May Day!

may 1

And a very happy first of May to you!

I morris danced at various times in my life, and today I was grateful I was not dancing in the May at dawn because it was raining and cold and miserable. But I still sang some maying songs, and I admired my work that is hanging at the Cup and Top Cafe for the next two months (yesterday was very busy).

Circles for the month of May will be individual leaves. I've looked at landscapes, and trees and forests, and I'd like to look smaller. I think I can recognize 31 different plants and make something from a leaf of each. I'd like to focus on trees, but I might run out.

This leave was coated with paint from an oil paint stick (think oil paint in fat crayon form) and then ironed onto silk. The heat of the iron melts the paint onto the fabric and dries it, and cooks the leaf too. The whole process smells lovely. There are other ways to get details of an individual leaf onto fabric: crayon rubbings, printing them with paint or ink, using them as a stencil so the outline is visible but no interior features. I plan to try then all.

March inspiration and March 3

March black and white landscapes

What I didn't expect when I laid out my plans for the year in January was a snowstorm on March first, followed by gorgeous atmospheric weather and all the colors I've been thinking about. I'm not one to pass up inspiration when it whacks me on the head and gives everyone a snow day, so for a while you'll be seing small black and white landscapes in circles, inspired by the ones seen above. 

And the first of those is here. 

march 3

The advantage to driving a particular path routinely is watching things change across the seasons. I have a particular fondness for this field – the curve of it into the horizon defined by the woods at the edge, the lines of the rows of corn, as they grown green and are harvested. The cut corn stalks make particularly elegant hash marks against new snow. 

February feather

feb 6

I know it looks like a leaf, but I was thinking feather when I was constructing it. I think felt, with its lack of grain and structure, is harder to make a feather from than something that is woven and can be unravelled in interesting and effective ways. But I could be wrong. 

The base for this is unsupported felt – I just started running the machine through some mixed layers of green until it started to solidify into actual fabric. I didn't stitch cobbling into the background, and I think maybe I should the next time. It adds coherence to the background, and is an opportunity for additional color and texture. 

felted stitched leaf

feb 4

This one I worked in layers. For the base layer, I felted a fine layer of light pink over some green wool I'd fulled in the washing machine. I stitched a pebbled pattern onto it. The leaf started as a thin layer of darker pink wool felted without any backing in the felting machine. That gave me an airy, open fabric to work with. I cut out an oak leaf shape, and stitched that down onto the base. 

I have a critique for it: I think the leaf is a good beginning, but it could be even whispier. I like the stitching on the leaf, but the stitch colors could stand out more. Two layers attached with stitch makes a stronger statement than the previous circles. 

I'll try this again, with a thinner leaf, more contrast between the leaf and the veining colors, possibly more weight contrast in the thread used as well, and a background I like better. 

My best news today is that my sewing machine is home!!!! I am so pleased. While Timna's machine worked like a champ, I have spent the last long while improving my skills and rapport with my machine. 

Feb 2 and a hideous green

feb 2

It looks much more yellow here than in the box! The thread I used (Sulky rayon machine embroidery) is that awful bronzey yellowy green that shows up before spring really gets started. It does not show up so well in the deeper texture of the machine needle felted fabric. I'll try using some heavier thread on the next one. I do have a layer of iron-on stabilizer on the back because without it the stitches go right through the felt. 

I wonder, too, what I really need for a base layer. I was told to use basic craft felt for most work. I don't like the looks of that, and I can make huge amounts of topography in it by overworking particular areas. I have some wool jersey that I felted (on purpose!) that is a little heavier. I could try not using anything, and letting the wool felt to itself. Wet felting relies on the wool felting to itself, and containing any non-felting inclusions. I don't know if dry felting does that. 

So, I have some experiments to try. 

I will leave you with a picture from Family Circus: 

Family circus pyramid

I like Alice just hanging out on my back, holding Aerin's foot. 


February begins

feb 1 2012

February is Pink!

February is also making more use of the embellisher machine, also called a needle felting machine. A set of felting needles is powered by a (small cheap plastic) sewing machine with the bobbin case removed. The resulting fabric has a distinct texture and character. There are some people who can make lovely art with them, using wool roving and other fibers for color and texture. Several Flickr groups exist, including Made with the Embellisher Machine  - that gives you a feel for the kind of whispy, dreamy things you can do. 

Timna pointed out that while she uses a lot of pink, her quilts don't tend to read as PINK!!! because she combines it with other colors. In fact, this one of hers is a study of Pink&___ (fill in the blank). 

In other news, the drawing class is mixed. The teacher knows whereof he speaks, but he tells long stories with no discernable moral. The teaching is what I'm there for. I'll show some drawings at some point. 

twenty-one and reverses

twenty one

This is red foil with star shaped holes over orange silk with yellow/gold thread. Still foiled, still gold stars, just some kind of reverse osmosis.

I have learned some things about foil.

  1. it is very (very) shiny
  2. it does not hold or carry details well, implying
  3. it works better on large areas than small areas
  4. it is only smooth when you don't want it to be (and conversely)
  5. the surface is easily roughed up or removed
  6. gluing it makes for random splotches rather than any kind of pattern
  7. fusible web is tricky in small pieces
  8. stitching over it is not productive although it can make for an interesting distressed look
  9. don't be cheap with foil – one piece doesn't work over more than one ironing, so just plan on using it in a profligate fashion
  10. I don't much like it

Having pushing it around for three weeks, and run out of gold, I think I am done with gold foil. I'll make gold stars on the rest of my red circles for January in other ways.