Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shopping bag

Here are both sides of the bag that I made with the fabric I struggled with yesterday. All night long my brain wandered through alternatives as to what I would do to make the letters, the ones created with the gel glue resist, be more visible. I settled on outlining them with free motion quilting, and set about to prepare for that by fusing a stabilizing fabric to the back (now inside).

Then I thought, "Paint, I could use paint!" It would be so much faster, too. I looked at my various paints, but then my Pentel fabric sticks (look like little crayons) hollered at me from a dusty corner, "Try me! Try me!" so I did, after cutting off the plastic shrink wrap - mute evidence of an impulse purchase a year or so ago, a successful toting home of something I wanted but didn't have immediate need for. I outlined the letters, swirls, and dots with various colors, set with an iron. and completed the bag.

Now I think my next project will be to create a note to family recipients of my output that says something like, "This item was made with love just for you, but when it has fulfilled its purpose in your life, whether now or later, send it on its way without guilt."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adventure with gel glue resist, part 2

Photo: Shows fabric after scraping off the gel, wax not yet removed. Close inspection reveals glue is probably still in the fabric in spite of all my efforts; it shows as darker green squiggly lines in the dyed-green parts.

Before scraping off the gel, I rinsed this particular piece of fabric over and over and over in the bucket out under my sycamore, and the water ran clear. I scraped off the gel (see previous post) and ran it through 3 wash cycles on my washing machine, because now the water was green. Every time. I included with it the green fabrics from my dyed octave (big mistake; see why below), using Synthrapol, but still the water was green.

Mistake results #1 : Little bits of wax were over all the other fabrics like a bad case of dandruff. I rinsed them again, by themselves, but still the bits of wax were there. I let them air dry, since I didn't want to put anything waxy in my dryer, shook them out, and brushed them off with a dry washcloth. When I ironed them, I could still see spots of wax melting, so I pressed them between layers of paper toweling.

Mistake results #2: Little bits of gel glue transferred to the other fabrics, not much, but enough so that I had to wet at least one spot one each piece and peel off the gel that had hardened there. It wasn't difficult, just another fiddly thing that I won't have to do next time, because I won't process any other fabrics with gel-glued fabric again!

I spent a lot of time ironing the purposely waxed areas of the fabric-to-someday-be-a-bag piece, using paper toweling, a lot of paper toweling. Just like the red wax candle that spilled on my carpet a few months ago, most of it came up with the application of the iron, but not all, and not enough. I'll just boil this thing, I thought, still mentally composing a blog entry having to do with the failure of gel glue as a resist with fiber-reactive dyes.

So I boiled it. The water turned a nearly opaque green. As the water cooled, I soaked off the wax that had risen to the surface with a couple of paper towels, and dripped the fabric over to another boiling pot. The water again turned impressively green, but considerably lighter than the first run-through.

I laid it out on the floor to take a picture, and was I ever surprised!

Photo #2: Besides the absence of toes, you may not notice much difference between this shot and the one above it, but if you look closely, you can see the gel glue resist actually worked.

The contrast is not strong because of the highly patterned background, but I am not concerned. This little guinea pig of a project taught me a lot, the last lesson being that boiling gets out both the wax and the rest of that gel glue resist. Too bad I can't boil the wax out of my carpet.

Adventure with gel glue resist, part 1

I purchased this fabric about four years ago, mainly because it was on sale and it was wild. Since then I haven't thought of any projects to make with it, because it was SO wild!

Making shopping bags, the kind that prevents you from overpopulating your closet shelf and the rest of the earth with disposable plastic bags, has been on my agenda for awhile. This fabric would make the perfect guinea pig shopping bag project, I thought. I've been wanting to try gel glue resist again, as I did a couple weeks ago.

In the above view you will probably not be able to see the dried Elmers gel glue words and swirls on the fabric, but you can see the waxed parts - along the top and down the bag gussets. I used leftover paraffin wax from when I taught the Candle-making honor to the Pathfinders. After letting the gel dry overnight, I soaked it for 24 hours in approximately 50-50 yellow-turquoise dye mixture.

