Cynthia St. Charles Store

Monday, April 30, 2007

More Birthday Pictures

Several members of the Johnson clan came for Airus' birthday on Sunday evening. The group included his dad, Jonathon and his Johnson grandparents, Lyle and Orilla, plus two uncles and an aunt. In this picture, everyone is singing Happy Birthday to Airus.

By this time, Airus was a pro at eating cake.

This picture was actually taken at the Saturday birthday party - Airus really liked the book he got from the Ward family.

Airus is One Year Old!

This very lucky one year old had two birthday parties!

Great grandparents - Grandma Marlys and Pa Paugh traveled from Coffee Creek for his first birthday party on Saturday evening.

Elizabeth baked a special cake for Airus. It was wheat, egg, dairy, soy, and sugar free. Airus LOVED it! Basically, it was made of organic applesauce, safflower oil, rice flour, maple syrup, egg replacer and cinnamon and cloves.

Airus enjoyed opening his packages. This one was from the Ward family - Aunt Kathy, Uncle Pat, Mitch, Molly, and Morgan. Thanks!

Airus had something to say about his gift. Nobody could understand it, though. He bumped his face earlier in the day, and had a little bit of bloody nose in this picture - plus cake on his face. Fortunately, the package held bath toys, which were utilized right after the party! He was in need of a bath!

Sunday, April 29, 2007


People often ask me how I am able to complete so much work. There are a number of factors, but one thing I do is work in "assembly line" process. Over the last several weeks, I completed a number of designs, which were ready for the next phase - quilting. The past couple of days, I cleared my work table (which was piled high with fabrics that had been pulled for the design process) and spent several hours pinning quilts - six of them.

I stretch the quilt back across my giant work counter and clamp in place. Then, I layer the batting and finally smooth the quilt top over all. I then use safety pins - placed about every 3 inches to keep the layers together until it is stitched.

While I am pinning, I am planning the quilting of each piece. While I am quilting, I am thinking about the next images, concepts, and designs I will be working on. I do sketches when I take a break from sitting at the machine so I don't forget the ideas that come to me during the mostly mechanical process of quilting.

Today, I started quilting on this piece - Leaves and Twigs - which is made up of a group of gelatin plate prints. It has been on my design wall for several months. I really needed to get it done, but I have been "stuck" - unsure what to do next. I want to add leaves, but I love the beautiful delicate texture of the gelatin prints, and do not want to obscure that with either the quilting or the Tyvek leaves I plan to add.

After I finish the quilting, I will applique leaves made of the same fabric as the border, layered with painted Tyvek, which will create interesting textured leaves when I iron the quilt. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quilt Backs

I first began textile dyeing when I wanted quilt backs for my bed quilts. I wanted them to be a single solid piece of fabric, so I purchased cotton sheets and dyed them to coordinate with the quilt top.

As I evolved toward art quilting - working smaller and using hand dyed or painted fabrics for the tops - I shifted to using up my stash of commercial fabrics for quilt backs.

Now my commercial fabric stash has been whittled down to a couple of drawers of smallish pieces and I am back to using bed sheets for quilt backs on my larger quilts. Here is one drying on the clothes line.

I always check the closeouts at Target and Ross Dress for Less, where I can sometimes find great bargains on odd single flat sheets. I always make sure they are not permanent press because that finish is very difficult to remove (impossible?) and interferes with dye penetration.

This sheet actually has a stripe, but it looks great overdyed and certainly blends with the surrounding background in this picture! It is going on the back of a quilt called "Leaves and Twigs".


This is Elizabeth's latest painting. Acrylic on paper. It is about 22' x 30". She has been doing a series of goddess paintings. Elizabeth is my 22 year old daughter, mother of Airus. We share studio space. It is really nice having another artist to interact with regularly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Salvaged Fabric Doll

Airus (my grandson) was fortunate to receive this adorable giant doll made by Kathy Lichtendahl. Kathy used the salvaged fabric and made two of these - the other one will be gifted at the baby shower for WAV member, Carol later in May. You can visit Kathy's blog to see what she has been up to.
Airus had a lot of fun dragging this big doll around my studio.

Airus will be one year old on Sunday. He is a delightful child!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Trials with the Salvaged Fabrics - Problem Solving

Working with stretchy knit fabric is challenging. It moves as you sew it. On the other side of the coin, it does not fray when cut. Here are my first efforts combining the knit fabric with the polymer clay faces. I am learning a lot about using these materials - both of which are new to me. These are "fertility dolls" or totems. I think I can improve on their design. Next, I will do some stamping and screen printing on this salvaged fabric. Stay tuned.
This is a small quilt - 8 1/2 by 11. It needs something more, but was my first experiment with layering and cutting the knit fabric. I thought it might curl when cut, as some knits do, but this lays flat.

