When the Rains Came Back to California

Note:  For the past year I have been part of the 2016 Journal Project.  In alternate months we have been given a theme and made a 12 inch by 12 inch quilt that was inspired by the theme.

Today was “REVEAL” day for the first quilt of 2017.  This month’s theme is Fantasy.  Here is my take….

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Almost every year for the past 5 decades we have driven up the Pacific Coast Highway en route to a favorite vacation spot in Marin County.

What we quickly realized is that the drive is a vacation in itself; an opportunity to unwind, kick back and to enjoy all the natural beauty that this state is famous for.

Rolling green hills to the east as we drive up the coast…and the boisterous Pacific in all its magnificence to the west.

In recent years, that beauty has been hampered by lack of rain.  This drought, of course, has had serious consequences for the state – not the least is the agricultural fallout.   Anyone and everyone who loves to garden or has a lawn to care for has been affected severely with restrictions and penalties.

For that matter, anyone who loves to shower or to brush their teeth has had disruptions of their morning routines.  (not to worry – we still shower – it’s just shorter.  And the most disciplined take pains to recycle the shower water).

So here is my fantasy of the California hills, after the rains come back and wash away the  memories of drought.

The Value of Value

Late last year I was VERY fortunate to notice that an online class was scheduled to begin in January that seemed perfect and timely for my resolution to improve my work in 2016.

One of my most admired art quilters is teaching it (Elizabeth Barton) and the Class Title:  A Master Class in Design for Art Quilters – speaks directly to my own need to ‘polish’ my design skills and to explore alternatives.  

We are delving into a different design concept each month and in January, Elizabeth had us take a fresh look at our use of value.   After presenting a couple of possible designs to work with I settled on the following sketch – a sketch that I based on a photograph that I took after a snowfall in Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis.

JAN GG Sketch 2

My next step was to gather fabric for possible use in this quilt.  The instruction was to use a range of at least 5  values of the same color – preferably a color that included an intense dark value such as black or brown or even navy blue.   I selected black, various grays and white.  I also wanted there to be added interest with texture.  Linen helped with that as did some thread work added later.

P1000078

Some of the fabrics that I made available for this quilt are shown above.  I used dark to light gray cotton threads for stitching plus one variegated thread to thread paint a tree trunk and add texture.  I included several of my hand dyed fabrics to the mix.

I ‘cleaned up’ my sketch, enlarged it to actual size, printed it out and created my templates.

In choosing my values for color placement I had to pay attention to how the color value would affect perception of depth and distance.  I also wanted to maintain the lonely, slightly haunted mood of the original photo.   AND to keep the overall image simple and uncomplicated.

JAN GG FIN

My teacher’s critique immediately pointed out my wobbly bench and I plan to correct that. I also plan to add more fine branches to the background and am going to include some hand stitched branches to the mix.

I think this has turned out to be a great example of how color both interprets and projects mood so vividly!   I am tempted to do this same scene, at some point, outfitted in its mid summer finery.

Adventures in Shibori Dyeing

I’ve had this on my “To Do” list for years: literally Finally, after some reading, some dyeing experience and creating some suitable space for the project, I accumulated a few supplies and got started.

  • 100% cotton fabric, prepared for dyeing
  • resist material such as rubber bands, twine, flat templates in simple shapes
  • dye bath using Procion MX Indigo color
  • additives – soda ash, salt –
  • Synthrapol 
  • mask to cover nose and mouth while handling undissolved dye powder
  • elbow length rubber gloves
  • plastic sheeting to protect working surface and floor as needed

The term Shibori refers to a technique used to dye fabric.   In Japan, the earliest evidence of its use dates all the way back to the 8th Century!
Shibori is a type of resist technique in which the fabric itself is manipulated by sewing or wrapping or folding. When the dye is applied it is unable to reach the areas that have been obstructed by the folds etc. Thus, some very appealing patterns can be generated.
I enjoyed this process so much and was able to try out a variety. I folded, fan-folded, flag-folded, bound with rubber bands or twine. I even applied plexiglass shapes to the ends of my folded cloth on several occasions and bound it all together. This variety of Shibori is called Itajime.

