Thoughts on quilting a picture

some research:

i just ran across this wordpress blog about quilting.

and here’s another wordpress fabric blog

there’s also the quiltart mailing list

making a mark blog, getting famous now

about quilting by templates

about landscape quilts

here’s a rag quilt, something i should think about. unfinished seam allowances, oooh.

here is a real artist making quilts, beautiful

i’ve just joined a fabric webring, which i’ve never done before. loads of networking going on.

Surface Design
Power By Ringsurf

i’m researching how to do the actual quilting of the thing i’m contemplating. do i piece it together, do i applique it? what is appliquilting? do i have to zigzag them together? i’ve never used a zigzag stitch, and it scares me somehow.

i read a book about landscape quilting that had you sewing long rectangles in varying widths together to get a strip effect that you then pretty much cut into shape and sewed to some other piece of stripped fabric. it sounded like too much work.

i want to just rip this fabric into sthreds – which let me tell you, after however long iof mildew i can’t get out by washing in cole water with vinegar – and use the shreds somehow fastened down to a backing.

jim, of course, says glue it all down to some hard surface with gel medium and call it wall art. i still want it to be on the bed. but if i can’t get it to stop smelling, it’s going to have to be sealed.

i want to know how others have done it, and then do something different. i want to get all experimentl with it. however, it’s ripe-rotten old clothes and scraps of fabric. how much do i expect to do with it?

i’m thinking in my fantasies, that i want to put these different pieces of cloth in the blender and rag them all up, then use the different colors somehow like a slurry of paint, pouring it down onto some support material and fusing it to itself and the support. kind of like felting but also kind of like watercolor. would i use gum arabic as the medium? acrylic medium? some sort of polymer to soak the thing in, maybe heatset somehow? can i imagine a sheet of canvas with fabric lumps somehow glued to its surface but remaining pliable? i can see it!

again i wish i knew the chemistry.

Progress on lisa’s quilt

i took the significant step of rearranging the furniture in the spare room, in preparation for full-scale work on lisa’s 50×50 inch central panel of a queen sized quilt, using her family’s old clothes to recreate a favorite holiday scene.

i pasted enough kraft paper together to make a 52″ square, cleared enough wall space to put it up with blue painter’s tape, and then started drawing with a pencil.

i’d already made a watercolor painting of it, so the important contour lines were familiar to me.

the drawing, tho not exact, is good enogh to start on. because i can’t imagine the finished thing being exact, and i’m not going to waste my energy on it.

i plan on outlining all the major features of the scene, and then assemble the fabrics to have the same energy as each patch of scenery.

to that end i went thru all lisa’s fabrics and picked the ones i could use. way more grays and greens than i can have of other color ranges, but i’m going to make the effort.

i’m going to try to make use of the bit of fabric that has meaning – cuffs, collars, pockets. buttons.

i don’t know whether i’ll tear or cut or carefully cut to make up a patch of scenery, and i’ not sure at this stage if the patches will fit together when i go to assemble them.

but it’s a start.

Using pigments as dyes, treating canvas and paper like cloth

i was in utrecht and came across a booklet called painstiks on fabric, which is close to what i’m thinking i need to do with my paintings.

they use shiva (or markal) paintstik oil sticks on fabric, then heat set them.

the problem with this methdo of putting pigment on fabric is that there’s linseed oil – a drying oil – saturating the cloth, and over time the acids in the oil will rot the fabricand ruin the art.

i read something in one of those links above, saying that since this particular brand of paintstick is linseed oil and wax, and because the linseed oil is specially treated to be less acidic (by what process?), and because it dries on the fabric so quickly and is heatset – thus polymerized, dried, plasticized so quickly after being painted on, it has spent relatively little time being oily, and the remnant gets washed out after it’s set, and so it should be okay even tho the company hasn’t done aging tests on the effects. but it should be okay.

anyway, i haven’t tried it yet, and will, but i’m thinking oil isn’t the right binder for puting pigments on fabric. i’m thinking soda ash for cotton, and vinegar for silk. i’m thinking fiber reactive dyes.

i wish i knew the science.

see, i’ve had this idea for awhile now, and it’s been festering, teh way a painting might sit in teh back of our mind for a couple of years befoer you get around to making marks and finishing a painting.

altho i’m still thinking like a 2-dimensional painter on paper or canvas, i’m working like a fabric designer and sewing room monster.

you should see my new sheet set. wait here, i’ll go get a picture.

