Monday, May 21, 2018

When I am Old, I Shall Wear a Purple Dress

Remember this photo from last summer?  I finally chose a purple swatch, mixed up a batch of the colors and dyed this simple sun dress.

My dye is getting old, so I wasn't quite sure what I was going to get.  Lovely purple ...

 This is in the washing machine after the final rinse-out.

 It was a much lighter tint after it dried.

Here's a detail of some of the embroidery, which I knew would probably dye to different colors, being a different material content.

 Another shot of the embroidery.

 Detail of the purple I wound up with in the final dress.
I love the texture you get from this technique -- like clouds, or ever-changing skies.

The texture is from the "scrumble" technique, where you scrumble (This may be a combination of crunch and scramble?) the wet soda-soaked fabric into your dye pot, then pour just the right amount of dye concentrate over the top.  Careful not to mix it in too much, or you'll lose the patterning.

I started with Sky Blue (8 parts) and Boysenberry (2 parts) to get this lovely purple that broke into some beautiful blues.  Makes me want to try this as an ice dye to see how the colors will "break."

In the photo at the top of the post, I used my Candiotic Table of reference values.  Colors dyes from 3 primaries.  The purple I chose in this set is the 2nd one up on the diagonal--sort of at "rib" level on the dress.  It's pretty close -- especially when it was still wet.   This dress was probably not meant for dying, so it likely had some bleach or fixatives in it that prevented the dye from coloring it as well as I'd hoped -- or blame it on old dye again.  I'm still happy with the results.

The index card shows some of my calculations, the weight of the fabric, how much dye I need of the primaries to make the particular color I wanted.  Candy has a wonderful calculator that does all the math for you.  Her class was so worth it!   I also like to put a dollop of the resulting color on the card--for future reference-- the purple blotch.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Magic and Memory of a Kayleigh Spring : Landscape Quilting Class with Susan Hoffman

"Kayleigh Spring"

I signed up for a landscape quilting class with Sue Hoffman at Going to Pieces Quilt Shop in Appleton back in April.

Most of the other people in the class had been with her before.  We all brought photos -- well-- I brought more of a rough sketch with separate photos of spring-blooming trees that could be used in composite.  I had a whole collection on Pinterest of Sakura cherry trees as inspiration.  The image I wanted to work up is a sweet memory from 30 years ago ... that Kayleigh Spring at UW-River Falls.  A beautiful night in May, trees on campus were bursting pink and blooming, smelling so wonderful ...  Evening time, the sun was going down, and the moon and the stars were coming up.  Wow!  Did I mention I was in love?

It was kind of unusual for a student to have only a sketch, and not an actual photo to work with, but Sue Hoffman let me keep it, and was willing to help me work through it.  Really more of a dreamscape -- and a little simpler than some of the other projects people were working on this weekend. 

One of the biggest lessons from this class was to think like a painter, not a quilter.  I'd brought a big bag of scraps that I thought I could use to fill in the landscapes ...  That works perfectly for applique, but this isn't really applique as quilters know it.  The techniques were first put out there by Natalie Sewall and Nancy Zieman.  I have some of their books about this technique, watched the shows, and never really did anything with it.  Live classes are good for having you try something new, or working on a project on which you're stuck -- which I think is where I was with this one.

 Detail of the background fabrics, and the tree skeleton.

I chose a beautiful blue hand-dyed gradient from Vicki Welsh at Colorways as the sapphire blue background.

I had a whole jelly roll of different greens that I thought I would use for the hill, but it just wasn't working.  Susan persuaded me to choose a lovely leafy green off the rack -- yes, great to be in a well-stocked quilt shop with a wonderful palette to chose from!  Yes-- Going to Pieces has the Stonehenge line of wonderful textures, along with a wonderful selection of batiks and hand-dyes.  I LOVE this quilt shop!

Next I worked on the skeleton of the tree.  I've been fascinated with "naked" trees for years.  Looking at those skeleton structures before they are "clothed" with leaves for the season.  I had a few tree skeletons I could work with in my notes and sketchbooks.

In my mind, this image was tall to encompass the sky, not long, like "normal" horizontal landscapes.  But my chosen tree was better suited for a wider landscape, and a shorter sky.  So we blocked it out a little differently .. about 1/3 for the foreground hill, 1/3 for the tree off-set to one side, balanced by the night sky with a bright star (possibly a planet?) and crescent moon.  The tree is only partially on the canvas, otherwise it would take up too much space with this portrait setting.

