Thursday, May 25, 2017

Dyeing Day!

The North Texas SAQA group met last Saturday at Jules' dye studio and created some fabulous fabrics.  Jules has the perfect setup -- a three car garage with lots of worktables and three large, deep tub sinks.  Everyone was working on something slightly different and we all came up with some really cool cloth.

I also managed to dye myself.  My gloves, which were admittedly several years old, leaked.  Both of them.  Time to buy a new pair of dyeing gloves.  Blue fingers are not necessary a wonderful look for me.
Blue fingers!  Photo by Jaye Dodds
As I said, everyone was working on some fabulous patterns and textures.  Deborah was painting a piece with small swoops of color.

I was interested in seeing how solid I could get my fabric with very little water and virtually no thrashing.  I am obsessed with solids but not obsessed with trashing. Usually when I dye I mix the powder into several gallons of water in a bucket, add the fabric and knead and mash and mix the heck out of it.  For ages.  It's pretty exhausting.  So I decided to use about 3 cups of water, a TBS of dye powder and gallon baggies.  I used 2 yards of PFD fabric in each baggie, so it really wasn't very sloshy.  I kneaded the baggies briefly at the beginning and then turned them over occasionally.  And, to my surprise, they came out pretty solid.

So all in all, a great day.  Good company and lots of wonderful results.  And a well earned rest at the end!
I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Circular Abstractions at the Schweinfurth!

Circular Abstractions: Bull's Eye Quilts

Circular Abstractions is on the road again!  It will be at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York.

From their web site:

Jun 3, 2017 - Aug 20, 2017

Circular Abstractions is a special summer exhibit curated by world-renowned quilter Nancy Crow and organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art.

Curator Nancy Crow challenged the participating artists to create a unique design based upon the Bull’s Eye pattern: four circles comprised of concentric rings (the iconic target symbol), set in a grid of four blocks, or quadrants. The quilts have been conceived in improvisation, in building upon or breaking down an established pattern into something new and individually expressive.
Sponsors for this exhibit include the Osborne Memorial Association, the Senator John A. DeFrancisco Arts in Cayuga County Program, and Bayer Crop Science.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Root of the Problem

I wrote earlier today about the latest critique group challenge, the monthly exercise in using an existing piece of art as the inspiration piece for a quilt.  We've created pieces using paintings, sculptures and architectural forms as our starting point.  This month we were presented with the painting "Cliche" by Stuart Davis, painted in 1955.  You might want to click on the link above to see the actual painting.  I spent the afternoon in the studio, and this is my take:
The Root of the Problem, unquilted, approximately 16" x 25"
It started off looking very treelike on the design wall.  Hence the roots.  But as I sewed it together, I added and subtracted bits, and the tree disappeared.  Only the roots remain.

What do you think?  Did I get far enough from the painting?   

Abstract Thoughts About Abstract Art

I'm quite proud of myself -- I'm right on schedule for my upcoming solo show.  I'll be debuting 15 new pieces, and they are all finished.  Well, technically, they are sewn together  and quilted, but several of them still need facings and labels.  But the fun part (and the hard work) is done.  I have a few mundane tasks left -- a few postcards to send out, gallery labels to edit and print, a final gallery layout to tweak and a little bit of hand sewing -- and it is leaving me entirely too much time to think.  For "mundane" you can substitute either the word "boring" or "mindless."  All would be correct.  It's leaving my mind entirely too much time to wander.

This morning I printed out the latest monthly challenge piece for my critique group.  My interpretation of this painting is due in June.  And while doing a little of that pesky hand sewing, I have been sitting and staring at it.  And feeling a bit baffled.

Not that I don't like the piece.  I do, very much.  It is by Stuart Davis, one of my favorite modernist painters.  And it is very abstract.  I love a good abstract painting.  Especially a good RED abstract painting.
Stuart Davis, Cliche, 1955
I'm spending entirely too much time trying to figure out how to abstract this abstraction and to make it my own.  I have no interest in reproducing this or any other painting in fabric.  I would like to pull something out of the painting, be it a shape or a color or a feeling, or all three, and create something original.  But how?  Figuring this out is something I wrestle with every month.

So what can I do with this painting?  It seems a bit chaotic in composition.  I could perhaps focus on the text and incorporate this into my piece.  Or I could straighten out the curves and create a piece that I could then call "Stuart Davis Buys a Ruler."  Or I could simplify the chaos in some way, making my piece much more spare and open.  Or I could create a piece using curves and lines, but with no real relation to the shapes or composition of the original piece.  Or I could just make a "happy" (this strikes me as a happy painting -- must be the palette) piece, totally improvisationally.  I considered all of these and nothing really fired my imagination.

Or, when in doubt, chop it up!  So I did.

Now I'm getting interested!

While I won't use any one of these as a "template," I will use them as a starting point.  I can see making a piece with lines and curves in a very limited palette.  Two colors.  At least, I'll try to keep it to two colors.  Tints and tones of the two chosen colors don't count as additional colors, do they?  I love to slightly vary the background.

OK, enough hand sewing for today.  I think it's time to take a machine sewing break!  I'll hopefully have a finished project to show soon.....

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Final Results of the Resist Dyeing Experiment

I reported about the tapioca resist dyeing experiment here.  But others in the group were assigned different resists, using items found in many of our kitchens.  We got together and shared the results earlier this week.

First of all, a definition.  Resist dyeing uses a material, usually a liquid or paste of some sort,  to block the dye from entering the cloth, allowing you to achieve wonderful patterns and textures.


