September 28, 2012 9 comments

Build Mode - 18th century fantasy version


Construction phase!

I started by taking a length of heavy weight lutradur (about 50 inches), and painting it in a variety of muddy/dusty/dirty shades. (I can't see a difference, can you see a difference?) These colours were so much fun to mix and paint with - I highly recommend it! Like "Making mud pies 2.0".

Of course, if you look more closely, you CAN actually see the gradations in colour and textures...


And once it was dry, I fused it, pulled off the backing paper and cut out all my little buildings.  Although I don't (in ANY way, shape or form!) represent this street is an accurate representation of any street in Montreal at any time, I learned from BSP (who was born and raised in Quebec) that some of the landmark buildings I had chosen to depict in the first kick at the can were in fact, not around in the 18th century but the 19th century. So I removed those.

What's left are representations of a couple of buildings that did exist in Montreal around 1735, and some in the style of.

Once the buildings were cut and fused down (and the windows were cut and fused down); it was time to paint the stones and bricks that the buildings were composed of. (If you click on that pic, you'll be able to see the detail.)

And here they all are with their bricks, sashes and windowpanes. 

There are doors and steps to come as well, but on Monday, we'll finally start working on the SFP!

I'm excited, are you excited?  :)  Have a great weekend!

Kit 120
September 27, 2012 12 comments

The anatomy of procastination

After our discussion the other day, it seems that at least some of you would like to know more about what happens behind the green curtain - and want to know about the spark (or fire!) that gets me started.

Although one person said that they'd prefer it if that explication were a "few short sentences", that's not how I roll. These entries will be word-heavy*, so get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in, or move along! ;)

As I may have mentioned here before (and if not here it is) - generally, I work concurrently on two, sometimes three pieces.

I've found this method works well for me because I almost always have two or three pieces sitting here (points to a spot between my eyebrows), and quite heavily too! Often, it's very hard to think about anything else and I get quite cranky if they sit there for a long time without being made.  (Yet another way in which BSP et all suffer!)

Of the things that hunch on my forehead, one is the piece I'm working on, and the other one or two are the ones that are clamouring to GET OUT. (Read that in an Amityville Horror voice.)

That doesn't mean that I only have two or three ideas at a time, on the contrary, I have hundreds of potential pieces in notes and sketches (almost all of which will never be made); but it does mean that they're the loudest at that particular time. 

So while one is curing or drying, I work on the other, and vice versa.  Usually I can only do two in this way, otherwise I lose focus, but I have, on occasion, done three.  (The third has always been an abstract when that happens though.)

Side note: when I was working on the mermaid for the City Waterfront Gallery in Charleston, one that's currently clamouring was in fact, yelling at me REALLY LOUDLY and I think that's why it was so hard for me to work on the mermaid, and why it turned out so bland-o-rama. 

So that was a really good lesson learned for me.  Although it was immensely flattering to be asked by the curator to create a piece for the show, and I jumped at the chance to be in a gallery -  if it's not something that I can get behind - I need to say:

Because I hate, (HATE!!!!!!!!) that that mermaid is out there, hanging in a gallery (!!!!!) as a representation of my work.

(As for the piece that was clamouring - I'm currently waiting to hear from the family about whether it's okay for me to use her as a subject, so though it still wants to get out, it has to be patient.)


Thirty-five years ago, as a teenager, I wrote a play called The Chair By The Window; the titular chair in the title a metaphor for the complex mix of love, loss, and betrayal that comprised my relationship with my mother. The play won an award, and was mounted by The Sears Festival, (does The Sears Festival even exist any more or was it a local thing? ETA: It was and it does!)

Then, twenty years ago, as young mother, I found myself writing the piece again in the form of an unpublished novel (oddly, and against my will, it was from my mother's perspective) and that too, was called The Chair By The Window.

In March, after the intial weeks of shock and numbness wore off after my mother's passing, I felt a strong need to talk about our relationship again, but this time through cloth.

And of course, it was that damn chair again!  I had intended to make a physical representation of it (I can absolutely see it whole on the design wall in my head); and I've made sketches, written notes, gathered inspirational images and created it in my mind again and again.

That piece was what I had intended to work on concurrently with the one I've been talking about these last couple of weeks, but every time I tried to do more than what I have already done, even if it was just gathering fabric to audition, I'd end up turning off the light and leaving the studio. 

