Settling In…

Smile, breathe, and go slowly.
Thich Nhat Hanh

This was the first week of Elizabeth Barton’s Basic Dyeing for Quilting at Academy of Quilting. I am so relieved that she is taking a relaxed approach to teaching us. I was more than a little concerned that we would be overwhelmed with assignments. Fortunately, since often it is necessary to wait 24 hours before the next step in a dyeing process, it is acceptable to only devote part of each day to the class and still keep up. I am relieved since, of course, I am working on a number of projects at once.

The purpose of this week’s class was to establish a work station and use it to mix the dyes we will need for the class and to do a gradation using a black dye. My ‘work station’ actually wound up stretching from the laundry room, where I had planned to work, to the neighboring powder room. I made the untimely discovery that the outlets in our laundry room do not work (call to builder in) and so I had to move my dyed material to the powder room to set for a day or two. This was necessary as the dye had to be in an environment of at least 70 degrees and my best method for achieving that was to move a space heater into a small area. It worked great and I was quite pleased with my resulting gradation.


Whilst I was waiting for dye to set, I did continue with my other projects – probably a bit too ambitiously as I pretty much ran out of steam mid-week. My body kindly objects to overstress and so, I probably did not make as much progress on all fronts as I thought I might.

My hand stitching project for Karen Ruanne‘s Patched Pockets got some attention. You can see some of my progress in this photo:


Then I think I mentioned that my daughter had expressed interest in a quilt for the expected baby due in March. We made great progress over the weekend on a pattern and picking out fabric, mostly from my stash. The pattern is called Basketweave by Bonnie Sullivan. Here is how it looked on my design wall as I assembled the cut pieces.


And, then there was my winter scene art quilt. I added some more trees and a second deer and then it sort of sat while I contemplated what to do next. I decided to next address the snow on the trees. My friend, Margaret Blank, has also been working on a quilt with trees and snow. She wrote about splattering paint to create the snow in her blog earlier this week. That got me thinking…as this week closed I was still sticking to using Tsukineko Inks mixed with shaving cream and dabbed onto the trees but splattering my show up after some “base” snow is applied with inks. I played a bit on a very rough sample with some Platinum Ink…I am sure I can use it on some of the deeper trees in the forest. Discovered that I also have some “frost white” ink that I think I will apply rather heavily on some of the larger trees at the top of the ridge. At least now I have a plan of approach… week I hope to disassemble the forest (having photographed the placement of trees) and begin to fuse and then apply snow. My object is an abstract sort of representation of the forest. Will be exciting to see how much progress I make – it will be a function of EB’s assignment in the dyeing class, I suspect. The photograph below demonstrates my relaxed approach to sampling – believe it or not, it was enough for me to come up with my current plan of action. The left represents the background forest and how the next progression of trees will appear over them (yes, it only took one piece of an over lapping branch to tell me what I needed to know), the right represents the ridge trees.  🙂


In case you wondered about my Eiffel Tower project, well that did just sit. However, one of the women in my stitching class with Karen shared some excellent lettering that she had done. Lightbulbs went off and I now know my next step on that piece. It will just take me a bit to implement it.

Finally, let you think I spent the entire week tied to my studio. I did get to sneak out for a bit of shopping and found the most adorable outfit for a new born.


On that happy note, I will link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog. See you next week!


Jan 2016 start

Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King

It has been a good week. That’s not to say there haven’t been the usual amount of ups and downs but I love that I am back in my studio!

One project of the week was a curtain for my second grandchild whom we expect to be born in March. I had made her sister’s curtains so I already knew what was involved – and this time I had both the luxury of my daughter being able to pick out the fabric with me and being able to run over to her home to double-check some measurements and techniques as I stitched the curtains up.


This is the week that my online class with Karen Ruanne started. It is so great to be viewing Karen’s videos again. The theme is Patched Pockets with an emphasis on using vintage hankies. As of yesterday, I had a tentative layout for half of my first ‘pocket’ of the class.


And, of course, there is the tsukineko ink experiments that I have been participating in. I have been doing far less than my online pals but I did explore using the inks for my current Paris project. I started optimistically as I was getting feedback that loading a brush with ink and then dipping in gel was a good approach. If you look at my explorations, you can see that my results were certainly mixed. Guess which is when I overloaded ink on the brush! I did find a way that I want to use the inks in the winter scene project I will discuss next, but I have moved on for the current Paris piece to a new idea.


Most of my attention went to my new art quilt based on the winter scene I wrote about last week. As you can see, I am really getting into it (and that feels great!). I have a long way to go…….none of the trees are fused, nor is most of the snow……lots more to add in terms of trees, snow on trees, and accents in the foreground, rocks, etc. But, this piece is growing on me daily.



My mylar ‘pattern’


You have to start somewhere…… first tree experiments



More trees, still experimenting


Sorry about the light reflections from my overhead lighting though I must say I like the effect. In this photo, you can start to get the feel of the forest.

That is where I am leaving things for this week. With a little luck, I will move forward with all of these projects, plus there is this quilt my daughter would like for the new nursery.  🙂

P.S. Linking to Nina Marie’s  Off the Wall Friday blog. Please check out other artists.


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.

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. 🙂