Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another color exercise

It was such a warm sunny day yesterday that I thought I'd take a bit of time to work on another color exercise. I decided to break out my new digital scale, mix up some dye concentrates, and dye a color wheel. This is the first time I've had the chance to dye fabric since my workshop with Carol Soderlund, so I had to refresh my memory on how to adjust the dye powder and liquid amounts to the weight of the fabric.

Look, here's the scale in action!

I batched everything in the sunshine on the patio...

And by the end of the evening, I had this!

I threw in a bit of perle cotton thread with each piece of fabric, so I actually was able to make this.

I'm working through these color exercises to remind myself of basic color principles... and it's fun and very reinforcing. And it was a lovely way to spend some time on the sunny patio!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Exercises with Sue Benner

Well, I'm home from an intense three days with Sue Benner. I'm exhausted and exhilerated. What a lovely woman she is, and what an excellent teacher ! Now I know why people follow her all over and repeat classes with her. She had so much information to share. I don't think I've ever heard anyone do such informative and educational critiques of our work.

The class we had was one Sue calls "Driven to Abstraction," and we learned a lot about developing abstract work from image sources.

Our first assignment was to make a quick, small piece using a photograph Sue randomly gave us using only 5 fabrics, two of which we were randomly given. Here's the one I got:

Not surprisingly, I honed in on some details and made this:

From there, we were asked to choose an image we'd like to work with for a while. I pulled out this magazine photo:

Our first exercise on abstracting our "personal image" was to tear magazine pages to create a collage of the image, working fast. I made this:

And from there, we were to make 5 small square pieces, each abstracting some aspect of the image, in whatever way we wanted.

Focusing the bright flower shapes against that great blue door, I did this...

I moved on to work the bunch of buds and came up with this:

And that led to this,

then this,

...and then this.

I learned a lot from these exercises, not the least of which was just to stop thinking about the subject of the image as particular THINGS. I mean, I kept seeing "door" and "flower" instead of shapes and lines and colors. So it was really useful for me to get beyond that. I know...duh. But still, it felt like a big mental shift.

I started a larger piece based on another image, and that's under way but needs a lot of work. So you'll see that soon. Now, I'm tired and sore (I tend to work standing up without even realizing it) so I'm headed into a hot bath.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More complementary color

This week, I am thrilled to be taking a three-day workshop with Sue Benner through my art quilt group. I've never had the good fortune to have a class with her before now, and I'm really looking forward to it. The workshop will be on abstraction ... so we have been given the task of bringing some pictures to work with, and will go from there.

Conveniently, this has coincided quite neatly with Bob (my brilliant lawyer boss) being away for 10 days. So I'm free to to have fun without worrying about work.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd post some color exercises I've done lately on complementary color schemes (Brenda, note the "e"!). It was fun to put these together.

I've been doing color exercises in a journal, collecting color bits from photos to capture various ranges of hues. It's simple, but it IS making me look at color with a different, more conscious eye.

Coffee Break

In an effort to make myself try new techniques and push myself a bit more creatively, I've managed to get myself into two journal-quilt type groups. Luckily for me, one is monthly and the other is every other month, so I have some leeway.

Anyway, in my monthly group, the theme we were given is "Coffee and Cream." This immediately brought to mind the show I'd stumbled on a while back on the Food Network, where baristas (baristi?!) competed for title of Best Latte Artist.

So, I started hunting around and found some inspirational photos of latte art.

And while I was doing this, I found myself humming a favorite childhood song of mine (thanks to the "Sing Along with Mitch" album my parents had) -- "You're the cream in my coffee, you're the lace in my shoe... You will always be my necessity, I'd be lost without you." I loved that song. I figured that the lyrics had to be in there, also.

I selected a coffee cup to use as my guide, and I fiddled around in my amateurish way using Photoshop to get a line drawing and Microsoft Publisher to see how it'd look with text behind it, and I got to this rough design place...

Well, I said it was ROUGH.

Yesterday, I experimented with writing with a bleach pen on fabric, thinking that might be a way to incorporate the lyrics onto the background fabric.

Um, NO. By the time the bleach absorbed it was just unidentifiable blobs. I didn't know the bleach pen would have gel bleach stuff. But I didn't like the effect anyway, so I've abandoned the bleach idea for another project.

I moved on to painting fabric and then printing words on via the computer...and I like that much better. Today's about moving forward and hopefully finishing... More to come!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Playing Complements

I've been working on some color exercises lately which have caused me to search for images featuring complementary colors.