It seems I don't yet have the emotional distance from her death that I need to bring it to life at the moment, so the one I'm currently working on has been solo work.

But, I've had another one in mind that has been percolating for at least a year, about an aspect of my (equally complex) relationship with my father.  

It involves a man's dress shirt - and really - that's the whole of it - the image I've been carrying in my head for this last year or so - a man's dress shirt, worn, slightly rumpled - the kind your kindergarten teacher asks your mother for, so that you can wear it in art class to protect you your clothes.  But I haven't known what to do with that shirt.

The other night, I woke from a dream about another piece (that's now yelling at me), so I clicked on my night light and scribbled it down in the notebook I keep on my bedside table.

But when I was done that, I started writing about "the shirt" - and suddenly, there it was - whole, in my head.  

I'll be starting construction this weekend I think, so next week I'll continue to show you progress on the one we've been talking about these last two weeks and I'll also talk about the shirt piece.
Okay?  Okay.**

See you tomorrow with some buildings!

Kit 120

P.S. - linking back to Nina Marie Sayre for Off The Wall Fridays!

*    I'll label these word heavy posts "behind the green curtain" so if it's not your thing, if you see that label, you can just scroll on by.  :)

** And if you find it confusing or annoying to have me talk about one thing and illustrate another, feel free to let me know, and I'll change how I go about sharing that process  - like maybe do a start to finish on one piece, regardless of the fact that two are on the go, or do a week of one, then a week of the other.

Something like that, it's all fluid right now, so whatevs.  

On diamo!
September 26, 2012 14 comments

To quilt or not to quilt...

What a silly question! :)

So, as you may have seen on Monday's post, we now have a whole new background to work with that needs to be quilted. 

Issue: it needs to be done quite subtly, but it still needs to cover up some of the "bleed through" of the background fabric. 

I auditioned threads for the sky, and decided that all three of these would do the trick.  

I used the darker teal blue as the bobbin thread and used the glossy teal and blue-green as top threads. I put them both through a single needle, put the walking foot on my machine, set the stitch to 4 ('cuz I wanted a nice big stitch) and then did I quilt?  No!

I first marked off some guides with painter's tape.  

And THEN I quilted. 

Next, I auditioned threads for the cobblestones.  As you can see, there's a lot of bleed through from the foliage part of the fabric, so I was learning more towards the grey/beige side of the threads, and using a heavier weight to calm it down - my reasoning being that if your eye is drawn to the thick grey thread, it's not going to notice mustard yellow leaf shapes!

I switched feet and got to quilting.

 Yup, that's gonna work. 

And I painted in a moon and added some stars using some of the beads you might remember from this post.

On Friday, we'll start putting those buildings back in.  But I'm not painting them directly on the fabric this time...

Kit 120

And it's Wednesday, so that means that it's WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network! Check it out. :)
September 25, 2012 26 comments

I 'd like your ideas, thoughts, opinions. Let's talk!

Yken Teruya - McDonald's Bag

There’s been a funny thing happening in the blogosphere in the last six weeks or so. It is a phenomenon I’ve seen discussed briefly from time to time, but around August, I noticed more and more people were talking about it; and now it seems to have steamrolled.

“It” being “honesty” in blogging.

The bloggers talking about it seem to feel an odd kind of peer pressure as a result of *other* bloggers, whom they feel:

1.    Produce more work and/or completed projects than they ever could;

2.    Produce better work than they ever could;

3.    Have more professional looking photographs than they do;

4.    Have prettier homes/neater and/or nicer homes;

5.    Have an aspirational lifestyle that they can’t match;

6.    Insert your particular “envy” here.  (I'll add as they come in)

       a) Have a book coming out/are going on a book tour;
       b) Have been /are going to the BIG quilt shows, or Quilt Market or the like;
     c) Seem to have an inexhaustible source of income for purchasing the "in" fabrics, going to workshops and retreats, etc.

So, what does all that have to do with me?  Well, let me start by saying that I'm not feeling some weird kind of pressure to be more accessible as a result of (entirely fictitious) “life envy”; but those ongoing discussions about blog lifestyle / blogging styles *have* got me thinking about this whole blogging thing – what its purpose is, for both you and I.

The fact is, I’m a bit bored by myself, and I’ve been wondering how I could change my blog in a way that would make it more interesting for me as well as you. (ETA) This doesn't mean I'm going to blog to please my readers; and I know this blog is mine and rest assured, will reflect my point of view - but I'm curious about what kinds of things people like to read about on blogs. 

