Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Texture Tuesday : After the Storm

After the Storm : Barn outside of Neenah, WI
One of the New Wisconsin Barn Pics from the tour around Lake Winnebago a few weeks ago. 
I liked the silo and that zig-zag trim detail.  From the looks of it, this barn has a new metal roof -- which means someone is taking care of it!

In this one, the sky was so washed out that I added Kim Klassen's Cool Grunge to texture the sky.  It looked stormy, hence the title.  I also used The Coffee Shop Blog's Vintagram 2  PSE Action, with few minor tweaks here and there.

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

New Projects

What do you think of this color combination for a disappearing 9-patch quilt?
I'm going to use Borderline Quilter's tutorial.

This one (above) looks kinda like the curly willow tree outside our living room windows.  
Definitely something familiar about it!

This one might be the closest to what I had in mind, but it's lacking forest green blotches in the mix.I had a little patch of green that I wanted to use from my stash.  Unfortunately, it was a fabric sold probably 10 years ago, and no longer available anywhere.  So I had to look for something similar ...  I guess any one of these will do.

This one is a little too mossy.

It's so hard to visualize the finished quilt with just the whole fabrics. Maybe I could work all 3 greens into the mix?

This will be one of my projects at the October Quilt Camp.

2) Here's a sneak peak at a new project on the triangle loom.  Cozy and warm Alpaca wool yarn.  So soft!  This one might just be done in time for Christmas, J! Weaving goes pretty fast once you get started.   ;-) Don't worry -- It won't be this lacey once it comes off the loom and the tension is gone.

3) I have an idea that is starting to running wild, combining my love of Story with a crazy patchwork polar bear, and Northern Lights.  I bought a kit at a local quilt shop this summer, but I don't think I'm going to actually use any of the fabrics included.  That's ok--into the stash they'll go for some other time.  Now to collect the stuff I'm seeing and requiring in my head ... beads, lace, linen, velvet, wool, flannel--anything cream-colored will work.  Ahhh!  I love it when a plan comes together!  I am so looking forward to seeing this one come into the real world!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Vision with Action

 Vision with Action
[Click on the image to see a larger version.]

It's been a heck of a week!  Busy with one thing after another ...   This background image has been sitting in my archive for a couple of years now-- I shot it in the basement windowsill of an artist space here in town.   The light was beautiful, and the props were nicely set.     You can even see a partial reflection of the model.   I always called this guy Action-Man, because he appears to be in perpetual motion.  Running ragged?  Running TO something?  Running away?  Just running?   I decided to add the star so he'd be reaching toward something -- striving -- stretching, and that changed the mood from frenetic to focused (something I needed to do in my own mind this weekend!).  The star also balanced the ball of twine in the opposite corner.

I looked at a lot of quotes on action -- mostly from BIG men of the world who were risk-takers, and do-ers, not necessarily thinkers or visionaries.     Their quotes didn't quite mark the sentiment I was going for, until I found this one by Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba.  Action for itself may not get the desired results.  Indeed, action alone could be disastrous - It may get you out of danger in a fight or flight scenario, it can also create bigger problems to re-act or act rashly.  Vision was the missing key : You've got to have vision, too.  Not much happens with Vision without the goals and the plan to make it happen.  Great things can happen when Vision and Action are married together. 

Here's the Photo Processing Recipe :
Layer 1) Background image.
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - Screen Blend Mode - 20% Opacity
Layer 3) Star Brush - Hard Light 96%
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Sepia Scratched Texture - Soft Light 51%
Layer 5) Copy Layer 4 - Multiply 30%
Layers 6 + 7) Text - Clive Barker Font with FB Buttercream (Change)
Layer 8) 2LO Cracked 10 Texture - Soft Light 100%
Layer 9) Kim Klassen Scratched Magic Texture - Screen 38%
Layer 10) Color Fill Frame (Black) - Soft Light 46%

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

Kim Klassen {dot com}

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Indigo Moon ... Dreaming One Night

Indigo Moon ... Dreaming One Night
[Click on the image for a larger view.]

An appropriate posting for the day after a Super Moon!

I saw this very scene out walking the dogs one evening in my neighborhood.  One house on the Lake has a lovely wrought iron fence that creates a wonderful silhouette when the light is right.   I didn't have my camera with me at the time.  By the time I got home, and ran back to take the picture, it had changed quite a bit--the moon has risen higher, the colors washed out.   Indeed, the actual photograph as it came out was not as good as it was in my memory.

Enter PhotoShop!  With the magic of textures, I made the sky the blue I remembered, and erased the tiny little moon, and replaced it with the pearly giant you see here.  There, now : This is what I remember from that night!

