Friday, May 30, 2008

Oatmeal with Craisins

Another in the breakfast / comfort foods series of Blue Plate Specials. In this case, it's a Blue Bowl Special.

The craisins are glued on top. This is not a postcard that could be mailed as it it too 3-D to pass the postal inspector tests for mail-ability.

Vogue Fabrics

In Chicago last week at a conference for work, a quilting collegue and I ventured out to Vogue Fabrics on Franklin. I had not been there in about 12 years (since I went there to get linen and silk for my wedding dress--someday I'll blog about that project).

Vogue still has a wonderful and affordable selection of linens, silks, woolens -- even Damask like the dyers in West Africa used for their best cloth. It just makes my mouth water at the possibilities there!

They had silk for $7/yard! If I were still making dresses, I'd be ordering from them regularly!

They also had real silk chiffon--what a difference compared to the scratchy polyester crap.
Real silk chiffon is light and airy and silky--you hardly feel any weight on your skin. It's wonderful. I regret leaving the silk chiffon there. I might have to mail order a piece!

It's true, they don't have much in the way of cottons for quilters. It seems to be more of a fabric store for clothing. Still, I managed to find a few things there for my stash!

I purchased
* a sparkly piece of synthetic fabric that said Northern Lights to me for $2/yard
* a silk remnant destined to be a wholecloth wallhanging(?)
* Linen remnant (another wholecloth piece or indigo dyed?)
* Buttons for Journal Closures
* Batik

Hollyhocks Around the Barn

Last weekend, I managed to finish a quilt-top. This pattern is by The Buggy Barn.

I grew up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin. Our barn had dark weathered wood like the gray batik in this quilt-top. A few weeks ago, I had a dream about Hollyhocks, so I thought it might be a sign to start working on this quilt again. I started it last fall at a Retreat and put away for winter.

Even now in my yard, the Hollyhocks can grow wherever they like--and they do seed themselves around the yard. They bring cheer, beauty and height to the garden--and bees!

As for the quilting plan, I'm thinking about chickens and roosters against the gray barn wood, in some bright variegated rainbow (green-red-yellow-blue) thread. I'll have to be on the look-out for the right outline. I'll have to work in a bee somewhere, too.

It will probably be another year before I get it quilted and finished ... I still don't have a long-arm quilting machine, nor do I have the space for it. But I'm not especially looking forward to struggling with this puppy on my little machine either--although it might not be too bad as it's not a huge bed-size quilt.

Another plan might be to "rent" time on some else's long-arm. A few people in CinC and the Quilt Guild offered to let me test-drive theirs sometime ...

Model Magic (Paper Clay) Medallions

A few weeks ago, Oliver and I made a stunning array of paper clay medallions. I wanted buttons and closures for journals ; Oliver was making talismans and belt buckles and other magical objects for a role-playing game he's been designing ...

The Model Magic substance air dries in 24 hours--no baking required. The only problem is that once you open the package, you have to use ALL of it. There is no way to stop the drying process once the package is opened. The paper clay is lighter/air-ier (not so dense) than regular clay, and it leaves NO noticeable residue on your hands.

The beautiful thing about this stuff is that if you don't like the impression, you mash it up and start over. Simple as that! Even dry the medallions are soft enough to sew through.

Basically, you just tear off a hunk of paper clay, roll it into a ball, and press it onto various impressionable surfaces.

What worked well :
* pressed tin
* raised designs on picture frames
* lace
* stained class / cut glass

We painted them another day.

Shaving Cream Dye : Round 2 : Mess-Making with Oliver

2 by Oliver

Oliver and I tried this last summer, if you want to read about it ...

At the Quilt Show in Chicago in April, I saw a demo of a "tidier" way to do this. Instead of mixing dyes, we used inks and Dye-na Flow Textile paints.

As I was pulling the fabric off, I noticed there's a "sweet spot"--a point at which the shaving cream and colors are just right so that when you pull off the fabric, only the color lifts off with a minimal amount of the shaving foam. Though I can't tell you how to arrive at that "sweet spot," I do know it exists and it's possible ... Anyone out there care to educate the rest of us? Please leave a comment. ;-)

For a few of them, I was even able to get several "pulls" or prints. On this one, the left-most one is the 1st pull ; the watercolor side (right) is the 2nd pull :

I started using toothpicks to spatter the ink, but that didn't seem very effective. Neither did the toothpicks do much for the mixing / marbling. A chopstick might have worked better.

I've also been wanting to try mono-printing this summer. It occurs to me that this form of shaving cream dye IS mono-printing.

I wonder if acrylic paints would work for this--watered down to 1/2 strength? What about adding salt?

The only disaster at this session was afterwards. We were working outside in the yard on a large piece of pink foam insulation. All I have to do for clean-up is hose it off, and let it dry. Well, while it was drying, Oliver decided to jump on it and see if it would hold his weight (He's 7 yeas old.) It didn't and the whole piece cracked right down the middle. Eeesh!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Lake Michigan

I've been in Chicago for a few days. This is the view from the 16th floor of the hotel. Nice, huh? I should have taken more pictures with the pinks and purples and golds and blues ... but I didn't.