The next job was to get off the gel. It was plenty slimy, having soaked for so long.

The gel had soaked up much of the dye, and was nasty nasty nasty to get off. I used a spatula to create the above pile of gel. It's a lot of glunk and wanted to stay on my fingers instead of staying attached to the paper napkin where I piled it.

As I scraped off the gel, I could see that it had not done a good job of making a resist. I next used a fine plastic pot scrubber to clean off remaining residue. Still no discernible difference between the glued and unglued areas.

My sad tale continues. Or at least that's what I thought I'd be blogging. I thought I was going to be saying something like, "You can use glue gel as a resist only for projects that use a quick-drying paint, or a dye such as Dynaflow. A long soak in a dye solution makes the water soluble glue cease to resist as one would hope." But sometimes one has happy surprises.

Altered octave

This lemon-yellow to turquoise octave has nine notes; that's why it is an altered octave. Notice the big jump between yellow and the next color, and that could be because when I was measuring the turquoise concentrate, I thought the book said 2 Tbsp, when it really said 2 tsp. I caught myself after the first Tbsp, but wasn't able to take back all the extra turquoise powder I had put in. In other words, this is not a scientifically done gradation!

Dyeing is most enjoyable. I do it in the shade of the sycamore tree, on the table under the overhang of my potting shed. I get some good exercise, because I have to tote softened water out to do dyeing, since the sink in the potting shed is (I think) the hard hard hard H20 straight from the well. When I want to take a break, my hammock is right there under the tree, catching the slight breezes that are a near constant here. I let the dyed fabrics stew in their juices all the hot hot day, and rinsed out this morning next to the compost pile, my rushings of water scaring out the buggy creatures who live there.

The purpose of this dyeing exercise was to see what kind of green I could get for my shopping bag project. Next post.
- -

Monday, July 27, 2009

My quilt scrapbook

Photo: Quilted cover for my quilt scrapbook.

I've gotten behind on my quilt scrapbook, so while my gel resist is drying for another project, I am taking advantage of this hot studio day to stay in the cool house and catch up on my scrapbook. Each two-page spread features the quilt on the left, and details on the right.

I have made 37+ quilts so far (I think I missed counting one somewhere), for beds and for walls, not counting the scrapbook cover above. In addition, I've also made many placemats and potholders. I decided to lump them together, counting all placemats as one quilt, and all potholders as another. In the process of counting up my quilts, I've discovered that my one-block wonder quilt didn't get photographed after it was finished, so as soon as the temperature cools, I'll take it out to the design wall in the Hideaway studio and get it to pose for a shot.

Four-plus (this is where I'm not sure of the count) of my quilts were made between 1976 and 1995, the first of which never made it in pictures, and all the rest were made between 2005 and the present. My first 6x8 quilt scrapbook is full, so now it's on to the second, as soon as I find another sturdy one that I like.

In the meanwhile, I am sitting here wondering when is a good time to make a run to the laundromat. Which day is least likely to be busy? I haven't a clue. I want to wash and fluff up my Diamonds in the Rough quilt before I pack it for mailing, and my machines aren't big enough for the job.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stars for Henri

The christening of the quilt: My quilts are usually do not receive a final name until they are completed, not due to any master plan of mine, but because that's when the name appears in my mind. The working title for this one has been Beverly's BOM, because it was Beverly's Fabrics Block of the Month. Now that the quilt is finished (except for tying off and hiding thread ends, and a few minor fixes), it tells me its name is Stars for Henri, because the colors are like the jungles of Henri Rousseau.

My camera must be on a weird setting, because it makes everything look like I'm peering through a peephole; that is, all rectangles look rounded. It's not the quilt, because even the design wall, which is factory straight, looked rounded in this shot, before I zapped it out of the picture.

The BOM for 2009 looked like more of the same, so I decided not to do it this year. It was fun once, but I need something new - and there are already numerous ideas stewing in my brain.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beware the leftover dye!

T-shirts, left in a closet, will multiply like rabbits. One begins to use them for grunge wear in activities such as gardening and painting -- and for eating spaghetti, tacos, and other leaky foods.

