Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dreams and Memories by Firelight : Texture Tuesday

Kind of a nostalgic picture for me.  That winter, my husband and kid built a Quinzhee (kind of like an igloo, but not).  The kid really enjoyed it and treated it like a fort.  He was allowed to bring matches and candles into the quinzhee ...   I took this picture and I almost deleted it as a failed picture--but now I kinda like it.  It came up naturally with certain effects we try to add by other means.

It's got that warm firelight texture and the dreamy blur of memory ...   It kind of looks like  he's riding a flying carpet with mountains behind him.   Added Kim Klassen's Appreciate Texture.

Sharing with Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday and Texture Artists's FaceBook Group.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Iron Gall Ravens

I've been playing with the Iron Gall Inked pieces I made in an earlier post.  I'm really pleased with the way these came out!   Definitely makes me want to play some more with these inks (I have quite a stock of walnut ink, too)  and techniques.

Recipe for Iron Gall Raven (above)
Layer 1) Iron Gall Ink Wash as Background (My Own Texture!)
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - turned 180 degrees - Multiply Blend Mode - 62% opacity
Layer 3) Inked Raven - Darken - 100%

Recipe for Iron Gall Raven #2
Layer 1)  Iron Gall Ink Wash as Background (My Own Texture!)
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - turned 180 degrees - Multiply Blend Mode - 62% opacity
Layer 3) Inked Raven 2 - Darken - 100%
Layer 4) Copy Layer 3 - Multiply 39%
Layer 5) Raven Text - Papyrus Font - Overlay Blend Mode (brings in some nice blues)

Iron Gall Ink Wash Texture #1 (My own Texture!)
Made with home-made iron gall ink, spread as a wash on watercolor paper.
Water sprayed in the middle, and blotted off to make it lighter.

California Iron Gall Ink

Raven painted with my own Iron Gall Ink.

 Raven #2 - Iron Gall Ink

 Iron Gall Ink Wash Texture

I painted the new ink onto a sheet of watercolor paper, then sprayed water in the middle to dilute it and blotted it off to make the middle a little lighter.  I'm quite pleased with the result.  ;-)

Of course, you can also WRITE with this ink.  It's recommended that you use a glass pen, or a feather quill, as this ink will damage and corrode metal nibs.   Writing isn't my real purpose for making the ink, though ...   It takes too long!

I had intended to use this recipe from The Fountain Pen Network, with California Oak Galls from JBB Pens and Paper at Etsy.

Local galls from Hartman Creek, WI - Noticeably smaller than the California variety below :

California Galls from JBB on Etsy

I would like to try the famous Aleppo Galls at some point with Dr Stark's Recipe, but I don't imagine much is coming from Aleppo these days with the war and unrest in Syria.

If you don't have the patience to wait for the fermentation process (or it's just too darn cold to ferment anything where you live this time of year), try this recipe from Scribe Scribbling.  He even has pictures of the process in this post.  It sounds like he's an SCA scholar and scribe.

I made a batch this afternoon with success!  Yup--sometimes the delayed gratification-thing just won't do!  The spent California oak galls didn't smell bad as they were cooking --  it just smelled like dried herbs--probably because I didn't ferment them.

Spent Galls
After I strained out the tannin-rich juice, the spent galls looked a lot like spent walnut hulls from making walnut ink.   I saved them in the freezer with the idea of trying to get a second batch out of them.

The Oak Gall Tea looked a lot like regular (black) tea -- with a rich red color.  Which made me wonder if this whole process couldn't be done with tea instead of going through the trouble to get Oak Galls.  I think the answer to this is that it is indeed possible to make Iron Gall ink from tea--the secret is to get enough tannin to interact with the iron.  To that effect, I found a few other recipes that I want to try out with strong tea and steel wool ...

Shortly after I added the iron sulphate, the red-brown tea turn black.   Like magic!  Closer -- but not quite ink yet ...   I next added the powdered form of gum arabic, which immediately gelled into something that looked like globs of amber.  I guess it was going back to it's original gum form -- which is basically a tree sap.  It eventually dissolved, and is said to be a binder that helps make the ink flow nicely.