Photo Processing :
Layer 1) Background Image - tiny moon erased
Layer 2) Copy Layer 1 - Screen blend mode - 100% opacity
Layer 3) Nancy Claeys' Xeveria Texture - Multiply 100%
Layer 4) Stock Vault Free Texture Friday (a starry night blue) - Soft Light 56%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen's May Magic 1 Texture - Screen 15%
Layer 6) Caticat Moon Brush on DeviantArt - Normal 100%
Layer 7) Copy Layer 6
Layer 8) Text - Tangerine Font with color sampled from image - Normal 80%

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

Kim Klassen {dot com}

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Conversation about Using a Design Wall

My Blog-Land Friend, Sheila over at Idaho Beauty and I were having a conversation a few weeks ago about using a design wall.  Sheila thought about how she uses the design wall in her creative process and thoughtfully answered answered my questions, posed to make her meditate on the process.  Read Sheila's post here.  I suppose it's only fair to answer the questions I posed to Sheila (though I asked them originally because I've learned how Sheila works, and where she gets frustrated with the creative process) :

Do you prefer creating on the design wall or from a sketch?
They work hand in hand.  I may sketch out something, or collect scraps from other mediums and put them in the sketchbook for safe-keeping until I've developed the idea or collected other supplies enough to take it to the design wall for the next step of the creative process. Then I can start to play ...  auditioning fabrics, yarns, scraps, etc.  Trying to figure out what will work.   For quilts the design wall has been wonderful to layout the blocks and let them stew a while before I actually sew them together.  I guess I could say the same for the smaller journal quilts.  Even the journal quilts usually start as a sketch, though.

This post from 2011 about the Bluebird Journal Quilt is a good explanation of how I tend to work.

Is working on a Design Wall more like improvisational jazz, offering more freedom for the piece to grow and develop as it wants?
It can be--although it's hard for a perfectionist like me to let loose and just let it flow like jazz.   At some point, you can get into "The Zone" and just let it come ...  I tend to be more deliberate and take more time than being in the moment allows.  Usually, I have something in mind before I start, something that's been percolating for some time on the ideas level.    For the bluebird quilt above, I thought I wanted to use that lovely pink snow dye, but it didn't make it into the final piece.  I used the dyed cheesecloth instead because it was more opaque -- like a tree full of spring blossoms is opaque, allowing you to see the sky through all those sweet flowers.

When I'm creating composed fabric from scraps, that whole process feels very improvisational.  I never quite know what I'm going to end up with.  I may start with a general idea like Fall Colors but then the process takes over : a little of this- a little of that - a little bling here - a little sparkle there.  And then there's the stitching for a whole other dimension. 

Does a sketchbook lock you into a design that may or may not be possible in real life?
I don't usually feel like a sketch locks me into the original design--Of course, I might feel differently if I were designing a building with millions of dollars were at stake.   To me the sketchbook is just a step in the creative process.  A placeholder for possibilities, rather than a blueprint etched in stone.  I'm usually working out the process as I go along, and wouldn't necessarily know that I needed to do B before A until I get there.

String Improvisations : 2 Potholders and a Pillow

I had 6 extra blocks leftover from the Black-White-and-Red String Quilt.  At first I sewed them together 2x3, but that seemed a little wide for a table runner.  Then I thought I could pull them apart into the current configuration : 2 single potholders, and a 2x2 pillow.    This is such a great and easy way to put together single blocks for potholders.  I made these 2 for my Sweetie who does most of the cooking at our house.  Big enough for his hands, with 2 layers of batting for extra protection from any hot pans.  Works like 2 charms!

I haven't quilted the big quilt yet.  Since I hadn't pre-washed the fabric nor the muslin foundations [I know--I know : I've been on the lookout for the Quilt Police ever since!], I wanted to do a test run with these smaller blocks.

The perfect pillow for my reading nook on the porch!

The verdict is that I think I'll be just fine. I was actually hoping that the foundation fabric would shrink up more than it did.  I know the Hobbs 80/20 batting will shrink up in the bed quilt.  That's what gives it that nice antique-y look and feel.   This old mattress pad in these smaller pieces didn't shrink at all.  It's been washed so many times, it's done shrinking--but then, that's the beauty of such materials.

Tree of Life : Wall Quilt Completed

[Click on the tree to view a larger size.]
This quilt has been in the works for about 2-1/2 years now.   It wasn't difficult, though it looks putsy.  I just needed to put in the time--and take my time with it.   I am grateful for the sewing table my husband made for me a few years ago.  It makes free-motion quilting so much easier than it used to be.

Detail photos of the quilting ...  I used my new embroidery threads to quilt it.  It's a strong polyester with a nice sheen.  I don't have to worry about the threads breaking as I would with rayon.   And I have so many colors in the set that it's easy to find a match! 


Detail of the stitching on the tree trunk.   
The edges of the tree were top-stitched down to the background layer of the quilt top, along with a stabilizer.  Then I quilted the background through the quilt sandwich (batting and backing included).  This helped to make the tree pop out.  

