Monday, October 31, 2011

3CS Technique of the Month - Stamp Carving

This little border will be incorporated into the Baba Yaga Quilt.

The 3CS Technique-of-the-Month is Stamp Carving with Lisa Filion. This tutorial shows the tools and the blocks and gives a really good demo of how to do it.

Here are the skulls I carved into some kind of stamp carving block from Dick Blick. The skull on the right was the first one I tried, but the material crumbled away too much. So I kept it simple for try #2 on the left. Much better results.

Stamped on paper.

Baba Yaga's Cottage

A special Halloween treat! Yes, you are seeing correctly. That cottage is walking around on chicken legs. That is one of the iconic symbols of Baba Yaga!

I have long been a fan of Baba Yaga. But I wasn't always a fan. Indeed, there was a time I tried to avoid her like the plague. But she kept coming around, and would not be denied. "Consider the uses of adversity," says Baba Yaga. I've met a few Baba Yagas in real life, and finally come to terms with them many years later. Now I can appreciate her very important lessons.

Read more about Baba Yaga at some of these sites :

The Vasalisa Project - Bare Bones a Digital Fairy Tale by Joellyn Rock
A modern telling of this old tale. If you don't know the story, or happen to own the storybooks above, you can get the full tale here--online.

Baba Yaga and the Wise Doll
I love this version for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Baba Yaga's toads wearing jeweled vests and collars! If you don't own it, try you local public library, in the Children's section. This little girl even looks like me at that age.

Baba Yaga and Vasalisa the Brave
Another beautifully illustrated children's storybook. Try your local public library.

Vasalisa the Wise - Chapter from Clarisa Pinkola Estes' The Women Who Run with Wolves. This article explains the lessons of Baba Yaga briefly, but do read the original chapter by Estes if you can. It is well worth it--It literally changed my life so many years ago! This is one of my all-time favorite books--ever. I re-read this chapter this week, and it still rings true for me.

PHOTO [little doll sitting stop Baba's house in my sewing room]

I drew the sketch a few years ago. I've transferred it from one Sweet Leaf Notebook to another--all with the intention of making it real one day, presumably with fusible web and applique.

Last month, the 3 Creative Studios Technique-of-the-Month was Thread Sketching with Monika Kinner-Whalen. Someone posted one with white thread on a black background -- like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings :

A light went on in my head, and this long-stuck image leaped into a new life as a thread sketch!

It's not quite finished yet, but I couldn't resist posting what I have so far on Halloween Night!

This actually works for the Sketchbook Challenge November Theme : Imaginary Animals. Baba Yaga's house runs around on chicken legs. It must hae been a wild ride for Baba Yaga and any of her guests!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cranes at Sunset

This is another one of the National Geographic Citrasolv backgrounds. For the cranes, I used a mask from the stencil from this quilt and digitized it. Then in SeaShore 3, I played with the alpha layers and put them together.

Here it is on another one of the NG Citrasolv backgrounds. It kind of looks like the mud from the marsh is pulling them back down.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Siblings Thread Sketch : Sketchbook Challenge - View

Thread Sketch on Hand-dyed Fabric
Size : 9-1/2 x 8-1/2 in.

I did another (much simpler) thread sketch based on this photo my sister took of her kids in Japan this past Spring :

She took this picture after the earthquake in March 2010. The kids were walking in the middle of the street in Ginza during a celebration where kids were allowed to walk in the streets. Having lived through that terrible earthquake, tsunami, and the ensuing nuclear scare, it literally changed their View of life. You can read about my sister's thoughts on it here and here, if you are so inclined. Although many foreigners left Japan at that time, my sister decided to stay.

Here's the initial sketch.

Notes on the Making :
Stitching through the Golden Threads tracing paper worked fine in this sketch as it was not so densely stitched as Elephant Reunion.

I went over all the lines at least twice. I added the heart to frame the kids. They really are heading into the future shaped by this experience. Even though they are too small to remember much, they know the world is different. The Japanese People know the world is different. Not unlike 9-11 after my son was born.

I see the Heart as a Blessing or Protection for them on their journey, so far from family in WI.

Since it is small enough, I decided against any background filler quilting for this one.
For their shadows, I just used a black Sharpie marker to fill in the shapes. I didn't want it to get heavy or distorted with stitch.

Red Barn Quilt No. 2 : Raspberry Cordial Quilt Top

One more project progressed at Quilt Camp last week. I had so many leftover blocks from Unca Ray's Red Barn Quilt, that I decided to make a smaller one for myself. ;-)

Someone at Quilt Camp said it reminded her of chocolate-covered cherries. While these colors may evoke that for her, I have a difficult history with Maraschino cherries. Thus, I had to give it some other name. Hence : Raspberry Cordial.

