Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Don't get used to this!

It won't be every week that files will be uploaded to this blog. I'm still working about 60 hours a week, but stealing 15 minutes or so a day in the studio to stitch.

Someone posted photos of a couch throw made from re-purposed plaid sweaters on Pinterest. That's like waving a red flag in front of me. "What if..." and I'm off! This is a 54" x 60" throw made from cotton sweaters. I made one from acrylic sweaters a couple of weeks ago. It was wonderfully snuggly, but I like the weight of a blanket when I'm really cold, so wanted to try it in cotton. It's machine washable in cold water and can be dried in a home clothes dryer.

This detail shows the contrasting textures of the knits. I really like trim as the edging on the sides. This one is for a long-time friend (since 7th grade), who isn't a fringe kinda girl. Eventually, I'll make one for myself with chenille looped fringe on the top and bottom.

The pieces are cut from freshly washed sweaters, the edges are serged, and then stitched together with a straight stitch to make strips of irregular size (but same width) pieces of sweater. I think I can get two throws from 10 sweaters.

I had a ball searching through Good Will ($4.50 a sweater) and Salvation Army ($3.00 a sweater), but hit the mother lode at St. Vincent De Paul at 50 cents a sweater.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Smoked salt and little plates

I've been working all summer on making my own smoked salt. Have tried bunches of (unsuccessful) techniques and finally found one that is mistake proof!

The goal was to make smoked salt for Christmas gifts—AND I wanted tiny salt plates and spice spoons to go with the salt.

I tried to commission two different ceramic artists to do what was in my head (1 1/2" diameter plates with irregular edges) but even at $20 per plate, couldn't get it to happen. THEN my friend Amy (who has a kiln in her studio) invited me to experiment.

The result is 8 sets of 4 plates each with tiny spice spoons (from the Montessori online store). Exactly what I had in mind. I am lovin' it!

The unpredictability of ceramic glazes prevailed and none turned out like I hoped, but some are even more awesome that envisioned!! The photo shows a coarse sea salt on one of the plates (matte black glaze) with the tiny spice spoon. Can't wait for the holidays!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Joy Jam!

I saw something similar on Pinterest and it really spoke to me. So, I made 48 of these for co-workers. They are Pocket Coupons. When you need love, hope, a hug, strength, comfort, or something else, tear the appropriate coupon off and tuck it in your pocket. I'm sending the thing you need to you at that very moment--by angel of course. :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fabric books for ASPCA

It may seem like I'm not doing much fiber work (it seems that way to me!) but I'm actually accomplishing a few things. The pages below are from two fabric books made as table centerpieces for the Fort Wayne ASPCA gala last week. 

This one is Wild Cats of Science

The inside back cover (cover 3) featured a library pocket with a note saying: "Every day is caterday. Be kind."

The pretend tome was authored by Truman Cat-pote and featured famous and not-so-famous cats of science.

The front cover looks like a little grass shack in the jungle and shows a very cat-like eye when the door is opened. I had hoped to have a free-standing 3-D palm tree, but abandoned that after four attempts proved fruitless.

The second book was Wild Cats in Art and showed famous works of art before they were altered by human to claim the fame, such as the Mona Lisa holding a kitty.

I am so grateful for the day job to pay bills, but really miss studio time!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mass Hysteria!

This doodle print by Aimee Dolich of Artsyville on Etsy really spoke to me this morning. The Indiana State board of education has decided to discontinue teaching cursive writing in our public schools.


Seriously? What rocket scientist made that decision?

Sorry, I don't usually have such strong reactions to these things, but WHAT are they thinking? As I ponder the next project in JOY Jam, it's pretty clear it will include handwriting in some way. I'm grateful for the teachers who encouraged me to have better handwriting. I practiced every summer vacation but my cursive is barely readable and printing is even worse.

My first "novel" (6th grade) was handwritten on blue-lined notebook paper. When my mother died, I found a bundle of greeting cards I made by hand—and a fake excuse note to get myself out of a math exam in second grade.

Can't we have a huge bake sale to raise funds to include cursive writing in our curriculum? I am REALLY upset, mystified, horrified, perplexed, and concerned!!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

End of the Beginning ...

Well, 20 bags with 5 hearts each have gone to their new owners. It was such fun to see the reactions of the recipients. Clearly, a couple (guys) thought I was a few french fries short of a happy meal, but most were delighted, if not slightly confused.

Bill chose the heart I designed for him—without any prompting and even wore it on his smock yesterday! I was thrilled.

Stacy got right into the spirit of things and passed out hearts faster than I could pass out the bags! Her energy was very heartening (sorry for the pun).

Some hearts stayed in the department, some traveled throughout the building, and some went home for family and friends.

My husband, who is always my best cheerleader, wants to take some to the ladies at the bank. So, I'll make at least six more.

Actually, I like the idea that the project isn't finished. I'd like to send a bag to Hillary, Hilary, Brooke (daughters), and April (soon-to-be-daughter-in-law), each of the ladies in our art party group, and anyone else who needs a little JOY!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

90 JOY Jam Hearts!!

90 JOY Jam hearts are ready to fulfill their destiny! I've actually made 116, but keep giving them away, so there are now 90 of my goal of 100. The photo above shows 18 stacks of 5 hearts each, ready to go into handle bags. 10 more will complete the project.

