Bark…

judy madrona trunk

Photo taken by J. Krefting

Bark – The sound a dog makes (even though dogs can’t pronounce the letter “b” – or so I’ve been told!), the thin chocolatey confection, the outer covering of a tree. It is curious what we make of words.

It seems to me artists and nature-lovers are interested in, even fascinated with tree bark. I know I am. Is it because it takes on so many different appearances? The last time my Mister and I were in the Giant Redwood forest I took some photos of the bark on downed trees. I could have stayed there and studied bark all day! But I was not alone… and we did not stay.
redwood bark1redwood bark2 redwood bark3

I like to see if I can recreate bark on fabric… I’m still working at it…

fig 4fig 5

TrunkWall

Sometimes I’m especially happy with the results…

CoexistenceCopyright

“Coexistence”

What do you think of bark?

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Becoming Unstuck

I’m happy to say I haven’t been artistically “stuck” in a while, in fact I wish there were more hours in the day or fewer ideas in my head! The other day I was thinking about ways to get unstuck and decided to see how fast I could produce fabric backgrounds just using areas around our garden. So my son handled the camera and videoed me for fifteen minutes as I traveled from one place to the next. I came up with five rubbings that I look forward to using in future pieces.

The pastel painted only with water.

The wax pastel painted with only water.

It was a hot day and I was using Neo-Color 2 wax pastels so I had to be quick (they melt). I did have a plan before I went outside but I didn’t anticipate the breeze and heat.The fact that my son had to go to work had me moving faster too! I went from flagstone to patio to the shed siding and then to the fence boards and a mosaic…

leaves on flagstone leaves flagstone rub

patio pre rub patio rub

patio rub fin patio to shed  patio to shed fin

fence board fence board fin

mosaic mosaic-fin

These first layers can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing again. Have you ever been “stuck” artistically? What have you done to get unstuck?

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Flowers

In my world white roses mean love and passion. Do you know that the white rose symbolized “true love” before the red rose did? Have roses inspired your art?

There is just something about flowers in general and roses in particular that speaks to me as a fiber artist. I can’t have flowers in many of the rooms in my house because I have an indoor cat who likes to chew things she shouldn’t. That may be one reason I make fabric flowers!

to holdGifts from Her Garden Rose

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When Photo meets Fiber

I love to see how some artists combine photography and fiber. Today I’m posting the fabulous work of two artists who approach and combine those two mediums very differently.

Gunnel Svensson takes wonderful photographs and has them printed on fabric. She then stitches them and adds fabric and fiber embellishments. I’m fascinated by her tiny mark making hand stitches.

gunnel svensson photo

Gunnel Svensson’s image used with permission.

Photographer and artist Melissa Zexter actually stitches directly on her photographs. This method not only adds a textural element to her works, but causes the viewer to stop and examine the layers more closely.

melissa zexter image used with permission

Melissa Zexter’s image used with permission.

I’ll end with a couple of my own pieces from my Photograph on Fiber series. I thank both Gunnel Svensson and Melissa Zexter for so graciously allowing me to share just a bit of their wonderful artwork. I hope you will visit each of their websites; there is much more inspiration to be found there!

Fescue Traveler

Fescue Traveler by Ann

Bodywork

Bodywork by Ann

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What’s Up Wednesday

Yesterday I delivered and installed (with the help of my handy assistant) my most recent commissioned art quilt. The best part – the client was very pleased!

finished garden view art quilt

I’m working on new Curious.com online lessons but I thought it would be fun to take a detour in today’s post and share some cutting up and putting back together that doesn’t involve fabric. Except for the bleeding part I love cutting glass to make mosaic!

mosaic flora mirror

And I love designing and cutting up tile!

porch mosaic 1 porch mosaic 2

front porch mosaic 2

Do you think most quilters like puzzles? Do you?

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Wabi Sabi and pulling weeds

I like to think of it as experiencing Wabi Sabi instead of weed pulling work. The ground littered with wonderful decaying plants. The textures, colors, the shadows and light, it is ever changing. I’m happy to recreate it in art…

A little weeding and a lot of wabi sabi

A little weeding and a lot of wabi sabi

My garden has often been a source of inspiration for me – from the old fence boards to the insect nibbled leaves and the rusty found objects.

painted fence boards on fabric by Ann detail Shadow of Oneself by Ann

rusty

When I think about decaying leaves I think of the spectacular fiber art by Barbara Schneider and her Leave Series. Barbara’s work seems to always be evolving. It is so inspiring to me. Thanks to Barbara for allowing me to share her artwork. I hope you will stop by her website and enjoy her wabi sabi fiber art and so much more.

