Monday, 28 January 2008

Take it Further Quilt Finished! (at last)

Last night I finished my TIF quilt. I messed up a bit on the binding (it should have been a bit wider and I should have done proper mitred corners) and I learnt that blanket stitch takes longer than you think, especially when you are stitching through so many layers!! But I am ready for the next TIF challenge on Feb 1. The photo is not as accurate with the colours as the scanner but the quilt is too wide for my scanner.

Yesterday I also finished my Seasons Journal Quilt. I really learnt a lot doing this one (or re-learnt information I had forgotten in my years away from fabric and quilting!) and there are some pretty significant "technical" faults in it but overall I am happy with it. I did a fold-forward style backing and border on this one and like it better. I am sure there is a proper term for this but I don't know it! This quilt is 8.5 x 11 inches so it fits on my scanner - the colours in the picture are extremely accurate, only the shiny bits and beads don't show up very well.

No progress to report on the Australian Autumn quilt so I guess that will be what I am working on this week (and as that is the one that actually has to be posted somewhere and has an early Feb deadline, of course it is the one I have left to last!).

And to reassure my paper arts friends that I haven't completely moved over to the fabric side, here are some paper fabric postcards/ATCs that I am making. So far all I have done to the paper fabric (which was painted as part of the initial process back here) is cut it to size, back it with felt and stamp it with text and flourish images. Not sure what next - awaiting inspiration (or even just an idea or two!)...

Extremely hot here again today - forecast of 44 degrees (or 111F) - good day to stay inside and maybe take a dip in the pool when it gets dark!

Friday, 25 January 2008

TIF - An Update

This is a progress scan of my Take It Further Challenge "Balance" quilt. All that remains to be done is to stitch the binding and add blanket stitch around the binding (a style I think of as "a la Fiona Mortimore"). This has been a really good exercise for me as I have done a lot of reflecting on the word "balance" - it is "my" word for 2008!

As I noted in last night's post, I learnt a lot from this first TIF challenge and I am looking forward to February the 1st to see what is in store for us next!!

These are progress scans of the other two quilts - the Cancer Council quilt now has the angelina (the challenge material that had to be incorporated visibly on the quilt) appliqued as additional leaves onto the whole-cloth painted quilt and I have added some outline stitching. Still contemplating the backing, quilting and binding...

The Seasons Journal quilt just needs to be backed and bound and then I am going to add some beading to the central sun and also to the precipitation lines in the winter triangle. As a bit of explanation, these journal quilts were meant to extend us so I tried some new-or-relatively-new-to-me techniques such as the angelina/foil/misty fuse on the yellow summer triangle, the stamping on fabric and speciality thread couching on the green spring triangle and the outline FME on the autumn triangle. I really enjoyed making this one - just wish I didn't still have the binding to do!

And to finish, here is a little beeswax canvas I made that includes a wonderful little saying (a stamp from Oxford Impressions) - "keep a green bough in your heart and the singing bird will come".

PS Happy Australia Day for the 26th to all the Aussies in blogland!!

& A Note To Myself - time to get back to all the weekly paperarts and mixed media challenges!!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

I've Been Missing in Action...

Sorry about the unannounced gap in blogging but I have lost a week somehow...

Meanwhile I have been working (mostly) on three small art quilts - my Australian Autumn quilt for the Cancer Council (big learning curve!), my Seasons Journal quilt for Australian-NZ Quilters (even bigger learning curve) and my "Balance" quilt for the "Take it Further" challenge (needless to say this was a big learning curve too!). The Take it Further challenge is definitely working for me as I am trying to rapidly increase my very limited art quilt experience! There are so many aspects to this work that I hope I remember next month if I decide to go down the fabric path again. Maybe it is time for a paper arts response to the challenge...

So to recount progress - I have made progress on all three but none of them are finished! I'll post some pictures tomorrow night of my progress. They all will be finished though by the time I go to bed on Monday 28 January! I am going to insist on personal closure so I can happily move into February! Joseph has donated a day of his holidays this week to a very thorough house-cleaning day this week so I have restricted (!!) household responsibilities on this long Australia Day weekend...such bliss! I might have to do some baking to reassure the three cake-muffin-biscuit eating males that live here that I do have some domestic skills...I have heard mention that a Pavlova would be a suitable Australia Day dessert....

(Above and below from Doreen)

(From Ebony!)

This week I have received some wonderful mail - a great card and special cord from Doreen, one of Doreen's grand-daughter Ebony's first ATCs (thanks Ebony!!), a lovely cross-stitch ATC from Anne Lugherini in France (no blog unfortunately) and perfectly gorgeous Fairy Slippers from Joanna Van R (her side of an "Out of Your Comfort Zone"one-on-one exchange on the Surface Design Group). I have included two pictures of the slippers taken in the same room with the same camera about a minute apart - no, they didn't change colour in front of my eyes but I obviously need some photography lessons!

