Monday, January 30, 2012


Ok, what do a cholla skeleton and face cleaning pads have in common?
 AND, how did they end up in a quilt called Artery?

so, I paint a
 piece of fabric and start laying out the painted face pads on it.
Which is where the cholla skeleton comes in, it has the kind of repetitive organic pattern that I love.
I was annoyed with the kids for leaving wet gloppy cleaning pads in the shower until I looked at them closely- ooh, they have little scrubby dots on them!  that pop out when they are painted, even better...

after all the little green scrubbies were attached with their purple felt centers, I quilted them to their background using a piece of felt for the backing.

 after the quilting, I cut the whole thing out and turned the edges under.

 here it is laid out onto a piece of polyester that will be used for the experimental background.
 I trace around the edges so I know where to paint.
 here's the painting using my fav dye-na-flow
so then I take the painted poly and layer it on top of red cotton batik
 and then quilt the whole thing.

and now for the fun part- I melted part of the poly away with the heat gun to reveal the red batik underneath....use cotton thread for the quilting!

so now I can sew the central branch shape to the background.  hooray for invisible thread!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Easy stretching

I normally like to paint on a flat surface, but sometimes stretching the fabric is the best option.
It can be super easy & cheap to make a frame that's easily adjustable and can work for a lot of sizes and any material.
Get 2 pieces of wood (these are 1x2's)- length needs to be longer than your biggest fabric measurement- and lay them parallel to each other- as far apart as the shorter measurement of your fabric.
In the photo, these are the east to west pieces.

 Lay 2 pieces of wood on the top to act as crossbars- these are actually plant stakes, you can use 1x1's or more 1x2's.......these are NOT going to be under the fabric, so make sure they are further apart than your widest fabric measurement.

 screw them together in all 4 corners, 2 screws are good to have to prevent the thing from tweaking.
 ok, now flip it over- we are going to attach the fabric to the 2 long sides.
It's good to rinse out your material and let it dry first, any organic material will absorb water and then shrink as it it dries- even PFD.
 ok, now staple your material to one long side, then stretch it over to the other long side and staple it.
Notice how the crossbars underneath are outside of the fabric area.
 I put the staples in loosely, it's a lot easier to remove them when done.  There are special long metal silk painter push pins that they use that are worth getting if you do this a lot.
If you need additional stretching on the ends, it's easy to pin a piece of scrap material and then loosely staple it to the crossbars.
ready for painting!
 BTW, elmer's blue glue gel works great as a resist.  Just remember to let paint cure before rinsing out, a week is ok, 2 is better.
I usually do the painting outside with the stretcher on a couple of sawhorses.  If you're using a table, remember to prop it up at the corners to prevent the middle from sagging and touching the table.
It will most likely drip in the middle, be prepared.
happy painting!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Torrey Pines

Several years ago, I had the great pleasure to visit the San Diego area for the opening reception of the Visions show.  We made a day trip to Torrey Pines State Park, and I made a piece based on some photos I took from the back door of the visitor's center.  The place is unique, in my experience, because you drive up to the top of a mountain overlooking the sea, yet are still surrounded by trees.  They are unique to the area, but since I can't see what makes them so different, I just made some regular old pine needles :)
This is one of my pictures that I used as reference- of course, I changed things around substantially.
 First I ripped off a hunk of silk and painted a sky
 Then I put up a piece of newsprint- off of a 48" wide roll I bought a couple of years ago- a must have!
Since I hate drawing straight lines, the horizon line is folded in.  A couple of reference photos are printed out and pinned to the right.
Here's the sketch, freehanded of course.  Yes, this is all the drawing I usually do.
 here you see my fabulous light table- recycled glass shower doors, sawhorses, shop light.
I have the newsprint sketch between 2 of the glass pieces, and will lay silk over the top to paint it.  The light shining upward will let me see the guidelines of the sketch with out having to actually make marks on the silk.
painting in progress, it's intentionally very loose and flowy- I'll add details with paintstick and stitching.
 my favorite stencil- ripped up paper.  You can do almost anything with it.
 surf lines and estuary stream.
I seamed the sky and the sea/land portion along the horizon line, and pre quilted the entire thing.
 here is is, having boulders and hills tried on for size.  The ones on the left are from another picture I took there that I printed onto fabric, chopped up and rearranged.  It's further to the right than the view of the actual picture, but was so cool I had to include it.
 this will all go back on the machine and get quilted.
 Finally, we get to the pines.....first, the branches are stitched with dark thread, which extends beyond the "bark" area to give me more detail and structure for the needles.

Finally, I come back with green for the needles- the better part of a cone of thread went into this.
et voila-
                                                               Torrey Pines, 45x50"

This piece is dedicated to my late, dear friend Trish.  I know she's in a place even more beautiful.
Rest in peace.