Below are three of my stained T-shirts. I never did like the color of the Cesky Krumlov shirt, but bought it because it was the least objectionable T-shirt color I could find when I was visiting Cesky Krumlov.

Below are the same three shirts dyed with my leftover dye. The orange one was supposed to turn out redder, but one can't complain with a shirt I wouldn't wear anyway because of the stain which now I can't find. Woohoo for dye!

Should you come to visit when I'm in dyeing mode, keep moving, or you may leave a different color than when you arrived.

First rotary-cut quilt

Photo: My first rotary-cut quilt (c. 1992), recently overdyed (not an improvement).

The trials of cutting strips of fabric with scissors for my first string quilt in 1976 (queen size) kept me from trying again until 1992, when I bought a Dritz rotary cutter and a 30x36 translucent cutting mat, both of which I still have and use. I had no quilting rulers then, only a piece of plexiglas on which I made marks with a permanent marker.

I had a quilting book called Amish Shadows, loved the op-art look of the blocks, and made two or three little quilts (about 36" square) including the above, and used polyester batting, because what else was there? The quilting was stitch-in-the-ditch. I had a horrible time with puckers on the back, but I persisted picking out stitches and re-sewing, until not one pucker remained (now I use spray basting, which eliminates all that frustration; recommend wearing a mask while spraying). I was so proud of these hideous little quilts! One of them hung on the wall for awhile, and they have served as table toppers and foot warmers for couch potatoes, but now I find them boring.

With a bit of blue dye leftover from a dyeing project, I overdyed this one quilt, but learned that the fabric must be polyester, since the colors of the quilt darkened, and none of it looks really blue. The lightest strips were an off-white, and now they're a very light green. What now looks like bluish pink was originally more of a peach.

Since I need a lot of practice with free motion quilting (FMQ), these little ol' quilts will be a good canvas on which to do some FMQ practice. Can't hurt 'em, right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ribbon netting

I've had a package of Super Solvy sitting around for several years, and am happy to finally use it.

I chose an interesting ribbon from my small ribbon/yarn collection and sewed the verticals with a narrow zigzag, slowly, and with much frustration. It was hard to keep things straight, and the Solvy would pucker as I sewed. I thought of pinning, started out pinning, and discarded pinning when the pins just got in the way and slowed my already aggravating progress.

The instructions called for a second layer of Solvy before adding the horizontals. I do not understand the logic of another layer, except perhaps it's because the Sulky company, already awash in fund$ due to their prices, wants you to use as much as possible. I chose not to add the second layer of Solvy, and sewed the horizontals with much more ease and enjoyment than the first layer. The first rows of ribbon gave the machine and the perpendicular pieces something on which to grip, and was probably easier to sew than if I had added the second layer. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it. For now, anyway.

Color discharge with bleach

Crawling out of my full-speed-ahead-with-only-one-thought-in-my-mind blogging mode for a moment, here's an interesting thought from an interesting blog: Stuff Christians Like, on forgiving someone who has not apologized.

Back to fabric stuff.

Almost all of the exercises in Fabric Arts Workshop deal with supplies and materials I've never used or combined before, or not to the same purpose. I'm not saying that I have never discharged color from fabric before (witness unplanned bleach spots on various articles of clothing), but using bleach for more than getting my sink or my tidy whities tidier and whitier (I think I've said this before somewhere) is something new for me.

Using bleach on various black fabrics will result in differing colors, because black dyes are made of differing combinations of colors. The two fabrics on the right are from the same bolt, but the other two are each different, resulting in red , orange, and amber tones.

Top left: Two crocheted doilies were laid on fabric before misting with 50-50 water/bleach solution. The book called for cheesecloth, but since I had none and doilies were handy, I did the honorable GREEN thing and did not drive to town just to buy cheesecloth. The color changed almost immediately after I sprayed the fabric, and I put it in the neutalizing solution too soon, I thought, but when it dried, it showed good contrast.

Top right: Torn file folder used to mask the fabric as I moved it repeatedly and sprayed. If the sprayer mist hadn't been quite as heavy and fine, the lines would show better.

