Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Kirsten Chursinoff

I've been thinking about starting another quilting project, however after finishing Year of the Snake, I'm not sure I'm ready to tackle another large quilt!  So I've been perusing the web looking at small art quilts and discovered a very inspiring fiber artist.  Kirsten Chursinoff is a Vancouver, British Columbia artist who creates very layered and textured, embroidered works that are gorgeous!

Red Tube Worms 2

Kirsten starts by piecing fabric onto a background, collage style.  And then the magic starts!  She hand and machine embroiders, adds beading and couches on yarns.  Read more about her process here.

And she loves french knots!  The texture they add along with the beads is amazing in this detail from Garden Impressions.

detail Garden Impressions


I love her combination of machine thread sketching and hand embroidery in Alliums!  It makes for a nice sense of dimension.

You can follow Kirsten's work on her blog and I highly recommend getting a nice cup of something, sitting back, and looking through her gallery.

And I'm off to look through the scores of nature photos I've been taking to look for inspiration for a smaller art quilt piece!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pansy Potholders

The pansies and violas blooming in my garden inspired these new potholders!  

*white cotton fabric
*black cotton fabric
*Insulbrite insulating fabric
*SetaSilk silk paint - primary yellow, tangerine, gitane blue, and iris violet - I introduced SetaSilk in this past post on silk painting, they work on cotton too!
*black, cream, purple, and yellow sewing thread

1.  Look at pansies - either the real flowers or an image from the internet.  For the bottom petal, I mixed a little of the yellow and orange together to get a golden yellow.  Paint the colors in around the outline and then a few stripes inside that shape.  Use a wet brush and water to scrub the fabric until the yellow blends through the whole petal.

2.  Do the same with purple for the middle two petals.  I kept a white zone in between the yellow and purple to keep them from mixing - they still mixed but it ends up looking fine, a little bit like ruffly petals.

3.  I then added a little blue into the purple petals and again scrubbed it with water.

4.  Finally, I added a top petal and scrubbed a little purple into that.

5.  Cut the pansy out, making a few waves in the petals, and pin it on top of Insulbrite and the black backing fabric.

6.  Cut out along the edge of the pansy.  Pull back the pansy top layer and cut about 1/4 inch in on the Insulbrite.

7.  Using black thread and a small zigzag stitch, sew around the outside edge.  Trim.

8.  Use black thread to thread sketch (free motion stitching, see this post) around the outside of the petals.  Add lines on the inside of each petal.

9.  Sew over it with purple thread.

10.  With cream thread, sew over the lines inside the petals.

11.  Add a spiral with yellow thread, going over it several times.


Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, March 25, 2013

Remodeled Top

I'm slowly working my way through the backlog of tops I've bought at Goodwill!  I love finding white shirts that totally change with a dye job and some adornment.  This one started out as a gorgeous linen with some fun smocking - but a little boring in white.  Unfortunately, I was so anxious to get started that I forgot to take a photo before it went through the dye bath!  Here it is after being dyed with Dharma's Wedgewood Procion dye ....

If you're new to dying fabrics, see this past post here.  Then I embroidered leaves at the places where the smocking came together, using a lazy daisy stitch and two strands of cotton floss, and added a pearl bead to each set of leaves.

New top!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Mastering the Art of Embroidery

It's not like I need another how-to embroidery book - I have a serious sized stack of them!  However, I recently heard of a new one that sounded so promising I ordered it.  Am I ever glad!  Sophie Long's Mastering the Art of Embroidery is a how-to, an inspirational piece, a history book, and a look at current embroidery artists.  Sophie is a graduate of the Royal School of Needlework and is one of the embroiderers who worked on Kate Middleton's wedding dress.  You can see more of her work here on her website.   

Here's a look at the table of contents - there are quite a few types of embroidery that are often only included in advanced books.

Even if I never planned on learning anything new from it (and I do have plans!), it would have been worth the price just for the hundreds of gorgeous photos of embroidered works.  I'm discovering new artists, like Jazmin Berakha.  She has at least two wonderful pieces in the book, including this one:

Jazmin Berakha, hand embroidered using cotton embroidery floss on linen.

And I'm cheering to see the work of artists I follow and enjoy, like Monika Kinner-Whalen.  Among her several pieces included is one of my favorites, My Sweet Prairie.  I wrote a Friday Inspiration on her about a year and a half ago in case you're interested in seeing more of her work.  In fact, it was Monika who let me know this book was about to be published - thank you!

Monika Kinner-Whalen, My Sweet Prairie, 2012.  Hand and free machine embroidery.

Each type of embroidery covered has a little bit of history about it and clear instructions with illustrations to get you started.

I've always been fascinated with white work and eyelet, like this beautiful white work peacock done by Sophie:

Sophie Long, white work on linen.