My goal was to make them all without buying anything, just using scraps and supplies from the studio. Everything went well until I tried to find safety pins. Couldn't find quite enough, so I'll have to buy some—but that's all!

All the fabric, twill tape, ink for the inkjet printer, cardstock for the tags, gift bags (20 for the primary recipients), and ribbon have come from the stash. That's quite remarkable!

So, 10 more to go. That probably means Thursday they will all begin the job they were designed to do—spread JOY (and probably a bit of confusion) to friends, co-workers, loved ones, and strangers!

Please let me hear about your experience with JOY Jam!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

55 Hearts of JOY!

Yahoo! I just finished the 55th heart. Only 45 more to go. I can hardly wait to give the packets away at work and see what happens as they travel around the department. The photo above is about half of the bunch.

I found the hearts were becoming very regular and exact, so made a conscious effort today to stitch inside or outside the heart outline and make each one asymmetrical.

TIPs for stitching several hearts on a slab of fabric:
1. Keep the slab small to medium size. A large slab becomes unwieldy, as you're trying to maneuver it 360 degrees under the sewing machine needle.

2. Don't get too close to the edge of the fabric. Allow about 1" to prevent puckers and bunches as you round the curves close to the edge.

3. Select a thread that works with more than one fabric to avoid having to constantly change upper thread. I used a rainbow variegated thread and really like the contrast against the rusted fabrics.

4. Choose a fine bobbin thread for the bottom. More fits on a bobbin at a time and reduces the number of times you have to stop to wind and change bobbins.

Joy is Contagious (above) is made from what I thought would be backing fabric. It started out as white fabric with a sketchy black plaid. The rust and tannin created irregular areas of texture and color (I love serendipity).

This reminds me of the shirts my dad wore when I was a child. He'd laugh and shake his head at the rust. He was a most gentle soul and would like the way we are passing the joy along in JOY Jam! Thanks for joining me!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Almost to the half-way point!

Working on the JOY Jam hearts in my beautiful studio really makes me happy! I love the feel of the fabric underneath the paintbrush or thread. Making a heart with someone special in mind makes me giggle to myself.

Yes, it sounds so Pollyanna, but I LOVE to see someone smile when they find a gift in their favorite color or with a special message just for them.

There are now 40 JOY Jam hearts on my work table, waiting for their cards to be attached. Others are on the paint table, drying and there is a stack to be sewn beside the sewing machines. Oops! Need to print some more twill tape.

I can't wait to pass these out!!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Design out of context

It always fascinates me to see what happens when a portion of a design is removed from context to stand alone. Sometimes it makes the fragment look complex and sometimes it just looks contrived.

So, I was very pleased to see the hearts for JOY Jam from a tattoo-looking stencil. This is way out of my comfort zone, but while thinking about how to make hearts to appeal to the mostly male population of co-workers, my friend Bill (he's "Bill-iant") became the inspiration.

Bill is young enough to be my son, about 6' 3", and a musician. He's smart, interesting, comes from a very different background than I, and has tattoos that take my breath away. They (the tattoos) tell a story of the battle between good and evil and extend from his lower calf to up over his shoulder—at least the parts that are visible. 

Searching through my stash of kewl stencils, this one caught my eye. It kind of looks like what I think a tattoo should look like—and the rust-dyed fabric with pale tannic-acid grays was the perfect background.

Here they are cut out!! How amazing are these? I think even the ├╝ber cool Bill will like them.

The heart count is now 29 toward the goal of 100 hearts for JOY Jam! There is still a long way to go, but this afternoon in the studio has been quite productive and I'm happy!

Anyone else have photos of their JOY Jam hearts to share yet?

Makin' some JOY!

Heading to the studio to may some JOY to share!

My mom used to say "All work and no play makes Beth a dull girl." So, today is a play day—in the studio.

That means there should be photos to share a little later. Yahoo!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

99 Fabric Hearts on the Wall!

99 fabric hearts on the wall!!

This is a quick post before rushing off to work. The heart above was one made in the tutorial yesterday. It has been embellished with rolled-ribbon roses and deep pink freshwater pearls. Only 99 more to go!

Linda from Cloth Creativity blog shares hearts she made with ribbons for the JOY Jam project. She is honoring the memory of her father by sharing the hearts with family and loved ones. Read her post here:

I'm so honored so many online friends are putting their own spin on JOY Jam and joining in. We each make a difference!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

JOY Jam Hearts Tutorial

JOY Jam Hearts Tutorial

Easy peasy! The hardest part is choosing fabric, thread, and encouraging words. These two hearts, including taking the photos, took less than 45 minutes. 

1. Fuse fleece on the back of the fabric for the front. I really love rust-dyed fabric and save all the scraps, as well as scraps of fusible fleece. So far, all supplies for the two dozen hearts completed for Joy Jam have come from the scrap bin. LOVE that!

