Friday, April 27, 2012

My Very First Spoonflower Order

I have had an account with Spoonflower for years, and have always wanted to order some custom fabric from them, but the time never seemed quite right, until now, and now that I've received my order, I must say I LOVE their product! It's exactly what I was hoping for, and the colors and textures from my original image have carried over into fabric beautifully.

For anybody who does not know what Spoonflower is, it's basically one of the most powerful services available to an art quilter who wants to design her own fabric. Anyone with access to a computer and even super basic image editing software can upload an image to their site and have it printed on a variety of fabrics.  The fabric is washable, and the inkjet printing leaves no "feel" on the surface, so it can be used for quilts, clothing, table cloths, whatever you can think of! 

Spoonflower order1
One yard of super bright, crisply detailed fabric.  Enough to cover a dog!
For my first order, I did not go with a repeating pattern but instead just created a yard-of-fabric sized file in Photoshop and dragged various images into it.  Spoonflower takes images that are 150 dpi and a yard of fabric is 36" by 42" - a file that big was pretty unwieldy, but it did manage to upload eventually!

The leafy photograph in the corner of the fabric is destined to be a wholecloth quilt with oil paint stick additions to bring out the quilting.

The polka dots should be useful for a variety of projects - that image I made back when I was in college, by hand-gluing a zillion 1/4" hole punches onto a piece of 8.5" by 11" card stock.  So. Much. Work, but it has continued to be useful ever since!

Spoonflower order2
Most patient dog ever. I do love to torture him.
There are many ways to make a perfectly repeating pattern to print onto fabric, and Julia Rothman has written a superlative tutorial about how you can create your repeat by hand, using paper and simple drawing tools.  Her instructions are clear and easy to follow, and her method requires only minimal computer assistance. 

Most people use either Photoshop or Illustrator to make their patterns, and the methods of doing this vary wildly.  I plan to create a tutorial about the specific way I create repeating patterns in Photoshop, so keep an eye out for that here on the blog in the next month or two. Here are two of the repeats I've created in the past few years:

Penguin fabric I designed for Thing-a-Day a few years ago.
One of my first ever patterns, drawn by hand based on Julia's instructions and colored using Photoshop.

Oh, and I just found out that there's a comparison of different custom-fabric printing services over on True Up that's way more thorough and comprehensive than my "I ordered this and it looked nice" method of judging a product.  Go check it out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Art Show: "Know Gays Aloud," at Art for Change in New York

As part of my plan to actually get out of my apartment and involve myself in the various arts communities here in New York, I am setting a goal for myself to attend and review as many art shows as possible locally, as well as wherever I happen to be.  Many if not most of these shows will probably have nothing to do with quilting or fiber art, but I think that should be okay, since art is an important part of my life no matter what medium it's made from.

The show I visited this past Saturday is called "Know Gays Aloud," and will be on view at an East Harlem gallery called Art for Change through June 23rd.  Art for Change is a nonprofit organization whose mission includes a strong focus on community building and social justice.  They attempt to create themes for their art shows that enable local artists to weigh in on important community issues ranging from local to international. While I only found out about Art for Change last week, they've been pursuing their mission for a long time:
 "Founded in 1997 by Eliana Godoy and receiving non-profit status in September 2001, Art for Change (AfC) is an organization expressly dedicated to the utilization of art as a stimulus for social change.  Based in “El Barrio,” or East Harlem, New York City, AfC has extensive experience in reaching out to disadvantaged youth, with a significant number of Hispanic clients.  As an entirely volunteer-run association, AfC continues to draw from a diverse and vibrant network of volunteers – a strength in its outreach, fundraising and administration. The commitment of its volunteers is demonstrated in the willingness to donate their talents in administrative duties, as well as film-making, murals and youth outreach.  AfC has worked with youth and families since its inception, through a variety of programs: the organization of a youth music festival in Uyuni , Bolivia ; Art and Technology, training youth in digital media; a youth internship program; and exhibits and performances by youth in AfC’s gallery space."
 When I read about the current show at Art for Change, "Know Gays Aloud," it sounded appealing to me on two levels.  First, I believe that the direction this country takes in its official policies towards gender identity and sexual orientation will be absolutely vital in determining what kind of society we want to create, and will have wide-ranging implications for how we exist in the wider world and what kind of example we will set for how humans should treat each other when resolving struggles of all kinds.  Second, I simply think that there is a lot of artwork being created at the moment that is interesting and beautiful whether or not one is aware of its connection to current LGBT political issues. I've always appreciated visual art that is appealing both within and independently from the statement it was created to communicate.

