week 33--soft

Hey! Remember me?!? Yeah, I'm WAAAAY behind this time. Life and holidays and all. It happens. I thought I'd try to get in at least one more piece before the year end. I'd had the idea for this one a long time ago, but never took the time to do it. Pretty lame execution, but I just wanted to get it done. "This is 'soft'?" you ask...well, I didn't want to do a baby's bottom ;-} and certain soft fabrics wouldn't necessarily show up as such in a photo (though yes, this project was intended more for trying techniques than for online display). I'd thought of the appearance of softness as mountains recede into the distance, and that's what I tried here.

I will continue this project in the new year, though I have ideas for others...

Rayon velvet base, blue/gold weave taffeta 'sky', layered-then-cut-away tulle.


week 32--fruit

I'm baaack. This week's word (this month's, perhaps? ha) gave me the usual challenges; not only the I-can't-figure-out-what-to-do-with-this-word challenge, but also the issue that I took my sewing machine to a machine dealer/repair shop/quilt shop yesterday for a tune-up and won't have it back for a week. (At the shop, I proceeded to buy a bunch of fabric for a quilt--now I can't sew it together!) So I had to make this piece without a sewing machine. A friend wants to borrow my felting machine so I decided to use it quick before I pass it on.

Wool, hand-dyed (by someone else) cotton batting, glass beads, pigma pens, pencil, on cotton osnaburg, wool yarn edging.


week 31--sharp

Hey--remember me? Yeah, I'm still out here. This project is delayed for the same old reasons; I'm okay with it so you should be, too.
For this week (okay, it's not really for THIS week, but you know what I mean), I serve up the word 'sharp'. I had a very hard time figuring out what to do with it, but once it came to mind (yesterday), it was easy. This art/craft is full of sharp implements; laid out just right they look vaguely like a table setting.

Seam ripper, rotary blade, needle, pin, scissors, all held down with Fireline thread; machine-stitching over cotton.

Bon appetit!


week 30--bird

I liked this one when I pulled out of the bag, but of course wasn't sure what to do with it. Birds are popular subjects in the quilt art/mixed media magazines but I didn't want to copy someone else's design. This bird design may look familiar to some, as it is from my holiday card many years running. I was doodling, probably twenty years ago in this very room, when I noticed two swooshes I'd drawn looked rather like a bird, a dove. One more swoosh for the olive branch and it was complete. Except for a few scattered years when life got too busy and it was easier to buy a box of cards, this has been what I've sent out. For this project, I decided to add a 'nest' on two edges, so it wouldn't be so plain.
Cotton batik, hand-embroidery, fusible-web.



week 29--map

Darn, I thought this was week 30. I even wrote it on the back of this piece, then had to find out if good white erasers work on metallic colored pencils on fabric. They do.
So anyhoo, for my map-geek friends out there, here is my sewing room, a'la a map of the earth. Sort of. The floor is blue like water, and the 'land masses' are green and brown: green 'mainlands' (sewing, cutting, and computer stations) and brown for storage and such. (The big 'land' in the center has storage underneath, hence the notations of books and fabric, etc.) Follow the 'trade-winds' from the door to each main area; my chair does the same thing, rolling across the floor to each station. I just realized I forgot a map scale; the room is about 11'-and-change by about 12'. I also forgot to show the windows--this is not a basement cave. Imagine one each centered behind landmasses #s 1 & 2.
This is the latest arrangement of my room, with its new (smaller) main table and new desk, and it's working quite well so far. (Hot tip for anyone out there looking for a great worktable--find a neighbor who's redoing her kitchen and snag a counter--this one is a smooth, bright white formica peninsula that is held up perfectly by four little bookcases side-to-side and back-to-back, with knee space along the side for working at my sewing machine, and along the front edge for doing other work. I love it.)
Fusible web fabric on printed cardstock; rubber stamps, pigma pens, machine-stitching.