Bottom right: The directions were to use dishwasher gel (I used Cascade gel, in the green bottle) on a stamp. I used a rectangular foam stamp in the upper left and lower right corners and waited for the color to change. And waited. And waited. A quarter of an hour passes (our grandchildren will never truly understand why this generation and those before ever let "quarter of an hour" pass so easily through our lips), and no change is visible. OK, I decide, gotta try something else. I remember Soft Scrub, my favorite sink cleaner. I remember it has bleach in it (witness unplanned bleach spots on various articles of clothing). I use a giraffe foam stamp in the upper right and lower left corners. I wait. And wait. Another quarter of an hour passes. No change is visible from either the dishwasher gel or the Soft Scrub.

I pulled out my bleach pen and made sun, moon, and stars on the stubborn fabric. I misted the fabric with my heavy-duty mister (ah," heavy-duty mister," that could have more than one meaning). The stamped areas looked as if they might be more of a resist than a bleach. I rinsed and neutralized the fabric, and, voila! the dishwasher gel and Soft Scrub had been working, after all. If I hadn't misted the fabric, the giraffes would actually be visible, I truly believe. Will need to re-test the Soft Scrub. Interesting that the Cascade areas are an almost lavendar color.

Lower left: Bleach gel pen. Works great; the effect spreads, but not too fast. Can have ghostly or vivid results, depending on how long one lets the gel remain on the fabric.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fabric painting - sponging

I didn't quite follow the directions for this one, primarily because I had some interesting stencil possiblities open to me.

The laser-cut greeting card and 12x12 piece of "lace card stock" from the scrapbook store needed protection before being used as stencils, so I liberally sprayed both sides with clear Krylon. I dabbed paint through the spaces on the greeting card and the lace card stock with my sea sponges.

One thing I am learning from all these exercises is that I no longer have to spend hours searching for just the right bit of fabric for a project. Instead, I can create my own!

Fabric painting - painted fusible web

Painted fusible web, whoever would've thunk it? This exercise has a lot of possibilities, as long as one remembers that it is fusible web you are using. FUSIBLE WEB, sister, means, "THIS WILL STICK TO YOUR IRON!"

I randomly painted my fusible web, having no design in mind, and adhered it to the front of the black and white print, per Wonder Under instructions. On top of that I fused a fussy-cut flower from another black-and-white print, and fused over that two more pieces of painted Wonder Under, not having one prepared piece that was big enough, and resulting in the line through the middle of the flower, which I don't like. The result felt truly like one piece of fabric.

With all that fusible reaching out and needing something else to fuse to, with my iron I added a mylar ribbon, pink angelina, and gold foil bits, surprising myself by remembering to use a pressing sheet each time. If I ever use this as a background for something, I will have to remember the fusible is there before I set my iron to it. I should pin a note to the fabric, "Iron this and die!"

Fabric painting - resists & found object stamping

There's an advantage to having a somewhat obsessive personality. If only I could be obsessive about the right things. Of course, the "right things" are in the eye of the beholder. Without a man around the house to say, for example, "What's to eat, honey?" -- I find myself spending hours of time in the Hideaway studio, successfully ignoring annoyances such as dust and spiders accumulating in the house during the week -- until I get to my cleaning day, Friday, and then it's catch-up time. But it's not Friday yet, and I can focus my tunnel vision on my projects. I have, however, returned to an old habit that had gone by the wayside for a bit. I am washing my dishes as soon as I use them instead of waiting for a dishwasher load of dishes to accumulate before thinking, "Hey, it's time to wash my dishes."

Fabric Arts Workshop explorations have filled some of my days.

Masking tape resist (left) - The blue painter's tape worked as a resist with medium-body paint (Textile Colors). After the paint dried and I pulled off the tape, I diluted the paint and colored the resisted areas.

