I’ve been trying to build a habit of sitting meditation. I haven’t succeeded yet. This little quiltlet is a symbol for myself. Stacking the stones.
This was completed almost at deadline on Saturday because I’ve been so focused on sewing my daughter a pioneer outfit. But I did begin working on it earlier in the week, when I inexplicably received a free pen in the mail from some company that thinks I’m a company that might want to order pens. It came overly packaged in a plastic thing with bumps on it. I save things like that because they’re useful for printmaking. I decided to discharge with it first, though. I squirted bleach gel on top of all the bumps, lay a piece of fabric on top, and weighted it with glass. I left it while I did other things (sew on a pioneer dress, most likely), then rinsed out the bleach and let it dry. It’s hard to see in a photo, but the bleach created the yellowish circles.
I thought about leaving it that way, but then I decided to flip the plastic thing over and brayer it with red printmaking ink.
That shows you what the mysterious plastic thing looks like! Plus you get a better look at the bleached areas. I liked all those triangles.
Once that dried, I decided to intersperse some solid areas and do some free-motion quilting, because I haven’t done any in a while and it seems like a skill that shouldn’t be allowed to get too rusty. It feels like I haven’t had time to get really in depth with these small pieces lately, but I try not to feel bad about that, as they’re first and foremost creativity boosters and play/experimentation time.
When I trim my quiltlets I accumulate a pile of skinny sandwich pieces. I often use them to test my free-motion settings before starting to stitch. When they get too full of test stitches, I get rid of them. Last week was a bit full, so on Friday I looked around my art table and gathered up the scraps I had (not many, actually), and zig-zag stitched them together to make a quiltlet. As I worked I thought I might layer something on top when I was done, but I liked it just as it was, so I left it. Some weeks you need something low key.
The early part of this week was overloaded (October is beginning as it means to go on, apparently), so Thursday I stood at my art table wondering when and what to do for this week. I decided to use what was right in front of me–often an excellent way to get started–which happened to be some scraps of linen that were left over from trimming pocket panels. I started arranging them on the table in various ways, tried out a few different background colors, and settled on this arrangement against hand-dyed fabric that reminds me of a sky with clouds. I stitched in some grounding lines as well and decided this one is called “Standing Tall.”
I know. Last week’s was called “Fraying.” This is the sort of thing my subconscious does, okay?
Since we’ve hit another multiple of ten this week (only 12 more weeks to go in this year; hopefully it ends without ushering in the apocalypse and/or fall of democracy), it’s time to line up the last ten all together.
Do I have a style? I don’t even know. The only unifying characteristic I set myself for this project was size (and medium, of course). Other than that, I’ve been all over the place. Which was kind of the point. But I wonder if there is something in my artwork that fingerprints it as mine, or not. Just a thing I ponder as I continue exploring my own work, and other people’s.
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.
Simple and to the point. This has been my reaction to so much lately: my alarm going off at 5:30 every weekday; the new assistant principal using insulting sarcasm with my kid; every single thing that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth (or that of one of his supporters); anybody who says Colin Kaepernick is protesting in the wrong way, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, or for the wrong thing; white authors who cry that calls for diversity are unfair to them; I could go on. From big to small, from local to worldwide, so much is just Oh Hell No.
My middle child, by the way, saw this and said, “You should just put that right on a tee shirt and wear it around.” Maybe I should.
I swear I have other stuff going on besides these quiltlets, which I have such good intentions of posting about, and then the week goes by in a whooosh! of driving kids to schools and bus stops and picking them up again and cooking and packing lunches and cleaning and eking out some time to actually sew or read before falling asleep drooling at a ridiculously early hour most nights. But! I’m keeping up on quiltlets. Sometimes I finish one and immediately think, This one has to go bigger, too. Like, for instance, when I finished this week’s.
I took photos as I went with this one, because I knew it was going to be a multi-step process. First I added color to white fabric using Neocolor II water-soluble pastels; they went on dry, then I wet with a brush.
While that dried, I made a foam printing plate. But scratch foam printing results in a block of paint with the scratched-out part allowing the paper (or fabric, in this case) to show through. I decided I wanted more of the fabric visible, so I decided to cut a stencil out of freezer paper. I drew this free-hand, not terribly worried about getting everything exactly even or all the shapes the same size. Here’s the stencil ironed onto the fabric.
Then I painted it black, let it dry, and heat-set the ink. After peeling off the stencil, I had this:
Finally, I added the white geometric stitching, cropped, and finished. As I was stitching, my husband walked by and said, “I like that fabric.”
“I made it!” I said. And how cool is that? I really need to finish gathering the dyeing and batik supplies. That’s one of my goals for September–to have everything I need by the end of the month. Another is to freshen up this site a bit. And post a little more. Goals are good, hmm?
All three kids are in school as of this week, which you’d think would free up lots of time, but it’s not feeling that way. It’s a three-and-a-half hour stretch in the morning between wake up (to make sure my oldest is moving) and dropping off the final child. Five-and-a-half hours later, I start picking them up again. It’s about the same amount of time I had last year, except I’m much more tired and needing to go to bed much earlier, so I’m useless at accomplishing anything in the evenings. So, it’s net much less productive time.
Anyway, all that to say that even with my supposedly free days, I didn’t get to this week’s quiltlet until Thursday, finishing on Friday. My inspiration came from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood. I decided to try “template-free layered curve patchwork.” It was tricky at times and the curves don’t show up a whole lot at this scale, but I enjoyed arranging them and adding free-motion stitching. Here’s what it looked like before I cropped it.
The book, which Amazon thought I’d like (so I borrowed it from the library to see) has some interesting ideas for piecing that I want to try, but I’m skimming a lot because I’m not interested in the life advice part (the subtitle is A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously). I think I’m content to get my quilting inspiration and my life guidelines in different places when it comes right down to it.
The year is winding down. Thirty-five weeks gone. There’s nothing like a weekly project to keep you mindful of the passing of time, geez.