December 23, 2017

A shorter mini bucket

Following up the comments from Cookie and Beth, I decided to try making a shorter version of the mini-bucket (multi-colored check bucket above).  While I was at it, I made another regular mini-bucket as well, with my favorite fabric from Maze & Vale.  I've been holding onto a small piece of this fabric for a couple of years, and realized this was a great use for it.  I'll put my overflow threads in here, and will now have it in view every day.  So maybe that's the main reason to make and use these buckets--to have some of my favorite fabrics out where I can see them. . .

The black dot bucket stands 4-1/4" and the multi-check bucket stands 3" high.  If you're following Leslie's tutorial, I changed the width of the mini-bucket rectangle to 4.75"  If I went much shorter than 3," you wouldn't get the play of two fabrics next to each other.

OK, I think I'm done with buckets for a while. Next some mending, then an end-of-the year straightening up of my studio, and then onto a new quilt project, as well as more pattern designs for napkins.

December 22, 2017

Bucket family

I made two more of the fabric buckets yesterday, so here are all three.  I've put my current knitting project in the largest one and threads in the little one, but can't figure out anything for the middle one. These are fun to make, but I don't think I'll make more unless I can figure out additional uses. Small kids' toys would be good, of the sort where they get dumped out for play; the buckets might not be as practical as a rigid plastic crate, but they're a lot cuter. Most of my own clutter is contained (to the extent that it is) in shallow containers where I can see everything that's there; the buckets are deep, so not as good for visibility. Nonetheless a fun project, and quick.  It took me about 40 minutes to sew one bucket; longer than that to choose fabrics and cut out the the pieces. The original tutorial is here, and a variation that includes an inside pocket for knitting needles and knitting accessories for the big bag is here. By the way, the bigger the bucket, the easier it is to do the sewing, but none of them are difficult.

December 21, 2017

The joy of sewing

After focusing on dyeing fabric for napkins, I've taken some time to do some regular sewing, a few projects that quickly led to a finished product, a little something ready to be used.  I do love making things. . .

I like wearing leggings in the winter (warmer than pants, as the air doesn't circulate), but don't have many tops that have all the prerequisites: warm enough for winter wear, pockets (making up for no pockets in leggings), and long enough for "tunic" length.  So I dug out a pattern I've had on hand for a while and made this one out of flannel. I like it! I think I'll make another too, or maybe branch out with a different pattern.

Here's the Sew-Easy Shirt  pattern by Cindy Taylor Oates, which I adapted by using all one fabric, making the front and back in one piece rather than a bottom flap, and placing two pockets at the hips.

I also made several receiving blankets, one side flannel and one side cotton. One of these has gone to a cousin's new grandchild, the rest away babies to come.



And finally, I made this fabric 6" mini-bucket from a tutorial by Ashley Newcomb, who writes the blog filminthefridge. Other than these overflow threads, I'm not sure I have little things to put into these buckets, but they are quick to make, and it's always fun to use up small pieces of colorful fabric.  The buckets come in two bigger sizes also.  I think I'll make those as well, and see if I can find some uses. The largest one should be good for my current knitting project.

December 16, 2017

Blog Tour for "Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century"

I'm pleased to let you know that "Self-Portrait, Year 2: Beneath the Surface" is one of the quilts included in a new book being published by the Modern Quilt Guild, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. Here are images of the quilt from the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber, where it recently hung in a show, "In Death." The curator made sure to hang the quilt in such a way that both sides were visible, and so you could see that the lavender side was something more than blank fabric.

