Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Space - A Joint Adventure

Well the space odyssey continues.  After waiting 3 days for my dye-na-flow fabric to dry, I concluded that it didn't look dark  nor interesting enough to use for my space challenge.  So much for experiments.  Still there was something that was of interest sitting next to this very dull looking cloth.

You see, my daughter, seeing me having fun painting fabric decided she wanted to play too.  Well her momma, being mean and stingy as ever, told her she was welcome to do it but using scraps and her own tempera paints.  She, being the creative 12-year old that she is, got after it.  And what happened. . . .a really - really great piece.  Just super!!  Wayyyyyyyy better than her momma's . . . . .sighhhhhhhhh.

Still not only is she a great artist in her own right, but she's generous.  She told me to go ahead and use her piece for my project - washable tempera paint and all.  Of course, my daughter being a chip off the ole block, also asked for credit (grin).  So here is her amazing complex cloth - her first piece.  Ain't it great?!

Hopefully the rest of my design will do it justice.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Space - The Final Frontier

I took a break from the trapezoids today to start a new adventure.  Recently, I joined an online group called the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge.  The premise of this group is that on the last Friday of the month, a challenge would be issued.  You are to work as quickly as you can (and that's relative!) to complete the challenge experimenting creatively along the way.  There is no judging nor anybody looking over your shoulder.  You don't have to do any challenge - you can take as long as you want and you don't have to follow the guildlines of the challenge if you don't want to.  All in all - a very friendly but motivating group!

I've joined them in their fourth year which is themed around nature.  This month's challenge is outer space . You also are encouraged to use some new embellishing or material that you might not usually use.  Now, I'm not ashamed to say that I'm firmly in the fiber arts camp that less is more when it comes to embellishing.  I realize that a lot of the market is pushing artists to buy all sorts of media and products to use in their art, but its honestly not for me.  I have enough trouble trying to get good design using basic composition techniques without worrying about all that bling!

That said, I thought it was a perfect chance to try out the  sampler set of Dye-Na-Flow paints, I bought last year but was too chicken to use.  I gleaned inspiration from Hubble's Image site and off I went.  Let me tell you, if you can't get inspired from those amazing pictures, then you might want to try another topic.  Without much fanfare, I just got a nice piece of left over white fabric, taped it to my dyeing tablecloth, and wet it down.  I just squeezed little drops from the bottles and used a brush to blend them all in.  After they were the way I wanted them, I sprinkled sea salt on it.  I have no idea if this is the way you are suppose to do it, but since I was exploring, I figured I could do it anyway I wanted.  So far, I'm happy with the results and it was what I had in mind.

Now I'm just waiting for it to dry to compose the rest of the piece.  Since its a rainy day in Northwestern PA, it might be a while.  Still, its not as if I don't have any hand work to keep me busy.  I did manage to get 30 pinwheels done this week. Just in case you're keeping track - that's 180 blades used! (as I tell my students - math - its everywhere!)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Trapped by Trapezoids

One of the reasons I started this blog, was to have a record of the creative things I did.  I always wanted to keep track of them.  Plus - this way I could share them with my friends.  One of the by-products of the blog is that it keeps me creating.  If I don't make something - I won't have anything to post.

Now that said, not all the things I create are going to be interesting.  For instance, I just spent the last week basting little trapezoids - 100's of them!  They are the blades for the pinwheels and are all basted onto paper by hand. I'm using the English Paper Piecing method so, of course, all the paper trapezoids had to be cut.  Then the fabric attached and finally sorted into colors for piecing.  Its a major undertaking and a bit addictive.

Anyways I manage to get over 500 of them done in the last week with a big push on Saturday.  I sewed for over 12 hours - one trapezoid at a time.  When I finally stopped my hand was  a bit sore and the gallon size zip lock was full.  I wasn't sick of basting them, but I was sick of all the mindless TV I had been watching.  Maybe, next time, I'll just put one of the books on cd onOh - and yeah - there will be a next time, because I'm sure this still isn't enough for that quilt!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Everythings Bloomin' at the Albion Fair

Well another Albion Fair has come and gone.  You see, the fair always manages to take over my small town.  School is let out early so that kids can get full use of Ride A Rama day.  The borough office, library, and resteraunts close for the week.  Traffic is sometimes backed up all the way through town.  Its "fairly" crazy and its always fun.  

The whole family enters their latest projects.  Paul entered  his contemporary  cabinet while I put in my two birdhouse wall hangings.  When judging was over, Paul who normally wins best in show lost out to a Pittsburgh Steelers Potty Chair complete with magazine rack and toilet roll holder.  I'll let you draw you own conclusions about what that says about our town.  Although in the past I've managed to bring home some best in shows, this year I only got a second and third place ribbon since my contemporary work is never well received in this very traditional venue.

