Monday, 25 February 2008

Fabulous News & Mail!!

I have had such good news over the last few days - firstly Kristy C awards me a "you make my day" award (thanks Kristy - that really means a lot to me!), then Cecile at Unique Stitching emails me to say I won second prize (General Division) in the Cancer Quilt Challenge with my Falling Gum Leaves quilt, then last night I find my friend Annie has finally caved in and started a blog and today Sephi has awarded me the same award. Plus I received two beautiful ATCs in the mail today!! Needless to say I'm smiling and humming cheerful tunes.

Note: I am thinking I maybe won a prize as a reward for all those seed stitches on my quilt - I don't know that I would have started if I had known how long it would take to cover the whole (little) quilt!

So to start with the award - the rules for the “You Make My Day” award are to re-present it to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blog land. Let them know through email or by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times, and if you do, consider yourself really, really loved. So to pass it on and keep the love going ~ here are 10 of the 100's of blogs that keep me inspired and bring a smile to my face. Check them out when you have a few minutes... perhaps there are some new friends to be made!

Here are my 10 - all are creative bloggers in various media and some are blogs that I don't even comment on (now why exactly is that when I feel as if they are part of my life?). Like everyone else I could easily list a lot more!

And to share some recent creativity - here is my fibre ATC trade for Susan Lenz's Cyber Fyber exhibition. I am fairly new to surface embellishment and the experimental side of the fibre arts so I tried some things that I haven't had much experience at. First I used the embellisher to felt a whole pile of beautiful brightly coloured wool roving(s?) to a base piece of felt, then I embellished purple chiffon over the top (it was actually an antique scarf as it was one I used when I was in my teens and used old fashion curlers!). The surface actually looked quite interesting at that point but I felt the need for some I ironed two colours of hot fix Angelina fibres together and fused them to the chiffon/felt using Misty Fuse. They look nice but it was probably a bit of a waste of all that wool roving and felting underneath!! So then I added some text stamping and some petal outlines in gold machine stitching and sewed on some seed beads. I learnt heaps in the process! It looks a lot more sparkly in real life.

And today's mail included traded fibre ATCs from Annie (Sequanna) and Doreen - just gorgeous!! Thanks so much - I love trading!

Which reminds me - Rebecca in NZ - you sent me an "anonymous" comment saying you wanted to trade but I need you to email me so we can exchange addresses -I have saved the ATC you wanted and will hold it for a few more days...

And I am just doing the final bits on my February "Colour" Journal quilt - hopefully I will finish it within the next couple of days. It has ended up a bit wonky (shape-wise) because I decided to try the sleeve technique for backing it - hmmm, that one is obviously going to need some practice...

Here is a photo (snapped in the rain at dusk on last week's road trip) of the new entry statement at Wiluna - it is celebrating the Indigenous heritage and presence in the region and is quite striking. Next time hopefully I will be able to take a properly composed shot (you know, one without the yellow rubbish bin and parked car in the background!)

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Fairy Slippers etc

Nearly two hours ago I got on the computer with the intention of doing a quick blog post about my little fairy slippers but I have managed to get totally distracted by blog reading instead! There are so many wonderful blogs out there and I especially love the ones where people share their art and creativity in various forms. I really need to update my favourite blogs sidebar as there are about a hundred missing! Thank goodness for Google Reader.

Anyway, these are my finished slippers - they are tiny - a fiddly exercise completely out of my comfort zone (which is why it was an "out of your comfort zone" exchange!). The original idea came from was an article in the UK "Stitch" magazine which Joanna has introduced me to. As my "fabric" I used tissue paper which was first fused to felt, then decorated with Adirondack colour washes and black webbing spray and finally sealed with diluted PVA. The result is quite leathery looking and relatively malleable. It machine stitched beautifully as a larger piece but was a bit delicate when it came to hand stitching and beading the cut edges. The insides are painted with gold fabric paint.

