Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Small Pleasures

I thought it would be fun to make an interpretation of my last digital drawing in fabric. My first impulse was to use solid, flat fabrics, but I really wondered how my dyed shirting fabrics would look.  This was a quickie. It is only about 9" square (or un-square, it seems). I like results. I don't know if this style can translate to a larger size. 

I had this idea today to make some covers for little sketchbooks. It was kind of a crafty impulse on top of a realization that I have a lot of bits and bobs of ontresting fabrics, both my own printing and painting efforts and commercial fabrics. That gave me good excuse for a trip to the art store where I found a nice little Fabriano sketchbook that cried out for a cover. First try is a little boring, but I worked out the pattern, size, etc. 

A few of these might be good for a fall sale and open studios. Hopefully I can come up with some more dynamic fabric combos. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thread winners

The winners of thread sets from Connecting Threads are Sue in Illinois and Annemarie in New York! Congratulations. I hope you enjoy using this thread. Thank you to everyone who left a comment to enter. I wish I could send thread to all 302 of you! And if you are now wanting to try their thread, Connecting Threads is having a sale on their thread right now...

There were so many great ideas for storing and organizing thread. You all inspired me to do a little reorganizing of my own thread. I am still using the same drawers, but I added some dividers to a couple of the drawers to help corral the spools a little better. Doesn't this look better?

I cut the dividers from foam board and taped them in place. I now have all my large spools, mostly the Connecting Threads spools, in the top drawer, other brands of regular thread in the second drawer, specialty threads like rayons and embroidery threads in the third and variegated threads and cones in the bottom.

Someone said they wished they knew how to organize their bobbins. Here are mine:

I've had the blue donut bobbin holder for awhile. It holds bobbins for the machine I have used most frequently and I like it. I got an additional machine last year and its bobbins have been in a little plastic bowl and quite a mess to deal with just because I haven't gotten around to going out and buying another donut. Inspired by all this thread talk I stopped at Joanne's to pick up another donut last week and found the clear plastic bobbin case you see at the top. I really liked the looks of it and couldn't decide between another donut and this one. Finally, realizing that the case holds more bobbins than the donut made up my mind. And it was actually less expensive than the donut. (those donuts seem expensive for what they are...) I think it is going to work great. I noted that several people mentioned that they use the little holders that connect the bobbin to its matching thread. Good idea if you always use matching bobbin thread, but I don't. For quilting I usually use bobbin thread, which is thinner, which I have in off-white, gray and black. Sometimes I match the bobbin thread to the backing of the quilt. Rarely do I have the same colors top and bottom.

So, I think we have pretty much exhausted the subject of thread! (Hurrah, say my non-sewing friends and family who don't care about thread.)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Yellow

I love this little yellow bowl. I bought it in Ecuador several years ago. It is quite small—about 3 inches across. I have a purple one and a green one too, but the yellow is my favorite. 

I made a very fussy drawing of it, with a lot of shading and attention to getting the shape just right and it looked pretty bad. Lost the joy of that cheerful little vessel altogether. So I changed to a fat line "brush" and drew right over the top of that agonized drawing. I like this so much. I wonder how I could get to this kind of freedom with my fabric work. I want to think about that. 

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus

Next week: shoe

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bigger than Life

That seems to be the current theme. Smaller, simpler pieces, depicting things bigger than they actually are. Pine cone is 18" 

Today is the last day that you can enter the thread drawing. It has been so much fun to read all the comments and ideas for thread storage. Surprising number of people using old library card catalog drawers. I just loved that idea. Wonder where one gets their hands on such a thing. As it stands, there are currently just a few short of 300 comments on the thread blog. I wouldn't have imagined such a thing. I hope it has proven to be good exposure for Connecting Threads, which was, of course what they were hoping for and fine with me. I don't make a practice of promoting commercial endeavors but this was a win-win. Somebody gets some free thread, more people know about it, we all get to read everybody's thread organizing ideas and the business maybe gains some new customers. I only do this if it is something good!

One last photo before I go. This is our baby fig tree. All those " knobs" will be figs. I'm pretty excited. Have you ever eaten fresh figs? Better than anything. 

Keep those comments coming...

The response to the thread giveaway has blown my mind. (If you don't know about it, back up to the previous post which explains how you could win some great thread). By far the most comments I have gotten on any blog post!  I've had a hard time keeping up with all of them. There are some great thread  organization ideas coming in! I have read every single one. 

A few clarifications/reminders:

1. Please just leave ONE comment. You will not see it right away. I have comments set for moderation, which means I need to see and OK them before they will be visible. The only comments I don't approve are obnoxious SPAM and duplicate comments. The duplicates really slow me down.

2.  I just learned that not all the comments have been coming through in my email, as they should, and I had a lot of unmoderated comments sitting on an internal page within my blog. I have now approved them and they are visible. Some sort of Blogger glitch. Sorry if your comment was one of them. It should be there now. 

3.  Please include your email address! I am going to have to throw out all those "anonymous" comments that don't include email addresses! I hate that, but there is no way to track those commenters down if they win.

I will take comments until midnight on Friday, May 24 and post the winners on Saturday, so if you haven't left your comment yet, do it now!

Monday, May 19, 2014

I'm giving away thread!

This is so cool. I was contacted by the folks at Connecting Threads, who read on my blog how much I like their thread and they want to give two of their thread sets to readers of my blog in the US or Canada. I think this is so great. I have no connection to Connecting Threads, except that I love their thread. Here is just part of my thread collection and most of what you are seeing here are Connecting Threads Cotton Essential Thread.

