Archive for April, 2009

Shibori Experiments

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

It was so long since I had seen all of the Free Motions that I forgot to take pictures of our work day.  Nina has been AWOL for a long time, taking workshops, battling the flu and traveling.  We spent quite a lot of time gabbing instead of working, I’m afraid.  We also spent quite a lot of time standing around talking while Shelley made thermofax screens, too.  Then, of course we spent time eating.  All in all, not our most focused day, but we actually did do some dyeing!

  I do have a few pictures of some of my more successful experiments with shibori.  I ended up doing mostly pole wrapping techniques and trying to mimic those techniques through folding.  For pole wrapping, I use a large PVC pipe cut into two.  The diameter is about 6-8 inches.  The fabric is wrapped flat around the pole, the fabric is then wrapped with twine along it’s length and then it’s scrunched or compressed along the pipe.  Thsi creates small pleats that you apply the dye to.  Dharma Trading (one of my favorite places for supplies) Has some good pictures of the technique.  I have to point out that I am WAY too lazy to really do much shibori.  If you look at the Japanese techniques, they are, for the most part, meticulous and time consuming.  If you haven’t guessed by now, these are not my strong points.  I am more of a serendipidous dyer.  It is way more fun for me this way and I get great results at times, but does mean that I can rarely reproduce what I have made in the past.   Here’s some pictures of my haphazard experiments:

 

I really liked the way this pole wrapping turned out.   It was a piece of truly ugly velvet that I used up old dye on.   Most of it didn’t take.  You can see it’s loveliness on the left of the photo.   I used thickened dye and dry fabric because I wanted a crisper line.  Dye tends to end up blurrier when the fabric is wet or the dye is thin.  Anyway, I got a truly beautiful result, but the velvet sucked up all of the dye and it never made it down to the lower layers of the wrapping.  I will reverse the wrapping and do the other half the same way.  I really like the lines I got.  Click on photo for bigger image:

dry velvet pole wrap shibori

dry velvet pole wrap shibori

 

I had some other pole wrapped pieces, but they were really crap.  The dye color was too light and was runny.  It didn’t really give me any distinctive line, not worth posting.

When my poles were all used up, I tried a few experiments in trying to get the shibori look from folding fabric, rather than pole wrapping.  They don’t really mimic shibori all that much, but they aren’t a bad result.  The first one here uses thickened dye (thickened with print paste) on wet velvet.  I got a surprisingly crisp line:

Pleated wet velvet and thickened dye

Pleated wet velvet with thickened dye

This one was less thrilling.  The cotton was wet and the dye wasn’t thickened quite so much.  The dye spread much more than it did on the velvet.  Still, not a terrible result:
previously dyed wet cotton redyed with thickened dye

previously dyed wet cotton redyed with thickened dye

 I tried to do some pleating and wrapping techniques with discharge paste, but it didn’t really discharge much.  I meant to do some fancy stitch resist techniques, but didn’t have time to get them done before the work group.

The Free Motions do Shibori

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Today my work group, the Free Motions, are coming over to do some shibori dyeing techniques.   We will be pole wrapping and experimenting with stitch resist techniques; adding removing and layering color.   I will post pictures of our experiments tomorrow.  We will be doing some experiments from this book:  Shibori:  The Inventive Art of Japanese Shaped Resist Dyeing by Wada, Rice and Barton.  I’ve had the book for a while, but haven’t really explored much of it’s contents.  Today should be fun!

Michelle Sales Flat Felting Workshop

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

I had ambitions to post these pictures on Friday.  Road to hell and all that.  Anyway here’s a recap complete with lots of pictures!  I apologize in advance to all those at the workshop.  I couldn’t remember who made all the pieces or people’s full names.

I finally learned how to do the pictures!  Click on picture for bigger image!

Dueling cameras with Cindy

Cindy Kuo and I compete for most pictures taken during the workshop

Cindy Kuo and I compete for most pictures taken during the workshop

Dottie’s t shirt summed it all up:

Amen!

Amen!

We spent day one creating felt pieces.  Our focus was on combining colors of wool, adding lightly felted wool elements as surface design and incorporating threads, etc. into the wool pieces themselves.  Here are some great samples that were made incorporating these techniques:

In this one, Pat embedded tiny clippings of felted wool, threads and even a few feathers.

Pat's experiment

Pat's experiment

felt-8

Landscape felt

 Shelley always has her own agenda at workshops.  That’s part of her charm.   She wasn’t satisfied with making small samples!

Shelley creating a monstrously big wool piece

Shelley creating a monstrously big wool piece

Here is Michelle with one of her samples.   She has added lightly felted wool pieces and a few threads and quilted the whole thing.  Felt quilts BEAUTIFULLY.  Lots and lots of texture.

 

Michelle!

Michelle!

Debbie brought some wool pieces that used silk as a “resist”.  The silk is felted with the wool and the wool embeds itself into the silk during the process.

Wool with silk resist

Wool with silk resist

We also gessoed wool pieces  on day one to prepare them for surface design.

