Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fallow Time

I don't think I've gone almost two months without posting since I started blogging in 2005.  It has been a fallow time for me creatively- not only was the muse not communicating, I didn't even miss her much.  I'm hoping that is changing- I do have some significant happenings on the horizon.

A few months back I signed up for Weeks Ringle's Designing Modern Quilts class on Craftsy.  I've taken several others, but hers is heads above the rest.  It is not a project based class, but one with real meat for those who want to do their own design work.  She made one point that has really spoken to me recently- you need the space, emotionally and mentally, to design.  I just haven't felt that I have that space for the last couple of months.  I'm still trying to figure out what I need to do to regain it, but in the meantime, I'm trying to at least show up in the studio.  I have the next week off from work- it would be nice to accomplish a few things!

On the family front, we had a lovely Christmas with more family here than we've had for a number of years.  Michelle was beside herself- it was really fun experiencing Christmas through the eyes of a child again.  Here she's modeling one of her new outfits, including those cute pink cowgirl boots!

The girl does like her bling!!

I did do a little bit of dyeing a few weeks ago.  When we got our first big snow storm, I couldn't resist doing some snow dyeing.  Instead of starting with white fabric, I decided to try overdyeing some dogs.  I was really happy with the results- I like them much better than other fabric I've dyed this way.  It also helped me get rid of most of the dyes I've had sitting in my small frig since early last fall.

I also got a quilty Christmas present- a small sewing/embroidery machine.  It is nice and lightweight, perfect for sewing on the road.  And the embroidery module looks like it will be a lot of fun!

It fits nicely where my serger sits- so I will just swap them out, depending on what I'm working on.  Once I'd done some samples on the embroidery, I decided to add a design to the corner squares on Michelle's pink quilt.  For a small machine, it really does a lovely embroidery.

On the backing, I embroidered her name.  No question who this quilt belongs to!

 I've also started quilting my Tangled Textiles piece, hopefully I will get it done tomorrow.  The reveal on those pieces will be in January- so no pictures until then.

On another front, my art quilt group will be part of a show at the Woodbury Art Museum, opening January 14.  The museum is connected with Utah Valley University, although not located on campus.  It will be up until early March, and I'm excited to have a chance to show some of my work closer to home.  If you are in the area, come take a look!


2014 is looking to be a year full of changes for us.  We should be empty nesters by summer- Shannon has been accepted into a nursing program in Grand Junction, Colorado, and will be moving by April. She's already started the process to get her massage therapy license in Colorado so she can make the move.  Sean is in the last two months of his degree program.  He has no idea where they could land, but we are all hoping he gets a job in his new field shortly after graduation.  Change is definitely in the air!

Monday, November 04, 2013

The wedding, and other Colorado fun. . .

I do not know where the time has gone.  Our short trip to Breckenridge, Colorado for my younger son's wedding was fun for all of us.  I don't have many pictures yet, but managed to get my hands on these.  It really was a lovely ceremony and reception.

The two dogs are Corey and Ian's babies- she's holding Gizmo, and Ian has Hopper.  They really were very cute in their little tuxes!  Corey was a lovely bride, we are happy to have her in our family.

And while in Colorado, we did some exploring.  Breckenridge has a neat downtown area that we walked several times.  We found interesting hats. . 

and unmistakable evidence that we we're NOT in Utah. . . 

Our last morning there, we went on a tour of a local distillery.  They had a cool looking, Willy Wonka piece of equipment--

and I learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about distilling whiskey.  I got a good laugh from a sign they had posted. . .


 We got some whiskey barbecue sauce, whiskey chocolate sauce, and numerous other bottles of goodies.

Right after we got back, it was time to celebrate the groom's older brother's birthday.  I had fun making these chocolate stout cupcakes with maple brown butter frosting and maple glazed bacon.  They were YUMMY!

Believe it or not, I have been doing some quilting- I've started quilting on the tee quilt, and Michelle's pink quilt is ready to sandwich.  But I don't have a single picture of any fiber stuff!

So that's what I've been up to.  On top of all that, I started a part time job a week ago.  It's with a hospice provider, and I think I will really like it.  I hope it turns into something I can keep doing after I retire from my full time job in a couple of years.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Absemt Blogger

is what I feel like I've been.  Either I haven't been doing anything worth posting about, or life has just been too hectic.  And, now that I have an iPad, I've found I get out my laptop much less.  If they'd make the Blogger app more user friendly, I might use that to post more regularly- but it is a PITA.

