Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting ready for a change—sort of

More and more I am intrigued by, and pulled toward "drawing" with black thread on fabric. I have done a bit of what I'm talking about. Like this:

And this one. 


I have been looking at artists like Cathy Cullis and Lou Trigg and especially Gillian Bates, and wanting to try something more serious and complex and with more detail. I am thinking and thinking about how I want to do this and what materials I want to use and what I want to portray and how it relates to what I usually do and how I can use what I've already developed as part of something else. I probably ought to jump in, but somehow I feel like I need to think it through a bit more. I'm not usually this obsessive. Bear with me, I'm getting there. 

Meanwhile I putter. Ray drove some really tall poles into the little garden to anchor his wire apparatus for vines to climb. To me they called out for fluttery little flags. 

It was a good use for some of the pretty batik fabrics in my stash. They really glow when the sun shines through them. I love the way they turned out. Turns the garden into a festival, somehow. 

And further puttering—  my STASH friend, Suzy, brought each of us a wonderful little fabric fish from Japan last month. I have been looking at mine wondering how I could best display him and was inspired by Ray's collection of bamboo sticks, to poke one into a potted plant with the fish hanging from it. Catch of the day!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Purple

I really have no explanation for this. I did not have a purple inspiration, so just started playing around and this is what happened. If you know who she is, let me know. I sure don't recognize her. 

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus

Next challenge: July

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Home Front

The colors of these snapdragons makes me happy. Every time I pass the door to the deck I have to stop and look at them again.  Another happy thing are the baby birds in a tiny nest hidden away in a hanging basket on the studio porch. 

The remodeling job is coming along. At the end of the day today the bedroom had an eery, blue glow, due to the blue tarp covering the gaping hole where the new window will go. 

The dark patch on the wall to the left is the freshly mudded drywall where the little window was.  I'm going to love one big window instead of two little windows.  The closet is taking shape as well.

On the left we added some space that was previously a small closet that opened into the hallway. Now it is one bigger closet with three doors instead of one.

Floor started going down as well. Here,s the hallway.

At the end of the hall Sheetrock where the hall closet door was. It is noisy and dusty, but will be well worth it. Sofia and Iescaped to the studio today where we made a puppet. Sofia did all the cutting and sewing and drew the face on the puppet. I continue to be amazed by how quickly she is getting all this. 

We are homebodies this summer and it feels good. I'm between projects in the studio, but finishing up sleeves and bags and hanging apparatus for a couple things going to shows and deciding what to do next. I will have painting and organizing to do when the construction is finished so I'm thinking about that as well.

Remember that my word for this year was "yellow"?  The "new and improved" bedroom will be yellow.  Can't wait to wake up in a yellow room. Just seems like a good way to start the day. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Night

Do you remember that art project where you used a piece of poster board and covered it pretty solidly with random-colored crayon, then covered that with black India ink, which, when dry, you scratched a design into, uncovering the color below, in the scratched design? I think everyone did this in elementary school. This was a similar process. I filled three layers with color. Yellow on the bottom, deep blue over that and black on the top. Then I used the "eraser" tool to scratch through layers to create the design. 
iPad, Sketch Club app

I love the idea of nighttime scenes, but it is hard to get enough contrast to really make them work. I have recently completed two fabric pieces with "night" themes.

The Moon is a Mirror

Desert Nights

It is a theme I will continue to explore. 

Next weeks theme: Purple

Saturday, June 21, 2014

First Day of Summer

This is my favorite time of year in Portland—June, that month of extravagant lushness. Green, green, green!  This is our backyard, which is finally getting some attention. Ray created this raised garden last summer, but it came too late for much in the way of food. Mere weeks ago he started getting it going for this season. 

A little rain and sun and, voila—abundance.

I'm so glad Ray loves doing this. Only 4 years ago the backyard looked like this. 

That was the day we planted little trees across the back, hoping to eventually block the view of the neighbor's utility meters and bike and garbage cans. 