 

Day two we played with fabric stiffener to create 3D shapes.  Here are some samples:

 

Free motion quilted wool stiffened into shape

Free motion quilted wool stiffened into shape

Beautiful wool piece treated with stiffener and pinned in to shape

Beautiful wool piece treated with stiffener and pinned in to shape

 

Commercial wool stretched on canvas, glued and stiffened

Commercial wool stretched on canvas, glued and stiffened

Debbie Plato made a beautiful house.  You can’t tell it’s a house from this picture.  That’s my poor photography!  Debbie used watercolor on this piece and did not gesso it first.  I really the texture showing through all her color.

Debbie Plato's House

Debbie Plato's House

Michelle's fabric stiffened bowls

Fabric stiffener works!

Sharon brought a previous project she had made.  It pretty much has all wool tchniques I can think of:  embedded threads and lightly felted wool, stitching and stiffening.
Sharon's fabulous trunk

Sharon's fabulous trunk

Here’s a cute purse Leah made in a 3D felting workshop with Michelle.  It was created by felting over a form into the shape, rather than creating a shape with stiffening:
Leah's funky purse

Leah's funky purse

This is one of my experiments with gesso. I like the texture; sort of cave wallish. I painted it with Lumiere Metallics and thermofax screen printed on top

Gesso experiment

Gesso experiment

Another  one of mine below.Thermofax Screen printing on commercial wool:

Screen printing on commercial felt

Screen printing on commercial felt

and here I combined screen priniting with embedding silk organza into the piece: 

My piece.  Screen printed and embedded with hand dyed silk organza

My piece. Screen printed and embedded with hand dyed silk

And finally, here are some of Michelle’s mixed media pieces.  Most of these include Tyvek, which is the main material she works in these days.
That Michelle works everything in these pieces!

That Michelle works everything in these pieces!

Another of Michelle's:  Wool and tyvek

Another of Michelle's: Wool and tyvek

Felt!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

My Michelle Sales flat felting workshop is fantastic!  It is truly amazing to see the possibilities with this material.  we spent the day making  small pieces of felt, layering felt into 3D forms and gessoing felt to surface design at the workshop today. 

I was way too tired to sort through workshop pictures last night.  I will take more pictures today and post all the pictures Friday.

In the meantime, here’s some wornderful felt eye candy to look at from Art Felt.  The whole site is great, but I particularly enjoyed the exhibition photos.  Enjoy!

Off to a Flat Felting Workshop with Michelle Sales

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Over the next two days I am doing a flat felting workshop with a wonderful mixed media artist, Michelle Sales.  Michelle is currently working mostly with Tyvek, but started out working with felt.  Her work is really gorgeous.  Michelle shows all over the place.  Last year I saw her work at SOFA Chicago; which is consistently one of the best art shows I’ve ever seen.  I’ve been going for about 10 years now. 

   I’ve taken a class with her before.  She is a wonderful, fun teacher and a whole lot of fun.  I will take lots of pictures and post them over the next few days.  In the meantime, check out Michelle’s website.

2009 International Quilt Festival-Chicago

Monday, April 20th, 2009

I went with my pal Shelley to the International Quilt Festival in the Chicago area (Rosemont, IL).  We spent a few hours volunteering at the SAQA booth.  SAQA had two really incredible exhibits this year:  Masters: Art Quilts with works from the fantastic book of the same name and A Sense of Time.  Unfortunately for me, both prohibited photos, so I can’t post pictures from these, but there were quite a few other great exhibits at the show.

Here are some of my favorite pieces:

There were a few with a Japanese aesthetic that I loved:

Walking with Vincent in the Plum Garden by Susan Leise

Walking with Vincent in the Plum Garden by Susan Leise

Susan is from Cedar rapids, NE.  I couldn’t find a website for her.

Another with a Japanese feel, from Japanese artist, Noriko Endo:

Radiant Reflections by Noriko Endo

Radiant Reflections by Noriko Endo

“Collaboration II”  By Peggy Brown of Nashville, IN:

Collaboration II by Peggy Brown

Collaboration II by Peggy Brown

and a detail of her work:

Collaboration II Detail

Collaboration II Detail

 Here’s a great one by Betty Busby of Alburquerque:

After the Rains by Betty Busby

After the Rains by Betty Busby

I loved this one by Ferret from the U.K.:

Herd Mentality by Ferret

Herd Mentality by Ferret

 A lovely journal quilt piece using digital imagery by Judy Momenzadeh of Homestead, FL:

Tranquility by Judy Momenzadeh

Tranquility by Judy Momenzadeh

Another lovely Journal quilt with wool roving work from Beth Porter Johson of Houston:

Fire Above the Clouds by Beth Porter Johnson

Fire Above the Clouds by Beth Porter Johnson

and this fun one from Pamela Allen of Ontario, Canada:

Three Guinea Fowls by Pamela Allen

Three Guinea Fowls by Pamela Allen

I thought I had taken a picture of Norma Schlager’s wonderful piece, but apparently didn’t.  I have pinched one fron her site  (Thanks, Norma!)  That’s Norma herself posing with it.

