Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beaded Journals -- Another Step Closer

Much of the beading is done, well, about half of my prepped covers.  I made the mistake of keeping track of the time it takes me.   Each cover is about an hour giving it my half attention. I'm sure I could finish faster if I wasn't watching a movie, reading email, or hanging out with the family at the same time, but I need something to keep my hands busy during those times and this is a lot more productive than playing collapse on my phone.  At the rate I'm going, each journal is going to take about 3 hours.  Then I figured the materials at about $15 each.  I'm glad I like to work for minimum wage!

I took advantage of the clean table this morning to work on the inside pages.  I start with 30"x22" sheets of Kilimanjaro 140lbs 100% cotton watercolor paper. I tear them into pieces 11"x7.5" and fold them in half.  Then it's four folded sheets per signature and four signatures per book.  I managed 10 books before my back and arms were aching.  The tearing gets my back and the folding gets my arm as I push down to get a crisp fold.  One day I will have a nice high work table in a beautiful studio, but for now I'm content to use the dining room table. 

Next on the agenda is sewing the signatures together and assembling the books.  I am so glad that I love the process!

Beaded Art Journals -- Step 2

Somewhere along the line I lost track of this post and never finished.  For your enjoyment, the journal covers and their beads.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blue Morning

My dying sessions lately have embraced the fall colors.  Today I decided I would play with my favorites instead -- blue, turquoise and a touch of purple.  I love how these all turned out.  The colors are so bight and cheery. Plus the blue sky is peaking out as an added bonus.  

Dyed wool batching in the kitchen

When I dye wool, I start with a piece of felt approximately 14" x 40".  This allows me to get several 12"x12" piece after any shrinkage.  I place the pieces in pyrex baking dishes.  I will then either add the dye dissolved in water, sprinkle on powder or drop concentrated dye over parts.  It then goes in the microwave to get nice and hot.  After sitting in the dye bath and then being rinsed out, it goes for a spin in the dryer to get out as much water as possible.  I just need to make sure I don't operate on autopilot and set it for a full wash cycle.  I did that once with a custom dyed piece -- set it to heavy duty and left to pick up the kids from school.  I couldn't figure out why it was just finishing as we got home.  I found a piece of felt about half the size it started as.  Whoops.  Luckily, the thick dense felt was exactly what she needed and it worked out for everyone.
Felt waiting to go for a spin in the dryer
Here is what the pile looks like after coming out.  I managed to dye 11 different pieces today.  I was hoping for the purples to be a little more purple and a little less violet, but I'm not going to complain about the vibrant colors.  That just means I need to make time for another dye session soon.

Slinky checking out what Mom has been up to all morning
 Keep an eye out for these to be popping up in my Etsy shop over the next few days.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Art-O-Mat Time

I was so excited to open the mail Friday and find a check from Art-O-Mat.  I love getting checks in the mail! And I love being part of Art-O-Mat!  Along with the check was a request for more.  I haven't made anything for them since spring so it was no surprise.  

I started with prepping the base for my "I Felt..." series.  It involves hand dyed wool with ribbon sewn on.  I embellish the pieces with fabric paper or various odds and ends.  Then I add a feeling with with letter beads.  I do my best to match the embellishments and the feeling.  I have a good time coming up with ideas.  The challenge comes when I run out the common letters and have to get creative with the words.  

I also needed to make a lot of fabric beads for my "Dreams" series.  I start with little strips of painted fabric and glue them around a straw.  I then wrap them with various yarns.  I made sure to prep a big pile before my son's soccer game.  I found the wrapping very helpful for dealing with the tense moments of the game.  

And of  course, this is what happened to my house while I was busy working away -- eight loads of laundry waiting to be folded and chili that exploded on the stove.  And there's also a pile of IKEA furniture hiding under there waiting to be put together.  (Hopefully by the end of the week my daughter will have a wardrobe so she can finally put away all her clothes instead of them being stacked on the floor.) 