1. Apply my favorite metallic fabric paint (Earth Safe Finished opaque Shimmers) through a gorgeous stencil. This 6"-square stencil is from The Crafters Workshop.

3. While the paint is still wet, brush two colors of mica powders onto the open stencil areas and brush lightly to blend.

4. While the paint is drying, cut heart templates from cardstock. 

5. The paint dries in just a few minutes. It’s easy to move the template around on the fabric to preview the look of the finished heart.

6. I've adjusted the contrast so you can see the pencil outline of the two hearts on the stenciled fabric. It would not have been possible to get a third heart out of this, because the seam allowances need to be added to the outline. 

7. Position the printed twill tape (tutorial posted yesterday) on each of the hearts and stitch in place through all layers with a straight stitch.

The backing is also rusted fabric (yes, I rust printed fabric as well as solids) with fusible fleece bonded to the wrong side.

8. Front and back are placed together with fleece sides together. I really have to concentrate to make wonky stitching along the pencil marks, but several trips around the hearts with variegated thread provide a nice texture and color.

9. When the stitching is complete, cut around the stitching adding a small “seam allowance.” No, I don't measure.

Front and back. I love the serendipitous nature of rust-dyeing print fabrics! It has inspired me to look at the fabric bins in a whole new way.

Here are the two Joy Jam hearts ready for final embellishment (or not). Some of the recipients of my 100 hearts will be testosterone units (men) and will appreciate hearts free of lace, beads, buttons, and charms.

I hope you choose to join me in Joy Jam. Whether you make three hearts or three hundred, passing them to friends, associates, colleagues, or strangers on the street is a fun way to share JOY with someone and it will make you smile inside and out!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Printing On Twill Tape Tutorial

 Here are the step-by-steps for printing on twill tape that you can actually see!

1. Set up a Word (or other word-processing) document in horizontal (back and forth, rather than up and down) orientation. Position the cursor in about the center of the page and key the words you would like.

2. Draw an arrow on the bottom of the paper at the edge going into the printer first. This helps when you are trying to print the second time. Print the words on the paper. Cover the words with double-sided tape, leaving a border on each side.

3. Cover the double-sided tape with cotton twill tape. It is important for the tape to be 100% cotton. You can purchase synthetic twill tape in packages in the fabric store, but these will bleed badly and produce disappointing results. (I've made this mistake so you don't have to!)

I buy white and natural-colored 100% cotton twill tape at my local quilt store and on Ebay. Notice the roll in the upper right corner above. It was a 25-yard roll of 3/8"-wide herringbone weave twill tape purchased on Ebay at a very good price.

Twill tape is available in many widths. I've used 1/4"-wide all the way up to 1 1/2"-wide (think of small photos printed on the tape.).

4. Put the paper, with the twill tape, in the printer with the arrow pointing toward the printer and print a second time. This time the print will be on the tape.

5. The double-sided tape grips the paper more than the twill tape, making it easy to remove the printed twill tape. If your printer uses pigment-base ink, you don't need to do anything additional. The tape is ready to put on your project.
NOTE: If your printer uses dye-base ink, you need to spray both sides of the twill tape with a clear acrylic spray (like spray paint), such as Krylon. This will seal the ink, preventing moisture from getting to it and causing the  printed words to run or wick.

Tomorrow, I'll put up step-by-step photos of making the heart. The photos are finished, but it's about time to leave for work. Hope you enjoy this and decide to join me in the Joy Jam project!!

Monday, May 28, 2012

JOY Jam Hearts from Rusted Fabric

Here are a few more hearts for the Joy Jam project. These are made with rust-dyed fabric, which is treated to surface design of some yummy stenciled  metallic fabric paint (Earth Safe Finishes copper Opaque Shimmers and The Crafters Workshop stentcils).

Keep in mind, I have about 15 minutes a day to devote to artwork. So, these are pretty simple. My art-soul wants to add free-motion stitching, beads, etc. but this will have to do for now.

These seven hearts represent two days of work. The first day I iron the fabric, fuse scraps of fusible fleece, and stencil. The second day, I print the words, layer front and back, stitch the heart outline, and then cut around the stitching. I have a pair of scallop pinking shears; think I'll try those tomorrow.

There has been a request for a tutorial on printing on twill tape. I am NOT the person who published this idea first, although I had been using it for years before it was published.

OK, Blogger and I aren't communicating well. This is the first time I've tried to embed a tutorial and wanted it to be a pdf so you could download it. However, it will only load as a jpeg. Suggest you drag it to your desktop and enlarge it.

If that isn't sufficient, let me know and I'll be glad to e-mail it to you as a pdf.

Heading to work in a few hours. Who can resist double time and a half rate for 8 hours? I'll be home about midnight. Have a great holiday and let me know if you have questions.

I REALLY hope you decide to make some hearts and share with friends, family, and associates. Passing the joy forward is the goal! (My mom loved the quote "Bloom where you are planted." and would have loved the Joy Jam project as a way to put the quote into action. She's been gone three years now and I continue to celebrate her life and the unconditional love she showed me.)