It needed some filling out, so I added the brown borders. I also did something a little different with the top border ... So I'd easily be able to find the top. (Does it really matter?)

Now, as soon as I can get some more black Hobbs batting, I'll be able to start on the quilting. This one will be small enough to do at home, rather than renting time on the Tin Lizzie. I'm planning to use the same quilting pattern, only this time, I'll trace the pattern to Golden Threads quilting paper, pin baste it, and stitch over the lines.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Elephant Reunion : Sketchbook Challenge

To see what this sketch developed into, read more here.

Elephant Reunion : 3CS Journal Quilt Challenege - Technique of the Month

Elephant Reunion
Thread Sketch on hand-dyed fabric
Size is about 9 x 12 inches.

Notes on the Making :

The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
~Henry David Thoreau

I started with this picture of 2 elephants showing their affection for each other. It's really a very moving story that I had seen on Nature about an elephant who was kicked out of the circus due to an injury . A small zoo in Alabama picked her up, but for 25 years, she never saw another elephant. Recently, they moved her to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee where she could be with other elephants. She actually KNEW one of the elephants there from her days in the Circus and they had a heartfelt reunion. They say elephants never forget ... ;-)

First aired in 2000 "The Urban Elephant" brought viewers the touching story of Shirley and Jenny, two crippled elephants reunited at the Elephant Sanctuary in Howenwald, Tennessee.
To learn more about the Elephant Santuary visit here:
The Elephant Sanctuary : Hohenwald Tennessee

Thanks to A Brit in Tennessee for reminding me of this story! I was so moved by their reunion, that I wanted to do a thread sketch to honor their long-time friendship and affection for each other.

On Friday morning (before Quilt Camp), I used my light box, and worked up a sketch based on the Elephant image above.

On Friday evening (at Quilt Camp), I transferred the sketch to Golden Threads quilt tracing paper. You can see it pin-basted to the fabric and batting, which works as stabilizer. I tend not to include the backing fabric at this stage, as the backs can get pretty tangled and ugly after all this thread work.

Drawing out the design twice is actually a great help to getting the design into my brain BEFORE I start to stitch.

After a brief warm-up, I started in on the stitching, with simple black thread (regular cotton on top, and a lighter polyester in the bobbin suitable for embroidery). I don't want so much thread build-up on the backside. Whereas a thicker thread on top helps to cover more ground, and fill in the shapes better, faster.

The background fabric is a piece I snow-dyed way back in February 2009--It said so right in the corner. ;-) It's good to keep such notes!

It took about 7 hours on Friday to make this little quiltie. That includes starting with the sketch and stitching time. I actually had it done by 11 pm!

Lessons Learned : I spent an inordinate amount of time picking out the bits of quilt paper. This method works great in other situations, but not so good here with the dense stitching. Perhaps water-soluble stabilizer might have been a better choice (? I've had trouble getting all the stabilizer out without it becoming al-gummo, so not sure that is the answer.) Perhaps simply drawing the sketch onto the fabric would have worked, too?

Detail of one of the elephants.
If you look closely, you can see some of the tracing paper ... Still need to add a few little beads for the sparkle in their eyes.

The binding is a simple envelope, so the backing in relatively "clean."
I am very pleased with how this turned out!

Read more about Thread Sketching as The Technique-of-the-Month on the 3 Creative Studios Blog. I'll definitely be doing more of this!

October Star Fish Fabric Post Card

I made this little postcard as a warm-up to The Elephant Reunion thread sketched journal quilt.

Detail of the free-motion stitching.

Notes on the making of it :
I layered the following from the bottom up : Stiffy (similar to Timtex) +fusible +orange fabric +black fabric on top. I fused it, then flipped it over, and drews a rough looking star on the Stiffy side, then I stitched over it from the Stiffy side.

Then I flipped it over and cut out the black top layer from INSIDE the newly stitched star shape. Then I stitched a slight zigzag over the black edges of the star to secure and stabilize them.

Then I free-motion stitched swirls ans circles over the orange star.

Finally, I fused a piece of muslin to the Stiffy side, then did a short satin stitch around the edges.

It's mail worthy now!

Dispatches from Quilt Camp - Lake Lucerne 2011

I started out Friday evening working on this little "October Star" fabric post card as a warm-up for this thread sketch.

Read more about the October Star fabric postcard.
Read more about The Elephant Reunion.

On Saturday, I worked on quilting the Tea Leaves quilt. Remember this one?

