Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rock Cairns - The Series Continues

Well, we hosted Thanksgiving, recovered from that, had a surprise surgery in the family, immediately followed by a scheduled surgery in the family, recovering from that, one ice storm, two snow events, hit a deer, mourned the passing of a faithful dryer and survived it all with only mild exhaustion.  In the midst of all of this confusion, I finished a piece that I had started well before Thanksgiving.  It was done 10 minutes at a time but, none the less - finished.  It is the third in my series of Rock Cairns.

Dimensions 8" x 8" x 2"
The back ground is ice dyed cotton using shades of rust, bronze and grey.  I then applied used teabags over the top with matte medium.  I made my own stencil of the om symbol, the sound of the universe, and used a Shiva paintstick that I outlines with a micron pen.  I used misty fuse to attach some gold foil wrappers from long gone fancy candy.  Then I collected some branches (before the ice and snow), painted them black and stitched them on using cotton floss.  The rocks are book pages that I gessoed, cut and stitched.  The piece was cut to 8X8 and the edges were sealed with metallic gold paint.

Rock cairns, beside being a fun think to make while hiking, are also used as a tool for meditation.  I imagine they represent some sort of balance which is always a goal in life.  They certainly are nice too admire and I think meditating with them could calm the mind.

Because the piece was made using an open back wooden box, I had a chance to carry my thoughts onto both sides.

The box was covered with book pages and gessoed over.  I added a little rock cairn to the back with a saying I found on the end of my teabag.  I wrote the quote on a piece of very thin white tissue paper and once I liked how it looked, I used matte medium to add it to the back.  The tissue is almost invisible, especially if you don't know it's there.  And I just love the sentiment - especially this time of year when sometimes feeling light is quite elusive.  

Here is one last view of the box from the side.

I think it's a nice piece for a sofa table or some place where people would see it from both sides.  I suppose it could also be hung on a wall with the secret message being a reminder to the person who hung it.  Either way, I am pretty happy with my third rock cairn and rejuvenated to start on my fourth one soon.  Hopefully before Christmas, but if time does not allow, I understand that it is all part of achieving balance.

Thanks for stopping by and if you are in the northeast - stay warm and be sure you have bread, milk and hot chocolate!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Etsy Shop

I am rather notorious with my friends as being either oblivious to a new trend or the last to follow a new style, if I ever even discover it at all.  So, keeping that in mind,  I have finally opened an Etsy Shop.  I listed it under my studio name "Random Acts of Piece" and I have uploaded three things to it.  Once the Thanksgiving holiday is over and my 20 some odd guest depart I plan to post more things on it.

For those of you who have an Etsy shop, I would love to hear any advice you may want to share with me.  For those of you who may want to purchase some of the things you have seen on my blog, please check it out and feel free to email me if anything you have seen in the past here interests you now.  If it is available I will certainly let you know.  And if it isn't, I will let you know that too.

For now I need to get the mashed potatoes peeled and the vegetables prepared so I will wish you, in the word of Arlo Guthrie,  a Thanksgiving dinner that can't be beat!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cairns Continued

So as I set my mind toward rock cairns, the mind wanders much like a hiker.  I have ideas all the time about what technique to incorporate or what fabrics or mixed media materials to use.  I write it on sticky notes and transfer it to my sketchbook and basically everywhere I look, I see an inspiration.  Which tells me that this idea came along at just the right time.

So here is my second rock cairn art quilt.

Dimensions 17 1/2 " X 21 1/2 "

Here's the details.  The background for the center panel was a piece of ice dyed fabric with orange, bronze, green and several other colors.  I then marbled over the ice dyed fabric using primarily chartreuse and violet, with hints of blue in there probably left over from the fabric piece I had done before.  The "rocks" are machine appliqued and hand turned pieces of cotton batik.  Finally the center panel is mounted on a piece of hand dyed chartreuse fabric.  It really makes the center panel pop off the piece and I just love this quilt. 