One more quote from Art for Change's website before I get to the work. Here is their description for "Know Gays Aloud":
"The LGBT community has struggled to ensure equality of their civil liberties for over three decades. Though there has been significant progress in obtaining equal rights in the United States, such as the recent vote that passed a marriage equality law in New York, violence still persists against the LGBT community especially in minority populations. The increase in hostility towards the LGBT community in the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa has led to a rise in murders and teen suicides, notably for the transgendered. In Puerto Rico, even though murders of transgendered are becoming more frequent, the government is seeking to take these crimes off of the list of hate crimes, further justifying these acts of violence. This exhibition aims to expose the violence and prejudice that LGBT communities of color have endured through systematic cultural and religious persecution. Art for Change seeks work that reacts to this injustice."
"Know Gays Aloud" is a group show, and here is a sampling of photos I took during my visit.  As always, please forgive the poor quality of the images, and go see the work in person to get the full effect!

Darlene Aschbacher's piece, "Extended Obituary." According to Aschbacher's artist statement, "Nearly 200 transphobic murders were painstakingly recorded last year by the Transrespect vs. Transphobia project. Statistics suggest that Brazil, the U.S. and Honduras rank at the top with Brazil accounting for more than half of the transphobic murders. Between November 28, 2010 and January 9th, 2011 trans people were slaughtered at a rate of more than one a week in Honduras, a population smaller than London. Using a specific image on a specific day from the New York Times obituary page, I recreate these images onto 5"x5" paper. My current work, 'Extended Obituary,' is a perpetual work in progress."

art for change darlene aschbacher - extended obituary2
"Extended Obituary," by Darlene Aschbacher

"Objeto de la Nueva España 1," by Felipe Baeza, who writes: "As a Mexican, I belong to a population absent from U.S. cultural and historical production, and often referred to as 'illegal.' Within this context, printmaking becomes a response to the exclusionary history, media and texts populating my upbringing."

art for change felipe baeza objeto de la nueva
"Objeto de la Nueva España 1," by Felipe Baeza.

"Inferior Interior," by Rochelle Williams. I wasn't able to find a website for Ms. Williams, but if she's out there and would like to send me a link, I'll definitely add it to this post! 

art for change rochelle williams - inferior interior
"Inferior Interior," by Rochelle Williams.

Black and white painting by artist Ivan Velez, plus my possibly favorite work from the show, his nine-panel comic "If," which is super sweet and poignant.

art for change ivan velez chulo #3
"Chulo #3 (La Gran Virgen Santa Betty de la Boop," by Ivan Velez.
art for change ivan velez - if
"If," by Ivan Velez.
Other artists whose work is featured in this show include: D. Shayne Aldrich, Ryan William Turley, Christopher Udemezue, Micaela Anaya, Michael J. DiRaimondo, Olivia Frazao, Paul Baker Prindle, Rory Golden, Nicole Goodwin, and Cecilia Givens.

If you would like to visit the gallery, they are located at 1699 Lexington Ave, between 106th & 107th streets, in a basement-level storefront.  Their hours are Saturdays from 1-5pm. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

New Quilt: "Welcome Complexities #1"

This is one of my many quilt projects that are finally finished after sitting around half-done for months and months while I had no idea what needed to be done next.  The quilt was in limbo for who knows how long, until one day I decided to apply my trusty "Just start attaching things and soon it will be fabulous" method.  Sure enough, after extensive embroidery, drawing, more embroidery and adding found objects with holes drilled in them, a finished quilt had emerged!
"Welcome Complexities #1"
Title: Welcome Complexities #1
Materials: inkjet printed cotton, found fabrics, sheer ribbon, found objects, beads, Swarovski crystals, embroidery, permanent marker, jewelry, laminated images
Dimensions: 13" by 9.5"
Date: 2012

Click on details below to view larger versions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Art Show: "Walking Through Time," by Sue Benner, at The ArtQuilt Gallery

There are a lot of things to be seen in New York City, and New Yorkers like to think of ourselves as having more of everything than pretty much anywhere else, but there are certainly some notable exceptions to this.

