Stitching and Neocolor pastels on cotton.
Stitching and Neocolor pastels on cotton.
Ooh, I do like this one. (I like all of them. But still.) This began as a white piece of cotton, and, using a watercolor painting in my sketchbook as a guide, I outlined the flowers using gel glue. The lines that are still white were originally protected by the glue which, when dry, acts as a resist. This process is called glue batik and is a low-tech and inexpensive way to play with batik. Once the glue was dry, I added color using brushes and watered-down acrylic paint (rather than dyeing the fabric, as you would with yardage of batik). In-process photos were shared on Instagram.
I did have some areas where the glue barrier between the two colors wasn’t thick enough, and there was some bleeding. But the blending works. Once the fabric was dry, I washed out the glue, let it dry again, and then added stitching by both machine and by hand (some very subtle stem stitch on the petals using just one strand of embroidery floss). This is definitely a technique I could use again, and larger, or as part of a larger composition.
I’ve added a Gallery tab up top there, which takes you to photos of finished work, all of which are available (unless it says otherwise). Here’s the latest addition
I had the urge to stitch a squid–things like that happen–so I did. This is a layered reverse appliqué (stitch & slash style, except I used scissors), with the blue layer free-motioned stitched first. The blue is created with Neocolor water-soluble pastels, and the red and purple are hand-dyed. The squid’s patterning is also free-motion stitching, with hand stitching to create the eye.
I’ll continue to add pieces to the Gallery page as I finish them.
I finished the year’s thirtieth art quiltlet on Saturday night, so it had to wait until today to post. It’s hard to do justice with a photograph, but here we are. I bought myself some new art supplies this week, long-coveted Neocolor II water-soluble wax oil pastels (except I bought them at my local art supply store, and how I love having one!!). To create this, I used a watercolor painting I made a while ago (I didn’t date it, shame on me), which was inspired by a photo in the National Geographic Instagram feed, which I can no longer easily find because if there’s a way to sort favorites on IG, I don’t know it.
To create the art quiltlet, I laid dry color down with the pastels, then blended with a wet paint brush. When it was dry, I made my quilt sandwich using flannel rather than batting, and added the stitching. At that point I decided to add a little more color in some spots with the pastels. More drying, then I was able to crop and finish.
I love the pastels. I’ve been wanting them to use with fabric for a while, but they are a little pricey. However, a week of triple-digit heat indices and driving round and round Annapolis dropping people off and picking them up, and I decided I was worth $30 pastels.
Since this is quiltlet number thirty, it’s time for another group-of-ten photograph. Quiltlets 21-30:
I’ve been asked more than once what I plan to do with them all when I’m done. I don’t have a plan. Right now they’re in an overflowing box (I need a second box). The point of this exercise was never about the end product. It’s about the process of committing to making a small piece of textile art every single week and seeing where that leads.
I’m feeling a little uninspired this week. I spent all last week taking care of a sick child, day and night, which reminded me why I had my babies early (goodness, I’m too old for sleep deprivation and full-time on-call duties). This culminated in a visit to the ER Friday night (a previous visit to the pediatrician being, ultimately, unhelpful) followed by an early morning car maintenance appointment on Saturday that had already been rescheduled once, so I got up and went. For part of the three-and-a-half hours that I was waiting, I sketched the leaves of the tree I was sitting under (thankfully I could wait outside, as it’s finally stopped raining every day). I’m pretty sure it was some sort of locust, although not having the entire tree in front of me anymore, I’m not sure what kind. So when I decided to practice my free-motion script along with free-motion sketch, I just wrote locust.
Sometimes when you are very tired and worn out, simple is best. So this week’s quiltlet, reflecting the energy drain that was last week, is simple.
My daughter is better now, and that exhausting month of May is over. June holds the end of school, a graduation, a dance recital, and two weeks of getting the eldest to his summer bridge program. But in between I hope to find some days to do absolutely nothing.
Ohhhh, this was fun. I was thinking about doing this larger, so decided to play with the idea on a small scale first. Even with the bobbin tension issues I had after switching to green thread, it was fun. (The bobbin thread snagged, so I cleaned under the presser plate and rethread, but it was still wonky, so I adjusted the needle tension, then the bobbin tension, then realized I’d overtightened, and had to go hunting for a better screwdriver to loosen….gah!) But once I was done with the green, I had some lunch and then started painting. These are acrylics, mostly liquid craft acrylics except for the green, which is heavy-body in the tube because I’m out of green liquid.
I posted this in-process detail shot to Instagram.
It was almost done at that point. I added some more color, and the butterfly, then cropped and stitched the edges. As I work with my sewing machine, I’ve noticed I’m much more free with line and shape than I am when I’m drawing. Put a pencil in my hand, and I feel pressure to be exact. It’s very hard for me to let shapes and line act as suggestions. But, perhaps because my ability to render exact and true-to-life is limited with my sewing machine, I’m more comfortable with looseness. I’m enjoying it.
Here’s a view of the back, wonky tension and all.
I’ve been sewing so much! But not garments, and I have a list of clothes I’d like to sew for me and G, plus a rather generous fabric order (I don’t know what happened; I was feeling fluish and BAM!) on the way. So I need to be even more intentional with my sewing time I think to get it all in.
