Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 5
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on Instagram with #plentytogoaroundquilt

Yep, this is going slow, so slow.  And partly because I haven't worked on it as much as I would like to.  Lots of life happening over here, which can also be a good thing.  From life comes inspiration.  

As promised, here is a shot of the whole quilt from 3 months ago, and one from yesterday.  I can't believe it has been 3 months already since I started the appliqueing!

The great part is being able to see some of the design elements come together and create the symmetry that I was craving.  Also, blue, I was craving blue, and this satisfies that too! 

More things to show you today, the parts that deviate from blue.  There will a few little pops of yellow, orange and pink.  Perhaps you can see the little pink above?  If not, here's a closeup:
I was surprised that I have no photos of the hummingbirds in process.  I got so engaged in the making of these little guys, that I forgot to engage in the documentation of their creation.  However, it resembles a hummingbird, and that pleases me! Also, this is the first pop of color deviating from the blue palette, a tiny pop of intensely bright pink!

Next: the California poppies.  I started with white fabric, and batiked just a short section on the outside of the stem.  When I get to the part of sewing these on, this will become more apparent as to why.  Then, I dyed the fabric this beautiful and intense blue.  The last step for the photo below, was adding the wax as just an outline of the flower edges.
The next step is color removal.  This is done with very dilute bleach and sunlight, and then lots of rinsing with clear water and drying in the sun.  If it still smells like bleach, it's not done yet.
So VERY pleased with how this is coming along!  Next step is adding the orange dye.
These will be individually cut out, and then have all their outer orange edges turned under, all the way to the blue outlines.  The only part that will be orange is the inside of the flowers, and they are pretty small.  So, what looks like a massive amount of orange, will actually be just a small pop.

The last pop of color is yellow, and it's tiny, just a small section inside the irises. Wax on:
You may be able to see the faint bleeding of the yellow onto the lower petal.  This is not a problem. It will be dyed navy and will completely cover it up.  Though, there is also something to be said for happy accidents when it comes to dyeing.  I could imagine a scenario where the bottom petal could be dyed a light color and the yellow would add a small amount of interesting color variation. 
One fat quarter accommodates only 2 irises.  It is funny how much I love the way these look! When I started them, I couldn't imagine anything but green for the leaves.  But now, I really love the blue leaves and they look really good with the overall quilt design.

And now, we have come to the end of all the process shots I took while making the batik elements for the flowers.  There are 2 others, but I didn't take any pictures of those.  One is the stems for the spiral flowers, and then there is one more blue flower I didn't photograph.  All will be revealed as I slowly work my way through stitching all the pieces onto the quilt top.  

And there's always more to show when I get to the back of the quilt....stay tuned!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 4
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on Instagram with #plentytogoaroundquilt

It has been a long hot summer.  In Austin, we have officially broken the most number of days of 100 degrees (or hotter) ever recorded.  We have also not had any significant rain during that time.  I think we went 60 days without rain, and then Austin got a few very short lived and isolated spots of rain.  I didn't get any of those until this week, and even that rain wasn't enough to get the grass under my trees wet.  

And, though I need those hot temperatures for dyeing my blues the most intense ever (especially for turquoise), it has been a bit too much.  Standing in the garage and dipping into the hot and melted wax pot has been a morning only activity, paired with a large glass of ice water.  The dyeing sessions in the afternoon were almost unbearable.  It was so hot, I just wanted to finish each fat quarter as quickly as possible, however, this work required finesse, patience, and attention to detail. Does art require suffering? 

This week, I have four flowers to share with you. The first one is large, as in, I could only fit one on each fat quarter sized frame. And, I needed 4 of them, so that used up all 4 of my frames.  You may also notice some little flowers in the corners.  I did not space these flowers correctly when I was making them and needed some extra ones.  So nice that this big flower design accommodated me and allowed some extra space to use for something else!

Here is the sharpy sketch, with a few of the poppies on tracing paper and arranged on the corners.
Next, the beginning of adding the wax lines:
After the dyeing, this set is rinsed on my zip line, using the garden hose.
The final product, after it has been appliqued to the quilt top:
So lovely!