I have gotten some stuff done in the studio this weekend- having four days really helps!  After seeing what some other dyers were doing with Dye Magnet, I decided I had to try it again.  I bought it last year, and wasn't overly impressed with my initial results.  This time I had a little better luck.  My favorite piece of the ones I did . . . 

I wanted a mottled background, and was happy with what I achieved here.  I used a couple of my Thermofax screens.

I also used one of my Thermofax screens to do this rayon scarf.  I used mostly Cerulean blue, with some splashes of navy, turquoise, and sky.  Again, I wanted a mottled background against the darker image.

It's now sitting in my closet, waiting for an opportunity to be worn! 

This is the last of the pieces I did with a Thermofax screen.  I wanted to see what would happen with a mixed color rather than a pure, so I used a light value of charcoal gray.  Interesting what the component colors did. . . 

I also tried using a stencil I bought last spring at HMQS, using a silk screen to apply the product.  I can definitely see cutting this into pieces to use in a quilt- but it's interesting what the colors did.  I think I used light red and grape on this one.

On the last one, I tried using a few of my stamps- some I'd cut, others are the big foam stamps you can find at any craft store.  I don't think the product works as well with stamps as with screens.  I will probably overdye this one.  I wanted to see what would happen if I folded the pieced, since I knew I'd get interesting dye effects with that.  It ended up with lots of white.

I think I used lemon yellow and light red on this one.  I was surprised by the color that showed up where I'd used Color Magnet.  I was expecting red, since it is the quickest color to strike.  Instead, I got a kind of taupy-gray.  With a nice apricot overdye, I think this one will be fine.

And just to show how behind I am, here's my completed quilt for our last Tangled Textiles reveal that happened in mid-September.  I was trying for a modern design that combined my hand dyed fabric with a solid color.  I was pretty pleased with how this turned out.

I wanted the quilting to give the sense of the wind blowing- I really like how that turned out.  And, the gray background does highlight the hand dyed fabric.

We are off next Thursday for Breckinridge, Colorado, for my second son's wedding.  It will be a relatively small affair, but it will be good to see Ian and Corey again, even if only for a couple of days.  So I probably won't be blogging next weekend, either!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

More from Carol's workshop. . .

Two weeks- of being extremely busy at work, and little time to play in the studio.  I don't think that will change until after my son Ian's wedding in mid-October, and an audit at work is done the first week in November.  Thank goodness I have a wet studio I can play in year round.

I did mention that I'd come home with more goodies than I've posted from Carol's workshop.  One of my classmates, Lynn Dell, used to be a professional tie dyer, and she taught some of us some tricks after class was over.  What fun!  This shirt started with a boy's extra large tee- after I got home, I cut down the crew neck and shaped the sides.  I love how this turned out!

The other tie dye I brought to class as one of my dogs.  I wish I had a picture of this fabric as it originally looked.  It was spiral dyed, which was fine.  The problem was with the colors- blue and pink.  Yuck.

Lynn Dell re-spiraled it (I learned a lot just watching her!), and we overdyed it in boysenberry and yellow, then sprayed one side with navy blue.  I absolutely love this piece now!! 

I also took a couple of black tees to play with.  This one is discharged using Decolourant Spray, with washers and other hardware providing the resist.  (Ignore the goofy face above the tee, please!)

I still have lots more photos from the class, but haven't had much time to edit them.  Hopefully not too much longer. . .

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wonderful Exhaustion!

I got home yesterday evening from a five day workshop with Carol Soderlund, who is the best fiber art teacher I have ever taken from.  She is well prepared, knows how to manage the class, and is so willing to share her wealth of knowledge about anything related to dyeing.

We folded, clamped, discharged with bleach, and overdyed--

(All of these started with black fabric!)

We printed with Thiox paste on black fabric, or the hand dyed dogs we'd brought with us--

We used potato dextrin- I discharged the black one with thickened bleach, and printed the other with thickened black dye.  Look at all that crackle!

I overdyed some other dogs I brought with me in black, and then printed, doing something I'd never done- illumination!  You mix a Thiox print paste, then dissolve dye powder in that.  It's a fascinating process I will be doing more of!

Some of the black fabric that I'd folded, clamped, bleach discharged and overdyed didn't work for me- so I re-folded (offsetting my folds), and threw it in the Thiox pot.  I am in love with these pieces!

