Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Dover of Ducks

Today's entry covers some experiments in putting the duck image on fabric.

It all started with this picture that I took on a bike ride out to a park near our house. The water suggested using some pole-wrapped indigo Shibori-dyed fabric that I made a while back. The traditional Shibori pattern is called Rain, as shown in the samples below.

I played with the image in Seashore. Basically turning it black and white and playing with the contrast.

From there, I traced this silhouette on my light box. This is the working image that I used for all the following transfer methods.

Method 1 : Foam Stamp

The first method involved making a foam stamp.

Some of the paint that got on the background of the stamp printed to the fabric, making the print look "dirty." I think it would have been better if the foam had been thicker, or mounted to a block of wood. This worked ok, but I wanted to experiment a little more ...

Method 2 : Freezer Paper Stencil and Fabric Paint

Next, I tried a freezer paper stencil with fabric paint.

This worked beautifully! A nice clear and sharp image. I only regret that I wasn't able to keep the beautiful curved tail feathers in the original. This is still my favorite method of this day's experimenting.

Method 3 : Citrasolv Image Transfer

Next, I printed one of the ducks on our HP Laserjet printer and used Citrasolv to transfer the toner to the fabric above. Here's a tutorial on how to do it, explained by Lyric Kinard.

This worked all right, too. The resulting image is kind of ghostly, more like The Loch Ness Monster pictures. I always have to do a practice Citrasolv transfer, because I always wind up using too much Citrasolv the first time around. With a little practice, this is also a workable method.

So there you have it, 3 methods of image transfer.

Results of Thermofax Play Day

It turns out that Lynda's "free" Thermofax machine needed some repairs. But since she had the screen film, she wanted to try it with a lamination iron (think of a big flat-bed iron). We tried everything we could think of (changing the temperature, time in the iron, fresh Xerox copies), but we couldn't get that to work either.

Finally, she pulled out some old screens she had and we pushed some prints through ... She will see about getting her Thermofax repaired, or reconditioned. If it can't be fixed, I know there are venders out there who are willing and able to take my images and burn them for me. Either way, someday I'll have my own screens ... I can be patient. ;-)

The gold was an official screen print ink. It's thicker than I thought it would be, but that makes sense as you don't want runny paint or ink bleeding past the stencil. With the second screen (berries), I layered blue and red versions on top. These were a color concentrate mixed with a print base. While it was still wet, it looked pretty neat -- like neural pathways all tangled up. But the red and blue disappeared as it dried. Lynda says I needed an opacifier, either as it's own layer or mixed with the color and print base to make them show up on black. If you look closely, you can see a shadow of them underneath the gold. It looked great on the white print board we were working on, as it bled through the black fabric. Learning how to make an official print board was worth going over to Lynda's for the day. She is so knowledgeable about anything I can think to ask her. ;-)

Images from her old thermofax screens - gold leaves and berries ... This made me want to try making some skeleton leaves of my own, so I collected some leaves and have them soaking in a solution of bleach and water :

I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thermofax Preparations

On Saturday, my friend Lynda and I are planning a day to play with Thermofax and screen printing. She inherited some kind of Thermofax and a thousand frames. We just need to do some experimenting to figure out how it works. In the meantime, I am developing suitable images for our play day.

Would you believe the feather above started out as the sun-printed feather below? I played with it in Picasa and Seashore to get the black and white image above. Although I would not be able to give you the recipe--I was not taking notes. Just playing!

This one is modified from one of my many tree bark pictures. I think the secret to this one was the Edges filter in Seashore. Or was it the Threshold filter?

This was a picture of a tree I took on a bike ride last yesterday evening.

Here's the only slightly modified original (and yes the sky really was pink and blue) :

I have about 65 images I've been playing with, trying to make them suitable for Thermofax. Stay tuned and see what we are able to accomplish on Saturday!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cranes at Sunset : 3CS Journal Quilt for July

Here is the completed Cranes at Sunset Journal Quilt. Without actually measuring, I can tell you it is slightly smaller than a fat-quarter. It is essentially a whole-cloth quilt.

It could also count for the Sketchbook Challenge whose theme for July is Element. This captures the elements of Air and Fire.

Here's a detail shot of the stitching and cranes.

Here's how I made it from start to finish :

One of my self-imposed requirements for the 3CS Journal Quilt Challenge is that I have to use some of my own hand-dyed fabric. This sunset piece is from a weekend Skye Dyes workshop I took with Mickey Lawlor in 2008 (or so). This piece has been a long time in the gestation phase!

I knew I wanted cranes flying in their typical formation, because it would fit so nicely in the bright area of the sunset. We do see cranes in Wisconsin. ;-) This picture shows the "used" freezer paper stencil I made to get the birds on there. I thought the stenciled birds would look sharper and cleaner than birds stuck on with fusible applique. These are just a little too small to futz with fusible. A little black fabric paint worked marvelously through the stencil. Frankly, I was surprised and delighted at how easy it was. I knew I only had one shot at it. The freezer paper can be lightly ironed to the fabric so it stays in place and prevents leaks. Works great!

