Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Girl

I finished the project for Terri Stegmiller’s Faces on Fabric class. This was a fun (but scary!) class; I love painting on fabric, but I’ve never tried painting a face on fabric before.

Once I put a certain amount of work into the wall quilt, it was scary to consider all the ways I could have messed it up while painting the face.

One blog-reader commented that she paints her faces first, then appliqués them onto the quilt; this way, if she ends up not liking the face, she can do another one. I may try that in the future.

But for this round, I had to work with I started with, and that required some rework here and there.

Btw, the flower on the left side is cut from what Sherrill Kahn calls “serendipity cloth”—you know, that piece of fabric lying around to mop up extra paint, wipe brushes on, etc. I love being able to “recycle” things in my studio.


My girl’s name is Penelope, which she hates, so she goes by Pen; her friend’s give her a hard time about this by calling her Pencil (this was funnier back when her face was simply pencil lines on fabric :-)).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Last Week’s 6x6 Square

Ok, so I’m a little behind, but I’m determined to get back on track this week with the 6x6 squares. That means doubling up, but I know I can do it!

Week5Thanks to everyone who voted for the “model” for this week’s square. In the end, I decided to go with this one, because she seemed to reflect my mood a little more. I'm going to have to do a little work to her face. As I was stitching, I made a bad decision to stitch invisible thread along her chin line; since invisible thread always seems to make those big needle-holes in the fabric, this made her look like she had a beard. I pulled the stitching out, but the needle holes remained. I tried covering them over with color, which of course didn't match the original color. At any rate, I didn't have the patience to try to fix her today, so that's a project for tomorrow.

This 6x6 square was influenced by all the work I was doing last week painting faces and fabric; by the rainy weather; and by my trip to Houston to see the Dr., which wasn’t as uneventful as I had hoped. It looks like I may have to have another surgery soon, so my painted woman’s pensive gaze seemed a little more fitting.

I’ll save the other painted gal for another week’s square.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Signs of Spring

I haven't had much time to work on anything this weekend, but I did make these paper ATCs; 3 are for a swap with the theme "Signs of Spring" through a list I'm on, my sweetie claimed 1 for her board at work, and the other 2 will go in my file.

I used tyvek for the background and watercolor paper for the birds and the leaf stripes along the sides.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

TT’s Next Top Model

I’m still working on painting the quilt-face for my project in Terri Stegmiller’s Faces on Fabric class. I’m a little frustrated, so I decided to take a step back and return to it in a couple of days. I’m headed to Houston this afternoon; I have a Dr.’s appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, along with another CT scan and more tests. I think I’ll be ready to dive back in by the time I return.

In the meantime, I’m working on this week’s 6x6” square. I thought it was only appropriate that it should include a face, since I’ve spent so much time on faces this week. I created two small faces on fabric, and one of them will be incorporated into my 6x6.

Which do you think I should go with and why? Feel free to offer any suggestions for improvement on either of them as well!



Monday, March 23, 2009

HP Vivera Inks on Fabric

There have been some questions (and confusion) on a group list that I'm on about printer inks, and which ones can be used on fabric. Of course, everyone recommends the Epson pigment inks for both water resistance and light-fastness.

Since I love to print on fabric, I wanted an Epson printer that uses pigment inks for Christmas. My lovely partner wasn't quite sure what she was looking for while shopping. The salesperson apparently assured her that the new HP Vivera inks were pigment and not dye inks, and that these were comparable to the Epsons. So, I got an HP Photosmart C8180 All-in-one printer for Christmas.

I love this printer for all its features and for the quality of the prints. I've been happily printing away on fabric until someone suggested on the Yahoo list that HP inks—even the Viveras, whether dye or pigment-based--would run as soon as water touched them. I immediately had visions of all the color in my printed-fabric journal and art quilts melting away if they ever accidently got wet.

I started doing some research, and it turns out that HP calls both its pigment inks and its dye inks "Vivera." My printer uses the # 02 cartridges and a 6-cartridge color system. I assume that the inks are dye-based, since I found this information in a review of the C8180 at Imaging-Resource.com:

There's been a lot of discussion over the relative merits of pigments vs. dye-based inks. The longevity of HP's Vivera dye-based inks when used on HP's Premium Plus photo paper exceeds 100 years, according the tests by Wilhelm Imaging Research, Inc.

That mates the dye-based Vivera inks to a swellable sheet that should not be handled right away. We let them sit for 24 hours, actually, before framing or stacking them. That's quite a bit less convenient than Kodak's pigment-based system, which lets you handle the prints right away (and doesn't have tabs that have to torn off the 4x6 sheets).

