Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My baby boy is done

I finished my pastel portrait class last week and decided I am as done with this piece as I ever will be. Here's little Max at age 1 cuddling his baby giraffe. Pastels are messy but a kinda fun too.

Sometimes.. Change is Good

I am still working in an area of debris lying haphazardly on dirt. Remember, I'm doing this piece from a photo I took last summer in Ecuador. Some things, I know what they are.. example a deteriorating banana stalk, what we would call lima beans, string beans, corn husks etc. Other things, I'm less sure. In any event, I've quilted parts of things I know what they are using textures that seemed to fit. Many of these are quilted in a more linear pattern. So for those things I wasn't sure of, things I 'think' were either paper or colorful plastic bags, I decided we needed a change of pace... so I chose small circular motion which softens the overall effect.
Here I 'think' this was plastic bag trash....

Overall... it's looking okay for trash!!!!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something goofy at blogspot

Hi all.... Something seems to be happening ( or rather NOT happening) with display of already posted photos at blogspot.com. Here's hopeing they get it fixed quickly.
Update.... dunnoh why it broke nor how it healed but all seems well now. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Inspirations for backgrounds

I save security style mailing envelopes that have interesting textures inside. This week I used an envelope to experiment with a background texture for the dirt ground surface in the Ecuador piece in progress. I use a sample quilt sandwich on which to 'play'... til I settle on a style that might work on the 'real' quilt.
I started the exercise including the occasional repeated hatch marks attached to a linear quilt line.... I ultimately decided not to directly include hatch marks but kept things moving a bit more. The result was somewhere between a directional meander and wood grain.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ink atop poly thread experiment

This post is about putting ink on thread. I usually paint pigment ink (Tsukineko inks....www.jukeboxquilts.com) on cotton quilt fabric. Theses inks are marketed as permanent on natural fibers when heat set. I know that to be true from experience. What I have also heard said is that these inks are not 'fond' of man made fabrics like polyester. I've never played with ink and polyester fabric but I do use polyester thread so I thought I would experiment to see what happens when poly thread is inked.

I have been known to ink atop thread already quilted into a piece. Since I don't ever intend to wash my quilts (maybe vacumn),I've not worried about it... but today I thought I'd do an experiment. Below you see 4 fan-like threaded areas. Leftmost is the natural thread, 2nd from left is thread with a wee bit of ink added on lower and top edges, 3rd from left is same as 2nd example except that I have heat set with an iron, 4th is same as the 2nd example where I have air dried the ink rather than heat set it. Now a closeup of example 3 and 4 BEFORE I rinse them.
Now a closeup after rinsing.
Seems okay to me but I think I would conduct this same experiment with darker inks before I feel confident. Remember too, this experiment is on poly thread. I would test Rayon similarly before assuming it would hold up well too. I'm pretty confident about cotton as these inks seem to love natural fibers.

Some inked thread incorporated into the current project.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Big White Out.. Short Trip

2 things... I had a wonderful time with Grandkids Kaley (11) and Max (2). Kaley is a wonderful big sister. There is so much love between these 2. We had lots of playground and park time on Monday.

On Tuesday afternoon a major storm moved in to the Denver area. This picture was early on in the storm. It got plenty worse but I was able to get out before the next expected storm on Wednesday.
I'm trying to catch up at home on taxes, etc... so I can get back to my little girl Maria from Ecuador.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Upon return...

I will begin working on the background of this piece so I have laid out the threads I will 'likely' use. My gosh.. how appropriate... it looks like Easter.

Pastel class no. 3

Have started another photo of grandson max... still some work to do and some things to learn.... but.. he's lookin' at ya. Eek.. I notice so close up... the light made this look really grainy. Oh well.. no time to redo. I'm heading to the airport for a 4 day trip to see this very guy and his big sissy.... grandaughter Kaley whom I love to pieces.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lettering that SHOWS!

`Whomever owns the company that packages and ships the pears that 'were' in this box is proud of their business. The name "ATLAS" was flaming red outlined in black. This name seemed important to the piece to me, so I really tried to show off "Atlas" in the quilting.

Sometimes... We don't need to know!!!

When I snapped a reference photo last summer in the open market in Quito Ecuador, I knew immediately this quilt would be made. I was captivated by a young girl seated in an empty fruit carton, and certainly didn't have time nor inclination to study what was showing in the opening in the upside down box lid. Was it crumpled paper?, fabric? a sock?, who knows!? So..... the age old rule kicks in... just paint what you see, regardless of what it might be.... so that's what I do when I quilt also.
3 values of grey thread are used.. a dark charcoal, a mid value grey, and a almost white/silvery grey.
Someone once asked how to paint water. I responded similarly. DON'T PAINT WATER! Instead bit by bit...paint what you see. That helps remove the natural fears that come with the idea of painting something so unfamiliar. The does however call for us to really SEE. STUDY the 'thing' so that you really can paint what you truly SEE!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lost my upper tension

