May 232016
 

After a recent scrap project, I straightened up the scrap box.
Neat box of scrap fabric.
Look! See how neat and organized that is! I definitely have fewer, more reasonable scraps now.
Funny, I didn’t think I’d used that many scraps.
Hmmm.
Wait a minute, what is that over to the right?
Oh yeah.
The true amount of scrap fabric.
All the rest of my scraps that I didn’t sort into the scrap box somehow.
Dammit. That makes more sense.

May 182016
 

Today it is sunny and mild. Two nights ago we had rain, sleet, snow, then more rain yesterday morning followed by wind.
Apple blossoms in the rain.
I’d hoped to catch the apple tree in the snow, but caught the morning rain instead.

Apple blossoms in the rain.
Raindrops on petals.

Tulips in the spring sunlight.
The tulips are still going strong after the storm.

May 172016
 

I haven’t posted my recent Baking Project results because they have been failures, by my standards. Not that I want to hide my failures and only show the pretty successes, not at all. We should share our failures with even more detail than the successes, I think. But, their failure status didn’t excite me to get the post up.
Here it finally is.
Cherry and cream galette.
This was March’s baking project, a cherry and cream cheese galette. It was decent, edible, but not special. Most of it ended up in the trash because I couldn’t eat it all. I threw it together with a hope and a wish because March was running out and I hadn’t sorted the Glyph cookie project supplies yet.

Shape failure cookies.
These were an attempt to make Glyph cookies. I had elaborate plans for making my own cookie cutter and stamp, but while I was on Shapeways, I found a design for one and ordered it. It was not good. You can’t really tell in the picture, but many internal spikes are missing so I had to turn the cutter a number of times to get all the markings in each cookie. Tedious. The outer cutting edge is too close to the outer marking spikes, too. The spikes are too narrow. The sugar cookie dough was purchased and was too fluffy.

Salvaging the failed cookies.
They are still sugar cookies, so I threw some frosting on them and Slick was happy, at least.The yellow sprinkles are to represent the golden sparkles when drawing Glyphs. They will look good when I get everything else right.

Note for civilians: If you don’t play Ingress, my talk about Glyphs is meaningless. Just trust that it is a game thing I’m working on.

Conclusions:
Baking Projects thrown together at the last minute are not the thing to do. I must take time and follow my plans for best results. I will make my own cookie cutter/stamp for the Glyphs. I will make my own dough without leavening agents to account for the high altitude. This project will happen, dammit. One day.

May 162016
 

When I am busy in the workshop, the cats don’t get enough attention, but they don’t want to leave, either.
Friday and The Captain, sleeping in the workshop.

Friday and The Captain, sleeping atop the badge station. This is close enough that they could see and hear everything going on, but far enough away that they can ignore Star Trek playing in the background and me moving things around.

Last week got busy, so I’ll be playing catch up this week. Lots to share.

May 102016
 

Almost six years ago, I made my first serious efforts with fabric dying when I converted a bunch of scraps into more appropriate colors for my quilt. I used RIT and Tulip brands in my kitchen and did NOT enjoy the experience. I later tried better brands and was happier. It helps that I don’t have to use my kitchen anymore.

Now that I have a workshop with a sink (a nice, deep utility sink, with a flexible spray head, with excellent pressure) I’ve been getting back into fabric dying. With the Centzon Totochtin quilt, I was in a corner to get some canvas dyed. Between a couple small Crock Pots and that sink, it went swimmingly. Since then, I’ve dyed a few things (the Moxie print fabric, for example) and am actually starting to enjoy it. I don’t know that I’ll ever get into dying a lot, or often, as with my other preferred creation methods, but I’m up for some experimentation.

One of the experimentation subjects is batik. It is a wax resist plus dye technique for fabric which feels, in process steps, very similar to reduction printmaking. Anything that combines two of my creative loves excites me, so I am eager to try this. I am sure my initial efforts will be equal to that of a small, uncoordinated child, but that is how most things start anyway. Since I don’t work with overlapping dyes, I thought one thing I could do to start would be to see how the dyes handle and combine on fabric. Thus, this dye combination grid:
Dye grid
Every cold dye I have overlapped with a second layer of each color. Now I can see how they will look together, which should be valuable (nay, essential) in batik. As for handling, they feel like watercolor on fabric, expectedly. We’ll see how it goes when I add hot wax to the process.

