Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Enjoy!

For the next few weeks I will be traveling in India with my daughter and son-in-law while my dear husband holds down the fort at home. We will mainly be in the province of Kerala south of Kochi in the village of Alleppey. You can see Kochi and Kerala marked on this map - why Kerala is marked as it is a province, not a town, is not clear to me but, at least, this gives you a general idea of where we will be.

My blog will stay active while I am traveling as I have prepared a series of posts in advance but I probably won't be able to respond to any comments till I return. I hope you will understand. Promise to bring back many wonderful photos to share.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And, more progress!

While Irene swirled up the East Coast of the U.S., I was busy beading. Totally coincidentally, part of my plan was to bead some swirls into the center of my current piece. So, there I was sewing swirling beads while the weather bureau filled our television screen with swirling hurricane images. I like mine a lot more!
You can also get a glimpse of some of the decorative stitching and quilting lines for the center of my piece. I am more than half-way through the beading process. I am not sure which is more tedious - stitching the swirls throughout the center of the quilt or threading and knotting invisible thread to individually sew some 20 or more beads that I fell in love with at my local bead store, Bead Breakout.

However, I am nearing completion. Already, I am planning for my next set of projects!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hungry in America

ABC news has had a series of reports this week on the number of hungry children in America. The numbers are staggering.

"Homeless" -  Judy Warner
According to a website article:  "As many as 17 million children nationwide are struggling with what is known as food insecurity. To put it another way, one in four children in the country is living without consistent access to enough nutritious food to live a healthy life, according to the study, "Map the Meal Child Food Insecurity 2011."

Here is another startling statement: "In fact, a shocking 49 percent of all babies born in the U.S. are born to families receiving food supplements from the WIC program, according to Jean Daniel, spokesperson for the USDA." [WIC, a supplemental food program that provides tailored food supplements to pregnant women and families with children under age 5 whose household income is less than 185 percent of the gross federal poverty limit. That's an annual gross income of $41,348 for a family of four.]

 In a related web article, there is a list of ways that you can help including supporting your local food bank, or contributing $10 by texting FEED to 50555.

I will be flying off to India later next week and much of the time will be spent in an area where poverty is rampant and families go hungry. I found the ABCNews reports a stark reminder that hunger is not just 'over there' but right here in my own backyard.  Hope that you can take the time to check out some of the stories and choose a way to contribute in your own community.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Making Progress

I am continuing to work on my latest piece that I last reported on in the beginning of August. It has come a long way since then and I would love to have most of the quilting done before I take off on a two week trip at the end of next week.

I finished piecing the outer and inner areas. Here is a view of how that proceeded.

Now I have added some pieces that I best call 'lightning strikes' to the background of the quilt.

 Right now, I am working on quilting the piece. Will let you know how that develops.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Simple Project

September 11 is approaching. Having grown up in the environs of the tragedy, it is always a difficult time for me. I was fortunate, in one sense, as anyone I knew in the buildings managed to escape before they crashed. But, always, the date brings sadness. This year I will be in India on Sept. 11 and I have wondered what that will be like.

A project came to light in the many emails that I receive that has given me a way to make a statement, feel part of a community that looks for the positive in that terrifying event. I thought I would share news of the project in case it interests you as well.

Called One Common Thread For Peace, everyone is asked to cut a 12-inch strip of ribbon, fabric or some other knot-able material, write a message of hope on it or simply sign your name, and send it to:
Human Thread Center
645 W. 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60616

There, the individual “threads” will be tied together and transformed into a work of art symbolizing our collective hopes for a more unified and peaceful world. The artwork will be unveiled as part of a 9/11 commemorative event in Chicago. 

The project is co-sponsored by the Chicago Fringe Festival and Human Thread.

They have certainly made it simple to participate! My plate is full in many ways these days but I suspect that on 9/11 I will find a bit of peace in knowing that I have made a statement in my own way to commemorate the date.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Surprise Show!

Last weekend my aikido dojo hosted our Sensei from Japan for a workshop. On Saturday, we planned a catered lunch in another part of the building where we rent. We didn't get to see the room until Friday morning when a few of us went to fix it up. After washing the floor and walls, it looked pretty dull.

So, since I still had a few hours till our Sensei would arrive in town, I drove back home and gathered up some of my quilts. I probably set a record for hanging a room of quilts. It was just the touch that was needed to perk up the room. Once we added some flowers, the food, and had some music playing, it really turned into a nice relaxing spot for lunch in the midst of our seminar.

So, I guess you could say that I had my first solo show. Everyone enjoyed seeing another aspect of my life. And, I have to admit, the quilts did look pretty nice hanging in the space.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Moment's Pause

A few weeks ago I was driving along one of the busier streets in our area. Slowly a line of geese began to cross the highway. For once, my iPhone was near and I grabbed it. I am happy to report that all geese safely crossed the road - one car cut it really close and I held my breath for a bit. It is sort of nice to know that despite all our busyness, we all were willing to wait and allow this flock to cross the road safely.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I am happy to share that I have had an article, Preparing Your Mind and Body for Creating, published in the current issue of the SAQA Journal.  The issue is only available to members so I can't share the entire article. However, it does discuss good posture for sewing.