So today I've been swooning over purple and yellow. It's such a happy combination, isn't it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Miscellaneous Sunday

It's a quiet Sunday morning, and I'm upstairs sipping my coffee and reading blogs while Caroline is still dozing and Roger is downstairs reading the Sunday paper and watching the political shows, as he likes to do. We're having fogging mornings here these days, and I love waking up to a big of chill in the air. I'm ready for fall.

Not much quilting activity going on here, as I'm catching up on work. At least the project on my plate these days is one I particularly like-- scripting questions for depositions of witnesses. I sift through the papers in the case, outlining lines of inquiry and identifying exhibits to ask the witnesses about. It's a bit like playing detective, and putting puzzle pieces together and coming up with questions that will help form them into a complete picture.

Yesterday I did take a break to watch an episode of The Quilt Show, the online show produced by Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson. If you've not seen one, it's worth checking them out. I'm fascinated by their direct approach to reach quilters -- if tv networks aren't going to make it happen, they're going to do it themselves. Admirable! The show I watched yesterday featured Denise Labadie showing her gorgeous quilts of Irish stone structures and demonstrating how to paint fabric to get wonderful rock-like effects. It looked like fun.

And that reminded me that in my Practical Design workshop, we were asked to select "artist mentors" to study. The idea is that we can refer to the artist's work or method or style when we're trying to solve problems in our own work. I chose Andy Goldsworthy, as I love so many things about his work...its basic simplicity, its use of natural elements, its use of very basic forms and shapes to create art of stunning beauty. Denise Labadie's fabric painting method looked like it would be fun to experiment with and then fiddle with constructing some images inspired by Andy Goldsworthy. Ah, another exploration for another day...

We're currently enjoying watching Mad Men on the AMC channel. It's the story of an advertising agency in the early 60's, and it's really enjoyable. Mostly, I just love WATCHING It... the clothes, the decorating, everything is so exactly right for that era. It's my childhood, really. The personal dynamics between the men and women are fascinating the secretaries in the office are treated as sexual objects and decorations, with the men powerful and seemingly invincible. The tone of the show is very evocative.

Okay, back to work for me....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First Quilt!

So, yesterday I got my first actual quilt loaded onto the Hinterberg frame. Somehow, it seems only fitting that its one of the fruilt quilts, one I plan to donate to an area shelter. Up until now, I've been practicing on muslin. But I braced myself and got it all loaded and I was ready to quilt.

And then the power went off... for the rest of the morning. Rats.

By the time the power came on, I was out the door for an appointment, and then it was the homework and dinner prep routine. So no quilting for me yesterday.

But today! I fired up the CD player (good and loud to drown out the pesky barking dogs across the street, who yap away whenever a car drives up the street, pretty much), put on the Dixie Chicks, and away I went.

No fancy stitching pattern, but heck, it's my first real quilt on this thing, for pete's sake.

And halfway through the Gipsey Kings' cd, I finished!

I'm still at the point where loading the quilt on the frame takes longer than quilting the quilt (and I'm still not sure I'm doing it right, but I've ordered an instructional DVD so I can make sure) but this was darn fun.

And yes, there's another fruit quilt to load for my next quilting spree!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The ultimate workshop wishlist

I was recently invited to join a local group of quilt artists known as the Guilded Lilies, and one of things I like about this group (besides the really fun women and the inspirational art) is that they organize themselves to bring teachers to them. It's a pretty simple idea, really -- if you know of a teacher with whom you'd love to do a workshop, and you have a group of like-minded artists, why not organize a private class for your group?

That's how I got that wonderful workshop with Gerry Chase, and at the end of September I'll do a 3 day workshop with Sue Benner. I'm really looking forward to that. And the Guilded Lilies' approach to setting up workshops is what caused me to set up the great dye workshop with Carol Soderlund. (It doesn't hurt that we're in the wine country, I think. People seem pretty happy to have a reason to come here.)

Anyway, last night we got together and one of the topics for our discussion was what teachers we'd want to bring to us. We created our wishlist, without regard to where in the world these people are or whether they'd ever come. Our list included Rosalie Dace, Kaffe Fassett, Kerr Grabowski, Jan Myers-Newbury, Cynthia Corbin, and more.

Who would be on your ultimate workshop wishlist?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

My ideal notebook

Some years ago, I was involved in a case where my client was a condominum developer. The case involved tracking down lots of details about how they'd done things, when, and why. I was totally impressed when the fellow showed me his record keeping system. He kept a yellow legal pad with him at all times (the same one, day after day) and made notes on it for whatever he was doing. He'd use it to jot telephone numbers, keep notes of meetings, record research data, you name it. He used that same pad for whatever he was doing -- personal business, setting up an appointment to get his car tuned up, planning a meeting with the architect, etc. He'd fill up one pad and go on to the next, and they were all filed away as he finished them. From a lawyer's point of few, this was fabulous. It made finding information really easy, because everything was in there SOMEwhere.