Once I get to the marginal beginner stage, I want to branch out. I enjoyed using the Moxie print with dye, then stitching up an item from it. So, I want to see how I can use my lino block prints on fabric which is then batik’d. What will the hot wax do to my acrylic paint in the fabric? Can I use ink effectively after the batik process? I look forward to finding out these answers this summer. Hopefully, many of the batik learning experiments will become useful or merely pretty sewn items, or even ingredients for larger sewing projects.

I haven’t sewn anything for twelve days. After the FMQ investement into the quilt, I was sewn out! I took all of last week to clean up garage storage items, carve blocks, and work on the workshop itself. I will take and share pictures of the progress – you can come back later this week for that update. I find that I’m itching to sew again. My fingertips are tender from using new tools carving and I feel the pull to make needle, fabric, and thread meet.

May 062016
 

This morning, The Captain was excited to find the practice quilt had slid off the loveseat enough to provide a hiding spot for a cat. He shimmied his way into the spot, but his sister Friday was watching him the whole time.
The Captain playing with Friday.
The Captain was convinced it would be a good blind, but Friday wouldn’t let him get away with it. She attacked him through the quilt a couple times, and he tried to ignore her, but the quilt finally moved enough to not cover him any more.

May 032016
 

The snow and cold wind over the weekend meant lots of workshop and sofa + movie time.
Sloans Lake, in Lion's Park, Cheyenne.
The weather finally sorted itself out long enough for Slick and I to have a bike ride. We made it through two parks and halfway around Sloans Lake before heading back. That was pleasant.

Budding tulips in my back yard.
The tulips survived the recent spring snow storms. They’re going to be good this year, I think. I feel like a little watercolor sketch of them is in order, to celebrate their continued survival.

May 022016
 

The CAG (Cheyenne Artist Guild – pronounced SHAG [so say I]) show for May is “Anything Goes” which does away with many of their restrictions, such as only paintings, or only 2d work, etc. Donna suggested I put something in the show, so I got moving and did so.

First up, I had started a ticker tape quilt using rainbow scraps. Ticker tape quilts are sorta constructed as you go. Instead of making a patchwork top & back, you start with whole cloth. So the back is a whole cloth, batting, then the top is another whole cloth. Then you arrange the pieces (rainbow scraps in my case) on top of this and stitch them down. It looks a bit like a tile mosaic, or a stained glass window. This is an ideal quilt type for those who have a sporadic supply of scraps and want to do something with them as they are created, instead of piling scraps on the cutting board and overflowing the scrap box, like me. Since I had so many, I arranged them all before stitching many down. It was looking rather dull, and I needed a way to get my black scraps in, so I chose a center focus of a black cat. Yes, I had been thinking of Spooky. She was a beautiful cat and a good companion.
Black Cat in Rainbow
This picture was taken before the binding and before it was washed. In the end it turned out swell, but last Friday, when it was all done and I wanted to take a picture of it finished before handing it over for the show, it was utterly foggy in the morning. As in, murky at ten feet foggy. So I gambled and waited for a spot of sun, only to have it snow the entire day without a single break. Lost that bet. Maybe this week I can find time to swing by the CAG to take a picture of it hung up, in the crappy indoor lighting there. If not, I will get it back after the show and share the picture then. The binding is that same dark gray you see peeking around from the back and I think it framed the piece perfectly.

While the quilt, which I prosaically named “Black Cat in Rainbow”, was in the wash and dry cycle, I whipped up a hanging system for Purpura, the Scrappy Cat. The CAG doesn’t have many spots for art that sits and Donna suggested it would show better if it could hang from the wall. I got to thinking about ways and reasons a Scrappy Cat could/would hang and the most fun and acceptable ones were via backpack or parachute. I liked them so much, I did both.
Parachute and pack for Purpura.
First, a simple backpack with snap closure and elastic straps for ease of application. I think this is terribly cute, and I am fully aware that it is merely a simple backpack, that it is only cute to me because of its small size.

Parachute and pack for Purpura.
Inside the pack, the parachute. The strings are attached to the pack so it can be functional – in theory.

Parachute and pack for Purpura.
The parachute.

Parachute and pack for Purpura.
And all packed back up. The hook on the pack is the hanging hook for the Cat; it should be able to hang from a large tack or small nail, alongside all the standard framed paintings.

You are thinking in your head now, “does the parachute work?” and I have to say I don’t know. It was late at night and snowing, so I couldn’t do a good test. I think it will, but I can’t say for sure. When I get it back at the end of the show, I will test it.

There you are, that is what I was up to in the workshop last week. This week I’m working on the workshop itself, which is desperately needed. Some shelves, power strip installations, a couple cable runs, hooks, things like that. If I’m a crackerjack, I’ll get to putting up the track lights over the sewing area and the hanging lights over the map drawers. The lighting in there needs help, if only to improve my quick photographs.

