Thursday, January 31, 2008

January TIF - Passion and Grace

In admiration of all women
who live a life filled
with passion and grace.

It's finally finished! The front at least - I am planning on making a backing but didn't have time to get that done. I'll finish it up tomorrow. But it is still January here in Montana, although the February challenge is already been posted (more on that later). You can see most of my processes on previous posts. I hand stitched the celtic knots and machine stitched the central copper motif to the felted background. I did use heat, black acrylic paint and cranberry alcohol ink on the copper.

This is a closeup of the central copper piece. But you can't see much of the distressing somehow. It disappeared in the shine of the metal. It shows better above. The triple spiral stands for female power through transition and growth and the celtic knots stand for the never ending cycle of life.

This lower portion is meant to show the chaos of what life is really like with hanging threads and distorted knots. As you move up the piece, the chaos is made more orderly by the passionate woman who is determined to continue to strive towards perfection.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One year of blogging

It's been a year since I started blogging. I was first using this as a site to post my felting creation photos and did very little writing of posts. I've been a bit more verbal lately as well as doing much more than just felting. I would like to thank everyone who reads my blog and it's been wonderful making friends from all over the world. In celebration of my first year blogiverssary, I will draw names from all who comment on this post and send three people a piece of my work. I haven't made anything yet as I am frantically trying to finish my TIF project. But I promise I will get the gift out to you soon. For all of you who are not signed up in blogger, please remember that if you win, I'll need to get your snail mail address. I will draw the winners a week from today. The photo is the shot of the day on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort. They've gotten 18 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. Yippee - the skiing is fine!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Woo Hoo!

First off, I keep forgetting to say this - To all of you who have left comments here that I haven't been able to personally respond to due to "noreplyblogger", thanks so much! I really appreciate that people are taking a look at what I'm doing and I appreciate all the positive comments.

Now for the Woo Hoo! A little while ago Lynda, had made a comment on the Calendar Girls blog that she had some extra postcards of sunflowers and if someone wanted one, to let her know. I really enjoy her work and was expecting one or two postcards but I got six! And they are all wonderful. On the back of each, she explains her techniques and she does such wonderful experiments. Aren't they all gorgeous? Thanks Lynda, I love them all.

And it really should have been Woo Hoo times two. Because I finally got all my celtic knots completed. Here are a couple of photos of the imperfect (not that the last set was perfect) knots. I left lots of threads hanging as I thought I would like that effect on the finished piece. I also heated my copper circle and did a few other techniques to tone down the bright, shiny copper penny look. I've got all the components now and just have to put the whole thing together. I've decided to not show any more developments until the piece is completed. Hopefully it will be done by the end of the month. Mainly hand stitching to go but I wanted to leave a bit of surprise for anyone that has been following the whole process. So coming soon...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Winter Storm Warning

This is what we woke up to this morning. It's at least 8 inches of snow and maybe closer to a foot in places. This is our front patio after I had made a little path to get to the tractor.

Here's the back patio with lots of snow on the picnic table.

Here's DH on the tractor going down the driveway to start plowing.

Ta Da! Here's the patio three hours later and the sun even came out for a moment.

The snow piles are getting so high it's hard to pile up any more.

Here's the back deck and the snow is getting higher than the deck. It's about 8-14" off the ground normally.

So I didn't get much sewing on knots done today. My back won't hold up to much more strain at this point. But I did start on the center Celtic triple spiral in copper. Here is it with the other elements surrounding it. It's much too bright.

Here's a closeup.

So then I decided to experiment with alcohol inks and Lumiere paint to see how I wanted to tone down the brightness. I haven't used the alcohol inks before and I'm not sure what I was expecting but I wasn't too impressed.

I had about decided to go with the last choice although tone down the cranberry a bit. Then I remembered that copper changes color with heat. I may have to torch it and see what happens. What fun!