Playing with Polymer Clay

I was in JoAnns the other day purchasing a pattern to make pants for Airus and I happened to pass by the polymer clay display, where I spotted face molds on sale. On impulse, I added them to my purchase. Here are some of the faces that have been molded, baked, and brushed with acrylic paint for added dimension. They range in size from about 2" to 1/3". These were really fun to make. I am thinking about turning them into pins and adding them to postcards and ATC's!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Boxes and Boxes of Fabric

Sunday's gathering at the U-Haul Storage Unit was the unveiling of the Fabric saved from the factory incinerator. There are so many boxes that Brooke's garage was overflowing and she had to rent a storage unit. We toasted the "opening" with sangria, and dove into the boxes.
All of the fabric is cotton knit, in every shade imaginable. 2 yard lengths. It was a lot of fun seeing all the colors.
This is the stack I brought home to work with. I am sure I will be returning some of this fabric, but these are the colors I was drawn to. I started working with the fabrics this morning. Next time, I'll show you what I've created so far.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Windows #3

This has been on my design wall for a couple of weeks. I've not had the energy to tackle it because there were no straight seams and I knew it would be a logistical challenge. Today, I finally have some energy (flu recovery takes a long time!) and a few hours for the studio. I have to leave the house in a few minutes, but I just finished putting it all together. After sewing the last seam, I realized I put some places in the wrong spot and I will have to decide whether or not I need to rip out seams . . . .

This piece measures 63 x 53 inches. I am so glad it is done. Now I can start on my next piece - which I am really excited about!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunny Tuesday

Spring seems to be creeping along. The daffodils started blooming a few days ago - an encouraging sign. It is supposed to be in the low 70's today, but there is a winter storm watch for tomorrow.

Here is a view of the sun coming up through the trees behind our house. Beautiful filtered light.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

One Foot Square - Orange Shamrock Gelatin Print

Studio Art Quilt Association is collecting One Foot Square pieces for auction at the SAQA Conference. I have been incapacitated with the flu for nearly a week, but finally have no fever, so I felt able to do some hand work. This is a gelatin print - actually several times overprinted with shamrock monoprints. The gelatin plate I used was round. I did all the stitching by hand. It felt so wonderful to be doing something meaningful!

There are two pages of One Foot Squares on the SAQA website.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Windows #2 and #3

I've not had a great deal of time in the studio the past few days, but have been plugging away making these windows blocks, when I had a few free moments. I am exploring some design elements while working with this block. I started with the idea of working with complementary colors. I wanted to do something with a greater contrast in value than my first windows piece. I wanted to use dark values in blue, purple, and red for the frames, with light to medium values of yellow, green and orange for the panes. I started working very random and was going for a large final dimension, so did not try to control myself much while making these blocks. The whole design wall is covered and I only got through two of the color pairs.

When I got to the final color pairs - blue / orange - I decided to try working with specific dimensions in order to make it easier to sew together. I am not so sure I like this look better, although it is hard to tell because I laid these out on the card table, since the design wall is already covered.

I did two different arrangements. Neither thrills me, but maybe I will like the look better once they are put together. I'll probably move some things around before putting this one together.

I must admit the blue/orange piece does give the feeling of a busy city - which was the design idea I started with when I came up with the windows block concept. I think the Red-Green / Purple-Yellow one looks more "suburban".

Monday, April 2, 2007

Elizabeth's Art

Daughter Elizabeth has an easel set up in a corner of my studio. She has been painting in the evenings after Airus is asleep. This is the second in a series of Goddess paintings - acrylic on paper. I can't remember the name of this goddess. She is a giver of life - goddess of birth or something . . . an Aztec goddess.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Windows #1 - On the Design Wall

After doing all that surface design work for the last couple of weeks - I was yearning to do some piecing. There is something really comforting about the repetitive process of sewing pieces of fabric together and watching a design develop. Yesterday afternoon during Airus' nap, I played around with a few design possibilities. I started with the idea of a city landscape, and through a series of sketches - evolved toward the idea of just making a series of windows in random sizes with irregular seams. This was an idea I thought I could try out with a bunch of scraps and it was fun to sort through my scrap drawer for the appropriate fabrics.

This rusty orange hand dye that I used for the window frames happens to be one of the first pieces I dyed. Trying to get brown, I ended up with a dull orange. I had several yards of this stuff, and I think I have just used the last of it.

I think this piece would lend itself well to hand quilting with a contrasting color thread, but I am not sure I have the patience (or time) to do that right now. We'll see.

Anyway, that was my Saturday evening / Sunday morning project!