Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chairs and Stamping

Now that our house renovations have finally started, I can look forward to them being finished and start thinking about what will go into the newly renovated house. While flicking through some junk mail the other morning, I came across this lovely chair.

While I was working on the little quilt in the previous post, I had it thrown over one of my lounge chairs, how good would a chair look upholstered in my mini quilt! Ok lots of scraps need and hours of machining, but the end result would look amazing, sitting next to my planned little wood burner. Thinking about chairs, I remembered another long, long ago project I had in mind, we have here two very old leather chairs that sat in my mother in laws hall way, they come apart and the seat wraps around them so they can be moved around. I have no idea where she got them, but they always reminded me of something that would be taken on an african safari. A quick image search for old safari chairs came up with this image, which are very much like the two chairs I have, stashed away - somewhere......

The ones I have are actually nicer than these with a bit of wood turning on the legs and a second rail that goes all around the bottom. I had always intended to renew the leather seats, backs and arms and do some fanciful leather carvings on them. They would look so good on my lovely new back deck.

Ok back to reality, I have been playing around with stamps over the past few weeks, trying out lino, rubber blocks and sticky backed foam sheets to make them from. I really wanted  a nice horse stamp of a certain breed for my next little quilt. I tried the rubber block first as it was the easiest to carve, but didn't like the result, even with a new sharp lino cutting tool, I got crumbly edges and not very neat corners, so next tried the lino. Better image, but harder to print as was getting lots of lines from the background so my horse looked like he was standing in long grass, admittedly, I haven't mounted the lino onto a wooden block yet, which does help to get a cleaner print but I wasn't happy with the original image anyway. After a few tweaks to the horse, I cut it from the foam sheets and got a lovely clean print.

 Here are the three block and yes the horse is facing the other was in the foam block, which seemed to make a huge difference to the finished print.

 Here are some experimental prints, you can see what I mean about the long grass effect. I also did another little lino but wanted all those lines so this block worked well.

 Here are a few of the blocks I have been making. the stripes and checks are really effective. I used the small check in the previous quilt.

 And here are my final two border pieces printed and ready to go. The background for this one is a piece of indigo and I'm hoping all the hand dyed fabrics will really jump out from it. I have to wait for an order of paint sticks to arrive before I can go any further with this one. School holidays are coming up soon so hopefully I will have time to get it finished.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First of Hopefully Three

I have started making some small, half meter-ish sized mixed media quilts. Why? well to try out some new stuff. I have ideas for three and here is the first.
This one sprang from the scrap box obsession I have at the moment. After cutting up all those hundreds of squares in my last post, hang on, I think I'm repeating myself here ....... Yes indeed, I have shown you this picture of my background fabric and scrap pieces last time. So on the next pic ............

I have laid out all those bits in a geometric sort of design. I tried to use the scraps just as they were, haven't done any trimming, just shortened a few longer bits and added a couple of hand dyed cotton tapes to bring it all together.

Next I wanted to experiment with a couple of lino blocks I had cut last year and some other texture plates  I have used for other things, but never printed with. I used lumiere paints mixed with a little textile medium and applied the paint with a piece of sponge.

I also wanted to try using some heavy threads through the machine, so bought some 12 cotton perle  and 30 wt Cebelia, well I think that's what it's called. It says made in France and that sounds pretty French to me so I'll go with that. The 30 wt was a little heavier than the 12 perle, I would rather have got the 40 wt, but of course didn't have it in white. As it happens the 30 runs through the machine fine and I think I now prefer it.
So I got out the dye pots and without much thought, dyed up some bobbin length skeins. Then decided I would like some lighter colours so dyed up another lots in bigger quantities this time.

After a bit of playing around with tension on the machine and working out which stitches would work and which wouldn't, I started stitching madly all over the place.

I knew at some stage I would use gold thread on this piece, so used gold as my bobbin thread for all the stitching. If the bobbin thread did show through, which it did at times, it just added to the gold anyway.

I finished off the stitching by adding some gold squares, particularly in the negative areas to bring the whole thing together.
I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this piece when it was finished but once it got to this stage it was just screaming out for some coloured tabs along the top. 

I then bagged the top with a piece of stripy Indian cotton, I know I took a picture of this but it seems to have disappeared. 
I finished the edge of with a row of heavy gold stitching.

And tied it to the backing with a few random gold diamonds 

So here it is, another awful photo I'm sorry. I set out to:-
  •  use my scraps 
  • try out some printing blocks 
  • experiment with some hand dyed threads 
  • not use any satin stitch in an appliqued piece
It's now hanging in the door way between my two work rooms where I hung it to take it's picture, think I might just leave it there for a while :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Love your Scrap Box

With the price of fabric and dye stuff set to rise in price, I have been looking at ways to use up all the scraps of hand dyed fabrics I have accumulated. Luckily I keep a scrap box and all my odds and ends get chucked straight in there. My friend Helen made a lovely quilt using all her bits of hand dyes, so I had to give it a go. I did dye up my light background fabric which I then printed with a wood block as I am trying to keep this a completely hand dyed quilt again. Once I started cutting, I found I had enough for a second quilt so kept going till I had a pile of some 800 + squares. Here are the first lot, chained together with their light background fabric, and some binding strips already cut from the left overs of the left overs. The plastic bag contains the coloured squares for a second quilt.

You can see the finished quilt here at Main Creek you will have to go right to the bottom of the page to the quilt named Garden Lattice. This is Helens quilt, I am making mine a little larger as I had 2 meters of background fabric to use. I have to be in the right frame of mind for piecing, so leave the piles sat by the machine and go and do a half hour or so when the mood takes me, not the most productive way to work I'm sure.
After I had finished cutting all those squares, I was left with yet even more smaller pieces. I have been making some new stamps and playing around with these and wanted a project to try some more ideas out on, so after selecting a 1/2 meter piece as a background, I have started a small wall quilt which will have some stamping and lots of stitching done in heavy threads.

 More scraps on the chosen background fabric.

The Japanese are very good at using old fabrics and kimonos. There is a very interesting you tube video that talks about Boro or rags used in Japanese textiles. I think we will all be doing more recycling of our resources in the future.  Colouricious have just made a short video called Recycled Reborn. You will see the same idea of using strips of recycled fabric or rags to make a new piece of fabric here also. I have a small weaving loom out the back, so will have to give this a try with my really skinny bits of scrap. With a bit of thought nothing need go to waste :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back on board and stuff.

I am back, I think, can't make any promises, but after the usual Christmas chaos and a mouse infestation, I have got my room back in working order. I spent five whole days, yes FIVE getting rid of the remnants of mouse and filled 25 archive boxes with stuff to have a tidy, workable area again. I have reclaimed the book shelves that have sat covered in unread books for nearly 10 years, moved a few things around and hey presto, can even use that back room now.

The wall of boxes.

The reclaimed book shelves. I can actually use the toaster oven for my clay work there without having to dig it out from a cupboard. There is a 'to do' box there, it would be the one with the lid fighting it's way off :)

I can now actually see my dyed 1/2 meters.

And I have made a dyeing spot. Although it's limited, not like the big old rusty room I once had, it does the job. Yes I was dyeing some stuff, but that's for another post.

I am working on a couple of things at the moment, work allowing and will show you soon.
On the house front, the reno's are plodding along. The weather has been very unkind but we are getting there. While we are working on the outside of the house the inside stays much as is apart from the continual dust. We have just had to replace both the dishwasher and fridge, something we would rather have done after we had finished the kitchen, but both packed it in so had no choice, well I did try and do without the dishwasher but what a waste of time standing at the kitchen sink!! when I could be out in my tidy room doing 'stuff'.