Friday, February 27, 2015

Taking the Mystery out of Silk - Off the Wall Friday

Although I have 4 feet of snow in my yard and the temperature has not climbed much higher than 20 degrees F in two weeks, I'm thinking spring.  A girl can hope right?  I have an annual habit of starting a  new spring project  and this year I wanted to incorporate silk.  So many times I see how silk is
used in the art quilts and fiber work I admire the most.  Not to mention, I do place orders for a company called Wintersilks.  So it might not be a bad idea if I learn something about this mysterious fabric.

As you might or might not know, silk is harvested from a silkworm's cocoon (really not a worm at all but a larva for a future moth).  That is why silk is a protein fiber rather than cellulose  fiber (like cotton or rayon) and will behave differently when you use your reactive procion dyes on them. You can use the same textiles paints on silks as you use on their cellulose sisters.

So of course, silk is made into all sorts of fabrics with all sorts of weights.  Its a little overwhelming!!  I took the advice of Marlene Glickman and bought some samples from Thai Silks in California.  Its so much easier to put a swatch with a name that it was a worthwhile investment.  Here are some of my favorites!

Organza - sheer open weave fabric that has a smooth flat finish.  It has a stiff crisp hand and comes in a variety of weights that effect its translucence.

Charmeuse - satin weave silk with a crepe back - think lingerie and silk pajamas!

Chiffon - sheer fabric with a soft limp hand to it.  Will drape wonderfully

Habotai  - is a plain weave fabric  - has a "silky" hand (mostly but it does come in crinkle varieties) its soft and lustrous. 

Dupioni - this is a double weave fabric (often with two close but different colors).  Its a substantial plain weave with a nubby texture.  Still has a nice luster to it.

Noil has a nubby feel and a low sheen.  It comparable to cotton in texture  easily sewn

That is only a small sampling but at least it got me started on knowing what I was looking for.  I'm looking forward to playing with translucence and organza this spring.  Its been on my to do list but when I tried with synthetic fabrics last summer I got lack luster results.  So hopefully silk will put me on the right road!

So what have been up to creatively?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Little by Little - Design Wall Monday

  After a long day in studio yesterday - 10 hours! - I'm getting close and closer to the finish of the piecing of Curves2.

I finally got my studio up to 70 degrees which makes it just that much easier to stay productive in there.  By the end of the night, I was tired!

 Still I did notice something.  The last yellow piece I put on did not read "Dark Yellow" under the studio lights.  When the lights are off you can tell its suppose to be dark yellow, but with the lights on it just reads a touch darker than its curving counterpart.

You know what that means right?  sighhhhhhhhh

I'll have to do that section again.  It shouldn't take  that long.  I'm hoping to  get the bottom section piecing done this week so I can layer it up on my studio day on Thursday.

See other great design walls at Judy's Patchwork Times!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Baby Its Cold Outside - Off the Wall Friday

Did I need to make it 55 by 45??

Hat, Gloves AND my blankie!

I am not at my creative best  during the winter months, especially February when it seems like the cold is never going to end.  This year though my latest project has really kept me going.  Too bad it can't keep me warm!  This week, we've had sub zero  temps for most of the week  - as low as -18!

You know what that means??  My studio doesn't get much warmer than 60 degrees.  Can anyone say - Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr?!?!?!

Little by little though, I am getting the Curves2 done.  I was hoping to have all the piecing done by today but who knew it would take this long?!  I'm literally on the 9th bobbin of thread on this baby!  Geesh - like winter, I'm thinking the piecing is never going to end!!!

p.s.  this is what I woke up this fine Friday morning......guess the cold isn't ending soon either!!!

Hopefully you're warmer than I and don't have to create with gloves on!

What are you up to creatively?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fear and Art - Off the Wall Friday

As I work my way through my latest piece, I'm liking it more and more.  Now that's pretty unusual for me.  By this point in the process,  I'm usually ready to pitch the whole thing and take up Paint by Numbers.  But not this one.  I really like the ways the curves are shaping up.  In fact, I could see me loving the way the curves are shaping up. 