week 28--fancy

Yowza. Almost seven weeks behind. It was a busy summer, part (most) of which was spent cleaning out my mother's house. I really didn't know what to do with this word, but having found so many monogrammed linen napkins there I pondered cutting and embellishing one, "F is for fancy". But instead I found in my stash a black faux silk and some fancy, antique buttons--rhinestones, marcasite, mother-of-pearl, millefiore, and such. I'd always wanted to try the ruffler attachment that came with my Singer Featherweight so used that to ruffle the black ribbon for the edges. The rhinestone trim was leftover (read: untouched) from another unfinished (read: unstarted) project.
I'm so looking forward to pulling a new word--and having a little more time to work on it!


week 27--tree

So I'd thought of doing a family tree; I have been cleaning out my mom's house and finding boxes upon boxes of photographs. (Who are these people?!?) Then I considered doing the classic 'Tree of Life', a design I've always liked. But I'd found a piece of organdy (or is it organza? I could never remember the difference) and wanted to use its sheerness in some way. After attempting a few different ideas (felting, cutouts), I decided to simply draw a tree on it then layer it over another fabric to subtly show through. I had some Czech glass leaf-shaped beads so sewed them on. They're not quite to scale with the presumed size of the tree, but that's okay. The tree reminds me of the London Planes in the neighborhood, what we've called "bumpy trees" since Joe was a little guy. (They're a hybrid of Sycamore and something else, developed for London because the heavy pollutants in the air--London fog was actually London smog--wouldn't affect the trees as much with their contantly peeling bark. So they became popular as a city landscaping tree. There's your science/history lesson for the day.)

Pigma pen on organdy (I just looked it up--'dy is cotton or nylon, 'za is silk, poly, or rayon; what an education today!) over cotton batik. Decorative cording machine-stitched around edges, hand-beaded.


week 26--music

Wow, am I far behind with this project. Ah, well, I allowed for it to happen.
I figured I'd use the music-print fabric from my stash for this one, but didn't know what else to do. While cleaning out my mom's house I came across some old holiday tree decorations. Our tree always had lots of musical instrument ornaments, and I remember this verrry fragile, glass trumpet; it actually worked way back when, though it probably sounded a bit more like a kazoo. The mouthpiece is gone now; I glued a bead-cap on the end to replicate it (and cover the really sharp edge).

Cotton fabrics, decorative yarn, glass ornament stitched down with clear thread.


week 25--red

My original idea for this week's project didn't pan out so I'll save it for another word. (Intrigued? Not much? Okay.) So idea #2 was to attempt a lesson from my old art major days in college, that of 'layering' colors, or selecting colors so they appear layered, transparent. With this I tried to 'layer' just reds; I think it came out okay. Relatively simple, graphic.

Must get moving onto the next word...

Cotton fabrics, cotton thread.


week 24--vegetable

I decided with this one to get back to technique (as in 'trying new') and not worry so much about concept. I've wanted to try stamping and painting, so decided to use veggies to stamp with. To shake things up, I used different colors than expected: blue for the green pepper rings, orangey-red for the shallots, and yellow for the garlic, all over a green print made by rolling corn. Each image is highlighted (okay, that may be a stretch) with machine-quilting in matching thread. I chose the background fabric because it looked burlap-ey, market-basket-ey. Okey-dokey.

Jacquard Lumiere paints on cotton, machine-quilting with cotton thread.


week 23--park

Our summer vacation last week took us to Wyoming and Montana, examples of some of Mother Nature's finest work. All the mountains out there--probably the grandest, most imposing are in Grand Teton National Park--are make-me-cry beautiful, especially when driving away from them to return home.
When I originally selected words for this project, I'd been running most days on the trails at the nearest metropark, no doubt what brought this word to mind. Since then, I run on roads so I didn't imagine the metropark when I pulled this word; rather, the first thing I pictured was a black rectangle with yellow lines--a parking lot. I'd thought of including a little bit of one in this but frankly forgot as the design evolved. There are certainly a lot of parking lots out there, some not big enough--we were caught in a 'traffic jam' in one as vehicles from motorcycles to enormous busses jockeyed for openings that weren't there--but it's easy to see why: everyone should visit these mountains.
(Note that this is simply a representation--not a scale model drawing of any particular range!)
Wool roving felted onto a wool base; beads.


