Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Pre-Wash or Not?

For Unca Ray's Barn Red Quilt, I purchased 2 sets of 1/4-yard cuts ("Seeing Red") from Keepsake Quilting. I had a particular quilt pattern in mind and I really appreciate the coordinated fabrics they offer.

In each set, they include a sheet advising buyers to pre-wash their fabrics. I used to do that religiously, but stopped in recent years. In this case, I was thinking that the red might run (though that's silly in this case--it's a dark quilt, so why should it matter?)

Hindsight is 20/20, right? Now that' I have pre-washed these 1/2 yard cuts, I'm having second thoughts. Here's why :
1) These are relatively small cuts. By the time I trim the unravelled bits, the 1/4 yard is essentially 1 inch shorter than when I started.
2) The sizing is now gone, which would have helped generate a crisp clean cut.
3) I'm planning a dark quilt with black batting. Who cares if the reds bleed? It wouldn't matter in this case.

I will recycle the trimmings above in composed fabric. And I could have saved myself some time and effort by not pre-washing these smaller cut fabrics.

Larger pieces, I will continue to pre-wash. But at some point, it just doesn't make sense. Does it? What do you think?

Complex Cloth : Flour Paste Resist adds Crackle Patterning

This is one fab in the process of soaking / rinsing out the flour paste resist. It's laying on the sink in my wet studio--a toasty 48 degrees down there!

I've been working on this project for a couple of months now. Last fall, Quilting Arts published a series of articles on resists from the kitchen. Jane Dunnewold also explains the technique in her Art Cloth / Complex Cloth books.

I mixed up 2 cups cold water with 2 cups flour (according to p. 117 of Jane Dunnewold's Art Cloth book). Then I spread it on several pieces of fabric I wanted to treat with crackles. The flour paste went on smoothly enough. I made sure not to spread it too thick. It dried for 2-3 weeks before I could get back to it.

This is one of the fabrics. They curled up like tofu skins after they dried. For this one, I tried to write a poem into the paste before it dried. I further crunched and distressed the dry paste on the fabric to make more cracks where the paint would seep through.

This is the same piece with purple acrylic paint applied over the dried flour paste.

I made up a batch of print paste, but it never really thickened up as much as it needed to in order to be effective. Here's where a teacher on site would have been helpful to tell me to add another Tablespoon of sodium alganate to thicken it up. I'd left it to sit over night hoping it would thicken, but it never really did--and I was running out of time! I only have the weekends to experiment and make messes like this. When I mixed in the dye, and began to paint it over the dry floured fabric, it immediately soaked through to the other side. No resist effect at all. That was when I switched to the acrylic paints with much better results :

You can barely make out the text I'd written into the flour paste. This was a piece of rusted fabric that I had over-dyed with Turqouise. Some of the turquoise seems to be fading with successive washings and treatments. I think it's just about done, though. Just 1 or 2 more layers to go!

Here are a few more shots. This one is with black acrylic paint :

Can you tell, I'm trying to re-create turquoise with these?

With purple acrylic paint :

The Sop Cloth from this season of dying.

Rhonda's Lizard

Rhonda [Last Name?] is a wonderfully talented and versatile quilter who always attends this winter quilt retreat. Seeing what she's working on (and finished since last time) is one of the things I most look forward to about Quit Camp. This time, she finished up this giant Lizard. She has such an incredible sense of color and texture. Her stuff is mesmerizing, the kind of thing you can stare at for hours and still discover new things. Look closely at the Lizard's skin ... I'm always wondering what she'll do next!

I keep encouraging her to start a blog of her own, because I truly believe her work should be seen, enjoyed, and marveled at. [Consider this entry yet another nudge in that direction, Rhonda!]

That's Rhonda behind the Lizard. She gave me permission to post her Lizard on Sweet Leaf Notebook as long as she didn't have to be in the picture. Enjoy!

Back from Winter Quilt Camp 2011

I worked on this Oceanica panel. I fell in love with this line of fabrics by Julie Paschkis for In the Beginning Fabrics. I saw the kit (panel with supporting fabrics and pattern) at The Fabric Quarter in California, and just couldn't pass it up. They don't seem to carry it any more. I purchased it last October, thinking these lovelies would disappear fast. You'd be able to re-create it with the fabrics and this pattern. The top is done. It still needs to be quilted ... I'll let that simmer a while.

Project 2 : I got the reds cut and strip sets sewn for Unca Ray's Barn Red Quilt. I had in mind the barn reds coupled with a dark gray, weathered barn wood colored fabric. However, everyone I consulted on color pushed me towards this earthy brown. Since it's not what I originally had in mind, I'm not quite sure I like it or not. I also need to remember that this quilt is not for me, but for my Unca Ray who will like the earthy browns.