Today I brought it somewhere to show a friend what an art quilt was.  I tried to explain it but, she just sort of turned her head to one side and I could tell that what she was thinking of wasn't even close to what I was thinking of.  So, how better to illustrate the concept but by showing her a quilt.  Anyway, we placed it at a distance, which is different for me since I am used to seeing it up close and man, did I fall in love with it.  I really liked it before, or I wouldn't have taken it to show anyone.  But, now as I step back a bit farther it really has a nice movement and unity.

I plan to use the center panel to make some postcards and note cards.  But I have to get a better picture because I think there is a shadow of my knee on the left hand bottom corner.  Rats!  oh well back out to the cold.  

Thanks for stopping by and checking out  my work.  Happy wanderings!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mind Shift

For the past several months I have been focused on completing small works and projects to sell at a local craft fair that is coming up next month.  Since I made a New Year's resolution (remember those - I am one of those 1%ers that keep their resolutions), to only spend what I make in sales and gifts on supplies this year, it followed suit that I should find a good venue in which to make that money.  I digress.  Anyway, the process has been good in the sense that I have completed a lot of projects and have a nice inventory that I will bring to the show.  However, I miss the randomness of my usual art endeavors.  So it is time for a mind shift.

I have recently worked in series that focus on utilizing one specific technique.  And that has served me well enough.  But now that I have a bunch of techniques in my artistic arsenal, I had a bit of a mind shift.  Instead of working with a technique, I stumbled (no pun intended) onto the theme of cairns.  You know, those cool piles of rocks that hikers make on their travels.  I love those things.  And so here is the first in my new series.

It is mounted on some hand dyed teal fabric and the rocks were hand dyed in a gradation that I tried this summer.   The sentiment came from, of all places, the little paper at the end of the string on a tea bag.  Interestingly, as I embraced the idea of cairns little sayings and more important quotes seemed to lend themselves to the topic.  And with some amazement, they also seems to just fall in my lap with no effort.  Makes you wonder.

Here is the close up of the tea bag sentiment.  I stamped it on some off white batiks that I had in the scrap pile.

And here is the rock pile.  These fabrics were thread painted a bit and then turned appliqued onto the background.  They were combinations of blue grey and bronze that I dyed over the summer to capture the color of Jersey Shore sand.

So, as I wander onto this journey, thank you for stopping by to see my first cairn.  Feel free to leave a comment.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Marbling Magic

I just love the marbled pieces of fabric that I have amassed.  I like to just arrange and rearrange them to see what might pop up.  This piece was made from three pieces of marbled fabric that were ice dyed with yellow and red and one piece of chartreuse fabric that was marbled twice.

The quilt hangs with three tabs and a piece of painted bamboo that I got from a friend who has a bamboo forest in his yard.  I wanted to make a banner shaped piece since that is a new trend and I haven't really done that yet.  So this is how it took shape.

The bamboo was painted and then I sprayed it with acrylic sealer.  It has a nice finish to it.  

This pictures shows the colors from the ice dying and then the marbling over the top.  It is a fascinating process.  

The center panel is separate from the backing and I mounted it on some hand dyed chartreuse fabric to give it some punch.  I think the chartreuse really makes the piece pop off the background.

One final shot of the ice dyed fabric.  The more complex the cloth is to begin with, the better I like the layer of marbling.  As you can see I didn't have to do a lot of quilting because there was so much movement in the piece already.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.  Happy quilting out there!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Second in a Series: Quilts from Marbled Fabric

The lazy days of summer have been pretty productive in the studio - well in the outside studio anyway. I take the opportunity during the warm weather to drag out my rather heavy folding table and settle myself under a shady maple tree in our backyard to play.  So, although I have been productive, I have been preparing materials for the colder days when I will head indoors to my indoor studio where my trusty machine and work table reside.  However, I did complete this quilt about a week ago - just before we left for a week at the shore.  So without further ado...

It measure 24 inches square and the entire center panel started out as white fabric.  The chartreuse was hand dyed and the marbled fabrics were hand dyed and then marbled at least once.  I like the double layered pieces because they have more depth but the single marbled piece also lends a bit of movement to the piece.