Friday, January 18, 2008

TIF Continued

I worked all day today on my challenge piece. First I laid out my wool and a little silk on top and wet felted it.
Here it is after I blocked it. It's drying.
I then started on my celtic knots (only have about 30 to do - what was I thinking??). I put fusible Pellon on the black felt on which I'd traced the celtic knots. Then I used the variegated thread to stitch around the outline from the back side. This was so I could work from the front on the outline in black.
Here's a picture of the back side after I had zigzagged around all the knots. The front side photo didn't turn out too well. I then used variegated red thread and filled in the knot again from the front side.
And look! I did it. I cut out the knots and they aren't half bad. I was a bit worried about this step as I wasn't sure my FME skills were up to this. It certainly would have been much easier on one of those computerized embroidery machines. I've gotten 11 of them done. So I'm a third of the way there.
Here's a few on the background. They aren't stitched down yet. So progress is being made. Also started the braid for around the edge.

Friday, January 11, 2008

TIF Update and Mail from Sweden!

The TIF paper mock up is going well. I started with watercolor paper and covered it with crumpled red tissue.

Then I drew a bunch of my celtic knots. I'm planning on doing these on black felt and using a variegated red thread in the middles.

Here's the top half with a black braid around the edge and the triple spiral I did in paper and painted with metallic paints. I am planning on using copper shim for this. I haven't distressed the lower portion as I had planned but will probably still do that.

Then I made some wonky celtic knots for the bottom portion and messed up the braid a bit. Nothing is currently glued down so I can move things about and change my mind. I also want to add some "stitching" to the background but I haven't made my mind up about that yet. I'll finish the paper mock up this weekend and then get down to work on the real thing!

And last, but certainly not least, here is a wonderful postcard from Annica. It is much more blue than it came out - I agree Annica, perhaps I should read the book about the camera as I am a bad photographer! Thanks so much, I love it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Home again and Further Along

I'm back from Wyoming and here are some "idea book" photos of what I worked on in the car. I'm continuing on my idea admiration of qualities. As I was working through the design process, I started with the idea of the celtic knots being scattered over the surface and having a celtic chain around the edge with 3 triple spirals. I came up with the phrase "In admiration of all women who live a life filled with passion and grace." I'm not sure where the grace came from but I looked it up and it means "the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful". I admire those qualities. "To grace" means to adorn or embellish - who knew??

Then I decided I needed to simplify my design. Thus I cut down the triple spirals to one as to have one point of emphasis. I thought perhaps the celtic knots could be of varying sizes and perhaps to do FME around the celtic knots. Then since I had just read a short book from the library on sashiko, I thought it would be nice to do that kind of pattern based on triangles around the celtic knots. Then I could graph the whole design out and it would be very neat and tidy.

NOT. I'm not really the neat and tidy kind of girl. So then I was thinking that the bottom portion of the design could appear to be deteriorating moving up to a more perfect design on top. The bottom portion would signify the chaos of life and working towards the top through a life of passion and grace. That's where the design is currently. I also read the book in my previous post by Beaney and Littlejohn. It was all about designing for embroidery. It suggested that a paper mock up be made in the correct size to check to make sure the design worked the way you want it to before committing to stitch. So that's what I've started since I've gotten home. I made the background part but it didn't photograph well tonight. Will try for another photo in better light. I also have another full page of notes in my "idea book" about how to achieve deterioration of the symbols but I didn't take a photo of that page as not to bore anyone to death.

The other thing that I did on the car trip was to practice on my celtic symbols and designs. This was fun! Once you've got the basics figured out, it's pretty easy. The bottom right hand corner is the celtic knot that I will use.

Here's a close up. Now I just have to get it down to the right size and see if I can manage to FME the outline on to black felt. So that's the progress I've made over the last several days. I haven't even started stitching and others in the challenge are already finished. But I'm really enjoying the journey - it is certainly different than how I have worked in the past.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Taking It Further

OK - First off, I am spending way too much time looking at other people's blogs that are participating in the challenge. I think I'm going to have to limit my blog reading for a while. I didn't get much further today but I did find a really cool tutorial on Celtic Knotwork. It's here if you want to take a look.