We used Heat-n-Bond Lite as the fusible.  Funny they call it lite, as it seems really thick and sturdy.  This is what the teacher recommended.  Not identifying as a quilter, she tends NOT to stitch her quilts once constructed, and this has a good fusible bond.  Instead of quilting and stitching, she frames them behind museum quality glass--like a real piece of art.  That way, they are protected, and you don't worry about pieces falling off.

For the flowering tree blossoms, I chose 2 shades of pink in a hand dye with a little salt specks that seemed to mimic each blossom from this distant scale.   The hardest part was "fussy-cutting" all those little pieces.  It's too easy to get into a pattern with that, and then it all comes out looking the same.  The teacher recommended cutting an oblong triangle with lots of ins and outs, to make it look organic.  It took a whole afternoon to cut out all the pink pieces for the tree blooms.

Detail of the 2 fabrics chosen for the sakura blossoms.

Usually the next step in these kinds of landscape quilts is to go in and touch up the fabrics with pastel pencils or markers.  But since mine was more dreamy, and less life-like, I could skip that part.

Once that was done, I pressed (with a dry iron) everything in place.  And that's it!  It can be cut to size and framed.  I like the idea of not having to stitch it -- Once I get the moon and star in place, it can be dry-matt framed, and finished!   I know -- I'm a quilter first, but this idea of being almost done is really liberating!

 Still waiting for the finishing touches -- a moon and Venus in the corner.

Detail of the crescent moon and star in an exquisite sapphire sky.
Actually, in my memory, it was so bright, I think it must have been a planet.  Let's call it Venus.

The frame was purchased at one of the major craft stores locally with a 40%-off coupon. It's one of those off-the-rack / ready-made frames (16 in x 20 in), and not custom-made for this project.  As such the glass gives  off a lot of reflection.  I had to pull the glass in order to take the photo.  The frame looks rustic and old--like that tree -- good for a memory.  Nice and heavy, too.

This quilt has special meaning for me, as memory from nearly 30 years ago.  I was a freshman in college, in love for the first time, and feeling so alive!   Discovering the sensual world.  The feeling has definitely shifted to gratitude, appreciation, and back to love again.  Thank you, TM, for making such a sweet memory for me. 
It's a joy to revisit this every spring.  ;-)

Why "Kayleigh Spring," you ask?  At the time, a song had come out by a band called Marillion.
The song was Kayleigh.  The most visual of the lyrics are :

Do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls?
Do you remember the cherry blossom in the market square?
Do you remember I thought it was confetti in our hair?

-- Fish and Marillion

A lovely acoustic version of Kayleigh.
Don't be put off the the theatrics and make-up in the photo.  Just listen ...

In my search for the perfect Kayleigh rendition, I came across this haunting beauty -- isolated Fish vocals and guitar solo.   Just wanted to share it here, so I don't lose track of it ...

And now for the official video from way back in the 1980s.
The one that tells the story visually--even to the bittersweet end.

A really nice version of Fish's A Gentleman's Excuse Me with Lavendar.
[This one also keeps disappearing from the embedded option, so follow the link above ...]

And because some of the heavy stuff needs a chaser to a happier place--where I am now,
I leave you with Goo Goo Dolls : 

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

French Water Lillies : Flowers - Let's Do 52 - Week 19

Have I mentioned how much I love Topaz Impression for giving photos a painterly look and feel?
These three use the Chiarusco filter.  I was playing around with the brightness to show more of the sky in the pond water. 

Here's the original for comparison.   We were visiting some of the WWI war memorials in France last summer, and one of them had a beautiful lily pond that reflected the sky.

Once again, I am participating in Denise Love's 2018 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

Monday, May 07, 2018

I Love My DIY Vertical Warping Mill!

My beautiful new cherry vertical warping mill, made by my husband.

Ok, I'll say it : I'm absolutely appalled at how much they are charging for ready-made warping mills / reels/ wheels or even here.  It's just a couple of sticks, a base with a spinny thing, and some screws.  You could probably make one out of a drying rack, for Pete's sake!   The total cost of supplies is probably less than $25.  It's not rocket science!  Why are they charging do much? It's highway robbery!

That that was my latest challenge to DH, knowing he would accept the challenge to make a warping mill, and therefore keep me weaving, and off the streets, and otherwise out of trouble.  Total cost of supplies was less than $20 for the metal pipe, 1 wooden dowel for the pegs, and other assorted hardware.   The base is part of an unused shelf from our kitchen cabinets, although I saw a heavy / solid cutting board a the local thrift store that would have worked just as well!

