Archive for March, 2013

Button Words

I have finished the button pages for my book! These ones were really quite tricky. I needed buttons that were small enough to be used to make the letters but I didn’t have a lot of really tiny buttons, and when my mom and I went to JoAnn’s to find more small ones we were quite disappointed. So I got some of the mini-buttons they had, which worked quite well for the E’s, but which they didn’t have separated out into colors so I had to get multiple packages just to get enough of one color. But it all worked out. I’m not sure the letters are as easy to read as I’d like, so I may go back and outline the letters with stitching or something. But only if I have extra time when everything else is done, which doesn’t seem likely. And now, pictures!

You can see in the pictures that I need to erase/wash off the chalk outlines of the letters I did, they showed up a lot more on these pages than the others. I also really need to figure out a better lighting solution for pictures, it’s really difficult to get good pictures of shiny things like the buttons!

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Rooster

I took some time off from working on my book the last couple of days so I could make my mom’s birthday present. Today is her birthday (Happy birthday mom!) so she has it now and I can post about it! She collects chickens, roosters mostly, so I had planned to make her a needle felted rooster for Christmas. I ran out of time then, of course, that’s always how it goes, so I decided I’d make it for her birthday. I am extremely happy with how it came out, it’s quite a bit different than my original picture in my head, in a good way, and also a lot better than I thought it was going to turn out for about the first 3/4 of when I was working on it. Usually I can see how it’s all going to come together in the end even if it looks really weird to begin with, but not so much with this guy. Glad I kept working though, cause he’s a handsome looking rooster.

Sorry about the picture quality, I almost forgot to take pictures so I took them at high speed as I was running out the door to meet my mom and give it to her.

 

I found a new setting for the photo galleries, I really like this one. Hover your mouse over the picture to get the caption, and for the long captions if you click on the image it will bring it up bigger and you can see the full caption. It’s so pretty!

fabric painting

Today was my day for working on the fabric painted pages for my book. I cut stencils out of freezer paper, and used those to get the letters just right (thank you mom for, yet again, coming to my rescue with new techniques). It worked quite well. The part that takes the longest is definitely cutting out the stencil. I’m quite happy with how they turned out, and I discovered that fabric paints are much more fun than I expected, proved my own skepticism wrong again!

 

Next pages: buttons! I’m excited for the buttons, cause I love buttons. Tomorrow is the first day of my work-week though so it will probably take me a few days to make much progress on the pages. I will, of course, keep you updated.

continued progress

The first four pages are done! Here are pages one and two, which weren’t done at the last post.

The fifth and sixth pages are going to take the longest because I’m doing them in sating stitch by hand. I have started the fifth page, and they’ll be nice and portable, but it’s slow going. Here’s what I have done so far on that one.

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I machine stitched the outlines of the letters cause I need a concrete border like that when I do sating stitch or it gets all wonky. In the past I’ve just backstitched the border by hand but I figured machine stitching would be faster. It was really hard to do the curves by machine and I can’t decide if it actually made the embroidery harder or not, but I may not continue with the machine stitching.

I skipped over the seventh and eight pages, because I’m going to do those with fabric paint and I didn’t have one big chunk of time today, so I will probably work on those tomorrow. Instead I did the ninth and tenth pages, which are machine embroidery. It’s too bad I’m not a real big fan of the look of machine embroidered letters, because it went wonderfully fast once I got the settings down. I had some issues at first because of a setting on the machine to make the letters “using twice as many stitches”, which basically stretches them out a bit. I decided to use that setting, because it makes the letters a bit bigger, but I didn’t realize it would clear that setting when I cleared the programmed letters so that I could program in the next word. So the second word looked different from the first word, and I couldn’t figure out why, because all the stitch length and width settings were the same. At the same time my bobbin thread was messed up because the bobbin was wound funny, which will teach me not to use a bobbin that I didn’t wind myself,  so the tension was really tight, and I didn’t know why cause, I didn’t see anything wrong. Then  finally the bobbin just bound up and I figured it out. So I ended up ripping out the second word several times, and for a different reason each time, but once I got things all sorted out, it worked like a breeze.

I also discovered that the bobbin thread actually affects the look of the letters. Specifically, if you switch from a black bobbin thread to a light blue one, the stitching ends up looking like it was done with a completely different top thread. Of course I was also perplexed over this one when I first noticed it, but I kept working on the rest of the page and my brain worked it out for itself. Of course I then had to rip the first word out and re-stitch it so that it matched the rest because otherwise it was going to drive me crazy!

