Friday, July 21, 2017

Quilting by the Lake 2017 - Off the Wall Friday

Greetings from Syracuse, New York!!

Cynthia Corbin
 Here I am sitting in my on campus suite with all the images of the week swimming in my head.  And what a week!!  Between a great class, a super quilt show and some amazing programs, its enough to jump start anybody's creative life!

 I'm taking Cynthia Corbin's The ABC of Composition.  Basically what we are doing is taking simple text or words and abstracting them out to form new compositions.  So the idea of the class really isn't about using words in their normal recognizable form but to have them morph into something new!  Let me tell ya - So - Much - Fun!!   Cynthia is such a great teacher.  She manages to meet a student wherever they are on their creative journey  and give them the encouragement to succeed.  Sadly she is retiring though so I'm blessed to be able to take one more class with her.  Luckily for me - it all sort of clicked this week.

On Monday, I worked on an exercise using a short word and make it into a small composition.  It wasn't too hard and a great way to warm up for the week.  I chose AIM.  In this piece, I played with soft and hard edges and used a diagonal composition.

On Tuesday, she asked us to start a new piece where the word was not recognizable.  So I chose the Viva.  Now let me just stay that Cynthia suggested we work simply.  Somehow that did NOT work out for me!  I came up with a nice simple composition  and then it all sorta got out of hand!! (Note to self - if a teacher suggests working simply - then you might want to work simply)

Here is the original idea.  See the VIVA?

And then I decided it needed a complex background (negative space).(Of course I did!)

THEN it was toooooo complex and started to take over the whole piece.  So I needed to add quiet spaces which made it much strong.

I'm not quite done piecing it all together - but I will be before its time to pack up!!  I wish you could see the body of work my class has been doing.  It was like an explosion of color in the room.  So many interpretations of the theme.  It was fascinating to watch everyone work!

Its been a bit of a tiring week - so I'll just ask you sleepily... .

What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Spoonflower Review - Off the Wall Friday

One Week before Quilting by the Lake and what am I doing??  PACKING!  Its always such a job and there is always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that you are forgetting that all important item.

Alphadreams, Clair Higgin

I did get a nice surprise last week.  Spoonflower, an on-demand digital printing company, was having a BOGO fat quarter sale.  Now, I've been meaning to try Spoonflower since it opened in 2010 but have been put off by the price of the process. But with this kind of sale, I thought I would give it a try!!

First of all, I decided not to design my own fabric but browse the thousands and thousands patterns of other designers.   Among the many, many, cutsy modern prints, I did find some amazing surface design type patterns.  I finally settled on ones that used letters and numbers in their designs and made an order.  Here are my findings!


Soft City, Jay Trolinger

1.  You can easily design your own fabric exactly the way you want it.  The site shows you how with
plenty of information.

2.  Ordering is easy and the lead time for fabric is less than 2 weeks.  I paid a little extra and got it in 1 week so I could take it with me to QBL.

3.  The print looked closed to what was depicted on my computer screen, with the lines nice and crisp.  I did notice on one of the darkest of the designs the colors were more muted then shown in the online picture.  (I like the muted version anyways)   The site shows you exactly how the print will come out on a fat quarter which is great so you can see the scale of it.

4.  The range of designs on the site is incredible.  Plus you can print them on a big array of fabrics which even includes knits.

5.  They're printed in the US.


1.  The process is still pretty costly.  The cheapest fabric still $17/ yd with a fat quarter being  $10.50.  I got the "Ultra Cotton" which I found pretty thin and next time I would spent the extra  $$ to have Kona cotton.  I can tell you, if I saw a print on that thin of cotton in JoAnn's fabric, I wouldn't buy it.

2.  Since these are digitally printed, the hand of the finish product is totally different than commercially made fabric.  It has a rough kind of feel.  Spoonflower recommends to wash the fabric with a non-phosphorous  detergent, which I did, and that helped a lot.  It was still a bit rough but MUCH better.  Still, I don't normally pre-wash my fabrics so this add an extra step.

Alpha Dreams,  Clair Higgins
3 I found the site's browse features pretty cumbersome to use and I had a hard time finding exactly what I was looking for.  There is so much there and it seems like there is gotta be an easier way to categorize it better.

4.  (This is pretty petty - but its a pet-peeve of mine)  My package did not come with an invoice inside.  It only had an inventory packing slip.  I like to have an actual invoice for my records rather than having to print it out myself off my emails.

So, as for this purchase, I LOVE the prints I bought and am glad that the royalties are paid to the actual designers.  I would have bought a lot more of their work if I could actually afford it.

In the future, I probably will order from Spoonflower again when I find something interesting OR I get brave enough to actually design something myself.  It definitely would have to be for a special purpose and not a "Just because" kind of thing.  I also, for sure would buy a thicker fabric!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Hand Dye Marathon - Off The Wall Friday

Summers are made for Dyeing - hand dyeing that is!!   So I decided to take the long holiday weekend and do four straight days of hand dyeing.  Why 4 straight days?  Because for me to hand dye, I have to shlepp out all my dyeing paraphernalia  out of the closet, put away all projects in my studio, clutter up my kitchen AND have some major time to get it all done!  Its better just to prioritize it and do it all at once.  And that's exactly what I did.  To the tune of 33 yards!!

