Archive for the ‘Surface Design’ Category

Getting ready for the next quilt….the herald of summer in Maine

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Before I can start in on the fusing and collaging process, I find that I now need to dye fabric specifically for a project.   While working on my Lilies of the Valley Quilt, I used up most of my good “summer” greens.   My next piece is for Explorations at the New England Quilt Museum (in Lowell, Mass.), a regional SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) show.  I’ve had several ideas I wanted to try for this piece, and really wanted to push myself to do something different and unexpected.  Unfortunately, those ideas are just not wanting to fit into the required vertical orientation and size required!   So I’m going to do a large piece on something I’ve been wanting to do for a while:  Maine’s lupines that bloom in late May and early June and herald the summer.

SAQA members from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were invited to submit a body of work.  If selected, artists would then make a 30×50″ art quilt featuring a specific technique.  We were advised to submit several techniques, so I suggested dyeing, fused collage and machine quilting/threadwork.   I am delighted that I am one of 24 artists selected!  There will be two exhibits of 12 artists each.  We won’t know whether we will be in the Oct-Dec 2018 exhibit or the Jan-April 2019 exhibit until the works are completed and submitted August 1.  That means I need to work FAST!

I was chosen to showcase fused collage.  The exhibit is about techniques, with in depth information and supplementary materials.  From the acceptance letter:

In the exhibit, your piece will be accompanied by a number of items, including your artist statement, a brief bio, a photo of you in your studio, and materials which explain your technique. Each artist has a 20″ x 50″ area that they can use to explain their process. You can use process photos, sample pieces, written materials, even video presentations if you can figure out how to make it work.

But before I can fuse, I need the right COLORS to fuse.   Some years ago I made some cloth that I gave to my friend Kathy, who used it is a fabulous portrait of her granddaughter.   I thankfully kept notes of which dyes I used, and I call this combination “Kathy’s fabric.”  This time, I decided to make it not as dark—summer meadow greens instead of piney woods greens.

I start by dotting dye on, both navy and basic blue. I literally stick my latex-gloved fingers into the dye and daub it on. MANY classes with Carol Soderlund and many MANY yards of fabric and miles later, I can begin to predict what I will get because I tend to refer to my notes and books from the workshops, then go improv.

Then I add two or three yellows, because not just one will quite do what I want. Sometimes, I do a second cloth, as here, where I have actually mixed some greens instead of just doing yellow on blue.

For dye geeks, most of the time I prefer to paint dye onto cloth, then paint soda-ash/fixer solution on top, but this time I soda-soaked first, then daubed on the color.  When I want significant patterning, it’s soda-soak first.

The photo at the top of this post is the one which began with blue dots, then yellow, then greens.

Once I’ve gotten the color on, the fabric needs to batch so it moves under the table for several hours before washout, sometimes (as this time) overnight. Had to make some of my bright spring greens, too.

Then I decided to try to make a field with lupines in it, but blurry, to use as background at the top of the quilt.  I may have messed this one up…..

Sky at the top–good until I put some plastic over the top to batch it overnight. Apparently SOB there were stray dots of dye that didn’t get washed off properly last dyeing session. SOB.

This is what it looked like about six hours later. I like the way the dye is seeping up into the sky. This is when I covered it. SOB.  And most of those dots got covered up. 

This morning when uncovered. SOB. Random specks of pink in the sky. SOB. Will have to see after washout what remains.  Cover it up with tall lupines perhaps.  SOB.

I also decided to try ice dyeing for the first time, inspired by my friend Jim Vander Noot. I used a magazine holder because it was available to keep the fabric up out of the pooling, dripping dye (instead of a screen). Put another piece of cloth in the bottom of the tub to soak up the drips. I use pure dyes, not mixes which is more typical for ice dyeing, so I kinda winged it on this one. I sprinkled the dyes in the picture below on, then dribbled some yellow dye solution I had already mixed up as well.

Dyes sprinkled on.