The Modern Quilts book, which includes the work of 238 quilters, will be available later this month. You can pre-order it from the MQG, where all profits will go to the work of the organization; it's also available on Amazon. If you're not familiar with modern quilting, this book will be a great entrĂ©e to the field, and if you're already aware of this arena of quilting, the book will provide photos of the work of the big names whose work you already know, along with scores of others. You can see a sample of images on this page that describes the travelling show that is being created from about 100 of the quilts in the book (including mine); the first stop on the tour will be the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, in April/May 2018.  "Modern quilting" incorporates elements of traditional quilting (with traditional blocks used in new ways, as in the quilt on the book cover above) and art quilting (which brings techniques and design elements from the world of painting/drawing/printing and applies them to quilts).  Many modern quilts use improvisation, but others (like the quilt of mine that's included) are thought out in detail before a stitch is taken. Most modern quilts are designed as functional quilts, rather than works intended for wall display only. You can see the Modern Quilt Guild's own explanation of modern quilting here.

I have written extensively about this quilt before.  An overview of the story is here, and a couple of blog posts: the making of the quilt here, and its reception at QuiltCon 2015 here.

Once accepted into the QuiltCon show, the quilt has taken on a life of its own, and it is gratifying to know that it will now have an even wider audience, through the book and the touring exhibition.  Although made only to give voice to my own unfathomable sense of loss, I know now that the piece can be consoling to others who have suffered loss, and educational to those who haven't.  I am glad to have it out in the world.

If you would like to visit other stops on the book's blog tour, you can find the schedule here.

December 14, 2017

A hearty recommendation for the Photoshop Elements classes by the Pixeladies

I recently finished the third (and final) class on Photoshop Elements offered by textile artists Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki, the "Pixeladies," and I would highly recommend their classes to other artists interested in working with Photoshop Elements.  All three will be offered in succession from January through May, 2018.  Could be a good holiday gift for someone to give you :-)  The classes are set up well, with a combination of videos, handouts, the ability to see other students' work, and very helpful feedback from the instructors on each assignment and in response to questions from individuals. The exercises are very well designed, so that you learn the material as you go, and the material available for printout leaves you with a handbook to refer back to. The class material is delivered over four weeks, the instructors stay available for another two weeks after that, and then all the material remains accessible online for a total of six months.  Photoshop has many, many features; Deb and Kris focus on those of most use to textile artists.  The classes are very reasonably priced, $60 for each of the first two, and $125 for the third.  I use Photoshop regularly now, both in the design process and for adjusting photos when needed.  I highly recommend their classes!!

Class descriptions here:
That page also lists the "Top 10 Photoshop Tasks for Fiber Artists"--I think all of these were covered in the first class.  There's much, much more in the classes that follow.

I look forward to working the Photoshop Elements in the next months to design more patterns for napkins.  The clover design in my last post was developed through this program.

December 3, 2017

In clover

I've been continuing to print napkins, and am especially happy with a new screen I made that's based on an old drawing of mine of a clover flower. This encourages me to work further with elements from some of my drawings. I think the two-tone turquoise with dark blue is especially nice, though the two-tone base was the result of serendipity:  I had made a napkin with a light turquoise base fabric and printed my bowl pattern on in a darker turquoise.  There was not enough of a contrast to make it a successful print, so I printed the clover design over the top of it with dark blue.  Maybe I should do more like this on purpose. . .  
the original drawing, 2012

November 6, 2017

Choosing favorites

Here are my 13 favorites from the 40 or so napkins I've printed in my latest print runs. I like the colors as well as the printed designs. I have more playing around to do with color combinations, but I find I like both the high contrast of black/lighter color as well as the lower contrast of two shades of the same color (turquoise in upper right, rust in center of the bottom row).

I mentioned in the last post that I was going to try making a second screen from a screen, in order to get more of a line drawing effect. I did this with the screen on which I'd written text, and I'm happy with how it turned out.  The original screen was used for the navy napkin on the right, below. The lettering drawn on the screen with matte medium served as a resist, so the text appears in the light blue of the original fabric; the added dye becomes the background.  I printed this twice, first with dark blue, then turned the screen 90 degrees and printed with medium blue, which is why you see three shades of blue on the napkin.  Then I used that screen as a "stencil," pulling matte medium through it onto another screen.  That makes a new screen where the background is coated with the resist, and the letters are clear for the dye to be pulled through.  For the napkin on the left, I started with magenta fabric, and did two pulls with black dye.  I like that it looks kind of like an ancient inscription, somewhat worn away.