The first is stars.  I'm not sure exactly what happened, but when they were handing out stars New York must have waited to sign up for them until the very last minute - if you look into the sky at night, especially in Manhattan, you'll see how we ended up with just the tiny, dinky ones that were leftover in the bottom of the sack.

Another unexpected exception to the more-of-everything principle is Art Quilting.  New York is honestly not the most fruitful place to try and make it as an art quilter.

This situation is hopefully in the process of changing, however - in April 2011 New York got its only venue exclusively devoted to showing quilts, The ArtQuilt Gallery.  If a city is only going to have a single place that showcases quilt art, I have to say that The ArtQuilt Gallery is a pretty great one!  Their space consists of a single large, brightly lit room attached to The City Quilter fabric and supply store. It's impossible to go in there and not come out ready to have a great day, because you'll see gorgeous artwork and chat with open-hearted folks who can't wait to share their love of fiber art.

Sue Benner1 sampler
"Specimen #2: Sampler" by Sue Benner, 2011

On view now (from March 20 through April 28, 2012) are works by master art quilter Sue Benner. I have been an art quilter for many years but am only just now starting to connect with the larger Art Quilt World and to learn about all the unbelievably talented people working in this medium, and as a result I had never heard of Sue Benner until I walked through the door of The ArtQuilt Gallery a few weeks ago.  Seeing Sue Benner's work for the first time, especially not having known about her beforehand, was a truly wonderful experience!

Sue Benner 2.1
"Wearing Plaid 1" by Sue Benner, 2011

You all will have to forgive the poor quality of my photographs - they really do not do Sue Benner's quilts justice at all, but I'm hoping they'll still inspire those of you who can make it to New York by the 28th to swing by the gallery and check them out.

sue benner 3.1
"Prairie/Wall 1" by Sue Benner, 2010

Sue Benner's work incorporates hand-dyed and commercial cotton, silk and synthetic fabrics that are painted, monoprinted, stamped and foiled, then cut into various specific shapes and fused into a single composition, then locked into place with elegant free motion quilting that is scaled perfectly on each quilt to catch the fabric edges as effectively as possible while existing as its own powerful design element.  As far as I can tell the quilts in this show involve little to no piecing, and I found this all-fused technique extremely intriguing - it seems like there must be endless potential for improvising as you go.

sue benner 4.1
"Studio History in Four Parts" by Sue Benner, 2010

Science seems to have been Sue Benner's first love - before becoming an art quilter she pursued studies in cellular biology - you can read about her history here.

sue benner 5.1
"Cellular Structure VIII (Oval Shift)," 2007 and "Display II," by Sue Benner, 2008

Some of Benner's quilts reference ideas related to the structure of cells in living bodies. She says about her Cellular Structure series:
"A cell can be described as the functional unit of a larger whole.  I think about cells as an organizing device in many contexts, but the biological cell is a particular source of fascination for me. These shapes live in my mind and are the building blocks of my world and art." 
sue benner 6.1
Four smaller pieces in the "Checks and Bars" series, by Sue Benner, 2011

These quilts for the most part take up entire walls and fill a room with brilliant colors, but as an artist who tends to work super small, I was happy to see these smaller-scale works.  These little guys really invite a person to get up close and examine them - there is A LOT going on!

I hope I learned some new design ideas and fabric painting and manipulation concepts from this show, and I am DEFINITELY needing to go make some art right now.  Go check out Sue's work, and get inspired!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Product Review: A Big Thumbs-Down to Poly-Fil Hi-Loft Batting

I recently decided it might be fun to try free motion quilting in a way that would produce more dimension on the surface of my quilts, so I went out and bought a crib size piece of Poly-Fil Hi-Loft batting to experiment with.  My standard go-to batting is Warm & Natural 100% cotton, so I knew that the all-polyester, far fluffier batting would take some getting used to.

