Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lucky Me!

Today I attended a workshop with Rayna Gillman ! Woo hoo! The workshop focused on the gelatin plate printing chapter in her book, Create Your Own Hand-Printed Cloth; however, we also used techniques described in other sections.

I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to paint. It seems so permanent and, heaven forbid, what if I mess up? Well, today in class, Rayna would just smile her electric smile and that was all the encouragement I needed to slop some more paint onto my gelatin plate and try something new. I was a mess! But it was so much fun, I literally printed my gelatin plate to shreds. (That was much to the amusement of all the other students, but hey, the cracks in my plate led to really interesting texture in my prints.) By the end of the day, I had eight very different painted fabrics to take home and I can't wait to play some more. Here are samples, some more successful than others:

For this print I used a fern as a resist, but I didn't listen to Rayna when she suggested I set the fabric aside for a while. Instead, I kept on printing and ended up going too far. I don't know if I'll cut this up or add another layer of printing; I do love the colors.

This time I listened to Rayna when she hinted I might want to stop. Now that I've stepped back from it, I like it much better and see some possibilties.

This was my first print. I got much freer with my placement of things as the day when on, but I still really like this piece.

This is one of my favorite prints. I think the photo cropping here is giving me ideas for what I should do next.

Definately try to take one of Rayna's classes; she's a great teacher. At least, I hope you can buy Rayna's book and try gelatin printing. It's easy, it's fun, and the results are fabulously unpredictable and remarkably beautiful. Everyone went home today with amazing fabric of their own creation. Take a peek at Jane Davila's blog to see the beautiful fabric she created. It's gorgeous and totally different than my own.

The whole process is very empowering. Just think: making a quilt using fabric I printed! How cool is that?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


This week I decided to use the onion print fabric I stamped a while ago for my journal. I thought I'd try my hand at collage, inspired by Jane Davila's and Liz Berg's art and the gel medium I just bought.

Collage does not come naturally to me and to top it off, I chose to stay in theme and make a piece about.... an onion? What was I thinking? In any event, I used Timtex for the base. I adhered a photo of an onion to the fabric with gel medium, then layered a piece of tracing paper along the edge. I had written some of the ancient uses of the onion onto the tracing paper, based on a Wikipedia article. It took me several tries to get the messy handwriting "right"; I wanted the look of text, without it being legible.

Later, I painted a bit of blue on the top. It was too opaque, so I misted it with water and dabbed at it a bit. I then stamped "Allium" on top of the blue. Unfortunately, the ink didn't stick well. I used a paintbrush and more ink to make it appear darker and the word more legible, but I may have done too much. A bit of quilting secures the picture and a zigzag stitch completes the edge.

Despite the odd subject matter, I had fun doing this and am pleased with this effort. I do, however, have a few questions I hope someone can answer. First, the whole piece warped after the top layer of gel medium dried. Did I use too much? Is that the nature of using Timtex as a base? It's only ended up flat because I had a large enough piece to trim away the curling edges. Second, I broke a needle while quilting. I chose to quilt after the top layer of gel medium was dry. Should I have done it earlier? Is the quilting even necessary to keep things intact? And finally, some of the text smudged, while the rest did not. Did I use too much gel medium here or did I push too hard? Thanks for any advice you can give.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Subway Art

Today my youngest and I took a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (If you ever have the chance to go to AMNH, you should stop in; it really is a world class museum.) At lunchtime, we decided to hop on the subway and make a trip downtown to meet up with my husband.

Now, I've taken the subway hundreds of times, but I've never paid attention to this stop. Suffice it to say, the platform leading to and from the museum is an unexpected pleasure. Tiles are scattered on the floor with monochromatic profiles of animals. Dinosaur fossil replicas are on the walls like topographical maps. Large colorful animal mosaics grace the walls as well. Luckily, I had my camera with me; unfortunately, I ran out of space on my memory card, so I have only a few mosaic pictures to share with you. (The last picture will give you a sense of scale.) If you look closely at the tortoise, you'll see a red question mark imbedded in the mosaic. I wonder why. Next time I'm at the museum, I'll search for more question marks and/or some clues...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Unexpected Compliment

Today I took my youngest daughter to the library, but I hadn't brought along my library cards. "No problem", said the librarian. "I can pull up your account number with your driver's license." So, I handed her my license.

