May 102017

Last week we had one more bit of snow and I took advantage again.

This is: Bright Green (Jacquard – all others Dharma), New Emerald Green, and Mermaid’s Dream on snow, already partly melted.

Wet on the clothesline in the bright afternoon sun.

Four hours later, dry on the line in the dappled sunset. The light has changed the look, but the fabric is still quite vibrant when dry and I am happy with it.

It took me a while to get these photos up because I was busy getting ready for the dying party, which happened on Sunday successfully. The fabrics were complete last night and I’ll share about it as soon as I get photos of the pieces done by guests. They are all wonderful.

May 092017

That title is wordy, but it was the best title for this quilt.

The Cats Ate the Jam Last Night Quilt
43 x 58″
This poor little quilt was started last year when I picked up a sample log cabin block I’d made when designing a quilt for my niece. Her quilt went a completely different way and this block was sitting in the extras pile for months. I had so many pink scraps leftover from that quilt, I figured I could use them to round out some more log cabin blocks to go along with the lonely single. I added purples and grays to the existing scraps to make it more interesting. The off cuts while working became the Tintamarre Quilt, which I loved so much that I finished it first. Then I got busy the end/beginning of the year and I finally got around to finishing this one this spring. Then it sat for two weeks waiting for a load of laundry to add to, then another week while the weather was bad for photography anytime I was at home. Then add one more week that was too busy at work and home for me to get around to editing and uploading photos. It’s done now.

Each of the edge blocks is oriented so that it is facing up if you are looking at it from the edge nearest you. Not sure if that description makes sense, but it is omni-directional. This is simultaneous with the alignment of pink/purple color corners and gray/black non-color corners of the overall quilt. That took some arrangement fiddling when putting them all together.

That skull glows in the dark.

One of the cooler, more purple blocks.

The back is a simple stacked coin stripe of the leftovers.

While there are multiple cats in these fabrics, there are as many rabbits, and there are foxes and crows – BUT this quilt came to life because it sprang from the creation of the niece’s cat quilt (much the way Greek gods would spring from the blood of other gods in battle) the cats get the title inspiration priority.

A shot of the quilt on our new couch. It is a good size.

This one is also going into the Etsy shop once in the next day or two.

May 042017

For my birthday this year, I did another pottery party.

Here’s a shot of us all at the table eating, before starting clay work. At the front right you can see one of the zip pouches (birthday favor bags) I made this year. I should share pictures of those; I think they’re pretty cool. Things got hectic the beginning of this year.

Here are all the finished items. We were the first to go in to pick up items and it was great to see everyone’s pieces. They are all so creative and interesting! I have imaginative and clever friends.

May 022017

More spring snows mean more snow-dying!

I wanted darker colors, bolder and stronger than I got even last time and those from last time looked pretty good. I did a few things to accomplish this:
1. Pretreat fabric with soda ash, urea, and salt.
2. Leave wet dye on fabric for about 22 hours.
3. Used a dye fixative after batching.
4. Used only Dharma Procion dyes (instead of Jacquard Procion MX dyes, brand difference only) *
5. Used bolder, deeper color dyes.

If you know me, you know that when I really want to succeed in something, I will take every extra step even remotely reasonable. That is what I did here, and got total success.

Snow, plus dye. This blob is a combination of Deep Space blue, Mermaid’s Dream blue, and Imperial Purple. I’m trying a new setup with the racks over wood studs so that I can both stand instead of squatting while working and have room to put another rack with fabric underneath this one. This process is inefficient and wasteful, so I thought I’d recoup some of that runoff dye with a second piece. For the group dying session coming up I’ll use saw horses to hold three or four studs so that multiple racks can go side by side with space. Raising them up like this should also allow easy placement of more runoff fabric catchers.

After a few hours, much melt. Those studs are now the most colorful wood we own. Slick said we should open an artisanal stud shop. That would be neat, to have things made of artist-dyed woods.

The next day, after setting, fixing, washing, these are wet on the line. There was a lot of wind that day, so this was the best shot I could get. I had to untangle the pieces from themselves, each other and the line itself a number of times over the hours as they got whipped about.

