Friday, January 30, 2009

Lightbulb Moment

DOH! I may not have a camera, but I do have a scanner!

I'm not sure if I mentioned that I was taking Lily Kern's Journal Quilting class at QU. It is a GREAT class if you're interested in design, getting ideas out of your head and into a journal quilt, or figuring out what it is you might have to "say" in your artwork.

Anyway, here is a little journal quilt that I came up with after following Lily's suggestions for a type of "doodling." I've included some (really bad) sketches I used during the process. It still needs work, but I'm pleased with it as this stage.

Btw, I quilted the piece first and then added color with Neocolor water-soluble crayons. These are fun, fun, fun to work with and give a beautiful, watercolor-like effect to the fabric.

But here's the really exciting part: as part of the lesson, Lily suggests ways to brainstorm variations to the design. I now have an entire PAGE of ideas that I could use for a series if I wanted to. I always thought a series meant taking some type of subject matter and just working it until you were sick-to-death of it. Now I see that it's really about exploring possibilities.

How cool is that??? Ok, I'm probably a little slow on the uptake here, but eventually I get it . . .

Closest Book to You

Still cameraless and it's driving me NUTS.

I got this from Judy's blog (I also borrowed the idea of coloring the text from her). Try it!

Closest book to you
How to play:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note in your BLOG.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual... Use the CLOSEST

The closest book to me was Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. It's a little hard to figure out the 5th sentence; do I count the continued sentence from the previous page as sentence #1? At any rate, here's what I believe is the 5th sentence:

Yes, she smoked: one Marlboro a day, after her evening meal; she'd done that for years.

Now, this is kind of thing I find intriguing and will do without much prodding and for absolutely no reason. But you may be wondering, "ok, so what?" I have tons of ideas running through my head, though. Wouldn't it be cool to try this as a journaling prompt? I can already see images of an older woman, sitting on her porch and enjoying that one luxurious cigarette as she watches the sun set (you can probably tell I'm a smoker). What about using your sentence as a jumping off point for a sketch? A journal quilt? A mixed media collage?

Hmmm. . . my mind is buzzing!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


We got a cold front in and the news was all a-flutter about the possibility of an ice storm this morning. Bridges are frozen, but other than that it's not too bad.

I ran across another of those "Which (fill in the blank) are you?" Internet tests. This one was to find out which Tarot card you are. Here were my results:

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Scary how accurate this seems right now; otoh, I didn't realize "The Moon" was a Tarot card. Or am I just forgetting my cards?

I'm off to play with paper.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


I know the first thing you think of is the show. And yes, it's back on, and I couldn't be more thrilled!

But actually, I'm feeling lost because I'm temporarily camera-less. I take pics of everything, but this morning when I went to photograph the papers I've been painting the battery died. I went to get my nifty battery charger, but a piece of it is missing. I'm not sure how that happened since, for several years, I've always kept the pieces together in a case. At any rate, it's probably in my messy, messy office somewhere, and I could probably find it with a great deal of effort. Or, I could just go buy a new one. Hmmmm. . .

My darling partner suggested the battery might charge through the USB connection to the computer, so I have it plugged in right now to see if that works. In the meantime, I'm without pics and . . . lost!

Oh well, I think I've been spending too much time in front of the computer anyway. Maybe now I can actually get some things done :-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back on the Path

Here's a quilt that I just finished binding. It was inspired by one in The Quilting Arts Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating One-of-a-Kind Quilts.

The background fabric is hand-dyed, with acrylic ferns stamped on using gold paint. I quilted the piece with free-motion stitching, then added the leaves. Those have fabric on both sides (fused together with SaS2), are satin-stitched around the edges, and are attached at the top with a few stitches so that they sort of "float" off the background. Then I couched some fun fibers on and sewed some beads on. The piece is 19"h x 16"w.

It was fun to do something sort of different. I really like the dimension and texture that this one has!

A Happy Find

I finally broke down and bought some books I've been wanting. I figure, if I'm going to be at home with all this time on my hands, why not have some great craft books to inspire and instruct me?

One of those books is called Acrylic Revolution: New Tricks and Techniques for Working with the World's Most Versatile Medium. Not only does it have great information about and techniques for using acrylic paints, but it explains what all those acrylic gels and mediums are for, and what you can do with them. Who knew that Golden's Tar Gel was so cool? Or that pumice gel created such a wonderful effect?

In addition to the standard painting techniques (washes, brayering, sponging, etc.), the book provides detailed instructions for techniques I've never even heard of. Did you know that you can peel dried acrylic off of a slick surface and reuse it? Or that opaque acrylics can be made transparent?

