Cynthia St. Charles Store

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monarchs1 - Gelatin Plate Print

The gelatin plate was printed last spring. The border is hand dyed and block printed using Jacquard Lumiere fabric paints. The butterflies are screen printed.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gelatin Plate Prints - Grass and Goldfinches

Gelatin Plate prints are a lot of fun to make. The unflavored gelatin is mixed to set up very firm - sort of like a Jello Jiggler - in a flat sheet. I like to brush fabric paints across the surface, then place plants over the paint. Fabric is smoothed over the paint and plants, when it is removed, the fabric will have a stencil of the shape of the plant - as you see above.

The plant is removed, and the details of the plant remain in the paint that was between the gelatin plate and the plant - this is the second print - above.

I thought these grass prints would be a good background for some screen printed Goldfinches. This one (above and detail below) is the second print.

This one is the first print.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Saturday morning was clear and brisk. Here is the view from the south facing windows of the house. My dad is driving the tractor over to pick up a bale of hay to feed the cattle and horses.
After he finished with his chores, he took me around the place in his pick-up.

This little feller looks like a newborn, but he is actually 3 weeks old - one of a pair of twins born very tiny. Dad said he was not sure they would survive, but they were vigorous from birth. The poor mother is very thin, though.

This is the other twin.

Always fun to see the babies!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Yellow Headed Blackbirds

The blackbirds had arrived in force and I enjoyed seeing (and hearing) them during my visit to my parents' ranch near Coffee Creek, MT.

They filled the big trees and shrubs with their chatter.

I had not seen these Yellow Headed Blackbirds before. Red Winged Blackbirds were common when I was growing up, but these are something new for me.

Very interesting how they group together - the Red Wings along with the Yellow Headed and a few plain black ones.

These all appear to be males. The females are brown, and they didn't seem to be in this flock. Are they all sitting on nests somewhere? It seems too early and way too cold for that!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Ranch Visit

I drove the three hours to Coffee Creek, MT for a visit with my parents.
The previous day, record setting high temperatures had been reached.
The following day, cold weather arrived, with record setting lows. These pictures were taken from the deck of my parents' house. That's Square Butte to the North.

It was 22 degrees on Friday morning and had been 82 the day before. It had snowed a bit and was hazy and cloudy. The mountains to the west are the Highwoods.

All these round bales of hay are lined up to the south, and there are 11 cattle left to calve.

My father is 81 years old and he still does all his own ranch chores including feeding the hay and calving. He still rides his horse to work the cattle. My mother and I drove to Great Falls to attend the big Quilt Show there. We had a good time, did some shopping and had lunch at a Greek restaurant.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blue Grass Music - Gelatin Plate Print

I'm on a roll! This gelatin plate print was made two years ago in a spring retreat using native grasses that grow along our driveway. I used blue, magenta, and purple paint for printing, and this recently created block print fabric was a perfect compliment as a border.

I am calling this piece, "Blue Grass Music". The blackbirds are screen prints from a photograph I took at my bird feeder.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April Village

This village scene was drawn with Elmers Glue Gel and painted with Pebeo Setacolor Opaque fabric paints last fall. It has been curing since then and I have done a number of village scenes similar. I really like the colors in this piece - they really pop for me. I've not removed the resist yet. This one is really large - about 60" square. I thought I ought to do something different with this one, particularly since it is so large - I decided to add some block printing to create texture and dimension.

I am trying not to over react, but I am not really very pleased with the outcome so far. I've not done anything with the green grassy areas yet, but I will also block print those.

I know from experience - not to get too attached (for the good or the bad) to the the appearance of the piece at this point in the process. When it is washed to remove the glue gel - the appearance will be significantly altered. . . . . and then there will be the quilting - which also has a significant impact.

So, even though I am not liking it right now - I am optimistic that somehow or other, there will be improvement as things progress. . . . Or maybe this will be one that will end up being cut up for smaller pieces . . . or used as a quilt back. You'll see it again. Stay tuned!