Some bundles of Itajime ready for the dye pot:

Itajimi Round SamplesF1Itajimi Rectangle Samples

It can get a little messy – took me until the next day to get all the blue off my fingers. And yes I did wear rubber gloves. Traditional Shibori uses an Indigo dye that is complicated to use. I achieved my results with a Procion MX dye – the color indigo.

All the little bundles sitting in the dye bath

All the Little Bundles of Fabric Sitting in the Dye Bath

What I loved most? After the fabric bundles had “cured” for many hours, rinsing them off and undoing them for the great reveal! A lot of Shibori is predictable according to the specific technique. But there’s always that serendipity that the individual introduces so that each piece is unique.

Some of my results showing the bundle after it has ‘cured’ in the dye bath; then the fabric that resulted following unfolding and rinsing with tap water.

C2FanFold Rolled Bound with Rubber Bands

Fan Folded, Rolled, Secured with Rubber Bands

IMG_4015

Fan Folded, Rolled, Secured with Rubber Bands

E2Flag Fold Small Circle Itajime
Itajime, Flag Folded with round templates tied on with twine
E3Flag Fold Circle
Itajime, Flag Folded with round templates tied on with twine
Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine
Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine
A3Random Sections Tied Off

Random pieces of the fabric are tied off with twine

F2Fan Fold Itajime RectangleMG_4018

Itajime, Fan Folded Fabric, Rectangular Templates attached With Twine

F3Rectangle Itajimi Fan Fold

Itajime, Fan Folded Fabric, Rectangular Templates attached With Twine

IMG_4046

The colors lightened slightly after washing, drying and pressing.  In some cases this added to the definition.

flag folded

tied off random

I also threw in a larger piece of fabric “as is”  and now have some mottled Indigo fabric in my stash.

whole cloth dyed

All in all, a VERY satisfying afternoon of work!

I welcome your comments and questions!

Prayer Flags Flying High (and mini tutorial)

I thought for sure that I had posted about making prayer flags but not so!  Prayer flags have a long tradition and they can be seen in many different configurations.   There is no right or wrong way.  There is a blog devoted to Prayer Flags at :  ThePrayerFlagProject.blogspot.com      There you will find tutorials and many examples of how various artists have interpreted and created their own Prayer Flags.  (mine are posted in March this year 2015)

I had thought about making and hanging some flags for well over a year and was waiting to be inspired it seems 🙂   A few months ago I was walking down the aisle of a local craft shop and found a package of burlap banner shaped pieces in the clearance section.  The first thing that I thought of was that they would be perfect for Prayer Flags.  And if I messed up, then the investment was minimal.

There were four of these burlap shapes in front of me looking like this:

burlap for flagseach measured 5 1/2 ” by 7 1/2 “

The first thing that I did before anything else was to stay stitch inside all the edges of all the flags to minimize fraying.  Burlap frays. I didn’t mind that,  It enhanced the rustic look that I was trying to achieve.  But I did want to contain the amount.    I used black thread and a zig zag stitch and stitched each flag on every side about 1/4 inch in from the edge.IMG_3498

        I figured there was no hiding of the stay stitching so I incorporated it into the overall design

You are goiing to need to attach a narrow muslin muslin hanging sleeve attachedsleeve to the top.  Do that now by machine UNLESS you are going to use that top space for your hand stitching later.  In which case you will attach the sleeve as the last step with each flag.

inspire_dream

Gather your fabrics and threads and design your flags.  I used muslin for the inspirational words, and a variety of fabrics: cheesecloth, bits of organza, felt, burlap.  Use whatever your design calls for!

hope_loveI also added a few beads, some ribbon and buttons and hand stitched with embroidery cotton of various sizes.      

The final step was to string the four finished flags together by running a length of hemp through the sleeves.

Details of the Four Flags Belowdetail_hope

detail_loe

detail_inspire

detail_dream

Monoprinting with a Gelli Plate – Yes It’s Addictive!

So I’m trying to get back on track and catch you all up with what I’ve been up to for the past 5+ months.  Only a PART of that time has been non art related – boo-hoo, but it will be in the future 🙂

Rather than try to squish it all into one post I want to tell you about an exciting day I had about a month ago making mono prints.  How many of you broke down and bough a Gelli plate when they came out?  Or at least were tempted to?

