Saturday, May 30, 2009

The yellow house is finally stitched. To see the previous posts about this project, click here and here. My objective was to paint on fabric with acrylics, add some chunks of patterned fabric, quilt it, then evaluate. The acrylics make the surface a little stiff, but it isn’t a problem. (Except that it tends to retain needle holes.) The stitching seems a little overbearing in places, but really enhances the image in other areas, such as the sky. The stitching might be more in scale with a larger image... this is only about 9" X 12".
While this isn’t exactly a masterpiece, it worked out well enough that I want to do some more work along this line.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jenny in progress

This is Jenny, still in pieces but arranged so you can see her basic pose. I’ve been testing appliqué methods and hopefully this will work. The plum-colored fabric is wrapped around a medium weight stabilizer and glued with a tacky glue that won't soak through the stabilizer. Some of the details are acrylic paint, others are embroidered with various threads. The plan is to add beads for the flower centers. The mane is a piece of black upholstery fabric that has been unraveled. The striped part of the tail is a roll of the same fabric as the ear insides. The underneath leg probably needs to be shaded a bit. I might add a swirl of leaves winding around with FMQ* if it seems possible to do without ruining it(!)
*free motion quilting

Attaching her onto the background will be the tricky part, of course. Invisible stitches? Topstitching? Machine blanket stitch? The background isn’t made yet, so I don’t have to worry about that today.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The cannas don’t wanna cooperate

I’ve been wrestling with cannas in the last couple of weeks, trying to capture them on fabric that is. Forget growing them, they get some kind of tropical rot in our yard. Fortunately the fantastic gardeners at the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens have no problem growing them in abundance. I took this photo recently of a drift of cannas with lime green leaves and have been painting multiple versions of them, (not on purpose, actually.)

The photo has been tweaked a bit:
Blue painted around cannas to silhouette them. There is a lake behind them, but there was also a tree cluttering things up.
The foliage color of the yellow daisies was tinted gray-blue and the geranium leaves more turquoise.

Below is the first attempt, a washy splash of acrylics on plain white cotton fabric. It’s not bad, but it didn’t grab me. At least it was quick to do, compared to the next one. My general plan was to do a layer of painting, then add chunks of additional fabric on top.
The one below is painted with acrylics in an opaque fashion. Even though it has a lot of bright green, it doesn't convey the impact of the original leaves. It also seems monotonous. The image below was an experiment in using a strong outline. I had abandoned it in the outline stage, but then tried using up some leftover paint by filling in the outlined shapes. The multitude of colors was talking to me.The work-in-progress below shows the canna leaves rendered with a variety of colors. Though not a literal depiction of how they look in real life, I’m liking them so far.
Sooner or later I’m going to have to tackle the blooms. Either I have a mental block or canna blooms are hard to draw. They are a cluster of smaller flowers and each cluster seems to look different. We’ll see what happens next...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I always wanted to be a calendar girl

So, it turns out I’m Miss July... or at least my Handpicked art quilt will be, in the Quilting Arts 2010 calendar. This video clip from Quilt Market shows Pokey Bolton introducing the winning entries. I worked long and hard on my entry, so it is a thrill to be included. (By the way, for those of you I haven’t met in person, my name is pronounced LorEEN LEEdy, rhymes with Doreen Beedy. The way Pokey pronounced it is how most people say it at first. I often suggest that my first name rhymes with CHLORINE, and that seems to help people remember!)

The detail on the left shows the bright fruity colors used as well as the embellishments. There’s a little saga about the background fabric; it was a pale violet, but a little plain. To jazz it up and create more contrast, I painted swirls of white acrylic paint on it. It worked fine, then I proceeded to transfer the design with red Saral transfer paper. Big mistake. Perhaps I did something wrong, but that red line was NOT going to come out easily. After a thorough washing and scrubbing in detergent, the last of the red did go away. Now, how would I get the design on the fabric?

I ended up pinning the background fabric to foam core, then pinning the design sketch on tracing paper above it. I would lift up the paper, slide the piece of fruit underneath, and pin it in place. So, there was no design transferred onto the background fabric at all. For more info about how this piece was made, see this post.

A note about the beads: The large flat ones are made of dyed shell, bought at a bead show direct from the importer. To give you an idea of the price difference, this type of bead is often found at bead stores for 25¢ or more per bead. At the show, they were a mere $2 for a 16" strand, quite a bit less expensive. I arranged the various beads after quilting, glued them down with Gem-tac, then hand stitched them down.

Have a creative day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Florida Book Awards

I’ve never won an actual medal before, though I did earn quite few Girl Scout badges some time ago. Last week my husband Andy and I attended the Florida Book Awards banquet and award ceremony because Missing Math: A Number Mystery won a bronze medal in the Children’s Literature division. There was a nice variety of books from fiction to poetry to mystery to nonfiction about Florida in the eight categories.

We met silver medal winner Donna Gephart, the author of
As If Being 12 ¾ Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President! This post on her blog Wild About Words has several photos taken at the event. It was great fun to hear the behind-the-scenes saga of how her book came to be published... as is often the case, it wasn’t easy. She mentioned that since the book’s publication she has heard from several luminaries in the political sphere, including Hillary Clinton.

It may not be obvious in the photo, but the bronze medal is actually copper-colored. And the gold medals were... bronze(!) The gold medals had been awarded previously in a ceremony with Governor Crist. John Tkac (Whispers from the Bay) had been asked by a child, “Why isn’t your gold medal gold?” So he went out and had it gold-plated! For a mere $50, apparently. It absolutely gleamed. So on the night of the banquet, the other gold medal winners were wondering what was wrong with their medals.