P.S. I'm happy to say that five loads of laundry have been folded and put away and the stove is mostly cleaned up!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beaded Art Journals -- Step 1

This morning it was time to get off the computer, stop messing with the camera and actually start making something.  Sometime after my son's last birthday I learned that he was rather disappointed that his sisters each got a beaded art journal for their birthdays and he did not.  I had no idea a 7 year old boy would want an art journal, but I should have known he wouldn't want to be left out.  Since his birthday is coming up soon (along with the holiday craft shows) I figured that I should get to work making him one.  I sold all the ones I had at the Summer Bainbridge Island Artist's Studio Tour.  A woman came into my booth and bought them all.  She had bought one last winter at the studio tour and her friends raved about it.  She came back specifically to buy more for all her artist friends and wanted to make sure I would have more again this winter.  I don't want to disappoint her so I started 28 more.  I got as far as cutting the paper and fabric and fusing some of the fabric on.  I ran out of wonder under so I will have to make a trip to town before I can finish the other half.  Probably best anyways since my fingers are a little tender from getting too close to the hot iron as I stretched the fabric around the paper.

The nice part about these journals is that I can work on the beading away from home.  I create a mixture of beads in a little tin and its very easy to transport.  Most of my work either needs the sewing machine or I have the embellishments all laid out and I can't more it until everything is sewn down.  I'm often waiting in the car for the kids to finish their various activities so I figured I better get something productive prepped.  Now I only need to get the beads together (and I better clean the bathrooms a little before company comes over -- hopefully no one will look too close!) and I am all set to go.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Photo Shoot

I decided that I wanted to try a photo shoot this morning.  I am hoping to get some good, interesting photos of my work to create a promotional postcard for this upcoming craft show season.  I want something I can give people to advertise my etsy shop and remind them to shop with me again. I want to show a variety of my items so they can see the possibilities.  I was thinking little vignettes since I love organizing my work by color, but I'm not sure if that is working.   

I'm now realizing that photo styling is not my gifting.  Plus, I don't have the right lighting set up.  I'm often trying odd angles so avoid glare.  It doesn't help that a lot of my work includes metallic paints and shiny embellishments and my kits and gift tags are packaged in plastic boxes.  I tend to be one who learns by doing, so I think I am going to have to just take a lot of photos and hope that something turns out. Only problem is I have to volunteer in my son's class this afternoon and my daughter has a cross country meet.  I'm not going to finish and get everything cleaned up before it is back to mom duty.  Hope my husband doesn't care that we can't see the dining room table.  Maybe that's a good excuse to go out to dinner tonight?

Here are the best of what I've got so far:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beautiful October Weekend

We've been having an unusually beautiful October in the Pacific Northwest.  The days are sunny and in the low 70's.  I couldn't ask for more.  I rarely get a chance to work on my art during the weekends.  The kids and my husband are home and we always have enough events and projects to fill up the time.  

Instead of working on my own creative dreams, I help my husband take a step towards his own.  He has many hobbies, including woodworking, metalworking, electronics and most recently, home brewing.  The big problem is that his shop currently looks like this:

And as you head in, its even worse.  Nothing is getting made in there.  His hope for a long time has been to move out of the garage into a separate building.  We then can convert the entire two bay garage into a rumpus room / brewery.  We have a pool table squeezed into the other side and have to use short sticks to avoid hitting the walls.  But soon we will have one large room where we can have people over.  The kids can hang out in the house (our friends have a lot of kids!) and the adults can be out in the garage.  Everyone can have a good time and we won't be on top of each other. 

This weekend we finally took the first step towards making this a reality.  We added a floor to our old goat shed.  The goats moved out several years ago when we were planning on selling the house.  That didn't happen and its been used for storing snow tires and bikes every since.  The floor went in surprisingly quickly.  We didn't start until after soccer Saturday and were done before lunch Sunday.  The clear roof provides a lot of natural light, so it isn't a big deal that there aren't any windows.  The power right now in an extension cord from the garage, but he can live with that.  Now he just needs to move it.  

