Around Here Week 17

It’s finally warm enough at night to set out the potted herbs we overwintered in our kitchen. We have one rosemary bush that’s now over 13 years old, and a sage plant. The sage got a haircut before we put it out, and we dried the leaves for culinary use. I was taken with the fleshiness of the sage leaves when they were spread out on a baking pan. The veins in the leaves look a lot better than the veins in my legs.

sage 2 resized

 

12 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

Late for Earth Day

When I saw photos of scientists carrying signs it occurred to me that I missed Earth Day, celebrated last week. In the interests of promoting recycling I’ll present a few of my quilts made of at least 50% re-purposed fabric. Despite the constant appearance of new fabric collections I like to use what I have, even if it isn’t quilting cotton. I’m no expert on the environmental impacts of growing, weaving, and dyeing cotton (see this article on the life of a garment from Apparel Business systems for a broad overview); but I want to re-use where possible.

First, two quilts, which I’ve shown before, that say and indeed make do.

The only new material in the quilt above is thread. I even used up an old skirt on the back, in addition to selvedges, shirts, batting scraps, and trimmings from cropped quilts. You can see I used a discarded block from the quilt below for the K.

Here I focused on men’s old shirts, and learned that shirt material is hard  to work with for binding.

Continuing with the shirts theme, I made a small quilt with my husband’s dress shirts as a way to celebrate his retirement. A few striped and yellow quilting cottons from my stash managed to sneak in.

Most recently,  in “Repurposed/Resurfaced” I used a drop cloth that began life as a tablecloth. I also included a damask table napkin and color test swatches from silk screen printing, in addition to fabric I screened and painted. There’s a smidge of commercial fabric and the bias tape is store bought (I lost good karma points there.) Lesson learned – woven polyester tablecloths take fabric paint well but smell horrible when ironed.

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

10 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

Around Here Week 16

I find it amusing that I went to an art museum and took more photos of light and shadows than I did of the art work. I was captivated by the contrasting lines of the wood floor and the shadows in this sculpture gallery. The curves of the trees and the sculptures set off the straight lines of the floor planks and the window supports.

As a bonus, here’s a detail from a Dutch interior painting from 1663 that I did photograph. The little girl is so carefully carrying a tray of refreshments in to a group of amateur musicians. I love the homey touches of the dog and the watchful eye of the woman holding the baby. I also enjoy the changes in the flooring and the perspective through to the arched window. Nobody could paint interiors like the Dutch.

Here’s the link to the entire painting by Pieter de Hooch. While you’re there, you can browse most of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Collection.

5 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

Bewitched But Bewildered

I’ve read a lot of quilting books over the decades. I’ve looked at books on patterns, techniques, and design; plus picture books of quilt collections. I’m not a novice at extracting sense from such books.

However, my attempts to understand Wen Redmond‘s “Digital Fiber Art” have foundered. It’s as if I signed up for intermediate Spanish, thinking the six words I already knew would be adequate preparation. Instead, I’m catching the sense of about one sentence out of seven.

Redmond’s forte is printing digital imagery on fabric, paper, and other more unconventional surfaces. She assumes, rightly so, that her readers will know their way around Photoshop or other photo editing software. After all, the book’s title includes the word digital. I’m a novice there, though I have grand plans to take a course.

Where she loses me is there’s no overall step by step instructions or any supply list. I desperately need an introductory chapter that says here’s what I’ll cover, here’s what you need to get started, and here’s some fancy stuff to try. I now know something about the importance of pre-coats and post-coats but I have a hard time putting that information into context. I haven’t a clue about what kinds of fabric work best with this approach – she mentions organza, canvas, duck, cotton, but says nothing about the pros and cons of each. I’d also like to know how basic I can go with the raw materials and still have the potential for a decent outcome.