It is amazing how many moods and colors Lake Michigan has throughout the day. It's never the same thing twice.

Nellie Durand at Nellie's Needles has been working on The Lake Project series. Check out the many moods of Lake Michigan as Nellie has captured them in her "Ort"-work.
Lake Project Series 1-50
Lake Project Series II

Midnight Garden Journal

For this one, I used another scrap from the Take and Pick Table at Quilt Guild. It feels like some kind of nylon upholstery fabric with an interesting sheen / lustre.

Th "button" closure is a piece of paper clay pressed into something around our house, dried and painted. It's remarkably light and airy. It can also be stitched through ... I found it is better to pierce the needle down where the paper clay piece is supported by the cover. A little piece chipped off when I tried to come up and through all at once. Live and Learn.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It Came from Da Sea ...

Well, not really ... This is a potato that sprouted eyes in the cupbord over the winter.

It reminds me of Dijanne's barnacles down under ... Stay a while on her blog and check out some of her other work ... I particularly LOVE her pomegranates [Scroll down a bit, past the lichens].

In the mail today, I received one of Dijanne's beautiful pomegranite postcards, which I purchased along with her 72 Ways not to Meander or Stipple. Lots of ideas there! And it appears to be all free-hand--so minimal marking! Hurray. I'm still working on the batting sample squares a la Harriet Hargrave.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


As Sue Bleiweiss' class Journal making for the Textile Artist is coming to an end, I've been hurriedly trying to finish all the journals for the lessons--and then some ... That would be the very reason you haven't seen a post from me in a while.

This is the one I like the best : another Faux Leather Journal. I think this is the one I'll start to use immediately. The button was a shank button that seemed to work really well if pushed through the Stiffy. I re-used the clip that held the button to the card upon purchase. It works just as well for holding it to the journal!

If you recall, my first attempt at the faux leather went bad with the funky finish a week or 2 ago. I decided to peel off the cheesy inside layer and add a fabric layer instead, that did not get sealed. Although I can still see some of the crusty underbelly at the edges, it's a vast improvement! A successful recovery project!

I made a couple other faux leather journals. On most of them, I used a metallic acrylic paint that seems to have worked out well. I finally decided to use a carnuba wax as a sealant. It will add some protection, but still leaves the paper supple. I'm still experimenting with finishes and sealants, though looking for the perfect finish. On this Blue one, the inside lining paper was colored with walnut inks. I added a pocket made from a pretty bag that came with a purchase.

Here's another Faux Leather Journal, this time painted with metallic bronze paint. The Raku button for the closure came from Laura Murray's stand at the Quilt Show in Chicago a few weeks ago. The lining fabric was another scrap off the free pile at Quilt Guild one night. One qulter's trash is another's treasure!

The wide plaid journal was a scrap of fabric taken off the give-away table at quilt guild one night. Someone brought in a handful of drapery samples. I grabbed a few of them. ;-)

I really like this style of binding--the stitching pattern is so simple and pleasing!

I also finished the Lesson 5 journal. This was a fun one, to make, too. I used ordinary kitchen twine for the bindings--but first I died them with green and orange Dye-na Flow Paints. Otherwise it was too much of a stark contrast with the dark fabric and the white twine. I bought the beads last week, and when I got them home, my 7-year old wanted some of them for his role-playing games. These beads are perfect talismans and treasure jewels with untold powers--all part of the game.

Thanks, Sue, for a great class! I look forward to the next round!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Faux Leather Journal - Sealant Issues

Outside of journal cover (shell only)

Inside of faux leather journal cover (shell only)

I've been a little slow in posting this one. I got the basic shell finished and went to the local art store to see what they recommended for a sealant/finish. The guy there recommended Kryla Soluble Matt Varnish for Acrylics. I applied it over the weekend and left it outside to dry in the sun. It went on clear, but when I checked on it a little while later, there were all these white bits in the valleys of the crevices. On the outside, they weren't so bad, so I decided to try to fill them in/cover them up with a brown Sharpie. On the inside--the whitening reaction was much worse ... sort of like a moldy cheese rind. Here's a closeup of the inside cover :

If I had been trying for this look, I'd feel better about it. On the inside, it has a gritty feel. The outside is nice and smooth--it is actually the feel I was looking for. Too bad about the white specks.

I took it back to the Art store tonight after work, to see if he had ever seen such a reaction before ... He had not, and didn't really have anything else he could recommend as a sealant. He thought it looked like there was some kind of chemical reaction between the Kryla Varnish and the Liquitex acrylic paint (and whatever else I had on the paper) I had on the paper. I guess the lesson here is always test a sealant/finish on a smaller piece ...

Any suggestions?

I was thinking there might be something that would dissolve the varnish and melt that white crust. But it's sufficiently sealed. Anything I put on top probably won't penetrate to the lower layers now ... I could maybe paint over it ...

I guess I can still peel off the inner lining paper and replace with with a new piece of crumbled brown paper ... That might be the best option.

Then I can go on and finish it, stitch in the signatures and add a clasp of some sort. Or just start over ...