Poly-Fil Hi-Loft batting... Can I find a use for it?
As it turns out the fluffiness did not bother me at all, but there was a far greater concern that may prevent me from ever using this batting for serious projects.  Poly-Fil claims to be flame retardant, and this is in fact true - it just gets all smelly and melty instead of catching fire.  However, it turns out the batting is decidedly NOT heat-resistant.  The minute you touch it with a hot iron, it flattens right up and sticks to itself, completely and permanently ruining its loftiness!  For many quilters this would not be a problem, but for me it's disastrous!  I tend to add a lot of paints, fabric markers, iron-on transfers and fusible applique during or after my quilting process, and all of these things benefit from heat-setting.  If Poly-Fil is going to give up its fluffy ghost the moment it gets pressed (the batting flattens after less than ten seconds of ironing), then it is never going to be the batting for me.

Squashed, flattened bits.  So annoying!
I'm very glad I decided to only purchase the crib size batting - I'm sure that I can come up with some simple pieced projects to use the remaining batting for, but for any real art quilting I am going right back to my Warm & Natural!
If anyone has suggestions about which batting they prefer to use and which projects it excels at, please leave them in the comments - I would love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Quilt: "Pale Spaces Unexplored for Centuries"

Hand printed fabric (sort of!) The main blue and green textures in this quilt were made using hand carved foam stamps to apply ink from Sharpie markers to muslin.  Sharpie ink dries very quickly, so if you stamp multiple times after inking the stamp once, you get a series of appealing, increasingly ghostly images.  The animals on the upper left were drawn onto brown fabric using the Pentel Gel Roller for Fabric, and the bottom half of the quilt features hand-made laminated sequins. 
Pale Spaces Unexplored for Centuries
"Pale Spaces Unexplored for Centuries"

Title: Pale Spaces Unexplored for Centuries
Materials: various found fabrics, muslin, ribbon, laminated images, Sharpie, fabric pen, embroidery floss, beads, yarn
Dimensions: 11.375" by 16.625"
Date: 2012

Click on details below to view larger versions on Flickr.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Turns Out You Can't Use Everything...

I'm drawn to the challenge of using ALL THE THINGS in my work.  It's basically the point of why I make quilts - quilting is the ultimate scavenger's artform.  It's why I have such a hard time ever getting rid of stuff - supplies, paper scraps, found objects, bits of leftover thread... You will all get to see some of my more outlandish collections in future "Meet the Supplies" posts. They're all just waiting to find their proper home in a piece of art.  But, sometimes even a consummate collector must admit defeat.  About a year and a half ago I found these truly wonderful wooden blocks hiding in the trash outside my local elementary school.  They're clearly teaching tools, though I'm not sure why the school was getting rid of them.

Beautiful wooden blocks.
I had such high hopes for these - I wanted to glue them onto plywood in a grid and then cut shapes from the whole assemblage using my scroll saw... OR, to glue them together to make a 1" wide multi-colored frame for a work of art... OR, to drill holes diagonally into the corner of each block and hang them from the bottoms of my quilts... OR, to glue an image onto one side of each block and attach a tiny hanger to the back to make miniscule works of art... So many ideas! 

However, the blocks proved to be too dense to easily cut with the scroll saw or drill into, and the 1" thickness really made them inappropriate for inclusion in my quilts, and after they sat around in their box beneath my scroll saw quite literally collecting dust for a year and a half, I realized I had to let them move on and find a better home. 

I posted a description with photo on Freecycle, and was thrilled to see how many people had an interest in hundreds of brightly colored wooden blocks!  A young woman came by and got them, and now her husband who is a teacher will use them in his classroom to demonstrate concepts about volume and area.  So really they're right back where they belong! 

I guess not Everything ends up as art...
...but I did end up holding onto a little handful of them, just in case

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Transfer Images from Paper to Fabric Using Oil Paint Sticks (or, "Look Ma, I Invented Carbon Paper!")

"Look Ma, I invented carbon paper!"

