Friday, January 29, 2010

Egret Mobile study = fabric art on the move

You have to be over 'a certain age' to remember Frank Sinatra belting out “My Way”.   I remember it well. As this project morphed from one thing to another the words, “I did it my way” kept floating through my mind.

The Fast Friday Fabric Challenge this month: something with wings, fractured, and done with only 3 colors out of the primary and secondary colors + black and white.

As I began to look at the suggestions for fractured things, mosaics appealed to me. Thinking on a grand scale I thought I would do a fractured water lily with an overlay of a dragonfly. I had some sheer fabric just waiting to be used. I found several dragonfly photos, blew one up to a size I thought I could stitch, ~20” long for a single wing. I'm thinking maybe I'll just do the wings as a mobile. By Sunday night I had finished tracing both parts of a single wing onto a sheer paper so that I could just turn it over to get the other side. Taking a break, I got something to eat. When I picked up the spoon to eat my soup, a horrible pain went through my fingers, hand and arm. I could not pick up a spoon without horrible pain. I took some Ibuprofen and sat down at the computer to read; just rocking and holding my injured arm.   I had stupidly injured myself. I definitely was not going to trace these again. Of course I was able to eat using my left hand.   Not much stops me from getting food into my mouth.

Dragon Fly Wing Drawings on my Work Table

The next day I took my drawings to a copy place. 4 to 5 hour wait. Nope. I just could not do that. Luckily I didn't do that because when I tried to stitch my sheer fabric over the paper, I could not get the paper out of those little bitty spaces. HMMM.

Butterfly Drawing with thoughts about making it into a mobile.

More research for a winged thing. I was now loving the idea of a mobile. As I surfed, I saw a GREAT plane with a man inside running across the ground. The wings were 3 high and the tail had lots of interesting pieces. I can now imagine this could really have a lot of movement. As I started drawing and planning, I realize I really didn't want a plane. How about a butterfly; hours later that was not working for me. I started looking at birds and mobiles. I did not want a flock of birds. Rather, my vision, was for one bird that I would fracture.  HMMM . . . an egret in flight.

Egret mobile with sheer bits, black wire and painted [also weighted] beak.

Finally, I have something I really like.  Luckily, I decided to do a small study instead of a LARGE piece.  Balancing the pieces was tricky for me. I used thin black wire and bent my shapes and attaching rings. I pounded the shapes a little to give them a little stiffness and help them keep their form.  Because normally these things are done using heavier materials then soldering a ring at the balance point, I added weight [extra wire] when I did my balancing. The beak is really lots of wire, wrapped, then painted. I sewed a layer of sheer fabric to each side, stopped the fray with liquid stitch, then purposefully frayed the edges, ie feathers.
Egret mobile view from kitchen.

Egret mobile from dining [now quilt art studio]

I have no idea why this is turning up yellow in this photo.  It really is two different sheer white fabrics.  I used one fabric on one side and another on the opposite side.  I sewed with a clear polyester in the bobbin and a silver thread on top.  As I researched fabrics, polyester is the most resistant to sun and age deterioration.  This was the reason for my fabric and thread choices.  This is so lightweight that it is continually in movement = success for a mobile.

Remembering the goals of this group: “it is through doing that we will learn.” Yes, I learned a lot. Plus, the end of the challenge always states something similar to , “remember to have fun”. Please note it is the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge; not a quilting challenge.

Yes, “I did it my way. . . "

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Morgandy's First Birthday gift

For a few hours on Mondays, I babysit  the adorable baby next door. Today is Morgandy's first birthday. For this occasion I created a new rocking chair back to replace a rattan one that had been punched out by a 4 year old boy. Of course I've had this chair for a while. I took all the loose joints apart and re-glued them. It is now really sturdy. Then I pulled off all the bits and pieces of rattan. After a final cleaning;  I got my canvas and began painting.

Morgandy means 'Little One by the Sea.' So of course I painted a little girl at the edge of a big body of water. I used unprimed canvas and acrylic paints. I knew this would work because I painted a skirt with acrylic paints 30 [or more] years ago. They do make the fabric stiff, but in this case it would make it better to be stiff. I do not like acrylics for my regular wall quilts because I do not like the stiffness. The painting is simple, and was easy. The assembly was hard. The back is larger at the top than at the bottom; it is also curved.  Because of my distracted, grieving mind I first sewed it together making the top 1" too narrow. This is tough stuff to sew, but rips out easily. Then of course I had to repaint a bit to cover those lines. After sewing to the correct size, I trimmed the corners and turned it right side out. This is very hard stuff to work with. Getting it turned right side out is a job in itself. I intended to quilt it. However just stitching a band around the edges, was difficult. I used a #16 needle, the largest I had. At this time, I decided not to quilt. It was even difficult to bury the thread from this little bit of sewing. However, by stitching that band, I had 4 pieces of canvas acting as one at the edge where it will get the most strain. I think it is strong enough for a little girl.

Then I used carpet thread to sew it into the existing frame. That was the hardest job. After I had the top installed [little over 8 hours], I wished I had my old grommet maker. If you are going to do something like this, and I highly recommend it, use grommets to line up with the holes and then it can easily be laced into place. I feel writing about my mistakes, helps any reader avoid them. One of those, "do as I say, not as I do" sort of things.  I do hope this was a good learning experience for you; it sure was for me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quilting Arts Publication

 I was absolutely thrilled that my quilt, "The Retrospective Theater" was published in Quilting Arts Magazine, October\November 2008, page 53.  Somehow the post I made soon after was lost, so I'm reposting because I have another BIG honor to brag about which is coming soon.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wild Rose

The FFF challenge number 40 was using a color scheme from a product to portray a still life with a plant. I started sketching a yellow rose in a vase, then gradually I eliminated the vase and blew the rose up. I only had this tiny bottle of yellow dye, so the colors changed during the development.  It started out as a 'Yellow Rose', but ended up as a 'Wild Rose'.

I forgot to photograph just the yellow and white.   However, you can see that the tiny bottle of yellow and the small bottle of white are not going to cover this big sheet.

I used a piece of white sheeting, dyes, and paints. My original thought was to just paint the yellow tones of the rose and leave the white for the highlights. That didn't have enough depth for me. So I just kept painting until I got some shapes I liked. I found the painting so relaxing and exhilarating and challenging all at the same time. Obviously it was fun!

The background seemed rather uninteresting so I remembered the month we experimented with stamping and mark making. I scoured the house for things that would leave some texture. My problem was stopping because I was having so much fun.

Although my yellow rose gained a lot of other colors during the process so that it doesn't exactly match the predominately blue and yellow of my chips package, I'm thrilled with the result. It is the most colorful thing I've ever done.

Wild Rose
27.75" X 28.75"
I've also been admiring those interesting borders that many folks use on their quilts. Mine never really called for that. However, as I made the rose larger, I realized it might be more dramatic with the bottom border following the lines of the rose and leaves. It does! I struggled with this border for over a week. Finally I stitched it by hand on the back to hold the facing in place. Any and all advice about doing this would be appreciated. I got it done, but it did involve a lot of angst.