I thought I would share a video that I made last year on posture that is available on YouTube. Please enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Of Covers for iPads and Kindles

Everyone seems to be getting a Kindle or iPad these days. I have had an iPad for quite awhile and my daughter just got a Kindle. My iPad is one of the earlier models and I bought an official iPad case for it. I found it bulky for traveling and soon made my own case, using some dense batting that I had for cushioning. I have found it totally adequate.

 When my daughter announced that she now had a Kindle, I volunteered to make a cover. She lives across the country in Spokane, WA, so I didn't have a model to work with. But, conveniently, Bernina offered a pattern in their latest issue of their online e-magazine, Through the Needle. Their design, as I would expect, was a little fancier, including a small pocket on the back and a design for the front cover that allowed one to use some of Bernina's wonderful decorative stitch options. I found the pattern easy to follow and finished the entire project in an afternoon. Since I have had a good experience with using batting as padding in my iPad case, I simply used some batting I had in my stash rather than the fiberform suggested in the directions. In fact, everything I needed to make the case was in my stash. :)

Here is how the cover turned out. I think my daughter will be pleased!

Front of Kindle cover

Back of Kindle cover

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Favorite Resist Tool

I mentioned that I used an interesting little Japanese tool to create some mechanical resists in my natural dyeing class with Michele Wipplinger.

Here is the little tool clamped to a table, with some silk mounted and wound with string. I doubled the silk around the tool as it was so delicate.

After tying off the string, I removed the silk and created a row of similar 'fingers' in the scarf.
I then dyed the 'fingers' with some quebracho red and steamed the scarf to set the dye. After the steaming, I untied the scarf.
I really liked the effect of the dyeing - the gradations from the wrapping suggested flowers to me - you can see that a little more clearly in this close-up.

I decided to keep this piece as is as a record for future experiments and then play with a second piece. This time I worked with logwood grey in painting during my wrapping stage. I didn't apply as much paint and the result was more diffuse.  I painted over the first stage after I steamed it with some madder. 

As you can see, the results are quite different.
It sure is fun to play! I suspect I am going to explore working with this little tool quite a bit more!

Monday, August 8, 2011

More on Natural Dyeing with Michelle Wipplinger

At the start of our class on Surface Design class with Michelle Wipplinger of Earthues we each received a bag of primarily mordanted silk to use in the class. This saved us hours of prep work. Many of the pieces were delicate silk scarves. There was also one beautiful cotton shawl.

I totally enjoyed exploring the art of dyeing with these fabrics. I played with silk screens, stenciling and resists, including an interesting Japanese tool that created an effect I absolutely loved and that I will write about later this week.

Here are some of my efforts:
My first two projects.
 The photo above shows my first two attempts at working with natural dyes. I did some silk screening and painting with sponges on the left lighter color piece. The darker piece was simple painting with natural dyes.
These two scarves involved more playing with painting with natural dyes.  I also added some effects with pigments to the lower scarf.
Finally, here are two of my indigo pieces. I will eventually add some additional touches to the bottom one. I learned that I really loved dyeing with indigo.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Studies in Texture

I didn't get to take photos of my silk dyeing yet, but here are some photos on texture that I have collected:

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pushing My Limits, Again.

So, I just spent the last three days in an intensive workshop on natural fiber surface design. I somehow manage to find these opportunities to push myself to my limits. It is always worth it as I then integrate what I learned into my life. After all, that is what growing (and living) is all about, isn't it?

So, I walked in to this workshop with amazingly little knowledge or experience of the whole field of dyeing and general surface design. I have known for a year or two that I needed to learn more, deepen my understanding, and create a stronger base for my art. I received an email about this class a number of months ago - the dates and subject matter sounded right and it was only 20 minutes from my home so I signed up.

Michelle relaxing for a moment
As a result, I had the opportunity to study with Michelle Wipplinger in a class called "Painting and Printing on Cloth: Mark Making the Natural Way." Michelle owns Earthues in Seattle, WA and has been involved in the field of natural fiber dyeing for the past 40 years, traveling extensively internationally to learn and collaborate.

It was clear to me as people introduced themselves at the start of the class that I was in way over my head, surrounded by design professionals, some of whom had traveled up from NYC to study with Michelle. But, it was great. My head was spinning by the end of day two but everyone was friendly and supportive of the few of us who were really 'beginners.' I absolutely loved it!

And, wow, did I learn!

Michelle brought a host of examples of cloth dyed with natural dyes and pigments.
Silks dyed with natural dyes

dyed silks then painted with pigments
We began with some simple painting with natural dyes and then progressed through working with pigments, indigo dyeing, and an assortment of techniques that we as participants wished to explore.

Our group at work
 Our backgrounds and interests were so varied that we all just naturally plunged in and went off in different directions, at different rates of speed. Michelle managed to be everywhere at once, answering questions, offering suggestions, making sure that we all were getting what we wanted from her class.

The drying racks, filled with our efforts, were fascinating to look over.

It was absolutely wonderful! Next post, I will share some of my own efforts.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Coming together!

Progress continues on my latest piece.

I did a test strip of how I visualized piecing the outer portion of the quilt.

I liked the idea so I began cutting the individual pieces of fabric and then pinning them to one of my patterns.

Gradually the pieces started to fill in the pattern.

When all of the outer section was pinned to the pattern, I began playing with the inner portion.

I am now working on stitching it all together. Will keep you posted on my progress.