Sunday, December 18, 2011

More on the Theme of Trash, Ruin and Decay

 Remember last week, when I showed how to make "Composed Fabric" out of recycled scraps and cast-offs?    Now, I have a whole sheet of that composed fabric.    But what to do with it?  It can be very unfocused and overwhelming in the full sheet.  

One option is to cut it up.   The one at the top is an ATC size, about the size of a playing card.  I attached it to the cover of my 2012 Sketchbook Challenge sketchbook.  The red one below is on the cover of the 2011 sketchbook.  Yeah--all year, it's been a plain cover--until now!  Just a splash of color does wonders for a blank canvas.

My blogging friend Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fibers shows how to make Christmas Ornaments with a similar collage technique. 

Sketchbook Challenge : Trash, Ruin, Decay

For me, this is a "juicy" theme for the month, because there's so much trash, ruin, and decay around ...  And if you look closely, you'll see some wonderful textures and character in that old junk.  
These are some pictures from a walk in my Dad's woods.    It's an old junk pile, back when people had their own trash piles on their land ...  This barrell is looking very good for future rust-dyes.

Looks like moss, doesn't it?  I think it's an old carpet.  Definately not of the natural world. 

The theme got me thinking of Grappa and Gramma Smitmajer's first date more than 60 years ago ...  Grappa took her to the town dump so Grappa could shoot rats.  He was a "manly man" in those days.  Isn't that romantic?  Sheesh! 

Here's a picture of Grappa's Bus when they were getting ready for the farm auction :   
It was parked next to the machine shed for years and years.  He was always "saving it" and getting it ready for hunting / camping trips.  But I don't think it ever left his yard.  A tornado came through in the early 1980s and planted the roof of the machine shed on top of it, and there it sat for another 30 years.  Grappa just didn't have the energy or the heart to clean it up.  I was amazed that someone actually purchased it at the auction, and dragged it away. 

As further inspiration for this trash and ruined theme,  I offer Ransom Brigg's "A Most Peculiar Trip : Searching for Miss Peregrine:"

I just read his novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and finding this video was kind of a eureka moment.  It fit in so nicely with the theme.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge : Ordinary Things

I worked on a couple of sketches today. This hearkens back to Jane Lafazio's Ordinary Things Sketchbook Challenge Theme from last summer. This is the new "cabbage" mug I bought at the Arts & Crafts Sale last Saturday :

Both sketches were done with pencil, Sharpie fine line marker, and water color crayons.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Recipe for Sweet Leaf Composed Fabric

I demonstrated this technique at my local quilt guild's School House Demo night a few months ago. I thought it was time I actually wrote it up.

Ingredients :

  • Base Fabric
  • Scraps from trimming and sizing up blocks (bits otherwise considered “too small to save”).
  • Strings from squaring up fabric.
  • Thread tails and other scraps. Schnibbles (that tangled mess after washing cut fabric)
  • Yarns.
  • Old thread.
  • Candy wrappers or foil.
  • Paper scraps.
  • You can even “shred” larger scraps if you need more of a particular color.

Basically, anything you can sew through will work.

I keep a cup next to my sewing machine to catch the thread tails, and clippings. When it gets too full, it all goes into a zip-lock bag for later use. Usually, if I'm working on a project the colors are loosely coordinated, so it all kind of works out. If I were anyone other than my grandfather's progeny, I would throw this stuff out as trash, but in his words, "It's good yet!" Some people call these scraps "ort" as in ort-work (as opposed to artwork).

The Basic Technique

1) Lay out a base fabric. It can be anything, ugly or not. It will be covered up with scraps and snippets anyway. Muslin will also work. This piece is about 18 in x 24 in--the size of the cutting mat underneath.

2) Sprinkle the snippets, scraps, yarns, threads, lace, whatever, onto the base fabric. Arrange them however you please.

Even candy bar wrappers are fair game. I rip these into smaller pieces. I like the metallic blue of these Ghirardelli milk chocolate bars.

Foil bits add bling.

See : Isn't that better?