And completely dry. Good, bold colors, and that runoff recoup piece is pretty, too. My stash of hand dyed fabrics is growing.

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m trying to show process photos not only for people who might decide to try this themselves, but for people coming to the group session soon that might want an idea of what will happen. Stepped out photos help when you’re trying to achieve results using an unfamiliar process.

* About list item #4, I don’t think there is much, or possibly any, difference in the brand of procion fiber reactive dye. However, I have had slightly better results with Dharma brand than Jacquard brand dyes, there is a bit more in Dharma containers (which are also larger), they are a smidge cheaper, and there are more color choices with Dharma. Any differences are most likely due to my novice mistakes instead of the brand, but like I said, I’ll take any reasonable efforts for advantages.

I’m going to have to buy more PFD fabric – all these spring snows and prepping for the group session are depleting my supply. Oh darn, I have to buy more fabric! HAHAHA!

Apr 272017

Our apple tree just started blooming those pale pink flowers from their pink frilly buds. So pretty and delicate. Hope I get lots of time to enjoy them before our destructive hail storms wreck them all.

Speaking of hail storms, Slick reminded me that I could hail-dye fabric. He is a fucking genius.

Apr 262017

Finally did another tablet sketch. Kept a very limited palette so I could focus on my line and control work, without the delightful distractions of color. All green, with a kinda violet highlight.
My biggest problem is that my preferred program is REALLY finicky when it comes to touching the screen. If you finger slide to zoom and/or move, about half the time it selects a different layer or different tool. This is something difficult to notice, so I have to keep checking that nothing has off-selected which seriously interrupts workflow. Checking constantly is the only option, though, because it is detrimental to suddenly be on the airbrush or eraser tool, or on your line layer instead of color. That is the largest frustration.
Second is control; the stylus tip is hard, the screen is hard, so everything is very slick – no friction like traditional drawing or painting to provide tactile feedback to assist the line control.
I’m learning, but it is slow. This whole thing took an entire lunch break, plus a smoke break (Obvs not mine, but if my coworkers go out to smoke, I take a break while they’re gone). I’m a few pages away from filling a watercolor sketchbook, which is a rare occurrence (partly because I’m not a full time artist, partly because I have SO MANY – really, SO FUCKING MANY sketchbooks and I have many going at the same time). The call of the nearly completed book is like a siren song so I drift to it instead of the tablet, the stitching, or the pencils.

I chose green because I want to make an all green quilt, but I have a lot of other projects I need to finish and get out of the way first, plus I would end up buying more fabric, which I am trying (TRYING) not to do, since I have so much already.

Apr 242017

Last summer I tried ice dying some failed fabric with ice from our fridge. It was fun, but the end fabric was paler than I’d have liked, probably because it was previously-dyed and not chemically prepared for dying again. My mistake. I still made use of it in this quilt:

The pinks all over, and the greens and blues in the border sashing (mostly) are that fabric.

Last Friday we had a snowstorm, possibly our last for the season. Every year I have pictures of my stubborn tulips covered in snow. Here is this year’s, from Friday morning:

Only that single red bud so far. It snowed most of the day; heavy, wet, slushy snow that made driving that same old cautionary tale we’ve had all winter. By the end of the day it had stopped snowing and started melting.

I haven’t dyed fabric for a while, so I thought this snow would be a good opportunity. On Saturday morning, I had an early morning errand to run, but I was concerned the warm, sunny day would completely melt all the snow before I got back home, so I quickly ripped off a stretch of PFD (Prepared For Dye) fabric and grabbed some jars of Dharma dye. Outside, I began piece one:

Fabric scrunched onto a cookie cooling rack and covered in wet snow.

Powedered dye sprinkled atop the snow. I put down a layer of purple first almost everywhere, then added a secondary of scarlet red, a couple pops of golden yellow. After that, I saw that the black I’d grabbed had chunks of powder, so instead of breaking it up and sifting it, I dropped a couple of the chunks directly on top. I was hoping for a lot of boldness and interest.

This is how it looked when I got back home. At this time I started piece two.