Here are the results at the stenciled stage :

Since this is a whole-cloth quilt, there was no piecing to be done. I made my quilt sandwich. This time I used a recycled mattress pad for the batting. My preferred batt is Hobbs 80/20. I love the antique look it lends to quilts. However, if it hangs in a wall-hanging, sometimes it can sag after a while. So I wanted to use a poly batt, and this is what I had at hand this weekend. It seems to have worked out fine.

The next step was to choose free-motion quilting patterns. So I sat down with Leah Day's 365 Days of Free-Motion Quilting and studied the patterns. Ever since I discovered Leah's project, I've always meant to sit down and practice each pattern as she posted them, but that never really happened ... This worked out well, though : Having a project in mind, and being able to find the designs that would work.

When I found designs I liked, I practiced them on paper before going to the sewing machine. There were some of the possibilities for the setting sun (hot) areas. I was going for the shape and motion to echo the flying birds.

You can see what I wound up stitching is not exactly like Leah's patterns, however, it was still a great inspiration to look through her pattern library. Check it out!

Here's the swirling spiral pattern I used for the dark part of the sky. I thought it had a moodier feel, so I went with this one. Again, the actual pattern as stitched in my little quilt is not perfectly the same as Leah's model, but again, it was great inspiration. Thank you, Leah, for doing your Free Motion Quilting Project!

This afternoon I finished up the binding, with sweat running down my face, and my back. We don't have air conditioning, so I'm really glad it's finished, and I can go to a cooler part of the house to blog about it!

Tea Cup Pin Cushion

This is Gramma Pickles' (Violet Smitmajer) wedding china, the china she received as a gift more than 60 years ago at her wedding. Grappa was so frugal that he never ever allowed her to take it out of the box and actually use it. Gramma gave me the china when she moved out of the old homestead a few years ago. That year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house, and I made sure Gramma got the first plate of food on her own China. She finally got to eat off of it. ;-)

This weekend, I bought a "new" old set of china at a neighborhood rummage sale. The "new" china pattern is more to my liking and personality. I decided I could give up Gramma's China, even though it's a family heirloom.

I decided I could keep a few of the teacups from Gramma's set if I turned them into pin cushions for the sewers in the family, Gramma included. These were so easy to make! I used one of the plates to make the circle. It turns out to be just the right size proportionately! Here's the basic tutorial I used. You can get a lot more complicate with extra buttons and ribbons, but I kept it simple.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thread Lust

I purchased this Sulky Blendables Threadbox at this week. YUM!

Doing those little journal quilts, I'm realizing I don't have the stash of threads I would like. I bought some varigated sets in rayon a while back, but the colors just don't seem to go with anything at all. The rayon now, only a few years old, breaks easily. The colors they tended to throw together in the early days of varigated threads just seemed to clash. This set look more practical. I can't wait to see these new threads in real life!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Beer Soap

At my mom's house a few weeks ago, she had a bar of "beer soap" in her bathroom. It didn't smell at all like beer. I was intrigued, so I found a beer soap recipe and gave it a try.

Growing up in my family, we were always given sips of wine and beer when we were kids. Don't think of it as child abuse. It was the culture with German and Irish ancestry. Remember, I'm in Wisconsin, after all, where there's a tavern on very corner! In my family, we learned to drink responsibly; and I learned to dislike beer in a hurry. How's that for inoculation against alcoholism?

I'm realizing now that not all beers are created equal. We picked up a single bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, a nice dark beer in a big bottle. It smelled like beer, but when I tried a sip, it did NOT leave the usual bitter, icky aftertaste. I was pleasantly surprised. There's a whole new world of flavor out there! I might even drink a whole tea cup some day. [Wink!] Most of this bottle is going into the soap, after it goes good and flat.

Notes on amendments I made to the recipe :
1) I substituted Safflower Oil for Sunflower Oil
2) Substituted Wheat Germ Oil for Castor Oil (The saponification factor was comparable.)
3) I did not have the citrus essential oils, so I left them out. I also wanted to know what this soap would smell like WITHOUT any additional scents. With the honey, I'm expecting some carmelization.

At 4 weeks, it still smelled like beer. I was disappointed and ready to give it all up as an experiment gone wrong. Now at 5 weeks, I'm starting to smell some sweetness. It really does take this long for the saponification process to complete.

Red Barn Table Runner

I made this table runner with some extra blocks from the Unca Ray Quilt. In June, I met a woman from Racine County who restored her family's barn. She even has one of those painted wooden quilts on the side. I know she'll appreciate this little gift out of the blue.

Read more about Racine County Quilts on Barns here.

Meanwhile, the quilt top for Unca Ray is all squared up with zippers attached and ready for the Tin Lizzie. I even have the quilting motif/panto picked out. I still need to pick up a black poly batting, and reserve a Saturday on the long arm. It always amazes me that it can take a full day of preparation just to get ready for the long arm. But it's all worth it! I get a lot more done in a shorter time on the long arm, without wrestling with a big quilt to get it under the needle.

Unca Ray is having cataract surgery this summer, so when this quilt is done, he'll be seeing it with brand new eyes, so to speak.