Between the inspirational photos, the instructions, and the profile (one of many profiles in the book) of white work artist Jenny Adin Christie, I'm getting the itch to try a piece!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Knit Baby Washcloths

... and mouse bootees for a new baby girl I know!  I don't usually buy crochet patterns - instead I work at making my own pattern.  However, after way too many tries at getting one that I liked as much as these, I gave in and ordered the pattern from Laura Eccleston's Happy Berry Crochet Etsy shop.  She also has a website where she offers quite a few free patterns.  The instructions come as a PDF and were easy to follow.  The bootees crocheted up fairly quickly after a few false starts caused mainly by finding the right gauge and tension to use - if you try these, crochet them very tightly!  Also, switching to a D hook helped.

I also knit up three baby washcloths from Knitpick's Cotlin.  I love this yarn - it's so soft and stays soft even after tons of trips through the washer!  I made them the same way as the knit dishcloths I've been making (instructions here) except I cast on 30 stitches and kept knitting until they were square.  The crocheted edge is the one I put on the striped dishcloths from this past post.  And for the striped baby washcloth, I cast on with color A and knit 19 rows, switched to color B and knit 8 rows, then 4 rows with color C, 8 more with color B, and finished with 19 of color A.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Green Day

This wasn't planned, but halfway through St. Patrick's Day I realized everything I was working on was green ....

I've been meaning to dye this plain white shirt with Dharma's New Emerald Procion dye for a few weeks now and finally got it done.  It's a gorgeous green and now I have something in the color of the year!  And I was very happy that the threads turned out to be cotton so that they also took up the dye.  See this past post for a tutorial on dying with Procion fiber reactive dyes.

I'm still working on the project I made the crochet thread poppies for - these are the leaves.  I'll have a tutorial for them probably next week!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Three Current Exhibits

If you're in the Melbourne, Florida or San Diego area over the next few months, there are some fiber art exhibits you might want to check out ---

First, the Visions Art Museum in San Diego has two great looking art quilt exhibits. Running through May 19th is Playing With a Full Deck - an exhibit of 54 art quilts created by various American textile artists.  Each quilt depicts one of the playing cards in a standard 52 card deck, plus the two jokers - what a great idea! This group of quilts toured in the 1990's and is now part of Warren and Nancy Brakensiek's collection.

King of Hearts, Diane Herbort

And running concurrently is Images of Time, the work of nine contemporary quilt artists depicting the passage of time.  This exhibits ends May 9th.

Creative Struggle, Robert Leathers

Finally, the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne currently has an exhibit of Nancy Judd's Eco Trash Couture with 18 of her designs on display.  Nancy uses "trash" (discarded items - not really garbage!) to create high fashion - and it really works!  While the picture below might not be what you'd want to wear for a night on the town, many of her pieces actually look elegant.  If you can't make it to Florida, you can still see her work on her website, Recycle Runway.

Crime Scene, Nancy Judd

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Herbal Rice Pillows - Take Two!

In January, I wrote here about making herbal rice pillows that are heated in the microwave and become cozy and fragrant.  I made that one for little c and used a flannel that matched a pair of pajamas I also sewed up for her.  It turned out great, she loved it at bedtime, but .... the flannel began wearing out very quickly.  So I've been thinking of other fabrics that would still have that soft, cozy feel but hopefully be a bit more durable.  Then the other day at Joann's, I was looking at their Easter themed towels and thought aha!  Perfect!  There were lots of different hand towels for both Easter and Saint Patrick's Day - I chose a pink guest towel with a bunny.  This would also work with regular old plain hand towels.

*terry hand towel
*dried white rice
*dried fragrant herbs, such as peppermint or lavender

1.  First I cut the hemmed edges off the two long sides of the towel to cut down on bulk when I start sewing the sides up.

2.  Pin the sides and sew in a 1/2 inch seam.

3.  Turn right side out ...

4.  ... and top stitch along the two long sides and one short side (the top of the photo here).

5.  Mix the dried herbs into the rice.  How much rice you put in depends on how stuffed you want the pillow to be.

6.  Fill your pillow ...

7.  ... and pin the open edge shut.

8.  Top stitch about 1/2 inch in from the open edge and then go over it again to strengthen the seam.  And you're done!  Easy!! 
To use, heat for about 1 to 2  minutes in the microwave.  The first couple of times you heat your bag, it may feel a little damp from moisture in the rice escaping.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spinning, spinning, spinning ....

I've been spinning again and remember why I love it so .... it's one of those calming, repetitive pastimes that's almost meditative.  Very centering!  I just finished working with some gorgeous roving one of my sons and daughters-in-law gave me last year for my birthday.  It's a blend of merino wool and silk top in blues and grays with a touch of copper.

I wanted to get a couple of skeins out of it, so I also spun some natural colored merino and plyed them together.  And by spinning thin, a little fatter, thin and so one, I got a little bit more interesting yarn.

The second batch of plying is still drying on the niddy noddy - living in dry Arizona, I'm used to my yarn drying pretty quickly.  Well, it rained most of the weekend and the yarn's not dry yet!  

And I'm putting together a tutorial on making this PVC pipe niddy noddy - stay tuned!

Happy Creating!  Deborah