My daughter, on the other hand, manage to hold up the Sayre name by bringing home a Second Best in Show with her entry Everythings Bloomin' at the Fair.  She is a very creative child and takes her multi media work very seriously.  This project took her a couple of weeks and we had long discussions on what was working in it and what wasn't.  I just kept encouraging her to follow her creative process and not give up.  The result was pretty great and uniquely her.  My husband Paul took one look and asked if she's been experimenting with drugs (grin).  I took one look and knew it was going to win.  Happily, the judges, for once, didn't disappoint me.

I want to remind all the artists I know to take time whenever possible to encourage young people  to celebrate their art.  I know its where your future lies.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When Ugly is Pretty

So I took this whole Labor Day thing really literally today. At 5:30 am I wrote myself a list of Things to Do and stuck to it all day. Included on that list of things was to dye me some ugly fabric. While organizing my stash I realized that I did not have enough muddy colored hand dyeds. I like to use them to give some variation among all those intense colors. I also found a box of solid fabrics that I bought in the mid 90's. So I took hunks of a bunch of colors and put them in the machine for a good scour.

The first time I did hand dyed fabrics, I was very careful recording all the colors and the recipes. I was as precise as I could be with the measurements. It was all very exact. Today was very different. I just made up some blue, red, and green dye solution and started pouring and squishing it with my fabric. I had no idea what I was doing although a good friend gave me the advice to use the complimentary color of the original fabric to muddy up the colors. So that's what I tried to do.

Once again it took me all day but I did manage to get the whole process done. I'm all happy with the results since they did come out sufficiently muddy. I'm glad I got some nice grays out of the deal since that is going to be a main color in my next project. One thing I did learn though is that the dark reds and greens did not over dye - aduhhhh - but just thought I would try. I think I'm going to set them aside to discharge then dye sometime in the future.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pinwheels! Pinwheels! Pinwheels!

Contrary to popular belief among my friends, I'm still doing some traditional quilting. After completing my 4200 piece tumbling block quilt, I said I would never do another hand pieced project. Well I lied :)) Last September or so I started a hand pieced pinwheel quilt. I probably should call it my "When Hell freezes Over" quilt.

I like to hand piece using the English paper piecing method. Yes its labor intensive, but its nice and accurate. Plus its very transportable. Its the kind of project you can take anywhere you need to keep your hands busy. Welllllll - almost anywhere - if you take it to church you get all these funny looks. . . . . Go figure.

Anyways - I worked on it through out the school year whenever I had the inclination or the time or both. I would take it to school and it would set off conversations with the students on quilting and tessellating patterns. With the coming of the warm weather and dog days, it got put away.

But this week marks my return to the classroom and therefore, the pinwheels. I spent the afternoon trying to figure out where I had left off. For the first time I put the wheels up on my design board - not in any real pattern - just by value. I do want this to be a value study and I want to do it all in cool colors. From the layout I could tell that I definitely needed more mediums and lights. So off to my newly cleaned stash I went, where it was a breeze to find exactly the scraps I needed. Also from layout I can see that I have a long way to go. When I put it away it seemed like I had gotten so much accomplished. But as I found out with the tumbling block quilt, hand piecing isn't a hobby - its a vocation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Stash Clean Out Complete

Yes - drum roll please - I did manage to complete cleaning my stash yesterday! I keep it up on the third floor of my aging Victorian house. We have a big dressing room that has two closets and walls of shelving. One side holds our clothes while the other holds all my fabric. Its dark and ventilated so its been the perfect spot to store it. Still it was always a mess since there was too much fabric there for the space. With the recent sell-off (which is still going on if anybody wants any - cheapie!), I've managed to really organize the fabric I really wanted to use. Here it is. I grouped the commercial fabrics together by color and put the top shelves with hand dyeds by color - sort of! Its hard to actually get that exactly right when the hand dyeds are sometimes equally one color and another. I do have two closets of little boxes. They are boxes of odds and ends like - tatting trims, left over blocks, vintage patterns, etc. etc. Still they are now labeled and easy to get at. I also found out that I don't need to buy any batting for a while with at least 4 queen size batts in reserve! I also have nice collections of William Morris fabrics, Rose and Hubble fairy fabrics, two boxes of Japanese fabrics, a box of Liberty of London AND more 30's reproduction fabrics than I ever wanted to look at. I only found 3 or 4 UFO's and a couple of tops needing quilting so I was happy with that!

One thing that this venture has shown is what hand dyeds colors I need to dye. I need the neutrals and the muddy colors. I have a lot of intense green and blues but no reds - like what's wrong with red that I never have it in hand dyeds? I also found a big box of solids from years ago that I'm going to try to over dye and see if I can come up with some nice muddy colors.

So I guess my fall cleaning is done and I can get back - happily - to the sewing hole. My family is very impressed with me - I'm just glad to get it all pretty and organized!

These are the "mid clean" pictures of the process - I meant to get before shots but I forgot~!