The rest of the wood came off of my husband's stash--the wood pile in the basement.  Most of the wood (minus the base and pegs) is black cherry from my dad's woods.  He and my Unca Ray got a wood mill a few years ago, and started the "Thick 'n Thin Lumber Mill."  As you can guess by the name, the planks were not perfect, but they work up beautifully for projects like this, and make me proud to say it's wood from my dad's land!  Unfinished as of yet, but sanded where it needs to be smooth. 

Here it is with a warp wound onto it.   The cross is at the top in this set up, though you could have a double cross and also include one at the bottom, too.    It's about 2 yards around the frame, and if you do the math, this is a 10 yard warp made from cotton carpet warp.  There will also be a purple section, too.    All for making rugs this summer.

After 1 week of planning and studying designs like this one, my husband worked it up, got the necessaries, put it all together, and finally presented me with the finished piece at about 8 pm Sunday night.  Too late to really try it out, so I thought about it all day at work today, excited to try it out tonight when I got home.

The verdict : It works beautifully!  No friction, no sound, other than the spools unwinding.  It makes winding a warp actually pleasant.  I never thought I'd see the day I'd say that!  Proof that the right equipment makes all the difference in the world -- from ice skates to sewing machines to spinning wheels.  If you've got crappy equipment, you'll be frustrated, and hate the task.  Then again -- necessity is the mother of invention!

You can't tell from the pictures, but he made it so that the box- type frame can fold down flat -- kind of like 2 picture frames nesting inside each other-- for storage.  The pegs can be removed easily, too.

I have a huge (way too wide) warping board that came with my floor loom.  I've struggled with it ever since I started warping with it.  It's too big, not stable, too much back and forth.  In short, I wind up so frustrated and tearing my hair out trying to use it.  I should just have my husband cut it down to a more manageable size, or trade it in for one I can use ...  But now -- I have a warping mill-- and it makes warping easy!  Almost even pleasant -- more of a simple meditation down and around and back up and around.  You get into a nice rhythm with it.  And everything comes out orderly and nice.  It works like a dream!  I'm so pleased with this new warping mill!   And it makes me feel loved when my husband makes stuff like this for me.   And he feels good about being able to make these things, too.    ;-)

 Here's a shot of the simple brake system I devised, which cam in very handy when I was un-winding the warp.  It's a simple shoe string with a piece of faux leather that adds a bit of friction so the unwinding doesn't get out-of-control.  You can tie it tighter, or go around again with the shoe string and leather to increase the friction, as needed.  And put it away when you are winding warp on.   Works great!

What started all this was that I was watching a Tom Knesley weaving video, where he was using a warping mill running all the colors together in a color block set, not putting them in order for the warp. Then he showed a much simpler way to warp front to back where you start with the reed (I think we've been starting with the heddles front to back), and pull the colors from your warp color bundles, not worrying about the cross so much because the reed will straighten everything out.  I'm interested to see that work too.

For a demonstration of how to use a warping reel, see this video :

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sunset - Let's Do 52 - Week 18

My Beloved Cherokee Marsh at Sunset
One of my favorite places in this wide world.

This one is a little lighter.

Photo Processing :
Layer 1 : Background photo of Cherokee Marsh
Layer 2: Kim Klassen's Serious Magic Texture - Soft Light Blend Mode at 39%
Layer 3: Black Box-2 Texture by Jerry Jones at Shadowhouse Creations - Soft Light at 17%
Layer 4: Crane Brush

We did see cranes and other birds there, flying into the rook for the night, bit not caught on camera.  Hence the magic of PhotoShop to capture what we did not in real life.  

It's amazing how the black textures "develop" the light, and make the light pop!

Once again, I am participating in Denise Love's 2018 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Big and Burly Woven Alpaca Throw Finished

 Big, Burly & Beautiful Alpaca Throw

Just finished this last weekend, and made myself cut it off the loom and finish it properly this weekend.  Just a few small repairs -- completely do-able.

There were a few sections that needed to be evened out.  This was easy to do as I worked along on the top layer.  Much harder to see and re-distribute on the bottom layer.  So I had to wait until it was off the loom to even things up again.   Easy enough to do with a blunt chop stick.

I did this as double weave, since that's what the loom was set up for the last project.  This time, there was no lump at the fold (unlike last time).   This was a much looser weave.  There was however, 2 warp strings at the fold.  Not sure how that happened, as I didn't have any extra warp strings, and none broke in the process of weaving / warping.  This was easy to fix.  I just took my long afghan crochet hook and pulled through a new warp strand--after it was off the loom.  In the photo above, you see the new strand already woven in in the gray part, and still needing to be done in the taupe section in the top half of the photo.