That’s where I’m at now. I have three sets of pages that I haven’t even started, but should hopefully go pretty quickly, and the satin stitch pages to finish, which will take a while. And then there’s the illustrations of course, but those aren’t as extensive or as difficult as the letters, which have caused me to decide that our writing system has too many curves in it and we need more straight lines. Just square letters, no curves!

Cover to Cover

I’ve started working on another challenge piece. This time the theme is books, and the finished show is going to be displayed at the library where I work, pretty cool!

 

So, because I seem to be pretty literal when it comes to these things, I’m making a book. The story is yet again in the format of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” (like the book in this post), that format seems to work well for me. But this time the whole book is going to be made of fiber using various fiber techniques. I’ve been working on it quite a bit the past couple days, since they’re my days off, and have the words on 2 and a half pages done, and the basic plan for all of them. Now pictures and descriptions!

 

For the first 2 pages I cut the letters out of different fabric and they’ll be sewn onto the “page”. My original plan was to cut out all the letters for the whole book but it was taking forever and they were definitely too large for the later pages, when the illustrations get larger. So because I’m flexible, and notoriously lazy, I changed the plan and decided to rotate through a few different techniques.

The first page is the one that’s half done cause by the time I got about halfway through it I was pretty tired and kept zoning out while sewing, which is not a good thing when using a machine. Here’s the page and a close-up of the stitching.

I didn’t have any thread that matched either of the fabrics on the page, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to match both with one thread so I decided to use a color of thread that could just become part of the artwork.  I tend to prefer doing that whenever I can anyway because no matter what you do the stitching isn’t invisible, so why not make it part of the piece?

 

On the third and fourth pages I needle felted the letters. Working on these is when I decided to do each page in a different technique. When I say each page I really mean each set of two pages that face each other, like page 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and so on. The third and fourth pages are actually finished because I needed to use the needle felting machine for them but don’t have space to have both the needle felting machine and the sewing machine set up. And I’m going to be using the sewing machine a lot more than the needle felting machine, so I set the felting machine up first, used it, and then set the sewing machine up.

I started by hand felting the letters in place, because I have more fine control with the single needle. Then I used the machine to felt them down really well, and I had intended to then use the machine to add more fiber and make them darker, but that didn’t work. I discovered that the machine felts hard enough that it pushes most of the roving to the back, and trying to felt from the back to reverse that didn’t work real well. The machine also chews the fabric up pretty quickly, which you can see pretty well in the close-up above. It basically looks like color in the fabric is washed out.

 

That’s the progress so far, I’ll post more in the next couple weeks as I keep working. It needs to be done by April, I wanna say mid-April, so I’ll be working on it a lot for a while.

Knitted Tie

At the library where I work, one of those coincidences where everybody is wearing the same color shirt, led to all of the employees who work Monday nights declaring that Mondays are now Teal Mondays. About a month after that, the library hired a new employee (really he was already an employee just go hired for a new job) who started working Monday nights, and he didn’t have anything teal to wear! We probably could have found him a teal men’s dress shirt if we really tried, but I can’t see him wearing anything other than a basic white dress shirt, it would be too wild for him, so we all joked that he needed a teal tie. Can you see where this is going? I realized I had some nice teal yarn that would work just great, so I decided to knit him a tie.

So I searched on Ravelry (love that site!) and found this. It is nice and simple and I love seed stitch, so it was just perfect.

Because I don’t work Monday nights, except the occasional time I fill in for someone else, I don’t get to see him wearing the tie, but one of my co-workers took a picture for me!

Ben and tie

Looks pretty happy with the tie, doesn’t he? 🙂

Art from Earth from Above

Earth from Above is the title of multiple books by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand which are collections of photographs he has taken from, well, above. I’m not sure if they’re taken from a plane or a helicopter, possibly both, but he was definitely flying when he took the pictures! The pictures are amazingly beautiful, but this post is about a show of fiber pieces inspired by the photos in Earth from Above. And in looking for another post I want to link to in the next paragraph I discovered I have already described the challenge quite a bit here.

September of 2011 at a quilt show in town is when I first heard about the challenge, and I think it’s when most of the first people involved heard about it as well. It was originated by a couple of my mother’s friends, and my friends too I guess, one of whom had found the books and was absolutely inspired by the pictures but decided she needed some help to make quilts out of all the pictures. So we all got started picking out pictures and ripping them out of the books to take home with us so they could inspire us (meanwhile the librarian and book lover in me cringed at ripping up books!). This is the challenge I created my Chocolate Hills piece for.