I was so impressed by this system that I decided to try it myself. It actually didn't work so well for me in terms of my legal practice, as the notes on one client's business really needed to be in that client's file and couldn't be put in any other client's files for privilege purposes. So, I had to abandon the idea for work purposes.

But since then, I've used this sort of system at my home desk. And it works really well for me. Instead of hunting for stuff (where did I put that slip with the phone number on it?) I know it's in that one journal and I just have to thumb back a few pages.

For this purpose, my ideal notebook is a lined or graph paper one with a spiral binding. It sits next to my keyboard, blank page up, ready for notes.

But a few years ago, I stumbled onto what I consider my perfect journal for all other purposes. It's the size and shape of a standard student composition book (I love those books) but it has graph paper. I love graph paper, too. And just recently, I filled up my last one.

So, recently I set out to see if I could find a good graph paper notebook...not too small, not too large. I know Moleskine makes them, and that some people are Moleskine fact, there's a blogger whose topic is what people do with their Moleskine journals. I have ordered one of those to try, but they're sort of pricey...compared to my favorites, which sell for about $4 each.

And lo and behold, I found the ones I'd been searching for! It's a line of Keith Haring notebooks, which come in graph or ruled paper. $4 each! They're sorta soft cover, but durable soft cover, not flimsy. And I'm stocking up. Wanna take a peek? You can find them at Shop Rock Candy, here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And speaking of books...

I just received this gorgeous book in the mail. It's The Painted Quilt, by Linda and Laura Kemshall.


The timing is perfect for me, as I recently discovered how much I love painting on fabric. (Thank you, Gerry Chase.) But even if I hadn't had that revelation recently, this book would sure make me want to go play with paints.

But that makes this book sound limited, and it surely isn't. It covers dyeing fabric, painting, monoprinting, using stencils, discharge, and various other surface design methods. More importantly, though, the art in this book is flat out gorgeous and very inspirational. There isn't a simplistic project in the batch, and yet the methods shown are laid out to make them seem very do-able. And seeing how elegantly the techniques are used together to create such evocative and original work is really exciting.

I didn't realize it until it came up in a recent conversation that Linda and Laura Kemshall (mother and daughter) teach an online City and Guilds course. And they, with a few others, have just started up a new journal called "Thr3fold, The Journal of Creative Vision."

I'm a book junkie, as you may have noticed, and I have some really great books in my collection. But this is one I know I'll look at over and over and over.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Trading Books

The other day, Deb R mentioned Library Thing, a very cool site that lets you keep track of books you've read, find other books you might like, and generally scout around and read about what books other people read. If you're like me, and you're always on the lookout for new authors and books to read, it's a Good Thing. A Great Thing, in fact.

And Deb's mention reminded me that I hadn't logged in there in a while to update what I've been reading, which led to my poking around the site a bit further, which led me to discover the world of online book trading.

Who knew? Turns out there are various sites where you can list the books you have and no longer want, as well as the books you'd like to receive...and these sites link you up so you can do a trade.

The site I ended up signing up with is called Bookmooch. Through that site, you list books you want to trade and get "points" for the books you have in your "inventory." If anyone has that book on their wishlist, Bookmooch automatically emails them to let them know you have it. And here's the cool part: if you send off the book to someone who wants it, you get more "points" which you can spend on trades with others. You don't have to do a direct trade... you spent your points by getting books from others, and earn your points by sending your books out.

So, I'm giving it a try. Lord knows I've got books I need to get rid of, and each time I've tried to list something on Amazon or, I find there are already bunches of whatever I have for $1.00 a copy or something. Hardly worth the effort.

I've noticed that the Bookmooch site is a tad slow at times, but so far I can live with that.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Having leapt...

Libby and Karen, thanks for your suggestions on the "Leap" thing.

While you were posting them, I was stitching away, making net....and I'd already gone too far to even think about your suggestion, Karen, I'm afraid. But I really like the scraggly edges. Even more net-like, and far less stitching. If I'd thought about that beforehand, I could have made the "and the net" box rough, with torn-net-like edges.
Oh well.
This satisfied THAT urge to experiment with this idea.


I had this idea.

Don't most problems start out that way?!

In my Practical Design workshop, our challenge for the month is to work with texture. One of the things I decided to try was to use quilting texture to define the main design with negative space.

And that got me thinking about using letters or a word... which led me to play with one of my favorite sayings, "Leap and the net will appear."