Here is a close up so you can see that I quilted it rather sparingly.  There was so much going on that I didn't feel that it needed more line or texture.  In fact, when you front load all the work it seems rather easy to finish the piece once you get it to the quilting stage.  I have made other pieces where the fabric was not surface designed and when I had to get to the quilted there was a greater investment of time required.  So either way, it's time well spent but it's just interesting to see where you spend it.

one final close up so you can see in the lower piece that the fabric was marbled with chartreuse and white, dried, rinsed, ironed and then re-marbled with black and color very close to the background.  The paints transparency allowed the first layer to be seen.

So thanks for stopping by.  I have a few other pieces in various stages of completion and will be posting them if we get any rain and I am forced to stay indoors.  Hope you have a great day and some sunshine to go out and play in.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Beginning of a New Series

With my playing with sheers coming to an end, I needed to delve into a new area to explore.  Luckily, I had purchased a DVD by Jo Fitsell and had taken on marbling fabric.  It is fun and yields very interesting results.  I will say however, that it is time and prep intensive.  First I hand dyed fabric in a variety of colors.  Then I ripped the fabrics to the correct size, soaked them in a solution of alum and iron them.  Next I prepared the medium that you float the paints on and finally I mixed the paints with water.  Then the fun begins.  The actual marbling is very zen and gratifying.  Once you finish and hang the pieces to dry, you have to wait at least a day.  Careful rinsing of the fabrics is required and some more hanging to dry.  If you like the results then you can iron up the fabrics and use them.  If they need something else, then you marble a second layer of paint on them.  Rinse and iron again.  So, this is not something I took on in small bursts - it's too clean up intensive for that.  I made a big batch and spent the better part of a day each time I tried it.  This reduced the amount of time needed for clean up.  I am all about efficiency when it comes to cleaning.  So here is the first of what will be many of my quilts using marbled fabrics.
The marbled pieces were various shades of purple and blue violet.  Then I marbled them with a variety of Golden fluid acrylics mixed with water.  I made a bunch of fabrics and once I was done I spread them out all over the family room floor to see what looked good with what.  That was a lot of fun.  I hadn't really planned anything so it was kind of interesting what looked good together and how I would cut them and piece them together.

I used some King Tut variegated cotton thread and quilted it sparingly.  I tried to keep the lines pretty organic like the marbling.  Each thread was pulled to the back with a needle and tied off.  I like how the transparent paints allow us to see the texture from the low water immersion dyes beneath.

Here is a close up of some of the marbling and you can see the textures coming through.

Just for good measure here is the third piece of marbled fabric.  The whole center panel was mounted on a piece of hand dyed cotton.  the color was a mixture of turquoise, Cayman Island green and black that I mixed up just for this piece.

So hopefully my first paragraph hasn't scared you from trying this.  It is definitely worth the effort and With the batch I am currently working on I plan on having fabric to play with well into the colder months.  Which is why summer is so great - it lets us get messy and spend the day playing so that we can reap the rewards of our efforts for a good long while.

Thanks for stopping by to see what I am up to.  Feel free to leave a comment and keep an eye open for my upcoming pieces.  Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Golden Oak Sheer Quilt

This quilt represents the last in my series of working with sheer fabrics.  The fabrics for the background came together on my studio table one day and ta-da an idea was formed.  It stayed pinned to my inspiration wall until I finished my pink sheer quilts and then waited patiently as I finished the school year with my 8th graders.  So without further ado - here it is...

The center panel is approximately 12" X 12" and the overall dimensions are about 20 1/2" X 20 1/2".  The center is a collage of batiks, crossweave, hand dyes and overdyes, commercial fabric, upholstery fabrics, sheer ribbon and finally an overlay of a golden brown sheer fabric.

The base fabrics are stitched onto the batting, followed by the collage pieces being stitched down in order from the furthest back to the closest layer.  Finally the sheer fabric and a piece of parchment paper with a hand drawn design is placed on top of the collage and stitched using free-motion quilting. I remove the paper and then cut away the sheer to reveal the leaf and acorn shapes.

Along with the leaf, I added a little acorn.  I also did a fair amount of hand stitching to add some interest and keep the eye moving to connect the colors.  The back piece that I mounted the center panel on is a beautiful brown silk that has a burlap like texture but a very nice soft hand and subtle luster.  I free motion quilted that as well.

