Monday, June 29, 2009

Are We Done Yet?

I had plans to lie in the hammock today while some gel medium dried on another piece. But alas, the two children who are at home beat me to it. But since they were so nicely occupied, I continued to play a bit play myself. First, I added some more chicken scratch stitching to my hand piece. Even though the stitching isn't that dark, I'm hoping the texture will be reminiscent of a shadow. I'm going to keep it pinned to my wall for a bit. I think it's done, but I'm not 100% sure.

Next I experimented with a tracing paper doodle I had sewn. I had torn off most of the tracing paper, keeping it only on the flower heads, and had put gel medium over it to keep it secure. After it dried, I came to realize that not all tracing paper is created equal. The one I used here isn't as opaque as others I've used and didn't make the flower heads "pop" as much as I'd hoped. I decided to paint the flowers white, but then they seemed to float in the middle of nowhere. They looked lost with just the stem outlines. I wanted the stems to be visible, but I didn't think I wanted them to look as saturated as the flowers. I liked the background and wanted it to show through as much as possible, so I filled in the stems and leaves with watered down paints. Since I couldn't decide what to do next, I figured I might as well just pillow case the thing. Now that I see it on a smaller scale -- without all the excess fabric -- I'm considering adding some magenta stitching. I'm wondering if the stems and leaves still look a bit too light. I don't really know what's next, so this is going to hang on my wall while I try to figure out what it wants to be: a more vibrant lone flower or just a hint of one. Perhaps it needs hints of other flowers in the background. Maybe it's just an experiment and there's nowhere left to go ...

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Lesson in Perspective

Early this morning I said goodbye to my daughter as she left for a five week service trip to Ecuador. I'm very proud of her-- I think she's very brave to go on this adventure, but I was teary-eyed nonetheless. My husband was driving her to the airport and I was left all weepy on the driveway. Yes, it was very pathetic.

I figured I had to pull myself together before I went back inside to the other two children, so I brought my camera out to take some early morning flower pictures. I confess I was having a hard time composing the shots. Nothing seemed right, so I just started holding my camera up at all sorts of angles, waited for the "bleep" of the focus mechanism, and shot frame after frame. Most of the time, I didn't even look through the view finder.

Now that I'm inside reviewing the pictures, I realize that I got some interesting ones. The photos all look so different, even though they're of the same set of flowers because I shot them from different angles.

This lesson in perspective is something I'm definitely going to have to remember in my art. Now if only I can keep it in perspective that my daughter's just gone for five weeks....

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Hand -- continued

I've been getting some work in, here and there. I've been helping my youngest with the baby quilt she's making for her pregnant teacher (yep, we have to finish it by Thursday!) and I've done a bit more experimenting with my paper fabric hand. I sampled some chicken scratch stitching. I tried a combo of burgundy and brown thread together for these stitches

and some deep barn red for these.

I really didn't care for the deep red so I pulled them out. I wasn't sure about the combo stitches, either. I didn't think they made the hand "pop" enough, but they were better than the red. Overall, it needed something else. I decided to write some of my thoughts illegibly onto tracing paper, cut it to follow the contours of the hand, then adhere it with some watered down gel medium to make the paper a little wrinkly. Here's what the piece looks like now:

I kind of wish the paper extended to the edges (not much I can do about that now) and I still want to add more chicken scratch stitching, but I think it's better. Do you?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Feeling stuck

The rain is keeping us indoors more than we'd like; I feel like I live in a temperate rain forest. I'm going to buy myself a good pair of rain boots so I can get out, splash in some puddles and jump with the peepers. I'm tired of feeling cooped up.

(Don't worry; he's fine. I just thought my neighbor's dog's expression was so priceless as he poked his head through the fence peep-hole that I needed to take a picture.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Art in the Rain

Natalya and I tried to go into the city today to see an exhibit, but the threat of flooding on the roads made us turn around. So, we tried -- TWICE -- to see local art. Unfortunately, every time we arrived at an exhibit, we had arrived an hour before we could get in! How's that for luck? It was such a Murphy's Law kind of day that we got a little silly, but I was still able to get a few fun pictures:

The graphic light ceiling at the entrance of the Neuberger Museum of Art:

Patterns of the raindrops:

Life imitating

Art :

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Here comes the sun!

