Monday, March 12, 2018

Creating Cards for Spring

Making Textile Cards

My Favorite for Spring
Looking for some new cards for spring? I have a new selection at Creston Card and Stationery, in Creston, BC. You can always contact me if you want something specific. 
Do you want to make some textile cards yourself? Below you will see the start of the process. Click here  or Click here for two other posts about the process of painting with dyes. 

Here the painted dye is wet. I am painting on soda ash soaked cotton which reacts with the dyes so their bond becomes permanent with the fabric.

Sometimes I put the thickened black dye in a bottle with a nib and draw the image first. You can see the bottle in the upper right corner of the photo below.

Oh the excitement of applying the thickened dye to fabric. I find it easiest to work on few card tops at once. That way if I am mixing the red dye I can apply it to several sections while I have some mixed up. You have to work fairly quickly as the setting of the dye relies on moisture so you don't want the fabric drying out. After the dye is applied I then put the fabric in between two pieces of plastic to cure 24-48 hours at 70 degrees F or above.

A length of fabric that has been rinsed, washed twice with Synthrapol which is a detergent that helps keep excess dye from moving to other areas and staining it. I like to iron the pieces dry. Mostly because I can't wait to see how they've turned out!

Another piece of cotton was painted with dyes in a way that may suggest landscapes. I like to use up the little bits of mixed dye colours that I have left over when painting the specific images such as in the photo above this one. Let your imagination run wild.

A window cut out of card stock can be used to choose the composition.

Heavy interfacing is ironed on the back of the fabric where I will be cutting the card top. I use 4" X 6".

Here is a sample of a length of cloth with the interfacing on, now ready for cutting out the card tops. Did you note that two of the corners are lacking an interfacing backing? They didn't make the grade and were culled out. On one the black dye bled into the yellow of the butterfly. This happened as I was too impatient to let the black cure overnight before adding the yellow dye. I managed to get away with it on the larger butterflies as I stayed away from the black line as much as possible. Reminder to self, plan to sketch out images with black dye and cure overnight!!!

This one turned out much better and with additional free motion stitching it should be a card that someone will like as it reminds them of spring. I was quite please with the sky in this one. It was a very light mix of blue, having a lot of the thickener (sodium alginate) in it. I sponged it on. It reminds me of those breezy days in May and June.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Upcycling Shirts

Upcycling Shirts

At the Art Barn  recently, a course was offered about upcycling shirts called 'Fashion Sewing with Stitch + Eco Designs' by Darcy Wanuk . I took it and I am so glad I did. What great fun it was with Darcy giving us mind expanding ideas for sewing. Her eye for design was exciting to see in action as she worked with each one of us individually. I would highly recommend Darcy's courses. Please check out Darcy's site Darcy Wanuk .

Hand Dyed Fabric in Clothing

Since that day, I have upcycled two additional shirts but added my own hand dyed fabric as accents.
For those of you who hand dye fabric, paint on fabric or collect interesting fabrics, I thought you might be interested to see what I did. 

Upcycle Shirt 1

Back of the shirt with some hand painted pansy fabric.

Front details.

Sleeve detail.

Upcycle Shirt 2

Auditioning fabrics
Note the fabric with the lamp post, which I originally thought was going to be my main added fabric, actually didn't make it into the shirt. I felt quite disappointed at this, but in the end it just didn't fit in. 
By the way the lamppost scene is in Gibson's, BC. I did some sketching when I taught a 'Painting with Dyes Workshop' at Carola's Quilt Shop a few years ago. The Sunshine Coast of BC is a very scenic place. 

Hand painted fabrics that were rejected for this project.
Decisions had to be made somewhere. I wish Darcy had been there to help me!
Cutting the square fabric in half!!!
For the front and for the back I needed long pieces so I cut the mostly square fabric in half and after auditioning several colours, pieced it back together with the mauve shirt fabric I had from cutting the lower sleeve off.  I have only one very small piece of this fabric left.
Making a long piece of fabric.

Shortening the sleeve and adding some hand dyed fabric as a facing.
Back Inset.

Front details including tab and button to pocket.

I know it's fun to sew hand painted fabrics in quilts and such but I hope you like this idea and give it a try.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

'Tricking' Myself Into the Studio?

Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it.  While they are deciding, make even more art.” Andy Warhol

Where Are Those Eyes?

Practicing regularly and often is when I get the most improvement and experimentation in my work.

How do you achieve regular practice? I've tried various things such as carrying a sketchbook around with me EVERYWHERE so I could sketch when I had little moments. That was great but eventually fell by the wayside. I've tried Inktober which is making an ink sketch every day in October. I made the month but then that petered out. I tried one painting daily for awhile and amassed quite a few of those but it too stopped. 

You might be different from myself in how you are motivated but here are a few things that have worked for me:

  1. Attending a weekly group. I attend life drawing once a week and I carve in a group once a week. Now, I do paint and draw more than that but having the commitment of the group keeps me working throughout the rest of the week on my own. That is when I often get working on larger projects. 
  2. Working in series. Currently I am wanting to improve my drawing and painting skills of animals. By choosing a goal and also telling others about it seems to motivate me to keep practicing.
  3. Because I think a lot of artists paint their own lives, being engaged in the subject matter is key for me. As I am painting animals currently, I asked my niece to send me photos of her dogs and I have had great fun and challenges practicing where the lab's long gangly legs go in relation to it's body and how to show the eyes under all the fur in the little one's face.
  4. Commissioned work is not something all artist's embrace but I think I learn a lot from it because it forces me to do something I wouldn't normally pick. It gets me experimenting and I like that. Oh yes, there is often a deadline associated with it. 
  5. A special gift for someone or a special project for a charity. Those sorts of things always feel great and gets me running for the studio. 
  6. Requiring art for upcoming shows and galleries can also keep me working be it in the studio or on location.

Do you have other 'tricks' that keep you heading for the studio versus dealing with all those distractions we have in everyday life? 

As a young pup, I don't think he was too sure about the ocean!

Okay the cat was in one of the photos. How could you resist painting that cute face?

I am going to be searching for more Border Collies to paint. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Carving on a Bird Feeder

Carving on a Bird Feeder

I've been bird carving. And for the first time carving into a flat surface (the leaves on the feeder). The birds were painted with acrylic paints that were thinned with a glazing liquid. I sanded some highlights after the paint was dry. 

Back of the Feeder

The leaves were carved with a V tool and painted with watercolour. I wanted them very transparent. Watercolour can bleed from where you want it with the grain of the wood. It takes patience and a building up in layers using a fairly dry watercolour mix.

The Carved Roof

The lovely bird feeders were made by CDSCL Woodshop for the Art Trot Fund Raiser in Creston, BC. The money raised when they are put for sale goes to the Therapeutic Riding Program.


A female cardinal was sighted over a period of time in Cranbrook, B.C. in 2017. Wouldn't we like to see one at our feeder.

The cardinal, mountain chickadee and mountain bluebird were carved from a 3/4" piece of bass wood. I love carving these decorative birds as although they require some shaping, mainly with a flat carving knife, they are not as intricate and time consuming as carving a 3 dimensional bird such as the winterwren (A.K.A. pacific wren) pictured farther below. 

Mountain Chickadee

 I had a lovely mountain chickadee at our bird feeder today.

Mountain Bluebird

Alas, I didn't have any bluebirds at my feeder today. Once in the winter, I was fortunate enough to see one in Arizona.

The Winterwren/Pacific Wren with the Big Voice

One of my most favorite birds.

 Harris's Sparrow

This Harris's Sparrow showed up in our feeder today after almost a month of not sighting it. It is a rare sighting here, especially at this time of year. I was delighted to see it! Can you tell how different his feathers look on his head? All finely dotted.

I know I am going to have to carve or paint him one day. Heh wait, I did paint him. Let me find that photo.

Experimenting with Alcohol Inks. 
The alcohol ink technique was so much fun.

