The past five days have found me in a creative slump. Having got my turtle idea started, I am mulling ideas and fiddling with techniques for the next steps. As a reminder, here is my inspiration photograph.
There are two tricky parts for me: 1. How to portray the reflections, and what other elements should be included.
I did get the subject-turtle painted onto to white fabric, in two pieces.
I also added more wash to the background. My goal was to achieve some depth of color and depict some of the swirls and waves in the pond. That didn’t happen but I did achieve some nice shadows. Next I fused the turtle in place with Wonder-Under.
After practicing on scraps, I decided that I have enough skill to machine quilt the reflections. The advantage of this technique is that the thread can be very light colored, even shiny, against the dark background.
For additional elements, I may go with pond grasses….
… and damselflies. Maybe a willow branch or two. But I have yet to work out the specific images and techniques.
This morning when I entered the studio, I felt momentary pleasure at seeing my recent work. Maybe it’s a sign that today I will get my mojo back.
Lately I have been so inspired by the fresh green-ness of springtime. I am eager to make fiber objects that memorialize what I see. While viewing some of Bill’s photographs from our recent camping trip at Lake Montgomery, I was amazed by his images of red-eared slider turtles. They were paddling around in a quiet inlet. The colors of the surrounding trees were reflected in the water and bent by its ripples. That water surface reminds me so much of silk moire. I would love to re-create the image in fabric.
To get started, I reach for my old stand-by medium: Jacquard Dye-Na-Flo.
I’ve mixed up a leafy color by blending yellow, green and a bit of orange. Black will be dabbed on in small quantities.
I think that I can manipulate the paint into ripples by sewing the fabric into pleats – much like a Shibori technique. Studying the photograph, I organize the pleats by direction and number to match what I see.
The fabric is wet thoroughly. I don’t want any of the fabric inside the folds to remain white. Then I sponge the green paint onto the top and bottom sides of the fabric. A little extra paint, including dabs of black, is applied to the edge of the folds. Here is my piece after the painting is finished.
The fabric will need to remain tied up until it is thoroughly dry. This technique works because the parts of the fabric that dry fastest hold the most color. The slowest drying sections will be the lightest in color.
And here is the finished, pressed cloth:
It may be difficult to tell from the photograph, but yes, this fabric is completely flat. I was pleased. There is an uncanny resemblance to the lake water in the photograph.
My next step will be to imitate the ripples by brushing on thicker textile paint. It will be interesting to see if I can do it.
It’s a cold, drippy, soggy-ground day here. Even with the sun behind a cloud, one can revel in the beauty of Spring arriving. This is our neighbor’s tulip magnolia which overhangs the fence in our yard. It is robed in amazing color just a handful of days every year. So I put on shoes and went out into the wet to capture its moment of glory.
Yucky weather seems to give one full permission to huddle indoors and work on fiber objects. The Weaver’s Square vest is within three inches of being fully knitted. I should have a good image to post in a couple of more days.
Here is a progress photo showing work on my latest fiber object, which I call “Just Trees.” I have cut and basted four rows of clam shell shapes, then painted each with a tree.
My original intent was to paint all trees without leaves. But hey, I can’t ignore the burst of color right outside my window. The three trees with black trunks and pink tops are meant to be redbuds. It is a native tree that puts on screaming pink to magenta blossoms in mid Spring – usually before any of the other hardwood trees have even leafed out.
So far the top two rows of appliques have been stitched – by hand – into place. This step is only a little bit tricky. But patience and persistence always yield results.
With a continuation of rainy weather and the unceasing announcements of event cancellations, I may easily finish this object before next weekend.
I have finally finished piecing the Gateway Arch quilt. Next I stitched the blocks into three panels.
Before I move on to making the quilt sandwich and quilting, I will be adding some details to the blocks using fabric paint and possibly some embroidery. This step will allow me to practice a new technique I learned over the holiday.
I last wrote about this project on November 16th – almost a month ago. In that post I made a list of next steps. While I have completed all but a few of those steps, I started to lose enthusiasm for the project while painting my fabric. It seems that all of my fabrics began to look alike. I told myself that the background fabrics SHOULD look alike, otherwise they wouldn’t retreat into the background. But I still wanted more texture and movement in the colors. So I decided to go back to Cindy Walter’s fabric painting class, to review my technique and discover what I’m missing.
That did the trick. I worked a few variations on color washing and finished painting the background fabric. I now have enough fabric to start building the quilt blocks.
Looking at all the difference in the fabrics, it’s clear to me that I need to organize them in a way that illustrates the scene I want to paint. The solution came to me while I was in the shower. (Why do I get my best ideas while washing my hair?) The Arch stretches itself across three different backdrops.
