Cynthia St. Charles Store

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Last Day of March

It has finally stopped snowing after nonstop, dreary, depressing winter for several days. Highways are closed and people are stranded. We are fortunate to have electricity, still.

I had not left the house in days, but went out this morning in search of Elmers Glue Gel. The streets were slick and icy and I was unable to track down any blue glue gel. I went to WalMart, Target and Michaels, all to no avail.

I guess I will have to put off my plans for a painted cityscape I have in mind.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Primitive Hearts - The Process

I've never done a heart quilt, but I had a plan for a "Love" quilt. The plan is to somehow convey the meaning of love through symbols and text on a quilt. I started it on my husband's birthday. I was thinking about how wonderful it is to have him in my life and I was feeling very much in the mindset for starting my love quilt.

I began with another Setacolor painting on Elmers Glue Resist. I like the primitive look that comes with this technique. The primary colors are very bold.

After I was happy with my basic design and colors, I made a heart stamp. Yes, I made a stamp specially for this quilt.

This stamp took me about five minutes to make. Remember, we are going for a primitive look here, so quick and dirty is appropriate.

I planned the size of the stamp according to the size wood block I had on hand. I traced my wood block on the corner of the rubber sheet so I would be sure to make it the right size. Then, I carved my design on the plumbers rubber gasket material using a speedball cutter. I cut it out with scissors and attached it using double sided water resistant carpet tape.

Then, I got busy stamping. I used Jacquard Lumiere paints for stamping - Pearl Blue, True Gold, and Metallic Gold

The next step was adding the screen printing. I spent a lot of time online researching the text I wanted for my screens. I wanted a revised 1 Corinthians 13 excerpt. I also wanted the Greek words for Love and I was able to print those out in Greek. Then I added some text from the Japanese version of the Wikipedia entry on Love. I did my first screen printing in white because those resist lines are going to be white when they are washed out. Because of the glue resist, my fabric did not lay flat and some of the screen printing is fuzzy. I think that is OK because it is supposed to look primitive, and I will go back later with another layer of screen printing - probably in navy blue - after the resist lines have been washed out.

Now I am going to just put this piece aside for a while to let the paint cure. I don't want to wash it out until I am certain the paint is fully set. In a week or two, I will iron it really well to set the paint. Then I will soak it in warm water to soften the glue gel before washing it in the washing machine. I let it soak a good while - about 30 minutes. I have never had trouble getting the resist out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Side Effects

I have found myself increasingly annoyed by the frequency of pharmaceutical ads in the media recently. It seems impossible to watch television, or open a magazine without being blasted with propaganda from drug companies. One thing that really amazes me is the list of side effects that always accompanies the advertising.

This quilt is my personal response to all the pharmaceutical propaganda.
For the quilting, I listed side effects of various drugs, written in stitches. I found most of these side effects online. Others were gleaned from advertisements.

Midnight at Monument Valley

One of the reasons that I tend to be fairly productive is that I try to make the best use of my studio space and time by working in assembly line fashion.

I am just now finishing up a group of quilt tops that were waiting around for quilting and binding. I have been using quite a lot of painted fabric in my recent series of quilts and painting takes up a lot of horizontal space. I like to dry things flat, so all my tables will be covered with fabric pieces in various stages of progress for a week or so. Then, when a group of pieces are painted, I will shift to design phase with piecing and.or fusing. And I will do several pieces simultaneously. I find I am happiest when I am doing several rather different designs at once. I can be problem solving for one while I am doing mindless piecing on another, etc.

Once I have several quilt tops designed, I will use my work table again for layering and pinning quilts, etc.

I can't really explain why, but I have been working quite a bit with landscapes recently. Not really my strong suit, but it is a good way for me to work on my skills and techniques. So far, the landscapes are also the pieces that seem to sell in the local galleries. Makes sense. People come to this area for the scenery and they want to take something home with them that reminds them of their trip.

Today I finished the quilting on the Monument Valley piece and am looking forward to painting some of the designs I have been thinking about during the intensive quilting and binding phase these past two weeks. I have finished six quilts this month. I have about six more in mind for next month.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Popart Roses

This is another in a series of wholecloth Setacolor painted, Elmers Glue resist pieces. The lines are actually a type of design that shows up regularly in my doodles. I was not really going for flowers when I started, but it looked like flowers when I was finished with the resist lines, so I painted it as such. I am enjoying using complimentary colors these days. I filled in the white lines using a marker. I think this piece would be much improved by the addition of beads, however, I am not really sewing beads these days because the baby is on the move. He crawls, walks, and climbs. He gets his hands on everything and seems to put everything in his mouth. I can generally be counted on to drop a few beads or spill a whole bunch of them. So no bead sewing right now. Otherwise it is finished.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Village #1 Lessons Learned

This piece began as an experiment. I'd used Elmers Glue Gel as a resist for painting with Setacolor paints in the past, but I'd not tried painting different colors within the resist lines before.

I was initially disappointed with the bleeding that occured, but after washing it out, I came to like the childlike appearance of this piece. I'd originally intended to give it depth with shading in the white lines, etc., but ultimately opted for a very simple approach. I kept the white lines and quilted sketchy double continuous lines within the white using a variegated black to gray to white polyester thread, which I think perfectly accents the style of the piece. The binding is a commercial black /gray polka dot.

I am calling this Village #1. I expect to explore this design approach further with additional pieces using the same or similar techniques.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Little Delta

Earlier this month in my "Painting and Complaining" post, I included the image of a large single piece of hand painted fabric.

Yesterday I finished quilting that piece. All of the fabrics in the quilt are hand painted. I used reverse applique with a silk organza overlay which was dyed with Colorhue dyes and backed with Misty Fuse. The mountains were hand painted with Setacolor, as was the background sunset / river piece, which acted as the foundation for the reverse applique process.