So I have the following questions:

1.   Do you like to read about the life stuff? 

2.   Do you like to see/hear about other non art or quilt related sewing?

3.   Do you want to see the things that inspire the work? (Which run the gamut from other artists, news articles, clothing, rugs, or ??????)

4.   Do you want to hear more about the thinking process and/or inspiration that drives the work? (Be warned, I start thinking about the finished pieces months before I ever start sketching, let alone pick up a piece of fabric!)

5.   Do you want to see those sketches?

6.  Do you want to see the notes?

7.   Is there something else you want to read about? (but not gardening or learning Spanish as was jokingly suggested below!)

I may not take all of your suggestion(s), but things aren't going to stay the same and I do want to hear from you –your opinion does matter!  So, given your druthers, what would YOU like to see here?
Kit 120

P.S.  Although  I feel like I have always “kept it real” on my blog, perhaps it needs to be said:

My life is that of a middle class, middle-aged wife and mother. I have a full-time day job, a Beloved Spouse who ought to be regularly assured of that title, young adult children, fur babies and a home to jointly take care of.  I have real life stuff that takes up space in my heart, mind and body, finances always need to be kept in mind when purchasing things for my artwork, my house is never as clean as it should be, and at least half the time, I subsist on cheese and crackers and BSP has to forage for meals because I am too immersed in my work to cook.

Oh sure, it *sounds* all romantic on Facebook when I say we had a cheese flight and a glass of wine for dinner, but it’s only because I want to race back to the studio! (Really, it's BSP who suffers most because of my 30-40 hour work weeks in the studio!)
September 24, 2012 7 comments

It's a new dawn, a new day....

and I'm feeling good!

When I left you on Friday, I had experienced a minor disaster.  Having painted my initial background in way that looked good to me in terms of proportions, when done, I realized that those particular proportions wouldn't work for my intended piece. 

You left some really great comments with suggestions about what to do to alleviate the mess (thank you!!!), and I'll likely put one or two in place when I go re-visit that piece.  But...

unfortunately, a very specific something has to be done to fit within the parameters of the call, and though I initially thought that I would fill up that street with carriages and horses and side walks and people and perhaps some Tyler-sized dogs; I realized that the street isn't the focal point of this piece, but the subject of the secret focal point ("SFP")  IS.  So I need to focus on it already! :) 

So I took my "take two" as a way to experiment again, this time using two disparate pieces of fabric that I've had sitting unused in my stash for several years.  

They're strongly patterned and not likely to be used as I'm moving away from patterns in commercial fabrics for the most part - and these were never to my taste to begin with as they were both gifts from friends. So they seemed like excellent candidates for being painted over! ;)

Here, you can see they're still wet with gesso - but this is where the experimentation part comes in - I decided to NOT put a coating of white acrylic over it before I began painting.  I know the pattern underneath is very strong, but I'm hoping *fingers crossed* that that strong pattern will provide a neat effect under the paint. 

I also realized that as much as I loved the colour of the sky and the painted clouds in the original background - the colour wasn't right for the night sky I was seeking to portray -  and after some thought, I realized that clouds are really only going to distract from the SFP.  (Here it is still wet.)

The background needs to carry some interest, but not be soooo interesting that the viewer is distracted.  Anyway - I'm hoping that the SFP will be arresting enough to keep your eye on it, but we'll just have to see!

So. I forgot to take a pic of the cobble stone background in progress, but I used the same method as I did last week (except in darker colours), and once it was all dry, I cut my batting (Warm and White) and prepared for another experiment - one that's probably old hat to some of you - fusing the batting to the top. 

I laid out the batting with some old Stitch Witchery I had around, and then unrolled the painted top over it bit by bit, ironing as I went, and in this way fused them together. 

And there she is, ready to rock!

Quilting on Wednesday. See you then...

Kit 120
September 22, 2012 6 comments

Throw: Great Lengths of Innovation in Modern Quilting

A rare Saturday post to share with you that:

my piece, "Fractured" is a featured piece in the exhibit called:

"Throw: Great Lengths of Innovation In Modern Quilting" 

being shown at Union Art Gallery in Milwaukee, WI.  It opened last night. 

From their website: 

Who is the modern quilter? Where do they find inspiration? Throw seeks to answer these questions and to expose the Milwaukee design audience to the forefront of innovation in modern quilt composition. 