When I was a kid, I thought I was unbelievably brilliant when one day I had the idea of coloring with crayons on a piece of paper, then drawing with a pencil on the other side to transfer the crayon to a separate sheet in a detailed shape that could be repeated over and over.  I figured I must be the first person ever to have this idea - you can imagine I was a little crestfallen a few years later when I realized people had been using this technique for many centuries before I ever came up with it.  But, while this idea may not actually be my singular invention, it's still an incredibly useful and versatile technique for artists to incorporate into their work.

I recently had an idea for a version of this "carbon paper" concept in which you have an image on paper, and coat the back of the paper with oil paint stick pigment, which can then be transferred permanently onto fabric.  It works with both light and dark fabrics, and the level of detail that can be achieved is impressive.  Here is a very basic image transfer of light blue and white paint stick onto black fabric:
Dog creature and shark transferred onto fabric
This technique is incredibly easy and fun to do, and does not require expensive supplies or tools.

How to Transfer Images from Paper to Fabric Using Oil Paint Sticks

  • Paper (Basic printing paper. You can either draw your image directly or trace over an existing drawing) 
  • Inkjet Printer (optional, for getting an image onto the paper).
  • Oil Paint Sticks.  I use Shiva brand
  • Fabric of a color and texture that works well with the image and colors you have chosen.  Really texture-y fabrics and fabrics with bulky weaves may not work too well for this project. 
  • Light Box (optional but makes it much easier to apply the paint stick to the paper exactly where the design is). 
  • Tape to hold the fabric to your work surface and the drawing in place on the fabric.  You could also iron the fabric to freezer paper for even more stability. 
  • A tool for transferring drawings from paper to fabric.  I like to use a ball point pen because it writes smoothly, you can easily apply enough pressure to get a good transfer, and you can see what you're doing. 
** Step 1: Prepare your image on paper **

You could easily just cover a whole sheet of paper with oil paint stick and draw freehand, but if you, like me, are not confident that you will produce drawings you like using this method, it's easy to prepare an image on the computer, size it perfectly and print it onto ordinary 20lb copy paper.

carbon paper1
Prepping the image in Photoshop.
One thing I do when I prepare an image for this technique on my computer is to use Photoshop to lighten the image.  Lightening the image until the lines are gray instead of black makes it super easy to see what you've already drawn when you get to the tracing part.  There are a zillion ways to do this.  I use Photoshop's "Hue/Saturation" adjustment and increase the lightness of the image until I'm satisfied.

** Step 2: Applying Oil Paint Stick to the Paper **

 At this stage, it is helpful if you have access to a light box but not strictly necessary - it just helps you place your paint stick pigment exactly where your design is, but you can solve this problem by covering more of the paper.  If you want to make your own light box for tracing, the internet abounds with instructions for how to whip one of these up from inexpensive materials.
carbon paper2
My printed image with the blue paint stick I've chosen.
carbon paper3
The image flipped over and placed on the light box, ready for pigment.
Apply the oil paint by rubbing the stick onto the paper in small circles over the lines of your image.  You want a moderately thick and very even coating of paint, so once you've covered your design, continue rubbing with the paint stick in very gentle circles until you've achieved a smooth coating with no big chunks of paint adhering to it.
carbon paper4
My drawing with paint stick applied evenly.

** Step 3: Tracing Your Drawing **

Once the pigment is on your drawing, it will be very soft and smushy.  This is bad for achieving a clean transfer, so you want to set your drawing aside and wait five to ten minutes for the oil to set up just enough that it doesn't transfer in places where you don't want it.

When you're ready to transfer your image, first tape the fabric onto your work surface, which should be hard and non-padded.  You can also fuse some freezer paper to the back of your fabric to give it even more stability.  Tape the image on top of the fabric.
carbon paper5
Image taped in place on fabric.
Trace the image with your pen, using firm even pressure.  It's fine to stop and start if you need to - it shouldn't affect the quality of the image too much as long as you trace carefully.
carbon paper6
Image being traced with basic ballpoint pen.

When you're done tracing, remove the paper, let the paint stick cure for 24 hours, then heat set according to the package directions.

I like to use up the leftover pigment around the image by transferring random small doodles onto bits of scrap fabric - I can always find a use for these!