Originally, I wasn't planning to quilt/stitch on the tree, but I had a doodle in my sketchbook that my mother happened to see.  She liked it and encouraged to transfer it to the Tree above.  
It worked out nicely!


Although I love Hobbs 80/20 batting for bed quilts, I find that it sags over time (gravity's effect on all of us!)  in wall hangings.  I know people like to recommend Warm'n Natural which was originally designed for window quilts / winter insulation, and does NOT sag.  Although I've used it, it just doesn't puff up and look like quilts.  They are too flat for my tastes.  I've started using old mattress pads (after the parts that wrap around your mattress pooch out and tear off).  The padded part makes a nice puffy batting for wall hangings, that doesn't sag.     These are also good for quilted pillows and pot holders.    It's a great way to recycle them, too.  They're good yet, even if they won't stay on your bed!

I haven't done up an official quilt label yet.  I don't have a great way to do it yet.  My printer doesn't do fabric, and writing with a fabric pen is functional, but doesn't look so nice.   At this point, I just have the info written on an old library catalog card (recycling again!) pinned to the back.  Someday, I'll do a batch of them at once. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Texture Tuesday : Old Barn

I've been wanting to try my hand at iPhonography, so I used one of my Barns-of-Wisconsin pics.  First I worked it up in Photoshop Elements,  with basic edits, repairs, cropped, adding a number of textures.  Then I moved it over to my iPhone and iPad respectively, using a number of different Apps.  Let's hope the metadata gets transferred when I send them back to my laptop! (Unfortunately, the only one that sent meta-data was Waterlogue.)

My first thought was to use Waterlogue on a Red Barn, so indicative of the Wisconsin rural landscape. Yup--You can tell it's farm country even in this rendition.

Then I took the same base photo and ran it through a few other Apps, like SnapSeed and Distressed FX, PicTapGo, and 100 Cameras.    These filters in the Photo Apps are not unlike the Actions in PhotoShop.  I feel like when I find an effect I like, I could deconstruct it -- do it manually, so to speak.  Like this one :

It appears to have upped the contrast and downed the saturation.  Why didn't I think of that?  I think this is my favorite treatment.  It might have been in Snapseed?  I was hoping that the metadata would transfer when I saved them to my laptop, but none of that came along, and I was having too much fun to take good notes on the process.  So much of it is trial and error--playing until you see something you like enough to save.  This one makes it look more like a November sky.

Here's the photo I started with.  One from my "drive-by" series of Wisconsin Barns.  Because we were in motion, the foreground is a little blurry and out of focus.   It's an effect that works for this scene.

As an aside, I regret doing that drive-by series now.  Many barns fell down under the weight of last winter's excessive snow and extreme Polar vortex temperatures.  These barns deserved more time and attention than a sloppy drive-by photograph.   I started the series because I knew these barns would no longer be part of the WI landscape one day.  That day has come sooner than I thought.  So for Labor Day, my husband and I went for a drive around Lake Winnebago with the express notion of taking some decent barn pictures--where we actually stopped the car, and got out to shoot.   Calumet County has some magnificent barns : It is farm country, meaning people actually still make their livings off the land, and so they keep their barns in working condition.  I have quite a few new pics in the stock files now!

Here's the base photo I worked up in PSE, with the recipe :

Layer 1) Background image
Layer 2) Copy layer 1 - erase crappy tree and crop
Layer 3) Copy Layer 2 - Multiply blend mode at 13% opacity
Layer 4) Kim Klassen's Stained Texture - Darken at 77%
Layer 5) Kim Klassen's Partings Texture - Multiply 21%
Layer 6) Kim Klassen's Stained Texture (again) - Screen at 5%
Layer 7) Kim Klassen's Revolution Texture - Multiply at 53%

After that, I added a graduated tint in Picassa to subdue the sky.

Here are a few more versions :  Sorry, I can't tell you what app they cycled through :

I think it was 100 cameras with some amusing and interesting names for their filters.   I think the last one had something about ghosts in the title.   The emulsion texture layer kind of does look like ghosts floating through the image ...   It's amazing how the various textures and treatments change the mood of the image.

I've been looking at this online iPhonography class, thinking about taking it ...  but the last 2 classes I've signed up for, I haven't been good about doing the lessons for various reasons--too much content, no time, too many professionals in the class and I just can't compare my stuff with theirs [Yeah--maybe a few personal demons rearing their ugly heads here, too) ...  I'm afraid I might waste the money again ...  I did find the guy's book at my local public library.  I will study that ...  At the same time, I'm really enjoying the weekly Texture Tuesday challenges which are pretty wide open as far as what to submit.  I know enough to be productive without having to go through a lesson.  It feels good!

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