Monday, December 29, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Playing with Topaz

I picked up a free trial of Topaz Impression.  So many people on the Texture Artists FaceBook Group are using it and loving it.  I wanted to see what it was all about.  I am fascinated with the idea of taking a real life photo and rendering it into the style of a painting.  What they do with light and brush strokes and color can be pretty amazing when done well.

The Tulips photo above was rendered in Topaz with one of the Obscurity filters  I kind of like what it did ...  but not enough to pay the nearly $100 price tag.    So I'll enjoy it for my 30 days, and let it go.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Abandoned

  Abandoned 3

Directly across from the house I grew up in, there was a similar abandoned house--except it wasn't abandoned, and there was a lot of trees and brush around it.  An old hermit lived there : Ed Herder.  No running water, or electricity.  He died there in the 1980s ....   You can read a little about my memories of Ed Herder's house here.   That's probably why old abandoned houses have always interested me.  What stories do they have to tell?  Are they best forgotten?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  Happy home lives with laughter and family togetherness, or drunkeness, depression,  abuse, incest?  Even murder?   If these walls could talk, what would they say?

There's a whole genre of abandoned houses and buildings.  I wish I had the hutzpa to explore more and not worry about getting caught trespassing or injured by a roof falling in on me, or falling through a rotten floor.  Fortunately, I can explore these places through the magic of Pinterest and the Internet!

Yes!  This is it!    Abandoned 3 is my favorite version so far.  A perfect gray November Day.  I can finally put it to rest and work on something else!

I spent virtually the whole weekend on this one image -- going for perfection, I guess!
I was bothered by the fact that that most of the textures wouldn't hang on that white/gray sky.  So I had an idea to start with a texture, and lay my original abandoned image on top.  That way, the whites would disappear and the textures would rule.  

Here's the recipe layer-by-layer :
Layer 1) My own Stormy Clouds Background Texture [Yeah! for using my own textures!]
Layer 2) 2LO Fairy Tale 15 Texture - Normal Blend Mode 59% opacity
Layer 3)  Abandoned House Image - Multiply 85%
Layer 4) Brightness/Contrast Adjustment - Normal 59%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 2 (I LOVE 2LO Fairy Tale Texture set!) - Color 77%
     > The pink texture effectively desaturated the greens in the grass, and added some depth to the moody gray sky.  I was playing around with that blend mode before I settled on it's application here in the line-up.   When I used it earlier, my moody gray cloud texture would take on the exact colors of the fair tale texture, but not the cracked stucco texture--only the colors.  There are times that could be really useful, but not here ...

Here are the other work-ups before I settled on the one above :

This is the version I worked up in PhotoShop Elements with several layers of textures.
The sky needed something ... and that green grass needs a little tamping back.

Processing Layer-by-Layer:
1) Background image
2) Kim Klassen's Flourish Magic Texture - Overlay Blend Mode at 21% opacity
3) Lost & Taken Subtle Grunge 8 Texture - Multiply 100%
4) Levels Adjustment - Brightness / Contrast
5) 2 Lil Owls Bliss 9 Texture - Multiply 100%
6) Copy Layer 4 - Soft Light 30%
7) 2 Lil Owls Bliss 7 Texture - Soft Light 14%
8) Kim Klassen's Light Paper 3 Texture -  Multiply 31%

For this de-saturated version, I added 1 final step to the recipe as laid out below :
 Picassa's Infrared Filter.

Quite a different feel to it, no?  It probably needs some birds flying around there, doesn't?

Here are the original photos I started with, almost straight outta my camera.
I'm always amazed at the transformation that textures can make for creating a mood.  It's almost the difference between "Memorex" and Memory.  Memory adds all the emotion of internal landscapes, while Memorex records what was.  (Remember those old ads from the 1980s : "Is it live, or is it Memorex?" I know, I'm dating myself here ...)

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com

Monday, December 15, 2014

Warm Winter Woolens : Alpaca Blue Rectangle Scarf on the Tri-Loom

I finished this scarf this month as a Christmas present, using some wonderfully soft alpaca yarn.
Here it is done up as a mobius scarf.  You could also fold in the corners and use them as pockets, or leave them hanging long.  [They were so long, it was hard to get a picture of them hanging down.]