I used a very simple temple hack -- 2 jumbo paper clips tied to a string tied to an empty Penzy's spice jar hanging over the side.   This helped keep the edges straight and neat.  Worked great!

Twisted Fringe
Something new for me on this project was to twist the ends.  I had purchased a cheap twister -- made for hair.  But I couldn't quite figure out how it worked.  Save that for another project.  This alpaca yarn is soft and thick enough, that I didn't mind sitting out on the porch, listening to The Celtic Music Podcast, as the snow melted twisting these strands together.  (We got a foot of snow last weekend in a freak spring storm.  Not unwelcome, since we didn't have much snow all winter.)  It didn't take long, and they actually look nice!    If I'd have known better, I probably would have left more of the warp strings allowing for a longer twisted fringe. These are pretty short!

Wet Finishing
Next came the wet-finishing.  Fill the washing machine up with water, melt the Quilt Soap (I get it at Fleet Farm, made for washing the coats of sheep -- wool).  Put in the woven, push it down so everything is submerged.  Then let it sit for 20 minutes -- NO AGITATION.   I had to pull it out while the washing machine went on to the wash part of the cycle.  And put it back in when it started the Spin cycle.     This gives the fibers a chance to set into their new positions, to get comfortable, and to come together as a cohesive fabric.  Once it dries, the alpaca fibers tend to "bloom."

I did put in in the dryer for about 4 minutes to help steam it a little, and bring it together a bit more.

According to the directions, it was supposed to be 3.5 lines per inch for weaving.  That amounts to 58 lines per 16 inches.  The white sections came out to be almost lacey.   In the photo at the top of this post, you can see some "thin" parts in the white color blocks.  I spent a fair amount of time re-distributing the weft strands already.  Looks like I could do a little more.   I may even need to fill that in, and add a few more weft strands by hand.  We'll see how it comes together.  I'm glad I stuck by my instincts and wove the rest of it more densely.

Detail of the weaving.  Some parts could be pushed together more, spread apart more, to even it out a little more.  But still--this is great progress for me! 

Overall, I'm really happy with the way this came out.  A little sad summer is coming, and that I won't be able to use it much until next winter!

Now the question is what to do next?
     > Rugs, I think.
     > Gotta get some more cotton warp for the duration at Great Northern Weaving Supply.  And dye up some of the wooly worms from Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Just because those little pig tails are so cute!

 And here is my sweet husband holding up my woven goods for photographing.

It kind of makes me sad spring is on the way.  This would be perfect for winter snuggles!

Here's a previous post about this project:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Highlands ... In the Distance - Let's Do 52 - Week 17

In the Distance - View from The Old Man of Storr - Isle of Skye, Scotland

Same image as above but made black and white
with Silver Effects Pro - "Wet Rocks" Filter.

Which do you prefer?

I think the reason I love this landscape is because it reminds me of a whale coming up for air, and the hump in the middle in it's dorsal fin breaking the water. 

Once again, I am participating in Denise Love's 2018 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Wooly Worms from Pendleton Woolen Mill

Wow! Did I really just order 4 pounds of trash to be shipped across country to me?

One person's trash is another's treasure!
I do like the idea of recycling, and keeping this out of a land-fill for a while longer.  

Someone on one of the Weaving Rugs on 4-Shaft Looms FaceBook groups made a rug out of wooly worms from Pendleton Woolen Mill in Oregon.  They couldn't say enough good things about them, or the resulting sturdy and long-lasting rugs.  The prices can't be beat, and they are already cut into strips, so I won't have to deal with the lint from stripping them myself.

$1 per pound for wooly worms
$2.50 per pound for Strips from Merino Wool blankets
        Shipping was$10 for a good-sized box
$17 total for this order of decent wool for making rugs.

I bought 2 pounds each to try them out.  I'm interested to see how much rug you can make for 2 pounds of wooly worms.    You can't choose colors -- They just dip into the bin and pull out a pound for you.  If it's gray, I thought I could dye some strips to the colors of my choice--deep purple!

Makes me want to make rugs on the next warp.  I still have lots of velvet to use up, too.  Rug weaving goes fast, once you have the warps set, and the rags lined up. ;-)

Now to get some suitable warp ...  or do I dye the wool carpet warp I already have?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Messy - Let's Do 52 - Week 16

Beautiful Walnut and Oak Wood Shavings, from back when I was making a Tri-Loom.

Once again, I am participating in Denise Love's 2018 "Let's Do 52 : 52 Weeks of Photo Prompts" to kick start the lull in my photography.   If you'd like to join us, find out more at the link above.  The more the merrier!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Liberate Your Art 2018 Blog Hop and Post Card Swap

Rain Drops on a Scottish Pond
This is the card I sent out for my official LYA 2018 Postcard exchange.
You can read more about the making of this image.