3) Cover with a layer of tulle netting. In this case, I used black because it tends to disappear, but try tulle in different colors for different effects. Organza or other sheers would also work :

4) Pin baste the quilt sandwich :

You could use fusible in the layers to hold it all together here, if you so desired. The pin-basting method works fine for me, so I leave out the fusible.

5) Free-motion stitch all the layers together :

This becomes a meditation. It's also great practice for free-motion stitching. You can't really see the stitches, so it's a great time to practice without worrying so much about the results. For a piece this size, I used just over 1 full bobbin of thread. You can really burn through thread with this technique. It's perfectly ok to use threads you'd just like to use up--as long as it works in your machine and doesn't give you breakage problems, use it. If it is breaking on you, spool it off and add it to your composed fabric collage!

Here's the back. Remember that horrible base fabric? It's still here and put to much better use!

Voila! I have a groovy background for ATCs, fabric post cards, blog banners, journal covers, textured applique, art quilt backgrounds, or anything else you might want to do with it.

Options : You can put a layer of Modge-Podge over the top. That will fill in the holes of the tulle and really make it disappear. It also gives it a plasticy-synthetic feel that will add to it's durability.

I like looking these because I can see all the bits and pieces and scraps from past projects. It's kind of a scrapbook of the things I've made. A memory book in fiber and stitch.

Paying Homage :
Nellie Durand over at Nellie's Needles is a master of Ort Work.  Please stop by her blog to see the wonder ways she uses these bits and scraps in her work.   Her Lake-scapes and Prairie-scapes are breathtaking!

Sue Bleiweiss also offers a Fiber Art Collage Art Cards Tutorial with a similar technique.

Have fun with your recycling trash into treasure!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Siblings Thread Sketches 2 and 3

I finished up 2 more thread sketches. These will be Christmas presents.
Ma and Mande : Do you have a preference?

Artist Showcase : A Few of My Favorite Things

At the UU Art and Craft Sale, last week, I bought a few things myself.
This little "cabbage" mug makes me happy! I love the shape and the color, and the Potter was careful to point out the owl face at the base of the handle. It was made by Marie Sawall of Willow Tree Pottery.

Marie also wanted to show me the Sweet Leaf Notebook journal she had purchased from me a few years ago. She had it along that day, dog-eared and filled with her original songs. Cool! I love to see people using my journals!

Warm Wollen Mittens by Kathy Beyer
This is my weakness. With winters in Wisconsin, these keep my hands toasty warm! And the way these sell (like hotcakes), there are far fewer people saying they are allergic to wool these days!

Dreamcatcher by Debra Morningstar, with sweet grass and willow grown on her own prairie, and feathers collected on her daily walks on the land. A-ho!

This is a Christmas gift for a tiny young woman from Japan. Full of good intentions for her present and future! Thank you, Debra for your so positive spirit, and your music. She'll love it!

Another Dyeing Day

Melissa at Fabric Dyeing 101 just published a book encapsulating all the great info and color recipes on her blog. You can't beat the price at $2.99 for a digital copy. Go see ...

This weekend, I decided to give Melissa's color recipes for brown and neutrals another go-round.

A few weeks ago, I got this lovely set (above), but I wanted to try for some deeper colors. So this time, I did a few things differently ...

For the base concentrates, I used Scarlet (Red), Sun Yellow and Cerulean Blue (Last time it was Sky Blue). Also, this time, I used twice as much dye per cup. Indeed, the colors are deeper ...

This time, I'm also keeping better records with swatches and mixing recipes.
The fabric is Dharma's economy bleached muslin.

I also did a set of yellow gradations parfait style (meaning I threw all these into the same jar together). I'm not a huge fan of yellow, hence I have very little in my stash. But now I have an idea ...

With the extra dye concentrate, I mixed up some purples that looked really promising in the parfait jar. Unfortunately, most of the darker blue washed down the drain, leaving me with pink.

I suspect these will be thrown into the re-dye pile to lessen the buble-gum effect.

I also used some of the extra brown dye to do some "don't-bother-me" neutrals parfait style :