Cynthia St. Charles Store

Friday, January 25, 2008

Windows #4 - Springtime in the City

I've spent a little time at the sewing machine each day this week and now I have finished the quilting on this piece! I had other plans for this piece, but it surprised me when it told me it wanted to be machine quilted and I thought, "OK, Why not go with it?" I am glad I did. It was really enjoyable to quilt because I used a rather rustic free motion design that echoes the stamp pattern and it was very relaxing to do. The colors are so wonderful that I found myself cheered each time I sewed on it. I used 10 different colors of threads - some cotton and some polyester.

This piece is the fourth in my Windows Series. It may turn out to be a transition piece, because I think it also belongs in a new series of stamped whole cloth quilts (no name for the new series yet).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The End is in Sight

For the past year, Joe and I have been actively involved in renovating commercial properties. We are nearly finished with this apartment, which was essentially gutted and redone. We've pulled up carpet and had the old maple floors repaired and refinished. There was no heating or cooling in the place since the old steam boiler in the building was dismantled many years ago. (so the previous owners lived here without heat or air conditioning!) We had a super efficient gas furnace and forced air installed. We enlarged the entry into the kitchen and removed all the old suspended ceilings.
Many of the walls had to be redone (due to crumbling plaster - and electrical rewiring), and everything has been painted (I thought the painting would never end!). A completely new kitchen and bath, both with custom built shelving. New light fixtures. We reworked the old wood doors and cleaned up the original brass hardware, which was covered in many layers of paint.

This apartment is very spacious - about 1600 square feet. It has three bedrooms and a laundry room. The living room (below) is really large, with four oversized windows. The formal dining room (above) has two oversized windows. With the high ceilings and big windows, the place has a very light, airy feel to it. We built a little deck out on the roof for the tenant, too - there is room for a table and chairs.
I've devoted nearly every day for the past 5 months to this project. There have been a number of aches and pains associated with it, but no significant injuries and we've stayed pretty well within our final budget.

I am thrilled to be done with it. Now to find a good tenant!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Birds on this Cold Snowy Day

It was seven degrees below zero when we got up this morning. We have six inches of fresh snow.

The sidehill behind our house is our bird habitat where I've hung a number of different types of feeders. The birds were super hungry today with these cold temperatures.
I had to refill the feeders at mid morning, and that is when I decided to try to get some bird pictures to convert into screens for printing. The white snow in the background makes it much easier to manipulate and isolate the image in order to make a silhouette image for a screen, so I got settled in by the window with a cup of tea and my camera. Above is a Downy Woodpecker.
This is a Black Billed Magpie.
The Red Breasted Nuthatch (the one hanging upside down) is a favorite bird to watch - for its acrobatics.

We don't usually have Red Crossbills in such quantities around here, but I have read that their food supply is depleted in their normal winter habitat in Canada, so they are hanging out in places like Montana. These birds are really interesting for their unusual bills configured to open seed shells easily.
The female Crossbill is a drab olive - yellow green. This one above is demonstrating the usefulness of that specialized beak.
The Pine Skiskins are here in droves, too. They are also showing increased numbers due to reduced forage in Canada. We always see these, though. Note the yellow bands on their wings.
We have both Black Capped and Mountain Chickadees here. These are the Black Capped Chickadees. I had a hard time getting good pictures of them - they are so active and quick - never still for a moment!

Here is a picture of the area just off our patio, where I hang several feeders. The sun was finally peeking over the hill as I took this picture at about 10:00 AM!

I worked in my studio this afternoon, getting some bird images ready for the Thermofax. Then, I took a break and stamped some fabric. I pulled some of the pieces I dyed last summer and decided to print them in black, white and gray. I wasn't sure why I chose these colors, not my usual choices. As I hung them up to dry, I realized these are the very colors of the birds I was photographing today. The dull red, the drab yellow, and the pale blue gray - as well as the black, gray and white lines of the stamp - much like the texture of the branches against the snow. This was not conscious - rather more of an intuituve choice. I have a few more pieces in the same color family to stamp - then I plan to do something pieced with them, but not sure what . . . stay tuned.

