Monday, August 29, 2011

Continuing my Pathways Series - The Relationship Path

Still on my 'Pathways' theme, I had an idea for a quilt about weather so I gathered up some  sky fabric, painted some more and waited for inspiration.    Since I often think in terms of music,  soon the words "through all kinds of weather" came to mind - and my quilt became about relationships (this is how my mind works).   

I started piecing skies with sunrise, blue skies, starry skies, sunsets and storms.   I used a mix of cottons, organza and painted satin (with ranger dyes).   The cottons were painted with my usual water soluble crayons, watercolour pencil crayons and setacolours.    I added a kind of rainbow pathway with painted satin and cut some pink and gold organza, fused it with misty fuse and created a soft morning sun.  After stitching it all together I added black couched cord around each piece for a stained glass look.   Next I will add two small black silhouettes of a couple along the pathway and embroider some lightning in the sharp-edged stormy segments.    Now I am trying to decide whether to add any quilting or just frame it as it is.   Also how to frame it - possibly with sky fabric or black binding?  I'll need to do some thinking and audition some fabric before I go any further.  If I use sky fabric I will add black binding as an inside frame.   It might even be interesting to mat it and frame it under glass.   I think I will call it "Through All Kinds of Weather: The Relationship Path".    Maybe it should end with a question mark.   What do you think?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Canada Mourns

I am writing this entry in orange today as a tribute to Jack Layton, the leader of the official opposition (NDP) in Canada who passed away this week.   His funeral is today.   Many Canadians, whether we share his political views or not, are saddened by the loss of a man who has consistently fought for the rights of all Canadians.   He has tirelessly supported the poor and marginalized of our society and has always shown optimism and hope for creating a better world  for all.   He was a role model for his beliefs - for example - driving a bicycle to work,  taking time to speak to all groups in society, even opening his home to people who needed a place to meet.   He was known to entertain the press on the campaign trail with his guitar and love of music.   In a time when many political parties around the world will do anything just to win at all costs, I believe that Jack Layton always put the needs of the country and its citizens first.    I hope that politicians around the world will see the great outpouring of love and respect for this man and realize that their citizens are intelligent enough to see what they are doing.   Ultimately we will choose those who genuinely care about their country and not those who are simply seeking power and wealth while the average family suffers.  Rest in Peace Jack!  May the dream live on.    

Painted Fabric - black eyed susans before stitching

Here's a photo of my black eyed susans painted onto fabric.   I don't worry about a lot of detail because the stitching will take care of that.  I think I will add the backing first and stitch through the layers.  I haven't quite decided whether to add batting or not.   As I said before it makes the piece a little thick for framing under glass.   But it does add some contours to the design when stitching through 3 layers.  If I do add batting I will probably frame it without glass.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Painting Pictures on Fabric

Recently, I completed a few 4" x 6" 'pictures' painted on fabric.    For subjects I chose a photo of the Tablelands in Newfoundland, an amaryllis, a scene of kayaking down a river and some black-eyed susans.  First I painted the scene/flower on white cotton fabric with caran d'ache crayons, water soluble pencil crayons or setacolours then I heavily embroidered or stitched them with tiny stitches.   I experimented with stitching first then adding thin batting and backing, stitching through top layer and backing but no batting, and stitching through all three layers.   Then I matted them.    I find that if I want to frame under glass with a ready made frame the batting sometimes makes it too thick so I think for these tiny matted pieces it works better to finish them off pillowcase style without a middle layer.   I do like the way they look when I stitch through the front and back layer however.    Another alternative is to simply add a plain muslin backing to the top layer and tape it onto the mat then frame (more like a painting).   Here is a look at the two that I have finished.  I matted them on 8 x 10" mats.


Here is another which still needs a backing.   Shown here with a 5 x 7" mat.  I don't have a photo of the black eyed susan piece which still needs to be stitched.

These are fun to do and gives me some practice painting fabric.    The major stitching does take a while to complete even though they are small (so are the stitches:-)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Gannet Family Album

Here is my latest - inspired by my visit to the gannet colony on Ile Bonaventure in the Gaspe.    I decided to use pigma pen and my new water soluble pencil crayons to draw and colour in my gannets doing all the things that gannets do (see previous post of gannet photos and info).     Then I hand-stitched them on a watery background and embroidered on each 'photo'.   It seemed appropriate to call it "A Gannet Family Album".     I love these new Caran d'ache pencil crayons.   I have already fallen in love with their watercolour crayons but the pencil crayons allow me to be more precise and put just the right amount of colour where I want it.   I usually add just a little water using a small watercolour brush after drawing on the fabric.     Then I heat set with a hot dry iron.   I made stamps of stars and fishes using a foam sheet and stamped fish and stars to the background in golds, silvers etc.  I also added three fabric stars.  Then I added thin batting and backing and hand-quilted along the lines of the waves with multicoloured threads.    I used a fun multicoloured and polka dotted fabric for the backing and binding because these birds are almost clown-like with their gait and their blue eye ring and feet markings.   If I were to do it over I would make the "on guard" gannet bigger with the others around it as in cartoon bubbles......

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More Work in Progress

Well I am almost finished organizing my space and starting to feel more creative - It always works!   I am still working on my gannet piece and have gone back to this foggy, Newfoundland piece to do some more stitching.  Another pathway, I think I'll call it "Fog on Micheleen's Path".   This is a 'before' photo (before stitching that is).   I started by painting the background and faraway trees, adding layers of netting then painting and fusing tree trunks to the background,  lighter ones in the distance, getting darker and bigger close up.   I added lots of bushes and ground cover then more netting as I moved to the foreground, then cut and added strips of white netting to show the fingers of fog drifting round the trees.  I used dyed cheesecloth (purchased) under netting for the foliage of the evergreens.   Now I am appliqueing the trunks by hand and adding stitches to the ground cover.   I will photograph my progress with the stitching and post it soon.    The inspiration was a foggy day hike on Micheleen's Path part of the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland.   I think it is starting to take shape now.  It needs some more layering and stitching to create depth and a less defined look.  It sometimes pays to put things aside for awhile to see if new ideas emerge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Gannet Colony

I have almost completed the re-organization of my workspace and storage area and have started planning a new piece.   It is inspired by a gannet colony we visited on Ile Bonaventure and I am calling it "A Gannet Family Album".   Gannets are kind of goofy-looking birds when walking - with their blue eye ring and matching blue markings on their feet.   Their faces look painted on.    But they exhibit some interesting characteristics as these photos show.   Their nests consist of rows of lumps of earth which have been prepared carefully for their one egg.    The mother shows care and concern for the fluffy baby.   As we watched, one little one put its head into the mother's mouth to eat regurgitated food.   They can be fiercely territorial and will attack if another gannet unwittingly strays into their territory (see photo with 2 birds holding each other's bill - neither will let go until a third bird joined the fight and one managed to slip away.    Their courting rituals are graceful and captured often in art as they rise up and touch bills, wings outspread.    They also show reverence by bowing deeply.  I'm not sure of the purpose but it really looks very human like (or are we copying them?).   Apparently the partners winter separately in Florida and meet up the next spring back at the same colony (not a bad idea.  No wonder their relationships last).   They recognize each other by their voices (very similar to penguins I believe).  These behaviours and family groupings just called out to be part of my 'gannet family album'.    I plan to paint, applique and embroider this piece.  I'll posts the results.
See the blue eye ring