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Saturday, June 29, 2013

To Dye Without Dying, That Is The General Goal

Hello there Internet People!  I was planning on skipping the Blogging again and going right to work on dyeing today, but Mother Nature had other plans for me apparently.  There is a massive thunderstorm going on outside right now, so going outside to dye is probably not a good idea.  This is one instance when dyeing could lead to dying!  Not a good idea.  So here I am ready to ramble away at all of you, my loss is your gain, I guess.

I did get to spend most of the day yesterday outside.  I am washing out the last of the fabrics and the skeins of embroidery floss now.  I tried some new experiments with the whole dyeing process yesterday, some were very successful, some not so much, but I learned some things and I had a lot of fun! This was my first try at dyeing threads, and I think they may turn out very nice, fingers crossed.  They look great right now, but they aren't done washing yet, so that could potentially change.

I have lots more fabric and about 150 more skeins of different threads to dye, now I just need Mother Nature and the rest of the world to cooperate so that I can get out there and dye them!  At the moment the weather forecast looks promising for tomorrow, but then they didn't mention this thunderstorm when I checked the forecast yesterday, so I don't have a lot of faith in the weather forecasters.  

I am still trying to decide on my plan B for today.  I pulled out all the art quilts that I have started but never finished and have been looking at them to see what I can do to get them completed.  I have one of a dragon that is almost done, it just needs a little extra embellishing, and a binding, so maybe I will work on that today.  It would probably be a good thing to have at least one finished Art Quilt if I am going to call myself an Art Quilter.  I know it has never stopped me before, but, still, it would be nice. 

Well, in the two hours since I started typing this post I did manage to get the threads all washed out.  They are now hanging up to dry and they are still lovely!  I am really impressed with the results, it almost makes the massive pain in the ass of setting it all up worthwhile.  Here, see for yourselves :

The second picture has a yellow cast to it, (and it is sideways) the towel is actually sort of white as shown in the first picture and the greens are much more vibrant.  Some day I will learn to take a decent picture, but until then, this is what we are stuck with.

Well, if I am ever going to get anything done today I need to sign out of here and get to it.  Until next time ...                              

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Paintstik Adventures

Hello again Internet People!  I promised you all a post about the Shiva Paintstiks yesterday, and I am here to deliver it today.  I am going to start off with a disclaimer, if you have never tried using these things, I would advise you not to start, because once you do you may not be able to stop, and these darn things get a little spendy when you are as obsessive compulsive about art supplies as I am.  Seriously though, I just love these things.

Okay, for those who do not know (what rock have you been living under? - No seriously, I am looking for a new vacation spot), Shiva Paintstiks are an oil paint in a crayon type form.  They come in both matte and iridescent colors, and can be used on a multitude of surfaces, including fabric!  Here is a picture of the Paintstiks:
I am still collecting colors, I think I have about 1/4 of the available colors, and you know that is not sufficient for me.  One very important thing that i have learned while playing with these that no one bothered to mention is that when you first start using them you have to peel a thin film off the top that seals the paint so it doesn't all dry out.  The film is generally fairly easy to just scrap off on a paper towel, most of the time.  What they failed to mention is that sometimes the whole top of the crayon comes off!  If you prepared for that possibility in advance you can put that piece onto a palette and use the paint from inside it by applying it with a brush.  I was not prepared and just lost all that paint for no damn reason!  Now I am very careful in removing that film, I usually use a paring knife to peel it off, a vegetable peeler would also work well, but I didn't have a spare one of those lying around.

One of the neat things you can do with these Paintstiks is rubbings.  You remember in grade school, when we rubbed a crayon on a piece of paper over some textured surface, same process.  They make specialty rubbing plates to go with the Paintstiks, but there are other manufacturers for those as well, and pretty much anything with a textured surface will work.  Here are a few of my rubbing plates (I think I have close to a hundred of them in different patterns):
There are also some rubber stamps (mounted and unmounted) in the picture, they work great too, both as a surface stamp and as a texture underneath.  The foam stamps also work as a texture plate, but the impression is not as clear.  I learned yesterday that you can actually spray the rubbing plates with a temporary spray adhesive to anchor the fabric directly to the plate so the impressions will be much more precise than what I did.  It seems like a pretty obvious solution now, but I didn't think of it on my own.  Mostly because I don't like the spray adhesives very much so I rarely think about using them. 