Earth Day - Quilting Arts

In honor of Earth Day, Interweave Press has released free online issues of Quilting Arts Magazine and Cloth Paper Scissors. You can follow this link to get your free issue!
Available for a limited time only.

This is very fun for me, since my work is featured on the cover of the current issue of Quilting Arts Magazine!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gelatin Plate Print - Yellow Wing Blackbirds

When monoprinting using a gelatin plate and plant material as a resist, the first print will create a sort of stencil image of the plant. Then, the plant material is removed and another print is made. The second print will have a lot of detail from the plant material.

This is the second print - the print I made after the one shown on the previous blog post. I decided to place Yellow Wing Blackbirds on this one. Yellow Wing Blackbirds are also common in this area. I think they are very similar genetically - I grew up seeing them sharing the same habitat on the ranch.
Below, you can see how I have bound it:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chickadee Spring

Speaking of Gelatin Plate Prints with plant material . . . . I am happy to share this piece, which is featured in the "Celebrate Spring!" show at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago!

The blocks are a group of gelatin plate prints I made last spring when the leaves were just emerging here in Montana. I tried to capture that lovely new spring green color and used leaves from the chokecherry trees off my patio, where I watch the birds at my feeders.

The border and twig fabric was painted, then block printed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gelatin Plate Print - Red Wing Blackbird

Red Wing Blackbirds are a welcome sight in the fields and pastures east of town. They can be spotted clinging to tall grasses, cattails, and corn stalks. I enjoy watching for them as I drive the highway between Billings and Bozeman. I screen printed these blackbirds several months ago for another project. They didn't really work out, so I have had a little box of blackbirds sitting on the studio table for about 6 months.

This morning, I had a flash of inspiration when the blackbirds caught my eye. I had not yet tried them with my gelatin plate prints of grass (done several years ago and languishing in a box under the ironing table0. I was happy with what I saw as I put the two together and I knew what I would do today! I just love those incidents of spontaneous creative thought when things just come together.

This is another instance in which I did not have the perfect binding - so I created one by block printing a hand dyed fat quarter, then overpainting it to achieve a good color match.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Beautiful Distraction

Grand Dad Joe with grandson Breckin, age 5 days. He slept in Joe's arms for about 45 minutes. What a treat!

This picture taken while still in the hospital - 1 day old.
I got my turn with Breckin, too. Five days old - precious!

He's a beauty!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Binding, etc. - Finishing Touches.

I feel very strongly that the binding is a very important component. I really like doing bindings. I love being able to cut off the raggedy edges and crop the image until it looks just right and I like my bindings to look just right, also. The binding is like the frame on a painting.

When I was ready to begin binding the Calico Hills series, I found a fabric in my black and white drawer that I really liked. However, the light color did not blend well enough with the colors of the work. I decided to remedy this by painting the binding fabric with the same paints I had used on the quilt background.

Above, you can see the fabric as it looked before painting, and I have draped a bit of leftover binding over it so you can see the impact of adding the paint.

Below are three of the smaller pieces that have come out of this series.

Calico Hills 3 (above) is 12.5 x 15". I have sewn shards of ancient pottery to each of these pieces.

Calico Hills 2 is one foot square.

Calico Hills 1 (above) is 12 inches square.

I'll post the large piece when I finish sewing on the binding and embellishments.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Calico Hills

This quilt is inspired by the variegated stone colors at Valley of Fire State Park and Red Rocks Canyon Recreation Area in Nevada. These parks contains many wonderful petroglyphs that are very accessible.

There is also very striking coloration in a broad range of colors to the stone formations. One we particularly enjoyed was called Calico Hills.

Calico Hills has broad stripes of pale pink, salmon, burgundy, and even some golden shades - very close to the colors in this hand painted textile art.

I am very happy with this piece - I just finished the quilting.
Here is what I was thinking about as I created this piece:
and this: