Tuesday, June 16, 2009

more non-traditional surface design stuff

Of course, after posting the last list, more things come to mind. Maybe if I made a list before beginning to type it would be easier. As it is, I'm just winging it with whatever comes to mind after I start writing.

  • Political signs - Those corrugated political signs make great work surfaces. They're sturdy, a good size to work with, free, and have a plastic surface that makes them reusable many times. You just have to remember to collect some after an election.
  • Fingernail polish remover - Does good copier transfers and bleeds Sharpies to either remove the marks altogether or make them sort of watercolor-y looking.
  • Alcohol - Plain rubbing alcohol also bleeds and blends Sharpies for a sort of tie-dye effect.
  • Aloe Vera gel - Thickens inks and thins acrylics. This usually needs to be washed out after drying.
  • Instant grits, mashed potato flakes and oatmeal - Mixed thick, spread on fabric and dried, these make good crackle textures for surface design.
  • Vinegar - Wet fabric with vinegar, wrap around rusty items, cover with black plastic and you get rust stained fabric. Also removes odors if fabrics are washed in it.
  • Bleach, bleach pens, Soft Scrub or Sunlight gel with bleach - Used to discharge fabrics. Each one works with different fabrics, but the experimenting is part of the fun! Always remember to neutralize the chlorine with Anti-Chlor or a similar product afterwards. Any fish tank chlorine remover (available at the grocery or dollar store) works to neutralize the fabric.
  • Tea bags - The most common use is probably for tea-staining but you can also use wet tea bags or strong tea when rust staining to get a grey/black with the orange. Loose tea can kill some odors in fabrics too. Place the tea in a closed container with the fabric for a few days.
  • Spaghetti, string, yarn, wire - Cooked spaghetti arranged on one of the aforementioned political signs (weigh it down so it dries perfectly flat) or string/yarn saturated with thinned Elmer's or thick wire make good rubbing plates, as does dimensional fabric paint just by making your shapes on the surface and letting them dry. They can all be mounted on a piece of cardboard or wood block to make stamps with.
  • Bar soap - Slivers of left-over soap can be used for markings on fabric that will be washed. A bar of Irish Spring (get them free at the St Paddy's parade in New Orleans!) in a closed container will kill odors on fabric. Ivory soap can be used to spot clean delicate textiles.

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, and I'll continue to add things as I think of them. Again, please feel free to add any others you think of in the comments.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

non-traditional and economical quilting supplies

Many of the supplies and tools that I use in my own work come from the grocery, hardware or office supply store. I'm a firm believer in never looking at only one way to use something. Please feel free to add any other suggestions for non-traditional supplies or uses in the comments. I'm always looking for easier/faster/better ways to do something.

  • Freezer paper - Applique patterns and stencils. Most of us already know of and use this one.
  • Glad Press-N-Seal - Quilting patterns and beading uses. Draw your quilting pattern on the wrap with a water-soluble marker, stick it to the quilt and you have a pattern to follow. You can also stick a piece of the wrap over a beading project. Just put the beads where you want them and stick the wrap over it. You can roll the wrap back a few inches at the time, attaching the beads as you go. Great for just rolling the work up with the beads already in place without losing your placement.
  • Elmer's glue - More uses than I'll be able to remember. A thin line around an applique pattern drawn onto the back of the fabric before cutting keeps the edges from fraying, similar to Fray Chek, but can be washed out. Use instead of Wonder Under to attach appliques until they are stitched down, then wash it out and you won't have the change of hand you get with WU or the bleed-through you see with thinner fabrics. Make your own silk screens by coating a piece of fine tulle with glue in every area where you don't want the paint/dye to show. Use as a resist for dying and batik. A thin wash can preserve colored pencil work on fabric. Elmer's can pretty much be substituted for any use of gel medium or Modge Podge. Add paint or dye to Elmer's and it remains after the glue is washed out.
  • Reynold's Release Non-Stick foil - NOTHING sticks to this stuff! It makes a great palette for paints, protective surface for fusibles, base layer for Elmer's glue silk screens, and "parking place" for adhesive labels.
  • Bamboo skewers - As a pusher when sewing small pieces. No metal flying if you accidentally get it under the needle. Point turner. Paint mixer. I've even used them as hanging mechanisms and surface embellishments for small art quilts.
  • Placemats - Bamboo placemats have a ton of bamboo sticks or slats in each one that can be used as hanging bars for art quilts and embellishments. Fabric placemats can be used as a base for art quilts. They come in a huge assortment of fabrics, weaves and colors. Check out kitchen towels and napkins too.
  • Laser Level - Great for squaring up a large quilt without a long ruler or hanging a quilt straight.
  • Carpenter's chalk line - Another way to square up a large quilt. Also makes straight quilting lines (I only ever use the yellow chalk, red and blue stain some fabrics.) I've seen the suggestion of replacing the chalk with Corn Starch but have never tried it.
  • Sheet rock ruler - 4 foot long ruler that is WAY cheaper than a 4 foot long quilting ruler!
  • Full-sheet adhesive labels - Useful as a carrier sheet to print fabric in your printer.
  • Graph paper - Useful for designing or enlarging patterns.
  • Spring hair clips - Used when hand-turning a binding. Cute decorated ones are 12/$1 at the dollar store or plain silver ones are 18/$5 at the quilt shop. You decide!
  • Spray baste - Of course the intended use of sandwiching quilts, but I also use it for tacking stencils down, tacking patterns to paper/mylar to cut stencils, and to place applique pieces on the background before stitching.
  • Make-up sponges - These make great stencil brushes.
  • Salvation Army store - Clothing, curtains, tablecloths, wedding dresses, etc. have lots of fabric, buttons, and trims for next to nothing in cost. Check out the purses while you're there to use for leather scraps.
  • Plain safety pins - Beyond the obvious uses, you can tie bright scraps of fabric to a handful of safety pins and use them as "look-at-me"s to mark places on your work that need to have thread tails buried, mending, repairs, or anything else that you might tend to forget.