Elmer's blue gel glue resist (top) - The glue was an excellent resist. Instead of using a toothbrush to get the gel off after soaking (I felt it would take too long), I laid the wet fabric on the counter top and scraped it (in the direction of the grain) with a spatula, soaked and scraped again. and followed withone of the micro-pot scrubbers (one of those plasticky kind, often green and adhered to a blue sponge). I don't believe ALL of the glue was removed due to a feeling of
stiffness in the white areas, but what's left, if any, shouldn't cause a problem. I should try to dye the resisted area. however, to see what happens.

Found object stamping - The shimmery quality of the metallic Lumiere paints I used for stamping makes the stamped areas much more visible than appears in this photo. I scrounged my work area for "found objects" and found bubble wrap, buttons, a hand-carved rubber stamp, and spool ends (I have hundreds of empty spools). Some of the spool ends, especially the white plastic Coats & Clark from a few years back, have an interesting design under the label. After stamping, I played around by painting the white fabric with thinned leftover Textile Color from the masking tape resist exercise. Not beautiful, but a learning experience, nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Diamonds in the Rough

I have finished my scrappy string quilt, everything but the label. I now call it Diamonds in the Rough, and it will be wending its way to my sister in Colorado. It is 96x96, and for once I did not piece the back. I love piecing leftovers into creative backs, but thought I'd try something different this time.

Fabric painting - sun print

Up until today, I'd always thought you had to buy special fabric and/or chemicals in order to do sun prints. It turns out you don't! I don't know why this works. I was amazed at how well it turned out, though I do have questions about the white spreading out from the edges of the leaves.

Looking at the bobbins, you can see the ghosting of the sun's shadow from when I first put out the wet fabric in the morning. I know you're supposed to set out your project when the sun is high in the sky, but I had to run to a dental appointment and just had to do it today. I think the ghosting of the bobbins is interesting. The top of the piece was oriented north, so the sun went from right to left over the fabric. It would have been dry long before the sun reached its zenith, with the hot, dry weather we experienced today. By the time I returned in late afternoon, the leaves, weighted down by rocks, had curled up into fetal position, scorched by the 101+ degree heat.

Can anyone tell me why the leaves have the fuzzed-out edges in places - and why in some places and not everywhere? Was the fabric too wet? Answers, in case you are unable to comment here (I don't know why the Blogger comment feature continues to give people problems) can be emailed to me at califgold at that good ol'

Fabric painting - splash and puddle

Last night I continued with my explorations through Fabric Arts Workshop. I used Dynaflow transparent fabric paints.

Bubble-wrap printing (left): It turned out just like the book said. Woohoo! While wet, I wasn't sure if it would work, but once dry, you can see the circles.

Color pleating (center): Also fun. I used blue painter's tape to secure the edges before pleating the foil, and noticed that the paint seeped in under the tape, which I think is a good point to note for something, sometime. The fabric was VERY wet. I held it up and let the water drip out of the valleys for awhile, so that it would dry faster.

Dribble painting (right): I used TONS of paint from my tiny little eyedropper in order to get a line from one edge of the fabric to the other. In fact, there was so much paint on the fabric that the underside had a plasticky feel when I pulled it off my 12x12 tile. Originally there was quite a bit of white space between the colors, which I liked, but I tried a spritz of water, and whoosh, the white space disappeared. The tile retained an interesting pattern on it after I pulled off the fabric. The tile washed off easily. I think I'd wet the fabric first next time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Great Grandma's block, round 2

Round 2 is a pinwheel. I decided to put it on two contiguous sides, spacing with two large flying geese (the pink triangle in a rectangle)blocks. Right now it has a lopsided look, but that problem will be fixed with next month's block, whatever it is!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fabric painting

Our online group, going through Fabric Art Workshop together, took a hiatus while life intervened for all of us. We have now reconvened and are continuing the book, though I am a little lost as to where we are actually supposed to be at the moment.

Below are the results of my most recent explorations in surface design. I am not aiming for beauty or perfection, just enjoying the experiences and possibly adding new techniques to future works.

After two weeks of diligent search, I finally found my Fabric Arts Workshop book nestled between a couple fat quarters in my stash. I admit I had been procrastinating a long time, even without my 5-week trip away from home (helping sister-in-law in Virginia recuperate from hip surgery). I had originally planned to make something meaningful out of each one of my experiments, and that plan was getting in the way of trying out the projects. I ran to the window,
flung open the sash, tossed out that grandiose idea, and now I can flow.