Interesting.... I had different results one day to the next... using the same spool of thread, same tension, same bobbin thread. Day one... everything looked great. I quilted a fairly large area with a free motion micro stipple using a 40wt thread on a slender spool. Day two.... (admittedly when the thread spool was getting pretty small) the thread was looping on the back side of the quilt. When I changed to a new spool of the same thread... all was well again. To my thinking.... this shouldn't have been a problem but for whatever reason, it was on this day.... Well... who knows when the point of no return occurs on a spool of thread but it was definitely worth the time to rip out and restitch. Judges (at least the skilled ones) do look at the back of art quilts.
"How do I rip out?" My trusty seam ripper slides under and cuts a stitch approximately every 3 stitches on the back side. Then from the front... my faithful slant angled LaCross tweezers (found at a beauty supply house or places like CVS pharmacy) easily lift the mess of thread fuzz without harming the front surface. In case you think your computer screen has a color correction problem, this picture is a different color thread in a different area. I rip out something almost every day. The good news: The more you quilt, the quicker you detect something is going wrong... so there's usually a few rather than a lot of stitches to deal with. Additionally, because much of my work gets judged, I'm getting pretty picky about what I will live with... or won't!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

O pears!!!

I wish I could think of a more clever way to quilt pears.... but it's done... so maybe next time! These pears on the box are not extremely important to the overall piece, so thread choices were made only to make things interesting when viewed closely. I used a mid to light value variegated green for most of the pear/s and some occasional mid to light value variegated yellow in some spots. Same colors/values variegated threads 'tend' to sink into whats underneath them... something attractive for this part of the quilt.

Here comes trouble

The was a line in an old song of the 60s that sounded like " here it comes loop de loop..." or something like that anyway. One thing that can cause top thread looping in your free motion quilting is a thread wrapped around the needle. Only the thread devil knows why this happens sometimes as we 'think' we've been careful about threading. Yesterday, the big loop de loop was repeating itself every so often.... I checked tension, then bobbin, ultimately to see the twist on the needle shaft. RATS! .

Okay... so rethread and go.
All was well.... (after the ripping out and restarting)

Totally unrelated and speaking again of RATS! Today I had my car serviced... there atop my car battery was a lovely 'rats nest' made of attic insulation that appears to have come from our mountain home. My hubby has been so proud of himself that the mountain critters ( rats/ mice) were no longer invading our attic. I can't wait to tell him it's because they relocated to my car. There are ups and downs to living in the forest.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Twisted Paper

When I photographed this little girl, she was playing with a twisted up piece of dirty paper. It didn't look like anything I might recognize, but that doesn't really matter.
I was able to use a variegated thread for this, placing the dark values where they needed to be. Sometimes we get lucky!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I'm a sickie but I'll be back soon

All the goings on in and out of quilting has caught up with me. I'm crooping, coughing, etc etc... and alot of time sleeping. I'll be back at work soon I hope. Patt

Monday, March 15, 2010

Great weekend with family and art

Pastel portrait Class No. 2
( note: I still prefer inks... :-)
Well, I'm learning about different papers and about this soft chalk pastel medium. The frst thing I learned was that the paper on the supply list was really for oil pastels ( very different medium) and not designed for soft pastels we are using. I was ready to throw out the beginning draft from last week, but learned one could use the rougher textured paper and 'build up' to achieve smoothness. This means more chalk used and dang... soft pastels are pricey... but I kept going and am liking my portrait of grandson Max a bit better. The rest of the weekend was grandaughter Morgan baking with Grandpa... sweet!

and birthday kids Cade and Riley at my sisters house.
Then there is Cooper... definitely Elvis eyes....
And the youngest, Coopers baby brother Wyatt enjoying a nap in the backyard swing. You will notice the patriotic quilt, made and quilted by my fire captain brother-inlaw. Very Cool! The women at my local guild got very excited when they saw and heard a fire captain made this. Is he single, they asked. "He's my BROTHER-IN-LAW," I repeated.
You may have noted the boys named Cade, Cooper, Wyatt...Surely they will play cowboys at the OK Corral someday. Our family originates from Oklahoma. I even spent my early years living in a house built by Frank James.. you know... Jesse's brother.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Yesterday, I received the most wonderful note from a talented blog follower I've never met though corresponded with. This creative world we all share is exciting to me and certainly sharing with each other is heartening. I always hope people are learning 'something' from my struggles....and I'm always up for learning more... so share with me too, either through comments or email.... Have a great quilting weekend(patt@pattsart.com).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another way to save the end thread

A while back, I know I shared I love Wonder Tape for tidying up the end of thread on thread spools that don't have their own effective thread end holding mechanism. Another, incredibly inexpensive way to secure loose thread is a gummed reinforcement for notebook paper. These are often referred to as donut holes and cost almost nothing.
Update: Thanks to the blogger that said she also uses donut holes to hold the ends of thread on bobbin spools.

