Category Archives: surface design

A Week of Yardwork

     At the end of the week, I stopped to wonder where did my week go?   I finished that small piece on Halloween but hadn’t sewn since then.  I spent the majority of the week cutting down my perennials , shrubs and grasses and raking up leaves. I had high hopes for lots of after school assistance from my able bodied teens. However , they had winter sports practices starting already so that didn’t help me out…oh well.

     I did venture to two fiber arts lectures or meetings. The first one was last Saturday and I heard a three hour lecture from Terri Watson and Beth Ann Williams on machine quilting covering both domestic and long arm quilting. It was nicely presented and they had oodles of luscious samples. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to have Terri quilt one of my pieces in the future. Very talented women and I enjoyed it.

     The second event was a meeting of the Lakeshore Fiber Arts group in Holland. They were doing a mini workshop on various surface design techniques: gelatin mono-printing, crayon rubbings with various plates and a bit of Notan using black and white paper. I didn’t get to try the techniques as I needed to leave early but plan on trying them next week. Very enjoyable just to spend a few hours with friends from Holland and new to me fiber artists from the area.

     So, at the end of the week as I finally ventured upstairs  and opened up the blinds, I am still caught by the beauty of the sun shining in on my fabric. Such lovely sunshine and such lovely color at the end of the week and I am glad I stopped to breathe and appreciate it.

And clean it up to start  again.  Many things in process but need to make progress.

The yard will be done this weekend so hope to return to sewing next week. I picked up something fun and want to do it next week.

Be creative, my friends!

What About My Art?

     Yes, I have been spending a lot of time looking at art, but what have I been doing this week as far as my work is concerned?

     I spent the week cataloging or organizing each piece I have made in the past two and a half years. I found a program that is super easy to use called Flick. I struggled for about 6 months trying to learn excel on my own. Oh for pete’s sake-sometimes I wonder what I was wasting so much time on. I re-photographed some of the pieces so they have “real” pictures. Everything that is completed is priced and has been photographed. And a pile has been made of those that are unfinished and deemed worth the time to finish. Others have been let go of-trashed or cut up for other things.. What a great thing to let go of unfinished junk! In the end, I had 46 finished pieces. It was an overwhelming task to tackle before the 30$ purchase of this program. I refuse to think about all the valuable time I wasted before trying to do this on my own.

     My inventory list also served as a way to prepare a short presentation for my class next week. (Where I came from and where I am at right now.) I really hate public speaking-really hate it but want to act like a mature adult and do a good job. Let’s hope I don’t cop out as it is optional.  This whole inventory list really helped me to see a chronological history of my work-what works and what doesn’t work.

    Also, spent time machine quilting. Machine is back in working order and did so well I kept going and didn’t realize  I had a huge wrinkle quilted on the back. I’ll sit and remove it tonight while I watch some baseball. ( Love the Tigers for ripping out bad seams and bad quilting.) I really want to get it done before I leave on Sunday but that feels overly ambitious.

     Then, I have been obsessively cutting stamps out of erasers and stamping black on white with Setacolors paint. And monoprinting. Obsessively. For as much as I hated black and white a few weeks ago, I crave it now. Crisp, truth-telling and beautiful. I am just going with this obsession for now. I’ll let you know where it leads me.

Be creative, my friends.

The Last Hurrah

     I have finished fabric dyeing for the summer of 2011. Oh,what a great feeling that is to say! At least until I get home from Vermont , unpack and sort it all and see what I didn’t dye to fill out my stash. So, I will feel absolutely amazing and kind of like superwoman -until I get home. I think the final count is 250 yards since May-craziness.

    This past week I dyed reds. And then an old friend from my Connecticut days,  Lynne, came to spend a few days doing some dyeing and surface design with me. And it wasn’t just some, it was many yards of beautiful fabric that we created.

    It was a hot day on Monday but our pieces dried nicely on the line. Lynne just didn’t stop and created lots of small pieces of fabric and I think her favorite technique was monoprinting using parchment paper.

Lynne’s beautiful hand dyed fabrics. My favorites were her top fabrics-  deep rich overdyes.

    I love these pieces that I clamped but should have used a higher concentration of dye to make the prints darker. Always learning something new each time I process a fabric.

Just playing ended up creating nice texture.

Using up the dyes on the last of my white cotton floss.

After many loads of laundry , caffeine, ice cream and lots of conversation, we created oodles of fabric to use the next year. Not much cooking got done but lots of fabric dyeing. Oh and my dog escaped to kill  the neighbor’s chicken(not good). There is always a dog adventure whenever Lynne comes!

