Archive for the ‘art quilting’ Category

Descended From the Stars, Part 3

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

The sun in the center of Descended From the Stars

When I left on in my last post about this quilt, I had shared the dyeing process and the stones and lettering.   Next, I fused trees in the four seasons into the corners.  I distorted the shape so the tree canopy served as a frame.  I had thought initially I might need an inner border, perhaps couched yarn or stitching of some sort, but the shape of the tree worked so well I didn’t need anything extra.   As I did with the stones, I cut out leaves, LOTS of leaves, separating the colors into the ice cube tray so I could place them carefully.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.

Detail, upper left corner, Spring Tree of Life.  Each of the leaves is free-motion stitched with several rounds of thread on each leaf.  The nice part about doing this at the top stage is that I could use the scissors on my Janome 15000.  I didn’t have to bury thread tails!

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail, top right, Summer Tree of Life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower right corner, showing the autumn tree of life.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

Detail of the lower left corner, with the winter tree kissed by snow.

I did the stitching around the stones and on the trees, including the leaves, at the top stage with stabilizer underneath.  (See my post here to learn more about my current article for Machine Quilting Unlimited on the Fourth Layer–stabilizer– for densely thread painted quilts.)  I removed the stabilizer everywhere except for under the center because I knew I would want to quilt that area more densely than the rest of the quilt.

Here

Here I have begun quilting.  You can see the custom-dyed cotton duck on the back.  The use of heavier cloth helps keep the quilt flat and stable; it also helps minimize shrinkage.  The final piece had to be 40 x 40 inches, and I wanted to have a balanced amount of blue on both sides of the lettering, so I needed to control the shrinkage that happens with dense quilting.

Next,

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Superior Threads (Thank you Bob and Heather Purcell!) has come out with some tone-on-tone variegated threads.   I have been pestering Bob for YEARS to make threads like these as I prefer blendy to contrasty.  I ordered up all of the new earth-tone blendy variegateds in the Fantastico line and used them.  I began with a light green blend in the first row around the sun, switched to another in the next to rings, and then a third in the fourth ring that you see here.  If you look at the left, you can see how I snuck some of the current thread color into the next ring to get even more color blending.

Then, I had to decide what threads to use in the dark areas.  My sewing tables (two back to back) are each 24 inches, so I have a nice, HUGE flat surface to support the quilt as I work.

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Choosing thread:  dark, pine-y green and deep blue.

With all the manipulation, I realized that some of the ink had rubbed off, despite being REALLY careful to heat set it according to directions.  I wrote immediately to friends Judy Coates Perez and Susan Brubaker Knapp to seek guidance.  Judy had only used the regular colors, not the metallics.  And Susan had an article in the just-out issue of Quilting Arts about lettering, including these inks!  She too discovered that the metallics seem to “shed” a bit.

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!

After quiting, some of the bling had rubbed off my quilt, so I had to do it AGAIN!  You can see where I have inked over the letters and what is left to re-do.

After re-inking and heat setting, I tested on my scrap cloth several products to seal the ink including GAC 900 (a textile medium that one adds to paint), a UV Coating, matte gel medium, and Krylon Spray Fixative which says it is acid-free, archival and safe on fabric.  Only the Krylon didn’t leave tell-tale signs that it had been used.  So I carefully masked off the rest of the quilt, leaving only the lettering area exposed and sprayed the Krylon on it (stinky!) in hopes that will help prevent the mica flakes in the gold ink from coming off.

I was nearly done, except that I didn’t really care for the multiple layers of thread I had used stitching the sun.  Picking it out did NOT appeal to me.  So I trekked down to Clementine fabrics in Rockland and bought some perle cotton in the right color.

I wasn't happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun.  MUCH better!  You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

I wasn’t happy with the way the stitching looked, so I couched perle cotton on top of the outline of the sun. MUCH better! You can see the difference in this half-way-through shot.

At last, it was nearly DONE!  Time for facings, sleeve and label.

The back side of the quilt.  By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

The back side of the quilt. By dyeing the back to correspond with the front, the quilting design shows up on the back as it does on the front.

And I couldn’t resist the temptation to place a moon behind the sun as my label.  One more time with the dip pen!

The End--the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

The End–the label is on, the sleeve is done, the facings are stitched!

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

(c)Sarah Ann Smith 2015; quote (c) Mirza Khan, used with permission

This quilt will be for sale–another reason I opted to not include a lot of personal details in the quilt.   As I said before, I am happy!

Visiting Franklin and Marshall — random inspiration

Friday, May 13th, 2016

While visiting Eli’s soon-to-be college, I found a bit of inspiration:

Just outside the wrestling practice room.

Just outside the wrestling practice room.

Some of the graduating seniors put on a Research Fair during the Closer Look prospective student weekend. This student allowed me to photograph this image from her research. Wouldn't this be an awesome structure for an art quilt, as well as for a thermofax screen?

Some of the graduating seniors put on a Research Fair during the Closer Look prospective student weekend. This student allowed me to photograph this image from her research. Wouldn’t this be an awesome structure for an art quilt, as well as for a thermofax screen?

Visiting Franklin & Marshall–dream studio inspiration

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

Well, I took remarkably few photos during this visit, because I figured I’ll have other chances, and this weekend was really for Eli.  As part of his AP Biology class this year, his teacher assigned them a major research paper in Fall for which they had to find a published article by a professor at the college they hoped to attend.  Eli contacted Professor Blair, who did a paper on a biology topic that was a subject that some might find dry but Eli really enjoyed.  She offered to give him a tour if he made it down to the college, so we took her up on the offer.  She took us around the science building before the official “visit day” activities became–really wonderful.

