Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Honestly, I am having a hard time settling down, if you hadn't noticed. The bookbinding sirens are calling again, and I've brought books home from the library once more to pore over and set my mind to dreaming. I've looked through most of these before, was looking specifically for the one that talks about recycling food boxes as your cover, but found a new one that is more than just about technique. Real Life Journals by Gwen Diehn also gets into the actual types of journaling one might do which then drives the choices for the sort of book that would work best. It's got me thinking differently about what might go into one of my handmade books. At any rate, it also has me thinking about my many approaches to sketching lately, including a simple quick book I made from a piece of scrap paper and started filling with Zentangles (see this post). The one above is called Rixty and was added quite awhile ago.

Yesterday, I turned to another blank spread in it to try out another new Zentangle called Ing. As with any good Zentangle, I let my imagination fly with embellishments.

I found this one easy to go astray on but wanted to try it again using a different filler variation. I decided to go back to my stamped pages in the button booklet. Turned on its side, Ing seemed the perfect thing to add between the bands of Celtic knots.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Printing Large

Still ignoring the shibori piece, I continue the drafting of my design inspired by the fountain wall at the Eisenberg building in Rochester, MN. With a thumbs up from the art group, I tried printing it out full size today, both to confirm the final size and to get a better handle on the amount of various materials I'll need. I cut 13 inch wide lengths of newsprint packing paper to run through my wide carriage printer and needed to divvy the design into 6 sections. It worked, and the 6 sheets are now overlapped and taped together. The size looks good (about 50 inches wide) and I'll clean this version up more so it will render accurate templates.

Here's what I printed out - a greyed version of my photograph (see this post) overlayed with thick lines to square up the stonework and cropped to produce an uneven edge. Fabric auditioning is in process...

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Else One Can Do...

...when stuck and not interested in putting up the good fight: play in Paint Shop Pro. I took this tight shot of a nearby mountain ash a few weeks ago, intrigued by how close in color the berries were to the leaves, yet they popped off the busy background just a smidge. I cropped it to a square, played a bit with the color intensity and put it up on Facebook.

Then, on my "eat a worm" day, I found myself cleaning up some files on the computer. Before moving this one into my "design ideas" files, I pulled up Paint Shop Pro on a whim to see if anything fun might result from running it through filters. Usually you need more definition for good filter results, so most tries were not that exciting or different from what's already in my files. However, this one using a displacement map of puddles caught my fancy - probably because it was raining so hard that day.

And of course, you can't go wrong with the kaleidoscope filter. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Different Use of Time

Thanks so much for the feedback on my last post. You've given me lots to add to my ruminations about the shibori piece. Some of your thoughts mirror my own and give clarity and direction while others are sending me in additional directions. Bottom line, this piece needs more thought, more work, more diving in. But when I wrote the post, it was not the day for that. Instead, I went off and did something totally different, which is the nice thing about having so much hanging about waiting for my attention. I'd scanned my October reminder list (which to my surprise I have made pleasing progress on) and spotted midway down: "Finish processing Judi's fabrics - it's been a year!" Yes, that's just what I wrote. It was late last September that I traveled to her home to sort through and divvy up her stash with another quilting friend. It all had to be, at the minimum, washed because of my allergies to Judi's cats, and the majority of the dyed fabric needed setting with Retayne. I'd brought home yards and yards of fabric - at least three bags stuffed full - and have been pecking away at it off and on since earlier this year. I'd' gotten to the last few loads before summer kicked in and never got back to it. With deadlines gone and pressure off, it was definitely time to get the last of it washed, ironed and filed away.

So that's what I've been doing the last two days, and as usual, what I am running across is sparking ideas and providing solutions. It was a triumph to go from "meh" on the new art quilt to "hey" on another side project I was about to tackle. Back when Judi and I first experimented with dyeing, we also played a bit with marbling (with less than wonderful results). It was delightful to find these in her stash, to see she had as much trouble figuring out how to use hers as I did mine. While we tried the same techniques in joint sessions, our personal styles still managed to show through - I can tell these are Judi's and not mine, they just have her stamp on them. But the real fun was when I ironed this one and laid it on the table not far from that piece of art cloth I stamped. I want to turn it into some kind of handbag, had found a pattern to give me some guidance and had been searching for a lining. I think this might be the perfect fun lining to compliment it.