It's been raining a lot lately. But today the sun came out, so my dog and I went for a quick walk. Many of the flowers have turned to mush with all the rain and slugs, but a few were very inspiring. I took a bunch of black and white pictures, but after all the gray days here, I just wanted to post some color!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gingham be gone

I posted my hand yesterday, but I wasn't finished yet; I didn't really care for the background fabric. Today, I spent a little time trying to muddy it up. Did I make it better or worse? Am I going in the right direction or have I made a mess? Let me know what you think.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Work from Paper Fabric

Though the children are still home, they are feeling better (yahoo!), so I left them a bit for some studio time. Yesterday, I had quickly adhered some fusible to the muslin of the paper fabric and cut out some shapes. Today, I put it all together, did some quick quilting and bound it. Here's what I learned from my experiment with paper fabric:

1) I did something wrong way back at the beginning. My paper fabric dried very stiff, not pliant as described in the article. (Cloth, Paper, Scissors: May/June 2009 issue, Kelli Nina Perkins).

2) The glued paper separated from the muslin, both on the big piece and on the smaller pieces I tried to cut out. Again, I'm sure this is user error, but I've got to figure it out. It was very frustrating to go through the process of swiping the muslin with glue soup, only to have to re-glue everything after it was dry. Thank heavens I kept my design relatively simple.

3) The muslin / paper combo was very thick. That rendered the fusible on the back somewhat useless.

4) Receipts aren't the only things that turn black when exposed to heat. It appears that anything with a somewhat waxy coating will ... like movies tickets.

5) I struggled with finding a suitable background for the piece; I confess that I'm not too keen on this one. I think for my next rendition, it would be interesting to have a piece of rusted fabric in the background. (Another thing to try!)

Despite these hiccups, I'm really intrigued by the possibilities of using paper fabric in my artwork. I'm going to explore this further. In the meantime, here's my first piece with this technique; it's 8" x 10". I'm not sure it's finished yet, but it's close enough to post.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Playing with Paper

This week and for all of last week, I've had at least one child home sick with the flu. It hasn't left much time for creativity and yesterday, I lost my patience. Fortunately, just my youngest was at home and though she wasn't feeling great, she was up for some activity. It was such a warm sunny day, I insisted we spend time outside. We had a lot of fun creating paper sun prints with a variety of objects. It definitely makes me want to try the same technique with fabric.

Then last night, after everyone was in bed, I spent some time ripping up homework papers and newspaper. I decided to try to make paper fabric, as described by Kelli Nina Perkins in the May/June 2009 issue of Cloth, Paper Scissors. I've used gel medium before to adhere paper to muslin, but not watered down glue as Kelli suggests. It took longer than I expected, but perhaps because I was being very specific with what I was laying down; I wanted to have a dark, medium and light sheet. When I created the light sheet, I forgot a lesson from my journal quilting last year; receipts turn black with heat. Since you're supposed to iron the fabric paper when it's dry, I now have black splotches where the receipts were adhered. Oops.

I also didn't do too well in the beginning with smoothing things out; my fabric dried really bumpy on the back. By the end of the night, I was much better at the technique. I created a random collage with the left over glue; it lies flat and I'm surprised at how much I like it.

This morning, I sketched a bit while my youngest tried ironing. (She wants to make a baby quilt for her pregnant teacher.) I'm wondering if I can use the paper fabric I created to make this hand, based on my father-in-law's sometime arthritic hand. I'm going to try, though I'm a bit concerned it might be too complex. It also may not work because I'm not sure I have the proportions right, either. I may have to experiment with one of my simpler hand drawings. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Where Did the Week Go?

White Iris

Like most moms at this time of year, I've been running about, going from one end-of-school activity to the next. It hasn't left much time for art. But, I did have a very nice quilting week, nonetheless. How? Well, Paula Nadelstern was forwarded a copy of my blog review of her exhibit and wrote me the nicest note, thanking me for the post. It made me feel so good to think she took the time to write a note, despite how busy she must be. In case you're interested, American Craft also reviewed Paula's exhibit and has posted it as a web exclusive. You can find it here.

I also attended my Fiber Art NE group meeting on Thursday evening (alas, I arrived late, but hey, I got there). This is the group that put together the Fiber + Thread = Art exhibit earlier this year. It's a remarkable group of women, many of whom aren't just quilt artists. It's fascinating to see all that these women can do. We've decided to do a 4 inch square swap in September. We'll each have to create 40+ little pieces of art. That seems like a lot, but I am so looking forward to participating since I'll get art from some amazing artists, including Natalya Aikens, Jane Davila, Susan Schrott, Norma Schlager and more. Lucky me!

Now, I'm off to find some organic burritos to throw into the microwave for the childrens' dinner. Maybe that will give me some time for quilting tonight!