Thursday, March 20, 2008

Silk and Dyes and Paints, Oh My!

First, it's become clear that when time is in short supply, the blog moves to the bottom of the priority list. I've been way too busy playing with silk to write about it. Yes, fondling and stroking it, but first dyeing and painting it. I'm taking another class with Marjie McWilliams at Quilt U -- Silk Dyeing, of course -- and, as usual, I'm consumed. The problem is that I can't stand to DO anything with the dyed silk because I'm afraid I'll mess it up. I don't want to cut into it (or tear into it, which is better, apparently, for silk) or stitch on it, so I just look at it a lot and, yes, fondle it.

I also tried silk painting this week. I've been reading about silk painting for a while and wanted to give it a try, but it sounds so intimidating. All that "gutta" and "dry cleaning" and "steaming" was enough to send me fleeing in the other direction.

But, I've also had some DynaFlow paints for a long time and didn't really like them for cotton since they're so thin. I read that you could use these to paint on silk; now, I just needed a resist. I have a bottle of Inkodye resist that I ordered for some reason a long time ago, and that I've used successfully on cotton, so I thought I would give it a try.

I put it in a little squeeze bottle, pinned my dry silk to a frame, and "drew" the resist on. After it was dry, I painted the DynaFlow in the spaces, waited for it to dry, heat set it with an iron (which was kind of scary because I didn't know what the iron would do to the resist), then rinsed out the resist. It worked!

Ok, so the painting is no masterpiece, and there are obvious watermarks on the background, since it was impossible to paint that large an area wet-into-wet. I think next time I'll spritz the background with a little water before painting it in. But I'm very, very happy that I can paint on silk without having to buy anything else!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Note to Self

Things have been a little crazy, and last weekend I had a mini-mini-breakdown. I was surrounded by messes--my craft room was a disaster, my sewing area in the dining room was a disaster, my workspace in the garage was a disaster. I felt completely overwhelmed and briefly considered giving up crafting and taking up housekeeping instead (that's the breakdown part).

I sat down and spent a little time journaling about how I could get myself together, and of course, all the obvious solutions presented themselves: stop buying so much stuff, sell some of the stuff I'll never use, and get organized. But what I kept coming back to was the fact that most of the messes seem to come about because I'm always so rushed, running from one project to the next, tossing stuff around, and generally working in chaos. And the solutions to these problems, once I thought about it, seemed so incredibly obvious:




That whole rushing thing is not particularly enjoyable, and why else do I make time to do all this if not to enjoy it? It's not like I have commission deadlines to meet, or a show to get ready for--at least not most of the time, and those are special circumstances that would deserve a little consideration. And, I realized that the process of crafting encompasses the entire lifecycle, from getting out my materials, to creating, to cleaning up after myself.

I've been doing much better with my philosophy in place. I still have heated moments of inspiration where I find myself tossing piles of fabric around to find that one perfect hand-dyed shade, or moments of exhaustion where I'm just too tired to put those fabric pens back right away. But altogether, I'm enjoying the process--the entire process--much more now.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Ok, so I've seen this tagging thing on blogs here and there, but didn't really know what the "rules" were until I was actually tagged by Beth.

So, here are the rules:
1. When tagged place the name of the person and URL on your blog
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 7 things about yourself
4. Name 7 of your favorite weblogs
5. Send an email letting those bloggers know they have been tagged!

Am I breaking Rule #5 if I tag people via their blogs instead of emailing them? At any rate, I'm tagging Marjie, Sandy, Angie, Ruth, Eve, and . . . well, I've run out of time for now, so that will have to do. I've tagged them because I love dropping in on their blogs and seeing what wonderful new things they've created. Check out other great blogs from the list on the right side of this page!

7 things about me:

1) I don't like my food to mingle and converse on my plate. Some of my worst memories are of school lunches on the days when we had pizza and corn, and the corn juice ran under the pizza and got it all soggy. My dinner "plate" is more often a series of bowls with each food happy in its own, separate little world.
2) I used to practice my "famous artist's signature" over and over in high school, but never took an art class because I thought you had to be able to draw before you could take one.
3) Instead, I raised pigs in "Ag" (agriculture classes) and was freshman President of the FFA (Future Farmers of America). Obviously, since I didn't grow up to be a farmer, this experience had little "real-world" application, but I can tell you that pigs are very smart and very sweet, and that a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs.
4) I hate to cook (and I'm not very good at it), but I love to bake (and I'm pretty good at it).
5) In college, I majored in Accounting, Computer Programming, Radio, Television, and Film, Communications, and Astronomy (in succession, not all at the same time) before finally settling on English (American literature, not spelling and grammar). Once I switched to English, they couldn't get rid of me--I stayed for my Master's Degree, then my Ph.D., but didn't finish writing my dissertation.
6) I can't focus on anything long enough to get really good at it (see above). Ok, maybe that's not true, since I did stick with English in grad school; oh wait, I didn't finish my dissertation because I kept jumping around and changing topics & focus.
7) If I don't have my coffee AND do something creative every day (preferably at the same time), I get very, very cranky.

Painting the Town

I haven't had a lot of time to work on anything, but one of the things I love about blogging is that I can see how little bits of work accumulate into finished (or nearly finished!) projects. Here are a couple of projects I've been working on for my Fabric Painting class at Quilt U. I started with the piece on the left as a simple exercise in drawing a pattern on fabric, then I painted it. I decided to add more lilies to the piece and more detail, and ended up with the piece on the right. I'm still working on adding more detail and fixing some of the strange things about it.

The next piece I worked on was a bird that I drew in pencil onto the fabric. I added a background wash and, for some weird reason, decided it was a good idea to add water around my main image. My brain must have been working backwards, because water will continue to seep into and spread on the fabric until it's dry, so of course the background paint was pulled onto the bird.

I let it dry and then base-coated the bird and the branch with white, then let that dry.

Finally, I painted in the bird and the branch. Not too bad, I think, considering that I have no painting training or skills!