Semi Transparency in thread

Sort of by a lazy accident a couple projects back, I discovered a good way to keep some images like would-be text or the like less prominent... thus retaining more of a watercolor softness or what long ago painting teacher Robert E Wood would call in and out of focus. Sometimes having 'everything' in clear focus is neither necessary or helpful to the central focus of the piece. So.... when quilting a mostly white area of this box, I'd chosen a 40 wt mostly white thread with which to quilt. The to be quilted area contained some darker box bar codes and text which one might think they needed to refine with darker thread.
But, when the entire area was quilted with the 40 wt. thread, the overall effect was merely a softened area of bar codes and text.
IF.. in ones work, the text, etc was important to the message of the image, one would emphasize it. It just isn't here, so I've decided to leave as is.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let There Be Light

Side tracked from quilting for a bit.... The message of the day.... If you have coveted something for over a year, it's now on sale, and you can possibly afford it.... IT's TIME!!! I own a light box, but have wanted a large one for years. Last weekend, The Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster, Ca had a 25% off on everything sale.... this beautifully made almost $200 light box was $146.00 and became mine. The lighted surface on this the manufacturers medium size is 15"W x 24"L. It has 2 flourescents inside and lights beautifully... even through pretty thick art paper so I know it will work well with lighter valued fabrics for sure. It is sweet! Now.. I must put it to use...
Click on photo for closeup view of specs:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Did I mention... Set Aside Your PROJECT THREADS?

Ever quilt with a thread, put it away with your hundreds of other threads, and then need it later? I have, and if you have more like thousands of threads, IT'S HARD TO FIGURE OUT WHICH ONE IT WAS IN THE FIRST PLACE. To that end, I tend to save my project threads I've thus far used, either in a basket or on a thread carrier as shown here. They all go back in the drawer/s when the project is complete.
I received a note yesterday from a blog viewer suggesting this idea didn't fully reasonate with him or her. It surely wouldn't for everyone, I agree. It largely depends on how complicated the underpainting is (in terms of value and color change.)I tend to get a bit type A on thread choices. But truly, to each his own! When the above picture was posted, I was not quite half way thru quilting this piece. I have added several threads to the mix since the photo above... and interestingly enough, yesterday afternoon, I used 3 threads previously used for new small areas. In 2 of those cases, I could have used new choices, but the previous choices worked for me and using the same thread elsewhere sometimes could be helpful in unifying a piece.

One other reason this might be helpful, is that when one is quilting as heavily as this piece, it's usually a good idea to quilt from the middle outward in order to avoid or minimize distortion. I might need the same thread later as I move outward toward to quilt edges.

Thanks for the question/comment.

Let Me Give You A Hand

Well... a little more than a hand.... On my Ecuadorian girl now named Maria, I have added the rest of her teal colored clothing, the dark side of the box, and a hand. I'm still perfecting my skills on the human figure, but this looks okay all in all.
When selecting threads for the figure as in this hand here, I evaluate the painting closely before selecting thread. If I can see more than 2 values in the contour of the hand, I try to use at least 3 threads. Doing so will give you better contour in the finished product and also will be more interesting to the minds eye which 'tends' to like odd numbers of things ( eg 1,3,5,7 etc.)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New experience with pastels

I have long said that fabric portraits using inks remind me of oil pastels... SO....my friend Karon Cornell and I decided to actually take an pastel portrait class and this is my first take.... This is a very different medium ofcourse and well... IT's about 10 times messier than working with inks, I haven't mastered pastel for sure, but we'll see how it goes.... It was a half day class starting yesterday for 3 more weeks.... I'm just looking to improve my overall portraiture skills. So far, I've learned I use a lot of paper towels to wipe my hands.... and honestly, it's more expensive than painting with inks... but maybe that has something to do with where I shopped... The Art Supply Warehouse in Westminster California. It's like a candy store for artists... ansd I admit to going a bit nuts. Here's my little man grandson MAX....His preschool put him in a tux for a school portrait. He's a cool dude.. Chicks dig him!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Gloves and Glasses

It's winter and while I'm not always a fan of quilting gloves, I sure like the Fons and Porter gloves... They are lightweight and thin... and come off and on easily. They are just enough to keep my hands warm too.
as to glasses,,, I finally broke down and had a pair of work glasses made... 2 strentghs... one for working on a computer and the other lower portion of the lense for quilting. I like 'em. Ah.. to SEE!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Boxing her in!

First... I've been embroiled in tax prep for days so I haven't been quilting... ARGH. Appointment was today so we'll see what happens. The REAL message today is just like we sometimes buy fabric we love with no immediate plan for use.. the same is true for thread. Ages ago I bought an interesting Madeira thread with an occasional 1 or 2 cm change in color..in fact with the color changes themselves varying . Who knew this white thread with a periodic flicker of other colors would be perfect for the end of a somewhat worn cardboard box.

The thread colors albeit simple value/color... work great for 'the box'.

You may have noted the top white end of the box is slightly more heavily quilted than the golden side. It was by design to 'stretch out/flaten the top of the box which is directly above the little girls heavily quilted hair. The hair quilting created some minor surface distortion (gathering/puckering). My heavily quilting the box top literally PULLED things back into place. I steam and heat set a bit too. Oh the joys of tug of war. This time, I won.