Her is a close up of the hand stitching and sheer overlay.  I still love the color shift that is produced using this technique, but with the onset of summer I have tried a new surface technique.  So for now, I am setting aside the sheers and will be working with some fabrics that I have just recently produced.  Stay tuned to see where they take me.  Thanks for stopping by and for checking out the blog.  Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Color + Sheer Fabrics = Spring

As I continue playing with sheer fabrics and collaged backgrounds, I have made two more quilts that evoke a spring color and feel.  This quilt started with a yellow confetti batik I purchased at The City Quilter on a trip to NYC.  I decided to try complimentary colors to see how this might turn out.  So, purple and raspberry and shades of yellow were added.

I used batiks, hand dyed fabrics, silks and sheers to make the collage.  The daisies are made from a pink sheer, shiva paint sticks on a ghost stitching and white silk dupioni.  All of these were stitched with Sulky rayon threads.
 Here is a close up of the white daisy.  The center is a piece of ice dyed fabric and the leaves were from my stash of hand dyed pieces.
 The sheer flower was a cotton candy pink but over the yellow it turned a sort of watermelon color.

 While I had all the fabrics picked out, I decided to make a second quilt in the same color scheme.  Many of the fabrics are repeated but this one is a square and the sheer flower is more dominant in the design.
 Both pieces were mounted on Kaffe Fassett shot cotton named watermelon.  I ordered it over the Internet so I wasn't sure it would be a good combo but it turned out to be perfect for these pieces.  Below is a close up of the center panel of the quilt.  Thanks for checking out my work.  Feel free to leave a comment or question.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My First Magazine Article!

Earlier this year I posted a blog tutorial about making a Fortune Cookie Purse.  I liked the project so much that I decided to submit it to Stitch Magazine.  I don't subscribe to the magazine but I have looked through it on my visits to ACMoore and thought it had some cute stuff.  Anyway, I thought my purse might fit their aesthetic so I sent in a proposal on a whim.  I happened to hit their time period when they were accepting submissions for a special edition for spring "Stitch in Style".  Well, that was winter time and finally the magazine arrived at my front porch along with my stitched up samples and so I have posted it for you.

I am apparently one of the 14 fabulous totes and purses in this issue.  And to be honest this little original design really is fun, functional and simple to make.  I am proudly featured on page 31 with directions on a later page.  It's nice to see your name in print.

The fabric is from Amelia Caruso who designed it and Robert Kaufman fabrics printed it.  It is called effervescent and the bubbly look of the fabric makes little bubble shaped purse look totally fun.  I have since made it in so many fabrics - hand dyes, over dyes, batiks, commercial prints and dupioni silk.  I still have plans to embellish it further and I use this project to go back to again and again after I have made a more elaborate art quilt.  It helps me decompress before I rev up for my next complex piece.

Thanks for checking it out and if you want to make one you can certainly purchase the Stitch in Style magazine which has some very cute things to make.  You can also check out my earlier posts for the Fortune Cookie Purse blog entry.   I can totally see these for prom in a coordinating fabric or even for a bridal party.  Holds  your phone, keys, a few bucks, some ID or credit card and small make-up.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

More Quilting with Sheers

With one sheer quilt under my belt, I decided that I needed to experiment some more with this process.  This time I had a bit more of the focus fabric on hand and decided to make two quilts using similar fabrics at an attempt to make this a series. 

Dimensions 16" X 20"

This is the original quilt design collage.  I used batiks, hand dyed flannel, silk, shot cotton, upholstery fabric and sheer fabric pieces.  Keeping the background somewhat abstract and geometric makes it easier to create an organic shape as a sheer overlay.  The entire collaged piece is then mounted onto a piece of hand dyed fabric that I made to coordinate with it.  I tried laying the quilt on several colors of solid colored scrapbook paper that I had and decided that orange was a good compliment to the piece.  Not having any orange fabric, I ripped off a piece from a bolt of print cloth that I ordered in bulk and dyed it using soft orange and rust MX dyes.  I wasn't sure it would turn out the color I wanted but this is what I got and I really liked it.  I used a facing finish on both the collaged piece and the orange background mounting piece.