This is all very reminiscent of rust-dying, too.  Where you mix the tea with the rusty liquor to get the stormy gray colors. I also found a recipe to use iron sulphate brine to age wood to that wonderful dark gray weathered barnwood color.  I have a project in mind for that, too!

Ink stain on paper.  
It goes on gray or translucent.  On one of the ravens, I kept adding more ink to make it darker, not realizing I only had to wait a bit for the ink to oxidize.  After a few minutes, the ink stain looked like this with no extra ink added :

I have a bottle of PH testing strips on order.   It's said this particular kind of ink is quite acidic.  Some recipes suggest adding crushed egg shells to balance out the PH levels.  I'll be experimenting with that in coming weeks.

Here, I bottled a smaller, more manageable portion for writing and painting.  You can see just how black black black this ink is in the jar.    Here you can see one of the ravens in in the background with the ink still wet.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Light Painting with LEDs


It's the perfect time of year to take advantage of the long nights.   These images were taken with a Canon S110 -- just a little point and shoot on the automatic settings.  I made sure to move the camera while taking the image in effort to capture the streaky lights.  The pulsing of the LED Solstice Lights creates the multiple points of light rather than a straight streak with the regular old-fashioned Christmas lights.   Just a little post-production editing to bump up the shadows, making the colors POP on the black background.   Scroll down to see some of the other images from the set, or watch the video to see them stream by as if in a dream ... 

Here's a little slide show video  I posted to You Tube with some wonderful music by Midival Punditz called Naina Laagey (Hello Hello).   (I am amused that Picassa calls this a movie--like I'm now in the ranks of Stephen Spielberg!)


Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group

On another Photography note : 
Flickr is running a series of Concept Collaborations this year - with a different theme every month.
The January Theme was Catalyst of Light.  I wish I would have known about it soon enough to participate.  Some beautiful pictures there!

The February theme is Spiral-- I'm pretty sure I can come up with something!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Everyday Inspiration : Light Abstract

Everyday Inspiration : What do you think this is?
 Scroll down for the answer ...

This abstract came from some Christmas lights reflected on a groovy shade material my parents have over their patio doors.  It created these really neat abstract patterns.  This image is pretty much straight outta the camera.

Also sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group.  

Visit my Light Board on Pinterest, exploring all aspects of Light
Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light. - See more at: http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.com/#sthash.CnMhPgCw.dpuf
Also sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light. - See more at: http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.com/#sthash.CnMhPgCw.dpuf
Also sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light. - See more at: http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.com/#sthash.CnMhPgCw.dpuf
Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light. - See more at: http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.com/#sthash.CnMhPgCw.dpuf
Also sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday. Visit my Light Board on Pinterest (other people's stuff), exploring all aspects of Light. - See more at: http://sweetleafnotes.blogspot.com/#sthash.CnMhPgCw.dpuf
I am continuing my year-long study of Light.  Thanks for joining me!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Flying Geese Quilt : Birds on a Wire


I finished this quilt last weekend.  There are certain classic quilt patterns on my bucket list that I want to make : Flying Geese was one of them.   This was a kit from Connecting Threads a few years ago.   I love that striped border fabric. 

I used the 1-seam method for making the geese.  It creates a 3D goose block with little pockets behind the triangles.  Here's a video from Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson explaining the method :

All those colors Ricky Tims is using make me want to dye up some new fabric and make more geese!  Color and Drama!   But I'll save that for another day ...

Batting : Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly batting.  The same one I always use.  I love how it crinkles up and makes my quilts look antique after the first wash. 

It look me a long time to figure out how I wanted to quilt this quilt.  I took some notes in my Sweet Leaf Notebook Journal for Quilt.  I had forgotten about that whimsical feather there ...

For the Geese, I did this loop-de-loop pattern which tacked the geese down but not completely.  You can still get a finger into the pockets :
Sketched with DoodlePro App

Doodle Pro t

For the light sky part of the blocks, I did an echoed triangle around the shape.

For the yellow sashing, I did this "Bird's Eye" pattern.  Not sure where I picked it up anymore.  It's become one of my standards for this kind of shape.  I used it on a tea leaves quilt a while back ...