week 22--number

Yep, another lame-o. (This piece is 'number'?!?) I had thought of 'inventorying' my sewing room, showing it in numbers: 14 scissors, 6 rotary cutters, 6 sewing machines, untold threads and needles and fabrics and books and beads and embellishments and... Well, a song that is stuck in my head so often is Lowell George's "20 Million Things To Do"*, since that's what my mental list usually feels like. So here are little visuals of my to-do list: my family, including its four-legged & finned additions; my house and its upkeep (gardens, general maintenance, shopping--you know, the never ending need for milk and fruit and toothpaste and toilet paper and...); my sewing (this project, other sewing, ironing--sorry for the lousy representation of an iron; some in this house might say that since I don't use it very often then of course I couldn't draw one well, even a stick-figure version!); and things for myself (computer time [read: keeping up with friends], running, and reading). Pigma pen on cotton. That's it.
Still a couple of weeks behind...

*Not sure the whole thing will play. Suzy Bogguss recorded it, too.


week 21--liquid

Hmmm. Already did water and rain; so many possibilities for this word. (Should I have done gushing oil? Grrr.) I'd been thinking of doing something with text, so found some 'drippy' fonts and chose this one, painted it with Jacquard Lumiere paint, carefully and slowly with a really thin brush, and added thread and beads (same one's from last week's project). Not a stellar performance, but you get the idea.
Just two more words to go to catch up--today I'm excited about what the next word will be...


week 20--blue

So does this one say 'blue'? I think back to how lame 'black' was, though someone at the Fiber Art Show last weekend said she totally 'got' that one. (The whole collection, up to week 19, was on display there and people said how different it was to see them all 'in person'.) This one might make up for all the times I thought I hadn't used enough beads and embellishments.
Fusible web, ribbon, decorative yarns, buttons, and beads.
Only two-and-a-half weeks behind--I'm catching up!


week 19--rain

It's a good thing I bought that rain-looking fabric, whenever and wherever that was; I've now used it 3 times for this project. The theme here is pretty obvious, "April showers..."; you know the rest.
Rubber stamps, vellum, fabric markers, beading.
I'm just three weeks behind with this challenge; I'll catch up.


week 18--curly

Well, if you know me--or have seen me--you know that I know a thing or two about 'curly'. I could have done a self-portrait; it would have come out looking sort of like this anyway. This piece was certainly not a construction challenge. In fact is was delightfully easy to cut the spirals after fusing the two layers of fabric together. I just realized as I type this that using the two fabrics for each curl (purple on one side, green on the other) would have made an even cooler effect. Ah, well. That's the joy of this process, figuring things out along the way even if it's too late. But it's never too late; the lesson is now learned for next time. Ooh, so deep.


week 17--silver

Apologies to all the followers of this blog (all 5 of you); life got in the way for a bit so this is very delayed. I can't promise it won't happen again. Also, I was a little stumped with what to do with this one, as I usually am, even though silver is my favorite metal. Part of the problem was that I think I was getting caught up in the 'meaning' and 'concept' of my pieces (and how many beads, etc., were included; thanks NB for reminding me it's not about the embellishments), instead of just creating something, and pushing myself a little outside the box. With this piece, I did use a new medium, like the last entry with the printed dryer sheet. This time, I used a piece of the silver plastic bag that lines a box of Corn Pops. No, really. (If you're old enough, you'll recall they were "Sugar Pops" when we were kids. If there really is truth in packaging, they'd have stuck with that name.) My son had one of those "tiny boxes" of cereal, and before I'd even pulled this word, I figured the bag could be used for something. For this project, I decided to try the look of a big, silver belt buckle. Fusible-webbed to the background fabric (very carefully--it is plastic!!), machine-quilted design (it stitches easily and beautifully!), free-motion-quilted 'belt'.