One of the other great things about these paints is that you can use them straight from the stick, but you don't have to.  You can mix the colors directly on the fabric, or on a palette, however you want to play with them, they will generally play along.  They also can be mushed onto a palette and then spread with a stencil brush, other brushes don't work as well due to the dry consistency of the paint, but the stencil brushes are awesome.  I don't have any examples of using these with stencils (because I don't have the soap to wash out the brushes yet, and I didn't want to trash my brand new brushes).  It is an oil paint, so you have to use turpentine, or a turpentine based product to clean the brushes, they make a special soap just for these paints, but I haven't tried it yet so I have no information on that. 

Enough talking about them, how about I show you some of the things they can do?  Now that sounds like a plan!

These two black pieces are going to be cut up for a star project I am in the planning stages of.  The idea is to cut a diamond shape from the each of the colored pieces and then arrange them in a star type shape.  I saw someone who was doing this with special rubber stamps designed just for the project and I figured I would alter their idea and make one of my own

These cone flowers are from a rubbing plate, I used 4-5 different colors on each one to create the shading and depth.  I REALLY like this one!

This one I did first with a foam stamp as a rubbing plate (the bamboo) then I went over the whole thing again with a second color over a rubbing plate of Gingko leaves.  The dark patch in the upper left corner is where I accidentally got the rubbing plate under the Grip n Grip mat instead of on top.  That creates a whole new effect, but not one I was looking for here.

This one was done first with an unmounted rubber stamp of a fern leaf used as a rubbing plate with a lime green Paintstik, and then I went over it again with a darker green and a larger fern leaf rubbing plate.

This piece I used a copper Paintstik over a rubbing plate, and then I just put down a thin layer of the paint over one half of the piece and left the other half alone.

I did let the paint dry and cured for three days in between the first and second coats of paint because I didn't want the first colors smearing.   They will all need to be heat set before they are washed, but I will do that later when I can take them outside to do it.  The fumes are not too strong when using the paints, its there, but not obnoxiously so.  But when you heat set, they stink!  At least they do to me, so I do it outside.  

Well I hope you all enjoyed my little adventure with the Paintstiks, I know I did!  Hopefully I will have more techniques and products to share with you going forward.  I have been learning all kinds of new things lately and I am eager to give them a try and share them with all of you!

Until next time :

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pictures, Projects, and Painting It Pretty

 Hello Internet People!  Long time no see!  Sorry about that, I have been working my little ass off for the past couple of weeks and haven't had the time or the energy to try to write anything.  Hopefully I am done with the work for a while and now I can get back to the important things in life, like writing and creating stuff.

I told you all in my last post that I would have lots of pretty pictures to share with you (which is part of why it took so long for me to get back here, I didn't take the pictures!).  So, here are the drawers of fabric I sorted last week:

Purples, Blacks & Greys

Reds, Pinks, Yellows, & Oranges



Whites, Beiges, & Browns
 The colors are a little washed out from the lighting in here, but you get the idea.  As I mentioned before, this does not include any of my hand dyed fabrics, they are still separate.  Its funny it doesn't look like nearly as much fabric in the pictures as there really is, those drawers are rather big, and it is squished in there pretty tightly.  Of course it is not nearly enough fabric, that is not possible, I always need more.

One of the projects I have been working on during my absence from the Blog has been to make myself a "printing pad" and a large ironing pad.  I managed to get the printing pad almost done before I ran out of duct tape, but I haven't started the other one yet (no duct tape).  So here is the printing pad that I made :

Yes, it is huge!  Just the way I wanted it!
I took a piece of particle board that was around 2' x 4' by 1/8" thick and layered two old towels under some cotton batting and covered it all with a piece of a new canvas drop cloth I happened to have sitting around.  I wrapped everything around to the back and taped it down tightly with duct tape.  I think I need another round of duct tape to hold it securely, but it works pretty darn well as it is.  

Just in case anyone is interested, I have a picture of the table that pad is sitting on.  I painted it myself 5 or 6 years ago and I still love it!  I moved it into the house from the storage room and now have it set up in my bedroom to work at.

