Monday, January 18, 2016

Art Journaling,
looking for my voice in mixed media


Last year I took a wonderful on-line mixed media class called LifeBook.  I was very hesitant about doing this kind of class, mostly because of my unfamiliarity with the materials. I didn't even know what gesso was! I learned all kinds of wonderful lessons from the myriad of teachers. However, since finding my artistic voice in fabric, I had a lot of resistance towards the weekly lessons because I was copying what the teacher was doing.  It rubbed me the wrong way.  I hadn't found my artistic voice in this mixed media thing and it was very frustrating!

And, one of the optional features of the class, was the sharing of our work on a private Facebook group.  It was inspiring to see the range of work being done.  It was amazing to make something that looked like the teacher's lesson when I had no confidence at the start that I could draw or paint like that.  It was incredible to see other people learning the same thing!  But, it also reinforced my need for finding my own voice because there was a small subset of people that were able to learn from the lesson, but create their own work.  It didn't look like a derivative, it was original and wonderful.  Must learn to crawl before walking, and so I set off to both learn and find myself.

Now, it is a year later, and I am happy to tell you that about half way the year, I branched off into a mini-side project to find my voice.  I started with half-sized pages, and just devoted one side per day to some play.  I also journaled each day on the page.  My intention was two-fold, in that I wanted to both find my voice, but also use the work to keep better track of my diet and exercise towards a more balanced and healthy life. Lofty goals! The daily work on the journal page kept me accountable to myself, and for the most part it worked!

What was most interesting is that the act of playing with watercolors, and colored pencils, and gesso, and paint, and markers was the THING that brought balance back, the rest just followed.  I gave myself permission to not have to plan every page, just play, on a daily basis.  The outcome of a beautiful page was no longer important.  Every day that I did this somehow freed me up to have a good day, a productive day, a healthy and balance day, and the ability to be flexible to what the day offered.  It was surprising to say the least!  Um, bad art leads to happy life?  Not exactly, it was just PLAY leads to happy life, and my form of play was with the colors on the page, and experimenting, and journaling about my life.

The end of the year came and I had almost 200 pages done.  I had also finished the LifeBook class, and the last lesson was about binding the pages we had worked on throughout the year.  I did not want to bind my artjournal pages in the same format, but I became motivated to see an alternative, one that I found on Youtube with SeaLemon.  Every question I had, she answered in one of her bookbinding tutorials.  I experimented with types of binding the pages in groups of 50 pages each, and found that I really like it when the art pages lie flat when opened.  I also like being able to see the entirety of each page.

The first one, I simply glued the edges of the pages, and then wrapped it in a hard cover.  I put about 5 layers of glue on the spine side of the pages, with heavy books weighing the pages down, and waited for them to dry in between coats.  I used cardboard from the drawing pads and used Mistyfuse on some of my own batiked fabric for the covers.  That was easy and also quite attractive because I love my batiked fabrics!  I also have a small watercolor journal that was bound this way, and I know that sometimes the pages fall out, so I added a small tie to the outer edges.  The results?
This one has a page coming loose

here's the tie to hold the loose pages in.
I like the simplicity of this style of binding, but I don't like that the pages come out so easily.  And, the book does not lie flat.  Perhaps not the best choice for these thick watercolor paper pages?

Try number 2.  For this one, I sewed strips of folded watercolor paper to the edges of each group of 2 pages.  This allowed me to stack the pages into small signatures and then sew the signatures together.




This took more time.  I had to cut the strips of paper, fold them, punch holes and sew to each individual page.  Then there was some time involved in sewing the signatures together.  It was all easy though.  This technique had the advantage of the pages opening flat, and you could see all the art, with the exception of the 1/4 inch covered by the white folded strip for the binding.  I also added a hard back cover with the Mistyfused fabric on the outside.  

The last one uses a form of a copic stitch.  And even with hard covers for the front and back, there is no cover for the spine. 
Spine from the top view

spine from the side view, love the rainbow threads!

Here is the last page with the back cover.  I selected some wrapping paper for the inside cover.
I think I like this style the best.  I used 6 strand embroidery floss that I ran through some beeswax.  The pages lie flat, and the thread only covers the art by a very little bit.  It is attractive too, and I used hard covers for the front and back with my batik fabric.  The only disadvantage is that it takes a long time to stitch all the pages together, one by one.  I also used some clear packing tape on the edge of each page just to make it stronger. See link here for instructions on youtube by SeaLemon.

All in all, a fun project, one that I will continue into this year.  And, now that I know a bit about binding, it makes pre-planning my pages a much easier prospect!  Here are some images of the art I made this year. 








Monday, January 04, 2016

Silver Linings Circles 
59" x 58.5"
This lovely project came to me through a fabric designer I have known for a few years now, Hoodie Crescent. She wanted me to make a quilt with her fabrics to help with marketing, and so she introduced me to STOF fabrics. I was excited about the opportunity because I just love making quilts. We agreed to a few terms and then I waited for the fabric to arrive!
I am very new to this style of working. It seems odd to me to make a quilt from just one collection of fabrics, even though they are all made to go together, I usually like to work in a more "scrappy" mode. In this gesture, they also sent me some fabrics from another line to put in with the Silver Linings. Very cool! I had no idea how much fabric I asked for until it arrived. It was a LOT of fabric!! I set about washing and ironing! The fabric was so soft, I really enjoyed the meditative quality of handling all of it before I got started!

On another note, I must tell you that they wanted me to write a pattern to go with it. I have no experience writing patterns, so I wrote the pattern as I worked. Lots of notes, measurements and photos helped me put it together. Also, because STOF fabrics is in Denmark, they have many customers who use the metric system, so my pattern needed to be in English and Metric measurements. This added to my anxiety, but ultimately was not a problem, just a bit more work. They will be adding it to their website at some point if you want to download it and make this fun quilt!

My idea was to make some improvisational patchwork (like on the back of Pink and Orange), and cut it into drunkard path's blocks. I grouped the fabrics into 4 color patterns, and set to work. The first one was the creams and greens (and a little pop of aqua blue).
It just needs to be big enough to fit under the template I drew. 
This is a photo of it on my glass door.  Once I pressed the freezer paper template in place, I could easily see that my patchwork had "grown" large enough.  It was time to cut!  Then sew it to the plain cream background piece:
This part is really easy, even though it looks rather lumpy.  It turns out that the bigger the curve, the easier it is to sew!  I simply folded the patchwork in half, twice, to make folds, and then did the same thing to the background piece.  Match the folds, with right sides together, and pin, and then slowly sew easing in the fullness.  You can see more (including videos!) about this simple technique on my blog post with a tutorial for making One Earth.

I used a different patchwork for each quadrant of the circle.  It was easy to make these fabrics sing!

Next up?  How to quilt it!  I decided to keep it simple and modern, long parallel lines, 1/4" spaced.  I think it worked perfectly!  And it leads me to another wonderful Quilt Market story!  I met Becky Richards from Hobbs Batting (which I mentioned on the post regarding my 2nd place win at the Houston Quilt Show for Two Deer, or Too Dear!).  She had sent me some sample battings to play with!  I choose the Cotton (80%)/Wool (20%) blend for this project, and just LOVED it.  It was so easy to work with, easy to quilt, and the quilt looks fantastic after all this quilting!  It hangs so nicely!
This may become my new favorite batting, but I have another Hobbs sample to try, a Silk batt!