Pretty, huh? It has become my favorite and it is so affordable I have stocked up on a lot of it. I have to tell you it really is the best thread I have used in both of the machines I use regularly—no breaking, no shredding, no slubs or knots. I just got several of their new variegated threads (you can see several of them above) and I am looking forward to using them. I really like the subtle variation in the color. I have found variegated threads from other companies often use really high contrast changes in color that don't work so well for me.

Right now I am storing my thread in several drawers like the one in the photo. It works, but it isn't ideal. I wish I knew of a better way to store and organize thread. I used to use a rack that hung on the wall, but I worried that the thread was getting dusty and I worried about exposing it to all the sunlight coming in on it. It sure looked pretty on that rack, though. I kind of miss having it all out to see. So I have a question for you—how do you store and organize your thread? How does your method work for you?

Leave me a comment, answering the question about thread storage between now and this Friday (May 23) and I will use a random number generator to choose two winners. If you are chosen you can go to the Connecting Threads web site here and choose any one of their thread sets. You must be in the US or Canada. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment so I can notify you if you win.

Good luck!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Abstraction

(noun) - Abstraction usually refers to Abstract Art, artworks that do not represent a being, place or thing. Abstraction can also refer to depicting a being, place or thing in a simplifed, generalized manner, such as using a circle to represent the sun.

That second part of the definition is the kind of abstraction that most interests me—that simplifying, distilling and dealing with objects as shapes and forms— color and composition. It seemed to me that this drawing app might be an interesting way to work at using a photo of something as a starting point for something quite abstract. Here is the photo I started with. 

In the app I could put each of the shapes on its own layer and then fiddle with color and composition by trying different things on individual layers without affecting the other layers. I changed the color a lot before settling on what you see. I could see that the two egg-shaped objects in front of the candle were too similar in size, so I made changes to the one on the right in both size and shape to keep it interesting. It was an opportunity to introduce another diagonal to the composition, then i echoed it in the shadow. The little brownish blob on the left hand edge was a mistake, when I accidentally put my thumb on the screen. Then I saw that it actually improved the overall balance so I incorporated it. 

This may not look like much to you, but it was a pretty revealing and challenging exercise. I could have kept going with endless variations, but, as Ray always says, it's important to know when to quit. To which my friend June would add a <snort>!

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus. 

Next challenge: yellow

Does it seem silly that I am making up my own challenges? It was how we started and I find a challenge motivating and I promise I haven't already decided what to do and then call it the challenge. Also, I am still hoping to coax June and/or some of you to accept the occasional challenge and join me!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Moon is a Mirror

At last I can show you this piece! I worked on it for months this winter and entered it into the newest Dinner at Eight juried show, "Reflections." It was one of three pieces I made to this 24" x 60" size this year, and I sure got tired of that size and the long narrow orientation, but I was happy making this piece.

For its statement I wrote a haiku:
The moon is a mirror
Without its own light,
It reflects the sun's face.
It is comprised almost entirely of triangles cut from my overdyed shirting fabrics. My quilt is one of 33 chosen for this exhibit and the list of artists is pretty great! I am so pleased to have my work included. The exhibit will debut at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in October. This is my fourth quilt that has been in one of the Dinner at Eight exhibits and they just keep getting better and better. Many thanks to Jamie Fingal and Leslie Jenison for curating these exhibits.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Yeah, it's another crow

I used one of my digital drawings as the basis for a small fabric piece.  Here is the digital version: 

I am working on some smaller stuff, looking toward a couple sales events in the fall. It really feels good to be working on these things that are smaller and have no theme or size requirement. Feels like a big "whew"! I am liking the idea of small pieces — the crow is 18" square — with bigger than life-size things. I had some fun with the stitching on this crow. It is hard to see in the photo above. Here is a detail.

Still hard to see. 

I am working on a giant pine cone now.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - May Flowers

White rhododendron

The Rhodies are my favorite of Oregon's spring flowers. We have a variety of colors in our yard, but the white ones are so clean and fresh- looking that they were my choice. I also think white is always a challenge— not to make it too white, not to muddy it up with gray, to add the tiniest bits of subtle color and to get enough contrast to actually define separate elements. 

Thinking the drawing above might be a little too fussy, I decided to try a free-er, more whimsical approach too. 

Which do you like best?

IPad, New Trent Arcadia stylus, Sketch Club app

Next challenge: Abstraction

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - vegetable

Alas, it is just me today. And while the subject matter is fairly uninspired, it posed an interesting challenge to try to create the complex texture of the orange cauliflower. It was a multi-layered exercise and worked out actually better than I might have guessed.  

Cauliflower is a homely sort of vegetable and, while it is quite acceptable to me, it has never been a favorite—until I learned to toss it in olive oil, sprinkle liberally with minced garlic, salt, and pepper and roast in a hot oven until brown and crispy on the edges. Delicious!  Last week I found this orange cauliflower at my market and was drawn to the beautiful color. The taste was no different from the anemic white variety, but the color almost made me believe it was a little richer!

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus

Next challenge: May flowers

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Impulse to Paint Things

I had a pair of old, faded sling chairs out in the yard. Once the slings were royal blue canvas, but the fronts had faded to a dirty gray.  They were still quite serviceable, but really dingy, so I decided to paint them.  There is an enduring part of me that loves to paint things. A lot of us have that impulse to paint things.  We do.  A coat of paint is the ultimate in instant gratification, right?  Right...? Oh yeah, not everyone has the impulse to paint things. Oh, what cheap thrills they miss out on.  All this for around $10, with paint leftover. 

So now my chairs are good as new—no, better than new! At least more colorful than new. They are a bright spot in my garden. Even from the front porch they are a cheerful sight that makes me smile. I am ready for summer.