Sunday's Stamping

This was a rather unsuccessful orange and purple gelatin plate monoprint that I overstamped in shades of yellow, green, and blue. I think it is improved by the stamping, but I do feel this is just a foundation for more . . . . I'll put it on my design wall and ponder its future.I didn't have much time in the studio today on account of our monthly WAV meeting. Our small art group has been meeting monthly for over 5 years, with many of the original members still participating. The weather was miserable, so only 5 attended this time. It snowed all day Sunday and by the time I got back home after the meeting, my car said it was 1 degree above zero.

I have posted pictures from our WAV meeting on the WAV blog. There was some really wonderful work shown this time, and the talk by Linda Jackson was really terrific. Linda rooms with the same group of 4 women at the International Quilt Festival every year and they have started doing challenges. This year, they each made a small piece for each other. Linda will be adding dialog to the blog soon, so be sure to visit the WAV blog again to learn the details of the challenge.

You will enjoy seeing the many detail pictures I took of Brooke's piece, too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stamped Autumn Fabric

The stamping fest continues. This is my Autumn theme stamped fabric. It is destined for a whole cloth quilt, with hand embroidered embellishment. This yellow green hand dyed cotton has been stamped using Setacolor Opaque and Transparent fabric paints and Jacquard Lumiere fabric paint. I really like the way the background fabric shines through.

As I am looking at it, I am starting to rethink my original plan for this piece. I have been doing a lot of borderless pieces, but this one seems to be asking for a border. What do you think?

Stamped Fabric

I had the opportunity to continue with my stamped fabric series today. My concept is to communicate a scene, feeling, or idea using my hand made stamps as a paintbrush. I decided to try this concept with a series for the four seasons. I chose a background fabric for each season - one yard of my hand dyed cotton. This first one is Summer. The hot orange background color is to represent the sun's intense heat (and in my neighborhood wildfires, too)
I chose to use a single stamp. I wanted to convey the cool blues of the water and sky, the cool green vegetation, and the brilliant sunsets - all of these mean summer to me. I tried to generate movement by changing the orientation of the stamp and variegating the colors of paint.
For my Spring piece, I began with a yellow green variegated hand dyed yard and selected a variety of stamps to represent different things. Bright wildflowers in the foreground, fading into a deciduous forest in the background, with a brilliant blue sky above.
These pieces will be layered with batting and backing and machine quilted to create whole cloth quilts (an approach I have been using quite a bit this past year or so). I plan to follow that with a lot of hand embroidery and maybe some beads or button embellishments, as well. I can't wait to start the embroidery part. It is always slow going, but has such a tremendous impact, and is therefore, very gratifying.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to Cloth

Hand stamped, hand painted fabricThis piece, about 36" x 48" is the first of a series I have planned. I've been working with paper since Christmas, but am cleaning up my studio today, organizing storage for the paper process and getting set up for working with fabric. I've got to make more room around my sewing machine and on my big work tables.

Liz asked what I was using for paint with the stamps. When working with paper, I have been using acrylic craft paint - the cheap kind in a little 2 oz or 59 ml bottle. This is wonderfully opaque over papers like newsprint, etc. It also adds texture, durability, and strength to the paper. I use foam brushes to apply the paint to my stamps. I use a foam roller for screen printing on paper. To get transparent color on paper, I have been using MX dye.

With the fabric, I use Setacolor fabric paints by Pebeo. I have these in both opaque and transparent and intermix them according to my whim. I've tried various Jacquard products, but I find their odor bothers me, so I stick with the Setacolor. I apply the Setacolor to my stamps with foam brushes, but when screen printing on fabric, I thicken it with fragrance free shaving gel (Edge is the brand I find works best) and use a plastic putty knife to apply through the thermofax screen.

I've experimented with a lot of different techniques and this is what works for me.

Dale Anne asked about the crows - they are screens made from a photograph. Nearly all of my screens are made from my digital photographs these days - so easy to manipulate in Photoshop to get a good black and white image necessary for making a thermofax screen. And no copyright issues!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

New Stamps

I made these two stamps last night, This morning, I taped a couple of newspaper flyers onto my work table and stamped away.
This one was a JC Penney's flyer.

This one was a Sears advertisement.