Here it is on the loom.  The yarn made a nice checked pattern once it was woven :

The Tri-loom was set up as described on pg 57 of Carol Leigh Brack-Kaiser's book Continuous Strand Weaving Method.   Basically, I only used the top 1/3 of the tri-loom, as my friend didn't want the 3rd corner to her scarf.  You work it with the usual continuous line method, until you get to the pegs you want to be your bottom edge.  Then I strung a piece of sturdy kitchen twine along the bottom edge to help keep it even.  You can see I still got a bow in it, but I can say it was part of the design, if that's the part that hangs around the neck, you want it to be narrower and less bulky.   Next time, I might rig a steel rod across there to keep it straight and the tension even.    

After you make it as wide as you want it to be, you have to work each side on it's own.  I used a flat stick to open the sheds (1 in the middle worked for both sides), then I used 2 stick shuttles to run the yarn through--one on each side.   Sorry--I didn't take any pictures of that stage.

Here's a shot of how tight the yarns were right before I popped it off the loom.

Here it's coming off the loom...

Here's one corner, fresh off the loom.  
It's holding it's shape, but the yarns haven't settled into their final positions yet. 
I did go around the edges with a crochet hook to even things out and stabilize the edges.

Here it is after it's been fluffed and fulled.  Nice and soft and the yarns have evened out.

A nice shot of the weave pattern.

This scarf used less than 3 skeins of yarn.
The yarn was gifted to me by a lady at work who had inherited her Aunt's craft room supplies.  
She had lots of this wonderful yarn.  I still have a whole bag left to make other things.

Here's to warm winter woolens!

Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap 2015 registration is open

The sign-up for Kat Sloma's 2015 Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap is open. Cards are due to Kat by March 14, 2015.

I've participated for the past 2 years.  It's a wonderful way to get your art out into the world by sharing it with other artists.  It's so much fun to get "good" mail rather than bills and junk.  And connecting with other creatives around the world has it's own value.  ;-)

I don't usually print my digital photography, but this project forces me to pick the best of my work in the past year, commit to printing it, and sharing it. ;-)

Interested in participating?  Find out more and join us!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Brown-Eyed Girl

Layer 1) Background Image (with minor adjustments in Picassa - crop, HDR)
Layer 2) RadLab - Super Fun Happy (adds brightness, contrast, and blur)
Into PhotoShop Elements :
Layer 3) Hue Saturation Adjustment - Dampen yellows
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Pumpkin Grunge - Soft Light 25%
Layer 5) Vignette - Soft Light 38%
Cropped to Square

And just because it fits so well with the theme :

Sharing with The Texture Artist's FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Wisconsin Barnstead in November

 I used one of the filters from the 100 Cameras App for iPad to achieve an old-timey Painterly effect.

I love the names for their filters.  I think this one might have been "I Remember the Clouds from that Day" or maybe it was "The Light Fell Between the Trees."  I saved several versions, but it doesn't save the meta-data, so I'm not entirely sure just which filter this was.

 But I couldn't stop there ...  Back into PhotoShop Elements to add Kim Klassen's Linen Texture Brush for that little something extra.  If you click on this image to see a larger version, you'll see the linen texture.  The addition of the Linen Brush makes it look like it's painted/printed to canvas. 

Here's the original image, with pesky power lines and antennae removed.
A real Wisconsin Barnstead, complete with a dusting of snow.

Kim Klassen dot com

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Art of Texture Day 9 - Walnut Ink on Brown Kraft Paper

Walnut Ink Texture - 4166

I've been wanting to take Kim Klassen's Art of Texture - Secrets Revealed class for quite some time.  This fall, she made it available through her Test Kitchen.  Yahoo!

So far it's been a lot of review on how to use and make brushes in PSE, how to add textures--a lot of things I've learned in Kim's Beyond Layers and Beyond Beyond classes (also currently available through The Test Kitchen).  I didn't feel like I had to take such careful notes on these sections because I'm pretty comfortable with these techniques by now.  Thanks, Kim, for teaching me well in those year-long weekly classes. ;-)

On Day 9, we're finally getting to some mess-making!

In this lesson, Kim suggested we use Walnut Ink on a crumpled piece of brown craft paper.  I'm flush with walnut ink since I made about a gallon of it a few years ago!