She paused as she looked at it, taking long enough for me to wonder if I was on a black-ball list. Did we have any long overdue books? The librarian -- whom I had never met before -- looked up at me. "Do you quilt?", she asked.

"Yes", I replied. "Oh my gosh", she shouted. "I LOVED your Entitlement quilt! I think about it every time someone does something, well, you know, entitled!"

It turns out she was referring to a quilt I made in 2005 called, The World Revolves Around Me, for the 8th Deadly Sin Challenge hosted by Sharon Bowman through QuiltArt. It hasn't been exhibited in more than two years. And here was someone who still remembered it! WOW!

What an ego boost to have a stranger recognize your name and remember your art. This quilt was my first art quilt effort, outside the previous year's journal quilts and quilting class. It was, in fact, one of the few things I made in 2005 -- too many other things demanded my time that year. So the moment I got home, I marched upstairs and took the quilt out of my closet where it has been unceremoniously languishing all this time. It was actually fun to see again. The intent of the challenge was to identify an "8th Deadly Sin" and I chose to represent a sense of entitlement. Looking at the quilt still makes me chuckle a bit. Because of all the excitement, I thought I would take it out of retirement and show it to you here. I don't think it's anything brilliant, but at least I now know it was thought-provoking to someone. Very cool.

Full View:


Saturday, July 19, 2008


I didn't post last week or earlier this week because I was having a wonderful time with my 14 year old daughter. She and I were alone all day long as the two younger children went to day camp. We did lots of fun things: went into New York City to shop at Macy's (and bounce on the pretty beds); went out to lunch and the movies; got our nails done ... you get the idea. It was truly special, especially since she just left for camp on Wednesday. She'll be in Wyoming for four weeks, working with the Park Service, taking multi-day backpack and pack trips into the wilderness around Grand Teton National Park, and performing in weekend rodeos. I'm so proud of her.

Now I'm catching up on things. First, here's my journal quilt from last week; I was in a slash and resew mood. I took scraps from earlier journals and combined, cut, and reconfigured them into a new piece. I added a bit of hand stitching, too. It's funky, but I still think it works; I never would have guessed that disparate scraps could look good together. I must admit that I like doing these sorts of "recombined" pieces. I'd love your opinions here -- do you think I have it right side up? I can't decide.

My journal this week is in response to my daughter's departure. It's called "Hugs and Kisses", represented here by X's and O's. I painted over masking tape X's that I had put onto a scrap of Mickey Lawler SkyeDye fabric. Then I stamped the O's using the end of a broken plastic children's toy. I handstitched around the circles for accent. Ultimately, this is a happy piece; I miss my daughter, but I know she's having a fabulous time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Happy 4th of July holiday weekend! I really like it when the Fourth is on a Friday; it makes for such a nice long weekend. I hope you're enjoying this time as much as I am.

This past week I stenciled with gold, white and blue painsticks onto red fabric to try to create a patriotic journal quilt... but, I didn't continue with it. Why? I really liked what I made and decided to set it aside; I think it will look much better completed as a larger piece, as opposed to a 6" journal. Here's a quick peek, though it's not in such great focus.

So I started over on my weekly journal.

On Friday morning I did a bit of housekeeping -- you know, cleaning up the piles of paper that somehow accumulate. I came across an old grocery receipt that I thought might make an interesting background for a collage. Since it was a bit wrinkled, I decided to iron it. Fearing that I would burn it, I ironed from the reverse (back side of the receipt). But something unexpected happened -- the printed side turned charcoal! I suspect the coating on the face of the receipt reacted to the heat and colored the paper. It was actually pretty cool to see. Did any of you know this would happen?

At that point, I decided I would work with the contrast between the two sides of the receipt. I found some striped fabric and colored it with a red paintstick to make it more vibrant. Then I cut up sections of the receipt. If you look closely at the bottom of the large piece, you can still see some numbers. As you might have guessed, the cross sections alternate between the front and back sections of the receipt. These pieces were originally going to go straight across the large section (sort of like a zipper), but I accidentally sewed the first one crookedly. I decided to make all the cross sections askew because I think it's more interesting and dynamic that way. Your opinions, please .... If nothing else, get a kick out of how differently my two pieces were this week. I seem to jump all over the place in terms of style. Hmmmm, I wonder what that says about me?