Sunday, January 27, 2008

Journal #4

I always enjoy looking through the Christmas and holiday cards one last time before throwing them out. Boy, am I glad I did so carefully this week. The card we received from Heifer International had a beautiful piece of folk art adhered to its cover. The cover art, called a Maisa Card, was designed and handmade by artisans from Nicaragua. In the interior of the card it explains that, "This Maisa Card is made with dyed corn husks by women from two rural communities in Northern Nicaragua, one of the poorest corners of the country."

I think the art is just beautiful. I'm thrilled -- and humbled -- to include it in my journal quilt because I think it's simple, yet very powerful. It gives me pause to think about the women who created it with far fewer resources than I have at my disposal.

This is "Maisa". It includes the Maisa art (removed from the body of the card), loose weave parchment and natural stone beads.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Monthly Challenge

This month, Natalya and I each had a stick and a piece of shiny gift bag to include in our creative challenge pieces. Natalya trapped the foil between two layers of tulle and a piece of golden organza, then added dryer sheets as the base of her piece. She broke the stick into pieces which she then secured with thread. She completed the piece with her fabulous hand stitching which adds such rich texture, in my opinion. Mine is a simple raw edge applique scene, with some beading and a bit of hand stitching, along with some painted "trees". The picture is covered by a layer of netting so the foil pieces don't fly away.

I haven't decided on a name yet. My eldest thinks that it should be named "Tin" because the shiny pieces are such focal points in her opinion. She likes the name, despite the fact there isn't any tin on the piece; it's just good word association to her. It certainly is interesting. I think I'm leaning towards "Tin Reflections". Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Here are photos, courtesy of Natalya:

"Dusk" 9 1/2 x 6 1/2

"Tin Reflections" 9 x 9 3/4

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Star Fruit

This week's journal may just be the oddest piece I've ever made. Believe it or not, it's based on the star fruit. Do you know what a star fruit is? Well, until I went to the grocery store this week, I didn't even know they existed. A basket of the rubbery, star-shaped fruit gave me a little giggle as I passed them by in the produce department. Intrigued and amused, I took one home.

The internet said that star fruit are mostly sweet with a hint of tart, tasting like a combination of various fruit. But my inexperience with star fruit meant I selected a lousy specimen; it tasted awful. The slices, however, really looked like stars and that was fun. I decided to salvage the situation by using the slices as stamps.

I painted the slices purple and stamped all over a piece of commercial fabric. (The fabric dictated the color.) Then, I went back to the grocery store for another star fruit to be my model. I took a picture of the fruit "head on" to emphasize the star-like shape. I printed the photo onto fabric and fused it to the stamped fabric.

At this point, I was stumped. The picture was too small for the space and the hint of green color in the fruit looked yellow. I tried, unsuccessfully, to brighten it up with colored pencils. I tried to use letter stamps, but they got lost in the background. Ultimately, I painted (more like doodled) around the fruit and stamps, embroidered the lines of the fruit edges, filled in the stamps with marker, and added lots of stars and beads to fill in the background. I handstitched around the edges because -- gulp! -- my machine is still under repair.

This certainly isn't the most sophisticated piece I've ever created; I think it turned out a bit like a circus banner. But I did have fun, once I relaxed a bit. It's interesting to think that a trip to the produce department was the impetus for a journal piece. I guess you really never do know where inspiration will come from.

Here's an unretouched photo of the model:

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Musings on the Road

My journal quilt this week was created in response to my shock that, at the end of the day on Monday, I had driven over 130 miles. All my driving here and there, attending to my daily business (let me point out that commuting is not part of my day), added up to more miles than I had imagined. I was so surprised that I started writing about my day, venting about the fact I spent so much time in the car, wondering how this impacted the environment and, more selfishly, my ability to get things done.

These musings ended up being the basis for this journal piece. First I printed the text onto fabric. Then I copied a photo of highway traffic into Microsoft Word and changed the color photo into a graphic black and white one. I printed this out onto Extravorganza which I then layered over the fabric. I decided not to quilt inside the square because I didn't want to detract from the text inside.
I like the piece, but I think it would be stronger if I could find a way to get the Extravorganza to lie more closely to the fabric behind it. I think both the text and the picture would be clearer images if I could do that. Any suggestions on how I can achieve this without a lot of stitching?

Here's a closeup of the piece so you can see the writing better. I found this difficult to photograph. It was hard to keep it from looking washed out although, admittedly, the Extravorganza mutes the black images.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Goal

It's the new year and it's time for goals. I'm bucking the norm a bit because I've decided I'm going to say goals, as opposed to resolutions. Resolutions is such a great word, but at this time of year, it's most often associated with images of failure, misery, no get the idea. I think the word goals, however, carries with it the sense of a challenge, something a bit out of reach but attainable with hard work and a bit of adventure.

That's the spirit with which I'm setting one of my new year's goals: I'm challenging myself to create a journal quilt each week. Each quilt will be 6" x 6". I don't think I've ever made anything square before, so I'm curious about how I'll handle this. I'm still a bit nebulous on when my week will start and end, but I'll try to be honorable about it. I also plan to try some new techniques and/or products through my journals. Hopefully I'll discover something in my work that merits more exploration in another, perhaps larger, piece. Unlike my self-imposed limit on sweets, I'm looking forward to this journaling goal.

So here's my first journal quilt of the year. It's based on the rhodedendron next to my kitchen window. It was so cold here yesterday (10 degrees in the morning), yet there it was, a deep green in the midst of the chill. It was a very compelling picture in my mind's eye. I thought the brave plant, already with buds on it in preparation for spring, deserved a small tribute. This is raw-edge applique, with free-motion quilting in the background in metallic thread.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's to a happy, healthy, and peaceful 2008 (art courtesy of my youngest)