Apr 272016
 

As usual, our spring is sprinkled with sporadic crazy weather. After a couple days of perfect 65F + sunshine + gentle breeze, we had a day of wild wind, then a freak two-hour snow storm that made the roads insanely slippery.
Snowy spring in Cheyenne.
A couple hours after that, the roads were completely dry. The air was crisp. It is an unexpected pleasure to be able to walk around on dry sidewalks while there is snow on the grass and layering the trees.

Snowy spring in Cheyenne.
The tulips are continuing to work on their blooms, unphased by the snow. This is the plant that I thought had been dug up years ago. This is the toughest, loner tulip I have.

Snowy spring in Cheyenne.
Well, mostly unphased. That one seems to have lost a petal.

Apr 262016
 

The title is what I was originally going to write on this sketch, but then one of the devils on my shoulder told me this bit instead.
Thread sketch, coffee is a caffeine drug vehicle!

Recently I related an experience to some of my friends, in which I had a (true, but harsh) response come from the devil on one “shoulder”, only to find a caustic response suggested from the other. Turns out I don’t have an angel on that other shoulder, only another devil. As the night wore on, more little devils joined and one medium-sized devil.
My shoulder-residing advisers.
It was a five devil night.

I’m working on a ticker tape project using the scraps from the latest rainbow project.
Ticker tape fabric mosaic, with cat focus.
I have plenty (too many?) projects already, but I cannot resist working with all those tiny bits of fabric making merry on my cutting board.

Apr 142016
 

This quilt is a combination of a couple inspirations for me. One was that I’ve wanted to do a project based on the Pantone Color of the Year for a while. A couple years have passed by, so I decided I had to force the project into the schedule or it would never get done. This was the year. And for 2016, Pantone chose this:
Pantone colors of the year Serenity & Rose Quartz
Pantone colors of the year Serenity & Rose Quartz.
Yeah. They chose not only two colors, but pastel pink and blue. This is about the last color choice or combination I want to work with. Ugh. But, I enjoy a challenge, so I decided to do it anyway – to find a way to make it work for me.

Away! To the Evernote inspiration files for more. I’ve had this pic hanging around a short while.
Photo by Khodayar Jeiroodi on Flicker.
Photo on Flickr by user khodayar Jeiroodi.
The commentary by the photographer is in Persian, so it took me a few minutes to sort out what it was and said, which was general commentary about the site. These gravemarkers were unusual and interesting, but I didn’t want to be literal, or have that color scheme, so it waited for some other trigger to get used. This project was the trigger.

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
I decided on equilateral triangles in shades of pink and blue close to the Pantone shades, as well as the purple they would combine into. All of these are the translations into Kona Cotton solids, so the range it somewhat limited. The neutrals are grays in four shades. When I laid it out, I faced all the grays pointing downwards and all the pastel colors pointing upwards.

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
The layout was good, but the color monotony was aggressively dull to me, suffocatingly really, so I threw in that lime in the upper right corner. It helped. I could breathe again, knowing it was there.

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
The back.
A single horizontal strip of leftover triangles and the darkest gray. I did all the quilting with the Sashiko machine (OMFG what a nightmare!) which uses a single thread to do a skipped chain stitch – this means that the same color is on the front and back. . The quilting lines look much more exciting on the back this way. The thread colors all matched the pastels and grays, and are in paired lines

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
See? A quilt with only this type of stitching on a whole cloth would look good. I do have two project ideas for such a thing in my Evernote, in fact.

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
When Slick saw the More Kitties quilt he was enamored with the ideas of zippers in a quilt. When I started laying this one out, he mentioned how much he liked it. By that time I was toying with the idea of setting it afire in the back yard (see aforementioned suffocating boredom), so when he said he liked it, the pressure was off. I didn’t have to like it at all – he did! My work wouldn’t be wasted. I immediately put his claim on the quilt and he mentioned a zipper. Sure thing, a zipper is no problem at all.

Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt
It is only big enough to hold some lip balm and … maybe a condom? A toy mouse? A USB stick? Not much, anyway.

So, that is done! Phew! The quilting almost did me in, truly. The Sashiko machine is not adequate for a full size quilt. This is one more project done and one less thing taking up space on my worktables. My project stack and supplies are crowding me, and this finish helps.

While I don’t care for this quilt much, Slick still does. He and Nora were using it on the bed last night, which made me happier with this thing than I had been during its entire creation. Now it is his quilt and I like him, so that paints the quilt in a more positive light for me.