled at him, Herbie pedaled on, but in that moment his life had changed forever.

The following day had the racers struggling through mountainous terrain. The mountain stages of the Tour de Frog were a real test of endurance. The summit loomed, to be followed by a dangerous decent. As Herbie pulled ahead of a fellow competitor, the support of the crowd added exhilaration to the challenge.

One day, at the end of time trials, Herbie found someone waiting for him. It was the young lady frog who had been waving the American flag on an earlier day. She introduced herself as Francine. Totally smitten, Herbie invited her out for the evening. They visited Van Gogh's Night Cafe. A roving Gypsy talked them into posing for a picture. It was a memorable night!

With the Tour de Frog finished, Herbie spent some time touring France on his bike before returning to the United States. Paul Cezanne is one of Herbie's favorite artists. During his time in the countryside, Herbie biked through the town and farm where Cezanne had once lived and painted. (Note of interest: The painting of Cezanne's Farm, through which Herbie is shown cycling, was painted by Jean.)

While there was no need to discuss Herbie's final standings in the Tour, he did return to Lily Pond with a sense of satisfaction with this great new adventure.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Weaving Fabric Strips - Demo of Sorts!

When I finished my last post and said I might weave fabric strips again, I didn't expect to do it so soon.... But I thought I might be able to do a better explanation of my technique and show pictures of the process. Not realizing I was making things difficult for myself, I decided to weave strips to form the word, HEART. "Heart" has always been one of my favorite words. It's a great word to "assemble." First, start with an "ear." With an "ear" you "hear" (add the "h"). And when you truly "hear" someone, then you're listening with (add the "t") your heart.

More on my process. In Photoshop, I made a large word that said HEART, and did two images, one with the word in purple and one in red. I then made the images 8"x10" and used my inkjet printer to print the images onto cotton fabric. (I use "Colorfast" Printer Fabric Sheets.)

The printer fabric sheets come with a backing, which I removed. I then added Wonder Under to the backs of the fabric sheets. I add the Wonder Under so that when I'm done weaving the strips together, I can press the new piece and it will be fused together. I leave the paper backing on the Wonder Under until after I've cut the strips.

The trick to this technique is that one image is cut in horizontal strips while the other image is cut in vertical strips. Here are scanned images (click on image to enlarge) of the pieces after I'd cut them into strips. As I said in my last post, I cut curved lines instead of straight lines to make a more interesting final fabric.

In the past, when I had woven fabric strips for quilt backgrounds, it didn't matter if the strips lined up perfectly or not. When you're trying to do a specific image, like a word, it turns out it does matter, and thanks to the thickness of the fabric, the weaving wasn't working! I ended up using a scissors to trim a little off of each of the vertical strips, which made them fit together a whole lot better. Here's a scanned picture of the final woven fabric.

Despite a bit of frustration with the weaving, I'm happy with the way it came out. Now I'm thinking about quilting it and embellishing it and maybe mounting it on an 8x10 painted canvas.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weaving Fabrics for Art Quilts

Butterfly Garden
The idea of weaving strips of fabric together to make backgrounds for art quilts intrigued me. The first art quilt I constructed with this method was Butterfly Garden, which I made in 1999.

The two shades of green in the background are hand-dyed batik fabrics which I cut into strips and wove together. The technique is to cut one of the fabrics into vertical strips and the other fabric into horizonal strips. I made a point of cutting curved strips because, surprisingly, they weave together beautifully and are more interesting than straight cuts. I used silk flowers, bumblebees, and frogs to embellish this art quilt. Here's a detail image from Butterfly Garden. You can click on any of my images to see an enlarged version.

This technique of weaving fabric strips was also used in "Purple Flowers" (2003), and for the clothing in "Picasso's Harlequin" (2000).

This was an interesting art quilt to do because it started out to be a watery landscape. (Don't ask!) It began with a blue and pink batik fabric. I sliced that fabric into vertical strips and wove it with two other fabrics - cut into horizontal strips - a pink batik on the top half, and an aqua batik on the bottom half of the background.

If you look at the detail picture, you'll have a close-up view of the flowers I used. As I was cutting them out of the fabric they were printed on, I noticed that what I had left over was also shaped like a flower, but in the negative. That was intriguing, and that was when I decided to try for a vase of flowers instead of that watery landscape. I fused on leaves from another fabric, and finished the quilt with some buttons for the centers of a few of the "negative" flowers.

This quilt is an adaptation of the Picasso painting. Old clothing from the thrift shop was used for the fabrics. The harlequin's outfit was made from strips of two fabrics that were woven together. The figure was constructed separately and then attached to the background. The pieces of lace were the cuffs and collar of an old blouse. The "hair" is from a black velvet bolero jacket.