I'm going on a car trip tomorrow to take my m-i-l home after her 7 week stay at our house so I probably won't be able to blog until I get back. But I'll have time in the car to further my design and work on my celtic knotwork to see what I can come up with. I'm thinking it will have a tapestry look and feel to it but not be needlepoint. I was considering using silk fused paper as the background but I think that will be too shiny. Instead, I think I'll be felting the background with wet felting and machine felting and then add machine embroidered motifs to that with celtic knotwork and symbols. I think the main color will be a deep red for the quality I admire in people "passion for life". I think right now I'll also use black and copper accents but since I don't have the full design down yet, things may change.

No "idea" book photos today but here's my dog Symphony when she was a puppy. She's still very inquisitive (read nosy).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

TIF Challenge Work

I started working in my sketchbook today on the TIF challenge. I listed the qualities that I admire in others. I had put a wash of red watercolor on the page last night just so I wouldn't feel nervous about a blank page. I put in some of the symbols that I had researched on the web for the various qualities.

I then took the symbolism of colors that I had found and wrote the words in the correct colors. At the bottom of the page is a sketch of a pink rose which stands for admiration. But nothing was really creating any sparks for me.

I tried a little sketch of a combination of symbols in a human figure sort of form. My admirable woman - but again, I was unimpressed.

Then I did some doodling of the various symbols. I kind of like the stylized hearts for passion. And I do admire people who are passionate about their life and what they do. I've always felt that was lacking in my life but perhaps I can now say I'm passionate about fiber art. While I was doodling, I thought of celtic symbolism. I've always admired celtic art, music and culture. So I did a bit more research online. Most of the celtic symbols don't have specific meanings because the Druids didn't believe in recording sacred things on paper. But that somehow doesn't bother me too much. The general meanings will still work for me.

The 3 headed spiral is for female power through transition and growth. The celtic knot represents eternity - the eternity of life, the eternity of nature and the eternity of love. It can also mean the connection of mind, body and spirit. So I think I can go somewhere with celtic symbolism. I've got several ideas growing from this. I'm happy with how this process worked. I think from now on I'll call my sketchbook an "Idea" book. It's less intimidating that way and I don't feel it needs to look perfect. It's late, so more later.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goodies in the Mail

I got this in the mail recently from Terri Stegmiller. Isn't it wonderful? I won it from her blog. The photo doesn't really do it justice - it is wonderful. I'm going to frame it and hang it in my studio for inspiration!

And this was in the box with it. Two wonderful key chains made by Sue B. and Terri S.

Here are two of the books I ordered from Amazon. I've got one more on the way. They are gifts from my sister and her family. Thanks R!

This didn't come in the mail but is from my friend who knits. She's the one I gave the knitting case to. This is a hot mitt that she knit and then fulled. It's quite thick so now I won't burn my fingers getting things out of the oven!

Well Sharon B. posted the TIF challenge for January. The concept is a feeling of admiration for another, who do you admire and why. Sooooooo....

I'm doing this challenge in hopes of improving my design skills. So that I can take a concept and develop it into a design. I don't feel at all comfortable doing this right now but that's why I accepted the challenge. And it is going to be difficult! I've been trying to not let in fear and negativity and just go forward. I would like to be able to design in a sketchbook and then carry forward into a finished piece of fiber art. I am not happy with my skills at sketching but I'm going to show my sketchbook here so no snickers please!

I've been thinking about the challenge and jotting things down on a separate piece of paper. I'll try to be a little neater when I transfer to my book. I don't really admire any one person. I admire qualities in lots of people. Here are some of my list of admirable qualities: outgoing and friendly, passionate about what is important in their life, humor, honesty and truthfulness, creativity, innovative, courageous and optimistic. So do you know anyone that has all these qualities?? So now I'm thinking along the lines of symbolism both for the admirable qualities and also for colors and what each color represents. That's about as far as I have gotten.

I could take the easy way out and choose to use the color scheme that Sharon picked instead of the concept. I could use those colors easily - I like them. But I think I'm going to follow the challenging path and see where it takes me.