The baby rice cereal was diluted with water and "drawn" onto the fabric with a syringe.  After it was completely dry, paint (left photo) and thickened dye (right photo) were applied.
A detail shot of the piece painted with fabric paint:
I love the fishlike creatures in the painted piece.  That will find it's way into one of my pieces very soon.  And this piece, because paint was applied sparingly, is pretty soft.  Or, as we fiber people say, it has a nice hand.

The verdict:  somewhat easy to wash out, interesting texturing, good if you want to draw a pattern on your fabric.


The mashed potato flakes were mixed with boiling water and then spread on the fabric and allowed to dry.  The technique is very similar to the application of tapioca in the fabric that I dyed.  After the fabric was dry, it was crunched up to create a crackle effect, and painted with thickened dye.
You can see the texture in the detail shot.
The verdict:  Hard to wash out (though I just can't imagine it was as hard as the tapioca).  Nice texture, though not a very dense pattern.


Flour was mixed with water, than spread onto the fabric and allowed to dry.  It was then crunched and crackled.  These pieces were painted with fabric paint.
The detail shot shows the wonderful texture.  
The verdict:  Somewhat difficult to wash out, stiffer hand because of the use of fabric paint, beautiful, dense crackle texture.  NOTE:  more washing may soften the hand of the fabric.  I hope so.


Corn syrup was applied with a syringe.  It was allowed to dry and painted with thickened dye.
In the detail piece, you can see the wonderful texture caused by slight pauses while drawing the line with the syringe.  It looks a bit like beads on a string.  I think that the corn syrup was thinner than the baby rice cereal, which was also applied with a syringe, so it spread out more when being applied.
I'm really fond of this sample.  Another one that I can't wait to use!

The verdict:  Easy to wash out.  Interesting texture.


All of the fabric that was dyed with thickened dye was soaked in soda ash and allowed to dry before the resist was applied.  Fabric that was painted with fabric paint was not pre-soaked.

Some participants used PFD fabric, but I'm not sure we all did.

The flour resist fabric has a colored base (or ground) because the fabric was pre-dyed in solid colors.  The color was set, washed out and dried before the flour paste was applied.


All of the techniques yielded interesting fabric.  Most were too time consuming, both in application of the resist and the removal of the glop after dyeing.  Although I loved my tapioca resist fabric, I won't do it again.  Too much work for a small amount of fabric.

The one I probably will try is the corn syrup.  I love the texture, and it dissolves in water for easy removal.  Sounds like a winner to me!

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Riffing off Louis Kahn

The Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth is currently exhibiting the photos, architectural models, drawings, videos and pastels of Louis Kahn.  The pastels were a surprise, given that Louis Kahn was the architect who designed the Kimbell's main building.  But even the pastels are highly, well, architectural.  It's a fascinating collection.

My quilt art/critique group was given this photo of the Kimbell as inspiration for our May challenge:
The interior of the Kimbell
I didn't begin my piece right away.  But I started thinking about it.  In fact, I was thinking about it while were wandering around the International Quilt Study Center and Museum during the SAQA conference.  I actually sat down and made a sketch of the atrium, with the line of high windows held up by pillars.
Not the Kimbell, but I thought it was an interesting "vanishing point" piece.  

When I got home, I started to piece it together.  First the windows (the "stripey" part):
And then I pieced the windows into the curves of the building:
And added the pillars along the sides and the detail of the wall right below the windows.
Not quilted, but that a is as far as I got before the meeting today.
I'm not sure that this is finished.  I may need to tweak it a bit more.

The group, as always, offered some fabulous interpretations.  Here they are, laying on Jay's floor:
I loved Wendy's piece:
The program today was small fiber collages, inspired by Deborah Boschert's book, Art Quilt Collage: A Creative Journey in Fabric, Paint and Stitch.  Fabulous book, by the way.  You can order it here.  Jay provided small canvases and we had been instructed to bring fabric scraps backed with fusible web, pearl cotton in various colors, needles and scissors.  It was wonderful.  
 A few of the pieces in progress:
 We also exchanged pieces from our resist dyeing experiment.  I'll post about that tomorrow.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Texas Scottish Festival 2017

Talk about another world, B and I ended the week by attending the annual celebration of all things Scottish here in North Texas.  The Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games.  And thoroughly immersed ourselves in Scottish music, food and crafts.
A lot of you know that my father was Scottish.  He was a member of a pipe band and I was a competitive highland dancer.  We ate meat pies and sausage rolls and clootie dumplings as often as my mother would let us, which of course wasn't often enough for us.  Didn't everyone grow up in a house filled with the skirl of bagpipes?  Didn't everyone have clootie dumplings on their birthdays instead of birthday cakes?  Didn't everyone love haggis?

OK, that last one isn't strictly true.  I hated haggis.

It happened to me last year at the festival and it happened to me again this year.  When we entered the grounds and heard the bagpipes, I felt a tremendous wash of nostalgia.  Suddenly I was 9 years old again and following my dad's pipe band down a parade route.  Or getting ready to dance the Highland Fling in a competition.  And I started to cry.  Terribly embarrassing, but I don't think anyone noticed.  Or at least I hope not.

Once I recovered, we did all of the usual things.  Shopped, listened to music, followed the pipe bands around the grounds, drank beer (too  much beer), ate meat pies and sausage rolls and enjoyed the May sunshine.
An added attraction this year was the British Open Claret Jug.  The actual one that is presented each year to the winner of the British Open Golf Tournament.  It is 146 years old.  Of course B had to pose with it,
 So all in all, a wonderful day.
Scots wae hae!

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