I was mainly going to just define the word "LEAP" with close quilting around it. Dense stippling, I thought. But then I thought that stippling is a bit too predictable, and I thought about trying to quilt something net-like.

I practiced a bit, and started in...

And it occurs to me that this is going to take a lot of stitching.

Luckily, this is small. And I'm just playing. So I'll go as far as I can go without hating it and then see where I am.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Stitching and Quilting in Marin County

I spent yesterday at the Marin Quilt, Sew, and Needle Arts Festival in Marin County. I was working in my sister's booth (Laura J. Perin Designs) selling her gorgeous needlework designs and hand-dyed threads. That's always a good time, as we get to hang out together and during quiet times sit and stitch and watch people and, of course, wander around and shop and look at quilts. I actually did a lot of stitching, which I don't often do these days except when I'm sitting in Laura's booth and demonstrating how easy it is to do her complex-looking patterns.

Here's what I've been working on...and look, I'm almost done!

Her quilt-based designs are especially fun because they look so complicated and are really so easy. They're stitched on needlepoint canvas, and you stitch with #5 perle cotton over multiple threads at a time, so the stitches are big and cover ground fast. Also, stitching with variegated thread makes for gorgeous color changes (and the look of intricate shading) when all you do is stitch along. They really do stitch up fast.

Anyway. The show was interesting this time for several reasons. For years, a local guild hosted an annual juried quilt show in the same venue over Labor Day weekend. It was always a great show, with high quality quilts from all over the place, and people came from pretty far away to attend. Two years ago, that guild decided -- from lack of members interested in doing the work to run the show, is the rumor -- to stop hosting the show. So, the event (in terms of time and location) was taken over by PCM Expo, a group which hosts quilting, craft, and sewing shows all over the country. Their shows are more vendor sales opportunities than display shows, if you know what I mean. So, last year was the first time that the Marin show was a PCM show. I guess a lot of folks hadn't heard about the change and hadn't noticed that the show advertising was significantly different (and identifying different hosts), so there was quite a bit of complaining when people showed up for the usual guild show and found a vendor show.

To their credit, PCM worked really hard to get other guilds interested in displaying quilts and needlearts, and invited all sorts of groups to participate this year. So, this year's show was sort of a cross-breed....A lot more quilts to look at than last year, and lots of vendors too.

Unfortunately, this event coincided with the temporary closing of the SF Bay Bridge for the weekend, so I think a lot of people from across the bay stayed away just to avoid the potential traffic nightmare. As a result, the show was pretty darn quiet yesterday. Hopefully, Saturday attendance will be better.

Still, I had a grand time and the quiet sales meant I had lots of time to cruise around. The Mt Tam Quilt Guild had a lovely display of quilts, which was especially fun to see as I have a lot of friends in that guild (Pat, Maureen, Ancella, Sue, Delaine, Sydne, Diane) and enjoyed seeing their gorgous work.

And yes, I did a bit of shopping. I couldn't resist these two gorgeous books.

They're both by English artist Alison Holt, and they give incredible clear instructions on how to use zig zag and other common stitches for free-motion embroidery to create create foliage effects. It's astonishing how simple clumps of zig zag can be made to look like flowers and ferns simply by how you place the clumps and vary the stitch widths and all. (If you want to go look at them, Amazon has these at great used prices, by the way.)

I also made a very exciting discovery. I've been watching friends play with needle-felting and thinking that it'd be fun, but that I certainly don't need a machine for that purpose...and lo and behold, yesterday I discovered that Bernina makes a Needle Felting attachment for certain Bernina machines -- like MINE!

The attachment is designed for machines where you can take out the bobbin case mechanism. I had a lot of fun experimenting in the Bernina booth to see what it would do. And then Margaret, my friend who works there, started machine-felting with the threads dyed by my sister...and we both were totally excited. She ended up coming to my sister's booth to buy a ton of thread, and I bought the attachment, persuaded by the special show price that really did make it a good deal. (I guess this is what happens when quilt shows are slow...the vendors buy from each other!)

Anyway, I was rather excited about this discovery and can't wait to play with it. Coincidentally, my Practical Design workshop assignment this month involves Texture, so guess what I'll play with to work on my assignment?!

The other fun discovery was a product that Cindy Walter designed for Jacquard. It's called Stabilized Fabric, and it's a good quality white PFD cotton pre-adhered to paper so you can paint or draw on it right off a roll. It's sort of like fabric that's afixed to freezer paper, but the paper is thinner and it's all set to go in a roll. That was so popular that they sold out. Having just bought a lot of PFD fabric myself, I passed on the opportunity--but thought it looked very handy.

So many things to play with, so much inspiration.