We survived the not-a-blizzard just fine. We never had blizzard conditions here and we only got about 18″ of snow, and yes, “only,” because I lived in New England last winter so it really didn’t seem like that much. Luckily we didn’t lose power. Just in case, we picked up some terra cotta planters to try this. We didn’t need them but we still want to see if it works. Unlike in New England, a huge amount of snow has already melted. Also unlike in New England, my kids have been out of school all week. The learned helplessness in the face of snow down here is incredibly frustrating.
But! On to this week’s quiltlet, whipped up fairly quickly Thursday night. I’ve been head-down in learning new things while sewing a dress for my daughter (post upcoming, as soon as I work up courage for the buttonholes) but meanwhile in the back of my head I was thinking about what to do this week. The Rolling Stones song “She’s Like a Rainbow” was running through my head because it was on in the car, so that was my inspiration.
I layered white on the top and bottom with flannel in between (my very lightweight “batting”), then sewed strips of colors down. I traced my own drawing onto organza, layered it on top, and stitched. This stitching isn’t loose like with the flower a couple weeks ago. I used a walking foot, which is why the curves aren’t always graceful. But I wanted a more controlled line, too, and my free-motion quilting needs practice. Plus, organza! Slippery stuff. Then I cropped and trimmed and finished the edges.
I like the back view too.
I’m jotting the date and a bit about the week on each of these. I’m confused because an entire region of the country just shuts down for a week!
This week I decided to try reverse appliqué and free motion quilting. My free motion quilting needs lots of work, but this is part of this whole challenge–getting better at various techniques. It would help if I’d remember to switch to the darning foot. It’s a process, people! This little quiltlet had a few steps.
First I gathered some brown material and cut and sewed strips, making two 8×10″ rectangles, one with horizontal strips and one with vertical. Then I cut and sewed a few times to make a block with various directional stripes. I layered my fabrics with the blue on top, then the pieced brown, then the batting (I’m using neutral flannel for these so far), then the back. With me so far? Because I didn’t take photos of the steps.
Next, I drew a tree onto the top blue layer, stitched outside the line, then cut on the line, revealing the brown pieced layer underneath.
I neatened up the cut lines a little more after this was taken. Next step was to quilt, with my wonky free-motion quilting that needs so so much practice, and finally to crop. This is what it looked like before cropping (again with the off colors on the sewing table).
While I think about what I’m going to do beforehand, a bit, I like doing these all in one go, and this one was sewn start to finish Monday morning. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve done reverse appliqué and the purpose of this is to get comfortable doing new things. Stretching! It’s good for the creative muscles.
One day last week my neighbor called to say her son had been placed on the school bus by accident; could I possibly get him until she was home in a half hour? Of course! It’s not the first time I’ve had him over during a gap, and this time she came over with flowers, telling me how grateful she was that she knew she could call me and it would be okay. Flowers were totally unnecessary, but so cheery and welcome on my table. I also used them for this week’s challenge quilt, in which I practiced drawing with thread.
I used natural muslin and black thread, because I wanted to emphasize the line. But when I was done, I decided to add a little color with colored pencils–I looked for crayons, but for all the many art supplies I have, I couldn’t find new, sharp crayons. This piece took far less time than last week’s, but I will probably return to this technique many times this year, as I’d like to get more confident with it.
Here’s a close-up:
I definitely need more practice!
Materials: Watercolor paper, watercolors and brushes, oil pastels, copy of Paul Klee’s Intention as well as other works (as available) to discuss.
Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate some art-making with a group of fifth graders. My daughter’s elementary school has a program called “Guest Artist,” in which parent volunteers come into the class for forty minutes to present an artist and lead a project. Sadly, by the time I gained access to her classroom’s online signup, all the slots were taken, but I let the coordinator know I could fill in if other classes had empty slots. I really kind of love talking with kids about art.
Forty minutes for set-up, discussion, art-making, and clean-up is quite short, so that influenced this project. I also wanted to engage this age level, which is why I settled upon presenting Paul Klee’s painting Intention.
We began by looking at some of Klee’s artwork in general and I invited the kids to comment on what they noticed. There are no right or wrong answers here, of course. They observed that his lines were simple, he bordered on the abstract, and he didn’t seem too concerned with mistakes or perfection. He’s not one of those artists painting so realistically that it looks like a photograph (how freeing!). Then I talked to them about Intention (seen above), using Sike Vry’s book as a guide. We talked about how the shapes and symbols stood for things; what did we see? The figure separating the color blocks is a person. Everything behind the person is in the past, a memory or something left behind. Everything in front represents future plans, or intentions. I hung up a sheet with some definitions of the word from the dictionary:
Intention, n. 1. A determination to act in a certain way: RESOLVE
2. IMPORT, SIGNIFICANCE
3. What one intends to do or bring about
(Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)
I then explained the art-making.
Process: Each student received a 12″ x 18″ piece of watercolor paper and a black oil pastel. I showed my sample and explained they’d be making their own piece in the style of Klee’s Intention, with a figure representing themselves and symbols of both memories/past experiences and future plans.
I encouraged them to make marks with intention as well, to think about their symbols and make them confidently. Pencils weren’t allowed, both because it wouldn’t erase once the pastel went down, and because pencils encourage hesitant work (because of the option to erase and start over). Once the black pastel symbols were down, other pastel colors could be added for emphasis. Finally, the background colors could be painted in with watercolors, which would be resisted by the oil pastel, leaving those lines pure and vibrant while easily filling in the background.
It was a great class to work with and I had loads of fun. The kids took to the process, thinking carefully about what to include and sharing with me the things they’d left behind. Getting to work with a group of kids in this way is a joy!