The great thing about this lesson is that Kim explains how to do it manually (with real paper and paint/inks) but also how to get a similar digital effect in PhotoShop.  Sorry--I can't tell you exactly how I did it.  If you want to know, you'll have to sign up for the class.

For instance, for the manual version, Kim suggested using drywall tape, but since I didn't have any, I pulled my digital image into PSE and used her Linen texture brush for a similar effect.  It's very subtle, but you can see it if you look closely.   Now, looking around the house, I might have been able to use a strip of shelf-liner as a physical stamp.

I took the picture above while the ink wasn't quite dry--It still showed translucent in some places on the paper.  Some parts even picked up as blue in the photo.  After it dried completely, it wasn't nearly as interesting--pretty uniformly brown now that it's dry.  The paper version is crying out for some additional highlights ...

Interesting thing about the Walnut Ink ...  Kim's link for more info on walnut ink was broken, so I Googled it to see what I could find.  I came up with some new recipes for DIY walnut ink that included rubbing alcohol or Vodka as a preservative.  I totally missed that in 2011 when I was making my batches of walnut ink--though I did use some clove.  Now I want to try both preservatives to see how well they work.  I certainly have enough ink to experiment!

I opened my first batch of walnut ink, and was surprised that it didn't smell bad.  Some of it smelled pretty compost-y when I first made it--due to fermenting the walnuts before making the ink.  The ink seems to have mellowed nicely over time--like a fine wine?  Still--I don't think I'm going to taste it!

The beauty of this is that I can make more physical pages for journal covers, and photograph them and use them perpetually in digital images as texture layers.

More experiments to come!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tying a Quilt

At the November Quilt Camp at Silver Birch Ranch in White Lake, WI, I had 1 project in mind : To finish the Red-Black-and-White String Quilt by tying it with an old high-loft (puffy) polyester batting.  I did it, too!  And it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. 

Quilt Sandwich for Enveloping :
Batting + Backing (right side up) + Quilt Top (Right side down)

Here I have the outer edges pinned and ready to sew. The back and batting are at least 4 inches bigger than the Quilt Top.  It helped that I had everything squared up before I got to Camp.
I put a few basting safety pins in the middle just to keep everything stable while I sewed the edges.

Before I could get to the tying, I first needed to layer the backing, batting, and quilt top with the Envelope Method.  I saw this method of Enveloping a Quilt at the very first Quilting class I attended back in 2004.  The person had a quilt they wanted to tie and a batting that was too thick and puffy to stitch by machine.   Now 10 years later, I find myself with a really fluffy fat batt -- a legacy from my family back when their idea of quilting was to take 2 sheets and a batt and tie them together with yarn.    I remember the womenfolk gathering at Rosita's house, laying out the old quilt rails (I wonder where they are now?) and setting to work ...

Last spring, I made a string quilt using a foundation fabric to stabilize the strings.  It turned out to be quite heavy -- usually these string quilts don't use a batting for that reason (kind of like crazy quilts in that respect).   But with the long polar vortex winter we had last year, and this batting taking up space at home, made me want to pull it all together ...

Here I am at the sewing machine stitching the edges.  I think I used a 1/2-inch seam for this.  I left an opening about 20  inches to turn it.  I also trimmed the batting and backing to be the same size at the quilt top BEFORE I turned it right-side-out. 

Here I'm stitching a faux binding about 2 inches from the edge.  It keeps the batting out to the edges of the quilt.  It's kind of like a French Seam.

It was a huge snow drift of a quilt on the table as I was working.  Here's my view of the room from my work space.  That's my mom ---  "lapaya" [Zulu for waaaayyy over there.  Sorry--I don't often get to use my language training -- what little I remember of it now!  That was always a fun thing to say.]

Here's a good description of the Quick Turn (Envelope) Method.   I knew I'd have enough space at Quilt Camp (and enough veteran quilters around to help and give direction when I needed it). 

Here's what I learned in the process of Tying a Quilt :

1) Lay the quilt out on large tables as you work.  I don't have anything like this at home, so I save these projects up for Quilt Camp.  It makes it so much easier -- and there's no dog hair at Quilt Camp!

2) Use a large darning needle.
I bought 2 packs of tapestry needles, but they were too dull to poke through the fabric.  Fortunately, a lady at Quilt Camp had the perfect Darning Needle, and she let me borrow it.