It was a really productive week- I learned a ton, and brought back plenty of fabric and samples.  Oh, yes, and I also came back with the Discharge Book,  fitting companion for my Color Book 1!

But that wasn't all I came back with!  Stay tuned for more!

I'm linking up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday.  Go take a look at what other fiber artists have been up to!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Preparations. . .

I've decided to set the green hand dye aside for the time being.  Too much obsessing that got me nowhere!

I also figured it might be a good time for some therapy sewing, a la Rayna Gillman.  This one won't be a scrap quilt, but I am using up a stash of color gradations I made a few years ago.  Throw in a good bit of solid white, and I hope to end up with a quilt for Michelle.  So far, I've got eight strip sets at least partially constructed.  Here's two after I did a diagonal cut- I'm thinking I need to do another one of those.

I've also started getting my supplies together for next week's workshop with Carol Soderlund, Dyeing to Discharge.  I have. . . 

my respirator, gloves, an old sheet (press cloth), thermofax screens, and a sketchbook. . . 

shibori supplies, containers, buckets, my little drawer unit full of stamps and stencils. . . 

two kinds of black commercial cotton, a couple of black tees, a bolt of Hoffman lawn, a bolt of bamboo/cotton, some silk yardage, and a bunch of not-so-stellar hand dyes I hope to remake.  Think this will all fit in the back of my Prius?

I had almost everything on Carol's two page list.  Today I'll get the rest, just some Press and Seal, gallon zip lock bags, some Sharpies, some lightweight gloves, and another kitty litter pan.  I figure by this time next week, I should be totally exhausted, with a brain ready to explode from all I've learned!

Today is a few hours of work, then getting ready to leave for Moab tomorrow for a friend's wedding.  The next ten days on my calendar are jam-packed!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Playing with Paper

What with more upheaval and change in our home, I haven't spent a lot of time in the studio.  I have almost finished one piece that I am rather happy with- but I can't post a picture , since it is also my Tangled Textiles piece for September.  It will have to wait for a couple of weeks.

I am obsessing over what to do with this 18 X 29 hand dye that I've loved from the minute I pulled it from the bottom of a parfait.

So I have been drawing on graph paper, trying to come up with a design that will use every inch of this gorgeous fabric.  So far, this is what I have.

The last one looks too much like Christmas trees, so it's been eliminated.  The one above it has piecing issues, which I mostly resolved with the third drawing.  But I figured out that I don't have enough fabric to do the size quilt I was hoping for, and the irregular pieces don't use every inch of fabric.  The two top designs were attempts to utilize all the fabric.  I'll probably do a few more designs before I make a decision.  My plan (at this point, anyway) is to combine the patterned hand dye with solids- colors yet to be determined.

I am not accustomed to working this way, drawing and planning it all out.  I'm trying to identify what it is I like about the modern quilt design ethic and apply it to these, without losing 'me.'  It's turning into an interesting journey!

Only two weeks to go til the Dyeing to Discharge workshop with Carol Soderlund.  I've looked over the supply list, and it is a long one- but I have most everything.  I am so looking forward to a week with my work phone off!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Loosening the Knot

I had some nice comments on my last post- Libby's opened some doors that I have been exploring ever since.  I learned about the Hard Edge painters, I found some videos that explored modern art, and I've taken some small steps towards applying what I've learned to my own work.

I got a small top pieced last weekend, and I'm hoping to get it quilted in the next couple of weeks- if other life events don't take over.  Both of my adult kids are having life crises at the moment, so that is having an impact.  2013 is shaping up to be a year that I would mostly prefer to forget.

Since the quilt I made will be my next Tangled Textiles piece, I can't show you the whole thing- but here's a detail shot.

I am continuing in my quest to incorporate my hand dyes into clean, minimalist modern designs.  I'm also trying to figure out how to best use my fat quarter favorite green hand dye to best advantage.  This piece answered some of those questions.  I'm now musing on the kind of quilting designs I want to use.

Which brings up another lesson I've learned over the past few months.  I think the way modern quilts use quilting to enhance the piecing, not overpower it, appeals to me also.  I'm finding that I stress a lot less about my quilting- mostly because the kinds of quilting that enhances these designs feels doable.

If you are interested in learning more about art of any era, I found this website that has loads of videos.  I'm trying to get through a six part series entitles "This is Modern Art."  I also found a sequel to "The Shock of the New" here, which was also fascinating.