Salsa City by Norma Schlager

Salsa City by Norma Schlager

 

Ther were so many other wonderful pieces at the show, but I have a relatively short attention span for editing photos.  I do have to say that I thought the SAQA exhibits were particulary wonderful.   I sure wish they would allow photography!  There were some other really lovely exhibits that didn’t allow photography either:  “The Sky’s the Limit” and “Town and Country” didn’t either.  You can see some of these quilts here.  IQF  travels to Longbeach, Houston, and I think somewhere in PA.    It is definitely worth the trip.
Enjoy.

SAQA Musings

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

 

"Torii Gate" 60"wx55"l (C) 2007 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

"Torii Gate" 60"wx55"l (C) 2007 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

Torii Gate features hand dyed and commercial cottons, hand dyed silk.  Machine quilted.

I got a happy email this morning telling me that my piece, “Torii Gate” was accepted into the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) Musings show, juried by Sandra Sider.   It will premiere at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, MI this summer.

In the Spring a Young Man’s Fancy………….

Monday, April 13th, 2009

 crane-2-smaller

“Crane Series II” (C) 2008 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

Digitally created fabric, hand dyed and commercial cottons.  Machine Quilted.

I took a walk with my dogs over the weekend to one of my local nature preserves, Rollins Savannah.  Rollins Savannah was restored to wetlands after years of use for cattle grazing.  Read about it here.   Our forest preserve department did a pretty amazing  job of it.   They have restored enough wetlands and nesting sites that it has a really amazing migratory bird population.   I like to try to identify birds, but I am absolutely the worst bird geek ever.   I have a bunch of bird books, but have not ever been able to identify a SINGLE unknown bird from looking at them.  I love to be outside looking at nature of any kind, so don’t really care.

 

 I was hoping to see some sandhill cranes; they are known to stop in here since the restoration.  Sadly, Chicago’s spring has been so miserable that all the birds seem to be taking their time getting here. 

I ran into the longest. slowest train in history trying to get to the park.  It did have some nice graffitti:

 

Train Graffitti 1

Train Graffitti 1

and this:

Train Graffitti 2

Train Graffitti 2

Rollins didn’t really have all that much to look at.  It’s been too cold for much plant growth.  My experience was much more auditory.  It wasn’t until I moved to a place a bit more rural that I had the joyful spring experience of bazillions of frogs calling for mates in the early spring.  I got an earful of the crooning of the what I think is the Western Chorus frog.  They are a little bitty frog, but when they have their hearts set on spring romance, they make up for their size.  They congregate in wetlands and even big puddles and can be really LOUD.  It brings a big smile to my face every time I hear them.  Here’s a snippet of what they sound like:

Frogs Looking for Love

Mutiply that by hundreds and that’s what it can sound like out here.

 

 The other really noisy courtship around here in the spring is the redwing blackbird.  They like to hang around wetlands, which we have a fair amout of.  Here’s a snippet of them.

Romancing Redwing Blackbirds

They are WAY louder than this!

My pictures on this walk were pretty underwhelming but I did like this one of last year’s cattails:

 

Last Year's Cattails

Last Year's Cattails

Hopefully, it will warm up really soon.  If not, I will have my head in the oven!

Plant a Hundred Flowers-A great post on Marketing from Escape From Cubicle Nation

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

 

Thorn series I (c) 2006 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

Thorn series I (c) 2006 by Tracy McCabe Stewart

My piece pictured, “Thorn Series I” above includes hand dyed and commercial cottons, thermofax screened images.  Machine quilted.  Click for bigger image.

 

Pam Slim: author, blogger and personal coach extraordinaire has put a great post up on her blog, Escape From Cubicle Nation about marketing that really hit home with me.  It is  about staying true to the process of creating, making connections because you enjoy it and believing in your product.  She links to other great posts within that article; click her links.   Though she is talking about her  book launch for Escape from Cubicle Nation, the book,  I found the information very applicable to my own life as an artist.  Maybe you will, too.

Recreating Water on Thermofax Screens

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I am currently working on a commission piece combining tree and water elements.  I have decided to screen the water texture on to hand dyed cotton and possibly cover it with hand dyed silk organza.  I am combining this water element with  side panels that have heavy branch screenings and larger branches under silk organza. 

Side Panel-Hand dyed cotton, fused cottons under hand dyed, discharged silk.

Side Panel-Hand dyed cotton, fused cottons under hand dyed, discharged silk.

Because of this, I want a watery texture that  will convey water without clashing with all the branch textures.  Here are images I have manipulated in Photoshop to use as screens.  I will make the screens up tomorrow and hopefully, have some screened fabric to post over the next few days:

Water Screen 1

Water Screen 1

This is one where I inverted the image to have the highlights from the photo show as black.  That way, the highlights are what will come through in the screening process.

"water" screen adapted from bark photo

"water" screen adapted from bark photo

FYI, thermofax screens require black and white images, no grays.  I take photos, desaturate the color and then gradually up the brightness and contrast until I am left with a black and white photo.  The screened images will be the black part.  If necessary, I will invert the image in Photoshop, to create the desired screen.

Water screen 3

Water screen 3

Here’s one more:

 

 

another Water Screen

another Water Screen

I’ll keep you posted!