     Lucy, my Bernese rarely chases anything…but I guess the chicken lost.

     Thanks for coming Lynne. Next time, no dog adventures. We both will  need a good nap after we iron all this fabric.

     Be creative, my friends. I can hardly wait to return to actual sewing again.

Jumping Off My Lilly Pad

    I have been floating around in this pond of fabric dyeing all summer and am almost done  with my 200 meter goal for the summer. So I decided it was time to take a break from the dyeing and try one of the new techniques from my last workshop.  ( And thanks to some wise words from a friend.)

     Deconstructed screen printing was it yesterday. So  I jumped in and tried working with some screens I had prepared last week. I didn’t read a thing from my notes but just jumped right in. I knew I didn’t have the right print surface prepared but just tacked my fabric down with some clamps. It actually worked ok, but the clamps didn’t allow me to print off the side of the surface. It was kind of gooey but fun to see how the screen broke down with repeated sweeps of the squeegee and print paste.

I had brought two screens with me. They were varnished with polyurethane so didn’t need taping. I did forget to tape in a well though.

First draw through. Nice marks aren’t they?

 First screen after the washout. Much lighter than I thought  it would be.  Next time I can be bolder or I can add color to this.

Second screen after the washout.

Close ups of some of the more interesting areas. Really nice prints . I need to remember a few more things next time and make an official printing surface but this was a great first try and a technique I look forward to using again.

I only have about 30 more meters left to finish up of fabric dyeing here in Vermont. My friend is coming next week and we will spend two days doing surface design techniques. I made a list of all I wanted to do and it is long.

Jumping off the lily pad from the pond I was in to something new definitely helped push me forward. (Thanks friend for your wise words.)

Be creative, my friends.

Making Marks and Processing

     I spent some time visiting this week with art friends. On Tuesday , I met a friend Elizabeth for coffee and shared what I had learned at the Barn workshop. She is so enthusiastic and it’s nice to be able to share with her. And sharing with her helped me to clarify what I had learned and what techniques I really didn’t want to focus on. I came home and looked through my box of supplies and you know what tools I liked the best?

Simple things: a credit card for scraping thickened dyes on, foam rollers I cut into, a dishpan scrubber, the cheapo one dollar paintbrush with some bristles chopped off…..

 A spreader with great edges

A piece of plexi-glass with duct tape on it. I used it for mono-printing.

a piece of a plastic doormat
foam rollers


a needle nose bottle with a plastic tip
     I found I liked the simple things you can find at your local hardware store or scrounge from a workbench. 
     I spent some more time sorting fabric and completing my inventory for fabric dyeing this week. And beginning to pack for Vermont. I leave next Wednesday and I am trying to be reasonable with what I really want to accomplish this summer. Also, I do this after every workshop. Just kind of stop and ramble around until I might process what I have learned. Maybe it’s being overstimulated. Don’t know but I am not fighting it this time. Some hand stitching usually moves me on. 
     Talk about being overstimulated-had lunch with the wonderful Nellie and her niece Diane. More about that later.
     Be creative, my friends!

Finally, the Fabrics

     I kept waiting for a brighter day to take pictures of my fabrics I made last week but the rain just kept coming. So last night, in some very bad lighting, I took pictures just so I could remember all the processes we covered.

     Some are really bad and not to be shown. I took it one layer too far or some of the colors bled into the other areas… but the fun of splashing all that color over a white piece of fabric was amazing. So here we go. I used a yard of fabric for each piece so that is a lot of dye and print paste.

 Soy wax resist using a large paint brush on cotton. The small tools to apply wax were in big demand so I went big. I was worried about washing it out when I had so much soy on there but it was easy after I soaked it in hot water.

More soy wax resist on linen. I ended up loving working on linen as it accepts the dye so well and wished I would have brought more of it.

Masking tape on a silk screen and then print paste with dyes applied through it . The big squeeze bottles full of color were so much fun. I felt like a kid in  the candy shop and I had been given ten bucks instead of a quarter to spend.

Dry brushing with the liquid dyes.

 Monoprinting on one of my small plexiglass pieces I brought.  This blue piece took me a long time and then I don’t enjoy the blue color.

 The orange piece above is just trying out different things to obtain texture.

This is a section of a large piece of fabric that I worked on for a few days waiting and batching in between processes. And then trying different marks on different areas. I think it has about five layers on it and I even worked it from the back. I was looking to obtain really saturated colors and now I know how. You can see from the close up how much bleed I was getting from the masking tape. I wouldn’t do such a rigid thing next time. I might go back to it and make the neon yellow lines a different color. Or cut it up and use it for something else. (But that’s the whole point of trying to make compositional cloth-it is the composition.)

