Thursday, February 17, 2005

Manipulating fabric...

It's an interesting title for a book: "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff. And the book is all in black, white & shades of gray, using muslin for all samples. This turns out to be a real plus in this case because one can really see tonal values very quickly; and there is no color or pattern to attract/distract the reader from focussing on the needlework/stitching.

Many of the techniques shown demontrate various "how to's" for dress making and interior decorating. But Wolff takes every technique further to push the boundaries and create new opportunities to form the fabric in artful ways.

Today I tried my gathering foot - which I have never, ever used for anything! It's an odd little fellow and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to put the fabric somehow between the folded over metal part of the foot or not. I decided to just put the fabric beneath the foot like always & see what happened. Let me tell you, the fabric indeed gathers itself & begins to curl around to the front of the machine after less than a minute of sewing! Keeping the fabric appropriately placed proved to require full time concentration, but the effects were fun. I played with several different ways of using the gathering stitch hoping to find one or more to put in one of my journal quilts for the 2005 QuiltArt Journal project.

The biggest problem I encountered with the gathering foot/techniques was in learning how to start and stop the stitching without losing some of the gathering at either end. Once I decided to back stitch at the beginning & ending as usual, things moved along without coming un-gathered, much to my relief. I had been timid about backstitching in case it messed up the gathering, but all turned out fine.

As to the cording exercise I was doing at the last post, let's just say it's not yet a success. Sometimes the cording is perfectly covered, and other times it's not. I'm relatively sure if I used the identical color of thread as the cord being covered, the finished covered cord would certainly LOOK better. But this way, I can see my mistakes & try to correct them... or not! I haven't decided yet whether to polish up this technique or not. But I have a feeling if I do, the covered cords will begin to appear in my work rather frequently - so I guess I've made the decision... Back to work with cording it is.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Going In Circles
copyright Pat Dolan

Late Summer Goldfinch
copyright Pat Dolan

Satin-stitching cords

Today I cleaned the studio rather than set my QE machine back up & trying out the new foot. My old 1030 is now up where QE belongs, so I decided to try using the satin stitch to cover different types of cords & yarns, especially sincy the 1030 has a cording foot! First, I chain-stitched several different types of yarn into various cords, then found some string & purchased cording to add to my test samples. So far, the string covered less well than the chain-stitched crewel embroidery thread. The string is white & I used varigated red/pink rayon thread - and had to go over it twice for a complete covering. The cord created is quite nice - thick and round. The chain-stitched crewel embroidery thread was satin-stitched with deep red-purple Isacord (both top & botton) and covered beautifully in one pass. This cord is slimmer than the string-based cord.

I believe these can be well used in many ways in art quilting. Creating marvelous flower stamens comes immediately to mind. Finer cords could be used for antennae in butterflies and other insects. And in abstract art, one is limited only by imagination with regard to creating various design + textural elements.

What fun!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

New Bernina QE - foot - feet - toys!

I stopped in at my Bernina dealer today planning to drop my QE off for a regular maintenance check only to discover the repair person is off this month. While there, of course, I had to look around at the latest in everything. The new QE has been in the shop for the sum of 2 weeks and the owner say's she's addicted to it. She actually sold one while I was there! This machine has a unique foot that allows you to sew without a foot petal! You regulate the sewing by moving the fabric - and was a breeze for free-style quilting! Alas, I'm not in the market for a new machine and the new foot won't work on any other models... Boo..Hoo..

The book "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff was a Christmas gift to myself and had me examining the gathering and ruffler feet for my current machine. I have a Bernina 1030 as well as last year's QE - some feet are interchangeable, but not all. Now the shop owner, Lois, knows me well and she invited me to try a brand new foot called a Needle Punch. It's an odd looking piece that requires taking some parts off the machine before it can go into place. It has 3 needles placed in a tiny triangle - none requiring thread!!! This is literally a punch needle something like a mini-multiple rug punch, but not really. It comes with a software CD to show when, where, why + how to use it. Primarily, it has been designed for putting down loose fibers - wool roving, stretched yarns, shredded felted fibers, etc. all without thread. It has a wonderful clear curved oval protecting the needles & keeping the fibers from getting tangled in the process of sewing. Once the front roving has been attached, one flips to the back and does mover needle punching to completely secure the roving to the base fabric - she used boiled wool for her base fabric.