Next up, the white petal flowers:
The wax is protecting the white areas from the dye.  In this next shot, I decided to play with the background to add a more interesting pattern.  This is basically play time, because none of this will be used or even seen for the quilt.  Each flower will be individually cut out, so the background will not be used.
After dyeing: Also, I feel very curious about how it would have looked if I had put dye inside those little diamond shapes between the flowers...?
These are waiting to have the wax boiled out, which happens in my kitchen!  I have not sewn any of these on yet, so you will have to wait to see the finished product!

Next up: the 8 petaled flowers.
You may notice something a bit different about this design.  It has no white on it.  I began by dyeing the background fabric a nice shade of solid light blue.  Solids (and I mean REAL solids and not fabrics that have any mottling on them) are so hard to do.  To get an even dye, you have to keep the fabric moving.  How do you keep fabric moving for 2 to 4 hours (the time it takes the dye to completely or mostly penetrate the fabric)? I use a portable table top washer.  Unfortunately, it only has a 10 minute timer, so I spend a lot of time running up and down the stairs to turn it back on.  Great exercise, no? And, I have also experimented with time schedules to answer questions like, how long after the 10 minute cycle is over, can I leave it off without affecting the dye? 

After dyeing the background and waxing the lines of the flowers, I added the dyes, I used a different color inside the center circle, and then I painted the inside of the flowers, and then I painted the outside of the flowers the same color.  When I say "painted", I am referring to just dye, water, and soda ash.  It is very, very drippy, like painting with water.  Painting inside the waxed areas is easy though, because the dye sort of runs to fill the space and stops itself at the wax line, going no further.  It is kinda fun and interesting to watch.
Here are the frames sitting outside and being rinsed with the garden hose.  
Here is the flower, shown appliqued on the quilt top. I love the way these look, but they were difficult to make and they are difficult to applique.  I wish I had picked a design that allowed for less of these. I needed a total of 56. As of today, I only have 12 left to applique! Yay!

The last one is the page of spirals.  These will be cut into circle shapes and have a small stem added.  I love the color contrast of the blues in this one!  And, I am guessing that if you have been reading along, you will already know how I made these! 
Thanks for stopping by.  Just wanted to mention that I am making progress with the applique of these elements on the quilt, and am hoping to post a full view of my progress next week! 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 3
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on Instagram with #plentytogoaroundquilt

I have some more process photos to share with you! The first is the center flower.  You can see my pencil lines on the white fabric below.  I had to learn a lot for this project.  Usually, that darned tjanting tool drips a lot of dots of wax, so I had to up my skill level for this to work like I planned.  Also, the tjanting tool only holds a discrete amount of liquid wax.  It draws wax lines for a bit and then it runs out of wax, and you have to dip back into your container of liquid wax to refill it.  What is not obvious, is that when you first start drawing with the tool, the lines are thick, and as you get near the end of the supply in the tjanting, the lines get thinner.  It's all about temperature.  The wax is hottest when you first fill the tjanting, and that's when the lines are thick.  As the tjanting begins to cool, the wax lines get thinner and thinner.  To get an even thickness of line is really, really difficult.  So, though you may see a few wobbly and imperfect lines, I am quite proud that I was able to get close to a reasonably even line thickness.  I also learned how to stop and start my lines without them being too terribly visible, which is also quite tricky.  

Now that the lines are finished,
It is time to fill the spaces with dye:
This stage is the BEST part!! I love adding the color.  I also like the intense look of the dyes while they are wet, because once they have finished processing, they are always lighter.
Here is the finished flower, processed, and wax boiled out, hand trimmed with scissors and pinned to the center of the quilt.

This quilt is all about scale, and value, and repetition, and symmetry.  It will be fun to watch it emerge!

Next up, the fawns:
I opted for a light blue line (instead of white), for the definition of the fawns.  This translates to dyeing the background fabric a nice light blue first, then waxing, then bleach discharging. Here they are after the bleach and copious water wash stage, still pinned to the frame.
After bleaching, I drew in the details of the eye and the spots on the near-white parts of the body. Then I started with the dyes.  The dots and eyes were dyed first.  Then, I put extra wax on top to protect them from the stage where I dyed the body turquoise.  You may wonder what all the white lines are?  I was making some flower stems for later.  Not sure if this idea will work or not, but it's not looking too good at this stage.....we shall see!
Colors are: blue spots, brown eyes and nose, turquoise body, light blue outline, and blue hooves and black eye detail.
Here is the fawn after processing the dyes, and boiling the wax out, and sewn onto the quilt:
There will be four fawns around the center flower.  Stay tuned!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Plenty to Go Around: Part 2
project: approximately 80" x 80"
follow progress on my Instagram account: #plentytogoaroundquilt

When I last left off, I referred to the individual design motifs:  "Then it was time to start making all the pieces.  It took me about 12 weeks.  There were a total of 28 fat quarters that I drew, then batiked, and then dyed."