Well, I did, and it has been very busy collecting dust – well except for once when my friend and I got together and messed around with some fabric; neither of us knowing what we were doing.

So a local Art Supply store sponsored a half day workshop – a ‘how to’ to create mono prints with a Gelli Plate and I was first in line.

I can’t go through ALL that I learned that day but it was extremely productive and in addition to some beautiful prints that I brought home with me – here are the main points that I picked up.

1.  It can get messy: Do your printing in an area that can withstand the mess of spattered paint – get dressed with that in mind as well.

2.  Use OPEN acrylics.  Yes they made a huge difference!  I suppose if you’re very sure of yourself and can work very quicky you could get away with the much shorter drying time of regular acrylics.  But for a novice like me – or if you want to work extemporaneously, do use the Open type.

3.  Have a variety of objects at the ready to make marks.  Make sure that none of them are too pointy.  You don’t want to damage your plate.

4.  Use every bit of paint left on your plate – have a journal at the ready for instance so you can use the leftover paint to start backgrounds.

5.  Become intimately familiar with the color wheel and which colors NOT to mix together if you want to avoid mud.

6.  Just let ‘er rip – Use your imagination.  What’s the worst that can happen?  You’ll have an ugly print which you can then gesso over and reuse.

I’m eager to show you some of what I brought home with me that day.  Most of these were done on printing paper; some on card stock, and a few on 140 wt watercolor paper.

Next up – as soon as I can work in a day – will be fabric prints!

Some cards using Monoprint techniques with a Gelli Plate:

2 color monoprinted cardbronze_copper_card

Using Stencils with Monoprints

Using stencils in various combos

Trees blue_monoprint

trees_duo_monoprint

Some are even suitable for framing themselves; others can be used in whole or in part in other pieces.

IMG_3280

bronze and more  monoprint

bronze spiral Monoprit3color_monoprint

And look at what you can do by cleaning off your brayer on a sheet of printing paper!!!   🙂

red_yellow_monoprint_edited-1blue_purple_monoprint

Tee, hee – Not bad for brayer cleaning, huh?  I won’t tell if you won’t tell!

Who wants to try mono printing next?

Tutorial – Fiber Art Collage – Greeting Cards

Fiber Art Collage

Here’s how I approach the process. It’s art, after all, so feel free to bend, change or ignore any of the following steps.    

Supplies: (read through the tute – it’ll make more sense)

  • Blank Greeting Card (or medium of choice for mounting)
  • Background Fabric – a scrap from your stash
  • Batting or stabilizer to match size of background
  • Various scraps of coordinating fabric, threads, fancy fibers, Angelina, cheesecloth, ribbons, other non-cotton scraps such as wool, silk, burlap etc.
  • Glue stick – acid free
  • Thread to sew together layers of the collage. Machine or embroidery thread
  • Other embellishments of your choice: beads, charms etc.

Method:

  1. Determine the overall “feel” of the piece – Elegant? Playful? Modern? Romantic?
  1. Gather from your scrap bag and from your stash – pieces and bits that you think might belong in this piece (I often use color as my theme)

 

Gather scraps and other possible materials to use

Gather scraps and other possible materials to use

  1. Vary these design elements such as you would for any composition
  1. I think of these pieces as mini art quilts and assemble in layers
  • Layer one – background (stabilized)
  • Layer two – texture and color
  • Layer three – focal motif   (just one example of my approach)

5.   If preparing your mini fiber art collage for a greeting card – roughly cut your background fabric to measure at least one inch in from all four sides.

 

photo 3 (2)

e.g. card is 5 by 7; background fabric no larger than 3 by 5

Your collage will be built on this background; may entirely cover it; may extend from any or all of the sides.   If you prefer a frayed edge, tear your fabric instead of cutting.

6.  Stabilize your background by whichever means you prefer (and happen to have on hand). I like to use something like Pellon Craft-fuse or Décor Bond. Or I may use regular cotton quilt batting.  If you use batting, cover it with muslin so that it will adhere firmly to the card.

Stabilizer of your choice added to wrong side of background fabric

Stabilizer of your choice added to wrong side of background fabric

7.  Add your texture and color elements into a design that pleases your eye. Pin first, then stitch to attach elements to background.   Or just go for it; don’t overthink t!

