Sunday, November 15, 2009

Where have I been?

Work got very hectic for me at the end of September. I was preparing for an inspection which occurred on 10/6. The very next day I came down with the dreaded flu which was probably of the H1N1 variety (Our whole county was declared a state of emergency during that time because so many people had it.) I was home for 7 days and consideraly slower than usual the next 7. So then I had to play catchup. Needless to say there wasn't much art happening!

I am very happy to finally be back to normal and my latest endeavors have been in fabric. I have decided to make a quilt for our queen sized bed since I can't seem to find just what I want. I had three thrifted sheets in the colors I am going to use in the bedroom, so I needed a design for a 3 color quilt. I wanted my husband's input, but I have to show him pictures, so I was headed for the graph paper and colored pencils when it dawned on my that I could do it faster in Photoshop. So I was able to lay out several choices for my husband and he picked the one he liked the best. Here is the start of the quilt:

This is a big project. Each block takes the better part of an hour, though I have worked on my sewing area so that I can sew and press without getting up. I also made a small flannel board to build my blocks by taking a dry erase/magnetic bulletin board and cutting up an old vinyl flannel back table cloth and using strong magnets to attach the tablecloth piece. All items I had in my stash. It is wonderful to have a virtual craft store of your own! My husband is keeping count...after I showed him the first 4 blocks together he said "that looks great, now only 45 more blocks to go!"

I do have to take a break from this and I have also been working on surface design. This all started when the local WalMart was "upgraded" and they decided to get rid of half of their fabric and craft departments. Withdrawal set in---I cannot afford to collect fabric at $9.00/yd. I loved WalMart for their choices that were $2.50 -$5.00/yd. Luckily they still do have some fabric and they have kept the basics. So one recent experiment I did was an inkjet fabric transfer to muslin. Here are the pictures:

While not entirely "perfect" that does not bother me as transfers have that quality. I am pleased with this technique because the ink does not run and it is quick (waiting for things to dry is torture for me and I have ruined many pieces with my impatience). Here is the link for how I did this:

Sorry about the lighting. I take these outside to photograph because the natural light is usually better than in the house. However it is now heading into winter and the light is not as good. I really need to build small portable photo area. Any one have any ideas on this?

I did these in the center of a 5 in muslin square and now the thought is maybe to create a crazy quilt block. I have also been working on another idea for adding designs to fabrics, but I will save that for my next post when I have pictures.

Thanks for visiting, Denise

Monday, September 14, 2009

Playing with my food!

It's a busy time in the garden these days. We have many tomatoes and crookneck squash. The tomatoes were my idea. I love a good homegrown one. They have so much more flavor than store bought. However my husband is not such a tomato fan. He will occasionally eat a slice on a hamburger, but that is about it. Therefore I had way more tomatoes than I could eat so I began making marinara sauce. To begin this process you have to blanch the tomatoes to remove the skins. As I am doing this and tossing the skins into my "garbage bowl" ala Rachel Ray, I notice how vibrant the colors are (one of my plants is a pear tomato which has a bright golden skin when ripe).

This leads me to the "playing" part. I belong to an online yahoo group called "The Latest Trends in Mixed Media Art". Cindy Powell, one of the owners of the group, posted on tutorial on creating digital kaliedoscopes. Well, that got me started and of course when I saw the beautiful colors in my bowl it lead to this:

And this:

And this:

You can see how this could be a wee bit addictive. Kind of like snowflakes--no two come out alike. These were all made from the top photo.

So what does one do with these? Well, my mind has gone on quite a journey answering that question. Some of the ideas are still just ideas, but here are a couple of examples:

I happened to have some Daisey D paper that matched the orange kaliedoscope perfectly. The teal is also from Daisey D. The background paper on the purple card I made on the computer to match the kaliedoscope. Here are some close up photos:

I printed the images 3 times; each time a little smaller. I then cut them out. They are layered together with 2 layers of foam tape for dimension. I made the purple one last and got the idea to cut "petals" on the second layer. I really like this effect. I then added some sparkle (which unfortunately does not show up so well in a photo) with Stickles in a coordinating color.

This was not on the "To Do" list for this weekend, but oh well. :) Sometimes I create my best art when I go with the spontaneous projects.

Thanks for visiting, Denise

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My pincushion sampler

I didn't mean to be gone so long, but work (real work) has been very busy. I have been working longer days and this cuts into my art time! Sometimes life is like that.

My 89 year old grandmother is moving to So. Carolina/No. Georgia area. It is about as far away from where I live as you can get in the continenal US. It has made me sad, but I keep thinking about the wonders of technology such as the internet, web cams, and cell phones, so I plan to make use of all of these to keep in touch. She has lived with my younger brother and his family for several years now. The economy in the small So. Oregon town my brother was working in is always hit very hard every time there is a recession. He found a better job back east and so Gran decided to make the move with his family.