week 16--hand

Holding hands. Hand in marriage. Lend a hand. Handstand. Think of how much we use them and how we'd function without them. (We couldn't.) They're probably one of the most taken-for-granted things around. I started with thoughts such as those, then looked online for more and found these that I printed onto a used dryer sheet (really--I'd read about that in a quilting mag and knew I'd been saving those for a reason, just didn't yet know what that was). Beneath that layer is the woodcut-look graphic of hands, printed on fabric, cut out and adhered to the base layer of fabric. This piece is sortof reversible, nearly an illusion of see-through, as it is backed with the first printing attempt of the hands and words on one piece of fabric. (It didn't come out as I'd envisioned so I adjusted my proverbial sails, pushed beyond, and am pleased with the results.) It's very simple, and it's done.


week 15--flower

Delayed again, but here it is. I'll catch up to the schedule, maybe next week.
As it's spring-time, today being a damn fine example of it (and I'm inside doing this post), 'flower' was a nice word to pull out of the bag. I wasn't sure what to do with it though (nothing new), but ended up thinking about it en route home from Chicago's International Quilt Festival--that's a whole other story. Anyway, rather than putting a flower 'on' the surface, I was thinking of some of the quilt artists I've read about and whose work I've seen, and recalled that the quilting can create the design. So, using a bright, variegated thread, I free-motion stitched the background to create the shapes of the flowers; it reminded me of the saying about sculptors carving away everything that doesn't look like their subject. I added ribbon to the edge, and stuffed more of the ribbon under a layer of beige tulle stitched around the flowers' centers.


week 14--bug

No, I didn't catch one, and no, I didn't fall into the pit of last week's 'earth' piece. Life just got in the way; I figured that would happen on occasion with this project. But last week's piece is finally finished. Bug. I took a lot of pictures when Joe and I went to the zoo last week; one of his favorite haunts there is the bug exhibit. I generally don't care for things with more than four legs, but some beetles on exhibit had beautiful blue-green backs; one species inspired this week's entry.
Fusible-web applique, rubber stamping, pigma pens, embroidery, beads.
This week's project may be delayed as well, depending on the word, as I'm off to Quilt Festival in Chicago for the weekend to visit a quilt of mine on exhibit and buy too much fabric and other unnecessary stuff.


week 13--earth

Earth, the planet? Or earth, the soil? Just a few ideas for this one, then, while running after a spring rain, I saw so many worms. And as I jogged past a new home site with excavators and dump trucks, I envisioned this scene. Earth, the soil of the planet, being ravaged for another McMansion. How many earthworms (and...?) must have been misplaced by the digging, or at least re-arranged onto enormous piles of dirt now above ground. (And where will those piles of dirt go?) It reminded me of a book my son and I read a hundred times when he was much littler, Farewell to Shady Glade, by Bill Peet. Check it out.
Does anyone ever buy an empty lot that's for sale just to leave it an empty lot? I've always wished I could.
Fusible-web applique (as usual), pigma pen (ditto).


week 12--yellow

Right after I pulled this one out of the bag,I turned around and noticed that my sewing table was covered in yellow scraps. I was in the process of creating a wall-hanging for a sale I did yesterday (sold it, too; thanks J&S!) and there was a sea of assorted yellow fabrics in front of me, more draped over the back of my sewing chair, as well as yellow-headed pins, yellow threads, yellow-handled rotary cutters, and yellow lines on the cutting mat. Big Bird standing in the room would have completed the scene.
Fusible-web applique, machine-stitching, embellished with pins (probably the first time those have been considered an 'embellishment'), an 'Olfa' (rotary cutter) lapel pin, and a wooden spool of thread, marked 19 cents. Ha!


week 11--bag

Again, not so 'artistic', barely creative. Not a bead or fancy thread in site. But it is sorta cute, and the first 3-d piece in the series. Which I suppose makes it functional, as if that matters. Which it doesn't.
Fusible-webbed batik (it just LOOKS like grocery-sack paper, albeit stained), pigma pen.