With all that love floating through my mind, a dark cloud started to creep in.  What if everyone else doesn't love it as much as I do?  What if I'm just kidding myself that this piece is actually working?  What if I go through all this and it doesn't get juried into Sacred Threads.  Hmmmmm..... this cloud is threatening to become a full fledged thunderstorm!

Now all of a sudden, I've gone from a place of confidence in my art to a place of doubt.  Why???

Fear is destructive.  Fear is limiting.  Fear is exhausting.  Fear is a prison.

So, with my art, what am I afraid of?

  1. People will hate it.
  2. It's ordinary and plebeian.
  3. I'm wasting precious resources of time and money.
  4. I don't have anything to say .
  5. It won't be as good as I see it in my mind's eye.

My answers?

1.  If people hate it, so what?  Am I making art for me or for them?  And really, one thing I've learned is that anything can be loved by someone, somewhere.  The popularity of the television program, The Bachelor is proof of that!

2.  Does something need to be unusual  to be good art?  I don't think so.  My favorite art is those that show the beauty in the ordinary.  Besides who really wants a canvas of stapled dead rats on their wall?? (Yes, I did see this once in an art show!)

3.  Is it a waste if  it makes me happy and I'm staying  mentally active?  Entertainment takes time and money.  There are far worse ways to spend my entertainment dollar. 

4.  Me?!  With nothing to say?  Who am I kidding??

5.  I'll never know if it's as good as it was in my mind's eye unless I finish it.  If it's not, then what's
the worse thing that can happen?  I work out the problems and fix it.  Or I change my initial vision.

Answering my fears is sometimes enough to quiet them.  Also, reading inspirational quotes and essays remind me that everyone - even the greats  - have fears.  They all succeeded despite of them and so can I.

What are your fears?  How do you handle them?  And if you are. . . . .

What are you doing Creatively??

Friday, February 6, 2015

Steal A Technique - Off the Wall Friday

Another week, more piecing the curve, which by the way is coming nicely!  But it does give a girl time to think.  This week, my mind landed on a book that I recently have been re- reading - Masters: Art Quilts Volume 2 Curated by Martha Sielman.  Have you ever notice that with a lot of your art books, every time you read them, you get something new out of them?  Well that's exactly what happened to me this time.  While I was reading, I found a new thing I could steal. . . .A technique.

Most times, when I've picked up this book in the past, I'm overwhelmed by all the pretty pictures and tend to skim the verbiage.  But this time, I noticed how Sielman highlighted a lot of the techniques, these master quilters used.  Who knew there were so many ways to construct an art quilt?!?

Until the Day, Emily Richardson
For instance, Emily Richardson, takes silk organza and paints it with acrylic paints.  Then she takes the newly painted silk and cuts it up into hunks arranging them into a pleasing composition.  The piece is all sewn together by hand using a nice blanket stitch of  matching embrodiery thread.  It struck me that she comes up with thoroughly modern method of construction, only to finish it off with a very traditional sewing method.

Dirkje van der Horst-Beetsma from the Netherlands puts a piece of cotton base in a big embroidery hoop.  She then takes pieces of colored fabric and sews it on the base without using any pins or fusing.  She just builds the piece as she goes.  This kind of technique opens up a lot of possibilities for improvisational composition.

Autumn Sky, Reiko Naganuma
Japanese Reiko Naganuma pieces her blocks in a traditional manner then slashes through them in straight lines moving the block apart.  This then shows the underlaying foundation material.  The slashes are unexpected and lend a nice movement to her work.

I could go on.  As you can see,  most of these masters have developed their own forms of techniques most of which you won't find in your  basic "How to Make A Quilt" book.  Nontraditional?  Yes  Ineffectual?  Absolutely Not.