It was an exhausting, colorful 4 days!!  I had a plan - 1 day of gradations of 4, 1 day of more gradations plus red solo cup improv dyeing, 1 day of just red solo cup dyeing and 1 day of thicken dye surface design.  Sighhhhhhhhhhh but as usual things didn't go quite the way I planned!

On Day 3, I tried a new method of Red Solo Cup dyeing putting the dye water in and then adding the soda water to it after.  What resulted was a bunch of VERY dark fat quarters.   Now don't get me wrong, I'm a equal opportunity hand dyer, but I did need more than a big bunch of dark subtle shades!  So my day of thickened dye was postponed for another round of improv dyeing the right way.

By the end I had literally dyed every piece of pfd cotton (and any other dyeable cotton), I had in the house.  Not to mention, it was all washed 3 times and ironed and neatly put away.  Mission accomplished!!!

I'm super pleased with the results too!   There is a good range of colors plus a really big selections of dark fabrics (really can anybody ever have enough dark-darks????)   I now have enough fabric not only to take to QBL but enough to last me the year.

And as always, if you never dyed before and want an easy, fun tutorial on improv dyeing, I suggest you try my Red Solo Cup Dyeing.  You'll be surprised what great results you can get for such a little investment.

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 30, 2017

3 Things I'm into Right Now - Off the Wall Friday

June has been a struggle for me.   Maybe it was the 6+ inches of rain we got in 9 straight days, or the cooler than normal temps.  Or maybe its the minor health problems, I've been dealing with all month.
BUT whatever the reason, June has been a drag.  So I'm determined with the approach of July, I'm calling a "Do-Over" and I'm going to start enjoying summer.

With that, I wanted to share some of the things that  I'm into right now that make my creative life easier!

1.  Echo Dot  - Okay, yeah, its a gadget.  In fact, when I first heard about the little echo dot, I thought,  "I totally don't need one of those!"  I mean, seriously, I've manage to turn on the lights
myself for the last 50 years, I can do it for the next.  THEN I got one for Mother's Day.  And the lights really did come one.  I love it!!  For my studio, I love that I can turn on music, change music, ask for audible books without stopping what I'm doing. The speaker is surprisingly good and fine for a small area.   I also set up timers, so that I can give myself push to work longer.  It even will set up To-Do lists!

2.  Local Culture - Who would have thought that Erie, Pennsylvania would have such a plethora of cultural events to attend.  Not only is there the Erie Art Museum's Spring Show and The Sunset Music Series , but there are a good bunch of festivals - the Jazz Festival, The Beach Glass Festival, the Arts and Music Festival.  AND even when summer is done, Mercyhurst University Announced a killer Arts and Culture line up for the fall and spring.  The reason I bring this up, is that if you are looking for culture, for inspiration, for food for your creative spirit, you might only need to look on
your own doorstep.  So this summer, I'm definitely going to join in! (and I recommend you do to!)

3.  Quilting by the Lake.  Yep - its that time again.  Time to start prepping for my annual pilgrimage to Syracuse, New York for my favorite quilt conference.  In reality, I use QBL as an
excuse to do some of the yearly chores a fiber artist needs to do.  I order my notions for the years (seriously - where could all those pins go?)  I dye gradations of fabric as well as some Improv Red Solo cup fabric.  I do some much need surface design.  Its a lot of work.  And I can't wait.  In fact, I plan to spend the holiday weekend getting a bunch of this done!

So What are some of the things that you are into right now??

Friday, June 23, 2017

Off the Wall Friday

Sorry. . . . . . No creating time for me this week . . . . 
I was off for a long weekend visiting  my parents in upstate NY.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Interconnected - Off The Wall Friday

What's the best way to spend a Friday night?  Well, going to a friend's solo show opening!   I was glad to receive the invite to Sandy Shelenberger's latest show.  Its always a treat to see what she's been up to!!

Giving her a hug, I got to say - Oh - My - Gosh, Sandy - It looks so cohesive.  That's what struck me first as I looked over the body of the show.  It all seemed to be connected and flow from one piece to another.  She laughed (as she often does) and said, "Well, it does now!"  Upon asking her what she meant, she confided that the show had originally been themed, "Stitched" but she decided to change it.

My personal favorite!

So glad she did!  I could easily see the theme and what she was trying to portray.   The palettes selected (love the use of neutrals!)  - the simple shapes - the color blocking  - it was magnificent.  Sandy featured her latest works in fiber and surface design as well as her love ecaustics and they fit together wonderfully.


Do you have Netflix???  I do.  Well at least I have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love that its the motherload of my favorite shows that I can watch over and over.  And I hate that its the motherload of my favorite shows that I can watch over and over - when I should be doing something creative.


Netflix, has recently added the documentary, Yarn for streaming.  .  With this film, I can expunge my guilt and pretend I'm doing something creative.  The artists featured in the film are taking yarn and bringing it into the modern art world.  Needless to say, this ain't your Grandma's afaghan!  I definitely recommend putting this vibrant documentary on your que to watch! 

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Off the Wall Friday

I wanted to thank everyone for their comments on last week's post.  I was hesitant at first with writing it, since my creative journey is so personal.  But now I'm glad I shared my opinions and  I loved hearing yours!!!  Since I'm down with a little bug tonight, I'll just host this week!

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?