Top: Monoprinting, using Lumiere paint and a plastic sheet protector . You smoosh the paint inside the protector, than place in two layers of fabric, resulting in two prints. I liked the idea of using and abusing a sheet protector. My Lumiere paints have been around for awhile, a sampler pack in little squeeze bottles. One of them, in spite of being shaken to smithereens, didn't mix, and squirted out at least a Tablespoon of clear liquid before a pile of worm-like paint oozed out. Squishing inside the plastic protector did little to even out the worms, but once on the fabric, the problem isn't noticeable.

Top right: Lasagne dyeing on silk - This did not go at all as described in the book. All the layers ended up pretty much identical. Perhaps other silk weaves would spread a little more.

The bottom three are brayer painting exercises. Kinda fun, though frustrating because my brayer refused to load evenly on the slimy paint. It wouldn't roll until the paint became sticky.
My brayer comes from a set I purchased for my elementary school classroom a few years ago, and was not the best for the brayer experiments. For one thing, the brayer printed less in the middle than on the edges, and for another, it didn't roll easily in the slimy paint until the paint started drying a bit and became sticky, so it was hard to get it loaded evenly.

The results of the brayer plaid (center) show the concavity in the middle of the brayer. With several different sized rollers, one could cover a lot of fabric very fast and possibly interestingly, as a background for something.

Bottom left: Textures were placed under the fabric and brayered over with paint. I learned that not only is it a good idea to tape down the fabric, but also the texture plates. Their movement resulted in smudgy prints.

Bottom right: Brayer over polymer clay leaves. I had made impressions of leaves in polymer clay a few years ago, and not wanting to run outside in my bare feet in order to look for leaves, I used the cured clay leaves. I think real ones would be easier, but I still got an identifiable leaf print from them.

Ode to a Stash

I am building a small fabric stash, but not without a degree of guilt, for how does one overcome an early indoctrination that goes something like, "Don't start something new until your current project is finished?" (I have no idea how to punctuate that ast sentence, but I don't think the question mark belongs inside the quotes -- but I have also been indoctrinated with the American punctuation "rule" that requires quotes to go outside of punctuation marks, no matter how illogical at times. Perhaps that punctuation rule is the Simple Rule for Dummies, such as the non-rule teachers drill into students heads in their elementary years, the one that goes, "Never start a sentence with the word And." I haven't yet absorbed a more sophisticated system into my internal logic). (And periods always go outside of parentheses, so I was taught).

Jane, a member of my quilting guild, the Guilty Quilty Girls Quilting Guild and Friendship Garden Stitch and Itch Club, gave me the above panel, and I added the gaudy strips around it. Had to use up some of my stash in order to make room for guilt-free purchase of more.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Journal quilt - June

Last month I joined, rather late (I hope to catch up), a group making "journal quilts." Each month in 2009 a different technique is defined as the challenge for that month.

June's challenge was decorative stitches. This year the month of June has meant SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS SUNFLOWERS to me, with probably 100 acres planted to the immediate north, east, and west of me. It's been lovely. After wrestling interminably with my machine on the third sunflower, I discovered my threads had popped off the lifter arm thingy (too lazy to look up the real name), and once that was remedied, sewing went smoothly. I was able to use multiple threads, metallic threads, and coarse buttonhole threads with no problem on my machine.

The background is distressed silk, all embellishments are thread, with the addition of textile paint on the F. The edge is satin-stitched. The leaves were afterthoughts, and after thinking about them, I'd arrange them differently, but what's done is done.

Why an F? I am going to use these as a sign for my Friendship Garden quilt guild. Each month's quilt will include the following 3 elements:
  1. A needed letter as the starting point
  2. Seasonal event from my yard as inspiration
  3. Technique of the month
What is a journal quilt? It is a notebook-sized (8.5x11") art quilt that can veer far from the traditional. This is my first one. It's a nice break from the big pieces I usually do.