My grandmother is the person who taught me how to sew, crochet, knit, and how to be creative in general so she is very much a part of who I am. Because of the move she has given me what she had left of her material and her sewing machine. The sewing machine I have been using is the one she taught me to sew on when I was in the fifth grade. That means it is somewhere in the range of 35-40 years old! I had'nt stopped to think about this until I recently wanted to purchase a free motion foot that would fit it. Sometimes it is just better NOT to figure these things out.

The "new" machine is about 25 years old. These are both Husqvarna/Viking machines which I will say are work horses. The new machine is computerized and changes stitches at the push of a button. State of the art for it's time. All that said finally leads me to the project I am posting today.

I have been practicing free motion stitching. I am still not that great but will keep at it. The change of machines has meant that I have to re-learn how to set the machine up for this. I was practicing the other day on some 5 inch muslin squares. When I finished one I thought I would sew another square onto the "sandwich" to finish the edges and see if I could make something of it. Once I turned it right side out I had the cutest little pillow--so I thought pincushion. As I was looking at the muslin color though, I thought all of my pins are white headed, so it is going to be difficult to see them. So, I grab some turquoise fabric paint and dry brushed it on -- not entirely solid as I liked the texture. I then appliqued a flower and some leaves on the center and finished with a bright sparkly button.

So I was able to practice my free motion stitching, and hand applique which I had not done before!
This was one of those projects that just happened--I had no idea I was going to make a pincushion yesterday and at the end of the day there it was. Each step played off the step before and if I hadn't made the first step it wouldn't have happened at all. So the lesson learned for me is just take a step, any step, and you never know what will happen.
Hope to be back soon! Take care, Denise

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Look what I won!

Hello everyone,

Hope you are having a great holiday!

Just wanted to show you all what I won from Dawn at The Feathered Nest celebrating her 1000th blog! She has a lot of beautiful things there and now I will have a piece of her art for my very own.

I didn't get much done today. We have been having several days in a row of 100 degree weather here in So. Oregon (and you thought it rained all the time!) so I have been very lethargic.

Will post more projects soon.

Take Care, Denise

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Projects, projects, projects!

Here's what I have been up to recently. During this month I had a week off of work. Why does it go by so fast?! We went camping over the 1st weekend, came home for a few days that I spent making things, cleaning carpets, working in the garden and then went camping again.

I had planned to work on some polymer clay projects and experiment with silkscreening. Is that what happened? Of course not, I got off on a completely different tangent (several to be exact) and here's what I made:

First, since I was camping I had to bring along some projects. I usually pack a plastic drawer and then a sturdy tote that my husband now calls the "100 lb tote". I had the urge to do some hand work and had never done any embroidery to speak of so I decided to try that. I went online and read up on stitches. Then I decided to use one of my drawings to see what would happen. This is the drawing I went from. I have had this made into a rubber stamp and I use it all the time.

And here is how it turned out:

I was pleased with the results. I think it looks rather vintage and now I have a million and one ideas for embroidery. I did this on muslin and backed it with fusible interfacing. It did pull a little because when I started it I did not have a hoop. When I got back to town after the first camping trip I ran to the thrift store to solve this problem.

I also got on another handmade book kick. I wanted to spend some time trying to solve an issue I have had when making books with sewn signatures. I have not been able to glue the pages into the book and have the book close properly. This has driven me crazy for some time. I think I have finally figured it out but not until I had made the second book. I still have to make more to see if I truly solved the issue, but here are the two I made:

This is one of those cases where you start out with one idea and end up with something totally different. I gravitate toward vintage looks. I was thinking I wanted to make something in the color scheme of pink and muted green. I painted the background paper and when I was done it looked rather anemic. So I stamped in a darker green with one of my hand carved stamps. The center silver medallion was an experiment with a cuttlebug folder that was laying on my workspace. I laid out the center design and ribbon and showed my husband (who has had quite the education on "art"--I'm sure he never imagined all the projects he would influence). I said "it just needs a little something more" to which he replied "Why don't you put a little thingy hanging down". I told him he was brilliant and ran to finish my book. I am so blessed!

So I actually finished the second book today. I had painted the cover paper thinking I would go for the deep red leather look. Wasn't really happy with that either, so it sat around for several days. For some reason it seemed to come together today as I was trying different papers and fabrics.

I happened to find some fabric in my stash with roses on it that matched the color. I have just been reading the new Somerset Studio Art Quilting book and wanted to try working with some fabric collage. I cut out the flowers and reconfigured them into a design that would fit the book cover. The light colored background is tea dyed muslin and a little cheesecloth for dimension. A button on the lower left and a wire charm I made at the top finished it up.

The other thing I had on my agenda was to make a tote I could use as a purse. I had been carrying a perfectly good black leather purse, but the lining torn and it was a mess inside. I could never find anything. When I finally changed things out I had to laugh at all the things I carry. I must have been a Girl Scout as I would never be accused of being unprepared. I picked up 2 panels at one of my thrift stores (It is called Home for Good and they use their profits to fund an adoption ministry - for a dollar a panel and used them to make my tote. The pattern didn't call for a lining, but I put one in that has 6 inside pockets. I cannot believe how much of a difference this had made. It is much easier to find things and I am still outfitted like a Girl Scout.