It worked. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Digital drawing Day - Red

Yes, I'm a day late, but I had some fun with this. Yesterday was the day we moved the furniture out of the rooms to be remodeled, followed by Fathers Day barbecue. I didn't have time for this digital drawing nonsense. Then I nearly forgot it altogether until I poured myself a glass of red wine this evening and there was my subject. I drew my glass of wine, then fiddled and fooled with variations that I erased and discarded. At one point I was hurriedly erasing some black lines and noticed that the partially erased lines reminded me of woodblock prints. So I added a layer on top of the original drawing, filled it with black lines, then partially erased them.  So this is my faux woodblock print. 

iPad, Sketch Club app, New Trent Arcadia stylus

Next theme: night

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sewing lesson

This is my grandmother Clarice who had a lot to do with my learning to sew.  She loved to sew and made all her beautiful clothes and many for my mother, sister and me. She would come for a visit and we would head downtown to the fabric store, which in Pocatello was called, simply, the Fabric Store if I remember correctly. Grandma loved fabric and we watched, in awe, as she made her choices, sniffing and humming and lovingly running her fingers over the folds of cloth. She might pause over a particular  piece, close her eyes, breath deeply and declare it "the prettiest thing I've ever seen!" then dramatically wrest it from the shelf and present it to the clerk for cutting.

She taught me to make doll clothes by hand, and eventually using my mother's Montgomery Ward brand electric sewing machine. 

I don't remember how old I was when I started using a sewing machine.  At some point I was given a machine of my own—a Singer Treadle, that I still have.  My sewing machines have been, and are still, cherished possessions. 

I asked Sofia if she would like to learn to use a sewing machine this summer. Yes!  We started on Friday. My plan was to start slowly and I told her anytime she was tired or frustrated we could quit for the day. 

We started with a rundown of how the machine works and what all the parts are called. She is using my Janome Gem machine, which is a real sewing machine, but small and basic. It is made for travel or taking to classes and workshops and is a reliable, easy to use machine. We started out with no thread, sewing on paper, to get a feel for it. I drew lines on pieces of paper and she practiced guiding the paper through, until she could follow the line closely. It helped a lot when I was able to slow the machine down by taping a little wedge of cardboard under the foot pedal, so it wouldn't depress to the maximum speed. Then we threaded the machine and bobbin and sewed scraps of paper together. After about an hour I wondered if she was ready for a break. No! Ready for fabric, PLEASE!  She stitched two pieces of fabric around three sides, making a little bag, which she quickly determined would be a doll pillow if we added some stuffing and sewed the end closed. Then she sewed several pieces together to make a blanket, then a bigger pillow and when I figured we were about done, she said, "now we need to make a doll."  We improvised a simple doll, which she insisted needed hair, so we turned off the machine and I showed her how to sew perle cotton red hair on her creation.

We spent the whole afternoon in the studio. I was surprised by her focus and patience and how thrilled she was to be using a real sewing machine. I remembered how empowering that sewing machine was to a child who loved to make things. Our first tools are our own hands, but what they can do is limited. When we can put our hands to working with specialized tools, a world of possibilities opens up. She is coming back this coming week and can hardly wait to get back to the sewing machine. I think we have a great summer of sewing projects ahead of us. I hope I can keep up!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Another remodeling project

You might think we are those people who just love to remodel. Not so much, but this old house that we planned to renovate in one swell foop, has ended up being an ongoing process of smaller bites. I think we are nearing the finish line, at least regarding the interior. And this one will have the significant rewards of 1) seeing the last of that baby blue wall color that the house was painted throughout, and 2) the demise of the nasty pink carpet. That means new flooring in the hallway, my office and our bedroom. Be still, my heart!  But you know what that means—all furniture needs to come out of those rooms. Sunday the crew comes to help us move it out. 

Here is the bedroom where the majority of the work will be done. 

Ugh. You can tell how much I just don't like this room by how little attention has been given to it. The bed has been pushed into the corner because of a badly placed window on the left. That window goes away altogether. The old drafty, single-paned window on the right will be replaced with a larger, more efficient window that looks out on the backyard.  We have a nice wide, but not deep, closet on one wall, with access through one narrow door.

All of my clothes are to the right of that door. It may look like you can get in there to find things, but you can't—not deep enough. It's a big problem, that will be addressed. So everything in that closet needs to go somewhere else while the work is going on. So this is what is keeping me busy these days. 