I've seen some of the techniques in various books and magazines in the past: alcohol over acrylic to "pull" the paint up; using acrylic gels to mimic the look of encaustics or oil paints. I could probably spend a couple of hours looking through old magazines to find the instructions for those techniques (assuming I didn't get sidetracked and go off on some tangent, which is likely). This book, though, brings those techniques all together. It also has a hard cover and that cool spiral binding so that the book lies flat so that you can reference it while you're working.

If you work with (or want to work with) acrylic paints, gels, or mediums, this book should definitely be in your library. The only thing I regret about buying this book is that I didn't do so a very long time ago!

And now, I'm off to play with acrylics!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yesterday I started a little "practice" piece based on a technique that Larkin Van Horn talks about in this interview with Bonnie McCaffery.

I painted setacolors mixed with water onto a sheet of silk organza, then laid it over a piece of hand-dyed fabric. I added cotton batting and a piece of muslin for backing, then free-motion stitched like crazy. Unfortunately, I started with orange cotton thread and, 1/4 of the way through, ran out (doh!). I switched to variegated pink rayon thread, and actually liked that much better.

Once Larkin stitches a piece, she then beads it. I think I'll bead this, but first I may try adding a bit more color--maybe even a complimentary color for accent--with paints.

This was a GREAT exercise for practicing free-motion stitching. I'm not sure I needed to use my hand-dyed fabric for the base, since it doesn't really show that much; I think the color is the most important factor.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Common Ground

A paper quilt is a strange but interesting thing: a coming together of fabric, paper, and stitching.

For this piece, I painted the bluish/purple fabric paper with Adirondack color washes, used bleach to "paint" lighter designs into it, then acrylics to stamp onto the paper and highlight the designs. I rubbed some Shiva Paintstiks into the designs, as well.

Then I cut up the paper fabric and stitched it to the reddish-brown background with metallic threads.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Journal Quilting

I'm taking an online class (Art Journal Quilting) at Quilt University, and this journal quilt is for Lesson 1.

Typically, I work intuitively and just put pieces together, without much thought as to the meaning of a piece or why I'm creating it. Then I wonder why my work doesn't feel meaningful to me. This class is great, though, because it starts out with exercises designed to make you think about the "why" of a piece as you design it.

Here's the description I included on the back of this journal quilt:

"This journal quilt represents an explosive and traumatic illness in 2008 that left me shattered physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The stitching in the quilt ties the fragments together and represents a hope that creating art can be therapeutic and bring the pieces of myself back together again."

This little (8-1/2" x 11") includes commercial and hand-dyed fabrics, reverse appliqué, acrylic paints, machine free-motion stitching with rayon & metallic threads, and Shiva Paintstiks

Saturday, January 17, 2009

As I was surfing, I ran across the "Fairy Name Generator." Since I can't resist these things, I put my name in and this came back:

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.

Darn it. Now I'm going to have to make a small quilt or something commemorating "Columbine Icedancer." And I don't even like fairies that much.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Something Finished!

Last week I felt pretty awful and thought I might have to take a trip to the ER, but this week, miraculously it seems, I'm feeling much better.

I've started a new art journal--so far, I'm just gluing pages, painting backgrounds, that sort of thing. I'm also working occasionally in an art journal I started a while back tracing the "illness journey," but I can only stand to re-live the experience for so long, then I have to move on to happier things. Denial has always been my coping mechanism of choice :-)

And, every once in a while, I actually do some sewing! I get tired very easily so I work for a few minutes, take a long break, work for a few minutes, rinse and repeat. I'm grateful that I'm able to do that much.

Speaking of which, did anyone hear what Oprah had to say about her body, extra weight and all? Something to the effect of, "I'm grateful for this body, because it's done what I needed it to do, even after the way I've treated it." So, with that in mind, I just have to say that, illness and all, I'm still grateful for my body--it's here, it's limping along the best it can, despite how hard I've been on it all these years.

A while back, I mentioned a quilt I had finished; here it is! The background is a convergence quilt (from Ricky Tims' book) that I made a year or so ago. It seemed unfinished, somehow, which is the biggest problem I have with convergence quilts (at least as I've made them); they seem to lack any interest or focal point.

Recently, I cut out the floral appliqués (one black for the "shadow" effect, then the floral pieces from hand-dyes and commercial fabric), fused them to the base, and sewed them on. I then quilted the whole piece and added the binding and sleeve.

It feels good to have a finished piece!