As the resurgence of craft continues in the US, design aficionados are fortunate to witness the inspired movement of modern quilting. Innovative piecing and quilting methods, collaborative interpretations of the medium, and a sublime deviation from the shackles of tradition all inform the modern quilter. True graphic design triumphs with tangibility, modern quilt designs will wake the sleeping memory of your favorite bed clothes with vivid style in form and function.

Featuring quilts, quilted accessories, and mixed media works from artists Maura Ambrose, Sherri Lynn Wood, Julie Floersch, Greely Myatt, Cindy Friedman, Kit Lang, and Valerie Joy.
If you're in the area, please do check it out!  It runs from September 21 to October 12, 2012. 

Kit 120
September 21, 2012 11 comments

The agony of defeat...

So, after I painted the sky, the next thing on the list was the "pavement". Since this is supposed to represent an 18th century city and would need to be "cobblestone" and/or paved with bricks, I decided the shape of them would be achieved with quilting, so I just needed to paint a stone-ish background. 

To achieve this layered look, I started by mixing sap green and burnt umber...

Mmmmm.... yummy! 

Despite the "rotten vegetation" colour of the paint, I knew it would be a great under layer. So I daubed it on all over the pavement area, and then I mixed up some grey-ish blue, grey-ish black, grey-ish white, etc. 

In all, there were six grey-based colours which I layered one on top of each other to achieve the effect I was looking for. 

And I was pretty pleased with it at this point.  *pats self on shoulder*


Is anyone else noticing a problem here?  Maybe one of proportions?

If the focal point of this piece is what's happening on the street, this is great.  

Except, it's NOT. 

And if I trim it where that line is, the piece no longer fits within the parameter of the call.

It has to be a minimum of 40 inches on its shortest side.  Cutting all of that off would make it about 30 inches.

And you know what THAT means, right?

:: S I G H :: 

Kit 120
September 18, 2012 18 comments

The sky's the limit...

Check out those clouds! I'm pretty pleased with them!

After my last painted piece (that mermaid), I realized that I needed painting lessons  - I believe I might have talked about it and some of you advised against it ;) - I *still* think I need painting lessons but haven't had time - so instead, I scoured You Tube for "how to" videos, found one on cloud painting (I believe it was one of  BobDavies88 's videos - if you're interested in painting you should check him out, he's awesome, and free!), followed the instructions and et voila! 

Things are going well so far! Come back on Friday to see if it continues in this manner...

Kit 120

Linking up with The Needle and Thread Network for WIP Wednesday go check 'em out!
September 17, 2012 8 comments

So, it begins...

I have a piece due for a call in October, so it's high time I began, no?  :)

It's 60 x 45 and, as you can see,  involves a city scene.   The city in question is Montreal - circa 1735 or so.  It's not meant to depict a specific street, but people from Montreal will recognize some of the buildings.

On occasion, I shop at Value Village (a non-profit second had store) where I buy a lot of second-hand damask and cotton tablecloths for dyeing and sometimes find lengths of fabric) and a couple of months ago I found a long length (perhaps 100 inches) of untreated canvas.  I decided to use it for this piece.

It's the first time I've used canvas, treated or otherwise - so I was quite interested to see how it would work.  I can tell you before I've got anything done that it's quite heavy, and is going to be challenging to quilt!

I applied gesso first, and when it was dry, drew my city directly on the canvas as above.

And then I got my paints ready for the sky.

Looking deep and dark, no? Stay tuned...

Kit 120
September 14, 2012 15 comments

Fern #2

Well there it is!

So, this little fern is finally done - I say "finally" because it was definitely a long time coming.  After I finished the first fern back in November, 2011 (which I also made using disperse dyeing)

I said I was going to make two or three more ferns,  I guess I just didn't say when.  (Details, details...)

And hey, speaking of details, in these pics you can see all of the little tiny line of quilting, and the veining in the leaves.  Although, now that it's "done"...

I am very tempted to colour in that leaf in nice, mulit-valued greens. What do you think? Yes, or leave well enough alone?

Next week, I start with a piece for a call for entry. It's a big' un! Lots of painting...

Kit 120

September 12, 2012 13 comments


When I left you on Monday, I had begun some of the quilting - these lines are TINY - so they're taking a really long time! :)

More evidence...

Finished piece on Friday - with a little surprise!

Kit 120

P.S. Check out our friends at The Needle and Thread Network!