Tag Archives: mamablog

First Steps in Free-Motion Quilting

I decided I wanted to experiment with free-motion quilting. I want to draw with my sewing machine. This makes sense as a continuation of using embroidery as a line medium. It’s different, but related. Anyway, Sarah recommended this book.

book photo

So I borrowed it from the library. Right away I realized I didn’t have the right foot for my sewing machine, but my local quilting store had a darning foot that had been part of a trade-in, and the owner just…let me have it. It goes onto the machine completely differently from any of the other feet I’ve used, but my manual had directions. Once that was on, I followed the directions in the book for making first stitches on a practice pad.

free-motion quilting practice at amyhoodarts.com

I didn’t do too badly with the back and forth lines, but when I got to the swirls, some of those stitches were really uneven.

varying stitch lengths

Yikes–some really long ones in there! This is the point of practice, of course. Now check out the back of the practice pad.

Bobbin snot. It's a problem.

Bobbin snot. It’s a problem.

Whoa. But isn’t it interesting that it’s only in one direction? No bobbin snarls when I was pulling the fabric towards me, just when I was pushing it away. Hmm. I went to the trouble-shooting section of the book and tried the easiest-sounding solution first–I raised the feed dogs back up. And this is what happened:

better back2

 

The first lines have some loops on the back. Again, checking the book, I adjusted the needle tension and then continued on. Much better! That seemed to fix things.

I wanted to share all this because learning something new requires practice and trial and error, and I wanted to show these first wobbly steps. What I want to be able to do and what I can do at this moment are very far apart indeed, but the only way to get from one to the other is to keep practicing.

I’m linking up with Jen for Making + Listening, even though I didn’t title it that way. As for the listening part, it’s been all Phil and Paul and the Tour this week–one of my favorite times of the year.

Drawing Practice

There’s no big mystery to drawing. It’s simply looking very closely with a pen or pencil in hand. Last week, Lori of Camp Creek Blog emailed out daily drawing prompts, but I saved them until this week when I could focus a little more. Many of the prompts are for items I’ve already drawn on my own or through one class or another, but sometimes it’s easier to just go draw what you’re told instead of looking around for something on your own. So I’m trying to, this week.

Day one was hands–first through blind contour, then contour.

Blind contour drawing of my left hand.

Blind contour drawing of my left hand.

Contour drawing of my left hand.

Contour drawing of my left hand.

The second prompt was to draw something from nature. I chose some skate egg cases.

Skate egg case drawing.

Skate egg case drawing.

And day three was to draw something from the kitchen. I chose a pair of tongs. I had some trouble with the rounded, toothed scoop part, especially on the left.

Kitchen tongs.

Kitchen tongs.

That’s the angle I drew it at, so that’s the angle I photographed it at.

I like drawing, and more drawing leads to better drawing, so I plan to finish out the week’s worth of prompts this week. So far none of the kids have sat down to draw next to me (this week), but after observing me drawing the tongs, my daughter went into her room with her sketchbook and drew her Hello Kitty jewelry box. All the kids already draw, though, some more often than others, from imagination and from observation.

Summering

We got back to the beach last week.

At the salt pond behind the barrier beach.

At the salt pond behind the barrier beach.

Last summer I didn’t take my kids to the beach at all. If you know me you know how strange this is; I was working on some other things last summer, mainly, getting myself back on track from PTSD. (This post has more information if you’re new here and curious.) It’s now been about 13 months since I began a low daily dose of Zoloft and, to be succinct, I am grateful a medicine choice exists that I can take and that works for me without side-effects. Zoloft doesn’t change who I am; it allows me to be who I am. Part of that is the mom who packs up the kids and a lunch and towels and sunscreen and toys and books and heads to the beach for six hours. Last summer, even though I knew I’d done that for years, I couldn’t quite fathom how. It all sounded exhausting and too much, just too much.

It’s nice to be back.

Spider crab

Spider crab

The pond was full of spider crabs last week. We never know what we might see there, but it’s always interesting. The pond is shallow (no more than about 4.5 feet throughout) and calm and warmer than the ocean, especially at this time of year. The kids can paddle, and we can get close up with the critters that live there. It’s a different experience from the beach-beach, and we like to mix it up and do some of both each summer.

Last weekend we headed to Beavertail State Park for some tidepooling.

Tidepooling

Tidepooling

We mostly saw very tiny invasive crabs–Asian Shore Crabs–and periwinkles. Beavertail is a beautiful place, with lots of rocks for scampering over.

Beavertail State Park, Jamestown, RI.

Beavertail State Park, Jamestown, RI.