week 10--water

So I'm a day late. Life happens. This one wasn't as easy as it could have/should have been, I suppose; I ended up going for the literal, representational approach. Rather a cop-out, to me anyway, but there it is. A water tap, rain--that same rain fabric again!--ice cubes, clouds (yes, those are supposed to be clouds), and a river. Yes, it's muddy-brownish-grey, but it's Toledo in the spring and this is what the rivers look like right now. Fusible-web applique, a few lines with pigma pens, and a skosh of machine-quilting. I know now that it's time to push myself a bit beyond my artistic edges. (Big thanks to Lynn at fibraartysta.blogspot.com for showing my work on her blog. What an honor.)


week 9--cold

Two weeks after "hot" and I pull this one. Again, I prefer to show (or at least TRY to show) the concept of the word without creating a pictorial piece. No polar bears or icicles or snowflakes, though I originally wanted to represent the sweeps of super-thin ice on a frosty window. I chose cool colors grading out from the coldest, iciest core, 1/2-inch squares of fabric fusible-webbed down onto Timtex, then embellished with hand-sewn iridescent beads in shades of ice-blue and -purple.


week 8--bubble

This one made me smile, but I didn't know what to do with it. I thought of a big, pink gum-bubble just exploded on a face, bubbles rising from deep water to the surface, and just now thought of a bubble bath (darn--that would've been good!). Had a crazy busy week so didn't put a lot of thought into it until Thursday/Friday and didn't actually put it together until Saturday morning. When I found this 'rain' fabric in my stash I recalled how I love the big bubbles that a hard spring rain makes in puddles on the side-porch roof. I used two different blues and a silver embroidery thread for some of the raindrops, some iridescent beads, and silver fabric paint. (Yes, those are supposed to be bubbles.)


week 7--hot

Hot stuff. Hot potato. Hot to trot. I imagine 'hot' and can't help but envision waves of heat rise and waver like sun rays.
The background fabric was to look like a desert (something I've not yet seen for real), but I wanted to avoid gratuitous cacti and sun-bleached animal skulls. Wavy sun rays in darkening layers of hot colors entwine around each other show heat (I hope), machine-quilting radiates to the edges, and some shimmering orange and yellow beads add spark.
p.s. Is 'entwine around' redundant?


week six--head

Eek. Just six weeks into it and I didn't even recall putting this word into the bag! Not many thoughts came into my 'head' with this one. I certainly didn't want to do a self-portrait, nor simply a generic head; I did consider a frosty mug o' brew with a frothy top. Then I thought of those old anatomical drawings with different areas identified, and found this graphic online. I amended the categories to show what's in my head, though the originals were pretty interesting: moral, domestic, self-perfecting, perceptives, reflectives, aspiring, animal, and 'vitativeness'--spell-check does not like that one and I'm not too sure about it either, but it must not have counted for much back then since it's so small; it's size earned it the 'home' category (i.e., domestic) on my version, since I'm so into housework. Haha. Please note that my divisions are not necessarily numbered by importance, just in order on the picture; basically clockwise. Though number 5, creativity, is, as in my reality, surrounded by the rest of life. The design was traced onto flesh-toned fabric, lines and shadows were drawn with a sharpie and pigma pens; colors were fusible-web appliqued on top. What is hard to see in the photograph is the 3-d-ness (?!) of it; there is an extra layer of batting behind the head so it is puffed off of the surface, then hand-quilted down on the main lines. Week 7, drum roll please...


week V--triangle

Last week's attempt failed. Big. It's still haunting me and perhaps someday I'll try it over. So this week I went for the in-your-face approach; no question what the word is. (I suppose it could be 'bright' or 'batik'.) I haven't done paper-piecing in a long time; I was never a master at it, but that's the idea--it makes for nice points and straight seams with little effort. The prairie points (the triangles along the outer edge) were a challenge to put on well, but I'm glad I chose to make them different sizes. And beads are always a fun addition.


