Archives for November 2015

Experimenting with Tsukineko Inks

In early November, I wrote a post about my trip to Houston for the IQA show and mentioned picking up some Tsukineko inks. Since then I have spent a little time exploring how I might use them in future projects and I promised at least one friend that I would post my thoughts.

There were three phases to this early experimentation: water based, aloe vera gel, and shaving cream. In addition to the demonstration that I saw in Houston, I also had the book, Simple Techniques Using Stencils and Tsukineko Inks to Create Brilliantly Colored Fabrics, as a reference.

I started off simply using the inks diluted with some water and applied to fiber with some stencils. As you can see in the print on the left, I quickly learned the issues inherent with a finely cut stencil and liberal application of media! With a more careful application on the right, the results were much improved. This first print is one of my favorites.


I also played with some stenciling on paper. Again, it is clear that it will take a lot of practice to learn effective application, even with more forgiving stencils!


I decided to see if I could increase my control a little more with the use of a more substantial ‘carrier’ for the inks than water. Both aloe vera gel and shaving cream were suggested. With the aloe vera gel, the inks did seem to run a bit less but the colors were less vibrant. I applied the inks mixed with gel both with a stencil and simply dabbing with a sponge. I would say that the results using the gel were my least favorite as subtleties in shading were hard to produce.


Next, I used shaving cream as a ‘carrier’.  As you can see, there was still some bleeding with some of the stencils but the shaving cream gave me more control over variation in coloring.


I also tried creating a background first on some cotton using an ink entitled platinum and then applying a stencil afterwards.


My conclusion from this part of my experimentation was that I was not going to get the precision that I hoped for using these inks with stencils without a lot more practice! I did however see a lot more immediate potential in using the inks combined with the shaving cream carrier for creating a background.

Finally, letting go of the stencil application, I decided to simply play with applying the inks with a small brush to fabric. This actually was the most fun. The inks applied beautifully to fabric. I could definitely see using the inks to create subtle shading and nuances in my art quilts.


Linking as always to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

The Strangest of Weeks

Have you noticed that life has a way
of encouraging us to appreciate the basics.

Monday started out fairly normal….I am working on Christmas gifts so unfortunately I can only share some of my sampling of colors and stitching:

stitches curves handwork notes







But by Wednesday night, my evening could be summarized by this:

IMG_7308What you can just make out barely is my daughter’s violin as she and her husband entertained Judy Kate, me, and their four dogs with some Christmas tunes. We were all bundled in layers and huddled near their gas fireplace, having been without electricity and heat since 3 pm Tuesday. Why? The worst wind storm since about 1995 descended upon Spokane on Tuesday afternoon and by 3 pm the majority of homes were without power. Unfortunately  as I wrote this blog on Thursday evening, lights were still out for many (41% of one major utility company’s customers). Fortunately, for us, my lights and those in my daughter’s home blazed on again about 4:30 am Thursday morning.

Given all that was happening in the world outside Spokane this week, we were wise enough not to complain but to make the best of our discomforts and appreciate our relative good fortune: our properties received very little damage, my daughter’s in-laws offered us a hot breakfast (their power returned quickly), and our favorite take-out place was open by dinner. By Thursday mid-morning we were able to return to life more or less as we know it – a luxury not shared by Parisians or thousands of Syrian refugees today.

And so, I found myself going through today with a deeper appreciation of all I have been blessed with. It is such a gift to be able to stitch and work with fiber again while being so close to some of my family.

Update on my quilt from last week: I was able to continue to monitor my emails on my iPhone throughout the power outage and delighted to learn that Quilts Beyond Borders is sending the quilt I wrote about last week to a Down’s Syndrome School in Guatemala. And, a package is on its way to me with some fabric to use in two more quilts. So, I guess I have found a volunteer project to contribute to in our new ‘second’ home. Excellent timing I would say.

PS Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog – check out some other artists!

Beginning to Network

We have now been in our new ‘second’ home for just over a month. After the quick trip to Houston, I returned once again to getting to know my sewing machine after my long hiatus. While in Houston, I picked up a set of pieces to assemble for a quilt for Quilts Beyond Borders. I had never heard of the organization before, but I was impressed with the volunteers at the booth in Houston.