        The colors are all distorted in this photo, the light colored squares are actually pink, but it was the best picture I could get.  The table originally had a sheet of that fake paper wood laminate on top, but it had cracked and peeled away to nothing, leaving the exposed particle board underneath.  I just marked it off and painted directly on the particle board, and then sealed it with a clear acrylic top coat (or three).  I have abused the hell out of this table, but the paint is still as fresh as the day I put it on.

Today is haircut day at Mother's house.  Father and the boys will be getting their usual crew cuts, courtesy of me, and I am really considering giving myself a crew cut as well.  I am sure I will talk myself out of it before the time comes, but I sure would love to get rid of all this annoying hair that drives me crazier every day!  I have been threatening to give myself a crew cut for probably 30 years, but I have never done it, yet.  I have always had a love/hate relationship with my hair.  I have a LOT of it, and have mostly worn it long, with occasional short cuts thrown in for some diversity.  It is both naturally curly and naturally wavy, in different sections, so when it cooperates it can look really nice, but it doesn't cooperate very often, and I just don't have the time or the energy to fuck with it that much anymore.  So, I will spend the rest of the morning talking myself out of shaving my damn head.    

I have a few more pictures to share with all of you, but I am going to save them for another Blog post.  I spent a couple of evenings playing with my "Shiva Paintstiks" last week, and I thought I would write a separate post all about that adventure a little later.  I don't know if I will get there today, or not, but be looking for that Post to show up soon.

Until next time ...


Monday, June 10, 2013

I Am Dying To Get Dyeing

Hello again Internet People!  Sorry for not writing much last week but I have been working my little ass off trying to get that storage room organized.  I have finished with the fabric (mostly), and am ready for my husband to start bringing in the crap from the garage.  I did change my mind about putting the fabric on the bookshelves.  Yes, it looked very pretty, and I actually got it all to fit, but that still left them outside when I work inside, that just wasn't good enough for me.  So, now I have my chest of drawers in the bedroom filled with fabric instead.  Shhh, don't tell my husband, he doesn't know yet. 

I didn't do much this weekend, I am nursing an injured shoulder again, so I am trying really hard not to do anything to make it worse.  I did start the stitching on the last Crocus for the Monumental basket, hopefully I can finish it later today and start putting the flowers in the basket this week.

Now that I have reached the tail end of the re-organizing project I am sure looking forward to getting outside and dyeing soon.  I have already lost two months of dye time this year, I need to get busy before the whole summer is gone!  This year I am going to try dyeing some threads for the first time and I am really looking forward to trying that.  I have been all over the internet reading tutorials and watching videos and I think I know how to do it now, but we shall see if the practice is as much fun as it sounds in theory. 

I have been thinking that I would kinda like to try to build a business around dyeing.  It is the one thing that I have found that I can do all day every day and never get tired of it.  The more I do, the more I want to do.  And while it is time and labor intensive in its own right, it doesn't come anywhere near the time and labor involved in quilting, so I might actually be able to make a decent return on my investment.  Maybe.  At least I would stand a chance (that is, as long as I didn't just decide to keep all the fabric for myself, which is unfortunately always a very distinct possibility).
In the meantime I do still have a little work to do in the storage room before my husband starts hauling stuff in there this afternoon so I better get to it.  I will try to have some pretty pictures to share with all of you next time, and hopefully my next Blog post won't be so long in the making.  Until next time ...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Just Another Monday

Hello again Internet People!  I have been hard at work already this morning and it doesn't look like that will be letting up any time soon.  I thought I better come spend a few minutes with all of you while I have the chance between my other obligations.  

I made good progress yesterday with the fabric, but there is still a lot to do.  It is going much quicker than I thought it would though, so that helps. And I am enjoying the hell out of it, so that helps too.  Of course my husband thinks I have lost my mind again, but that is nothing new around here.  His only concern was making sure that I did not intend to re-wash all of it!  We won't bother to mention to him that when I do get around to over-dyeing them, they will have to be washed again, several times.

I also found the focal fabrics for the new Art piece I am working on, the one with the circles I talked about a couple days ago.  Hopefully I might be able to have a preliminary picture of this one for all of you in the next few days.  I still have to find a background fabric to put them all on, but the circles are almost done. I am leaning towards a black background since the circles are mostly pastel colors, but I haven't made the final decision yet.