Today, I will start with the chickadees, one of my favorites! The fabric is created in my garage with batik and dye. These will be individually cut out, and then sewn, one by one, onto the giant white whole cloth background.  

This is the sketch on tracing paper, and the beginning of creating LOTS of paper cut outs, to use in the overall quilt design.

Next up: tracing the shapes onto white fabric.  This photo shows the first application of wax.  The darker grey areas are the places where I have put liquid wax (which has then cooled and solidified).  This layer of wax will keep the fabric under it white.
Making many, many, many duplicate chickadees.  This motif needed 3 fat quarters, one fat quarter per wooded frame.
Adding the first layer of blue dye.  It always looks darker when it's wet.  And, at this stage, it is hard to believe this will eventually look like a little bird!
This shows the next stage.  I am beginning to outline the areas that will be filled with navy dye.  The wax on the white areas is still there.
In the last stage of batiking and dyeing, I have added even more wax for the wing, and the underbelly.  I was a bit concerned that when I added the navy dye, it might leak (or drip, or spill) onto areas that I wanted to stay blue, so I protected those with the extra wax.  Below you can see the waxed wing and underbelly that look darker than the background.  In reality, they are still the same color as the background.  I have also added the navy dye to the head, and chin, and tail.  This is beginning to look like my little birds!  :)
Here is the finished product, dyeing complete, wax boiled out, washed, ironed, and individually cut, ready for basting and applique!
What is really crazy about this time consuming project, is that I could have, most likely, just cut individual pieces of fabric for each part of the bird, and sewed them on to create a bird image.  Yes, yes, I could do THAT!  However, the batik has a unique look, that I like, and I like doing it, so I opted for this route.  It will still be a long time before I am ready to add the birds to the quilt.  I am really looking forward to seeing this bird with the edges turned under and the beak defined!  Need more patience, can you send some? Thanks!!

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Plenty to Go Around
project: approximately 80" x 80"

If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have already seen a number of posts with images of my new project. You can see the posts so far with the hashtag, #plentytogoaroundquilt. 

To begin, I wanted a lot of things from this project.  I wanted to play with design on a big scale. I wanted to play with batik.  I wanted to hand applique all the pieces, because I like the softness of the under-turned edge.  I wanted to make it all blue.  Because I LOVE blue.   I got the idea early this spring, but knew that I would wait until summer to start the dyeing. It turns out that turquoise dyes so much bolder when it is hot aside. I also wanted a big slow project that I didn't have to rush.  I found this project to be so big (in my mind), that it intimidates me.  Some days are harder than others to simply start working.  And worrying about the outcome takes away the joy.  On the days that I manage to work, I feel happy and closer to where I want to be, which is to be engaged in a deeply satisfying process. 

I started with the idea of some fawns and flowers and the image of a kaleidoscope.  I began drawing everything with a pencil on tracing paper.  Once I found a satisfying shape, I would outline it with a black sharpie to increase visibility. Then I duplicated the shapes, many times, all by hand, and cut out the pieces.  I taped together a giant piece of white paper for the backdrop.  Then I was able to move all the pieces around to play with the composition.  Since all the pieces are tracing paper, they tended to move with the slightest breeze.  So I would tape them into place, which also means removing or cutting the tape when I changed my mind and decided to move them to a different location.  I started with a six sided symmetry, but did not eventually choose to keep it.  This was disappointing for many reasons, but mostly because I just didn't want to give up the hexagon.  When I opted for the 4 sided symmetry, all my design problems just fell away, and I felt the joy I was seeking.
Next, I took a photograph of it, and then printed it.  I played with copic markers to get an idea of the colors.  I thought of just using photoshop to fill the areas, but it was too tedious, and the markers were more fun! I also made a few mistakes, so I just printed a new page to color....several times. 
Then it was time to start making all the pieces.  It took me about 12 weeks.  There were a total of 28 fat quarters that I drew, then batiked, and then dyed.  Some took multiple batik and dye steps.  Some also used bleach discharge.  The first eight fat quarters I made, which included 4 fawns, and 4 big flowers, were great for practicing, but ultimately did not work for the project, so I had to start over. All had to be boiled to get the wax out, and washed and ironed.  It's a lot of work, but so incredibly satisfying! 