This is the basic motif I put on each leaf. My original idea needed some modification to make it work as a continuous line from one block to the next. When I figured that out, things moved right along!

Here is a larger view from the back. I still need to do the borders, but it's coming along nicely!
After pin-basting it all, I used the walking foot to lay down the grid with stitch-in-the-ditch. After that, I knew things would be relatively stable to do the swirls on the diagonals. Now to figure out what to put on the borders ...

And finally, some mindless sewing. These simple blocks will eventually be sewn into a stacked coins quilt.

On Sunday, I worked on this bit of chaos, inspired by the fall color ... more on that later.

Here's the whole group of us at The Quilt Retreat at Lake Lucerne Camp. 22 people attended this year. Many of us (but not all) are members of The Lakeside Quilt Guild in Oshkosh. And I'm not the youngest anymore!

This little critter also came to visit. I thought he was kind of pretty with the browns and the stripes.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Preparations for Quilt Camp : Tea Leaves

I'm getting ready for quilt camp today ... I know I'm packing way too much stuff, but I never know what I'll feel like doing, or what I'll need to do it ...

My main objective for the weekend is to quilt the Tea Leaves quilt above. It's not a huge quilt, so it's do-able on my domestic sewing machine. That's always easier at Quilt Camp because I have more room and less clutter to shift the quilt under the machine.

This is the general idea for quilting The Tea Leaves quilt.

That kind of work can be meditative, or exhausting. So I'm bringing a number of other project packs to work on including a couple of journal quilts I'm hoping to get a good start on--maybe I'll even finish one of them? Think thread-sketching ...

In the packing, I came across this Vanilla Tea which is complete comfort food for me. It's no longer available for sale, so these are the last 3 tea bags I have of it. What a treat that will be for a 4 pm pick-me-up each day!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Utility Threads

A few weeks ago, I stopped at Nancy's Notions in Beaver Dam, WI, for some utility threads : black pre-wound bobbins. I was on a mission.

Thinner polyester for thread painting/free-motion embroidery.

Cotton for piecing and quilting.

I can use them in my Husqvarna Viking sewing machine if I pull off the paper side walls, first. They are wound so well, that they easily hold their shape without the paper side walls. I had no end of problems when I first tried using them as is--until my sewing machine maintenance person shared this little secret : Rip off those paper side walls. That was the key!

The pre-wound bobbins save me a lot of time and wear and tear on my machine--or at least that's my perception. I hate breaking stride to re-wind a bobbin in the middle of a project. A few years ago, I bought SuperBobs from the Superior Threads stand at the big quilt show in Chicago. Gray, cream, and black. Black is what I tend to run out of, so that's what I stocked up on.

More "Utility Threads:"

I realize a post about black bobbin threads is pretty darn dry, so I thought I'd throw up a little color ... Here are a couple pictures from my dye apron. Random color ...


Sketchbook Challenge : Stacked Journals

Over at The Sketchbook Challenge, Kelli Perkins encouraged us to literally stack our journals up and take a picture. It is pretty incredible to see what I've compiled in the last few years. All those secrets, all those plans and designs -- some of which have actually come to fruition. These journals are bursting with ideas!

From the Top Down :
Sketchbook Challenge 2011 (nearly full)
Sweet Leaf Notebook - Epic Series
Midnight Garden - Techniques Journal (full)
Sweet Leaf Notebook 2009-2010 (full)
Sweet Leaf Notebook 2011 -
Creative Cues Journal 2010 - Walnut Ink

I made all the journals above except the moleskin on the top of the stack.

Way back in January, I was wondering if I'd be able to fill up a whole journal in 1 year. Now, with 3 months left to go, and about a dozen blank pages left, I'm wondering if I'll have to start another one before the end of the year? That moleskin on the top is the Sketchbook Challenge Sketchbook.

Gypsy Dancer

Gypsy Dances in the Flames of the Burning City

This looks like a simple collage, and in truth, I did try cutting out the silhouette of the dancer with the intention of gluing her down onto the page. But she had too many fine details, and the edges of the paper came out white. Not good.

On to the more complicated Plan B : I wanted to do it on my computer with graphics software.

The background image is from one of my National Geographic and Citrasolv experiments last summer. I always thought this image looked like a city on fire since you could still see a building in the top right corner. The ink dissolved and ran like flames as it dried ...

It called out for a dancer in the foreground ... so I got a stock image and learned about layers, and alpha channels, and (with my sweet husband's help) got these 2 images to work together. Not so simple as a quick cut and paste.

I used Seashore 3 for Mac. It's kind of a GIMP-lite. I'm not quite ready for GIMP yet.