After finishing with the shed, we tended to the 15 gallons of plum wine we have brewing.   This is the first time we have tried wine.  The three batches have varying amounts of sugar which should affect the  sweetness and amount of alcohol.  Right now they taste a lot like a mimosa.  Hopefully everything will work right and we should have some tasty beverages after a couple months.

And our final creative project for the weekend is watching grass grow.  Well, not yet, but soon.  My backyard has been dirt the entire summer.  Somehow we never found the time to plant the grass after regrading so water would flow away from the house instead of in the crawl space.  Finally last weekend we made it a priority. It's been so dry that I am out there watering every day and searching for sprouts.  By next summer I shouldn't have nearly as much dirt in the house.  Wishful thinking, I know!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Morning Warm Up

Today I actually have four and a half hours at home to be artistic--no cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping today.  I decided I would warm up this morning by creating some fun art quilt ATC kits.  I get to play with my stash of stuff -- quilted and painted fabric, painted paper, dyed wool and silk fiber, hand spun yarn, ribbon, beads, buttons, fabric beads, wire, and the list goes on.  My biggest problem when creating these kits is editing.  Not everything can fit in a little box.  There definitely is more than someone could put on both the quilted and the painted paper bases.  But I can't resist.  What if you need exactly this extra little something?

This is actually the same process I often take when creating a quilt, especially one with a particular color scheme.  I will just start pulling out everything in those colors.  It makes a bit of mess, but it sure is fun.  Plus I get to touch everything.  Why create art if you can't get your hands in there. And I just love taking color and seeing where it will lead me. 

I do have to try to finish them before the kids get home.  They love to touch everything too.  I love them dearly and want them to have the opportunity to be creative but not when I am trying keep everything semi organized.  And of course everything is on the dining room table and the first thing they do is grab food and sit down.  I don't think you want your kits a little sticky or perhaps with some crumbs for when you get hungry.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Making of a Maverick

Experimenting with the layout and embellishments

Yesterday was the big reveal day over at Twelve by Twelve.  Our latest challenge was Maverick and this one proved to be the hardest yet.  Not only was coming up with an idea a challenge (read about it here), but even the construction proved to be tricky.  It all started out fine.  I took advantage of the pile of already quilted and painted fabric in my cabinet and pulled out a pile of purples and greens.  I created a 20 x 12 grid of one inch squares and sewed them together with a zig zag stitch.  Tension was a bit of a problem, but not so bad I couldn't ignore it.  I finished sewing it together.   The back looked pretty bad and I didn't want any of that poor tension to come apart so I decided that I needed to fuse a piece of fabric on to cover it up.  That shouldn't have been so hard, but the fusible had other ideas.  I spent a good deal of time picking little pieces of backing paper off.  I know a lot you will recommend tying Misty Fuse.  Great idea, but at the time I had the bolt of Wonder Under and I wasn't going to wait for something to be shipped.  I will keep it in mind for next time.

Not so wonderful Wonder Under
Next step was to sew on a large fabric paper circle.  Should have been easy, but the sewing machine really went maverick.  I tried to sew on a fabric paper circle to contrast with that grid but the tension was completely off. I tried rethreading, changing the needle, changing the bobbin, turning it off and on and adjusting every setting possible.  It was not going to cooperate.  Finally, I broke down and switched machines so I could move on to the next step.  I should have just gone there in the beginning. Moving one machine off the desk and setting up the other only took a couple of minutes -- I was done in less than 5.  I'm not sure if it was laziness or stubbornness that kept me from giving in.  

The back of my fabric paper circle after countless experiments to get the tension correct

Once the back was on, I could move to the fun step of sewing on a stack of beads to brand each of those squares.  While planning the embellishment I laid out all the round beads so the different colors were spaced throughout the quilt, but when it came time to sew them on I couldn't stitch and keep them from moving.  I planned a little was I went, but really just hoped that I wouldn't end up with all the same beads when I got to the last few squares.  Happily, it all worked out!

The back

Neat rows of my branded (beaded) cows

The maverick fabric paper circle

Make sure to head over to the Twelve by Twelve blog and check out my finished quilt and all the other  Mavericks.  Despite the challenging theme, I think we all did a great job!