Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What If? Neutrals

What if I started with a brown crazy graffiti background and did all embellishments, stitching and adding bits of fibers, in neutral colors?  The result was too bland for my taste, so I decided to add the faces to give it a little punch.  It's hard to tell from the scan, but each face is stuffed and puffed up.  My son called this one "marshmallows in hot chocolate."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Puff Balls

I've been working on my "Reach" sign and decided to frame it with little puff balls.  I was working with bigger puff balls last year and had wanted to try some about marble size.   They were a bit time consuming, but I'm really happy with the festive look they gave the piece.

Now I need to bind it and it will be done.  I first thought it would have a wild binding with tassels or something, but now it seems like it needs to stay simple so it doesn't attract from the center.

And more puff balls--yesterday I went to an amazing exhibit by Mandy Greer at the Contemporary Craft Museum.  She had filled a whole room with funky crochet sculptures that resembled huge trees on another planet.   They were full of wild crochet, puff balls, pom poms, beads, you name it.  My husband said it looked like what I would make if I was on acid.  Standing in the middle of it was a wild experience.  I loved it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

101 Goals in 1001 Days

We skipped sketch group yesterday to stay home and watch the inauguration.  Nothing warmed my heart more than seeing Bush waving from the plane as he exited D.C.   We celebrated with cake and champagne.  It really feels like we are beginning a new era.

I've been sketching quite a bit on my own lately.  Every day, in fact, for 2 weeks straight as part of my 101 goals.  3 years ago Debi in my art group suggested we do the 101 goals in 1001 days project.  You can read more about it here.  At the time, 1001 days sounded like forever, and now the time is up next month.  Even though I won't finish all 101 goals, I am really happy that I've made substantial progress.  I've marked off some really big items (go to Mexico), lots of small, mundane ones (organize garage), realized some will always be on the goal list (lose 15 lbs.) and have found that some no longer interest me (make paper cones for my mantle).  

 I'm now trying to see how many little goals I can squeeze in before the time expires.  I set a time limit on a lot of my goals so that they were things that could be checked off.  One was "sketch every day for 2 weeks straight."  This has ended up being more beneficial than I imagined, mainly because it forced me to sketch when I wasn't in the mood.  I often tried to squeeze it in right before bed so I rushed through the sketches, which resulted in looser work--something I'm always trying to accomplish anyway.

I do all my drawings in ink so they cannot be corrected and fussed over then put on a quick watercolor wash, but I have a hard time keeping them fresh and accurate without getting too tight.

I'm happy with the looseness of these sketches, especially for these subjects.  This is one of my favorites, my 2 boys' shoes:

And looseness fits the bulldog very well:

Friday, January 16, 2009


I was reading about choosing a word for the year to have a focus for your intentions.   I like the simplicity of this idea and chose:

I try to think about this every day and stretch myself just a little bit beyond my comfort zone. It might be staying up a little later to get a sketch in each day, or doing 2 extra push-ups, or trying a new technique in art.  

Right now I am really enjoying this post-holiday, post-show time of not having any deadlines or final products in mind.   I just want to follow my curiosity and see what develops from that.   I've wanted to do a little freeform lettering out of fabric so decided to make a "Reach" sign that I can hang in my studio as a reminder.

I've also wanted to work with velvet for a while.  This is a big reach for me as I still remember the nightmares of trying to do more precise sewing with it and having it slip all over.   But I can't resist the texture.  I made a background for my sign by layering velvet, batting, and cotton backing and freeform stitching on it.  The resulting texture, which doesn't come through in the photo, is incredible.  I can't stop touching it.   

The velvet was so much fun it's given me ideas for a whole new series of velvet "What If's."  Got a couple more graffiti ones to finish up, then on to more velvet.

Next I'll be starting an edging exploration around the lettered part of my sign.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What If? Kantha stitch

What if I used a chunky kantha stitch to outline all the white areas?  This did make the white pop in some areas that had bolder designs, such as the black, white and red section on the bottom, but became a little too random in the busier areas.  I think smaller, finer stitches might have worked better in the busy areas.   I have a few more of these little experiments to try, then I think I want to start applying some of the bits I like to a series of hearts.  (This photo makes the fabric look grubby.  Maybe I need to clean my scanner.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Back to What If

I'm continuing with the "What If's" I put on hold a while back.    I did several of the crazy graffiti backgrounds at once and now want to experiment with different ways of embellishing them.  For this one, What if I did all embellishment with needle felting?  I think the needle felting would be a nice embellishment on simpler fabrics.  I didn't want to cover all the great line in the fabric with solid chunks of felt, so the result is pretty busy.

Monday, January 5, 2009


We did a little sketching at Anthropologie last month.  It's such a great store of visual delights.  If I was 30 years younger, 30 pounds lighter, and much richer, I would dress in all of their clothes.  They have such great detailing to them.  And the home side is full of fun items that are often vintage inspired.

Their displays are always so creative and often done with simpled, recycled materials.  They had a wall of snowflakes made from corrugated cardboard and old fashioned clothespins, in a black,  white and tan color scheme.

I was inspired by some of their textile pieces and drew a quick sketch of one idea.  They did simple, rough applique and embroidery on top of prints.

I wanted to try a sample of that technique, but found I have very few large prints.  I did have this ugly piece of fabric that would work:

I then added a little applique and some bullion and straight stitches, letting the underlying print show through.  It's an ugly piece, but a fun technique to try later.  I think I'd like to try this on hand-painted fabrics or maybe black and white fabrics that have been block printed.