Monday, January 14, 2008

This Week's Journal Pages

This has been a busy time for Joe and I. We are in the final stages of renovating the apartment and have been working long full days at the building. We haven't taken a day off in several weeks, but soon will be finished and can return to "normal life" - whatever that is . . . (I am hoping that means some uninterrupted time in the studio, for me)
I've been receiving newsletters from various businesses - printed on colored paper, thus the bold green, yellow, pink, and blue papers in this group of journal pages.
I made some new thermofax screens this week - two from Leonardo di Vinci's notebooks (the skeletons and the very familiar human proportions sketch in the first image) and one from a photo I took of decaying asphalt at my sister's place in New Haven, CT (green page above)
These two pages were not printed or stamped. The page on the left has a portion of a gelatin plate leaf print and the one on the right is the back of a paper painted with dye.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

More Journal Pages

The turquoise page on the right is a collage of catalog model images.

The lavender page on the left is a flyer for a professional training for School Psychologists - the instructors are two of my former colleagues. The blue/gray page on the right is a photo calendar page - screen printed with a Leonardo di Vinci drawing of a fetus.
The paper on the left is a drawing done by grandson, Airus, painted and stamped in shades of orange. The page on the right is a photo calendar page that has been painted, stamped and screen printed with an image of shrimp.

The green paper on the left is an old SAQA Newsletter. I love the way the screen prints of leaves came out on this page.
The red page on the right is a page from a quilt show entry. Both of these papers were painted with MX dye prior to stamping and screen printing.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Transforming December 2007

My giant 2007 calendar came off the wall yesterday and December landed on my work table. I taped it down and gave it a good wash with Scarlet MX dye. I love the way dye transforms a dull white surface to a vivid color spectacle.

After the dye dried, I stamped with one of my homemade stamps, which had been cut from a piece of plumbers rubber gasket material. The rubber was mounted on a block of wood with water resistant double sided carpet tape, which holds up well to a lot of washings.

I've added some screen prints of cellular images.

More Journal Pages

Behold, the cover:Tagboard, words cut from a mail order catalog, sponge painted, stamped and screen printed.
Free motion stitched and sealed with gel medium.

Junk mail that has been painted, stamped, and screen printed.

The red page on the left was a page from my entry in the 2007 IQF judged show. I was cleaning out my folder and since I am finished with that event (and have even sold the quilt that was juried in!) - I decided it would make a wonderful foundation for a journal page. The Chinese characters say, "Artist".

These two pages are gelatin plate prints. The one on the left is leaves and the one on the right is Buffalo grass.

The screen print on the left is of a turkey vulture in flight. The right side image is a print of koi that turned out kind of fuzzy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008 Personal Art Journal

So far, my only real New Year's Resolution is a commitment to keeping a daily art journal. My first entry is shown above.

I have established a group of "rules" for this journal:

1. This will be a multi-media journal, with emphasis on paper - particularly recycled paper. I will use ONLY previously used paper as the basis for each page. I want to try to use something that would be destined for the trash and preferably a piece of paper that passed through my life on the day of my entry. Such things as junk mail, emails, wrappers, drawings done with Airus, receipts, lists, etc. will be the foundation for each journal entry.

2. I will try to use warm and cool colors on facing pages.

3. I will try to use a variety of techniques through the year, hopefully expanding my processes, combining treatments and layers to create interesting works.

4. Writing on each day's journal page will be optional, but so far I have been writing a bit about each day and ending with our dinner menu.

The page on the left (January 2) includes a background made of the copper foil wrapper from a chocolate bar I got in my Christmas stocking. An old business window envelope was cut down and painted to make a holder for the picture of Michelle at Ground Zero.

The page on the right (January 3) - the paper was one of Airus' many drawings, overprinted with poetry. The round circles were stamped with soup bones.

Again, one of Airus's drawings on the yellow left side page. I saved the fortunes on the tags from two cups of Yogi tea to include on this page.
The background for the page on the right was a page from the 2007 calendar that was headed for the trash.

The lavender page on the left was formerly a piece of junk mail. It has been overpainted, stamped and screen printed.

The green page on the right was the other half of the calendar page shown previously. It was painted, and screen printed.

The background for the orange page was one of Airus' drawings with his marks showing through my paint and stamping. The page on the right is a design made from the lines on the "Postage Paid" postcards from various solicitations.
I like this . . . it is giving me some ideas for a quilt.