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Archive for the ‘Art Supplies’ Category

Lamps, Before and After

Friday, August 30th, 2019
From old to fabulous! Look what a little spray paint, thermofax screens and textile paint, linen and ingenuity can do! Yes, those are the SAME fixtures!

The sconces in our house have made me crazy for years. The shades were made to fit on the old rounded incandescent bulbs…the ones you can’t find any more. The wires didn’t fit well on any of the smaller bulbs that suited the size of the shades and the fixtures–they were always tilting and crooked. And the “old West” look was SO not me! It was Candy Glendenning of Candied Fabrics who got me on the right track. Last year, Candy posted some lamps and shades she made using her wonderful indigo shibori fabric and blogged about them here and here. So I plotted and thought about it. I knew I wanted white, green paint mixed to my favorite shade, my own thermofax screens, and NOT black.

Here are the final shades, then I’ll share the process:

Left to right: Queen Anne’s Lace, Birches, Grasses, and Milkweed

First thing I needed to do was see if I could spray paint the fixtures. Before we moved into the house, one had been damaged and removed (but kept in the basement). I bought some Rustoleum in Satin Nickel and it worked! I didn’t even have to sand!

I was delighted at how good the fixtures looked as Not Black. Once they were on the ground, I also realized I could turn the fixtures upside down and that fluted frill on the bottom looked sort of like a Japanese temple roof line. Sort of. But at least better than as a candle holder!

I had planned on using a cotton-linen blend for the shades, but when I went to Fiddlehead Artisan Supply (quilt and art shop to die for and only a half hour away!) they were temporarily out of the blend, so I bought some coarser weave pure linen to try. Then I started searching out stuff to make new shades, starting with Candy’s source, I Like That Lamp website. I ordered the styrene–the rigid stuff to which you adhere the fabric–and glue from that site, but her rings only go down to 8″, and I wanted a 6″ for my sconces in the hallways. I found some 6″ size here, on Etsy.

Next, I needed to see how the linen would print. Using my existing printing board, the prints were blobby–the surface had too much squish in it for the somewhat more open weave of the linen (as compared to quilting cottons). So I made a new printing board with less padding, and learned that using paper towels under the linen did not affect the quality of the print and prevented less of the ink from soaking in to my new board.

Mess-making in process. I used ProChemical and Dye Opaque and Transparent textile paints. I sell some sets in my store (just scroll down) plus you can buy larger quantities and more colors directly from ProChem.
The screen/design for grasses is new and I can tell I will use it often. I cut my linen into lengths from selvage to selvage, then marked how long I needed with a pin. If I goofed, I could keep printing and avoid an oops spot.
The Milkweed thermofax screens used in the upper left piece I had already made, but the others are new. All are drawn, not a manipulated photo (which is another process I use). So far I am only selling the milkweed screens (here), but if anyone is interested in the others let me know.
At least in my universe, printing always involves an oops and some “letting it go”, but I did end up re-doing the grasses because I had printed them too high on the strip–the bottom of the blades of grass needed to be at the bottom edge of the lamp. I also made some real mistakes on the Queen Anne’s lace, so re-did them, too. But I will use the not-bad parts of those for something else!
I Like That Lamp website has some excellent tutorials. Instead of using binder clips, I used Wonder Clips the same way and they worked beautifully. I did have some fuss and bother getting the glue to hold as I wrapped the edges around the wire rings, probably because the glue oozed out between the weave. However, once set, you’d never know. They look well done if I do say so myself.
Because my fixtures are OLD, and I didn’t want to have them as candles with the ring sliding down around the tube to rest on the metal, I needed to get creative with how I would suspend the shades. Wire!
It’s not the prettiest solution, but it works. And it doesn’t show, best of all. Because the wire fitter is recessed down below the top of the shade, the wires that hold the shade to the fixture are hidden (unless you are really, really tall). Those tails were wrapped around the spider-legs of the ring.
The Queen Anne’s Lace is in our bedroom.
The birch trees are in the back part of the hallway, in the “Rogue’s Gallery” (aka family photo wall)
The milkweed is in the front portion of the hallway, with Eli’s middle school art project underneath and a pour painting by my friend Deidre Murphy on the right.
The simplest is perhaps my favorite and is the sconce we see from the living room, the waving grasses. When we first moved into the house there were shrubs that grew up and blocked the view out the windows at the far end–not great. But in the afternoon light they cast lovely shadows on that wall, which inspired me to make this shade.

Some good news: in August 2020 I will be teaching a 3-day surface design workshop at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Mass. (about an hour or 90 minutes south of Boston, minutes from Rhode Island) and we will cover the thermofax and paint technique.

The whole thing worked SO WELL that I am thinking I would like to make a set of seasonal shades for the floor lamp in the living room…one for Christmas/Winter, another for Spring, Summer and Autumn. I need to do some patterning as this lamp looks best with an angled shade, not a drum shade, and they are harder to make. I need to learn if I can do it with standard 44″ wide fabric given the flare on the shade. Stay tuned for more house fix-ups! Hope you’ve enjoyed this detour from the usual art quilts and family life.

