Thursday, January 29, 2009

Journals: Numbers 2, 3, and 4

Though I've been spending a lot of time on my SAQA pieces of late, I've also been keeping up with my journals; I just forgot to post them.

Still fascinated with the possibilities of gel medium, I decided to tear up newspaper and use gel medium to adhere the strips to a piece of muslim. I must say, I think this looks so cool! (To give credit where credit is due, I tore up pages of the New York Times from January 20, 2008 and March 28, 2008.)

For this one, a piece of fabric I'd been using to wipe up paint spills was the background for the last gelatin plate print of a painting session. I colored in some of the swirls with a yellow oil pastel crayon, then topped it off with tracing paper pieces I had painted. Before I put the tracing paper pieces on the piece, I ran them through my Xyron machine to give them an adhesive back. I was surprised to discover that I could feed the torn strips through the machine without getting crumpled. The adhesive worked well everywhere but on the pointy edges. I'll probably use the Xyron machine again for collage.

And yesterday, I combined the twig I had sewn as practice for my SAQA piece and a reject from my twig gelatin plate printing experiment. I think I did this because it reminded me of a twig under the ice ... sort of what it looked like outside yesterday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mishaps and Meanderings

You'd think it would be relatively easy to create a piece between 9" and 11" square with a center that would fit into an 8" opening on a mat. Since it was supposed to showcase a technique or style you're familiar with, you'd think it would go together quickly.

Not this time ......

First I cut, pieced, and discarded three sets of fabrics before I settled on the one I liked. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures at this stage.) I wanted to create the feel of a forest using the random strip width piecing I had used in my Ten Blessings - Twofold piece. (That's a slice of it in the header of my blog.) Once I settled on a group, I was happy.

Then the real difficulty started. I wanted an image of a pine branch on the surface. I thought I'd "stamp" it on. For my first experiment, I tried painting a twig and printing it onto fabric. Unfortunately, it just looked like a bunch of random lines. The result wasn't a bold enough image.

Then I thought I'd try gelatin plate printing on organza. It might be cool to have a wispy-ish print on top. Three tries and yech! What a mess!

I was getting a bit frustrated, so I doodled with a paint filled syringe and colored on a piece of painted fabric (rejected from my SAQA NY trunk show efforts) to maintain a mood of positive creativity.

Paint wasn't working for me as a way to create the image, so I figured I was just going to have to draw a twig. I practiced on tracing paper, then in my sketch book. I even tried drawing upside down (it worked pretty well, actually!).

When I'd reached some level of comfort, I tested it out on a quilt "sandwich". That's when I discovered how ripply this could make the fabric. Not the look I was going for.

I took another break and did some new gelatin plate prints. What do you think my mood is now? Here's a clue: look at the color!

To combat the waviness of the fabric, I figured I'd need to quilt in the background of my piece to keep it flat enough to accommodate the twig quilting. Not what I was originally intending. I stitched in the ditch throughout the piece with monofilament thread to keep it simple. With that done, I leapt into the flames with variegated thread. Oh no! The twig was too small for the space! Ack!

I went back in with a rayon thread to extend the needles of the twig. Much better.

Now it's finally finished, but it's a day before it's due in California for the SAQA's 20th Anniversary Trunk Show called Meet the Artists . Thank heavens Natalya was kind enough to let my piece piggyback with hers on a quick cross country flight to get there tomorrow. It was a long time getting to this point....the transcontinental journey will be quicker!

Friday, January 16, 2009

SAQA NY Trunk Show

The SAQA NY regional co-reps, Jane Davila and Leni Wiener, have organized a trunk show for local members. All we had to do was create a piece no larger than 16 inches on any side to travel in an exhibit under the banner of the Art Quilt Alliance of NY. The trunk show is going to be exhibited through the fall at a number of Mancuso shows, starting with the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival next month. How cool is that?

If our pieces were 12" x 12" we were also given the option to donate these pieces -- at the end of the trunk show -- to the SAQA auction. I've decided to do that.

Now my piece is off on its travels and, eventually, on to a new home. Here it is: Together II, raw-edge applique atop gelatin plate prints.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Fate (aka My Bad Luck with Technology)

This is how I feel right now:

It seems that one of my roles in life lately is to stumble upon on odd and peculiar glitches in modern technology. As you know, the conversion to my Mac was not a smooth one. My newest dilemma is with Facebook. Last week, I created a profile, left some comments on friends' wall, and then logged out. Later in the day, I clicked on the links that were included with my Facebook friend request email notices. But alas, when I tried to get into Facebook, I was informed that my email address was not registered.