Project: bellydancing veil of helix nebula

i have taken practically forever to get around to a project i’m doing for a friend. sorry, asha.

asha is a belly-dancer of great renown. i recently offered to paint her a veil to dance with, and she immediately came back with the eye-of-god nebula, aka the helix nebula ngc7293 .

a silk veil. hmmm. now that i’ve finally gotten round to it, i am somewhat daunted.

i’m going to be working on a piece of silk that’s 4 ft x 9 ft.

the stretching and painting logistics give me the shakes. and how am i going to put a vast area of black dye down without horrible streaking and edging? we’re talking about 3+ square yards here – and putting the dye on all at once. jim’s solution (mask off the nebula and use a spray bottle full of black dye) – brilliant.

to begin wih, i don’t know how to do a nebula in silk paint. i don’t know what characteristics make something a nebula instead of a supernova, say. so i went to the hubble site and had a look at their gallery.

i have a glimmer of a clue how i’m going to execute this on silk with dyes. the only place i’m going to use regular water-based gutta is for the fixed stars. so i go thru and put dots of various sizes all over an 11×60 habotai scarf. my supplier is dharma. if i was being really realistic, i would first paint some red or blue or yellow and let it dry before dotting the area with gutta. then we’d get colored stars.

i’m going to use sugar syrup resist for the nebula. the places where it’s white i’ll draw onto the white and smudge or water down. the places where the nebula is reddish i’ll paint first with an orange and then lay down the karo.

and i’ll use salt for both the star field and for litle varations within the nebula.

the rest is a matter of figuring out how to get what effects, and how to end up with the right colors.

so i’ve done a dozen or so nebula scarves in the past week or so, as many as my poor tired back wil let me.

step one is to draw the nebula. these pictures were taken in my studio and show little bitty dots of water-based gutta for stars, and great jaggy circles of karo sugar syrup for the nebula

i’ve come back in with a brush full of water to smudge out those syrup lines.. the gray is really just watery syrup, and the dark is fully concentrated syrup. the sugar lines willl dry in hours to a shiny, soft clear, and the scarf will rustle like paper.

the inner circle resist is on the white sillk. the outer circle is on top of a yellow-orange swath of dye i’ve just put down. this way, the outer circle will be yellowish, and the inner ones will be white, because the syrup covers and resists application of dye. and when you add dye or clear water, you’re breaking thru the line of syrup, so the dyes will flow and etch in wonderful ways.

here is the scarf being worked on in the studio. i’m afraid the image has been reversed. i haven’t yet finished messing with the nebula colors.. they’re still mostly damp.

the tail ends of most of the scarves have the milky way on them, done in salt. it looks a lot more impressive with the salt than with the effect.

detail of the milky way. i’ve put the black on all at once, using a huge sponge brush. then blue and red got charged in there, and then salt sprinkled on for background stars. i stuck a bunch of salt in a double line where the milky way runs.

the salt is supposed to draw the color, leaving streaks and dark bits. when you use enough salt to melt a slug with black dye you get gray streaks and very faint darks. i want more than that, so i’m going to have to rethink.

this is two scarves ready for steaming. the top picture is the same scarf as we’ve been talking about, but turned over.

here is one, finished, yet still to be steam set. the syrupy areas are where there’s a certain graying of color – the yelow grayness in the southeast quadant right inside he red. that’s syrup, and the dyes will likely wash out when it’s set and rinsed.

i’ve put down dyes – mostly the primaries: lemon yelow, cyan, magenta. except that the magenta is way too cool so it’s been thoroughly fired up with loads of yellow aleady. i put down the dyes and then add clear water, making sure to violate the resist lines whenever possible. then i sprinkled salt on the darker nebula bits.

you can see where the blue has cut right thru the gray sugar resist line, especially at the top. but don’t these complete accidents just make the whole nebula effect? the happy accident. i’m always preaching this to students.

here is another first step, on a different scarf. you can’t see any flo of dye with the syrup because i put the dye on first. you can see a little flow of syrup out into the wet dyed area, tho.

this is the same scarf after dyeing. (but before steaming. it’ll look different when it’s been fixed and washed) i like the little blobs, but maybe in not so much of a pattern. i’ve seen similar little blogs in nebula clouds. i also really like what the salt has done to the outsie edges.

this was with a lot of salt, and a lot of flooding of the resist lines with water.

detail of the preceding scarf (a little fuzzy).

Project: Lisa’s quilt

i got my little sister lisa to bring me a bunch of discarded clothing for a secret project i was about to embark upon. she must have figured it out, because she brought me not only bunches of old mildewed cothes, but also a whole mess of scraps of things she must have been making over the years, only some of which are unusable because the fabric’s too ripe.

but now I have to figure out what i’ m going to do with it. below is a shot of the range of fabrics and colors i will have to work with. it’s a bunch of neutral whites and off-whites, a range of blues, some greens, some reds, a few darks. hmmm.

what occurred to me when i had the clothes in the washing machine (vinegar rinse does wonders for mildew) is that i should quilt a picture of some of the irish landscape we were recently driven thru on the occasion of my other sister’s wedding.

originally i had envisioned sewing a sort of crazy quilt using the entire face of different pieces of clothing, sort of a story of her family’s growth. but she’d long ago given away most of the baby and little kid clothes that would make it cute. (a few years ago at a street festival i spotted someone doing quilts made out of whole blue jeans, and was really struck with it. unfortnately i didn’t have my camera, so i couldn’t capture it and make it my own. maybe this year). so i was left with some other idea to follow.

here’s a sample irish landscape that i’m thinking of turning the clothes into.

here’s the range of fabrics i have to work with.