I have my design, my structure, my fabric and my pattern. Now I can begin to sew.
As much as I enjoyed our little trip to visit family, it’s nice to be back into my routine. Just as an aside, the faux suede baby booties, while slightly too big, were well accepted by little L. In the meantime, she had also acquired two other items of footwear – a pair of sneakers and a pair of snow boots. She did a brief baby runway show, modeling all of the above. It was so funny to watch her toddle around the house awkwardly, although looking quite pleased with herself and her ability to work the crowd.
Back at home, I have picked up where I left off on various fiber projects.
First of all, I’m knitting a birthday surprise for my daughter. (A big clue to the surprise is found in the sketch above.)
Secondly, I’ve resumed efforts toward making the Arches quilt. It’s amazing how just writing down the next steps motivated me to work. I have finished drawing the full-size patterns for each block. And by completing this step, I have been able to determine exactly how may squares of each color will be required. Over the past two days I have been painting the background fabric. I chose to paint the background squares on a gray fabric, in order to keep the background looking like the night sky.
…..With apologies to readers who might be tiring of images of leaves.
I’m experiencing momentum on the oakleaf hydrangea project. While I intend to create 12 leaf blocks, I promise that I won’t blog about every single one of them. But I think today’s block is worth a few words and images. Here is the reference photo.
After making my sketch on the fabric, I masked the veins with resist and applied a pale emerald green wash. In this photo the piece has dried, and the leaf is covered in resist before undergoing the second wash.
I went really dark.
After the paint dried overnight, I pressed the background in an effort to set the color, then washed out the resist. Before I started painting in the details, I sampled several colors of paint over the pale emerald on waste fabric, because I had no idea what color would give the effect I wanted. I ended up applying yellow-orange, let it dry, and then painted in the major and minor veins.
This image has strayed pretty far from the reference photo! It is no longer a summer leaf, but a slightly battered early fall leaf, getting ready to change color before dropping to the ground. I love the chalkboard look of the background. Because it is black, I was able to use an Ultra fine point Sharpie to draw the leaf margin.
Beside the patio lives a beautiful oakleaf hydrangea. Every morning, I drink my coffee in its shadow and admire the sunlight shining through the leaves. I have been wanting to incorporate these wonderful leaves into my fiber art all summer long.
If you look carefully at the photo, you will notice that there is a variety of leaf shapes presented by this plant. There can be three, four or five lobes on a leaf. It seems that the baby leaves start out almost round and the lobes develop as the leaf matures. I have decided to do a mosaic of the leaf shapes with fabric paint and resist on cloth.
Here are two of the drawings I made of these shapes. I will be using the shape outlined in black ink for today’s paintings.
There are two experiments today. In one, I use the water based resist on the leaf shape, paint the background, then remove the resist and paint the leaf. In the second experiment, I paint the entire piece, add resist to the leaf shape and over-paint the background. Here is a photo of both experiments in the first stage. The lines are traced and a yellow tinted resist is applied to both swatches. The left swatch has the whole leaf covered in resist.
Experiment one. I used a violet background.
Experiment two. I started by applying yellow tinted resist to the veins and outline, then covered the entire fabric with yellow-green paint.
I am happy with today’s experiments. I like the dark velvety color of experiment two. But experiment one has potential. Both are now ready for additional paint effects.
We are busy day today, getting ready for hosting company. So instead of working up a new fiber object, I thought I would share this colorwashed piece of fabric which I made a few months ago. How it came to be is somewhat interesting, at least to me.
I started with a square of white cotton poplin. Using slightly wavy strokes and starting at the top, I applied blue, purple, red and green. Before the fabric dried, I used the “scrunch” technique – crumpling the fabric in various places. This causes the paint to run and dry unevenly, resulting in the dark creases you see above. Immediately, I thought it looked like a view of the Rocky Mountains. Dark brown and black appeared in the creases where the red paint met the purple and green. This reminded me of the mountains in recovery from a forest fire. To enhance the effect, I printed on the fabric in brown and green with blocks cut in jagged shapes, to represent the tree trunks, both living and dead. I painted snow on the mountains. Then I used fabric markers to delineate the sky and a field of pink blooming fireweed.
This landscape feels to me as if it appeared by magic.
Here is the final result of my O’Keefe inspired fiber object. I have to say, it only partially matches my vision for the piece. Something happened between the sketch, the painting and the embroidery. Take a look:
Here is my original sketch for a moonflower. I was very happy with this effort:
Here is the flower after roughing in the design with fabric paint.
Even though I am not experienced in painting, I was fairly happy with this result. So I guess the only part of the effort that disappointed me was the embroidery.
Dear friends, what do you think? Do you have any recommendations for me that could improve my final result? I am eager to learn.