Sunday, February 23, 2014

Two Minds Meet : An Artist's Exchange

Idaho Beauty's Padfolio

I am in awe of how the internet allows like-minded people to connect no matter where in the world they may live. 

Over the past few years, I've developed a blogland friendship with Sheila Barnes at The Idaho Beauty's Creative Journey.  I think we must have met in an online class we were both taking, but I can't tell you anymore which one ...  We were both interested in surface design, and always had at least a dozen projects in the hopper at any given time.  What intrigued me about Sheila is that she would post some random picture that caught her eye, and I'd have taken a very similar picture within a few days (red berries, or light and shadow).  Heck! She even picked the same green blogspot template I had on Sweet Leaf Notebook back when it started.    It occurred to me that we were on the same wavelength.  Sisters on that Creative Journey.  ;-)

Last fall, we challenged each other to try some new techniques, and to DO something with our surface designs.  We take all these classes, and learn all kinds of techniques, but what do we really DO with that know-how?  Or we just make the same old things that come easy.

Here are some more pictures of Sheila's padfolio :

This is the whole cover stretched out.  She does beautiful work!  She printed the darker fabric with her own lino-cuts.  She said the gold fabric was a photo near her home--gorgeous results!  The best I've ever seen in terms of a photo printed to fabric.  All that and her satin stitching is impeccable.

Here's the inside.  She dyed/over-dyed the fabrics for the inside.  I know I have some of that 'ice" print in my stash.  I had never thought to over-dye it.  What wonderful results!

  Detail of the pocket with the over-dyed "ice" fabric.  

Here's a detail of the deer antler button closure.  My woodsy Northern Wisconsin heart loves that touch!   You can also see a that the photo fabric was a shot of golden fall color.

I'm planning to take this little padfolio along with me on our next trip to France, so I can keep track of French phrases, the itinerary, what we did each day, and oh, yes--the French cheeses we'll eat.  ;-)  The best part is I can use the cover again and again for trip after trip, just by replacing the pad of paper.  ;-)

Read more about how Sheila made this pad-folio on her blog : The Idaho Beauty's Creative Journey

Now for my contribution.

I had originally made a collaged Sweet Leaf Notebook Journal with Sheila in mind.  Collaged journal covers was a new technique for me, but it was claimed by my mother (I couldn't tell her no--the green velvet was a scrap from a vest she made for me years ago)  before I could send it to Sheila.  So I had to make Sheila another journal to fulfill my end of our Creative Challenge.

 Idaho Beauty Journal - Sweet Leaf Notebook No. 116

This is the journal I sent to Sheila.  It's the usual composed fabric that I've made before.  This time, I layered the scraps on EasyFelt, and covered the scraps with a black silk sheer fabric, instead of tulle.  It has a wonderful feel, and just disappears over the fabrics beneath.  A much nicer feel than the scratchy tulle I've used in the past.  In one of our exchanges, Sheila said she used to live in west central Wisconsin.  The colors in this journal remind me of Fall in Wisconsin.   The scraps come from this "Red Spice" quilt top :

And this Marsh Sunset Journal Quilt :

As for something new : I've been wanting to add metal to my journals and art quilts.  I've had the metal shim for years; I've been saving metal tubes for years.  Been reading about it on And then We Set it On Fire for ages ...  This Challenge finally gave me the nudge to try it.    The metal stitched onto the cover of Sheila's journal started out as this :

Yup! That's right : concentrated sun-dried tomato paste in a metal tube.

Here's the back side (formerly, the inside of the tube) after heat applied.

After opening the empty tube, and cleaning it, I held it over the flame of our gas stove.  With tongs to prevent burning myself.  The heat changes the colors on the "clean" side of the metal.  The more heat, the toastier it got.  The golden yellow part at the bottom got a little less heat treatment.   The oranges at the top got more heat. I could have scored a design into the metal, but I liked the natural waves it developed--kind of like a sunset, or waves over water.  It matched the color scheme for this journal, so it seemed a natural fit.  Then I folded over the edges and stitched it down to the journal cover with an old Jeans needle and my usual domestic sewing machine.

Detail shots of the heated metal shim (upper and lower) :


I tried a number of surface design techniques to add texture and layers of color to the journal cover, but nothing seemed to stick to that black silk sheer silk fabric.  On to Plan G, I finally decided to add a free-motion embroidery cattail to the cover.  Yes, it is done with free-motion.  I've never actually used the computerized embroidery unit on my sewing machine.  That always kind of felt like cheating anyway.

Here's the cattail design on quilting paper.  I stitched an outline through the quilting paper.  
After I tore it off, I could "color" in between the lines with thread.

This is what I ended up with ...

THANK YOU, Sheila, for a great challenge.  I haven't felt this inspired or pushed to go beyond since Conversations in Cloth, my old Art Quilt Group.  Every time I came with an artistic problem, 4 people there would offer solutions (or encouragement) to solve it.  It was a wonderful way to go beyond what I could do myself.  Kind of like standing on the shoulders of giants, and all of us making better art for the exchange and interaction.  

Something tells me, we'll have a few more of these challenges. ;-)


Vicki W said...

I love stories about friendships development over the Web. We are lucky to be part of this vast neighborhood. I love both of your journals.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Boy, you were right. No way I would have guessed where the metal piece came from and how you made it. And I'd forgotten about your post showing how to do those collaged covers.

What a lovely post. Thank you for all those nice things you said about me and our friendship. The feeling is so mutual! I didn't realize this was a push for you too, just thought you were supporting me and coming along for the ride. No doubt, we WILL do something like this again - the mutual boot is a good thing!

I've just posted the particulars on my padfolio contribution here.


Diane said...

Oh my gosh, I am truly in awe of both yours and Sheila's creativity and talent. Excellent work and creativity by you both. I really love that the two of you have challenged one another and look what became of it!