Doesn’t sound good. Does this mean I can’t use my printer for printing on fabric? I decided to do my own tests for water-resistance (I'm not sure how to test for light-fastness without comparing an HP-printed image to an Epson-printed image over a period of time; since I don't have access to an Epson printer, I can't check for this).

I used Photoshop to create a double-image, then printed this out onto a Jacquard Inkjet Printing Cotton Sheet (I’m going to duplicate the test with my own Bubble Jet Set-treated fabric in the future).


I waited for about 18 hours, then heat set the entire image with an iron on the highest setting.

I cut the image on the right side into 4 pieces, and wrote notes on each piece. I rinsed the first piece of the image in warm water, then let it dry. The second piece will be rinsed in warm water after two days; the third, after one week; and the fourth, after one month. The idea is to test how much ink rinses out of the fabric, and whether curing time retains more ink.

The first results (image dried for 18 hours, then heat set) show very little color loss between the original and the rinsed piece. There is a slight color loss, but not as much as I expected, give the rumors. I’ll post additional results over the next month showing the other three tests.



Given the results of the first test, I would recommend that fabric printed with HP Vivera inks be heat set, and that it be rinsed thoroughly so that any “loose” ink will be washed out before using the fabric in a quilt (otherwise, if the quilt gets wet, the inks may bleed or run into each other).

I can't tell you, though, how happy I am to know that the color in my printed-fabric quilts won't melt away with water, and that I can continue to use my wonderful printer!

Friday, March 20, 2009


Ok, just kidding, but it IS nice to hear family members squabbling (playfully, of course) over who gets this wall hanging:


This was the class project from Susan Brittingham’s Viewpoints class at Quilt U. She provided the project instructions for this one, and now I’m anxious to experiment with what I’ve learned and create more perspective quilts.

My family has made it clear that I won’t have any trouble getting rid of them once they are complete!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

How Much Can I Fit Into 36 Sq. Inches?

This week’s 6x6” square was influenced by some of the materials I’ve been using, the weather, my health, and my strange mood.

I was bitten by the dye bug earlier in the week. Other than dyeing a piece of round robin fabric a few weeks ago, I haven’t done any fabric dyeing since before I got sick. The weather was beautiful this week though, and I kept eyeing the picnic table on the back patio (which my lovely partner has given me permission to liven up with spilled paints and dyes) and thinking how nice it would be to spread some fabric out and paint some thickened dyes onto it.

dye_painted I never made it quite that far, but I did mix up some dye concentrates and paint various combinations of color onto watercolor paper. Most of these are nice, neat tables of overlapping colors and neat notations.

Then I went a little wild and just slapped color onto the wc dye_painted2 paper. I scanned these into the computer, and used part of one (above) for the background on the weekly square.

I’m feeling over-stimulated and anxious this week. It started as a sort of manic exhilaration, a feeling that I could accomplish anything. There are a lot of things I want to do—more than I’m capable of actually doing. So then, of course, I feel depression creeping in, because I start to think that I’ll never be able to accomplish everything I want to. That’s an unhealthy pattern for me, because I tend to push myself too hard and neglect myself in the process.

Maybe I’ve been exposed to too much sunlight this week; I have thoughts jumping around in my head like crazy, songs running through my mind night and day, and general disorder and chaos happening up there.

On top of that (or in relation to that? because of that?) I’ve felt some of the scary symptoms of my pancreatitis more strongly this week (pain and nausea, among others).

“Cacophony” kept coming to mind when thinking about the square, so I used Photoshop to layer the word and its dictionary definition over the dye-painted background. I upped the color saturation a little, then printed it out onto fabric, which is sort of ironic if you think about it: fabric printed with inks of watercolor paper colored with fabric dyes (!). I did some free-motion stitching (just a little) with black thread, and used some hand-dyed black/gray fabric for the backing and the fused borders.

I think of this week’s square as both a reflection of the manic anxiety I’m experiencing and a reminder to myself to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and take care of myself.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Some Days You Just Gotta Play

papertowel_iron Everyone knows I don't like to iron. My family doesn't even bother to ask. When my son was little and had to wear the occasional button-down shirt, I would iron only the parts that showed when his shirt was tucked in.

So why am I suddenly ironing, of all things, paper towels?

When I started dyeing fabric, I realized how many paper towels I use in a day as I caught myself throwing one after another after another into the trash. Not only did I feel guilty about the waste, but I'm a hopeless clutter-but, since that crazy little artist voice in my head is constantly sayiing, "hey, what if you . . . " Consequently, I started throwing used paper towels into a bag in my studio. If there's no kitchen towel handy after I wash my hands and I use a paper towel, it goes into the bag; if I eat dinner and barely use my paper-towel napkin, it goes into the bag; if I wipe up paint or put paper towels under dripping fabric, they go into my bag. I don't really worry about mixing or matching colors, since the surprise combinations can be pretty cool.

