29 October 2008

Early Morning Club, Week Fifteen

Whew! Sick cats (poor Max has irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies), power outages (that, among other things, kept me from watching Liverpool beat Chelsea...grrr), company visits (thanks for visiting Mom and Nana!), all-day workshops (mucho fun but also mucho work), and birthday celebrations (Happy Birthday to me!) have made my life a bit crazy. So here are my pieces from the past week...belatedly.

Monday, October 20th

I wanted a folk art look for this piece, so I cut simple shapes from solid fabrics and applied them to a piece of raw muslin. I added some stems through embroidery. Simple and sweet.

Tuesday, October 21st
I don't know what I expected from this piece when I started. I wanted to use embroidery to echo to motifs in the center pot. It's a sketchy start. I realized as I was working on it that I really need to learn more embroidery stitches so that I have a greater selection to choose from. I do very much like how the gold stitches at the top are consistently inconsistent--it's like my own stitch handwriting.

Wednesday, October 22nd
I have a cording foot for my sewing machine that I have never used and thought that it would be fun to couch a self-striping yarn. So I cut a piece of background and fused it to a piece of Timtex for stability. I threaded my machine with invisible thread and loaded Noro Kureyon yarn through the hole in the cording foot. I then stitch back and forth, roughly covering the background with thread. You can see the suble transition of color from green to purple. I then trimmed the piece up and couched more Kureyon around the outside edges.

As I finished the couching and looked at the piece, I had a vision of a cattail, so I added one. I like how to sway of the cattail matches the lines of the couched thread.

Thursday, October 23rd
Another couched yarn background, this time using Ella Rae's Palermo. When finished, I thought it was a good background for a lotus-like flower. I like how the background appears to glow just behind the lotus.

Friday, October 24th

In addition to my cording foot, I also have a free-motion couching foot that I have never used. This piece is just an experiment to see how it works.

Saturday, October 25th

Not a lot of time today because of company and the workshop, so I quickly sketched this sunflower in plaid out. It is inspired by a sunflower flag hanging in someone's garden that I pass each day on the drive to work. It's cozy and homespun and would make a great applique for a larger snuggle quilt.

Sunday, October 26th
Sometimes I just need to finish something and call it a piece. Today was one of those days. Leftover strip piece. Quick cut leaf. Applique 'em down and call it done.

General Thoughts

The pieces for this week feel scattered to me--without a theme or thread to connect them. And the pieces I have started for Week Sixteen have headed in another direction, albeit one that I have explored before. I am beginning to find this project frustrating in that I come up with ideas that I want to explore in a thoughtful and more considered way, but the conveyor belt of morning after morning keeps moving and I often move with it--away from the pieces I want to explore further.

I want to take some time over the next few weeks and really think about this project and my goals. I feel like I've come up with enough ideas to last me quite a while. I don't want my work to only be about quick morning sketches. I want to be able to work on larger pieces that require more thought and design.

22 October 2008

Early Morning Club, Week Fourteen

Sorry for the delay in posting. Busy week of 12-hour work days, leaf raking and yard work, and cleaning and cooking for company. So without further adieu, may I present Week Fourteen!

Monday, October 13th
It's not surprising that my work one week influences the next, but what is surprising is the type of influence it has. Last week's work was fairly involved with lots of stitching and surface elements. So when I faced my work Monday, I wanted to play with the simplicity of line. What would be the minimum stitching I could do and still create an interesting composition?

I created this piece improvisationally--without a preconceived design. I embroidered the blue rectangle and then thought it needed something behind it for depth, so I added the mustard rectangle. I balanced it with the red square.

Tuesday, October 14th
Simplicity again. Here I wanted to explore lines and see how just a few lines and shapes can convey meaning. I wanted to create a calming, quiet fall scene. I like this piece because it matches my intention. I look at it and feel serene.

Wednesday, October 15th
This piece is a really a joke stemming from my undergraduate days as a psychology major. I started this morning thinking of embroidering words like hope, dream, wish, but it felt too cliched. Then I remembered learning about the Stroop effect, which shows that people can read a color word, like red, quicker when it's printed in red ink then when it is printed in blue ink. You can read red faster than you can read red. So consider this a homage to my undergraduate psychology days.