His Immensitude Yoda, Emperor of Minions and All He Surveys

Saturday, August 17th, 2019
SarahAnnSmith © 2019 His Immensitude Yoda, Emperor of Minions and All He Surveys
Inspired by the one and only Yoda.

For many years now I have been so lucky to be affiliated with Janome America. As a Janome Artisan for over 15 years I have been thrilled to be able to sew on some of the best machines in the world. When they asked if I would make something special for this year’s Dealer Convention (later this month) I was thrilled to say yes! I ended up making not one, not two, but THREE insanely densely quilted 20 x 20 inch quilts…in about seven weeks!

SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda, Widgeon and Boo
The mischief makers: Yoda, Widgeon and Boo

Here’s what I wrote as my official “blurb” about Yoda’s quilt:

“At last my superiority, dignity and rank have been recognized appropriately!  The Chief Minion has done an acceptable job at capturing my likeness and the essence of my wonderfulness.  I have given her permission to scritch my chin.   She has also captured the spirit of my Beloved, the Dog, who is my one true love.  For this, the Chief Minion may pet my tummy.  The Usurper shall be dealt with appropriately for thinking that he stands a chance—he is so foolish that he does not understand an Emperor always outranks a King.  I shall seek out my Beloved for his love, comfort and as a comrade in fur.”  (Yoda is about 5 years old, Himalayan from the shelter.)

I started out with the idea of two quilts: Yoda and our pug as my muses, then for a local group challenge next year added a self-portrait. Luckily, I veered off and ditched the idea of the selfie and did out other cat, Boo. I’ll share the process for each of these quilts over the next few days just in time for the start of the convention.

SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
These are the two photos I took to use as my reference images.

The fusing process–as always using Mistyfuse which is BY FAR my favorite and only fusible!–began in early July. I was so worried about getting finished in time actually took Widgeon’s quilt with me while on a teaching trip, took my iron, fused stash and worked on the hotel room ironing board!

SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
This collage shows how I created a design for fur (lower left), then made a thermofax screen to print over the collaged fabric to add depth and complexity. I mixed a couple colors of cream–I’m actually going to teach a workshop on this and other techniques with paint at ProChemical and Dye in Fall River, Mass. in August 2020–hope you might join me! Anyway, if you look at the upper left and lower right photos you can see the difference between the painted and unpainted areas.
SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
There’s a reason why I call him His Immensitude…there’s a lot of meat (and flub) under that fur and dignity. Plus he makes me LAUGH!
SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
Quilting on His Immensitude on my Janome 9450–LOVE the new FMQ foot.
SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
For me, this is relatively few colors of thread! That golden circle that you see under his chin, by the say, is his St. Francis medallion and name tag. The pale white chalk lines will be the finished edge of the quilt.
SASmith ©2019 Yoda
A view of the quilting done on my Janome 9450. The design was inspired by a photo of ironwork on a door that is on my Designs board on Pinterest (follow me! Links at the top of every page on my site).
SarahAnnSmith © 2019 Yoda
Mr. DeMille, Emperor Yoda is ready for his close up….

Check back in a couple days for the story about Widgeon’s quilt, then a couple days after that for Boo’s quilt. See you soon!

Paint on Cloth at ProChem, Fall River, Massachusetts

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Another SQUEEE–this time ProChem! I am delighted to share that I will be teaching a 3-day Paint on Cloth Workshop from August 5-7, 2020 at Pro Chemical & Dye in Fall River, Massachusetts. Think kindergarten for grown-ups with paint and cloth: silk paint, transparent, opaque and pearlescent textile paints, as both the Movie Star and the Supporting Cast. I’ll be developing course materials over the next 15 months, so if you’ve got something you want to learn, TELL ME! And if you’ve got a brilliant title, I’m sure I’m gonna need suggestions on that, too!

Modify the fabrics that you already have to create your art

I’m not usually an abstracts person, but I love the layers I was able to get from handwriting, screen printing, and stamping…come play with me!

Please let me know what YOU would love to do in a paint-on-cloth workshop. Personally, I want to go to dinner at the fabulous seafood restaurant out on the shore in Rhode Island after class, too! I’ll be back later in the year with more details, but in the meantime, tell me what you’d love to learn from me!

Cross Pollination

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Sometimes you need to do something else. You totally love your main “thing” (in my case it is clearly art quilting), but you need a break. And sometimes, that makes your main “thing” even better. I’ve learned over the years that good design is good design, whether it is landscape, interiors, architecture, photography, painting, sculpture, apparel, the principles are the same. So I have taken online classes in drawing and photography and been enriched.