We are planning to sleep in the studio loft while the work is going on. Sofia spent the day with us today and helped me assemble a temporary closet and make the bed in the studio. 

She offered to test the bed and said we should sleep fine there! The next week will consist of some heavy-duty clearing out. A good opportunity to reorganize and get rid of stuff. 

Here we go again—

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Travel bags for art quilts

Tonight I had to deliver a quilt for a show and in several weeks I will have two more to deliver for another show, so I spent the afternoon making custom bags for them. Over years of shows for our High Fiber Diet group we have come up with some pretty good ideas about these travel bags.  Used to be we would wrap the quilts in an old pillowcase, or make a simple slip bag out of muslin and call it good. But years of schlepping quilts from venue to venue have brought refinements that are such good improvements I decided to share what I have learned.

Today I made three bags. 

First—the fabric. Muslin is cheap and utilitarian, but it gets dirty, it doesn't protect the piece from (god forbid) water or even worse, and it is a pain to stuff a rolled quilt into and out of a muslin bag—kind of like shoving your flannel-shirted arm into the sleeve of a fleece jacket. A couple years ago one of our members suggested we use a slick fabric of some kind, that the quilts could easily slide into and out of. Brilliant. I found a bolt of slick, waterproof nylon on the sale table at a fabric store and bought several yards, which will keep me in bags for the foreseeable future. 

It's kind of an odd blue-gray color (probably why it was on sale), but very sturdy, nice stuff. I actually like the color and I can easily identify my packaged quilt in a crowd. 

For the ones I made today I measured the rolled quilts and cut, for each, a rectangle that was wide enough to fit loosely around the rolled quilt, including a seam allowance, by the length + 8 inches. I hemmed one end, creating a channel I could run a cord through, then, before sewing up the side seam I stitched an acrylic photo pocket to the outside of the bag.  Into this I will put a small photo of the quilt that will go inside. You can imagine how helpful that becomes to the people organizing and hanging the shows. 

Then I sewed down the side and across the bottom. I always finish those inside seams by zigzagging the edges because, otherwise, that nylon really frays. A note about the photo pocket—some of the artists sew a ziplock bag on for the pocket and that works fine, but, in my opinion, gets a little ratty looking over time. I like the nice clear acrylic. I bought a pad of it at the art supply store. 

To close the bag, some artists use Velcro, some a tie around the top. I like to run a nylon cord through the hemmed edge, then use one of those spring-loaded, pinchy fastener things like are used to tighten up the hood and bottom of your rain jacket. (Cheap at the fabric store or save them off discarded clothing) If you light a match, you can seal the cut ends of the nylon cord so it doesn't fray, then slip the ends through the fastener gizmo and tie a knot. 

Here it is, with my quilt inside, ready for delivery. I printed a photo of the quilt and slipped it into the outer pocket, wrote my name and phone number on the bag with a permanent marker and tightened up the closure.  I am confident it is sufficiently protected to endure rides in car trunks, stints in storage closets and most kinds of careless handling and/or minor mishaps.  

My quilts get to go to more places than I do. I like to see them travel in style. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Digital Drawing Day - Out my window

I forgot to set a theme for this week, so I just drew what I saw out my window. Summer is the feeling and I love the layer upon layer look of the trees and foliage. There is a sketchbook "brush" that makes all those leaf shapes, so it's not as fiddly as it looks. The purple flowers are the last of our rhododendrons.

 iPad, Sketch Club App

Next week: Red

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Comfort Zone—Don't knock it

Here's my design wall with recent work. Little stuff. This is my comfort zone and I know we are encouraged, always, to push out of that comfort zone, but it's a good place to come back to. Really not feeling like pushing too hard right now. I like the comfort zone. 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Digital drawing Day - Shoe

"Shoe" became "shoes" because, well, you know. One shoe is too lonely. This was another experiment.  You know I have been trying to simplify and be more spontaneous. So, I wondered what would happen if I took a photo and then just quickly, and kind of sloppily, drew over the top of it. Each color was a layer, with the last being the black line. Then I eliminated the photo layer. Total time about 10 minutes. 

I really like limiting the time, the color and the layers to get to the basic form. I think doing a lot of quickies like this could really be a great exercise in seeing basic structure.