While I have always kept notebooks for ideas, thoughts, quotes etc I haven't previously kept an art journal. I always liked the idea and read lots of articles and books by people who did but this is the first year I have actually got around to it. I am only doing the occasional page but I am really enjoying it. The prompt for this page is Love (it being February). I have done an acrylic paint background that I have then scribbled into while wet with an embossing tool. The stamps are flea market stamps from the wonderful Ma Vinci (I have rather a lot of her fabulous alphabet stamps) and the hearts are cut from scraps of fabric paper left over from the August workshops I did with Beryl Taylor. I wouldn't hand sew into a journal again (or at least not so much) - it was too awkward and time-consuming with the whole book attached to the page! The splodges of blue and green come from sprays of Moon Spray Glitz. The page is a bit more vibrant than it looks in the scan. Lots of white gel pen and some glitter glue too!

Where I have been...

(ATC Trade received this week from Sephi Kemp - isn't it gorgeous!! Thanks Sephi!)

Well I didn't even get a chance to post that I was going to be away most of the week with work - sorry about that and thanks to all my visitors this week - when I got home I had a look at my statcounter and saw that since I installed the counter I have had 22,222 hits! I love that sort of fluke - it is like waking during the night and finding it is 2.22 on the digital clock. I never get upset that I have woken up when I see those sorts of numbers (not sure what that says about me though...)

Anyway for anyone outside of Western Australia that may not have much idea of our geography (and I personally am hopeless when it comes to anything detailed in another country!) this is a rough idea of where I have been this week - driving from Kalgoorlie up to a remote Aboriginal community about 40 minutes north of the little outback town of Meekatharra. All up about 800 kms away - because there has been so much rain we couldn't take any short cuts on dirt roads and had to stick to the bitumen where it was available (the road from Wiluna to Meekatharra is a "good" dirt road). The country was amazing - normally at this time of year the whole thing looks totally parched but all the rain we have had in the last couple of weeks meant that there was a lot more green and a lot of "lakes" everywhere! Came home to a very sodden garden and overfull swimming pool. I also came home to that great ATC from Sephi Kemp.

As a result of being away I haven't had much creative time but I have managed to finish my fairy slippers for Joanna (I'll post a picture in my next post as I will have to take a photo rather than a scan) and made good progress couching fibres onto my February "Colour" Journal Quilt - progress shot below showing a strip of the quilt. I am really enjoying working with all the bright colour and simplicity of design.
I have also been experimenting a bit more with the paper bag technique - I had some leftover diluted gold fabric paint from my fairy slippers so I rubbed it all over a piece of the leathery walnut ink paper and then squirted it all with pesto color wash. It has come up a whole lot less leathery looking but lovely and golden looking. Think I'll make a couple more postcards with it. (The red bits are from the Brumby brand paper bags I tore up to make the paper).

I have been reading Sherrill Kahn's book which I have borrowed from my friend Annie - great book full of great ideas for embellishments even if you wouldn't be seen dead wearing some of the resulting "jewellery" - or perhaps it is just me, but I think a lot of the embellishments look best on quilts, books and wall hangings. Too many fibrous chunky things hanging around a neck always look to me like fibrous chunky things!

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Take it Further Challenge

At the start of the month I mentioned that the "Take it Further" challenge for February had prompted me to think about the days before plastic and that I was planning on making my piece this month using paper bags.

Well, I have been doing mental gymnastics ever since trying to decide exactly what I would do - I was thinking about a paper bag quilt using the bags in their unadorned state but this weekend I decided I would just use them as a surface. I decided this would be more challenging for me and would make me think of how to use the surface to good effect.

So I have made four postcards all using paper bags - two (a & b) are made using heaps of torn pieces of paper bag layered and glued to a a whole piece of paper bag. When it was dry I crumpled it up and then lightly flattened it out before spraying it heavily with two different types of walnut ink and some water. It has been ironed flat and sealed with spray fixative. The result is a very leathery-looking surface.

The other two (c & d) are made using one of Beryl Taylor's fabric paper methods - a piece of heavily crumpled paper bag is glued to a piece of flannelette fabric, then dry brushed with green acrylic paint and gesso. This really emphasizes the texture. I have then stamped on the surface (both have calligraphy and one also has flourishes) and sprayed them with a golden Moon Glow Spritz which is really gorgeous but doesn't show up very well in the scan.