For the past 5 years (or so), I've participated in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Post Card Swap.  The project encourages Creatives to PRINT and reproduce our artwork (bringing it into the world in physical form) and to share it with other Creatives.  Every year, I am amazed at where my post cards wind up -- as if they are my own children with lives of their own.  They see things and go places I've never been, yet they are a part of me making their own way in the world ...  

At the same time, I am pleased to connect with people I've met in other years as part of this exchange.  I recognized some of the names of the artists.  ;-)

The card at the top of this post is the one I sent out this year: One of my favorite images from the past year.  It was so neat to see it professionally printed on nice paper with a shiny finish.  I had a WOW moment there when the cards came back.    I used to get them printed.  They always do a fantastic job, and their interface seems to be improving in terms of usability each year.  Get the SMALL postcards for the exchange.  The large ones look gorgeous, but they are too large to be part of the exchange due to extra postage costs.

This year, I decided to send out 5 copies of the same card, as I thought that would make them easier to track out in the world. 
So far, I know that my cards landed in :
1) Flagstaff, Arizona
2) Victoria, Canada
3) Salem, Oregon
4) ?
5) ?

Cards Received in the official swap :
Kat asks that we photograph each postcard in it's new environment, to give an idea of where it landed.  
Birds in Ink - Paradise Parrot from Diane McWhirter 
"To be an artist is to believe in life." -- Henry M.

This textural beauty came from Anne Stuer - in Norway, ME.
"May this year bring you peace of mind, a joyful spirit 
and an abundance of time to create beautiful art!"

Glass Bird of Paradise from Lynne Foerster in Pennsylvania.
"Add a splash of color to your Life."

From Gail Foster in Calgary, Alberta.
"In the woods, we return to reason and faith." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

From Dorothy Louise in Corvallis, OR.
The Cat Dancer Lady strikes again!  
I thought this one looked very familiar.  
Turns out, I received one very similar to this last year.  
This time, she added the 1/2-face stamp. 

The official card from Kat Sloma, the wonderful organizer of this event. 
"Creativity takes courage" -- Henri Matisse
Framed in a blue heart to show my gratitude for Kat continuing to organize this swap every year.

Every year, I've had the good fortune to do some additional post card exchanges in "side swaps."  Some of these people I met the first year of the exchange (like Snap Lane in Houston).  Others I met through the FaceBook Group, or the blog hop--(like Janice Darby).  Some have stayed on the side swap list every year since.  Some are new this year ...   It's easy to set up a side swap through the FaceBook Group, especially if you like that artist's work.  Many artists print extra postcards just for side swaps.   Want to be added to the list?  Just leave a comment ... 

Additional Cards sent in Side Swaps this year :

These extra side swap cards went to :

Janice Darby in CA
Tammy Wilson in GA
Sheila Delgado in AZ
Sherry Harmes in AK
Lisa Comperry in TX
Terry Owenby in OR
Patsy J. Lawrence in TN
Snap Lane in TX
Val vander Poel in ID
Anne Stuer in ME

Additional cards received in the Side Swap this year :

This beautiful "Winging It" Angel came from Janice Darby in California.
She continues to practice art with mixed media.
I am always impressed with what she creates!

 Snap Lane in Houston, TX, is doing mixed media, and sent this lovely cat.
This kitty definitely has presence!

This little bird flew all the way from Oregon.  Rebecca Cozart received one of my cards in the official swap, and she was kind enough to share one of her own with me after we connected.

 "Look to nature for inspiration" -- Green-inspired collage / mixed media card from Sherry Harmes in Alaska. 

From Christine Brooks in Arizona. A perfect languid lagoon response to my Scottish pond at the top of this post.

From Terry Owenby.  She works with vintage handkerchiefs and linen tablecloths.  The actual piece is a work in progress, but makes a lovely postcard.

This last one is from Lisa Comperry in Houston, TX. 
"Friends + Coffee = Happiness"
Plus a little buffalo check plaid!

Want to see more?  Kat created a video showcasing the artwork in this year's exchange :

I am always so inspired by the artwork involved in this project.  Enjoy the video!

There is also a Facebook Event Group.
Or use the social media tag #lya2018.

Check out my LYA blog posts from years past.
Thanks for stopping by my corner of the web!

The Blog Hop is happening April 13-15, 2018.

See where your art landed ...  It's kind of like tossing your cards up in the air, and seeing where they landed around the world.  Join us!

Have a wonderfully creative year!