Here is a closer look at the quilt.  You can see the French knots and hand stitching that I added using DMC cotton floss.  It also shows the color shift that is produced by the sheer overlay. 

Here is the second quilt in the "series".  It is a bit smaller but uses a lot of the same fabrics and organic theme.  This time however, I quilted the background fabric closely and in straight lines.  It definitely gives the piece a more structured look than the wavy lines of the first piece.  I have been reading about the whole modern quilt movement and thought I would try my hand at some straight line quilting.  I definitely has a different aesthetic than my usual less structured style, but I think it works in this piece. 

Here is a close up of the second quilt so you can see the hand stitchcing and color shitft again.  I think the background straight lines are a good contrast to the very organic sheer piece and base fabrics from the collage. 

One last shot of the bottom.  I already have a focus fabric picked out for my next piece.  Right after I complete a few magazine submissions I will be tackling another sheer quilt.  Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again soon. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More Mixed Media Summertime Fun

I just love the beach.  The sound of the waves, the constant breeze and the beachcombing treasures along the shore just make my day.  With a rather large collection of those little shells and stones in my stash, I decided to make my next piece with those in mind.

Dimensions 8" X 8"

I decided to keep it in a blue, gold, silver color scheme and make those tiny shells the focus of this piece.  Of course I have an extensive stash of left over beads from previous projects and some other little things I found in my friend's trinket stash.  I used several coats of paint in various beige and off white to make the backboard sort of sand colored.

I used my collection of seashell and alphabet rubber stamps, as well as some random texture stamps to make the tile backgrounds.  I embedded shells, stones, and beads after I stamped and rubbed the tiles with PearlEx mica powder.  Then I filled the little leftover spaces with beads and some cut up pieces of a belt buckle that came in a box of buttons that I bought at a yard sale.  Overall, I like the color scheme and I think this is a fun piece for a beach house. 

One more detail shot.

I have 5 more 8X8 boards and a list of ideas for other tile projects.  Once my busy days calm down a bit I will be starting another one.  If you have rubber stamps I think these little tiles are addicting and totally fun to make.  Grab a couple of polymer clay blocks in your favorite colors and some mica powder (or metallic paint) and go for it.  Feel free to leave a comment and thanks for visiting my blog.  Hope to see you again soon.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Sheers and Quilting

Inspired by some of Deborah Boschert's work, I decided to once again use up a supply that I already had.  So, I designed a quilt that used a bunch of fabric scraps and some larger pieces and used some of those sheers purchased long ago for . . . . I forgot what.

The quilt started out when I selected the piece of batik fabric that runs across the lower center of the quilt.  The shades of purple, turquoise and chartreuse and the grid pattern appealed to me and so I used that as a jumping off point.  I then went through my drawers, boxes and bins of fabric and pulled out a lot of different choices - many of which did make it into the finished piece.

I laid the fabric on the batting and arranged it over and over again until I liked the composition.  Then I stitched it all down with a neutral blue grey thread.  Nothing was fused but everything was raw edge applique. 

Then I drew a bunch of different shapes on some parchment paper and laid it over the quilt.  The parchment paper was already in my studio and transparent enough to get the feel of how each shape would look laid out on the fabric composition.  I put the sheer fabric over the quilt, laid the final parchment paper design choice on top and quilted through the paper and quilt at the same time.  Easy, no tracing or extensive transfer method required.  And parchment paper tears away pretty easily.  By the way the parchement paper with the unused designs did not go to waste since I used it to paint on and fuse other things together.

Once the design was quilted in the sheer fabric, I cut away the rest of the sheer fabric - very carefully with small scissors.  I then did some hand stitching to pull it together and give it some unifying elements.  I used DMC cotton floss - have loads of that in the studio too.  I love the way the colors shift by placing a sheer over the top of them.  It's subtle and I like that effect in quilts.