First layer enhanced by ribbon and hand dyed cheesecloth.

First layer enhanced by ribbon and hand dyed cheeseclot

another possibility explored

another possibility explored

8.  Quilt by machine or by hand with thread of choice. Get crazy!

First pass at the machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  You can see that I was tweaking as I went.

First pass at the machine with a narrow zig-zag stitch. You can see that I was tweaking as I went.

The angelina scrap was pinned to the piece after the stitching.

 9.  Add your final element(s). This may be a focal point OR it may be something (for example a circle of couching or beads) that enhances the focal element.  In this case I isolated one element from some vintage lace trim and painted it.

photo (1)

10.  Affix your completed piece to the front of the card with an acid free glue stick. (I like UHU best but also use Avery or others)

 Have fun!  I’d LOVE to see what you come up with.  Send a pic to me at Honeyquilts at gmail dot com and I’ll post it here!

an aside – I was just looking at the lace on the piece – it looks like a turkey head to me this morning!  Really!!  Is it just me?   gobble gobble 🙂

© Guila Greer 2014

This tutorial and all photos are the exclusive property of Guila Greer. It is for your personal use only. Please do not copy.
Thank you very much for your understanding.

Beach Buddies – featured on the Superior Threads Blog

I was so excited to see that Superior Threads has featured my art quilt “Beach Buddies” on their blog.

http://www.superiorthreads.com/blog/2014/8/superior-spotlight-guila-g/

Years ago I took a photo of my husband and oldest granddaughter walking on the beach. I always loved that photo and knew that someday I would do something special with it.  After learning more about making pictorial quilts, including a workshop with Wendy Butler Berns, I made this quilt.

I enjoyed the process of making it immensely – and loved quilting it with silk thread.  I used Superior’s Kimono #100, a very fine thread.

detail 1 I did the quilting with #100 Kimono Silk

Detail 1

 

Beach_Buddies_detail

Detail 2

 

detail 3

detail 3

detail 2 The little girl is my oldest granddaughte

Detail 4

 

And this is the photo that I took when my granddaughter was only 2 years old.  She is now a senior in high school !

This is the photo of John and Marley that I based

Original Photo

 

 

Work (still) in Progress

There are lots of reasons we don’t finish our projects right away.  And one of them is that we’re not quite sure how we WANT to complete the piece.

So this has been hanging around for awhile now on my design wall.

tree on aura_edited-1

This started as a plain piece of Lutradur.  I took a photo of a tree on my street and worked with it using Photoshop Elements.  I took out everything that I didn’t want in my finished piece including all the leaves on the tree.  This step also included removing all the color.

In the meantime I painted the Lutradur with acrylic paints.  I used some from Golden paint and some Lumiere in various coppery hues.

Then the moment of truth as I printed my tree onto the Lutradur.

Then lots of fun to thread paint the tree itself.  I used a variegated 40 weight cotton from King Tut – (In the meantime I had layered the piece with cotton batting.

and that’s when I stopped.

The biggest question in my mind is whether or not to add quilting.

So now it’s time to finish and I’ve given myself 2 weeks to do that.  I hope by posting the process to date I’ll have more accountability to do that – to keep it as a priority.

What’s your opinion on adding more quilting to the piece?

SO EXCITED !!! We’re Going To Do a Teapot Class !!!

Six-TEAs asian tea webP1020992 P1030008 IMG_0482

Betsy and I designed and created these cute little art quilts last year in preparation for art quilt technique classes at Baron’s Sewing Center in Woodland Hills.

Now I am excited to announce that a series of Teapot workshops are scheduled in the Simi Valley at Quilty Pleasures starting this coming April.  Most of the construction of these adorable quilts is using fusibles and machine appliqué.  You will also learn how to apply fancy yarn fibers using couching techniques.  And it’s a chance to dig into your button box and gather up those bits of fancy lace and trim to embellish your creations.

There are 4 Wednesday sessions:  April 30, May 7, 14 and 28th – all 5:30 to 8:30 PM

Call Quilty Pleasures (805) 581-1577 today to sign up.  This will be a fun class.