I know I have been away from blogging for a bit. I was busy with a very big project. I will post about it later on. Has winter got you in the creative spirit?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Carving a Willow Wall Hanging Staff

Wood Carving in February

Wood carving, who knew it would be so much fun. Our newly formed carving group in Creston, BC has been busily carving once a week over the winter. The weather has been so nice that one member has already been carving outside. This really is ideal as the chips can just fly. 
Leaf details
This diamond willow staff was purchased years ago on our trip to Alaska. Finally, this winter I started carving entwining leaves on it with a few clusters of berries. To start I sketched one or two leaves, scored around the shapes and carved out some wood to create a relief. Best to think ahead a little as you may want two leaves overlapping one another in which case you want to be careful not to remove too much wood. Making the most of the bumps and twists in the wood is one of the challenges of designing the pattern. Somehow I have a knot right in the middle of a leaf. What am I going to do with that?
For variety I am carving a few different leaf details with one of the designs being the mostly dominant throughout the piece for consistency. The stick is currently about 5 feet long but I will be cutting it down to the necessary length for hanging a textile art piece on (yet to be created by me).

I keep thinking I would like to add some transparent colour to the leaves and berries.
There is as much variety in carving subjects as there are number of people carving. Here are some samples from this week's carving get together.

 This is only one in a whole set of figures for a nativity scene. Note the one below that is finished and painted. L has her block of wood screwed onto a vise. Let me tell you those wood chips can really fly with the piece being so steady. Take care when sitting in the line of fire!
 A, has a good start on this 'mountain man'. All began from a simple rectangular block of wood purchased at the local hardware store.
 R, harvested this lovely piece of diamond willow himself and is cleaning off the bark and carving out the diamonds.
C is in the beginning stages of carving his own designed figure. C, is a painter so working in the three dimensions required with carving challenges the mind in a different way. I find it quite exhilarating.  
Joseph was painted in acrylic and then an antique stain was used to age the finish. After it was all dried, L sprayed a clear finishing coat to protect it.

A, is really getting into carving of characters. The first guy originally had a hat but things happen and you just have to adjust. Just look at that wonderfully shaped cowboy hat on his next carving. The pipe was carved separately and one day at the end of carving it was missing. I looked through the chips in the dust pan and didn't see it. Luckily someone else checked again and found it. Those little items are difficult to carve.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Art Party - Fabric Painting on Aprons

My Completed Apron
My hand dye painted fabric is so colourful, it will be good to have a neutral apron for the Vendor Markets.

Preparing Ahead:

Sew or purchase aprons ahead for the amount of people you want to invite.

Have extra material available:
- for a test piece to start ie 18" square
-in case someone gets their apron done early

Gather supplies needed for fabric painting and provide adequate space for placing materials to share. Don't forget to cover your tables with protective material.

Provide fabric paints. These are ready to use.

Keep acrylic paints separate as equal amounts of the fabric printing medium (Golden GAC 900) will need to be added to make the acrylic into permanent fabric paint. 

Provide a place for your pet and some toys. If your dog is like mine, they are going to want to be in the action.

A tea and snack station is nice.

Tables for participants and their materials ready ahead of time allows everyone to start right away.

 Starting the test pieces:

A bonus of fabric stamping with others is they bring their stamps to share. Look at this beauty carved from a large eraser. Oh yea this was carved by the participant's spouse. Hmmm, how nice is that!
All could be made into something useful: colourful linings, tote bags, wrapping material, adhering to heavy paper for making into bookmark or boxes....and the list goes on.
There may be some highlighting that is going to be done to this piece yet but I love it as it is.

One person brought beige jersey fabric for stamping, later to be sewn into garments.

A harmonious colour scheme with the neutral white and black gives cohesiveness to a sampler. 
A blue blob that started this test piece simply becomes part of the background. The stamps are all of a natural nature creating a theme to the sample.

 Getting into painting on the aprons (after a cup of tea that is):

Starting on dampened fabric. Applying paint with a nylon dish scrubber - the things you learn from others.

Working in black and white. The pocket was stamped separately to create design element.

A completed apron. The stamps were dabbed off on a paper before applying, leaving a beautifully muted appearance.

This apron was built up in successive layers with each layer getting a little stronger colour. Some of the stamps were from Art Foamies, a local company that I can highly recommend. 
The newsprint sheet this participant tested her stamps on becomes wrapping paper.
After drying overnight all fabric must be heat set either in the drier or by ironing. Follow the instructions on your painting mediums.