Every once in a while I'll pull a few out of the bag and use them to mop up paint, or I'll pour the last few drops of ink or watered-down paint out of a spray bottle onto them, or I'll wipe my brushes on them. Then I throw them back into the bag.

Some days I'm just in a mood to do something different and I can't face any of my ongoing projects. Yesterday was like that, so I pulled out those paper towels. I separated them into 3 stacks: those that needed color, or more color went back into the bag; those that looked perfect just the way they were, with variegations of several colors were ironed to smooth them out, then went into the "finished" stack.

And those that had plenty of color, but needed some embellishment, went into my craft room, where I stamped on them, wrote and drew on them with gel pens, squirted them with water and added more transparent paint, and just in general played. I've added pics of the finished pieces.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with them! I'll probably make journal covers with them. If nothing else, they'll serve as wonderful inspiration for trying to recreate them on fabric!

papertowel1 papertowel2 papertowel3 papertowel5

papertowel6 papertowel7


Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's On My Design Wall

Katy on the Quiltart list asked what was on our design walls. My first thought was, "which one?"

So far, people have shown clean and neat design boards with one lovely WIP hanging on them.

I, otoh, am embarrassed to admit that

1) I use my design walls (3 of them) as catch-alls for WIPs, small finished pieces that I don't know what to do with, pieces of fabric I want to do something with (someday), and assorted other bits and pieces. It makes it hard to actually design anything on them. And

2) I have a bajillion projects going on at any one time, because I never know what I might want to work on (and because, I'll admit it, I'm much better at starting projects than finishing them).

My primary design wall, in my sewing studio, has so much stuff on it that I've taken to pinning pieces on top of other pieces.

I guess it's time to finish some of these, put some pieces away (or hang them throughout the house, or give them away), and generally clean up.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An Amazing Tool for Us OCD-Types

Maybe it's the weather; for some reason, I feel like I haven't been very productive this week. That wouldn't be so strange, except that I've actually done a lot. How do I know this? Because a few weeks ago, I discovered a REALLY cool program on my laptop that is actually helping me get organized: Microsoft OneNote. Maybe I'm slow, because this program has apparently been around for a while, and it's standard as part of the MS Office package (home & student version).

Anyway, OneNote is set up like a binder, with section tabs across the top, and page tabs down the right side within each section. It's taken a while to get all my "stuff" organized, but it was well worth the time I spent doing it. I have individual pages for each of the projects I'm working on (or have completed), with instructions on how I did it and pics of the project. I have to-do lists every week so I can keep track of all those things I want to work on. I have calendar pages so I can remember what's happening this month. I have pages with links to cool sites, filed under craft type, along with snippets of notes, ideas, and pictures. I have links to resources, so I don't have to keep asking, "now where did I find the best deal on that particular item?" I have wishlists of books and supplies. I have snippets of emails where people have provided tips, techniques, or answered my questions.

Oh, and here's another really cool feature: if I run across an idea, a link, a blog, whatever, but I don't want to take the time to put it into OneNote, I click a little icon in the system tray that opens up a page; I then copy and paste the information into a "note." The program automatically marks the note with the website where the information was copied from. Later, I file these notes in the appropriate sections and pages of my notebooks.

All this organizing might seem a little compulsive to some people, and it probably is. But I get so tired of spending huge amounts of time LOOKING for everything from craft articles to online supplies to instructions for how I made those ATCs (IF I wrote them down!). Now that I have my OneNote notebooks set up, I spend a couple of hours a week making sure all my information is entered.

I've added a screenshot here so you can get a visual of what I'm talking about. On the far left is a list of my notebooks; I have 2 for arts & crafts (one more resource-oriented, one for my projects) and one for home stuff. The center section is a particular page; this one documents last week's "weekly square" project. You can see the tabs across the top for the sections in this notebook, and the individual page tabs along the right side.

Ok, and now I'll come clean on something that's REALLY compulsive: I've even started sections for listing the articles in my two favorite magazines, Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors. Now, when I want to find that article on stenciling with Shiva Painstiks, all I have to do is search my notebook for it. Or, I can add a "paintstiks" tag to the article, then look at everything tagged with "painstiks." Cool, huh?

Here's my disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Microsoft. Sometimes I don't even like MS when one of its program irritates me or asks me once again if it can send information to MS. I really, really love this program, though!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This is what I'm working on for Terri Stegmiller's Faces on Fabric class. So far it's been a lot of fun drawing faces and putting this quilt-top together, but at some point I'll have to paint her face. That's pretty scary considering that I've already put a lot of work into it.
You'll recognize that nagging voice in the back of my mind saying, "but what if I screw it up?"