Today I washed out….stuff in the washer now.  OH MY I am SOOOOOOO gonna do more ice dyeing…totally hooked!   Hope they look as spectacular washed and dried as they did rinsed out!

Stay tuned for an update.

And…gratuitous cat pic of the new kitten, Zabu (named after the Leapin’ lemur on Zoboomafu which the boys watched when they were little)

Sweetness, to be followed when awake by zooming and cavorting and wreaking kitty havoc.

#saqa, #fabriccollage, #artquilt,#artistsoninstagram, #fusedfabric

#saqaexplorations, #neqmexplorations, #saqa, #neqm, #saqamari

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Words –> Power –> Action

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

Two and a half weeks ago, I came across a Jimmy Fallon re-working of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ on Facebook and Youtube (hear it here–really LISTEN to the lyrics).  I was so moved by it that I wanted to create a quilt based on the song, but realized there were all those pesky copyright issues with using Fallon’s lyrics, so instead I created this quick piece to capture the spirit of the re-worked song. I pretty much never just drop everything and make a quilt this rapidly, but I just had to do it. I have titled it Words –> Power –> Action because, as our mothers told us, words have power.  Over the past two years, the election cycle, the results, and the first year of the current Presidency, have galvanized many so many of us. I have changed.  Legions of us have changed.

Words–>Power–>Action, © 2018 SarahAnn Smith

 

As a US Foreign Service Officer, I was not allowed to participate in partisan politics (federal regulations) because our job was (and should be) to serve ALL Americans.  I was used to keeping my mouth shut.  As a national level quilting teacher and artist, I felt it was better to keep politics and religion out of the classroom (and still do), so I kept my mouth shut.  But the past 20+ months have convinced me that I must speak out.  My quilt about the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017 was my first overtly political quilt.

Speak Up, Speak Out © Sarah Ann Smith 2017.

I’ve been so distressed about the polarization and apparent lack of civility, compassion and understanding, of tolerance for differing views, that the past two years have been pretty depressing.  Our political climate has made me angry and galvanized me to take action and speak out.  Inspired by Fallon’s lyrics I went in search of quotes.  I’ll share all of them after each detail photo in which they appear.

I began like our nation, with revolutionary words from the US Declaration of Independence, which are written at the top of my brick wall (yes, I have the Pink Floyd lyrics “another brick in the wall” running on loop in my head, along with the phrase “the writing is on the wall”–I resisted the temptation to use that as a title!).  I dyed fabric to be a wall, using cold wax (from ProChem, and can’t find it any more on their website!) to create a resist for the mortar.  The backing is dyed cement grey.  The edges are raw, like my nerves and emotions (and those of so many others), torn on both the top and backing, with a tiny bit of batting peeking out and scruffed up.

The top portion of Words–>Power–>Action . There are more visible bits of words and phrases, and longer quotes written in lighter ink behind, as if they were fading graffiti.

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Speak Up, Speak Out
  • get woke
  • We the People
  • Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.  Barack Obama

Background quotes:

  • Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governedwhenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.  US Declaration of Independence
  • We did not come to fear the future.  We came here to shape it.  B. Obama

Closer view of the center of Words–>Power–>Action with quilting that I hope simulates the rough texture of brick.

Center portion of Words–>Power–>Action

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Take a knee
  • Listen
  • Reach Out
  • #metoo
  • When they go low, we go high.  Michelle Obama

Background quote:

  • We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.  B. Obama

Center bottom of Words–>Power–>Action .

Bottom right of Words–>Power–>Action

Prominent phrases and quotes:

  • Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.  Hillary Clinton
  • Vote!  Get Involved
  • Courage can be contagious.  Michelle Obama
  • e  Pluribus Unum (for non-US readers, this phrase comes from our Founding Fathers and means out of Many, One which represents who we are as a nation, a government of the people, by the people and for the people)

Background quote:

  • here in America we are waging a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.  Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thanks for reading this far.  I hope you like it.

 

 

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QA TV Series 2000, including me, is now on air!