I'm sure there is bunch of stuff that I've left off, but this is a good start on some of the things I use almost on a daily basis that are more cost effective and useful than having a studio full of specialized tools.

Monday, June 08, 2009

MQA June gathering

Another June gathering under our belts, and it seemed to go smoothly. It was nice to be a participant rather than in charge of anything this year and I enjoyed being able to visit and chat rather than have stuff to do. A few minor changes this year but nothing huge. They moved the meeting part to the auditorium, which didn't work for me at all considering my claustrophobia of sitting in a long row of seats surrounded by others,rather than having it in the big room. But they did have the vendors in the area where the stage in the big room usually is. I managed to get out of there with only a few yards of fabric, but that's not really surprising considering I'm buying much less commercial fabric nowadays. White pdf and muslin....that's another story....I was sort of surprised there was no coffee Saturday morning, but that was quickly corrected when Cheryl hunted down "the little maintenance guy" and had him make a pot.

We unveiled the "River Runs Through It" challenge at show and tell on Saturday afternoon and I was amazed at the variety of techniques and looks for the pieces. This photo by Myra Hester shows 7 of the 8 pieces (Linda McInnis has piece #1 but she didn't make it to the gathering....we'll see it at the quilt show in Sept though) all lined up in order. I am always happy and proud to see the results of the challenges.

Each participant was given a piece of muslin with 2 lines across the bottom that had to be water between the lines. The lines connected up from one piece to the next so there is a river running across the entire assembly of pieces. We used facings, rather than bindings, so there would be no breaks between the pieces. I'm very pleased with the final result.

Friday, June 05, 2009

another trunk show post

Way back on Feb 9th I posted a photo taken at the February MQA gathering and I neglected to give proper attribution to Myra Hester for taking the photo and then emailing it to me! I have no excuse for not doing that. She takes beautiful pictures and I was thrilled she got that one and then took the time to email it to me. Her great eye for framing shots is second only to her great eye for color in her quilts!

Monday, June 01, 2009

full week coming up

We had a great art group yesterday even though the gel plates were too soft. I need to figure out an alternate way to pour them at the studio when it's not feasible to do it at home. Even so, I think most everyone got the idea of how it's done, and I offered to pour some more for the meeting next month in case anyone wants to pursue it a bit further. Someone was taking pictures yesterday but I'm not sure who it was. I saw the flash but I was looking down while demonstrating and then forgot to ask, so no pics of our playtime.

I'm liking this idea of working on journals during the meetings also. Not only will we have a physical journal at the end, we're also "journaling" our techniques on the covers.

The Craft Center is offering a kid's art camp this month also, so I'll be working with a group of kids for a couple of hours each day. First up is Sharpie tie dyed quilt squares today. I drew off some simple shapes (we're working with 5-9 year olds) onto white fabric squares with paint pen. They color the squares however they want with the Sharpies, I'll hit them with alcohol to bleed the ink, then let them go back in tomorrow with crayons and colored pencils to finish them off. Stitch them all together with some bright sashing and a quick-and-dirty in the ditch quilting and we'll have something to show the parents on Friday. Or maybe they'll be individual quiltlets....we'll see. I'm also in charge of decorating the little invitation bags. Foam stick-ons and maybe stamping their names. That comes later in the week.

Meanwhile, I'm still working on my own stuff that is under deadline. The challenge piece needs to be finished by Friday and ready for the reveal at MQA. Mostly finished with it, and it's small, but I'll feel better when it hits the "all done" pile. Another class lesson from Graffiti Chic comes out today too. I still have 3 of those to finish for the show and 2 to bind.

Worked as a volunteer at the Renaissance Arts Festival in Ridgeland this weekend and had a lot of fun. I hate we weren't aware of the call to artists in time to apply, but there's always next year. Not a single textile exhibitor! 3 fiber artists but they were all paper I think. People from all over the country and there was some beautiful art. Some crap also, but that's true of any large arts fair I think.

The best part of that morning (other than meeting some of the artists) was getting word that I've been asked to produce a piece for the back of a piano that's been donated to the Craft Center! Every time they roll the piano out to use it, my piece will be seen! I know that doesn't sound like a big huge honking deal to anyone but me, but I'm excited about it.