Here are a couple of cool things about this piece:

1) Her t-shirt is from some shibori-dyed fabric I made a year or so ago. I completely forgot I had it until I started considering what kind of t-shirt she might wear; then I remembered it.

2) The flower and leaves are cut from what Sherrill Kahn calls a "serendipity" cloth. It's a piece of fabric I've had in my studio for a while, and I use it to wipe my brushes on, to mop up extra paint, etc. The other day I was testing out some bottle tips for paint, and I drew a flower onto the cloth. The more I looked at it, the more I really liked it as a flower! I just love it when my refusal to throw anything away actually pays off :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Weekly Square #3

Here's my weekly 6x6" square. Since I made so many gecko postcards and ATCs last week, I thought that would be an appropriate theme for this week's square. Plus, the weather is warm and springlike, so I used spring-colored fabrics.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cathy has graced me with this lovely award. Artistic bloggers are the nicest people, aren't they? I'm supposed pass this along to 8 bloggers, after I list 7 things I love:

1. My lovely partner of 12 years, who amazes me every day with her spirit, her generosity, and her support.

2. Our beautiful daughter and son, who are great kids (ok, they're adults, but they'll always be my kids) and who are as generous and loving as anyone could ask for.

3. Our funny and sweet grandbaby boys. They make me happy whenever I see them or hear their voices on the phone.

4. My mom and my 5 siblings, who have annoyed me occasionally but always loved and stood by me.

5. Our 3 furbabies (of the dog variety), who seem to believe that I'm the most wonderful person on earth.

6. Being able to create every day.

7. My craft room; it's blue and messy and packed to the rafters with stuff, but I love it like crazy.

Here's the text that goes with the award:

"This blog invests and believes in the PROXIMITY-nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement! Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

ATC Frenzy

I've been making lots of ATCs the last couple of days, partly because I needed to get some out for two swaps, and partly because I've discovered that making ATCs is a great way to use my "experiment" paper and fabric--you know, those pieces you make to try out some wonderful new technique, but that you never make large enough (at least I don't) to actually use in a project.

These ATCs are for a yahoo group swap; I used the fabric I made a couple of weeks ago from scraps.

The others came about because I wanted to try out my new Tsukineko inks. I stamped geckos onto fabric, then used the inks and Fabrico markers to color them. Then I very lightly spritzed the fabric with water, and dripped some transparent fabric paint around the geckos (the paint ran since the fabric was wet, but didn't really affect the ink-painted geckos).

I cut the fabric up into ATCs, and used three of them for another yahoo group swap. These had to be embellished, so I added lots of beads and some french knots with embroidery thread; and, they had to have a fabric back, which I'm not crazy about. I like the stiffness that cardstock or watercolor paper gives to a card, so the others are backed with cardstock. They're all sandwiched around craft felt, because I've really been obsessed with using that lately instead of batting for small projects.

So . . . now I have 9 gecko ATCs available, if anyone wants to trade. Leave me a comment with a way to get in touch with you, or email me (see the "email" link on my Profile over to the right). Feel free to specify which ATC you would like (Row 1, Column 3 for example), but I can't promise you'll get the one you ask for if someone else requests it first. Here are the available ATCs:


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Who Has Time to Journal

when I'm busy making journals? I do love making these, though! Another one from Sue B's class. This one has little individual journals in each of the envelope "pockets." It's adorable!

Btw, I didn't notice the batik was a cat print until my partner pointed it out, so all the kitties are lying on their sides :-)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I started writing this post about 4 hours ago, but somehow I kept getting sidetracked . . . I looked at my email, which led me off onto wild google chases until I saw something interesting, which took me down another path to learn everything I could about "drapplique," which made me remember that I still haven't opened my new Tsukineko inks, and so on and so forth. You know how that goes.

Anyway, I decided just before my birthday a couple of weeks ago that I was going to make a "square-a-week" quilt. I think I saw where someone had done this in a QA article. I decided to make 52 6x6" squares, one a week for the next year, then sew them all together with a beginning square and an ending square for a total of 54--I think the quilt will be 6 squares wide and 9 squares long.

I thought my birthday would be a good time to start, and I made that week's square to commemorate it. It's a little dark, but the kind of birthday it felt like--one of those mixed-emotions ones. I added beads since I had been doing a lot of beading that week.

This week's square was based on a design that I created during an exercise at a friend's creative circle gathering. I had hand-dyed some fabric for another project, so I used some of the scraps here. I'm going to try to incorporate several things into these squares: the techniques I was working on that week, the materials I was using that week, and a design that reflects something that was happening.

Of course, my lovely partner snagged my first square to hang in her office, so I had to make another one. This one is just slightly different, but that's ok, too :-)