So I wouldn't exactly say I turned a lemon day into lemonade, but some good came out of walking away from my momentary frustration with the new idea, and doing something supposedly uncreative.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Second Guessing

I hate this part of the creative process, where dreams fade and second guessing of choices takes over. I ran both the copper Sulky sliver thread and a King Tut variegated cotton through the needle to quilt along the shibori lines. I've done this before with it effectively knocking back the hard line of metallic sheen to an occasional glitter. But it doesn't seem to have worked here and I'm already sensing I'm losing the impact of the shibori, even though I am following its pattern. How much more quilting do I want to do over it - I was thinking to quilt along most of the lines - and with what thread? Perhaps I should stop here and leave well enough alone. I'm also second guessing my decision to use the wool batting. I was expecting it to give more stability than it is, but it is proving to be as flimsy as the Thermore I often use, not at all like the batting sample of it I have in my files. As for the top part of the quilt, the trees and shrubs along the waterline - I have no idea what to do in there, never had a clear idea of what kind of patterning would work beyond the perhaps too obvious lines mimicking branches. I feel stuck...and disheartened. And the camera is still skewing the colors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Paisley Quilting

You know how I said I wanted to develop a quilting design based on the paisley in the border/sashing fabric of the fat-quarter quilt? Well, look at what I ran across compliments of Angela Walters of She has developed a paisley feather design that while more dense and elaborate than I'd envisioned, is giving me a starting point for developing my own paisley design.

I've watched several of her videos now and am impressed with both her technique advice and quilting philosophy which reminds me more of my long-time machine quilting mentor Diane Gaudynski than anyone else I can think of. As the standard teachers of my formative quilting years begin to retire, it is reassuring to see their valuable lessons being carried forward by a new crop of enthusiastic teachers.

I still need to spend some time with pencil and paper, seeing if what's in my head will work. I want to use a method learned in a class by Jan Wildman many years ago that is essentially an edge to edge approach that gives all-over coverage without looking like a pentagram or just mindless meander. So the trick will be to meld these two ideas together - Angela's paisley feather which swoops and fills with Jan's idea of rows of repeat designs.

Many suggest this drawing out of the quilting design or at bare minimum using your finger to trace over a pattern to familiarize your mind with it before actually starting to quilt. This makes sense - there's a lot to be said for muscle memory. As I reviewed my handout from Jan's class, I ran across another helpful hint I'd forgotten about, one that actually might be more helpful to those of us using our domestic machines. She suggests rather than practicing on a quilt sandwich, just practice on a piece of paper. No thread, no cloth, but the action will be the same as when you sit down with the actual quilt. Because drawing with a pencil is a totally different coordination of hand and eye than what happens at the machine where the "pencil" suddenly becomes the stationary object (your needle) and the "paper" moves under it to create the design. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Floor Show

I got some helpful feedback from my art group yesterday on the shibori piece (yes, I need to trim a bit off the top and we mulled possible additions) and what I hoped would be my final draft of the fountain wall design (it is, it is!) which was supposed to be the first in my water series. So I can start moving ahead on two new art quilts but I didn't quit feel up to it today. Instead, I put the finishing touches on the sketch I started at the beginning of the month (see this post). I went back to the site several times to edit and start adding color and finally to take a picture so I could finish up the coloring at home. I've come to the conclusion that this toned tanned paper is not good for pencil sketches, but works ok with pen. Today I went over all the pencil lines with pen, then filled in with Prismacolor pencils. I think I've spent more than enough time on this one, but it was an interesting challenge what with the angles of the facade roofline and the metal siding of varying greys. And I found those green pots irresistible!