I look forward to sharing the progress I have made so far. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Rooftop Gardens
14" x 11"
This is my latest finish, a tiny quilt for a member's challenge for Visions Art Museum.  The theme was Urban Gardens, so I think this will fit. The exhibition will open April 20. I am also excited because it is my first time to submit to a member's challenge, and there is an opportunity for some kind soul to buy this cheerful little piece.  I will get to keep half of the sale and the rest goes to help support Visions Art Museum.  A win-win situation if you ask me!

It started because I wanted to dye some batiks turquoise, which need warm temperatures and it was still too cold here.  So I pulled out my stash of solids and just started piecing....
Then I realized the member's challenge theme, so I thought these little blocks would work perfectly if I added a frame around them to make them look like windows.  I tried different colors, but this one worked the best.
Except that after I did it, I didn't like it, so I undid it...
A seam ripper and moving back to what I liked, which was the original blocks.  Simplified, abstract, colorful and bold. And then I remembered this gorgeous batik fabric I made several years ago when I was making THIS quilt (scroll down to see the fire hydrant).
With some Mistyfuse on the back, and some fussy cutting, these would be the perfect addition to make some flowers for my rooftop. Plus, I really like how the "plus" motif duplicates the "plus" motif in the pieced blocks.  :)
And then the quilting....

I also liked this quilt so much, I almost didn't send it.  Sigh...I'm not sure that's a winning strategy for an artist.  However, I am also really glad that I made it early enough that I got to look at it a while before I sent it off.  This will be another one of those that I will not be sad if it does not sell.  :)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Hidden Messages, Part III
69" x 72"

I have been working for weeks trying to photograph an image of my quilt (here and here), so that you can see the light shining evenly from behind all the circles, revealing the hidden message.  And, I think I like this shot with the sun behind it better, mostly because the lighting looks real, and bright, and pretty.

Unfortunately, because it is not lying flat, some of the letters are hard to read, and it is a bit distorted from the wind.  You will also notice the darker "grey" area at the top. I wrapped the top of the quilt to the back to make the hanging tube.  I didn't want the hanging tube attached in the normal way because it would interfere with the ability to read the first line of the poem.

To get the next image, I hacked a LED light fixture and used it like a small light table and then photographed two blocks at a time.  It took forever to take all the photos, and even longer to assemble them into one photo, carefully trying to match the exposures and brightness and line up all the grid work.  I'll be honest, it doesn't look that good.  For some crazy reason, my camera had ideas of it's own, and it changed exposures for every photo because of the light it perceived, which was different for every pair of circles, and empty white blocks.  I tried a LOT of different settings. None of my choices gave me a consistent exposure, so I opted for second best and tried matching by hand in Photoshop for each one.  Eh, it's not a perfect process...

I do like how much I was able to pop the contrast and brighten it up a bit.  I really dislike how the white part looks tinted with either yellow or grey, and the more I tried to get it to look white, the more it blew out all the quilting lines.  It was so frustrating!

Meanwhile, now that the poem is revealed, I can share with you some more process shots.
The first part was making the white part of the quilt.  The machine quilting was on my Juki, with a walking foot.

Lots, and lots of lines!

The fun part was selecting colors for the letters, and colors for the circles.  And then making them! This was my original selection of fabrics.  Little did I know that I would be changing these later.  I opted to toss out the purple and pinks, and added umber, ochre, and red.

Next was using Mistyfuse to apply the letters to the background.  I absolute loved the way these looked, and considered ditching the circles all together. Who can resist text on quilts??
However, now that it's finished, I am really glad I added the circles.  I think it makes a really nice metaphor about how hard it is to see the truth sometimes.  Thank you for your patience and following along with me!