Milkweed No. 2, Part 2

February 7th, 2016

A few days ago, I shared with you the happy news that Milkweed No. 2 is heading to Australia and New Zealand to be a part of “A Matter of Time,” and exhibit curated by Brenda Gael Smith.  Brenda is blogging sneak peeks on the blog.

Milkweed pod, seeds and silks detail

Milkweed pod, seeds and silks detail

SASmith.MilkweedNo2.Detail2_DSC3256 I thought I’d share a few more bits of my process, especially because I will be demoing and teaching a class at Houston that incorporate these techniques.

In an effort to reduce the labor-intensive process of quilting the surface of my works at 1/8" apart over nearly the entire surface, I've started adding some surface design.

In an effort to reduce the labor-intensive process of quilting the surface of my works at 1/8″ apart over nearly the entire surface, I’ve started adding some surface design.

A couple years ago, I designed some Thermofax screens and had them made by Jan and Kristen at Fiber on a Whim.  They asked if I would be interested in selling the designs, and I quickly said Yes!   Here are three of my favorites:

On the photo above, I have used textile paint and my "celery" screen to help blend the collaged batiks and hand-dyes

On the photo above, I have used textile paint and my “celery” screen to help blend the collaged batiks and hand-dyes.

My alphabet screen was used on some rather plain brown hand-dyed (by me) fabric then cut into bits to use in the quilt in addition to using batiks.

My alphabet screen was used on some rather plain brown hand-dyed (by me) fabric then cut into bits to use in the quilt in addition to using batiks.

I mixed up some transparent textile paints--I use both Jacquard and ProFab--to screen print over the already collaged/fused background pieces.

I mixed up some transparent textile paints–I use Versatex, Jacquard and ProFab–to screen print over the already collaged/fused background pieces.

Next came the second round of screen printing, using my Squiggles screen, putting a darker green over the yellow-green I used for the celery.

I simply adore this screen. Add this to the top of any fabric--a plain tone on tone, hand-dye or batik and you've got great texture that can be blend or contrasty as you need.

I simply adore this screen. Add this to the top of any fabric–a plain tone on tone, hand-dye or batik and you’ve got great texture that can be blend or contrasty as you need.

I’ll be teaching some of this process in the Saturday Sampler where I will demonstrate working on your own personalized cloth as well as in my “Nest” class (you can see a bit about that here).

I also did a bit of stenciling using freezer paper and two colors of white.

I also did a bit of stenciling using freezer paper and two colors of white.

If you’d like to order those screens, visit Fiber on a Whim! Better yet, if you can come play with me in my classes at Quilt Festival in Houston this coming autumn!

JAM-SASmith

 

The Rewards of Teaching

February 5th, 2016
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A student learning to Thread-Color the Garden  (class listed at Sarah Ann Smith Classes just scroll down)

It is so heartwarming to receive feedback such as this from your students:

“Sarah, Your class was really great and I learned a lot. You are an engaging teacher with down to earth instructions and entertaining anecdotes. Thank you so much for traveling all the way to Greenville! – Joanna”

and from Emily who organized the class, “I want to share that I’ve heard wonderful reviews of the technique along with praise for your teaching style from lots of the women.  “Very informative”, “Encouraging”, “Addictive,”  “Practical,” and “Approachable” are just a few of the accolades!  I personally want to thank you for making the journey north and sharing with all of us.”

Comments like these are the greatest reward of teaching!  Thank you Emily G., Joanna and all my students in Greenville!   I’d love to return–and as long as it isn’t sports season for Eli I’ll bring chocolate chip cookies for all (one of the benefits of teaching in driving distance from home–more quilts and food!).

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Class in a church basement in Greenville (southern edge of Moosehead Lake in northern Maine)

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A student ironing behind the “goodies” table

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a Practice snippet before students worked on the main image for learning to thread color

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Learning how to blend thread colors. Instead of worrying about messing up a quilt top, work on a printed photo!

Milkweed No. 2 is headed to Australia

February 4th, 2016

I’m delighted to share that my most recent art quilt, Milkweed No. 2, has been selected to be in Brenda Gael Smith’s current exhibit, A Matter of Time, and is en route to Australia!  Brenda is giving us all sneak peeks at the artworks in her blogpost series called “Just a Moment”  here.

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I'm thrilled---just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I’m thrilled—just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!  Click to view a little larger.

Apparently I mostly forgot to take in progress photos (!!!) while I was making Milkweed No. 2, so I will share one or two in progress shots from the making off Milkweed No. 1 (which I have not yet shared in public…stay tuned for that in a few weeks) in this and in a second post about my process.