Thursday, October 16th
A few years ago I took a drawing class. I thought that some of my sketches would work well as embroidered pieces. So here you see an embroidered version of a gestural sketch of my cat Max.

Friday, October 17th
Here is a sketch of garlic from my drawing class.

Saturday, October 18th
As I was curling up in bed Friday night, this tag kept tickling me. I ripped it off intending to throw it away in the morning, but then thought it would be amusing to use it as the focus of a piece. This turned out very simple and the red embroidery doesn't stand out in the picture as much as I wanted. (Also, the buttons aren't properly aligned, which annoys me.)

Sunday, October 19th
This little photo transfer has been hanging in my studio for almost a year. So, inspired by the raking facing me on Sunday, I created this quick little composition. There is a lot of apricot in the leaves, so I emphasized it with the frame and the buttons.

General Thoughts

My word, this is becoming challenging. I know I shouldn't whinge too much here, but whew, when life gets hectic it becomes harder and harder to get these pieces done. But that is part of the process.

It was nice to play with simplicity this week. The embroidered versions of my sketches reminded me how much I enjoyed drawing. Once life gets less busy, I'll start drawing again. (I think that will be in April.) There is something completely mesmerizing about learning to look at something and really see it as it is, that is a combination of lines and values, rather than the cartoon-like sketches our brain uses to identify things.

12 October 2008

Early Morning Club, Week Thirteen

I started the Early Morning Club as a way to create lots of pieces and meet my crap quota. Each morning I get up and spend 30 minutes or less composing a 6" x 9" finished vertical piece. Here are the pieces from the past week.

Monday, October 6th
I loved the texture that heavy quilting added to last week's pieces, so I decided that would be the theme for the week. I wanted to try yesterday's piece again, but this time using heat-set crayons to color in the squares, rather than using fabric. I then stippled the entire piece, choosing thread colors to match the background fabric and also the crayon colors. I love the color of the background fabric but don't think the crayon colors work that great. I think I wanted--for lack of a better term--a more sophisticated palette, but I have to remember that I was working with crayons (a box of 96 Crayola, to be precise).

Tuesday, October 7th
After playing with crayons yesterday, I was inspired to get out my watercolor pencils and create a colorwash as a background for stitching. I colored the background with the pencils and then used a brush and water to blend the colors together. At this point, the background was fairly wet so I used a hair dryer and then an iron to heat set the colors. (At least I believe they are heat set. I have a piece using these pencils that is at least four years old and I've noticed no color loss.)

Once dry, I had beautiful blending of colors and interesting design lines develop. I used various colors of rayon threads to quilt it by following the design lines. I really like this piece. It is pretty and soothing.

Wednesday, October 8th
As much as I liked yesterday's piece, I wanted the colors to be more intense. So I decided to try another technique that I call fleece and tulle painting. I started this piece the same way--creating a colorwash with watercolor pencils. Then I ironed the background to a piece of fast-to-fuse, which is a heavyweight fusible interfacing. I wanted to have a more stable surface for stitching the fleece and tulle to the piece.

Then I selected colors of fleece (wool roving that has been carded and dyed, but not yet spun into yarn) and tulle and began placing them on the design, following the colors of the colorwash. I stitched them in place using various thread colors. I finished by trimming the piece to size, zigzagging around the edges with a variegated thread, and adding some copper foil.

I love the rich colors of this piece, but I wish I had spent more time on the underlying design.

Thursday, October 9th
Let me just say that I adore this piece. Again, it started as a watercolor pencil colorwash that I heat set and quilted. I used various rayon threads and quilted following the design lines. I like the mostly nuetral palette and I like the texture that developed from the heavy, vaguely parallel lines.

Friday, October 10th
My vision for this piece was to create an underwater feel using the fleece and tulle painting technique. So I started with a colorwashed background and then broke out my boxes of fleece and tulle. At that point I realized that I was going to have a bit of a problem because I didn't have many choices of tulle and fleece in the aqua, teal, blue, purple, and lime colors I wanted to use. Indeed, I didn't have any lime at all, which meant I had to substitute this greener green. So I wasn't able to blend colors as I had envisioned. Ah well, I need to check my supplies next time before starting a project.

Note: the schmutz on the piece is actually an iridescent foil that just didn't want to photograph well for me at all.