The center panel was quilted and I finished the edge with a satin stitch in the same neutral steely blue thread. Then I decided it needed something else.  So I made a panel that I quilted with a free motion pattern and facing finished to make a sort of frame.  I then attached the center panel using the steely blue thread and a hem stitch to the purple panel.  It gives the piece some sturdiness and it was the first time I ever thought to attach a piece in this manner.  I had attached back panels before, but by hand.  Since I had already satin stitched this piece I decided to just use my machine to attach it. 

I have already picked another inspiration fabric to make my next quilt using sheers.  Stay tuned as I arrange and rearrange the elements of the next one.  Thanks for stopping by the blog and hope to see you again soon.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quick Project Journal Covers

In an effort to work on my free motion quilting skills, I decided to make some journal covers.  This also met my goal of using up stuff in my studio without purchasing anything additional. 

These journals have blank pages and measure about 8 1/2 inches by 5 1/2 inches.  I used overdyed commercial print fabric for the first one and decided that I liked the fabric enough not to add other fabrics.  The quilting was done with a walking foot and just followed a grid.  Easy - peasy.  Then I put some fabric selection and quilting into play on the other two journals.  Sometimes I used the walking foot and sometimes I used the free motion foot.  The center journal has a ripped strip of fabric in the center and the one on the right was pieced.

The journals came in a six pack so I carried on.  The one on the left was from some leftover fabric I had for a magazine article that I wrote for Stitch in Style coming out this May.  I added some buttons just to carry the design through the whole cover.  The center journal was pieced and both free motion and walking foot quilted.  The last one was a series of ripped strips stitched down with close rows of straight line quilting.  The butterfly and flower were fused and raw edge appliqued.   I was on a roll and I finished these journals in about a week's time.  Darn that full time job is slowing me down!

This last journal has pages that are 8 1/2 by 11 inches.  I used a decorative blade to cut up some black and white fabrics I had and fused them to the batting.  I close lined stitched them in a grid and then fused and appliqued the flowers.  The flowers are loosely based on some cosmos flowers I have seen in gardens. 

Coming up in my next post will be the project that I worked on simultaneously but it took quite a bit longer to complete.  Having the quick projects help me when I am blocked on a more complicated piece and it keeps me finishing projects which helps my motivation.

Thanks for stopping by and checking these out.  Have a great day!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mixed Media Mosaics

With the cleaning of my studio and my new parameters of working on only 4 things at one time, I made these little projects one of the four things I have going at any given point.  So, when something is baking or drying or I am stumped I always have something else to turn my attention but, my attention doesn't spread so wide as to lose focus.

I have it in a large format here but it is really 8" X 8' total in size.  The board was birch board leftover from a project that got started and never finished.  (I have 8 more to go and these little mosaics will surely fill all of the other 8.)  I used polymer clay, my fairly large collection of rubber stamps and Pearl Ex powders to get these little tiles together.  The centers are mostly made from molds that I made using the polymer clay and some vintage buttons.  I also have a rather large collection of beads of all kinds bought and partially used in other projects, but you know how those leftovers pile up and well, there's always that string of really pretty ones on clearance, yadda, yadda, yadda.  This board was just painted black and then I finished the edge with a dry brush and some metallic gold acrylic paint.  I think it was a good first attempt.

I call this one the House of the Rising Sun.  The board has old dictionary pages adhered with matte medium and overpainted with acrylics, metallic wash, gold dry brush and acrylic sealer.  The Sun is an old button with the shank cut off.  I think the rest is pretty self explanatory.  Again, this is 8" X 8" in size.

My third mosaic so far was born from a collection of similarly themed rubber stamps.  I liked the way they looked together and decided to go for a spring look.  Jewel tones, flowers and ferns and a dragonfly help me hang on to the thought of spring as I watch the dull grey landscape waiting for some warm weather.  The background board was painted with two colors of blue and purple, washed with metallic purple in several layers and then I used a stencil and a toothbrush with some metallic paint to "spring" it up a bit.  I also sealed it with acrylic sealer.  It's nice to use some of my stash and I have a bunch of ideas for the other 6 boards.  Stay tuned for what comes next and thanks for visiting.