For the borders, I thought it needed some feathers.  You can't have a bird quilt and NOT add quilted feathers, right?   I practiced various feather patterns on a white board and paper to get them into muscle memory before attempting it in stitch. 

Auditioning various feather patterns. 

This is how they came out.  I used matching threads -- the Thread Art Polyester (with a nice sheen) embroidery thread worked great!  Not hard to get the tension right either.

 Here's a shot of the quilting from the back.  This fabric is more peaches and oranges -- think summer and sunsets.  But I adjusted the contrast so the stitching would show up better.    Still some threads to trim, I see!

The only thing left to do is the label.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little French Bulldog : Texture Play

Not at all my style, but I wanted to practice using the cutout / texture masking technique that Rodney Brown and Jai Johnson posted earlier.  Jai's wonderful textures are perfect for this kind of thing!   It makes it look like a bona fide portrait of a distinguished person (dog nation included).

The subject is actually a statue of a little French bulldog that our French relatives have in their apartment (One day Thoma hopes to have a real one!)  My sister does have one in Japan.  So this light-hearted pet portrait goes out to both of them--and French Bull Dog lovers everywhere. 

Here's the original photo I started with.

Photo Processing layer-by-layer :
1) Background image - French Bulldog (Layer off)
2) Jai Johnson Texture  Old Masters 5 - Normal blend mode - 100% opacity
3) Bulldog shadow with blur - Multiply 37%
4) Bulldog cutout - Normal 100%
5) Copy Layer 4 - Soft Light 22%
6) Jai Johnson  At the Sea Texture, masked off of dog - Soft Light 100%

(This does not reflect the actual progression of steps to arrive at the final image, but it is the final set of layers.)

Sharing with The Texture Artists Facebook Group.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Texture Tuesday : Lion of Lyon

"Wherever there is light, one can photograph." -- Arthur Stieglitz

I've been thinking a lot about Light in Photography these days.

I read a book last summer about a photographer in the early 1900s.  He said something about Light being the medium photographers worked with ... 

As a photographer, "you must see what others cannot ... In our world of shadows, there is no black and white, but a thousand different strokes of light."  -- Moses Levy in  The Museum of Extraordinary Things.

There was  more to it than that.   I wish I could find the exact quote.  I'm pretty sure I highlighted that passage, but I can't figure out how to get the Kindle to show me those passages.   The photographer character had been influenced by Arthur Stieglitz who at the time had elevated photography to an art form.  The book was The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.

Last May, we were visiting family in Lyon, France.  I never realized what a beautiful city is is ...  Mostly we just passed through the Airport and train stations on to other destinations.  But this time, we stayed for a few days.  After that visit, I named it The City of Light.  Christian's cousin lives in the old part of the city, along the river.  Many of the old (medieval) stone buildings are painted a beautiful golden color, designed to reflect light, and make more light where the shadows might otherwise take over.  I took a few pictures of the stucco just to capture that color and texture of the city. 

I'm also amazed at the way our modern tools can help change, improve, or create something new in a photograph.  No  longer is it just capturing what you see.  Light Room as a software program can do some amazing things.  I'm not entirely comfortable with Light Room and tend not to use it regularly--I've "lost" several images with LR in the past, so I tend to use other tools, like Picassa.  Maybe that will change in 2015 : Year of Light?

For the processing, I thought I'd use RadLab to change the Light effects in this overall image.

Photo Processing on this image in PhotoShop Elements:
Layer 1) 2LO Winter Storms 6
Layer 2) Lyon Lion (original) - Darker Color Blend Mode 100% opacity
Layer 3) Pareeerica Ale Texture - Soft Light 87%
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Golden Hour Texture - Multiply 23%
Layer 5) Rad Lab (Oh Snap! - Punch Out - Lights Out - Antique Tone)
Layer 7) Reflected Light in Lyon (My Own Texture) - Soft Light 23%
     > Merge Layers
Layer 8) Run The Coffee Shop's Dandelion Wine Action (minus the last 3 layers)

 This photo gives you an idea of the beautiful reflected light all over the old city of Lyon, France.

Here's the original.  An overcast day at the city summit.

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.