In the photo above, that one polka dot strip looks pink. I assure you, it's not pink in real life. More of a brick brown. I wouldn't put pink a man's quilt!

This is the pattern :

Band Together by Weeks Ringle and her husband Bill Kerr of Fun Quilts. The pattern was published in American Patchwork & Quilting in February 2010.

Sunset over frozen Mission Lake, in Hatley, WI. Waypost Camp. Sara, the camp Director is great! Not only did she take excellent care of us, she even quilted with us for a few hours.

Dinner on Saturday night : Chicken stuffed with spinach and mushrooms. It was delicious! I'll see if I can find the recipe ... The food is real, made fresh for us. Not poured out of freezer boxes. Another reason I appreciate Sara's hospitality.

We had to leave early on Sunday morning due to another winter storm that dropped 10 inches of snow on us later that day. Sarah said we were welcome to spend another night there, if we so desired.

For those of you who don't consider yourselves political, you may want to tune out now. I will say that things got a little tense last weekend. I was there with my mom, and 4 teachers from my old high school. My Dad is also a retired teacher, and my mom a Public Health Nurse. These are some of the very people who will be affected by our union-busting governor's bogus budget repair bill. If you've heard about the protests in Wisconsin, this is what it's about. Gov'r wants to kill collective bargaining for public employees. Of course, we're all concerned. It's an assault on the middle class. These are people who work hard for their money, and spend money in their local economies, and pay taxes. Several of the teachers are married to policeman or fireman, 2 groups pardoned from the union-busting bill this time around. Though we were on retreat, we were all waiting to hear if there had been any progress on the protests or the governor being willing to negotiate. Have you ever heard of a politician NOT willing to compromise? That's who we got for Governor in WI. And now 1 week later, we're still waiting for a resolution ... Life will never be the same if this goes through. Think of it this way : If their disposable incomes disappear, so will the quilt shops and restaraunts and the local businesses they support. This is not a pro-business plan.

One woman at the table across from us said, "I don't consider myself to be political, but even I can tell this plan is just plain wrong!"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge - Opposites : Black Dog on a Frozen Lake

I did two versions.
Materials : watercolor, gouache, pencil on watercolor paper

Materials : watercolor, gouache, pencil on 65 lb cardstock
I did this one second, so I had a better idea of how to push the pigment around to make her fur look more like fur., so I think I like this one better.

This project really helped me get a feel for each type of watercolor paint--transparent vs. the opaque. The watercolor paper really does have more body to it and is suitable for the medium. The cardstock does all right, but I think I'm hooked on the watercolor paper now!

This is the original photo from 2008, taken by my husband on an "ice walk" on frozen Lake Winnebago, just a few blocks from our house. I know--you'd expect the ice to be white, but it really depends on the time of day. This was as twilight, hence the pink and blue. This is my lovely 2nd-hand Newfie again. She looks so noble in this portrait! For a few years, now, I've been trying to figure out to to turn this particular picture into a quilt ... Maggie is so black, it's difficult to get a good picture without her looking like dark puddle. This one kind of looks like those old silhouettes contrasting the light and dark. Hence, that made it suitable for this month's theme : Opposites.

Here's the outline tracing I worked with.

Follow this link to read more about the February Sketchbook Challenge Theme : Opposites.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sketchbook Challenge : Stacked Journalling a la Judi Hurwitt

I've been playing around with Stacked Words, a la Judi Hurwitt. Once I got over what words to use ... they really are not readable in this application, so the words themselves are not all that important. I used place names and just stacked them up. This is one of sketchbook pages where I was playing with this technique. I learned that using a mix of words added interest and variety to the scribble. Once I got going with it, I did 6 or 7 pages of these jumbles. I got into a rhythm and went with it.

I can some of these being enlarged and used as a screen-printing screen or thermofax screen.

Red Peppers Reclining : Sketchbook Challenge

Water color pencils and black pen.

Kid Art : Oliver's Chameleon

Because everyone needs some Kid Art.

This Chameleon was done by my 10-year old kid in the last month, or so. I hung it in my sewing room. One of my favorites of his!

Jan 2011 Snow Dyes

This is a picture of the whole 1-yard piece. I used wine and New Black on mercerized cotton.

Here is the last bit of snow before it melted through the fabric. The fabric is sitting on a screen stretched over a bin. On the left, I used Havanna Brown and Black Cherry squirted on the snow in a plaid pattern. On the right, I used Wine and New black squirted on the snow in overlapping circles.

Here's a detail of the havanna brown and black cherry. I figured the havanna brown would split into some interesting colors when I did the dye fractionations study.

I threw a couple crumbled fabrics in the bin underneath to see what color I'd get from the drips down effect. Not bad. I was surprised to see more black on the fabrics in the catch bin down below.

Kilt Green in a separate bucket.