(From Anne L)

(From Joanna)

The picture at the top of this post is my napkin leaf and Lutradur piece that is in the current Somerset Studio - seeing it as a photo made me realize I should have used three leaves rather than two! It just doesn't look right to me now with only two - one of those strange things that happen when you look at a picture or mirror image rather than the real thing! Something (else) for me to remember.

And to finish a beautiful stormy early evening summer sky and rainbow - a photo taken from my side door a few days back (and tonight we have another electrical sky show happening!).

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Take It Further - January (An Update)

You may recall in this earlier post I decided to go with the colour scheme Sharon posted as the TIF January challenge. Well, in the course of pondering what do with said colour scheme, I decided to think about qualities I admire in other people (given that someone we admire is the TIF concept for January). I toyed with various ideas and then "balance" was issued as a journal prompt on another group I have joined and I immediately knew that I wanted to use that as my theme for TIF! I am so in awe of people who have balance in their lives.

Over a decade ago I had the wonderful opportunity, through my job, to do a very intensive live-in week long Leadership Course at the Mt Eliza Business School over in Victoria. It was a life-changing event for me in many ways but one of the points that was stressed during the course (which was totally male except for two female participants, myself included) was the importance of balance. The course used the quadrant approach - family, work, personal life and community and I have kept that in mind ever since. Needless to say I have not always achieved it...

So, my TIF colour scheme has turned into a small art quilt based around the concept (quality?) of balance. I have used four equal squares as my quilt top and then I have divided two of the squares into length-wise strips (to symbolise the different areas in which we participate in our personal and community lives). I am adding a circle in the middle to represent the perfect balance between all four (and potentially the snowball effect!). I had already selected the fabrics before the thinking happened but I think they are ideal for this - there is a mixture of western and Asian text and design which emphasizes making the most of all approaches and philosophies. As an embellishment I will add a large Asian decorative coin that represents all the signs of the Chinese zodiac - a good representation, I think, of life in balance - all the personalities that we need to balance in our lives!! Not sure how much quilting etc I'll do although I really think it would look nice with some beading. The darker purple fabric (not pictured) from the colour scheme will be used for the quilt binding.

These are a couple of progress shots from my scanner (partial shots only, and of course minus the binding which isn't done yet!)

And because a blog post needs pictures, the other scans are of a green journal title page (below - a great way to use up all those scraps of beautiful papers) and a journal cover (at the top of this post) that I made some time ago.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

"You Make My Day" Award

The lovely Sharon recently passed on a "You Make my Day Award" to me which was a lovely honour (thanks Sharon!!).

One of the really funny things about blogging is that it has really opened my eyes to the value of friendships developed as a result of a common purpose or love of a common thing. So many of the people I have really connected with as a result of blogging have a similar passion for creativity and self-expression through creative outlets. Sharon is one of these very special friends!

So many people "make my day" as a result of their blogs - it will either be their art, their humour, their honesty, their photographs, their knowledge or even their irreverence, so I pass this award on to all the bloggers I have read on this journey of mine!

Talking of blogs, as a result of reading this post, I visited this blog and found out about "Creativity Every Day" (CED 2008). I have signed up of course as this fits perfectly with my beliefs - creativity can be expressed in so many ways, including tonight's couscous (although hopefully, after finishing cooking, it will also find/show itself in my Take it Further art quilt!).

And some art work to finish this very quick little post (a journal cover I made some time ago for one of my sisters):

Monday, 14 January 2008

Lightness of Being...& A Wish Tree

Just reporting in! I feel a wonderful sense of lightness - I finished my clean out of my paper arts room (read "spare bedroom with heavy investment of paper, stamps, paints, canvas, inks etc etc) at 3:30pm yesterday afternoon and I cannot believe how good it made me feel. I could of course have quite reasonably downsized supply-wise but all I did was throw away rubbish (especially stuff I had kept because it was something that I could potentially recycle/use - that is, if I live a couple of extra centuries!) and re-organise my supplies. It was a huge effort and has been at the cost of more than a week's creativity but IT WAS WORTH EVERY MINUTE!! I have floor space again!!

To celebrate I started my Seasons Journal Quilt (unadorned but pieced fabric above - although I did afterwards use Terracotta Color Wash on the bright autumn section to make it a bit more autumny!), did some more work on my Australian Autumn quilt, decided to do a small quilt for the "Take it Further" challenge and chose fabrics for the specified colour scheme - see below (I am possibly being a little liberal here in my interpretation but I really want to do something with an oriental flavour and I just love text on fabric) and started a paper arts project for Stamping & Papercraft. Such bliss...