Being near and in salt water is a very happy thing for me. Spending much of last summer sitting on my deck with a book while my kids happily played in the yard (they didn’t have a bad summer, trust me) was the right thing to do. But I’m glad we’re back to spending more time in the sea and sun.

Making + Listening::13/2014

This week I finished 13 zip pockets, to add to the pile to take to a craft fair later this month.

stack of finished pockets

It’s so satisfying to finally get to the point of turning them right-side out and seeing them complete.

stamped + embroidered zip pouches at amyhoodarts.com

Some nautical-themed pouches and two more trees.

I like to have a mix of stamped and embroidered, and I like to change up the colors.

embroidered pouches at amyhoodarts.com

Chickens! Flowers!

And it’s nice to have some varied sizes.

stamped and embroidered pouches at amyhoodarts.com

Once the fair is over I’ll update the Etsy shop and pay it a bit more attention. Dust off the shelves and whatnot.

As for listening…birds, World Cup, Pandora, and my kids. How’s your week been going?

Paint Lab #8: The Golden Ratio

I’m continuing with my out-of-order Paint Lab exercises (first post on this project is here). Lab #8 is inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. Fibonacci was a pretty cool guy. Earlier this year my kids and I read about him in Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, after encountering him in the first Story of Science book by Joy Hakim. I already knew of the Fibonacci sequence, but I learned more about the man and his other contributions.

Anyway. This exercise has you use examples of the sequence, graphically displayed. I did these in my sketchbook. I printed the images out, rubbed the back of the paper with a graphite stick, then traced the image on the front to transfer the lines. Yep, it took some time. (But, making my own carbon paper in that way always makes me feel a wee bit clever.)

Paint Lab #8 at amyhoodarts.com

For this first one, I used watercolor pencils, wetting the tips before touching them to the paper. This is not hard stuff here–but it was pretty calming. Like a grown-up coloring book.

Paint Lab #8 at amyhoodarts.com

For the second one I used watercolors, going for mostly an earthy palette. I mixed some brown into my blues and greens.

The Golden Ratio as it’s related to art is an interesting thing to Google–so much information, so many examples! Do it if you have some time.

Making + Listening::12/2014

I’m joining in with Jen this week to share a hat I sewed up Tuesday night, using this pattern.

Denim sun hat at amyhoodarts.com

My husband hunted around in his closet when he heard I was looking for denim for this and found a too-big pair of jeans with a rip in the knee. I wasted no time in cutting out the pattern pieces. The hat, by the way, is reversible. Presto-chango.

reversible sun hat at amyhoodarts.com

The cotton fabric is from stash. I bought it because I liked it and as soon as I saw the hat pattern I knew what I’d bought it for.

By the way, I think this is the first time I’ve posted a picture anywhere since my hair was cut in April. I wanted it about collar-bone length and neatened, and after almost three months’ of growing time, it’s still this short. (With layers! That I didn’t ask for!) But I’m okay with it now. It just had to grow for a couple of months first.

I’ll be making more of these hats, I’m pretty sure. I went to the local thrift store Wednesday morning and bought a large pair of jeans for $5. I had a twinge of guilt for planning to cut into perfectly good jeans, but I figure at least the money goes to the attached food pantry.

As for listening, I’ve been enjoying streaming Pandora through my cell phone and playing it via Bluetooth in the car. As I told my kids yesterday, when I was a kid, our family car didn’t even have a cassette player. It was radio or nothing.

“Did you have Internet?”

“Nope.”

“Wow. You’re that old?”

Working My Way Through Paint Lab

{Jen has a review and giveaway of Art Together Issue Four: Mixed Media. Leave her a comment by Saturday for a chance to win–and go check out what she has to say!}

I bought myself a present recently–my own copy (versus the library copy) of Paint Lab: 52 Exercises Inspired by Artists, Materials, Time, Place, and Method, by Deborah Forman. I have some other books in the Lab Series, but this one has so many exercises I want to try that I decided to make a list and work my way through them. I’m not going in order–I’ll go back to skipped ones when I get the materials I’m lacking. For instance, Lab 4 requires glazing medium, and I don’t have any.

I’ve completed two and started a third, though, and I’m enjoying the exercise-ness of them. They remind me of art class assignments. It’s very much just working things out. I think maybe framing something as an exercise lets me sink into it in a different way. Sometimes I am playing around with technique or method while I’m art-making. Sometimes I’m trying to achieve a specific design or image. And with exercises it’s a bit of problem-solving within a framework. These different ways of working engage different parts of my brain. I remember enjoying my design class exercises in college, and these remind me of those in some ways.

Paint Lab #1 at amyhoodarts.com

Paint Lab #1

This is layers of watercolor. All those dots? Pretty meditative. Not boring to do at all.