3) Pattern for setting the yarn :

Down at Point A
Up at Point B
Down at Point 
Up at Point D 

It's kind of a cross-stitch pattern in the form of an X with long tails.

4) Leave a good 3-4 inches to tie later.

5) A garden glove on the left hand helps draw the needle through on the bottom side.

6) Use the table to push the needle through to to the top side.  A thimble was of little use here.

7) A garden glove in the Left hand is also helpful to pull the needle through to the top.
If this fails, try a 2 x 1-1/2-in square of shelf liner to grip the needle to pull it through.

8) Some helpful tools :  1 garden glove, grippy square of shelf-liner, Kwik Clip to open and close safety pins for pin-basting, and yarn.  Actually, I didn't wind up using the Kwik Clip much.  I did use the safety pins to mark where I wanted to put the ties, but realized I didn't have to close them to do what I was doing. 

Small pair of scissors readily available is also helpful.  I started out with it on a lanyard, but soon left it "floating" on the quilt-top, moving with me as I worked from one area to the next.

9) If you have trouble with bearding (Batting poking through the needle hole), thy these :
  • Hold your finger to the thread hole and you pull the yarn through.
  • Pull the yarn to-and-fro to get the batting back inside the quilt.
  • Pull the quilt top away from the batting so the it goes back inside the quilt where it belongs.

10)  How to tie the knots :
To official knot for tying a quilt is the Square Knot with a double twist.  It is more likely NEVER to come undone. 

Right over Left with 2 twists
Left over Right with 2 twists
Trim yarn to 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch tails.

The actual tying goes fairly quickly.  It took longer to set the yarns.

 It's only a double-sized quilt, though it seems bigger!
Warm and cozy to sleep under, too!

At Quilt Camp, I was asking for suggestions on what to call this quilt. 
Someone thought it looked like a Zentangle Quilt with all the black and 
white doodles. Yeah--It kinda does look like a Zentangle. I also thought of 
card games ... Queen of Hearts, but she was so mean and nasty ... This 
quilt is for me and my husband, and I wanted it to be more about love, so I 
defaulted to calling it The Heart Strings Quilt, which is kind of a cop-out 
since the technique is Heart Strings. But that seemed to fit the sentiment 
I was after better than anything else.

Now I can cross that off my bucket list :
Mission accomplished!

Texture Tuesday : Pick More Daisies

Photo Processing Layer by Layer :
Layer 1) Background Image - cement cleaned up, smoothed out
Layer 2) Copy Background Image - Soft Light 38%
Layer 3) 2LO Junkyard 25 - Soft Light 37%
Layer 4) 2LO 1 - Soft Light 100%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen's Rest Texture - Soft Light 21%
Layer 6) Kim Klassen's Karla Texture - Soft Light 38%
Layer 7) Kim Klassen's Wonderful Magic Texture - Screen 100%
Layer 8) Kim Klassen's Chalk Magic Texture - Soft Light 18%
Layer 9) Text - CK Ali's Hand Font - Multiply 76%

Here's the original image I started with.
Taken in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where they were having a Latin Fest and where I purchased the very well-made sun hat.  My Old Friend, J, bought me some flowers to go with it. ;-)

Sharing with The Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Your Move

Your Move

Photo Processing Recipe :
Layer 1) Background image
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - Screen 14%
Layer 3) Kim Klassen's Flourish Magic - Soft Light 16%
Layer 4) Coffee Shop Burn Action (applied last)
Layer 5) 2LO Junkyard 2 - Soft Light 67%
Layer 6) 2LO Ancient Times 1 - Soft Light 54%

And just because it's a song with a Chess theme, and I've always loved it, "It's Your Move" by Yes :

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Purple Fountain Grass

The Recipe :
Layer 1) Background Image
Layer 2) Copy background image - Multiply Blend Mode 58%
Layer 3) Kim Klassen's Appreciate Texture - Multiply 28%
Layer 4) 2LO Winter Storms 5 Texture - Soft Light 73%
Layer 5) 2LO 1 - Soft Light 91%

As a frame of reference, here's the original photo I started with.

Sharing with Texture Artists FaceBook Group and Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.

Kim Klassen dot com