And then today I received three wonderful fabric postcards in the mail. The first one came naked (no envelope!!) and is a wonderful felted piece of artwork by Dianne McGrath for the January Calendar Girls exchange. The texture and tactile qualities are just wonderful!

And the next two came from the wonderful Fiona Mortimore as part of an exchange a small group of Australians have been running this year. The first one with the vibrant felted background and blanket-stitched ribbon binding is for the "Pattern" theme and the other beautiful birdy one is for the "Paper Fabric" theme. How lucky can one person be?

And talking of luck, today I have somehow stumbled across this wonderful blog and found out about Rachel's Saturday Seeds and the wish tree!! I just love this idea and it is so easy to participate. I love these ways of connecting up with others in a way that just wasn't possible before blogging...I can see all those ribbons blowing in the breeze from that beautiful dogwood tree!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

January's Challenges - Take it Further & Journal Quilts

I think I may have mentioned that I have signed up for Sharon B's "Take it Further" Challenge this year. It involves creating a piece (fibre or paper) on either of two options that Sharon presents each month. There is a requirement to blog about it as well of course!

So the January options are either the concept of admiration of a person (who, why, what) or a colour scheme. I have been thinking about both for the last week or so and I am finding it hard to focus on a single idea let alone a "resolved design"! I think the colour scheme is probably a bit too muted for me but then again the whole point is to challenge ourselves and the recycled book cover piece at the top of this post is pretty muted colour-wise and I loved doing that one...

Anyway I have promised myself that by tonight I will have fine-tuned the myriad ideas I have floating around and get started so that I have enough time to finish it by the end of the month, which seems to be rapidly approaching.

The other thing that I am pondering (as I continue my craft room clean-out) is my January Journal Quilt for Aus_NZ Quilters. This is my first ever journal quilt (A4) size so I am looking forward to participating in this challenge as well, although I am glad this one does not have the same requirements regarding participation (if you don't get it done you can still participate the next month!).

The January theme is Seasons and I am pretty sure I am going to do a variation on a small art quilt I did last year for an exchange (picture below) - the theme was elements and I enjoyed representing fire, water, air and earth in fabric and I think the fours seasons will work well done in a similar way. I'll just use a sun as the central point. The journal quilts also have a series of techniques that you can use each month and January includes embellishment so that is another reason to keep the quilt design simple.

I'll post some progress shots soon (I hope).

(And to finish here is one of my pages from a colour based journal
from a few years back - just because I love green!)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

A Quick Post!!

(A work in progress - my rusted fabric quilt)

This is just a quick post from the Western Australian goldfields where it is so hot I have lost my urge to finish my clean out (clean-up!) and have no energy to create...I couldn't even make it tonight to Annie's for our first Wed night get-together for 2008. Temperatures are supposed to drop a bit for the weekend thank goodness so I expect to be back in action soon!

I have, however, received some wonderful mail this week -

(Fabric embellisher ATC from Bina in Israel)

(A gorgeous Christmas Card from Dianne Mahoney - no blog :( )

(ATC from Dianne Mahoney)

(Fascinating Fabric Postcard from Val Thomas)

(plus Beautiful napkins and lots of lace from Val)

And today I received my Jan/Feb Somerset Studio - I haven't been contributing as regularly as I used to over the last year or so to this wonderful magazine so it was a real thrill today to get my copy and find three of my pieces included -

(My "New Beginnings" piece - top right hand corner)

(My beeswax"Singing Bird" Canvas bottom left hand corner)

(and My Lutrador Leaf hanger - bottom right corner)

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Reflections...and some fabric experiments

Over the last couple of days I have (naturally) been catching up on some blog reading instead of getting on with some projects that I really do want to get underway(really and truly I do!) and I have noticed that a lot of people have reflected on their progress and achievements for 2007 as well as their dreams, hopes and plans for 2008. It was really refreshing reading them and has made me think more about my situation and what exactly it was about 2007 that makes me look forward so much to this year and why I feel so full of anticipation.

I have come to the conclusion that although the last year has been a difficult one on some levels for me in my personal life, the friendship, networks, stimulation and support that I have received (and hopefully also given) as a result of starting a blog have made a huge difference in my life and helped me cope and grow. Rather than dwell on it I would just like to thank
everyone (including the people who visit my blog that I don't yet know) for being part of such a wonderful creative, inspiring and supportive world.

