Archive for February, 2010

Reddish Egret Progress Notes

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I have been working away at the head of my latest wading birds piece; this one based on a preening reddish egret.  I haven’t done any shading work to add depth to the head, but the feathers are placed:

Progress on Reddish Egret Piece by Tracy McCabe Stewart

The feathers are all hand dyed fabric, the beak commercial cottons.  On to the body next!

Starting a Reddish Egret Piece-Notes on Process

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I know I said I would post pictures of my last heron piece, but I don’t like the feet on one of them.  The scale is wrong.  Pictures will have to wait until I fix them.  In the meantime, I am starting a new piece of a preening red egret. 

I am concentrating on wading birds: herons, cranes and egrets for the whole of 2010.  Here’s the next one which is much smaller than the last one!

I decide on the basic positioning of the bird from a photo.  I used the picture as a reference to make sure I have proportions, general outline, and orientation of body parts correct, but pretty much wing it from there.  I usually don’t even make the same kind of bird.  I then freehand draw feather directions,  eye placement, etc.  Here’s my general drawing for this piece.  I think the head is a bit bulbous and the beak is too wide, but I can change the dimensions as I add the feathers:

(very) rough drawing for egret piece

Since I fuse my compositions, rather than piece, I make my general drawing of the bird directly on to batting.  From here I cut and iron on all of the hundreds of individual feathers directly on the batting. 

Here are the basic colors of the bird.  I hand dyed gradations of the colors and will further enhance colors with paintsticks or fabric paint later in the process.  Reddish egrets are a steel blue and rust color with a grey-black beak.  If I follow a triadic color scheme, my background will be a yellow-green or green or red.  None of those sound appealing to me.  I’ll audition fabrics when the bird is done.

hand dyed fabrics for egret piece

More to come as I progress the piece.

Torches and Hammers and Wire, Oh My!-Mary Hettmansperger Workshop

Monday, February 8th, 2010
I would have gotten these up sooner, but this was the maiden voyage of my new camera (Nikon Coolpix S570) and I couldn’t remeber where I put the manual.  It’s a pretty great little camera.  It has more megapixels than my big Nikon and it’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes.  The pictures are a little washed out; I had to resaturate them in Photoshop, but the detail is awesome.  enjoy!
Combined techniques by Mary Hettmansperger

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in a workshop with the incredible Mary Hettmansperger; learning metal techniques to combine with fiber art.  I was an action packed two days.  I learned a ton and we had a fabulous time.  Mary is an incredible teacher:  very, very funny and really informative.  I cannot recommend her highly enough.  If she comes to your town, run to take classes with her.

The course was on making mixed media art quilts, but most of us concentrated on learning the metal techniques, rather than creating a finished product.  I started in the art world making jewelry, so some of the metal working stuff was review for me.  Mary uses basket making techniques in her metal work and that was all new (an great) stuff.  Here are some action shots of the workshop:

We learned a great stitching/looping technique for attaching things like rocks.  We worked with bth 26 guage wire and waxed linen.  It’s really beatiful and sturdy when done well like Mary’s pieces:

Looping technique piece by Mary HettmanspergerAnother beautiful one by Mary:Mary Hettmansperger piece

Cindy Heineman had a gorgeous application of this stitch on her art quilt using regular thread:

Rock stitching by Cindy Heineman

We also learned a twining technique:

Twined piece by Mary Hettmansperger

 Here’s one by Shelley:

Twining by Shelley Brucar

Combined twining and looping by Mary Hettmansperger

Stana Marie Coleman used the loop technique on this pretty piece:

Metal work by Stana Marie Coleman

 We all had fun with the torches and hammers:

Fun with Fire

Joan Bratton did some gogeous weaving on this piece:

Gorgeous stuff by Joan Bratton

 Mixed media quilts by Shelley Brucar:

Graffiti by Shelley Brucar

A mixed media mini quilt by me:

Mini art quilt by Tracy McCabe Stewart


 Everyone made peapods.  I can’t remember who did this beauty.  I think it beloged to Sheila Shaffer-Hirsch:

Peapod Mania!

The Upside of this Endless Winter

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Hi all,

We had a really cool frost a few weeks ago that created lovely formations on the trees, etc.  My pals tell me it’s called a hoarfrost.  Here are some pics of my backyard:

Frosty Willow Tree

 You can’t see it as well here, but my magnolia got some, too:

Frosty Trees

Frosty Chokecherry

I had my Needle Arts guild meeting today and Mary Hettmansperger was our speaker.  She does unbelievable mixed media work:  baskets, jewelry, textiles and a cross over between all media.  Truly gorgeous stuff.  I’m in a class with her for the next few days.  I’m hoping to take tons of pictures.  Check out her work here:

I drove up to my house today to see a red tailed hawk munching on a squirrel on the sidewalk.  He let me stare from the car, but as soon as I came out with my camera, he flew off.  I sure wish I could have captured him on film, but camera or no, it was definitely an awesome gift for the day.

Thermofax/Silk Screen Workshop with Barbara Schneider

Monday, February 1st, 2010

I just can’t get enough of taking classes from Barbara Schneider.  She’s a fabulous teacher and I always learn something that I’ll actually use in my work.  This class was no exception.  The focus of Barbara’s class was on expanding uses for thermofax screens and silk screens.

We started out by making oversized thermofax screens.  You’re only limited by the width of the machine, but can make them as long as you care to.  We created frames by cutting one side out of two frames and gluing them together for a larger total opening.  I made some great screens but forgot to take pictures of them.

Barbara also showed us some of her experiments with screens past their prime.  Below, she has created a sewing line to add visual interest.  Good for backgrounds.

Revamping spent screensHere are some of her results using this screen:She also showed us some different effects to create with regular screens:Thermofax screens using a sponge application

Above, Barbara has created a much softer effect by using a a sponge with her screen rather than the traditional application.
Below, she has combined sponge and regular paint applications:

Combination of sponge and regular applications

We then made silk screens by stapling cheap synthetic organza over stretcher bars:

Cheap silk screens

Barbara showed us a few uses.  first was creating a wax rubbing resist on the screen.  Barbara is using a doily.  She creates the resist by placing the doily underneath the screen and rubbing wax over the screen.  Now, whatever is run through the screen won’t permeate the wax rubbing:

wax resist on silk screen

We also made drippy screens with this blue liquid I’ve forgotten the name of.  You can apply it any way you like.  We dripped it all over.  When dry, the screen will be covered with a red liquid that acts as a resist.  You let the red stuff dry and then rinse the screen.  The places where the blue liquid are will rinse away and the red will remain creating a screen of the blue design.  Here are some examples before the red is applied.  I do realize that this is the lamest explanation ever:

 She also showed us another method using leaves or other objects (they will get ruined) as a resist and spray painting the screen.  You then remove the objects befor the paint adheres them to the screen.

Leaf resist screens

I had to leave the workshop early, so didn’t actually make any work.  That’s also why there’s no pictures of actual work.

I haven’t had any time to play with this stuff. I have been hunkered down working on a that huge heron piece I started a few months ago.  It’s basically done, but I’m not quite pleased with the head of one of them.  Once I fix it, I’ll post pictures. 

We had a really bizarre frost a few weeks ago.  My friend told me it’s called a hoarfrost.  I got some cool pictures I’ll post tomorrow. 
I am taking a class with Mary Hettsmansperger on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Hopefully, I’ll get pictures up soon!