I enjoyed weaving fabrics for these art quilts, and was really pleased with the effect produced. May do it again sometime!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Frog Blog #1

Le Tour de Frog

Herbie, a frog living in Lily Pond, U.S.A., decided to enter the Tour de Frog, a bicycle race that was being held in France. He had read about the Tour in some books and magazines that he had checked out from Lily Pond's public library. Herbie and some of his frog friends are great supporters of their local library, and they recently posed for a READ promotion poster as a fund raiser for the library. Herbie got so excited about it that he went around telling everyone he saw to Read-It!, Read-It! Here he is pictured with, from left, Kermit, Egg, and Flossie.

Well, to get back to the Tour de Frog. Herbie bought a special "racing" bike to take with him. He spent many long hours practicing on the local roads and working out at the sports center.

Herbie's friends threw a gala going-away party for him before he left for France. A good time was had by all! Unfortunately, due to his small size, Kermit was ill-equipped to keep pace with Herbie. As you can see, Flossie was doing her best to revive Kermit, as she was designated driver to get the boys back to their pad in Lily Pond.

(A note of interest - the quilt in the back- ground of the picture was made by Flossie's friend, Jean. The name of the quilt is Garden Trellis.)
The following morning, with a slightly queasy stomach and a pounding headache, Herbie and his bike left on an airplane for the trip to France.
To be continued....

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Uncommon Cloth

Several years ago, when I started planning for my website, I spent a fair bit of time trying to decide on a name for it. I had planned to purchase a domain name so that I could be a dot-com, and I wanted the name to be something that I could live with for the long term. My creative work back then involved art quilts - exclusively - and after about two weeks of periodic musing on the subject, I came up with the name Uncommon Cloth. I applied for, and got the domain name.

The photo on the right is a detail from one of my art quilts, Yellow Bird. The background is a piece of silk that I had painted before using it in the quilt.

Fast forward to current days - I don't do as much art quilting now as I used to, and am more into painting and mixed media. Not everything I work with is cloth! Still, I didn't want to change the name so I decided it was time to do some creative thinking about what "cloth" really means to me. First, the painting was no problem because it's done on canvas, which is a cloth. Most of my mixed media is also done on canvas, and often involves fabric, so that was covered too. Photoshop projects? I print notecards and ACEOs onto paper. Paper is fiber, cloth is fiber.... I can live with that too.
And then there's the idea of the overall tapestry of our lives. This next paragraph is something I wrote, back in the late 80's, and it's expressed from a spirit guide's point of view.
TAPESTRY. Every day brings new life, new opportunities for creating - an immense tapestry that you "weave" thread by thread. You control the final product. What colors you use, how rich the thread, how elegant or how poor the final result will be your choice because it is a matter of how you live every day of your life. You work with the richest silks, the finest cottons. The colors you choose cover the full spectrum, bright and shiny or dark and dim with your moods. Every color, every tint, every shade of each hue. Weave with a light touch. Stitch with a carefree hand. Let the pattern emerge as it should - as it will. Hold your needle or bobbin or shuttle lightly, my dear, and if you wish, we will help to guide your creative hand, help you to weave your personal tapestry, the image, the visual representation, of the complex workings of the soul's creation.
When I was done thinking about this, I felt reassured about the name, Uncommon Cloth, because this isn't just about the cloth of my life, but, indeed, about the "uncommon" cloth as well.
Here's another sample of my work. Tiffany Irises is a tapestry that I had woven many years ago, and it's still one of my favorite pieces. I used yarns that I had hand-dyed in this weaving.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My First Post

My first post, and my first time blogging....

I'm beginning a new chapter in my life. I retired from my full-time job on February 1st. I want my days to be filled with creating art - the messy kind and the computer kind! My messy kinds of art include painting, gluing, working with clay - and I include making art quilts in the "messy" part because it's actually physically creating something.

My computer art involves working with Photoshop, which is my absolute favorite software. I do what I call "digital paintings" and I have also developed lots and lots of notecards and ACEOs in Photoshop. (An ACEO is a type of artist trading card. ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions & Originals.") Here's an ACEO I call Blue Norway. My father-in-law was born in Norway, and I found the original of this picture in one of his photo albums. I scanned it and worked on it in Photoshop to clean up the creased photo and to get this look.

Here's what the original photo had looked like:

(Click on the images to see larger versions of the pictures.) You can see why Photoshop is one of my favorite toys! I've made about 50 ACEOs, and if you're interested, you can view them at my Etsy shop.