For about the last year this show has been displayed in several different venues (including, of course, Aunt Annie’s, the shop owned by one of the originators of the challenge) but for the first time it has come to my area and I got to see the whole thing together! Of course, I think that pretty much all the other pieces are way cooler and much better done than mine, but mine was the only piece with 3D needle felted parts! I gotta count the accomplishments where I can find them.

Anyway, the point of this post is not just to brag about my piece being in a gallery show, but to show you more of the pieces in the show. I went to an artist talk at the gallery today (it’s not quite midnight yet as I write this, so it’s still today!) and got to hear more about the processes of making the pieces from many of the artists, many of whom I know, and get some good pictures of the pieces. It was also interesting to hear the questions and get a perspective from people who are not fiber artists, mostly the gallery director. Of course that came with a little bit of the “fiber art isn’t really fine arts” vibe, but she was really very interested and sometimes we can’t help our prejudices. So here are some pictures and stories about the show!

Mary Ann had quite an interesting story about her piece, and a revelation about it too. She said when she walked in she saw the picture on the wall and thought it was her piece. Then one of the organizers asked if she wanted a picture with her piece and pointed at it, and she got confused because that wasn’t her piece! She had seen it and thought someone else had done a piece based on the same picture and, as she put it, “did a better job too”! So she realized that her piece is quite well done, and she really likes it. And we all got a good laugh. The piece itself is quite an interesting technique. It’s a bunch of little bits and pieces of fabric, which she put a fine mesh over to hold down. The original picture is of the destruction after the tsunami in Japan several years ago.

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This is Claire with her piece (second down on the right) which is based off of a picture of an olive grove. I’m not sure what it is but this piece just intrigues me. I’m sorry there’s no close-up, I went back and took those afterwards and thought I got all the pieces that I had pictures of the artists talking about but I seem to have missed this one. The part of the piece that I think really just tickles me is that she used yarn to make little tufts to represent the individual trees. It’s just such a neat idea, and makes a lovely texture and dimension on the piece.

Debbie had several pieces in the show, but these are a couple of my favorites of hers. The one with all the circles is based off a picture of a crop circle and the fabric in the piece is all the same fabric, just used in different directions to give the illusion of different colors. I can’t think of the terms but it’s the type of fabric that if you look at it, or run your hand across it, in different ways the light hits it differently, because of the surface texture, so it looks like a darker or lighter color. I just love how that is the only differentiation in the piece, it’s like a real cornfield. And the shiny one is just neat and, of course, shiny. The picture is dead trees in water, I believe it’s a river, which is something we see a lot in this area, because of changing water levels, and I think is incredibly beautiful and eerie. And the piece just captures that perfectly.

In the challenge they tried to have people doing as many different pictures as possible, but of course there was some cross-over because it’s hard to keep track of who is doing what, and if a picture inspires you it inspires you, doesn’t matter if it also inspired someone else or not. So there were a few pairs of pieces both based on the same picture, which created an interesting insight into the creative process and gave different perspectives on the same picture. The first three pictures are a good example. The first picture is the photo that inspired both pieces, which is a picture of a graveyard surrounded by a ginseng field. They both have a pretty literal representation of the original photograph but one seems to have added in a symbolic element with the hand, and even the literal interpretations are quite different because of the materials and the textures those materials bring to the piece.

The last two pictures are actually the opposite, which just intrigued me. First is the inspirational photographs, which you may notice really only have flamingos in common. And second is the two pieces, which look incredibly similar. (the order of the pieces and the inspirational photographs is actually opposite, so the top inspirational photo goes with the bottom piece) One artist did a more literal representation of the photograph and the other artist chose to focus on the flamingos and create a piece that was more inspired by the photo than a literal representation. Coincidences like that just intrigue me, and the psychologist part of my brain starts to wonder about similar brain patterns and things like that.

And these are just two pieces I really liked and couldn’t resist posting pictures of, and then my piece, mainly because it looks very different hanging on a wall, so much so that I didn’t recognize it at first. The first piece I liked both because it was the only woven piece, and I just have to endorse weaving any chance I get, and because I look at the inspiration picture and I just see tapestry weaving, it’s just perfect for it. The second piece I just love because of the buttons. There’s some interesting symbolism in it and it’s a neat way to represent the stuff in the inspirational photograph, but I’m just gonna go with: BUTTONS!

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