And, as a new year naturally makes you think of fresh starts, I found yesterday that I could not bear the mess in my paper arts room (a reasonably small ex-bedroom) for one minute longer. (Note - at this stage I am ignoring the fabric room, another fairly small ex-bedroom.) I also found that I couldn't even get in there!! The reason - firstly I am a very visual person so I need to SEE my stuff/supplies which means a lot of stuff/supplies gets pulled out and put on the floor (there is never any room on the desk) when I am working on a project. In my creative life I am a very impulsive person so before I finish anything I have also started on something else. This means I need to control/contain the bits for each project, at least to some minimal degree. The system that works for me is to have a multitude of shoe boxes, baskets, trays etc and just keep dumping everything I am using in those. It helps if they are the sort of containers that can be stacked and not fall over when I squeeze past along the tiny bit of remaining floor space to get to the door.

All of this is fine and probably very very normal but the problem is that I hardly ever get around to clearing away and putting away the contents of those containers and I will regularly continue to just pull stuff from them because they are visible rather than opening a cupboard or a drawer. Naturally the act of yanking a piece of painted paper from the bottom container creates chaos very quickly so then I use the scoop and deposit system (generally involves everything loose on the floor being dumped in a bigger box). Bigger boxes take up even more room... To top it all off I seem incapable of throwing away scraps so all manner of tiny offcuts and bits and pieces accumulate.

So late yesterday afternoon I spent a couple of hours lugging all the stuff off the floor and arranging it all very decoratively (not) down the hall, in the lounge room, in the family room and all over the dining table. I even took the towers of containers down from the top of all the cupboards. I'd show you pictures but it is just too embarrassing! The only trouble with doing all of this is that I now love the look of all that floor space and have no option but to sort through all the stuff, to not only organise it but to thin it out. Needless to say I share the dream of having a large space with long work tables and walls and walls of open storage...

Anyway it is not going to take too much imagination to know what I will be doing today and after work every night this week - except for when I am making the most of the space on my desk and doing creative stuff! I'll have to get it all done before the rest of the family comes back from their extended holiday.

Before I started the emptying routine I coloured cloth (there are four pictures of the end results scattered through this post). It was another hot day and perfect for "frying" your fabric completely dry in a matter of seconds. This is ideal for the effect I wanted to achieve. So I took fabric that I had previously sprayed with Adirondack Color Washes and water. This fabric had been dried too slowly so all the colours merged in a soft way but there were none of the water markings that I love.

So using these fabrics as a base I sprayed the color washes onto a large sheet of plastic (thanks Annie!) and sprayed them with water until I was happy with the look of the droplets (the plastic of course makes the dyes bead up). Then I just touched the pieces of dry fabric against the plastic momentarily, section by section until I was happy with the amount of colour they were taking up. I then immediately hung them in full sun to dry in seconds and then repeated the process, changing colours along the way until I was happy with the result. I just love the effect. These fabrics are for items that won't be washed so I only have to iron them for heat setting purposes.

I also started work on my quilt for the Unique Stitching Challenge which is to raise money for the NSW Cancer Council. The theme is Australian Autumn and the challenge is to visibly incorporate the provided mystery material in your quilt. I don't know if everybody gets the same thing or not but mine is goldish coloured angelina fibre. Quite difficult really as I don't associate sparkle with autumn. Anyway I have experimented by laying gum leaves on a piece of rusted fabric and lightly spraying over them with Color Washes to get soft edged leaf shapes. I have then painted the leaves with Olive Lumiere paint and pressed them onto the fabric so that they overlap the negative shapes. I used the same paint to stamp some text and then I sprayed the whole cloth lightly with walnut ink and gold Moon Shadow Mist. To get more variation I also flicked Super Copper Lumiere paint and very watery Olive paint onto the entire surface. Not sure what I will do next or even if I will use this for the quilt but it was good messy fun to do. I should have worn gloves but I like to use my hands unencumbered!

Yesterday I posted several beautiful postcards I have received from a small exchange I have participated in all year and here are some more beautiful ones that were received just before I left to go on holidays. The technique was to make and use fabric paper (a la Beryl Taylor) somewhere on the postcard. Only Danielle has a blog so unfortunately I can't send you to sites to see more of the other's wonderful work.

(Coralee Barker's Fabric Paper Postcard)

(Danielle's Fabric Paper Postcard)

(Karin Hutchinson's Fabric Paper Postcard)

(Ruth Kelly's Fabric Paper Postcard)

And to finish this rather long post, I am posting a much better scan of Sue Smith's beautiful Silk Postcard as I worked out what I was doing wrong when scanning reflective materials.

(Sue Smith's Silk Postcard)