week four--black

So I could have shown things that ARE black: ink bottle, arch-backed Hallowe'en cat, old-fashioned phone, little dress--but those are just pictures, representations of black. What IS black? Quite simply, a lack of color. The opposite of white, which is all color. This white background fabric has tiny circles (really tiny, about 1/16th”) , some of which I filled in with a pigma pen; the idea was to fade out into the white. All in all, not very well done, I admit; rather lame, in fact. Not even a bead on it—I tried a few but they didn’t really add anything. I would certainly not call this ‘art’. But it was a tougher concept than I thought it would be and I clearly did not push myself this past week. (My original idea for this would have taken much longer than a week.) We’ll see what this coming week’s word will bring...


week 3--garden

Ah, a hopeful thought in this dreary Northwest Ohio winter. (My former college roommate, while living in Montana, told me she liked earth tones. "You know, blues and greens and purples." Uh, yeah. 'round here, earth tones are brown and grey.) Anyway, no lack of color in this week's project. Online, I found a great comment regarding gardens. It is rubber-stamped on white muslin, then surrounded by bright green wool with flowers and leaves felted on top. A few beads were added for depth and a tiny bit of sparkle.


this week's word: shadow

I liked this word as soon as I pulled it out of the bag, then I got stuck. A shadow of what? The trees at the park made great long, grey lines against the bright white snow, but I wasn't into making a 'pictorial' piece. Hmmm... Then while looking through my fabric stash, I saw a favorite batik, one with kanji all over it. I wondered what the symbol for 'shadow' is, so looked it up and decided to make a shadow of 'shadow'. I dug out fabrics in light and dark shades of the same colors, so to create the illusion on the background. I suppose I could have used a slightly darker grey for the smaller kanji, but am generally happy with the overall results. Machine-pieced background, fusible-web applique, machine-quilted and bound.


and the word is...air

Okay--the first one is done. I pulled the word 'air' out of the bag last Sunday, didn't like it, and tossed it back in. (My challenge, my rules.) I pulled out another word I didn't care for, tossed it back, pulled another, tossed that one back, then pulled out 'air' again. Out of 52 little pieces of paper, to have pulled it out again so soon told me it was meant to be. I'll deal with the rejected words some other week. If an inkling of an idea doesn't hit me right away, back into the bag they go.
So, 'air'. Tough one. It's hard to represent wispy with solid materials. I decided thread can be wispy so I made a frame (Timtex covered with a batik fabric that has a wind-blown sort of flow to it), and stitched light blue thread across nothingness except a few pieces of fine monofilament (I suppose now that they were structurally unnecessary) from inner edge to inner edge. I couldn't find light blue embellishment fibers at any craft store in town so cut my blue thread into short pieces and stitched them in place as I zig-zagged the outer edge. To add a touch of sparkle, like in the uber-cold air outside, I tied a few blue beads onto the threads (with thread), though their iridescence doesn't show at all in the photo.
Reaching into the bag for word #2...


Is 'start again' an oxymoron?

Okay--new year, new plans. I have placed 52 little pieces of paper in a little bag, each with one word such as 'circle', 'red', 'flamboyant', 'tree', etc., just little jumping-off points to get me started. I will make a 5"x6" piece of art each week, be it fiber or paper or felting or ...., inspired by whichever word I pull out. I asked Joe to do some of the words, so I'd be surprised, requesting he not put in words like 'alien'. (He's 9, you know, so is big on aliens and Star Wars and such. He wouldn't do it, but decided to begin his own project to draw an alien a day. See? Each of us inspires others, in some way.) I'm not planning on any other rules with this project, but to finish each piece within the week--knowing they are not for show but just to get me moving again, artistically. Oh, yeah--and I'll post photos of them here. So I guess they are for show. Maybe I'll post Joe's aliens, too.
I'm not really sure I have time for this sort of thing, but I see so many others doing so much with their time, there's no reason I can't at least try to do the same.
p.s. Re: 'start again', I began this blog a few years ago but never told anybody. Silly. Now it's for real.