So what do I do…spot furniture and stuff in the science labs that I think would be AWESOME studio furniture and additions!

This drying rack is PERFECT for where I dye my fabrics!   So I'm going to go troll companies that supply stuff to science labs.  I could make something easily using wooden dowels, but I want something that has plastic since it won't absorb the dye.  And the white bits will show if any residual dye  is on them so they can be easily cleaned.  But isn't this perfect?

This drying rack is PERFECT for where I dye my fabrics! So I’m going to go troll companies that supply stuff to science labs. I could make something easily using wooden dowels, but I want something that has plastic since it won’t absorb the dye. And the white bits will show if any residual dye is on them so they can be easily cleaned. But isn’t this perfect?

And lookit this lab table...with the outlets on the end.  Wouldn't you love a STUDIO (as well as kitchen) island with outlets on it?

And lookit this lab table…with the outlets on the end. Wouldn’t you love a STUDIO (as well as kitchen) island with outlets on it? With one of these chairs, too….

or…..

Here's the teacher's table.  Good quality.  Attractive.  Nearly indestructible top.  On casters.   Furniture lust!  Stand up, sit down....sigh....

Here’s the teacher’s table. Good quality. Attractive. Nearly indestructible top. On casters. Furniture lust! Stand up, sit down….sigh….

I’ve got a table I love, an old IKEA kitchen table with a drop leaf, for which I made a platform of plywood with casters, so I don’t need the above.  I love the history of my table (has scratches on it from my first beloved cat, Cassie), but this is a mighty fine looking piece.   So hope the ideas might help some of you, dear readers! But I really, Really, REALLY want that drip-dry for containers thingy!

 

Life Happening: a college visit

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

The brilliant news is that our younger son, Eli (the athlete), has been accepted at his first choice:  Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  It has the perfect academics for him (he wants to major in Animal Behavior), is not too big and not too small, in a small city (not rural like here and not a huge, overwhelming city), and…drum roll:  has a Division 1 Wrestling Team!  Yes, Eli will (oh please let him be less injury prone in college!) wrestle in college.  His teammates are *very* impressive, the coach is wonderful, and we are thrilled that he already has a group of like minded souls to be his first “college family.”  So we went to the “Closer Look” day the Friday before Maine’s Spring Break weekend in mid April.  Here are some pics from the way down:

About an hour a half from home, Paul said "Oh oh."  He realized he was still wearing his house slippers.  And had no other shoes.  So we made a quick detour to Freeport to buy something for him to wear as we were too far from home to turn around. LL Bean had this totally awesome clockwork thingie...LOVED it.  Could see a fab steampunk-ish art quilt inspired by this.

About an hour a half from home, Paul said “Oh oh.” He realized he was still wearing his house slippers. And had no other shoes. So we made a quick detour to Freeport to buy something for him to wear as we were too far from home to turn around. LL Bean had this totally awesome clockwork thingie…LOVED it. Could see a fab steampunk-ish art quilt inspired by this.

We got back on the road, I got caught up on a mountain of magazines (mostly art and quilt related to keep up on inspiration and industry news), Paul drove, and I took occasional photos.  It is a 9 1/2 hour drive, and we needed to be in Lancaster, PA by about 7 pm, so we had to make good time.

This is in NY, I think, but I love the look up to the just-about-to-bud-out trees.  I also really like the ghost silhouette of Paul in the reflection on the window.

This is in NY, I think, but I love the look up to the just-about-to-bud-out trees. I also really like the ghost silhouette of Paul in the reflection on the window.

The landscape changes when you get into western NJ and then into the farm fields of Pennsylvania.

The landscape changes when you get into western NJ and then into the farm fields of Pennsylvania.

more fields and hills in

more fields and hills in Pennsylvania

Finally, nearly there!  Next post I’ll share some inspiration I found at F&M.

ten hours after leaving home, with only VERY brief pitstops, we are at Lancaster, PA!

ten hours after leaving home, with only VERY brief pitstops, we are at Lancaster, PA!

What I can’t show you….

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

So, I’m working on a new quilt.  But we can’t publicize photos until after jurying.  But I figured I can show you one bit of it–the fabric that I am dyeing, because this isn’t what it’s going to look like.  I’d be surprised if anyone will be able to see this then realize that my entry is the one attached to this photo.  I hope.

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself.  However, it is in the "utilities" room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here...at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank.  Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4x8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work "table"?

My fabric dyeing space exists, which is a joy in itself. However, it is in the “utilities” room with the 330 gallon heating oil tank (on the left), the water purification system (to remove arsenic which occurs naturally in the water table here…at the end of this work surface), the boiler (house heat), and the hot water tank. Can you say barely enough room to slide sideways along the 4×8 foot melamine-glued-to-rigid-insulation work “table”?

I wanted a very exact color.  Thanks to my classes with Carol Soderlund, achieving this is possible, but sometimes I need to overdye.  My biggest challenge is that I haven’t dyed enough fabric to have a good grasp of how much the color will change once washed and dried–it lightens up a lot.  And in this case, the blue I wanted ended up being a mix of two blues, which I haven’t done in any of the classes I’ve taken.  So I was winging it.  I ended up using ProChem’s Intense Blue and a tiny bit of turquoise.   To get the shade I need, I used 0.9 gram (which is a ridiculously small weight) of Intense blue and…get this…. 0.1 gram of Turquoise.   On my first attempt, I used a very pale wash of the Turquoise over the solid blue I had dyed with Intense Blue.  And it was too turquoise.  So I started over.  The second attempt is the one that is on the table above, on its second round adding more of the combination (with a lot less turquoise) to get it a bit darker.  It worked!

And that’s all I can show you until about June.  Gotta get to work!   More anon!