Leaf Fragments, var 1 by Barbara Schneider

Leaf Fragments, var 1 by Barbara Schneider

 

 

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Warm-up Wednesday

Well, I thought about doing this post yesterday with the title Tension Tuesday but Warm-up Wednesday seems to have a better ring to it!

I test tension and warm up for free-motion thread play at the same time. After testing my tension and ending up with this flower, I decided I needed to do my machine’s tension test on a solid piece of fabric (maybe a painted sky scrap?) so that I could add to it every time I tension test, creating a picture (which I may paint in the future). I know the best way to test the tension is sewing loops and straight lines but I can’t seem to help myself!

warm up flowerstitching tiny produce

I recently learned on LuAnn Kessi’s blog about a tension gauge, but decided to hold off on buying one since I seem to be doing okay on my own. Have you used a gauge for checking sewing machine tension?

I mentioned it before – Because I change thread often while working on art quilts I have gotten pretty fast at adjusting the bobbin tension on my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. I had a student in one of my workshops say that she uses only one kind of thread so her machine never gives her tension trouble. I think in some cases that is a good idea, but I like to change up the thread to get different textures. It also helps me remember to clean the lint out.

Adjusting tiny screw

Adjusting tiny screw

I wonder if some day sewing machines will just “feel” the thread, automatically make all the adjustments so all sewing goes smoothly!

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Paint or Dye

I was enjoying the posts over at The Snarky Quilter’s (SQ) blog where SQ and a friend share their steps and early results following Mickey Lawler’s  techniques to create some painted fabric.

The Snarky Quilter's paint set-up

The Snarky Quilter’s paint set-up

They made some neat fabric pieces and a little discussion ensued regarding painted fabric. SQ commented that painters working in oil also paint on fabric. Some of us think of painting on fabric as a “newish” technique. I hadn’t really thought of it as she did. I have been painting on fabric for a long time and continue to explore. SQ’s comment got me thinking though… As fiber and quilt artists who paint on fabric, we have a special consideration: we want to create layers but we know that needles are going to penetrate the surface, and that needles through painted fabric leave holes!

beauty on the trails

Paint washes and then stitched. “Beauty on the Trail” by Ann

That is one of the biggest advantages of dyeing versus painting; dye changes the hand of the fabric very little, if at all, and usually less than paint. Color washes are probably the best way to achieve layers on fabric that will be stitched without causing a thick layer of paint (and big holes!). Another alternative – Stitch or quilt and then paint.

above lake cuyamaca detail

Here border was quilted and then painted over. “Beyond Lake Cuyamaca” by Ann

I dye a little and really admire artists who dye their own fabric but I will stick to using paint. I just love it. Some might say it’s a control thing! I’m okay with that!

Rope wrapped dyed by Ann

Rope wrapped dyed

Whole cloth painted

Painted Whole Cloth by Ann

Paint or dye – Do you have a preference?

 

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Bonsai, Fiber, and Passion

Many years ago someone asked me “What do you do?” I answered “I make miniature landscapes.” In those days that was where my focus was. His response surprised me… He said “You do Bonsai?!” I said “Oh, no, I work in fabric.” and he replied with a disappointed “Oh” and that was the end of it for him.

could go either scape

“Could Go Either Way” a miniature landscape by Ann

Had he been interested I would have told him… (In a breathless run on sentence) “Why would I design beautiful tiny plant scapes and study the history that goes back to the 6th century when I can create a little landscape today and recreate the exact landscape tomorrow, making it look totally different, using different fabrics, that only need to be trimmed once and they don’t require water and almost anyone can be taught to make one and it doesn’t take a life time to learn and, and, and… Uh-oh, my passion is showing!

mini landscapes fabric

Two landscapes, one pattern. Design by Ann. All commercial fabrics.

For the record – I love Bonsai and admire anyone who devotes their time and skill to designing and growing them. Thanks to Brian DeCarlo for allowing me to share his lovely Bonsai Islands video – Bonsai Art. What are you passionate about and do you show it?

b decarlo bonsai

One Brian M. DeCarlo’s Bonsai Landscapes

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Quilt, stamp, or both?

I have this little pillow made from my hand painted fabric that was originally going to have buttons but then I made the Terial Magic, painted and stitched butterflies and had some other thoughts.

butterfly flower pillow 5 butterflies washed

I made a flower stamp out of Sculpey Bake and Bend clay so I could just stamp on the right side of the pillow and add some green leaves.

butterfly pillow flower stamp1 butterfly pillow flower stamp test

Or maybe I’ll just use black thread and quilt a flower design OR maybe I’ll do both…

butterfly pillow flower quilting idea1

What would you do?

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