At least ten years ago, I sat down between Christmas and New Year’s desperate to do something creative. The boys were still pretty young so time was scarce. I grabbed a pile of magazines and started tearing out words and pictures and glued them into my sketchbook. That has become an annual tradition…at least most years. This year Widgeon decided he needed to see if the collage passed inspection. Happily, it merited a wag.

I don’t know if I’ve done it every single year, and some years — like this one — it was done in (late) January instead. But I like reading what words have called me to use them and seeing where my head was in a given moment.

This year, I made sure to add information about whose artwork or photo. As with most years, a lot of my fodder comes from Down East magazine. North by East is a monthly column, and in December they featured work by Ryan T Higgins, a Maine Children’s book author. I must now go to the Library and see what they have of his. I was also stunned to see the “Sarah” quote, obviously about another Sarah. I covered up the “big” before dreams, but otherwise I really liked it.
This page got pretty dense…but I liked the quote at the top (from an ad for something). I also liked the bit on the pink, but it was too much pink, so I covered it up. Using blocks of text upside down or sideways works. And I LOVE torn edges…LOVE LOVE LOVE…that exposed white framing the image or words. I also dug out my circle punches. Have some circles and a few squares.

I’ve also taken a number of outstanding art classes from Val Webb over the years, ranging from birds to children to faeries to animals, using pencil, ink, watercolor, colored pencil…I learn so much, both about materials and tools but more importantly about SEEING. Observing. I’ll never want to be a colored pencil artist, but taking birds in colored pencil with Val taught me about patience and layering. I found I now do that with dyes, with paints on cloth, with thread, in my art quilts. And this year I also took a brilliant course at Sketchbook Skool, Watercolor. I always want more watercolor!

Over the past 8 years or so I have learned about the difference between student grade and artist pigments, that using quality paper makes all the difference in the world, and using pure pigments and mixing your own (just like dyeing fabric!). I decided I needed to get a bit organized and SEE the actual colors painted out from each tube. I had bought some icky (Bienfang) cheap watercolor paper that I will never use for a finished anything, not even a class practice piece. So got out my “tag” punch and did a paint out of every tube I have. Then ordered two more tubes! In search of the perfect pink…..and replacing one teeny tiny tube that is almost done. Each tag has the name, code for the manufacturer, and the universal pigment code (PV 42 for example is Permanent Violet 42). Yes, you can go wwwwwaaaaayyyyyy down the rabbit hole with this stuff!
A good mail and watercolor day. Turns out quilting templates and rulers have lots of uses, of course we all know that! I saw the clamshell cases at Jetpens.com and couldn’t resist. When I went to order, I discovered I had left that awesome washi tape in my cart, so it had to come to me also. And then there are those two tubes of watercolor and some empty half pans. That’s another thing I learned: make your OWN palettes with your favorite colors, use magnetic tape that sticks to the bottom of the pan, put inside a palette or metal tin. And then I used my quilting rulers and circles to mark a grid in my notebook/sketchbook.

I used to have both my to-do-etc notebook and a sketchbook. I never had the one I wanted handy. So I said to heck with the cost, and bought a GOOD sketchbook and use that as my “everything” journal. I write lists, take notes at SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) meetings, suss out ideas for quilts, and sometimes even sketch or paint in it! Now I will start filling in the circles with words, quotes, ideas, images/sketches, may fill the white backgrounds with ink textures…we shall see!

So that’s what I’ve been doing…along with quilting. What about you? And here’s an end of the day/blogpost dog walks photo from yesterday:

Sunset from the bottom of our driveway.

Little changes help: Rose Hip

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019
Not quite done yet, but improved and much closer to done and basting

Better. I finally got a little time in the studio (and the hammering on the roof is more muffled down there–we are having a new, metal roof put on–who knew they could do that in Maine in January?). I had thought the Rosehip top was done when I left it on Sunday evening but, I’m learning I need to let things set a spell, after I looked at it with fresh eyes realized it needed some help. I made a small rose hip quilt (below), and when I saw it next to the big one, I realized the large one looked a bit dead.

My Cherrywood “Vincent” challenge quilt just returned home. Just beneath it, on the left, is the 12″ version. See how cheerful those leaves are? The large one was crying out for some life.
I thought I was going to have to dye more fabric as what I had was either too dark OR too light. Then I looked in my stash and found some fabric Lisa Walton of Australia gave me about ten years (!!!!) ago. I had used a bit of it in a quilt that won my only (so far) ribbon at International Quilt Festival, Houston, but otherwise it was safe. So today I pulled out my Rugosa Rose leaf texture thermofax screen, the paints, and Lisa’s fabric. PERFECT!
I also needed to extend the bottom of the quilt–it will end up square, but I decided it needed more breathing room on the bottom and the stem at the top will just be shorter. Since it is the foreground, a larger motif was suitable. The original colors were plum and caramel…too bright and wrong! So I used ProSilk textile paints to fix.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a cutting mat that has vastly exceeded its life expectancy, it makes a good surface for painting!