To emphasize the connection with brown paper bags I have pleated some torn strips which have been stamped and then stitched to each of the postcards. The stamping is meant to draw the connection back to the printing that was sometimes included on paper bags back in the "good old days" when I was a kid!. I would do both backgrounds again as they were easy and gave a nice textural surface. It was very tempting to use the backgrounds for something "pretty" but I really wanted to keep the connection with the paper bags this time.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Saturday Morning...

Well I got through Friday without too many dramas (there was a slight one in the afternoon when I received a call at work from my son Zach who had been left stranded after the school swimming carnival - at least it wasn't me who forgot to pick him up and I got to play "mum to the rescue" - these extra points are well worth accumulating when you have teenage sons! He was a bit hot and bothered as it was a rather hot 39 degrees here yesterday - and it is supposed to be the same again today) .

Thinking in terms of "Creative Every Day", last night I made a nice dinner while I relaxed with a glass of wine and then I made good progress on my Calendar Girls postcard for February. This is what it currently looks like -

It is commercial music themed fabric fused to black felt and the petals are made from dyed mulberry bark. The connection with music comes from the wording of this month's verse. This is the first time I have used mulberry bark although I have had it in my "experimental materials " drawer for quite some time. I bought it from Dale at The Thread Studio - and what a treasure trove of stuff she has!! I cut heart shaped petals from the bark, used small pieces of misty fuse to anchor them to the fabric and then hand stitched around the edges and in the middle using another product bought from Dale - beautiful multi-colour silk threads (by Jacinta Leishman). I have machine quilted along the music lines to and I have to decide what to do about adding a flower centre. Originally I was also planning on adding the words (or some of them) from the calendar verse but at the moment I am thinking I might just add the centre, finish the edges and then leave it at that.

Yesterday I actually received my February postcard (above) for this Calendar Girls exchange from the wonderful Doreen Grey. Needless to say Doreen is rather more organized than me!! Doreen has chosen different elements from the original picture to inspire her postcard and it is just beautiful - very cheerful and the heart shaped vase is a great connection with Valentine's Day. Have a look at Doreen's blog or the Calendar Girls' blog for details on how she made it.

And to finish, here is another fabric postcard and a card which are, I think, in the latest Stamping & Papercraft Magazine's "Stamper's Challenge" section. The idea is to showcase the different ways a particular stamp can be used, so I did one on fabric and one on paper. This particular stamp is one from Stamper's Anonymous and it is ideal for fabric. The card had too much dimension for a good scan and it is actually a lot brighter in real life!

And now to go get on with the day!! I have a day planned around domestic duties but with some creative bits interspersed. I think my fairy slippers for Joanna are probably what I'll focus on - they are so small and fiddly!!

PS Oxford Impressions have a new plate of unmounted stamps out - Country Girl - check them out! I think they are gorgeous with a great range of versatile imagery. Love that rooster and the chicken wire and the wheat and the little girl and the checked border (and and and.. you get the picture, it is a great plate)

Thursday, 14 February 2008

TGIF (tomorrow)

(Stamped Canvas Board with Decorator Napkin & Dimensional Paint)

I don't think of myself as a TGIF person ("Thank God It's Friday") but I am so glad tomorrow is the end of the working week!! I think I could sleep all weekend if it was available for that purpose but of course it isn't as we are packing up our son Josh to move back to Perth for the start of the university year. It has been wonderful having him home for the last almost few months but I must admit my blogging and art routines have been seriously affected!! I've done a lot more cooking than usual as he is so appreciative of home cooked food!!

So, to share some art - at the top of this post is a piece I made using decorator napkins (serviettes) as the main element and below is the final result for my CyberFyber postcard trade with Susan Lenz. The only difference from the last post is the two lines of beading that I have added. I have toyed with other additions but my style is relatively simple so decided the postcard is finished. I still have my ATC to make for this trade. Below are the wonderful trades which arrived this week from Susan Lenz. She still has postcards and ATCs available for trade so swing over here if you do fibre arts! It is a great opportunity to participate.

PS See you tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Tuesday in a week that is flying past...

Another busy week! This is a bit of a "flotsam" post but I had to share some of the beauty that has come into my life this week:

Look at Fiona Mortimore's beautiful pages for my arch book (above and below) - aren't they gorgeous? They arrived yesterday and I just keep looking at them!

And this is the beautiful Thai Silk scarf that my wonderful work friend Pam bought me back from her Thai holiday.