If you haven’t heard about the organization before, here is a brief history:

Quilts Beyond Borders is a non-profit organization run by volunteers that reaches out to under-served children, mainly orphans, across the world to provide a handmade quilt and spread love and hope.  Over 153 million children in the world today have lost one or both parents.  Quilts Beyond Borders was born in March 2007 with the desire to reach out to these children.  Initially they focused on Ethiopia with the delivery of 230 quilts to orphans. Since then they have delivered thousands of quilts all over the world, including Japan, Haiti, India, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Cameroon, Burundi, Uganda, Russia, Romania, Kenya, USA, Jordan, Gaza, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Thailand and Mexico.

I have found that simple sewing is a great way to get my creative juices flowing again, as well as to regain some of my free motion quilting skills. The packet I brought home from Houston consisted of simple 5″ blocks to sew together. But, true to form, I can never simply follow directions. It was fun to play with a layout of the seeming random collection of squares:


However, I couldn’t resist looking through my own stash for something that might liven the quilt up a bit more. I am always amazed at the pieces I have picked up at various sales and guild meetings, knowing that eventually they would be useful. Such was the case this time:


With a little more effort this past week, I was able to sew the quilt together and get it quilted.


It will get shipped off  this coming week. I look forward to hearing where the child who receives it lives.

While I know many of us make quilts for many charitable organizations, adding in one more quilt for these kids would not be too much of a challenge. The quilts desired are mainly 40-45″ wide and 48-60″ long. And, if you only have time to piece a top, they will find someone to quilt it for you. If you would like to support Quilts Beyond Borders, you can find more info on their website.

Linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists are doing.

Memories from Houston

Last week was the International Quilt Association meeting in Houston. I am so glad that I went! I used the excuse that my quilt, Imagine, was in the show. It was indeed fun to see it on display but my greatest enjoyment was getting to see the other works in the show. I feel as though, in some ways, I had forgotten the breadth of the quilt world. It was totally uplifting to see the quality and imagery of so many artists from all over the world whose works were displayed.

I arrived in Houston early enough to attend the unveiling of the grand prize winners. All were impressive but one tugged at my heart strings more than any other……

Eager_to_learnEager to Learn by Gillian Shearer was drawn from a photo taken by a photographer in the Wakhan Corridor, Afghanistan of 2 young girls eager to learn in one of the Taliban targeted new girls school. The plight of education for girls in that region is close to my heart – I have long supported the work of the Central Asia Institute that happened to have built the school these girls were attending.

All of the winning quilts were amazing and you can see them listed on the International Quilt Association’s website. It can at least give you a glimpse into the quality of the work displayed in the main exhibit.

Of course, the show had many additional exhibits beyond the main exhibit, Quilts:  A World of Beauty. SAQA had two exhibits, Wild Fabrications and Balancing Act. I enjoyed getting to volunteer at the SAQA booth and meet some other members. And, there were the vendors! I spent some time going over the list of vendors before the show opened and was delighted to find some of my favorites.

The Bohin company produces my favorite needles, marking pencil and also iron cleaner. It was total joy to go through their wares and, of course, come home with a collection.


I also stopped by the Mistyfuse booth and left with a supply of my favorite fusing. In addition, I brought home ultraviolet Mistyfuse and some Bunny paper to play with. Will let you know what I think of the Bunny paper as I experiment in the coming weeks.

Finally, I found a booth with Tsukineko Inks. I had intended to search online for these inks eventually so finding them in Houston was a real bonus. I was able to watch a demo by Thomas Teng of TSC Designs and then take advantage of a show special that sent me home with plenty of ink and tools to keep me busy.

My hope was to get energized in Houston. Mission accomplished! Now we will see what evolves from the seeds that were planted!

PS. Nina Marie is back so I am linking to her Off the Wall Friday blog. Please check out the artists and note her discussion on controversy at this year’s IQA show. 🙂