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Hi everyone…a quick pop-in to share that Quilting Arts TV has begun airing.   Check with your local PBS station to find out when it will air in your area.  In Maine, it will be on Maine Public’s Create channel (I think).  If you’re like me and don’t have access to a PBS station (grumble) that airs it, you can download the episodes or series at Interweave, here.  I’ve even got a new badge:

Sarah’s on Quilting Arts TV again, Episodes 2001, 2007 and 2012.

 

I’ll be talking about my journey from hobbyist to professional in the industry (Episode 2001), how to get crisp corners when facing art quilts (Episode 2007), and  my way of using thermofax screens to blend collaged fabrics prior to quilting (Episode 2012).  I hope you’ll enjoy the journey with me–nothing of mine is earth shattering, but not much in life is.  It’s the little tweaks and changes that make the difference, and I hope my tips and techniques will improve your quilting and life.

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She persisted (ocean quilt) at IQF Chicago

Friday, April 7th, 2017

So if you’re going to International Quilt Festival in Chicago this weekend (2017), please do see my quilts!   Thank you SO MUCH to Becky Navarro, Special Exhibits coordinator for Quilts, Inc. (who put on the shows) for sending me these two photos of “She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea.”

On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea, on display at International Quilt Festival Chicago 2017.

The 45th (!!!) Anniversary of the Quilt Festival is coming up and they will be celebrating with the Sapphire Celebration  from 2019 (45th year) to 2022 (sheesh that sounds almost impossible as a year!).  To learn more about entering, go here and scroll down.  They want traditional, art and modern quilts, size 50 x 50 or larger.  The size is a challenge for art quilters who tend not to work so large, but I was thrilled to have the chance to work so large.  And REALLY glad I have a Bernina Q20 sit-down machine now–the LONG, tall harp makes such a difference in working on such a large piece.

Another view of the two quilts promoting and encouraging entries in the new exhibit.  On the right is my newest work, She persisted in her quest to reach the shore and sing the anthem of the sea (c) SarahAnnSmith 2017.   

Quilts Inc. is giving you plenty of notice so put on your creative hats and get to work!

Umbelliferous:  Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 is also on display in the Patterns exhibit curated by Dinner@8, then will go to her new home with a private collector (I am still stunned and thrilled–thank you!).

Umbelliferous: Queen Anne’s Lace No. 1 by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2016

Now, I need to go to the studio to work on my next piece!

Photoshop–Finding the Stamp Tool, Thermofax screens

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

WAHOOOO!   I’ve discovered something almost as cool as the holy grail!  At least if you want to make thermofax screens…..and yes, you may liberally share the link to this blogpost so that others may learn and play with paint.

If you want to find out how to do this the easy way, keep reading!

So I was on a quest for my next project:  creating thermofax screens using my new (to me) thermofax machine.  I remembered a tool I loved in Photoshop Elements (PSE), but it wasn’t in Photoshop (PS–full thing).  How could that be?  So I opened up my 2010 PSE software and discovered the tools I liked were called Stamp and Photocopy, in Sketches under Filters.   So I googled around to find out how to create actions in full PS to do what those tools did.  Turned out I didn’t need to–Adobe included those tools but then HID THEM.   So here is how to find and use these awesome tools.

Note:  I realize this will sound like gibberish unless you are into PSE or PS….if you aren’t, just skip!  But this is SO AWESOMELY COOL AND USEFUL for those of us who want to make Thermofax screens and use Photoshop! So if you are interested, read on!

First, you need to install all of the Filters in the Filter Gallery.  Yeah right.  Not as hard as it sounds.  Under Photoshop, find and click on Preferences.

First you need to find Plug-Ins and load the Sketching filters.

That will cause a pop-out to appear; look for and click on Plug-Ins:

The flip-out widow reveals Plug-Ins. Click on it.

When you click on Plug Ins this window opens up.  Check the box to show ALL Filter Gallery Groups and names.  Sheesh….why was this not the default?????

This window will pop up. The box at the bottom of the arrow will be blank. WHY Adobe? WHY? Check it and the wonder and joy of more filters will appear in your PS workspace.