Here are some "house themed" ATCs I have made this week for an exchange I am participating in. I have 4 spare to trade so please leave a comment if you want to trade - it will be random which one of the 9 you will get! They are not as wonky looking in real life!! (EDIT - The four spare have all been traded now)

And of huge significance to Australians, tomorrow our parliament finally says sorry to our Indigenous people for the Stolen Generation policies of our past. And, as this fellow blogger has said, "Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?"

Saturday, 9 February 2008

My Arch Book is Home and it is Beautiful!!

Wow! What a busy week I have had. I really need to get back in the swing of regular blogging - I miss it badly. But to get to one of the highlights of the week - my arch shaped book came home from its round robin travels over Australia and the US over the last 8 months and I just love the end result! Fiona's pages will be here shortly so I'll post pictures of them soon!

If you have been joining me here for a while you may remember my cover and the page I made back at the start of the round robin.

And these are the gorgeous pages that my fabulous round robin partners have created:

And I also received the last book for the round robin that I am still to work in - Jo's Diamond book. Jo has chosen a long rectangular shape and the diamond is just to be a design element or motif so these pages should be fun to make. I'll post my results as soon as the pages are done.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Reporting In...

I need a book of simple blog titles that cover all those flotsam type posts (like this one)!!

I had a fabulous arty weekend - the house work suffered a little (well maybe a lot) but I did cook and do the laundry so 2 out of 3 isn't bad, especially considering it was so hot and humid!! I was pleased with progress on Saturday and then yesterday I finished my copper mesh and heart postcards (see above), started experimenting on my February Journal quilt (colour!), did a bit of magazine stuff, finished an ATC trade for Sequana (no blog unfortunately but a great flickr album) and worked on my Cyber Fyber exchange postcard. I also started on some house themed ATCs for an exchange I've joined but not to the point where I can show any pictures.

And to make my little life complete (!!) I have joined the latest round of Kathryn Robertson's fabric inchie exchange. The colour is beige (and before you groan, Kathryn's interpretation of beige is lovely and wide, ranging from cream all the way through to strong cafe au lait) and I expect you will be reading about them for a while as I get back into inchie experiment mode.

After attending to domestic stuff tonight I am planning on unpicking all my stitching on my colour strips (see below) and starting again - I think I was just a touch too random last night with my FME and rinsaway (which didn't totally rinse-away to my disgust!). I'm happy with the level of colour but there is a lot that needs to be done to this before it is finished!!

This is the postcard I am working on for Susan Lenz (Cyber Fyber) - the base fabric is a deep purply pink silk to which I have ironed on a torn strip of Lumiere Olive painted vliesofix. I've stamped on top of both surfaces with black fabrico ink and text and swirl images. The fabric has been sprayed with Moon Shadow Glitz in gold and green (I'm addicted to these sprays!!) and then I stitched on some lovely rich fibres before adding Jones Tones glue and green foil to the middle section. I'm planning on finishing it with some sequins or beads. I think it looks more interesting in real life!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Sunday Morning Reflections

Last night I finally finished my Australian Autumn Quilt for the NSW Cancer Council fundraiser that Cecile at Unique Stitching is running. For some reason I can't upload photos from my camera this morning so this is just a scan which means the colours are accurate but it is missing the side edges! I am learning so much as a result of doing so many small art quilts at the same time. One big thing - I need to plan a bit more rather than just jump in and start - paper arts are a lot more forgiving than fabric in this regard and it is a lot easier (and cheaper) to throw away a cardstock experiment than a fabric one!! I completely under-estimated how long it would take me to do the random hand stitching/quilting (are they called seed stitches?) all around the leaves but it was quite a peaceful activity and allowed me time to ponder the details of other projects I need to start. So this quilt needs to get itself into an Express Post Bag tomorrow to get over to Cecile by Friday.

Quilting is definitely limiting how much I am getting done but here are a couple of other little in-between activities and experiments I have been working on this week- some experiments below with Lumiere painted and text stamped "Shrink Paper" (which I bought several years ago from Krafty Lady at a stamping downunder convention and which I now assume to be lightweight tyvek), some tissue covered felt that has been coloured, sealed and stitched ready to be made into tiny fairy slippers for Joanna (I posted a photo of hers to me a little while back) and also a little fabric ATC trade (above) for Anne L in France. This last one was an experiment in that I have used gel pens to accentuate the pattern on the fabric and I thrilled that they worked on fabric. I wasn't sure that they would especially as gel pens are notoriously temperamental.