So there you have it, what is new and exciting in my neck of the woods.  I hope your week is turning out to be a creative one also!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Tying Myself Up in Knots

That about describes how I've been feeling- and I'm fully aware that I'm doing it to myself.  

On a positive note, I finished the tee quilt for Shannon.  She is very happy with it, despite the technical flaws that jump out at me.  (You won't see them in the picture, most of them are on the back!)

Art, quilting and design have been on my mind a lot lately.  I am more and more intrigued and enamoured of the modern quilt.  I have spent time trying to figure out exactly those aspects that appeal to me, and musing on how I can include those in my own work, without losing my unique voice.  (At least I hope it is unique!)  I signed up for a modern quilt design class on Craftsy, and bought a book.  The class was well worth it, and the book has some wonderful eye candy and design information.

I think I've narrowed down the elements that appeal to me.  I love the large expanses of negative space.  I like the simple, clean lines.  I really like how the quilting enhances the piecing, rather than taking over the entire quilt.  I find the use of color interesting- proof that limiting the palette can be more interesting than throwing the entire rainbow on it.

I'm really struggling with how to use my hand dyes to best effect with this design esthetic.  I really don't want to go back to using commercial fabrics.  Designing with solids is no problem- I can create my own no problem.  It's what to do with those hand dyes that have as much texture as a commercial print.  Like this one that was part of a parfait--

No lack of texture or color there.  I don't want to cut it into small pieces, but I don't want to just use it as is either.  I only have a fat quarter (from a 55" wide piece of Pimatex), so I don't have any to waste.  Right now I'm leaning towards a square in a square design, or a log cabin derivative, on a large expanse of solid.  I want this to pop, so I'll audition some medium gray fabric- but I can see white in the design too.  I still have lots of playing to do on paper before I actually cut the fabric- any other ideas welcomed!

I'm also playing with designs for the next Tangled Textiles piece, due the end of the month.  It will fit right in with my forest series.  And then there's the winter forest quilt that has been rolling around in the back of my mind, using the arashi shibori fabric I dyed earlier this summer.

Too many ideas, not enough time, a bit of an artist crisis.  Sounds like a prescription for therapy sewing to me.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where has July gone?

It feels like summer is whizzing by at the speed of light.  Where has the time gone, and why can't winter speed by this quickly?

I am beginning to realize how much having a three year old in our home impacts my studio time.  Don't get me wrong, I love having her here for a time and being able to see her every day- but I am having to work around a very active, inquisitive toddler.  I am about halfway through quilting Shannon's tee quilt- nothing fancy, just straight line quilting, but it has reminded me of why I don't do bed size quilts.  It is not easy muscling all that fabric under my Juki!

However, I do have some inspirational quilts to show.  The annual Springville quilt show opened last week, and Marly, Michelle, and I went to see it yesterday.  There were more hand quilted entries than I've seen in the past, lots of traditional quilts, and a few art and modern quilts.  So here's what struck me enough to pull out my iPhone camera.

Best of show was won by Susan McBride Gilgen.  It was a stunning depiction of the Great White Throne in Zion's National Park.  Even up close, I was hard pressed to tell exactly how she created this masterpiece.

There were two quilts that met my definition of insanity, both of them small.  This one was done by Denise Austin, and is only about twelve inches square.

The second was done by Kay Plehn.  It's a little larger than a foot square- but those hexies are about as big as my fingernail.  Shoot me now!

My friend Sue Swinyard entered this charming quilt, using squares she Zentangled.  I love the little pop of red she added- even in the quilting!

This in one of the few traditional quilts I want to make one day- I love how the colors vibrate.  This was done by Marilyn Toone.

This beautiful Phoenix was done by Florence Ann Evans.  She did a gorgeous job with her quilting and threadwork.

 But my absolute favorites were both done by the same artist, Kirsten Barnhill.  I think she did these with silk fusion, but I don't know for sure and the labels didn't give any details.  The are not large- but her work is exquisite.

The colors and subtle imagery on the dandelion piece were stunning.

I am starting to figure out what I'm going to do for my next Tangled Textiles piece- Open.  I have an idea, but I'll need to make a prototype block to see if it will work.  Sean, Marly, and Michelle are leaving for a week or so to visit relatives in Chicago- I need to take advantage of that time!