Even if I understood all aspects of the process, I gather printing my own digital fabrics would be costly. Redmond herself uses an Epson Stylus Photo printer. That will set you back at least $300. The various pre-coats and other supplies run $25 per bottle, if you want to prep your own fabric.  Cotton pre-treated fabric starts at about $83 for a 17 by 35 inch piece. Then there’s the pigment ink, which costs about $20-25 per cartridge. You can see how the costs could mount up. Mind you, Redmond isn’t shopping at Joann’s or Michael’s, but is buying professional grade materials.

There are copious examples of her work and some of the steps that went into each piece. They are great illustrations of the fertility of her imagination but I got confused. I never figured out if some of the interesting base effects shown are meant to be photographed and digitally manipulated, or be a substrate to be printed on.

Redmond is obviously expert at these techniques and produces some amazing art. However, for me her book is like watching a slide show at warp speed with no context. I keep wanting to say, back up a minute. Until I get more digital editing expertise under my belt and am willing to invest $1000 or so, this book will be borrowed from a library and not purchased. I need to start at digital fiber art for dummies.

However, I do recommend this book if you just want to take in some lovely eye candy. I think you could dumb down some of the ideas for printing on a humble inkjet printer, but just don’t expect the results to look like Redmond’s.

Trees Singing – Wen Redmond

Amazements of Tender Reflections – Wen Redmond

 

10 Comments

Filed under Books, Commentary

Around Here Week 15

A recent trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art reminded me that I need to visit more often. Admission is free, per the instructions of the museum’s founding benefactor, though parking is another matter entirely. It’s easy to forget how much wealth was in Cleveland at the height of its manufacturing glory, given its current status as the punch line of rust belt city jokes.

The old and new parts of the museum are connected by a glass roof atrium that makes a lovely spot to sit a spell and partake of refreshments. You can get a birds eye view of ground level action from second floor balconies. I happened to catch the sunbeam at just the right moment. It looks like it’s slicing through the benches.

3 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

My Latest Craft Addiction

I am very late to the little zipper pouch party. Other bloggers have churned them out by the armload as gifts and gussied them up with cunning shapes and zipper variations. I’ve been avoiding this kind of project due to my fear of zippers – installing them, that is.

Finally, I decided it was time to pull up my big girl pants and have a go. I searched Sew Mama Sew for tutorials, and settled on Melly Sews 15 minute zipper pouch. It’s a basic, no pockets, lined pouch that can be resized to suit. Besides, Melly has a video that shows each step.

As you know, I’ve built up a stock of fabric bits I’ve tortured in some way with various surface design experiments. What better way to use them than to make pouches. I began with some batik fabric I had pleated and sewed down in diamond patterns. It wasn’t going to make it to a quilt, so I chose it for my first effort.

I dug out an old zipper, chose fabric for a lining and sat down with Melly’s video. An hour later I had a zipped pouch. Melly is a lot faster than I am.

Emboldened by this success, I tackled an upholstery sample scrap next. The extra thickness was a bit of a challenge but the pouch got made, albeit a bit crookedly. The pouch now holds my Fabrico pens.

Next up was a fat quarter I bought at a quilt show – cute fabric but I couldn’t figure out how to use it in a quilt. I learned that it’s wise to interface quilting cotton used this way, but my colored pencils weigh down the bag so that oopsie is concealed.

Finally, I remembered some linen I bought in Canada that could give more body to a bag. In fact it gives so much body I can’t get the bag to stay open so the lining shows. It’s a teal color, to complete my green family lining color theme.

After four bags, I think I’m done. My next goal is learning to take glamor shots of my work – craft porn.

8 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, Techniques

Around Here Week 14

My eyes are starved for green, which may be why I chose green fabric to line all the zipper pouches I just made. Ohio doesn’t do a great spring. I could weep as I remember spring in North Carolina – beautiful flowering trees and shrubs, and delightful fragrances. Pale pink and white petals strewn on gravel paths.

So here’s what spring in the woods near me looks like now. Skunk cabbage, woohoo! I can’t believe that Tennessee lists it as endangered.

12 Comments

Filed under Inspiration