Out of the 40 napkins, there are 34 I like well enough to either use myself or give them away.  Here they all are. You'll see that I also tried out a red-white combination that didn't make it into my "favorites" group. I really like the idea of red/white, but there was back-staining of the red dye onto the white fabric, so the results are more like red and pale-pink.  I think I'll probably overdye them a light rust color, to get rid of the pink.  If I had thought ahead, I might have avoided the backstaining, but the process to do that involves soaking twice with lots of ice cubes, which I don't want to have to build into my routine.

In the top row on the left are two napkins where the bowl design was pulled once; on the right it was pulled twice.  In the end, I prefer it pulled once--which conveniently is less work for me.

I will be taking a break from this for a while, to finish my online Photoshop course, where I hope to come up with some additional screen designs.  I like all of these, but found I got a little bored repeating just these half-dozen screen.

October 16, 2017

Seven of 32 printed

I pulled screens on 7 napkins last Wednesday.  I can layout fabric for eight napkins on my large print table. I have six screens that I'm happy enough with to use.

I can re-use a screen in one session if I'm printing with the same color, which worked for the 7th (turquoise) napkin. It took about 2 hours to do the printing. So, it will take me a while to print all the fabric that I've readied for printing (32 napkins total). I may also try making a couple more screens.

Here's a review of the prints, and notes about how to proceed with the next prints. The two below were done with two different screens, but each of the screens was made in the same way. This may be difficult to understand without seeing it, but here goes:  I used 2" square piece of plexiglass to stamp rows of squares onto the screen. The stamping medium was matte medium, brushed on with a paint brush cut into so that uneven lines are painted on the stamp, rather than a fully covered surface. Where the matte medium, stamped, sticks to the screen, no dye can go through. I made the screen on the right first, one of the first screens I made.  Here I've used it to print black onto boysenberry fabric overprinted. There are many places on the screen where no matte medium stuck.  I made a second screen trying to improve on the first, used on the green fabric below (printed with dark blue dye). On this screen, so much matte medium stuck that only the unstamped margins between the squares let through the dye. I like both of these, but I may try making a third screen to get a look somewhere in between these.  By the way, the boysenberry/black piece is the only one in this batch where I just pulled the screen once.  For all others, I pulled once with the pattern vertical, and then a second time turning the screen 90 degrees.

The next two show the pieces where I did the first pull with a dark value thickened dye, but then diluted the dye by 3 for the second pull. I think these came out well. In both these cases, the color of the dye was simply a darker value of the base fabric.

A friend asked, "Can you do a thinner line for the patterning, so that the color of the fabric is more of the star?" I would definitely like to do this as well.  The most direct way to do this is to make the screen using a photo-emulsion process, where the drawn line will print (rather than these screens, line is a resist, and the background prints); I hope to have a chance to do that in December.  The other thing I could do is take one of these screens that are drawn lines (like the words on the left above, and the floral design on the right), and use that screen to "print" matte medium onto another piece of polyester screen. On that secondary screen, the background will have the resist on it, and the lines will print.  I may try that soon. . .

The next pair are both on boysenberry base fabric, printed with black on the left, and a burgundy color on the right (boysenberry dye with a little black added in).  I like both combinations.

The pair below both use lavender base fabric.  On the left, I used the burgundy color for printing, on the right a darker shade of lavender.  I think both work, but from personal preference, I don't think I'd use the burgundy again on lavender.

I've had other obligations keeping me busy since last Wednesday, but I look forward to trying out some other color combinations and maybe making some new screens too.

October 9, 2017

Playing with color choices in Photoshop

I've set aside Wednesday to go screen print more napkins. I've already experimented with dark blue on plain muslin fabric and dark brown over a lighter brown, reported on here. After the last session, I dyed up enough muslin for four napkins in each of eight colors, above. (The greens on left and right are a little different from each other.) Today I played around in Photoshop Elements, trying out different colors for the patterns that will be screened onto the fabric. I show the results below, lining them up so I can more easily see see what I'd like to try out. Some of these combinations will not work with dye, because the second color mixes with the first when overdyed in the printing process (unlike paint, which can go on as a separate opaque layer). This is why I've chosen mostly colors close to each other on the color wheel, where the combination will not be so problematic. I've put in bold the colors I'm most likely to try out when printing.