Hoping to finish my copper mesh and fabric postcards this afternoon... Working on tearing up brown paper bags to make brown paper "fabric" for my February TIF challenge...Pondering ideas for my February Calendar Girl Postcard...Needing, as of this morning, to make a fibre ATC and postcard to trade with the wonderful Susan Lenz over at Cyber Fyber (what a huge thing she is creating over there and what a fabulous idea - if you haven't checked it out and you are into fibre arts, you really should!)...So I better go get on with it...(spell check won't work this morning so apologies if I have missed any misspellings!)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Creative Every Day

This beautiful fabric postcard is by Jhodi Bennett - our "theme" this month was to use hearts and copper mesh somewhere on the postcard. Jhodi has used mica as well to great effect (although it is reflecting a bit in my scan unfortuntely) and as always, has come up with a very individual and creative look! I'm still working on mine but they should be finished this weekend (if I get off the computer and get on with it!).

I haven't been able to get back to my pre-Christmas blogging pattern so my posts are a bit sporadic at the moment! Anyway, in an earlier post I said I was going to participate in the "Creative Every Day" movement for 2008. I think it is really reassuring when you don't have time to paint or sew or stamp to think of ways to be creative in your everyday life - say by approaching the cooking of a meal as a creative exercise rather than a time-pressured necessity!
One of the main ways I am participating is by thinking of creative ways to use short periods of time - the sort of time that is so easy to "lose" or "waste" because it is so short that you end up doing nothing.

So for example, when I have between 5 and 15 minutes, I am painting a single page in my art journal as a background for further development, or I am sorting through images that I need for a project, or cutting up unmounted stamp plates, spraying various Moon Shadow Mists on pages of text as quick backgrounds for future projects, stamping a few images, cutting Pelmet Vilene Plus into postcard sizes etc etc. It is amazing actually how much you can get done in a very short amount of time. It of course helps that I can leave stuff out and don't have to set up or tidy it away after every use. This month I am going to keep a bit of a daily log of creative activities to help me focus on finding little ways (as well as big ways!) of being creative every day.

The other thing I am doing as a daily practice is to always have an unlined spiral back journal with me or near me so that I can jot down ideas and update my various lists (usually to do lists of art commitments!!) whenever I stop for a cup of tea etc. At the moment I have 5 of these journals in various locations, including one in my handbag and one next to my bed and it is really working for me.

And if I had made any New Year Resolutions I would have made one to not buy any more rubber stamps, but as I didn't, I don't have to feel bad that I ordered some great new stamps from Joyce at Paper Forest Designs (in Western Australia) while I was restocking on my favourite Moon Glow Glitz sprays! Aren't they all beautiful? The mini plates (ARTistree) are Paper Forest Designs and the other three are from Crafty Individuals. I'm sure they will all help me be more creative this month!

Yesterday Sharon B announced the Take IT Further challenge for February and I am quite excited about this one. There is a choice of a colour scheme - see below - or a concept (or a combination of both) but I think I will be going with the concept - "what are you old enough to remember?"

This really appeals to me as it immediately made me think of paper bags and how much difference it made (on all sorts of levels, including environmental) when plastic bags became available in my youth (I don't actually remember exactly when?). It is especially relevant now that they are being phased out (slowly) and cloth and paper bags are making a big comeback!

I think this month I will work with paper rather than fabric to develop this theme - my initial idea is to do a brown paper bag quilt of some description. I'll probably let this idea percolate away for a while as I already know what I want to do for the other Journal Quilt challenge that I am participating in. The themes are Graffiti or Colour and I really want to do a bright ragged edge scrap strip quilt. It is something I have never done before but think would be quick, easy and fun! I saw one that had been made for the January Seasons theme and it really appealed to me as a great way to get a lot of colour in a small A4 size quilt. It also fits with my intention to maximize use of the fabrics and supplies I already have - with these journal and art quilts I am trying to only buy things that need replacing, not additional fabrics. We'll see how long that lasts!