Which brings me back to where I began.  Why  not steal borrow a technique?  Or at least let a stolen technique lead you to your own explorations.  Now I'm not saying that we need to fill our toolbox up with every Tom, Dick and Technique.  I'm just saying that you never know where a new tool might lead.

So with that in mind, I'm going to be ordering me some silk samples from Thai Silk  - along with some organza.  I mean if you're going to steal, you might as well start with Silk!

So what have you been up to creatively?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Curves at the Cabin - Off the Wall Friday

Its amazing where we can create.  I'm spending this week, visiting with my mother at my parents cabin in upstate New York.  As you can imagine, upstate New York is gorgeous in January and cold.  Very cold.  Still you couldn't tell it from inside the cozy cabin.  My mother very graciously told me to bring along my latest project.  Luckily, I'm very adapt at packing.  Also, luckily, the cabin has a nice loft that is perfect for a temporary studio.  

The curves, as you can see, are coming along nicely.  While I'm doing the piecing, I keep second guessing my idea to make the piece so big.  Then I get a section done and think - WOW - I like that.  Its funny how with all the design decisions being made up front - the pattern, palette and value placement - the piecing is relaxing.  And a lot of work

I've decided to use my improv piecing method again like in The Curves.  There is still more I want to explore in values and colors with the method.  Plus I wanted to try the method on a piece where I drew the curves rather than getting them from a photo inspiration.  We'll see if it makes a difference.  If I ever get it done.  Did I mention its a lot of work?

Still this week has finally gotten me into the groove of the piece so a March completion is looking more promising.  Nothing like a remote cabin in January  to help gain some focus.  I'm hoping to get a bit more done before heading back to Pennsylvania this weekend.  I'll be glad to get this baby pinned up on my design wall.

Ohhhh and by the way,  I happen to be the featured quilter on the blog,  Amy's Creative Side if you care to take a peak.  Every Friday she features a quilter from the Quilter's Blog Festival. 

So What have you been up to creatively?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Stealing A Curve - Off the Wall Friday

If I'm suppose to be doing a piece centered on curves. . . . .

And I'm suppose to Steal Like An Artist.. . .

How does someone go about stealing a curve???

 Its no surprise to anybody that I love curves.  Ever since I became a quilter I've been fascinated by them.  I mean, curves are so much more mysterious to a beginner quilter than squares.  Squares you can just match the straight sides and sew a neat quarter inch seam.  Curves have concave and convex parts (don't even ask which is which) that might or  might not match up as you piece them.  Pins are involved, pressing is necessary. . .it all seems complicated.  So you steal.

Fire on the Water, Judy Dales
From who?  From the very best.  15 years ago, I took a class from Judy Dales.  Her work with curves
is breath-taking.  Every time I see a piece  of hers, I'm struck by the movement and grace of her curves and how they interact with the environment  which she places on them.  Her curves have so much to say.  She subtly uses value to give the curves life.  She taught me the traditional method of first drawing out a pattern and then using that pattern to piece the curve.  Oh and OMG did she teach us to draw a curve.  I remember that I spent 8 hours one day just drawing a curve and erasing a curve and drawing it again.  Then perfecting it.  Then perfecting it some more.  By the end of the class not only could I draw a curve easily but I also learned that I did NOT want to traditional pieces curves - ever.
Flying Free by Caryl Bryer Fallert

Just around that time, I met Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry.  This prolific artist is all about the curve and color.  She's spent the last 30 years perfecting a voice that rings with joy and vitality with every new piece.  I've studied her use of a saturated color and value that give her curves an energy that is truly awe inspiring. I used a couple of her patterns to get an idea of how she pieces her work.

As I went about piecing my latest curves, I was struck with how much I've stolen from both these ladies and how different my work is from theirs.   The idea is to study artists you love, take from them what works for you and then build on that.

Hopefully my new piece will do that.

So what have been up to creatively?