Hope you all have been having as much fun as I have. I will leave you with a photo I took while camping. It is a beautiful wild rose. This photo is destined for a future project of course! Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

lastest art projects

I have been busy lately making several new items. Here's a couple. The first was inspired by this photo I took:
It was taken a year ago April. We went on a camping trip here in Southern Oregon. The day we left was sunny, but the next morning we awoke to snow. I have to explain though that we are no longer what I call "hard core campers". We do not tent camp. We have an 8 ft camper that has it's own bathroom and we can turn the heat on when it get's cold.... so I don't know if you can really call it camping but we love it! This particular trip we spent surfing the web, watching DVD's, reading, and I was doing artwork. (We still call it "camping"). Anyway the first day I took a walk and shot many pictures of flowers, bees, birds and nature in general. The next day I got the idea to do the same walk and take the same pictures with the snow. Got some great shots and have been working on a book documenting it, but that is still in progress.

I recently decided to paint a picture from my photo and this led to the following collage: I used my ripped up Reader's Digest technique for the background (see earlier post) and then made two copies of my orginal painting. The first I glued down directly and the second I cut out the bird and the branches and attached them with raised foam adhesive to give the image dimension. I then added the swirls and words on the edges using a graphite pencil (spray with fixative after this step to seal and prevent smudging). Then I glued on a birds nest bead I had made. I know this looks more like a winter project, but sometimes I end up going down a road that takes me to an unexpected place.

The next project is the card I made for my Grandmother's 89th birthday. We celebrated it last weekend and this card just popped out of my head! I made it in about an hour. I don't know about you, but I almost never beat any speed records when I am making something. The only way things go fast is if I am making a duplicate of something I have already made and usually I get bored with that, so it doesn't happen often. Here's the card:

I mentioned in an earlier post that I love Photoshop and this is why; I started this card with white cardstock and the bright pink cardstock. That's it besides my computer and printer. The drawings I had done awhile back and had the images in my computer. I made the dotted paper by using the pattern function in Photoshop. The roses were scanned into the computer already colored.. I just printed them and cut them out. For the bird I used the brush function on some blue patterned paper I had made. Again I printed and cut him out. Made the faux twill ribbon and typed the words on and cut out. Glued it all together and the last thing I took a black fine tip marker and doodled the scroll. She loved it!

Well, that's it for now. Thanks for visiting. Denise

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Time does fly!

I have thought of several posts since my last but getting them from my head to the computer has been a challenge. Winter in Southern Oregon is very rainy. I mention this because taking pictures of my project indoors just doesn't work very well. Outside natural light is much better, however it can be difficult when it is wet.

Anyway, spring is arriving and hopefully that will help in getting decent pictures of my projects. Right now I will start by showing a few Christmas presents I made. (I know Christmas was 4 1/2 months ago. Sorry!)

The first was a necklace for my sister-in-law. The design was based on this necklace I had made while playing around with soldering:

I tend to wear more silver, but she loves autumn colors and they suit her so I wanted to make something simliar in goldtone. I still haven't figured out how to use solder on gold tone jewelry, so I used polymer clay to make the medallion inside the box (same as above) and I used it to make the box.

These pictures were taken indoors, after all it was a Christmas present. There is glass on the front of the pendant, so the odd angle was to avoid glare. I made bead links for the chain; one chain with smaller beads and one with larger ones. Anyway, I think she liked it.

The next present I made was for my friend and best crafting buddy, Jackie. It was a tin message board, that started as one of those cheap, (ahem... inexpensive) silver trays from one of my favorite craft sources The Dollar Store. Here's how it ended up:

After using gesso to prime the tray, I painted it with an off white. I then used Vintage Photo ink by Ranger to lend an antique feel. Once that was dry I glued the paper down. The top paper I designed from scratch in Photoshop. Love, love, love, that program!

The magnets I made from vintage photos that I found at another one of my favorite craft sources, The Salvation Army Store. I really scored when I found a whole pile for 25 cents each. Yeah!! I scanned the photos into my computer, cropped the faces and made them all a similiar size. Then I printed them so they would fit on the flat backed glass marbles. I always spray my printed images with Krylon Workable fixative or Matte finish to seal them so that when I glue them to the marbles the ink won't run. When they were dry, I did the beading around them and added magnets. I just made up the beading patterns as I went, so I really don't know how to explain the process. Don't know if I could repeat it at this point, although I did keep a prototype to look at it case I get the urge. Here are the close ups:

The heart design at the top of the board was going to be the hanging mechanism, but I found it would not hang straight. So, it became a decorative element and I used epoxy to attach a picture hanger to the back of the tray. Epoxy is my new go to product--another post on that later.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed. I have been up to several projects lately so I will try to get them posted in a more timely fashion. But for now I will leave you with the photo I took this afternoon in my back yard as proof that spring has sprung!

Happy Crafting! Denise