29 Jul

Circle of Friends

Do you know how sometimes you meet someone or do something and say, “hey, we should do ________!” but then you never do it? Four girlfriends and I just DID IT! It took about a year of planning, but we made it happen and it was great.

I just spent five days in New York with Natalya, Deborah, Robin, and Vivien immersed in all things fourty-something, mother, emerging fiber artist. We went to the Met, did some shopping in the garment district, watched and discussed the documentary “Who Does She Think She is?,” compared notes on career paths, and even had a lovely get-together with other local fiber artists.

It was/is so invigorating spending time with a like-minded group encouraging each other, getting behind the scenes insight on writing and other similar opportunities, comparing notes on possible shows to enter, trying some new techniques and materials, and taking advantage of each others’ talents (we had an impromptu photo shoot of some of my aprons on Natalya’s dress form with Robin’s photographic expertise (that’s her photo below)).

Speaking of Robin’s photos, click on her link above for a collection that pretty well encapsulates our time together. My favorite is this one which captures what we spent most of our time doing: sitting around talking about anything and everything (almost always fiber art related though we never stated any “rules” that we must stay on task), and taking notes, pulling out references — comfortable sharing our experiences with each other. Oh, and the laughter! There was so much laughter. Be it snarky laughter over incomprehensible art at the museums, sympathetic laughter over shared experiences, or just plain funny jokes and situational humor, we didn’t stop smiling the whole time.

We each left more focused, excited to tackle new projects or delve deeper into old ones.¬†And although none of us had met in person all four of the others before the week started, the dynamic was amazing, and when we said “we should do this again,” I am certain that we will. Look out world!

20 Jul

Meeting my Embroidery Module

My sewing machine is available with an embroidery module. I opted not to buy it when I bought my machine, but now, I have a project that could use it, and I have the funds to make the investment.

My set-up got a little crazy. Ideally, the software should be installed on a laptop so that I can take it and my machine to the Bernina store for lessons. We don’t have a PC laptop, but the neighbor has a little notebook I could borrow. The notebook doesn’t have a CD drive though, so I had to attach an external one we had laying around. The program display is larger than the notebook’s screen though, so I’m trying to get it to display on my man’s monitor. That didn’t work, but I may just install the software onto the tower and skip the classes for now.

My goal is to embroider stars to apply patch-like to an apron base. The ladies at the store recommended an easily cut away base such as tulle, and a wash away stabilizer. I tested several variations on the theme. Who knew a non-machine embroiderer like I had so many stabilizers in my stash? Left to right, I tried: a papery tear and wash away one which was great for embroidery onto a fabric base and for less solid designs, but tore too easily for my stars; a waxy feeling papery tear-away that didn’t work at all; a wash-away that felt almost like fabric which worked nearly-perfect when doubled (thank you Tami for that insight); and a plasticy wash-away that failed miserably. (Click the photo to get a closer look.)

Ooh, pretty! I liked this a lot, so I filled a whole hoop full.

Then I washed away the stabilizer and realized the error of my ways. The tulle base kept that star in shape, but the rest just turned into weird little starfish (click to see them larger).

Obviously, I need to do a little more experimentation, but I feel like I’m on the right track. I think I will sew a base layer of stars directly onto my apron. Then I will add on top of that, free-floating stars that I embroider onto tulle and two layers of the fabricy stabilizer (as luck would have it, that’s the one I have the most of!). Or, I may have to use a solid fabric base, though this particular motif is not conducive to outlining in stitch, cutting away the excess, and then finishing the fill embroidery. I’ll also look for a star that has stubbier points.

My daughter had me embroider a kitty for her which turned out great and taught me a bit about changing thread colors.

So far, I’m liking having this option on my machine. I look forward to growing my skills with it.

18 Jul

30 Lines Quilt

A while back I participated in the 30 Lines in 30 Days exercise hosted by Melly Testa. When we reached 30 days, I decided that I needed to do something with one of the small compositions to give the project some context. I’m primarily a quilter, so it made sense to translate one of the squares into a quilt.

Upon request, I’ve added more details as to the process.

Lines 14 -- string!
The line painting

30 Lines in 30 Days WIP 1
The fabric version

(I cut one inch strips of black fabric with the grain. I considered bias strips, but decided that the curves weren’t too curvy and I didn’t want that much play. I pinned the strips to my background fabric following the layout of my 30 Lines drawing.)

30 Lines in 30 Days WIP 2
A little further along

(I used a water soluble fabric marker to trace the the center of the black lines onto the other fabrics. I cut away the excess fabric on the lines. Removing fabric required unpinning and re-pinning lines. I’m OK with that, but those who like maximum accuracy would be better off drawing a full sized cartoon on paper and using the paper as a pattern for the shapes — to include seam allowances and marks to match as on dress-making patterns.)