Boysenberry with black, indigo, and burgundy

Light bluish-green with darker shade of green, dark indigo blue, medium indigo blue, and black

Light yellow-green with dark indigo blue, black, dark lavender, darker shade of green (I like the lavender and green, but I can't get there through starting with green and overdyeing.)

Light indigo blue with black, dark indigo, and gray.

Gray with indigoblack, and burgundy.

Lavender with indigoblackdarker lavenderburgundy

Light rust with black, charcoal, indigo, burgundy, and darker rust

Turquoise with black, charcoal, indigodarker turquoise, and rust. The turquoise and rust is lovely, but this is another combination that won't work with an overdye process--the print would come out a muddy grown/gray.
So, you can see that I'm drawn to black with anything, with a second choice of dark indigo, but it will be fun to try other colors also. I've made a chart of these choices, and counted up how many napkins will be screened with each color, which tells me how much thickened dye to mix up tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how long it takes me to print all 32 napkins. For most of them, I'll be pulling the screen twice, with the second time turned 90 degrees, so this will take a while.  Although all the photos above use an image from one screen, I'll be using six different screens in the printing.
I will report results when I have them!

September 29, 2017

A short interview with me

One of my quilts is currently on display at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilt and Fiber Arts, in their exhibit "In Death."  A short interview with me is featured in the current issue of the museum's newsletter.  The exhibit is up until December 3.  I look forward to seeing the other works in the exhibit when I visit in early November.

Wisconsin Museum of Quilt & Fiber Arts
September 29, 2017

Barn Blast
Featured Artist 
of the Week ~
Penny Gold 

Each week, we give you, our Barn Blast readers, exclusive interviews with a variety of fiber artists from across the country. Although each artist is distinctly different from the other, they do have one common thread that binds them all.  They have all lived and grieved and they have all made art to express this - but more than this, they have all chosen to share their art with the world by participating in the very special WMQFA exhibit, which is currently on display at the museum. 

Penny Gold
Penny Gold bravely shares what fuels her art and the inspiration she has received from fellow artists.

WMQFA:  How did you get into working with fiber?
Gold:  I have worked with yarn and cloth since I was a child, taught by my mother. My first knitting project was a doll blanket, and my first sewing project an apron made on a treadle machine. I have continued to knit and sew over the years, adding in quilting in 2001at the request of a young friend who wanted to learn. I started with traditional quilting, changing course to quilting as a form of artistic expression after taking a workshop on design with Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle. My vision and skills have also been developed through workshops with Dorothy Caldwell, Carol Soderlund, Claire Benn, and Paula Kovarik.
WMQFA:  What inspires you?
Gold:  My work has been fueled by despair, anguish, and guilt in the wake of my son's death in 2004. As I worked to express these emotions through color and shape, I was inspired and sustained by the abstract art I have long loved, particularly the work of Clyfford Still, Agnes Martin, Cy Twombly, and Kazimir Malevich.
WMQFA:  Why did you choose to participate in In Death?
Gold:  Although my work is deeply personal, created out of my own needs, I have found that it also resonates with others, in ways I had not expected. I have been encouraged by the response when I've shown work at Sacred Threads and at QuiltCon, so I was happy - and honored - to say yes to the invitation to show one of my quilts in In Death. 
WMQFA:  Is there anything else you would like to share with our 
Barn Blast readers?
Gold:  For photos and descriptions of the other works in my series on loss, you can visit the website documenting my 2016 exhibition.

Penny Gold's featured quilt, "Self-Portrait, Year 2: Beneath the Surface"

For more information about current and upcoming exhibits, CLICK HERE.