It was very freeing to know that every fabric can be fixed WITH A BUCKET OF BLACK. And if you go into surface design with that approach, you smile a whole lot more when you pull your piece out of the final rinse and you don’t like it. I gave myself permission to be the newbie and just learn the techniques this time.

Two of the many things I will forever remember from Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan:

1. Stitch alone cannot fix a bad composition.
2. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.” I love this phrase.

So back to work I am , stitching on a new piece and enjoying their phrases as I  try to make sense out of a piece I need to finish! They were great teachers and if you ever have a chance to take a class from them, sell a sewing machine if you need to and go.

Have a good weekend. I hope to enjoy some sun , soccer and the garden.

Be creative, my friends!

A Class at the Barn

     What a great week at the Barn with fiber artists Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. First of all, I want to tell you what excellent teachers these two are. Their enthusiasm for surface design and teaching skills  are truly gifts. I went with really no idea of how the class would be structured and what we would accomplish. Each morning a design technique was covered and generally in the afternoon and evening, we would work away or should I say play away.

     The wet studio is amazing. Large sinks, large print tables and we each had our own space-wet and dry with unlimited access to all the supplies.

     We learned about print paste, screen printing with the dyes, using unlimited amount of mark making tools, de-constructed screen printing, thermofax screens, freezer paper stencils, paper lamination, monoprinting, soy wax and lots of other things…So many techniques that I was overwhelmed and didn’t end up trying two of them.

     Some were old hands at the techniques and came for more of the design aspect of creating a compositional cloth and others like me were new to the techniques. There were several very talented artists. And it was a joy to watch them work. All of us played very hard and really didn’t let the weather hinder us. It rained the entire week so we couldn’t get our screens to dry for de-constructed printing. Getting things to dry and not bleed was a challenge as well with the high humidity.

     I met new friends from Canada and Australia. And got to spend time with an old friend . Dorothy Caldwell was in the upstairs studio with a full studio and we had 21 people in class. It was a busy place but never felt crowded.

   More tomorrow.

Be creative, my friends.


Early Morning Painting

     I have always been a morning person. I love a cup of coffee and the quiet of the mornings when everyone is still sleeping and even the dogs are snoozy yet. And this week is no exception. It is rainy and dreary here so my kids-on spring break- are sleeping in.

    With the extra time in the mornings , I have been working to finish up these last class assignments. I only have two more assignments for the Color Theory class and I want to finish them by the end of this week and have all assignments posted. I am really ready to transition back to sewing.

     It looks so easy to mix paint colors but getting an accurate color is really difficult. This palette on the left is a really beautiful color palette with raw sienna added.

     I can’t bear wasting textile paint so I would paint a piece of white cotton with the leftovers on my paint tray. I have a pile of these fabrics now.

     To think I  almost washed the paint down the drain. Even after ironing, the paint remained a bright color and the Setacolor paint left a really soft hand to the fabric. Unlike diluted acrylics.

     All in all, a great way to spend my early mornings with a cup of coffee.

Trying Some Arashi Shibori

     This past week’s lesson in the  online shibori class was on pole wrapping or arashi shibori. I took an old piece of pvc pipe and wrapped my fabric around it. I methodically and slowly wrapped the pole in about 1/8 of inch increments and then dipped the pole in colorhue dye. Instant color.

For these four pieces of silk,  I used the color eggplant and rose which I really did not like. Maybe I will try overdyeing this.

That’s what I love about dyeing-you can always change your results-until you get mud….then you just start fresh with white again.

Let’s see what else I can sneak in this week while they are sleeping in.

Be creative, my friends!

The End of the Week

    Plenty of things going on. Nice to look back and see all the places I have been this week.  And the fun I am having.

1. Shibori Class with Glennis.

 Silk -I loved the feel of it. I loved how easily and quickly it took the dye. Which has no to low odor and leaves no stains on your hands. Dyeing silk on the first day. I can only dream of what is to come. Loved it.

     Note to self: buy or find some better clamps to get crisp edges on the shapes. Use smaller pieces  of silk to try these experiments.

2. Working on filling in all those color charts.

I never can waste any kind of paint. This is Setacolor paints from the Color theory class. Note to self: find out the  right way to apply this to fabric. Just dilute with water? A medium? I have no idea. I was just using up what I had leftover for the lesson.

3. Just a little hand stitching. Facings.

I am trying to enjoy the process and not get think too much with- what will I do with all this information and  how will I use it? It’s on simmer right now. And that’s a good place to be.

Have a good weekend, my friends!