For Lab #5, Forman suggested doing the same design (created by collage first, then transferred) in two different color schemes. I also used two different types of paint and paper. The results are very different. In this first version, I used acrylic paint on canvas paper. I decided to use red, yellow, white, and green. Red and yellow are both warm colors, and green is red’s complement (it lies across it on the color wheel).

Paint Lab #5 at amyhoodarts.com

Paint Lab #5, version 1.

For the second version, I used watercolors on watercolor paper. I used the analagous colors of blue, blue-green, and green, with orange, which is blue’s complement.

Paint Lab #5 at amyhoodarts.com

Paint Lab #5 version 2.

I’ll keep posting these exercises as I do them. If anybody else has a copy of Paint Lab and wants to join in, please feel free to share links to posts or photos. It would be pretty cool to find others who have or who are working their way through the book, too.

Meet Karen

Karen Isaacson, interviewed in Art Together Issue Four

Karen Isaacson, interviewed in Art Together Issue Four

Karen describes herself as a “paint flinger, salamander catcher, and all-around goofball,” and I can attest that she is as fun and interesting and quirky in person as she seems on her blog, I Am Rushmore. Karen began art-making well into her grown-up years, and she approaches it with the sense of exploration, curiosity, and enthusiasm for the process (versus a focus solely on product) that I hope to nurture in others through Art Together. So I was happy she agreed to be interviewed for Issue Four, which focuses on mixed media–something Karen does so well.

As an early childhood educator, I preached the benefits of process-oriented art with young children. The toddlers I worked with never cared about what they were making, they simply delighted in the act of creating. I sat on the floor and played along with them, and it was the favorite part of my day. Perhaps I’m just a slow learner, but it never occurred to me that this same spirit of open-ended, joyful exploration could be applied to adult art experiences.

The rest of Karen’s interview can be found in the latest issue, along with lots of other inspiration and ideas. Along with her personal blog, Karen also maintains the website Mail Me Some Art, facilitating a mind-bloggling number of themed mail art swaps. She has several open swaps right now, including tape postcards, favorite city postcards, and handmade envelopes. She scans and posts all the artwork she receives (2500 pieces last year!) before sending them on their way through the postal system, so the site provides a constant stream of gorgeous art inspiration.

I hope to continue including interviews in future issues of Art Together, because I think it’s so encouraging to get to know people who are pursuing their artistic passions right now. There are so many ways to do that! I’m not sure that reminder can come often enough.

Making + Listening::11/2014

Making this week…we had some sun, so we made sun prints. I pulled out our package–I keep it in the light-proof envelope it came in, inside the cardboard box it was shipped in, inside a closet (overprotecting, much?)–and saw the advice to use within six months of opening. I’m pretty sure we’ve had this package two years, but we gave it a try. Below you can see some of the sun prints on the old paper, which is smaller, versus the new paper I went out to buy that afternoon because somebody was a little disappointed.

sun prints (old paper vs new) at amyhoodarts.com

The blocked areas aren’t as bright white, but otherwise, it works. I like using sun prints in collages. Now that we know we have to use it all up this summer, we will.

N and G have been making maps, some in collaboration and others separately.

kid-drawn maps at amyhoodarts.com

Collaborative maps, mostly drawn by N with idea input by G.

kid-drawn map at amyhoodarts.com

One of G’s maps.

Unable to find the bleach pen I know I have somewhere (time to clean out the studio, perhaps?), I bought another one and played with some denim scraps that Jen gave me.

bleach pen on denim at amyhoodarts.com

As for listening, Tuesday night Jen and I got together and listened to each other–adult talk!–for a couple of hours. That was a treat and a joy.

Linking up with Jen again this week…

An Announcement or Two

sketching irises at amyhoodarts.com

G and I drawing and painting irises in the yard this weekend.

This is the day I’d planned to have Issue Four of Art Together available, despite spending half of March sick with a bad cold and losing a week in April to the flu. But last week I became sick again, and it turned out to be strep, and that was the last straw. So I requested a week extension from myself, and Myself listened, weighed the facts, and granted it. Mainly it’s just the tech stuff left to do, which does, in fact, require me to be conscious. I had no idea strep was more than just a bad sore throat! I could barely keep my eyes open for a while there, but antibiotics are lovely when you truly need them, aren’t they? Like magic.

Speaking of Issue Four, which focuses on mixed media + collage, if you’re interested in a review copy and/or giveaway, drop me a line at amyhood at amyhoodarts dot com and we’ll discuss.

And finally, if you’re in southern Rhode Island this summer, you can now find my pockets and cards in Thrifty Sister in Peace Dale. This is a great consignment store that also carries work by local artists. (It also happens to be an excellent source of interesting found paper for mixed media and collage.)