Now, how can I get notices from Facebook about friend requests, get updates on comments placed on my wall at an email address that Facebook says isn't registered? Per a friend, my profile still exists and it includes my email address. Unfortunately, I can't see it. In fact, I can't get into Facebook because of this email address snafu. And the Facebook techies haven't answered by pleas for help for four days. I think I've stumped them. I even tried calling the corporate office in Palo Alto today for help, only to be advised that technical support is only offered via email.

So, I just wanted to let all of you kind folks know that I've received all your friend requests, but I just can't respond; I will as soon as I can. Any suggestions you have on how to solve this issue would be most welcome. I may have to create a new profile --- but how can I do that? There's already one up with my name? I can't create an alias..... YIKES! What a pickle.

Friday, January 9, 2009

One Down, Fifty-one to Go

It was a mite bit busy around here at the start of the new year -- guests, spouse and child with the stomach flu, the start of school -- but luckily, I did manage to sneak in some art. First,I finished embroidering around the circles on my funky circles piece, aptly named Circles I. I've titled it #1 because I already have the makings of a second piece about circles on my design wall. I finished it with my first pillow case finish, thanks to a great tutorial on Melody Johnson's blog; she calls it the "Escape Hatch Finish".

Today, I sewed around the edges of my first journal quilt for 2009. I'm intrigued with collage, but I haven't gotten a good comfort level with some of the tools of collage, like gel medium. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I haven't had much luck with it; I clearly need some practice. So, I started with the flower picture I posted at the start of the new year and fiddled with it a bit in PhotoShop (another thing I really need to practice!). Next, I printed the photo onto Extravorganza. It was a murky altered picture to begin with and it looked even more muted on the organza. Since I wanted it to be easier to see, I used gel medium to adhere the organza onto a piece of very light green fabric. It wasn't enough, so I colored it with pencils. Once it was dry -- but now with the texture of a plastic table cloth -- I used invisible thread to sew the flower onto second piece of fabric that I had dabbed with paint and covered with cheesecloth. French knots with sashico thread are the flower centers and help hold the whole thing together. The finished piece is 10 x 12; that made my experimentation a bit easier to manage.

What did I learn?
1) You have to wait to apply gel medium until the ink on your fabric or paper has dried. I did wait this time and didn't get the smudges I've gotten in the past.
2) You can't use gel medium if you want to keep the softness of the fabric. I know it seems self-evident, but I was really surprised at how plastic-y the organza felt after a thin layer of gel medium was under it and on top of it.
3) Gel medium does a good job of securing the edges of organza. I had a border around the flower when I first used the gel medium. Everything stayed stuck together, even after I trimmed off the edges.

I'm more encouraged this time around, so I think I'm going to continue to play gel medium. Maybe next week... Oh, and sorry about the size of the pictures. I thought I resized them, but I guess I didn't do it correctly. I'll work on that, too!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Start of 2009

Last year I decided not to make resolutions, but to set goals. I set only one artistic goal for myself: to create weekly journals. This year, I've decided not only to set goals, but also to follow the suggestion of artists such as Lisa Call to identify a word that will define the upcoming year. I've chosen "discipline". Discipline will help me not only in my art, but in my regular life (I sure need a dose of discipline to say "no" to cookies, that's for sure!). If I keep this word in mind, I'll develop some good habits about making time to do the essentials, from exercising regularly to creating art. If I'm disciplined about attending to my tasks, whether running errands or making a new piece, I'll hopefully get more done.

So, with my rallying cry of "Discipline" in mind, I've set the following art-related goals for myself:

1) I will continue with my weekly journals. This year, I will use the journals very specifically to practice a technique or to work through a problem. I won't worry so much about making each one a stand-alone composition. They will function more as "rough-drafts" for other, larger pieces. I will limit the amount of time I spend on each journal to make sure I allow for other creative work to be done. I'll target making each one 8" x 8", but I'll be flexible if my practice is better served with a different size. I can practice a technique for more than one week.

2) I will complete at least 10 new pieces this year that are not journals. Some may be specifically in response to challenges or calls for entries ... and that's okay. The point is that they will be completed. They may not all be exhibit worthy, but I sure hope they are.

3) I will learn to use PhotoShop, either with a course or through a self-directed tutorial. I may use my altered photos in my journals for practice and, maybe, in a larger piece.

4) I will take advantage of exhibit opportunities available through organizations such as SAQA and SDA.

5) I will search for other exhibit opportunities, whether through submission to juried shows or by becoming part of a quilting or mixed media group outside of SAQA or SDA.

6) I WILL HAVE FUN. That means I'll free myself to make mistakes and allow myself to be spontaneous in my creative process. It means I'll take a bit of pride in what I create, but I'll put things in perspective if something doesn't work out. I will feel the joy of creating and remember it, even when I'm basting or doing some other such personally distasteful task. :)

What do you think?