Now this foot is a pricey little gem, but since I have just been hired to team teach a new course at school, I have a little extra for such things as new sewing/creating toys.

I'll try it on my machine tomorrow - a new adventure. What fun!

Friday, February 11, 2005

Journal Quilt Projects

I've read about them for several years and tried a few times to enter - but missed the cut-off dates. I've taken classes & participated in "art journaling" and "art therapy;" I first learned to quilt in 1979 and I've kept a written journal since the early 1980's - and thoroughly enjoyed them all.

But it's the journal quilt projects that combines these elements into a delightful challenge and opportunity. I hope to be accepted in the most recent request for entries - I already have 12 proper sized blocks cut out from some of my yummy hand-dyed crinkled silk chiffon. My present plans are to try a minimum of one new technique per block, completing at least one block per month. The colors in each of the blocks will all harmonize due to the common base quilt square. It's what I do on & with each block that will whisper the song from my Muse each step of the way...

Even if I'm not one of those selected, I will complete my journal quilt project 2005 for me. That's the whole fun & purpose of it anyway, from my point of view. to the rescue

As a relative 'newbie' to both and to 'blogs,' I'm discovering a world full of artists & quiltmakers offering tips & hints to one another on a daily basis. These sites have provided me with a new level of inspiration and commitment to my art - everything from rusting fabrics to different fabric/silk paints to potatoes & heart disease! Talk about a supportive neighborhood! In these days where neighbors are strangers, I'm discovering strangers who are becoming my neighbors... what a gift.

HH550: The Healing Arts... what is that?

Healing Arts... what does that mean to me? Last week I suddenly found myself team teaching a grad level course so titled due to the primary teacher's indisposition. The course title gives me pause to consider.
Personally, I have always used the arts for fun and for healing - and sometimes even to earn some money! As a child, I loved playing doll house - creating a mini scenerio of my family situation. I also played in the sandbox using all sorts of nature's artifacts to symbolize whatever has moving in and through me as the designs formed in the sandbox. Music was something else I truly enjoyed - especially singing. In childhood, when I was especially happy, I recall going out on our 2nd floor back porch and singing in jubilation. Heaven knows what the neighbors thought! I still whistle, sing or hum under my breath much of the time - or so my students tell me... Additionally, both of my parents had strong artistic sensibilities and since Dad worked in the printing industry, we always had paper around. Thus drawing became a favorite pass time for me and both my sisters - and for two of us, art was our major in college.
Fast forwarding from the middle of the last century into the present, we now have entire fields of education and employment in the health arena entitled "Play Therapy; Sand-play Therapy; Art Therapy: Journaling Therapy, Psycho-drama, Movement & Dance Therapy, Writing as Therapy, etc." Imagine that - as adults, we have to be taught how to play again - how to have fun instead of work ourselves into the earth. And many of us really do need to be reminded how to express our emotions in ways that by-pass the mind and spring directly from our emotional base - also called authenticity and play. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have lost touch with our own inner truth trying hard to satisfy others. And we need to find ourselves all over again - perhaps for the first time.
Healing Arts - the natural world is full of healing arts. The songs of the birds. The colors of the leaves on the trees. Sunset & sunrise. Tumultuous storms. Snowflakes melting in our hands. All these and so much more are healing gifts of nature. Nature is the primary healer - but only if we are aware of nature and aware of our own bodies.
This grad class has been designed around the essential healing qualities of sound - in nature, in music, in voice, in the silence which is never silent... The primary teacher is a marvelous musician, chorale director and teacher. My areas of expertise lean toward the healing qualities of nature, the visual arts, writing, movement, and play. As we move through the semester, our students will learn from both of us and will benefit through foundational teachings as well as through experiential exercises. We are not presuming to train anyone to be "healing arts therapists." We are guiding them to discover for themselves the healing of all the arts. And if a students wants to pursue a therapeutic degree, that's wonderful! But it's a separate degree from our MA in Holistic Health.
And so I have jumped with both feet into the world of music therapy and am discovering a language for some things in only knew by way of experience. Did you know, for instance, that music changes the structure of a cell? That negative words/sounds spoken to the cell in the pietri dish will cause it to become misshapen and withdraw? That positive words/sounds bring tiny water droplets into snowflake shapes? If sound is that powerful, think of what it does to the human body which is primarily made of water? And are our cells dancing snowflakes or compressed, convoluted shapes suffering in the silence of their inability to communicate to our minds....