Saturday, October 11th
As I have been creating these colorwash backgrounds I noticed that the paper I used to protect my work surface absorbed some of the colors from the pencils and in many cases were prettier and more interesting than the fabric itself. So on Friday, as I created my colorwash background, I placed another fabric piece beneath it. This is the result. The colors are softer and more pastel than I would normally use, but the blending is very nice.

Sunday, October 12th
I wanted to end the week as I began, with crayons and very heavy stitching. I wanted to see if I could get more intense colors with crayons than with watercolor pencils. I can, but it is more difficult to blend them. I quilted this piece to within an inch of it's life, which explains its distortion. I tried to block it to size, but the stitching was too resistant. The stitching alone took 45 minutes.

General Thoughts

I enjoyed playing this week with various art supplies and stitching. After three months of early morning work, I needed a change and to try something new. So I did. More interesting techniques to add to my toolbox.

05 October 2008

Early Morning Club, Week Twelve

I started the Early Morning Club as a way to create lots of pieces and meet my crap quota. Each morning I get up and spend 30 minutes or less composing a 6" x 9" finished vertical piece. Here are the pieces from the past week.

Monday, September 29th
Today I wanted to start using my new palette of solids. I made a random strip set and then cut it into three subsections, which I sewed back together slightly offset and separated by brown strips.

Tuesday, September 30th
This is almost the piece I envisioned, but in my mind the blue strips framing the center were much narrower. It reminds me of a mirror, which gives me the idea for a series of abstract self-portraits. Perhaps that is an idea to try in the future.

Wednesday, October 1st
This piece--and pieces like it--are puzzles to solve from initial design until final seam. I like this piece. It feels cheerful and I'd love a larger version of one for my bed. This piece looks like a fragment from a larger quilt.

Thursday, October 2nd
Funnily enough, after three days using my new palette of solids, I found myself longing to use the cozy plaids and homespuns I played with last week. I had a vision of a primitive, folk art fall tree. That was odd for me because generally I am not interested in primitive quilting. So I decided to act on my idea and see how I feel working in that genre. I like this piece because it has the cozy, autumnal feeling that I wanted to create. I don't see myself creating a lot in this style, but I can picture a sweet spring primitive garden using soft plaids and solids.

Friday, October 3rd
I wanted to try some string piecing (sewing random strips to a muslin foundation) so I quickly sketched out some angled lines. I wish that I had been more creative and random with my color selections--the purple, sage, burnt orange combination is repeated on the left a couple times. I see the possibility for mountains here, perhaps if I controlled my color selections so that the darker foreground lead to a softer mountain peak and sky.

Saturday, October 4th
This piece went through three iterations. I started making entrapped fabric, which is scraps and strips fused under a layer of tulle. My plan was to using the entrapped fabric as my piece. But once finished it just felt wrong. I didn't want to use it whole. So I cut it into segments and rearranged them until I found a staggered composition that was appealling. I sewed the segments back together separated by brown sashing. But when I did that I was unhappy with how it appeared grid-like instead of the staggered compostion I had envisioned. So I put it aside and didn't finish it.

Then inspiration struck and I realized that I could cut it apart and rearrange it again. I decided to fuse the pieces to a solid background that I would quilt heavily. I'm not in love with this piece, but I like the solution. And the heavy quilting is inspirational to me. I love free-motion quilting, but I rarely incorporate it into my pieces. But the texture quilting adds is so compelling.

Sunday, October 5th
After a week of hit-and-miss designs, I decided to return to simplicity on Sunday. I was inspired by the texture from Saturday's piece so I embroidered six shapes to a brown background and then heavily quilting the background. I like the color palette, which is a slight variation on a rainbow. The brown sets it off well.

General Thoughts

I can't wait to turn the clocks back. I wake naturally with the sun, which means the later sunrises are throwing my morning routine off, making me rush through each morning's piece. This week was uneven. I didn't feel particularly inspired, but I soldiered through regardless. I am excited by the texture I started adding with free-motion quilting.

Beyond that, it's another week done. I expect that the ebb and flow of my inspiration and motivation is natural and to be expected. What is interesting to me is that I am learning that my mood doesn't matter. I can create something everyday whether I feel like it or not. Feelings don't matter, doing does.