Right now I need to get dressed for the day and get back to working.   Maybe tomorrow I will have something more interesting to talk about.  I doubt it, but anything is possible.

Until next time ...     

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just Another Cotton Picking Day

Hello again Internet People!  I am currently working up the motivation and energy to go back out to the "storage room" today, but while I wait I thought I should pop in here and visit with all of you for a few minutes.  I saw the most incredible art quilt on a TV show last night and I have spent hours looking online to see if I could find a picture of it that I could share with you, but I can't find one!  The piece was part of the International Quilt Show in Tokyo, Japan, but I don't know what year.  The entire piece was made to look like a wedding cake, all made from fabric, with probably hundreds of 3D fabric flowers all over it.  It was just incredibly beautiful!  I will keep searching, maybe someday I will find it.

Today I am going to go play with fabric.  Yes, I finally broke down this morning and cancelled all those fabric listings on eBay.  I am keeping what's left.  I told you it was only a matter of when.  I did also decide that I will go through all of the pieces of fabric I have and divide the large pieces into smaller ones and collect a bunch of the extra parts to start working on some surface design ideas that I want to play with.  Things like over-dyeing, discharge dyeing, deconstructed screen printing, that kind of stuff.  

I have a lot of pieces of fabric that are way over two yards in length.  I want to take pieces no larger than 1 yard from each of those to keep on the shelves, and put the rest into boxes for later use.  The idea behind this is to get ALL of my fabrics I want to use for Art Quilting into one space where I can see them all at once.  The big pieces take up too much space.  If there comes a time when I need a larger piece I can always sew them back together if necessary.

All these TV shows and workshops I have been watching this past week have really inspired me to do so many new things.  I learned all kinds of new techniques and ideas and I cannot wait to play with them.  There are so many things that I have wanted to do that I wasn't sure how to go about them, or if they would even work at all.  Now I have a better understanding of how to go about doing the things I want to do.  All I need now is the time to do them all!  Well, that, and the money for more supplies and tools! 

I do have one little tidbit of information that I learned yesterday that I want to share with all of you before I forget.  You know that metallic foil that they sell for paper crafting and shit.  The really thin sheets of gold or silver foil.  Did you know you can apply them to fabric?  No, you can't wash the fabric afterwards, but Art Quilts aren't made to be washed, so that isn't a big deal in my case.  All you have to do is cut a piece of fusible web (the paper backed kind) the size and shape you want, iron it to the fabric, peel off the paper, then set the foil on top and iron it directly to the fusible.  Easy peasy.  What a nifty idea to add a little bit of sparkle and shine!  I cannot wait to try this one out! 

Well, the only way I am ever going to have the time to play with all of these great new ideas and techniques is if I get my work done in that damn storage room, so I better sign out and get busy.  Until next time ...        

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spinning My Wheels, Again

Hello again Internet People!  I am just sitting here spinning my wheels this morning.  I have been up for a couple hours, I've cleaned the kitchen and even entertained company already, but I can't seem to get myself in gear for the day.  I just can't decide what I want to do today.  Its not that I don't have plenty to do, in fact the number of things that I have that I want to be doing is quite large.  The problem is there are only so many hours in the day and too many damn options of how to spend them.

I should probably just go put on my pants and shoes and get moving, that might help.  Yes, I have pants on (I mentioned we had company already today), just not day time pants yet.  Another of my many bizarre idiosyncrasies, I have to put on "daytime clothes" in order to get moving for the day.  Sweats and slippers are not daytime clothes, jeans and tennis shoes are.  I figured out a long time ago that the change in fabrics actually changes my motivation levels so I learned to just go with it and it usually works.

I don't think I will be working in the "storage room" today, I put in a few hours out there yesterday moving extremely heavy boxes around so I think I will give my back a break before I break it.  Everything is finally starting to look organized out there.  You can actually walk from one end of the room to the other without having to snake your way between the piles now, that is major improvement! Especially when it comes to moving those heavy boxes around!

Well, whatever I am going to do today I am not going to get it done if I stay here typing (or staring blankly at the screen trying to figure out what to type, as I mostly do), so I better sign outta here and get to doing something before I lose the entire day.  Until next time ...