Here are other examples of paint stick transfers I've used in my work:

Image transfer in blue. This one was actually done using Pentel Fabric Pastels, before I discovered oil paint sticks.  The technique is the same but they don't show up on dark fabrics.
Paint stick transfer with fabric paint applied inside the image once the paint stick has set.
The texture around this drawing was created by randomly scraping the pigment-covered paper with my fingernails. 
This technique is so incredibly simple and versatile that I'm sure you will all come up with amazing projects to try it out!  Have fun!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Ready for Art All Night

It's that time of year again - Art All Night is coming up on April 28th, and I can't wait! 

Fifteen years! See every Art All Night poster here!

For anyone who isn't familiar with Art All Night, it is an amazing twenty-four hour art show and performance event that takes place each year in Pittsburgh's wonderful Lawrenceville neighborhood. I was introduced to Art All Night by my parents, who moved to Lawrenceville five years ago and immediately started discovering the zillions of great things that constantly happen in the neighborhood. Everything about this event makes me incredibly happy!

The motto of Art All Night is "No Fees. No Jury. No Censorship," and the concept is that literally ANYONE can submit one piece of art and it will be accepted, no matter what medium or subject matter or size, no matter whether the person makes their living as an artist or creates collages after work just because it makes them happy.  The work is all displayed in a single giant venue for twenty four straight hours, along with live music performances of all varieties. Art All Night even manages to encourage participation by children while still sticking to its "no censorship" philosophy! A quote from their website:
"Art All Night debuted in 1998 with 101 pieces of art and 200 all night art lovers. It has gained a cult-like following over the years. In 1999, submissions grew to more than 200 pieces and attendance to more than 1,100 attendees. Art All Night drew even bigger crowds in 2000, with record attendees and over 300 artworks on display, and has continued growing steadily. In 2005, 868 artists displayed their work and more than 7000 guests attended. In 2007, 850 artists entered their work in the show which was seen be over 7,500 visitors.
Art All Night promotes artistic expression in all walks of life. The event particularly encourages children to be actively involved by contributing artwork and engaging in on-site arts activities. The show includes and attracts seniors, long-term residents, novice artists, educators, students, and seasoned professionals."
One aspect of Art All Night that I particularly love is the simple, streamlined system they have in place to allow participants to sell their work.  Prospective buyers can place bids which are given to the artist, who can then call to arrange the sale. I have shown work at Art All Night twice and did not receive any bids, but this year I think I may have learned what it takes to make my work sell at this event.

For Art All Night 13, I made the mistake of submitting a piece that I had literally just completed, and because I was still very attached to it I asked for quite a high price. Also, the small scale of my quilt meant that it ended up being lost in a sea of far larger, bolder works.
Ecology of a Semi-Aquatic Mythical Land
"Ecology of a Semi-Aquatic Mythical Land," my first ever Art All Night submission, only 9.5" by 13"
The next year I made a point to solve the high price problem by making a piece specifically for Art All Night, knowing that I would be able to give it a nice low price. This piece, though, was even smaller than the first one, so again, likely no one noticed it among all the larger, flashier works.

Monster portrait created on my scroll saw.  This one is even smaller than the quilt!
 This year, I hope to solve both of my earlier problems. My quilts continue to be small, but this time I'll find a way to present four of them as a single piece of art, so that instead of a tiny 13" by 9.5" single piece of artwork, I'll have a canvas or other background that will be white and crisp and noticeable and will hold four landscape-format quilts.  The whole thing will probably be around 35" by 25", and the quilts will be for sale either all together or separately. I still have to figure out pricing.

Here's a rough mock-up of what my quilts should look like together:

Four quilts on a white fabric background should look elegant and actually get noticed.  This looks rather mock-up-y but the real thing should be beautiful!
I hope to see some of you at Art All Night - keep an eye out for my quilts!  And, while you're there don't forget to look for a piece by super talented fiber artist Martha Ressler and photographer extraordinaire Jay Ressler as well as hundreds of other local artists!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"Meet the Supplies" #3: Surprise Sequins!

For the third post in my "Meet the Supplies" series, a surprise pile of sparkly bits provided by one of my coworkers!