30 Lines in 30 Days WIP 3
More bits

(I randomly sewed together bits of the fabrics in the fashion of improvisational piecing. I sewed some onto my larger solid areas to add interest and a bit of a transition. Other sections are completely little pieced bits. I used the lines and/or the edges of the other pieces as guides for trimming the pieced sections. If the black lines were removed, all the sections would fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.)

30 Lines in 30 Days WIP 4
Just about there

(Knowing that vertical lines would look best unbroken, I pieced the horizontal sections first. There’s a section where I decided I would stop a line early and where one vertical line connects with another — that required a partial seam and then the addition of a few more parts and then finishing off the partial bit. Again, it’s a puzzle.)

30 Lines in 30 Days Finished Top
All sewn together.

(Do other improvisational piecers who use gentle curves clip those curves? I clipped mine before pressing, and though 1/4″ seam allowance doesn’t leave much to clip, I do think it was worth the effort, especially with my non-bias strips.)

30 Lines in 30 Days WIP detail
A detail.

It needs a bit of unpicking and re-sewing to make it all flat and smooth, and then I need to decide what kind of quilting it wants — different motifs in each section, or sectioned straight line quilting a la Lisa Call’s work, or perhaps something I haven’t yet thought of…

16 Jul

Farmer’s Market

We went to the KCC Farmer’s market today. I love the idea of farmer’s markets, but don’t seem to get out to them much.

The crowds don’t help. I was on a mission though and filled my bag with all the goodies that I can’t get at our nearby grocery (which does, by the way, carry much the same local produce!). I bribed the kids with ginger lemonade, and we came home with a bottle of syrup to make our own too — yum!

I also bribed them with Ono pops. Click on the photo to see all the delicious flavors. Today’s special flavor was chocolate covered strawberry. The guys said they made it for Valentine’s Day and then made more this week for the wedding of one of the founders.

We think they should make them all the time!

10 Jul

Star Baby

I enjoy making baby quilts. They can be anything I want, and they’re not too big — so they go relatively quickly. I enjoy using fun, cheery fabrics I don’t usually use in my artwork, or in decor for our house.

Star Baby

When I found out that a high school friend’s daughter was having a baby, I knew I wanted to make a quilt. Something “fresh and modern.” Here was my excuse to go buy hip fabric! Then I remembered the mushroom fabric I had bought because it was too cute to pass up, and the polka dots I envisioned for an ongoing paper piecing project but that didn’t work as well as I had hoped. Perfect!

Star Baby

I decided that liberated stars would work well with my two fabrics, show off the mushroom print well, sew together easily, and look appropriately happy and youthful. I used the last of the wool batting (that I have a love/hate relationship with) and paid special attention to smoothing, but not pulling, using lots of pins, and keeping my fingers crossed. I removed a lot of quilting, but still ended up with some tucks on the back. Puff and I are just not meant to be. But…. who doesn’t love a light, squishy, baby quilt?! I quilted it in a simple grid to begin with, but then decided it needed some sparkle with silver holographic thread on some diagonals. Then the stars needed outlining. Then more outlining! Now I had too much white grid, so I picked some out.

Star Baby

In Goldilock’s words, it’s just right. Definitely worth the extra time and effort. I think I make nice mitered corners too.

Star Baby

09 Jul

Art Spree

I love free activities for the family. Military appreciation day at the zoo, at the aquarium (OK, that one had too long of lines, but it got my son and I back another day when we really did enjoy the experience), Prince Lot Hula Festival, Family Sunday at the Honolulu Academy of the Arts, and today — Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

I had never been to the museum before, but now I must go back. It is in a lovely residential setting overlooking Honolulu. They had very efficient shuttles from Punahou School (wow, is that a big and beautiful campus!), and it was well organized with plenty of activities and options.

First, we went to the manga printmaking tent. OK, not so Manga unless you already knew how to draw that style, but it was very cool to pull mono prints from the comic-cell shaped plates.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

Then we helped an artist fill out her armature to make larger than life figures on the lawn.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

My kids were deemed experts at the weaving tent, and I joined in the group project weaving fabric into a large fish net.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

After lunch the kids wanted nothing more than to play hide and seek in the museum’s lush garden. One could get lost in the vegetation and winding paths.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

My daughter wanted to play with clay…

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

…and while she did that, the other two kids and I watched performance street art.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

This guy, who’s name I didn’t catch, spun records, painted his substrate, and danced on it.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

It captivated even my usually nonplussed son.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

A dance troupe caught our attention before we left, so we watched them for a while before heading home.

Art Spree at the Contemporary Museum, Honolulu

Thank you Contemporary Museum for a lovely day out.