Another fun bit of news is that a set of the FBA books will be housed on a bookshelf in the Governor’s outer office, then next year will be moved to the mansion for permanent display.

The 2009 awards will be featured in Forum, a magazine produced by the Florida Humanities Council. If you’re a first time subscriber, a free one-year subscription is available here. Order by May 15th to get the issue with the FBA authors and books.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Homemade Pochade Box for a Few Bucks

Plein air painting is a wonderful option that I’ve been exploring in the last couple of months. This previous post describes our Larry Moore workshop. While he was kind enough to lend pochade boxes to us, I wanted to get my own set up. The boxes are fairly expensive at a hundred and half dollars or more, so here is what I came up with. It’s approximately 10" X 12.5" X 2.5" and weighs about 6 pounds, including the tripod shown here. Not counting the tripod, it cost about $25 in materials.

Though my woodworking skills are rudimentary at best, I took The Box on a test run yesterday and it worked fine for me. It started with the lids from two unfinished “decoupage memory boxes” from Michael’s. Since they’re made from basswood, they aren’t as rugged as a hardwood box would be, but that also makes for a lighter box. The short sides were reinforced with strips of maple to make them thick enough to screw the hinges into. The maple wood was bought at Woodcraft and was 3/8" X 3" X 15".

The photo below shows it opened up ready for painting. The mixing area in the middle is a sheet of 3/16" plywood that conveniently rests on the maple strips. The little side trays attach onto the sides with clips made from aluminum strip. By the way, before attaching any hardware the wood components were varnished twice with clear satin waterbased poly. Three coats would have been better, but I had to finish it for a painting trip.
A vital component of a pochade box are the hinges. The commercial ones can be locked open at any angle. After a long, fruitless online search as well as stopping by assorted hardware stores turned up zilch, I cobbled hinges together with mending plates (bought at Lowe’s but widely available), 1/4" bolts, locking nuts, and wing nuts. The side view (below left) and rear view (right) show how they work, hopefully. The lower bolt has a nut with a teflon interior that locks onto it. The wing nut assembly on top includes a locking washer. I brought along a screw driver just in case, but didn’t have any trouble with them loosening up.

One other little glitch... the wood screws that came with the mending plates were 3/4" long and would have punched through the maple strip. But the next size down was 1/2", which was too short. At my husband Andy’s suggestion, I filed off about 1/16" from the screws with a metal file, which did the trick. Pilot holes were a must or the maple strips would split.
The other important feature is the tripod attachment. It is a thing called a tee nut, that is easily available. This is a 1/4" X 5/16 one with prongs. I drilled a hole in what was left of the maple wood, banged in the tee nut, and glued it about 1/3 of the way from the back of the box.The canvas is held in place by an elastic band with more aluminum clips. When ready to go, the trays fit into the bottom lid. There isn’t a latch at this point, but since the hinge wing nuts can be tightened up, it’s not a big deal. I have seen some cool latches for cigar purses online that would work. So there it is... hope this info is useful for somebody.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

See the 2010 Quilting Arts calendar finalists online

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a finalist in Fresh Picked, the Quilting Arts magazine 2010 calendar contest, which features a theme of flowers, fruits, and veggies. Surprisingly, this year they’ve posted all thirty-two finalists on their web site on this page and this page.My two entries are on the second page. The reason it’s surprising to me is that in many cases artwork is kept under wraps until the big announcement of the winners. Maybe this will create a lot of buzz prior to the calendar’s release.

It appears that they’re using the “social media” approach a la Facebook, since if you join the Quilting Arts community, you can make comments plus rate each piece.
Just curious what you would think about having your work publicly juried, in effect. Do you think it would bother you? Personally I’m fine with it, but a few of the comments are critical of choices the artist made which could be upsetting to some people. It also could be a drag to get a low rating such as one or two stars! Hmmm, maybe we should get used to people posting ratings of our fashion choices, hair styles, type of car, what we’re eating for lunch, etcetera.

In any case there are some fascinating fiber art techniques and attractive designs that are well worth browsing through. The apple shows the basic technique used for my Handpicked entry. I made the fruit and other elements separately first
as little collages of various fabric fragments. After much rearranging, the hand, sleeve, and fruit were placed on the background, glue-basted, then stitched in place.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Inspired by Photos free PDF book available

On the left is a detail of one of my images from Inspired by Photos. It’s a PDF you can download that has 60 copyright-free photos donated by ten fiber artists. They are Dena Crain, Claire Fenton, Martha Ginn, Loreen Leedy, Linda Matthews, Christine Predd, Kim Ritter, Louise Schiele, Emmie Seaman, and Virginia Spiegel. Click here to download it.

Since these images are copyright-free, you can crop them, change the colors, scribble on them, print them on paper of fabric... whatever suits your artistic fancy. Besides cropping the moth image, I used the Curves feature in Photoshop to play with the colors. There are several posts on my blog about digital manipulation, just look underTopics on the sidebar for Photoshop Tip.
This is the cover of the PDF book; it’s 105 pages long, and includes inspirational quotes from each artist, plus links to their web site or blog.

Here are details of two more of my photos, a tree frog hiding in a bird house, and spring flowers somewhere in Switzerland.

Each artist’s photos are quite different, so have fun browsing through them and visiting the various web sites.

And by all means have a happy and creative Monday. I’m going to work on a home made painting box for outdoor expeditions among other things, because the picture book I’ve been slaving over for months is FINISHED! (Need I say yahoo?!)