The inspiration for this piece was an adventure in Alaska in which my husband and I were flown by bush plane to an area about 50 miles from Fairbanks. We were dropped off on the banks of the Little Delta River. We then followed the river upstream on foot hoping to locate the old prospectors cabin where Joe's father hunted with a bow and arrow back in the 50's. We hiked over river rocks for hours and hours and into the night before we finally gave in and pitched our tent on a sandbank.

The next morning, we awoke to the faint smell of smoke in the air. We discovered we'd slept just a few hundred feet from the cabin. However, the cabin was inhabited by a group of gun hunters who had an arsenal of guns, so it was fortunate that we did not find the cabin in the dark, as we would have startled them if we had barged in in the night (and who knows what might have happened, as they easily could have mistaken us for a grizzly bear).

Anyway, this quilt is an attempt to depict the splendor of that remote region and the vast uninhabited distances we hiked (about 13 miles each way), where likely no man has walked before - or at least not for a very long time. . . . it was a very moving experience for us.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Printing Blocks - Plumbers Gasket

Some people cut lino blocks for printing, but I remember cutting lino blocks in high school art class and thought it was tough material to cut, resulting in a lot of bloody fingers.

My preference is using plumbers gasket material, a rubber sheet that can be found in a hardware store. It comes in sheets up to 12" square. It is easy to mark a design on the rubber. It can be cut to your desired shape and size with scissors. It carves very easily with a linoleum cutter (no bleeding!)

After I have my design cut, I mount it to a flat block of wood using water resistant double sided carpet tape - also found at the hardware store. This keeps the stamp surface flat for a good print, and because it is water resistant - it holds up well to multiple washings.

The resulting block is very easy to use. I like to pour several colors of paint onto my palette (a disposable foam plate) and use a foam paintbrush to daub the paint on the block. With this technique, I am able to achieve a nice variety of shades and colors with each printing. For best results, use a padded surface for printing on fabric.

I usually stamp with a variety of acrylic and fabric paints including my favorite - Jacquard Lumiere metallics. Clean up is easy with soap and water and an old toothbrush.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lowertown Arts District Quilt Walk - Negative Collaborations #2

I am shipping things today. This is an image of the quilt I will be sending to the Lowertown Arts Distric Quilt Walk in Paducah, KY. It will be on exhibit from April 11 - 28th.

This piece is called Negative Collaboration #2 because it is a collaboration with my youngest daughter, Michelle Shumaker. She is a photo major and had created a series of screen prints using a collage of film negatives. She wasn't happy with the results, so I asked if I could use them. She reluctantly agreed but insisted I acknowledge her contribution - which is significant.

I used her screen to print on silk organza and black cotton, then layered and hand stitched with pearl cotton.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Major Distraction

Airus is 10 months old.

He is walking halfway across the room, but still crawls as his primary mode of transportation. He has six teeth, four on top. He loves the great outdoors, the cat, dog, birdwatching, squirrel watching.
He has started on solids and really loves fruit, puffed rice and rice crackers.

He loves to ride around in the backpack with Grandpa Joe.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Turning Scraps into Art

I've taken the next step with my scrap art. Last month, I sorted through my scrap bin and organized the various sizes and shapes of scraps into color groupings. Last week, I screen printed and quilted two of the neutral color pieces. These are experimental. I wanted to see how well I could integrate screen printing with random piecing of random fabrics. I hoped the screen printing would tie it together, but I am not sure the single tree is subtle enough to do that successfully. Maybe more screen printing in another color? Hmmm. . . .

Well, I like them, but don't think they are dazzling pieces of art. These will go into a commercial building, and I think they are adequate public building art.

The second quilt was not screen printed. I just quilted it in a series of parallel lines within large triangles and rectangles.

The border fabric was not a scrap, but was painted specifically for these pieces. I hope to get the binding sewn on them today.

Painting and Complaining

Sometimes, I feel like I never get anything accomplished. But I woke up this morning with the realization that I AM getting things done. I am just not getting much art finished. Chilly outdoor temperatures and babysitting my grandson have kept me inside. I've actually been doing a lot work with paints. Here are some of my recent pieces.

This first piece will probably be called "It Takes a Village" - relating to the concept that it takes a village to raise a child (thinking about that grandchild again!). I contemplated putting a tiny child somewhere in the painting, but opted not to do that. I will add that later if I decide it needs to be there. I used Elmers Glue Gel as a resist for the Village and Red Flowers pieces. I was a bit disappointed when I noticed that in a few spots, the paint bled through the resist. I am not sure what I will do about that, but think I may be able to compensate for it some way with stitching later on. Today, I plan to wash out the resist. I am thinking I don't want the white lines in the village and am considering overdyeing the entire piece with MX dyes in a gray color. I don't know what will happen. Has anyone tried that before? I am hoping the dye will not penetrate the fibers that are coated with paint. I realize it might dull the village a little, but that might be OK. It is pretty bright. Any suggestions?

The warm sky piece is planned for a landscape piece I have in mind. I intend to put a mountain range on the horizon and a river winding in the foreground. I painted some mountain fabric, but it seems too bright and I may need to paint some more today.

The evening sky piece is intended as a background for a red rocks piece I have in mind. I did a series of Zion pieces (mostly postcards) last fall, but I am thinking about Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley as inspiration for this piece.

I am auditioning my red rock fabrics in the final image. I think what I have on hand is too bright. I guess I will have to paint some more, or overpaint what I have to make it duller. The temperatures are supposed to reach 70 degrees here today. If it is not too windy, maybe I can take my fabric painting outside. That would be a real treat!