Here’s a colorful photo I use in my Quilting the Garden workshops.  NOTICE the COLORS in the Foreground and Background boxes on the bottom left corner.

Let’s pretend I want to convert this image to black and white to create a Thermofax screen.  Take note of the little Foreground/Background boxes at the bottom left.  They are important.

Boxes are important!   The next step is to USE the Stamp tool.  Look across the top of your PS window.  Click on Filter, then Sketch, then Stamp.

To use the Stamp tool, go to Filters (on the menu across the top), select Sketch, Then Stamp (see arrow).

When you click on Stamp, the following window opens.  But I ended up with Grey and Black.  WHY?  It used to be black and WHITE, right?  So what was I messing up?

This was not what I had in mind. Then I had a lightbulb moment (who me? I know, rare, but it does happen sometimes). Remember those BOXES?

YEP…..the Foreground color, due to something I’d done not so long ago, was dark grey, not white.  Aha!  A glimmer of light (pun totally intended).  Groan.  Remember, Boxes are Important!  I switched the foreground color from dark gray (above) to WHITE.  And lookit what I got!

Drum roll……stamp is once again black and white!  Notice the arrows on the right:  use the sliders or the number boxes to adjust the level of black/white and the degree of detail.  Now isn’t it a whole lot easier to get to this point in a hurry, THEN fine tune with the eraser tool to clear out extraneous yuck?

Those arrows on the right point to fun things to play with to adjust the amount of black, white, detail, etc.  But the realization that the foreground/background colors could make a mess make me think….hmmmm……COLOR!  What would happen if….

BUT, one more tidbit about what you see in the window.  The one below looks like a lot of nothin’, right?  That’s because is it at 100 percent, which doesn’t fit.

Then I realized I could play with COLOR. When you open this window, however, it opens at 100 percent. I prefer the “Fit In View” option, so check out the arrow once again.

If you click on the little down arrow to the right of 100%, you can switch it to Fit In View or whatever you like to use.  For my pea-brain, it’s a whole lot easier to figure out what I’m doing when I can see the entire picture, like this:

Then you can create a really bizarre two-tone hot pink and green image. Just what you always wanted, right? Not! But you can see the potential, right?

Let’s just say I am ridiculously happy.   I asked for help on FB today and got it…THANK YOU Lynn Krawczyk, Lyric Kinard and Leslie Tucker Jenison among others.   Then I — having learned this lesson before — googled around for online information, including the forum at Adobe, which is where I found the clue that the Sketch filters WERE in full PS.   But I didn’t know the terminology (like where to find the Line tool to create an arrow to illustrate these screen shots), so YouTube search box to the rescue.

SQUEEEEE!     I don’t need to use my antique PSE, I can use full PS and not have to move between the two, AND (best of all) I have my easy-peasy Stamp tool back!   Time to CELEBRATE!  Lynn, I may just have to fling some paint!  And now that I have written this up to share ASAP in thanks, I am going to celebrate, perhaps with chocolate! Or maybe Talenti.  Or some culinary Venn diagram that involves the intersection of Talenti, banana and chocolate.  SQUEEE!

And a PS, thanks Whiskers for asking the questions:  Hi Whiskers!  Yes, I will do a blogpost eventually on thermofax screens.   Not sure when, so the quick response is the Thermofax machine is the predecessor to today’s photocopier.  They were used in the 50s/60s in the office to copy stuff.  They are no longer made (consequently they cost a fortune, it has taken me a decade to save up and make the purchase, $1350! If you buy one be sure you get one that works with the mesh, not just the purple ditto masters!)…but folks have figured out if you use an image with carbon in the ink (laser printer, some inkjet printers, carbon ink, lead pencil) and you run it through the machine with a plastic-backed mesh, the plastic melts where there is carbon.  When you separate the two sheets (paper and plastic mesh) you end up with a screen.  Tape up the edges, then push the paint through.  I actually just taped a segment for Quilting Arts TV on this!