I’m skipping the before picture (you now know what snow on fabric looks like – you get the idea). At this point the sun was going strong and I had to scavenge in every dark corner of the yard to get enough snow to cover the fabric. This is the powdered dye on top of snow picture. So bright. I used a total bottom layer of golden yellow, then added Chinese red and scarlet red on top. I may have gotten carried away with the reds; you can barely see any yellow left.

Click the link to see the rest, there’s a bunch more and I didn’t want to eat my whole front page with one post.
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Apr 192017

I might be the last person ever to get a bread machine, but it always seemed unnecessary before. Not that it’s necessary now, but I finally had enough reasons to go ahead and get it.

The first loaf – almost perfect! A small bit of fall on the corner there.

It is an oatmeal honey white bread and it is great toasted. This is the small size loaf.

Banana walnut loaf. I had a slice of this with coffee on Easter morning and it was perfect. However, I realized that even this small loaf was going to be TOO MUCH for Slick and I to eat ourselves, even over a week. Thus, I sliced up most of it and took it to an Easter art reception – more on that in the previous post.

This is going to be the problem with the bread machine, having so much bread and dough-based items around when using it. It will be quite nice to have this thing do dough kneading work for me, and I’m hoping my coworkers won’t be too upset at all the fattening up I cause by bringing in extras for them to polish off for me.

Apr 182017

On Sunday, there was a reception at the CAG for their Easter Art show. Not having a piece in the show and cherishing my weekend workshop time, I wasn’t going to attend. But, a friend sent me a picture of the cake she made for the event (an adorable, giant, bunny shaped confection) and asked that I make an appearance, with a hat. Apparently there was a fancy hat contest, too.
Conveniently, this gave me a place to take most of that banana walnut loaf we wouldn’t be able to eat.

When I left, this is what The Captain was up to. Sunning his belly, stretched out in the doorway. I took the side door so I didn’t disturb this cuteness.

My outfit. It was too sunny to wear a black sweater, but it matched the hat so well and protected me from the sun, so I did it anyway. My hat is a concoction of tulle, feathers, springs, fluff, and a clock face on a tall, velvet bowler.

My friend’s hat was the largest, most grand thing. If I recall correctly, this is one she made back in her millener days.

The event went as expected. I’m not involved in shows at the CAG anymore, so it was mostly and hour of chatting with a few folks, snacks, and on my way.

Back at home:

Slick is in the edit/re-re-rewrite phase of his his novel, so The Captain took up his customary writing spot, sitting on Slick’s legs so he can’t go anywhere.

Apr 172017

Yesterday, I set up a little Easter egg hunt in our backyard for Slick as a bit of weekend fun. I put peanut M&Ms into big plastic eggs and spread them around the yard in the morning while the squirrels were out, everywhere, noisy and frisky. It is springtime, after all. After that, I made us a spot of breakfast, made sure Slick had his coffee, then sprung the activity on him. He was game, thankfully, but as soon as we got outside I knew my plan had gone off the rails.

This was the first egg – very easy to see at the start of our backyard, but when we went out to hunt, it was gone.

The second missing egg. There were more, but I’m only showing you the Before pictures of the ones the squirrels got.

The third squirrel egg. While I was making breakfast, I saw from my kitchen window that this egg had been disturbed, but I assumed the squirrels had merely knocked it down as they went about their frisking.

After I notified Slick that the egg hiding had been tampered with, he began a different type of search and found the first, pink egg over in our neighbors yard. It was bitten on both ends and most of the candy guts remained spilled on the grass. Our guess is that we disturbed the squirrel thief from eating his treasure completely.

The third disturbed egg, also bitten, but also split open. Only one M&M candy remained on the grass.

We never found the orange egg. I hope we’ll come across it one day, to see where it was absconded to by an industrious squirrel.

The egg hunt turned out to be more interesting than expected, so that was fun. Slick’s Easter basket was a tool bag with a red stuffed bunny in it. I figured a tool bag would be more inviting for him to carry around the yard, plus it has much greater reuse potential.

Apr 142017

Nora is our craziest cat. She is the biggest, but won’t fight the other cats when she should. I could make a long list of her crazy behaviors, but you get the idea. She also might be our sweetest cat, when she’s alone with people it is nothing but loving and purr. She even has a double purr, where she’s purring with a low and high pitch at the same time. Nora loves the love.

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