As usual, I began with an idea (more like an obsession with milkweed pods) and dyeing fabric.  I had plenty of batiks and some of my own hand-dyes but needed more for the sky.  I decided to dye some cotton duck for the backing, as well.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

I use the cotton duck as a stabilizer.  It helps reduce shrinkage and the artwork hangs beautifully, although it isn’t as easy to handle under the needle as a lightweight fabric.  It is worth the trade-off!  I wrote an article about my process for Machine Quilting Unlimited and blogged about that here.

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

Next, using Mistyfuse (by far the softest hand, easiest to use, never “ages out”) adhesive / fusible web, I prepare my fabrics for collaging.  My video workshop (here on my site and available as a download here from Interweave) shows this part of the process, plus a lot more.  Anyway, I use my “stash” of fused pieces, but always end up adding more bits for a given piece.

Sorry about the shadow on the left---here I've got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I've been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Sorry about the shadow on the left—here I’ve got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I’ve been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Next, I start the fusing process.  In this shot, I’m working on the sky for Milkweed No. 1 (larger, landscape orientation), but I used exactly the same process on this piece.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.  The drawing you see is a piece of paper underneath my non-stick ginormous press sheet with my sketch.  I ordered this one from Valerie Hearder in Canada, but Mistyfuse now sells the Holy Cow Goddess sheet which is 36×48 inches.   Really helps with my process–I just cover the entire “big board” and get to work.

I then did a bit of surface design including stenciling and screen-printing using thermofax screens (details in my next post).  Finally, I quilted my piece.  Aren’t the colors just glorious?  And yes, bright purple works in a seed pod!

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky--I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky–I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

I’ll be back in a few days with more on the processes using paint!   Remember, visit A Matter of Time here and the “Just a Moment” previews blogposts about the various artists and artworks here.

 

 

Teaching at IQF Houston 2016!

February 2nd, 2016

As you might guess by the deafening silence here on the blog, I’ve been rather busy but I have various bits of good news to share, and I’ll start with the most recent:  I will once again be on the Faculty for International Quilt Festival in Houston in October/November 2016!   And, drum roll, I’ll be teaching a few new things….yippeee!   Here’s my schedule, which stretches from the Monday of Quilt Market (a closed trade show for industry professionals) through Saturday of Quilt Festival.   On Sunday I get to PLAY—provided I can put one foot in front of the other and still see!   For details about each of the classes, please visit my Classes page which has descriptions of all the classes, class supply lists and, when available, hotlines to blogposts from previous versions of these classes so you can get a feel for what to bring.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my new class The Nest–Surface Design Exploration for Beginners at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2016.

 

  • Monday, October 31:  Decorative Stitch Appliqué, in the Janome classroom, All-Day class
  • Tuesday:  a day off–I’ll probably be IN a class!
  • Wednesday, November 2:  Fine Finishes–An Album of Techniques (bindings and more), in the Janome Classroom, All-Day class
  • Thursday, November 3, morning:  Machine Quilting Forum–Fun and Fancy Thread, 9-Noon
  • Thursday, November 3, afternoon:  The Nest–Surface Design Exploration for Beginners, 2-5, kit fee
  • Friday, November 4:  Tame Fussy, Fiddly Threads for Machine Quilting, in the Janome Classroom, All-day, kit fee for a range of threads etc
  • Saturday, November 5, morning:  Saturday Sampler–Screen-Paint the Perfect Fabric, 10-Noon
  • Saturday, November 5, afternoon:  Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag, 2-5, in the Janome Classroom
  • Sunday:  PLAYTIME–to see the exhibits and shop and collapse, in that order!

I’m totally good with having stayed home this past year as it was our younger son’s senior year in high school, but I so missed seeing folks.  I’m thrilled to be back in Houston and on the faculty. Thank you IQF and students!

 

How to make a Hanging Sleeve, or a return from oblivion

January 13th, 2016

Well, in late November my laptop started acting bizarre.  That led to getting ridiculously behind in EVERYTHING.  Add in the holidays and the beginning of Eli’s wrestling season and, well, it has been weeks since I surfaced here.  The good news is I have been VERY busy and productive, so now it’s time to start sharing.  And since “enter shows” season begins, I have drafted up a new, freebie PDF on how to make a hanging sleeve properly.  You can download the Hanging Sleeve–PDF, and it is also listed in the “Tutorials” section of my Resources page which is here.

A quick peek at my new PDF on How to Make a Hanging Sleeve

A quick peek at my new PDF on How to Make a Hanging Sleeve–click on the link above to download the complete instructions.

Guilds, shows and shops have my permission to download and reproduce this handout as long as it is downloaded in its entirety, nothing is changed, and credit is given to me with a link to my website.  In other words, something like “How to Make a Hanging Sleeve by Sarah Ann Smith, www.SarahAnnSmith.com.”    And I’m pretty sure it will in the not distant future be available on the SAQA website, as well.   I’ll update this post if/when that happens.

Given the way my life goes, I can’t promise I’ll be back soon, but I sure hope to try!