She had acquired a ton of the little baggies of beads and sequins that arrive with fancy Chanel dresses in case the garments require any fixes or alterations once they get to the store, and asked me if I had any use for them.  Of course I said yes!

So many little baggies full of things just waiting to be sorted!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to take piles of tiny sparkly objects and spend some quality time sorting and organizing them. Here's the exciting stash that emerged from the pile:

colorful pearls, strings of black sequins, and some weird sparkly yarn that looks like miniaturized tinsel.  That'll be fun to play with!
So many different kinds of sequins!
The best parts of this sparkly score are the little gear-shaped sequins and the totally unexpected pile of Swarovski crystals on the bottom right.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Quilt - "Following the Dragon"

Unlike a lot of my other recently finished quilts which had been waiting for a very long time, often years, to be finished, this one basically came together over the course of three industrious days.  It started with the pink dragon, who was my very first airbrush experiment years ago, and who used to be on a shirt that I wore constantly, but eventually the shirt became old and not attractive enough to wear anymore, so the dragon ended up in need of a new home.

This quilt ended up being very much of a "use up the stash" project, and several things went into it that I am very happy to find homes for, including the velvet fake leaves in the upper corner and the little holographic laminated triangles, plus the inkjet printed fabric in the center with the pink and black plants.  The other half of that piece was used in this quilt
Following the Dragon
"Following the Dragon"
Title: Following the Dragon
Materials: various fabrics (including commercial cotton, inkjet printed cotton, knit fabric, velvet, synthetic sheers, tulle and brocade), sequins, acrylic paint, airbrush, iron-on transfer, laminated holographic paper, embroidery floss, holographic yarn, fake leaves, fabric marker, chalk pastel
Dimensions: 20" by 12"
Date: 2012

The pale pink paint from the original airbrushed dragon image had become so faded due to repeated washings that I decided to add a black outline using the Pentel Gel Pen for fabric, which produces a super smooth and even line.
The leaves are attached to the quilt using dark blue tulle and stitching with embroidery thread.  The tulle disappears beautifully into the background and makes it very easy to cause somewhat dimensional pieces to be flush with the quilt surface. 
Laminated triangles of holographic paper and iron-on transfer, plus acrylic paint.
The person in this quilt was created using my method of leaving the backing paper of iron-on transfers temporarily attached as a mask for applying paint, in this case with a hand carved rubber stamp. The sparkly yarn around the figure was couched to the quilt by machine using zig-zag stitching.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Meet the Supplies" #2: Buttons

The second featured item in my "Meet the Supplies" series is Buttons!  I have always loved buttons, and in fact, perhaps some day I'll visit the Waterbury Button Museum in Connecticut and write a post about their collection, which I assume is quite impressive.

My own button collection is actually pretty modest compared with some of my other supplies, and it turns out as I discovered when I got them out to take photos, the collection desperately needed to get organized!

Basically just a sandwich bag packed full of random buttons.  Not remotely helpful when you need to find something specific!
I dumped all the buttons out on the table and started coming up with (hopefully sensible) ideas about organizational strategies. I knew I didn't want just a mass of resealable bags to dig through, so I decided to get creative. 
Similar buttons can be tied together with string, but this risks tangling, and can be super inconvenient if you're forced to always be tying and untying knots. 
Safety pins work perfectly and are very secure, but they aren't capable of holding that many buttons, and definitely not ones with a wide diameter. 

I remembered that I own a bunch of closeable hoops that are meant for use in jewelry making, and they can hold more buttons than the safety pins. 

I ended up combining the plastic baggie, tie-with-string, safety pin, earring thingy and little clear box methods to get my buttons into some decent semblance of order.

Massive number of purple buttons, which I must have bought or been given as a sampler pack, and "misc" mostly unique buttons, many of which have been found on the streets if New York. 

Flower shaped, clear, black, mother of pearl, and finally teeny tiny buttons for dolls' shirts.
Various shirt buttons always seem to find their way to me.
I spent a couple of hours at a fabulous store on Broadway carefully separating these clear and shell buttons from a miscellaneous collection piled in a massive container the size of an oil drum.  The clear ones especially continually prove useful!