Friday, February 29, 2008

Paper magic

Following are some entries for an art contest at the Hirshorn Modern Art Gallery in DC. The rule was that the artist could use only one sheet of paper.

Aren't these fabulous?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hanging on in there

Thank you so much for your good wishes. I'm not very good at enforced idleness, and the worst thing about this sort of bug is that you don't feel like doing ANYTHING. However, I've been reading, watching TV, doing a bit of knitting and even managing to do some painting on the other monoprints. I don't think these will look as good as the first one, as some have a lot more dye and less white space to fill, but I'm going to complete them anyway.
Also I've rethought the Naked Men a couple of times, and at last I'm pinning down how to finish these. I've always wanted to call this set "Comfortably Numb" after the Pink Floyd song - maybe it's the rhyming of "numb" and "bum" here? I'm not sure. Anyway, I've printed some of the lyrics onto 3 of the pieces, in a light grey as a shadow and then again in a darker grey. You'll need to click on the photo for a closer look - I intend that the words are soft and in the background so they don't show up sharply.

So now I think I'll just do some minimal quilting and complete this. Not today though - it's over 30 degrees Celsius today and far too hot to be upstairs even now, approaching 6pm. Another day.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Feeling poorly

I am on Day 3 of a flu-type bug I picked up from a woman at work, which is why nothing is artistically springing forth at present.

Send me some good vibes!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Changing Tastes (and quite a bit of talking)

It's interesting how tastes change - and here I am referring to making our artwork rather than food or men or anything else. At one time, I loved working with brights and sharp contrasts; but now I am right into browns and the colours of nature. Murky is great! Dull is interesting!

Last week, when I did some monoprints, I mixed up a bunch of browns - Nutmeg, Chino, Chocolate, also Burgundy, Ecru, Celery, Rust Orange, Bronze, Turkey Red, Midnight Blue - you get the idea. Not brights, but a very earthy set of colours. Then I did two layers of monoprints, which gives a lovely effect. I would have done more, but didn't think to put paler colours on first so I left it at 2 layers.

When I taught monoprints at the 2007 Quilting Symposium, I bought thin plastic chopping boards to put the dye on. I didn't realise that the paint would "bubble" - I don't know how else to describe it, but it becomes separate blobs instead of staying in a single layer. Initially this annoyed me as it wasn't what I wanted but when I wanted to monoprint, these were all I had, and I've come to like the effect they give.

Today I only had the afternoon to create in, and I couldn't be bothered mixing up dyes, so I decided to add fabric paints to the monoprints to cover the white patches. Below is one as I work on it - using a very fine paintbrush. Again, I'm using earthy colours - Ecru, Ochre, Burnt Umber, Sulphur Green and so on.

And here is the same piece when I've finished. I love this! To me, it looks like tundra (ok, I know I'm a Southern Hemisphere gal) in summer bloom. Time to crack out my Sandra Meech books to get some stitching ideas - she does wonderful works on tundra, though she's actually been there. Never mind, if my colours aren't true, that's what artistic licence is for!

Friday, February 15, 2008

A bit more PIF.....and a bit on VD

Today I received this lovely silk scarf in the mail from Susie Monday. It's part of the Pay It Forward (PIF) Challenge that some of us bloggers were involved in recently. I haven't done this sort of thing with silk scarves, only random dyed them, so I'm delighted to receive this.

Valentine's Day has come and gone, and I'm sorry to report that once again I failed to receive any cards, hearts, flowers, chocolates or other demonstrations of affection from the opposite sex. Nor did I send any. This commercial emphasis on coupledom just serves to make us usually happy singles feel like we're the only ones on our own, though of course that's not so.

I want to have another go at flour paste resist so will hopefully spend time on that over the weekend. The working week is over, and now I'm relaxing.

Monday, February 11, 2008


After doing the monprinting, where the fabric pieces had to fit the size of the plastic I was printing on, I was left with some smaller pieces of soda soaked and dried fabric. I decided to use up the leftover dyes on these, plus a couple of little clean-up cloths shown above. I folded the plain pieces in various ways, and tied them with loose threads. One had a pin to hold it in place, and another a bulldog clip. Then I tipped the leftover primary coloured dyes randomly on each piece, starting with Tangerine, followed by Midnight blue.
The I put the last of the Turkey Red, and followed this with some of the various browns I was using. I had visions of sepia tones in my head, and this was what I was trying to achieve with the flour resists - a pale background with browns and dark blue cracks and markings. I didn't manipulate the fabric much as I didn't mind if it had some white patches.
Here are 4 pieces, which are very pretty.
So is the last one, and even the little cleaning cloths are quite nice. Putting the browns on last gave the other colours time to strike and those first colours came through in the final result, despite being heavily dowsed with browns.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Play Day

As promised, I've spent today on creative stuff. It's amazing how blissful a whole day to play is. I did some monoprinting in layers (photos to come later, as I'm still doing the layers) and also some flour resist. Above is one where I "wrote" in the flour, and I was very keen to see how it would come out. I let it dry, crumpled it, and then applied dye.
Here it is with dye painted on - I love the look of the crackle background and the lettering is clearly visible. Click on the photo for a closer look at the patterns.
After hot washing, drying and ironing. I love how the colours have gone very subtle -the light brown has turned quite pinkish - but it wasn't what I expected. The wording is no longer visible and far more dye attached to the fabric than I thought.
Here's another of the 3 that I did - this had no designs in the wet flour. Above is the "before" shot.
And here is the "after". Again, the flour has toned all the colours down, but most of the dye has still penetrated the resist. And lastly, this one - no "before" shot was taken, just this "after" one.
This one was done with a whole pile of different browns. Lovely subtle shades, but little hint of the underlying design as most of the dye got through.

Summary: more work necessary. There are a number of possibilities as to why these didn't come out as expected, so I'll keep experimenting.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Yes, this is indeed the 400th blog entry! Yippee! Thanks to all my lovely readers who make blogging so worthwhile. Now I know I haven't been posting much over the last couple of weeks due to pressure of work - the new business is time-consuming, plus I am back to being a hands-on "mother" for Arisa. In my spare time, I get to process and pack my dye orders for the other business. Sigh.

However, I haven't been idle, and I have several things on the needles, as I knit in the evenings when I'm relaxing in front of TV. Also, I found this lovely book at the University Bookshop (interestingly enough, this is located at Christchurch Hospital, where I was passing time waiting for someone who had an appointment there).
Apologies for the flash reflection on these photos which were taken last evening. You probably won't be reading this book unless you're a Kiwi, as it's about New Zealand craftspeople. There are several quilters/fibre artists in it but I found the other artisans inspiring - see the following collages:

Intricate bone carvings in Maori designs; a lovely wooden bowl inlaid with paua (abalone) shell; a carved wooden statue.
Felt hats; glass beads with "flowers" inside them; and these gorgeous flamboyant teapots.

I've also just received the latest issue of "Quilting Arts" magazine. I can't believe there are so many articles in it about things I want do and am poised to do! Monoprinting! Monoprinting in layers! Framing! Ah, I love that magazine.

Today I am exercising self-control and packing my dye orders BEFORE being creative. Anyway, I have to soda soak some fabric for monoprinting so need to wait for that to dry. Then I have PLANS!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Arisa from Japan

This is Arisa, who is 16 and from Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. She arrived in New Zealand on Saturday and will be staying with me for 10 weeks, atending the local high school and improving her English. Here she is holding up her new school uniform.
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