Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Birthday Presents For Anna

I can hardly believe Anna has turned 2!  I wasn't able to go down for her birthday celebration but I think they had a great time.  I took a break from my giant project to make her some fun clothes.

I also made some doll clothes and accessories.  I'm a huge fan of Ikat Bag, her patterns and blog posts are fabulous.  My mom and I bought the Fairytale Doll/dress pattern and my mom made the doll and a basic dress for Anna's birthday and I made a bunch of the clothes (although not all) and the combination bed/carrying case.

This outfit was inspired by a dress we saw while shopping- super simple eyelet-over-bright.  I didn't have a pattern just like this but it was easy enough to adapt from a different pattern.  Hope it fits.  And of course, it had to have a matching dolly dress.

This dress was made of the part I cut off the bottom of my favorite dresses (I didn't like how long it was).  I had just enough cut off to make the dress for Anna and the doll dress, so now we all three can match.  The dress actually originally belonged to Becky, so it's sort of gone full circle!

This little dress is the ball gown from the Ikat Bag pattern, so so easy to put together!  Sadly I don't have the doll for you to see how it fits, but maybe I'll take some pictures the next time I'm down.  I didn't make the fairy outfit or the mermaid outfit, even though those are the two coolest in the whole pattern, I just ran out of time.  Oh well, Christmas I guess!

And then this is the carry case.  The front has a pleated zip pocket into which the clothes and dolls can be stuffed.  The back has an envelope flap and opens to reveal an attached blanket and pillow.

All in all, it was super fun to make some cute things and I hope Anna likes them!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finished cuttlefish

I finished the cuttlefish mini-quilt, so thought I'd share a few more in progress pictures and the final piece.

When last I checked in, I'd started the thread work on the cut-out quilt sandwich backed with water soluble stabilizer.  Here's what it looked like when I was finished with the thread work, and then after I soaked it to dissolve the stabilizer.  All the stabilizer came off cleanly and the thread was a bit floppy but held its shape ok.

The next question was what to do with the background.  In the initial picture (which I took at the Monterey aquarium), the fish was swimming through some green foliage in front of a piece of corally-looking rock.  I thought about painting it, but I'm not very good at that.  I thought about just quilting it, but I felt like that might be too much white.  I thought about trying to color and cut out some pieces of evolon or dryer sheets and applique them on top, but nothing was really very inspiring.  

Then I saw this on Judy Simmons blog.  She has a great step-by-step tutorial so I encourage you to check it out. She describes a technique where you can transfer from a transparency to fabric. Basically, you print out your picture on the transparency, then paint your fabric with gel medium wherever you want the picture to transfer, then put the transparency (ink side down) on the fabric and rub all over it.    I tried it and it worked great!  you can see below, I did not paint over the fish part, so no ink transferred there, but it transferred really nicely everywhere else.  It's a bit mottled looking and soft-edged; you wouldn't want to use this technique for crisp printing, but for an underwater scene I thought it turned out nicely.

Then I just used about six different green fabrics (mostly polyesters, silks, and velvets) to layer leaves on top, and then quilted away.  I love that you can see the green printed leaves peeking out a bit from behind.  I think they add some nice dimension.

Here's the final piece and a couple of detail shots:

Cuttlefish, Shannon Conley, 2014 12x12.

And just because spring is here, a picture of my dwarf crabapple tree blooming in my yard.

I hope you're all having a nice spring and making some fun art!  Linking up as always with Nina-Marie.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SAQA Donation Quilt: Cuttlefish

I'm taking a break from my big ongoing project for long enough to try out a new idea.  If it works, I'll send it in as a donation to the SAQA auction for this year.

I've been thinking about the idea of cutwork embroidery and negative space, and how that could be used in quilting in a very free-form way.  To try it out, I made a quilt sandwich in which all three layers were synthetic (i.e. backing and front polyester and polyester batting), then traced a cuttlefish from a picture I took at the Monterey aquarium a few years back.  I free motion stitched the fish outline with cotton thread, then used my woodburning tool to cut through all three layers just inside the outline.  

It worked great, the woodburning tool cut right up to the edge of the cotton thread (which doesn't burn as easily) and sealed all three layers so there were no frayed edges or loose batting.  As usual, it was pretty fumey so I did it in front of a fan by an open window.

Here it is with the fish cut out.

After cutting out the fish, I put two layers of water soluble stabilizer under the open areas and just started thread painting.  This is as far as I've gotten- I'm trying to get enough thread on there that all the edges will be connected (and nothing will be floppy) but still leave a fair amount of open space (since that was the original idea).  I have no idea what's going to happen when I put it in water to remove the stabilizer, but keep your fingers crossed!

It's been really fun to work on something light-hearted, low stress, and relatively unimportant.  I'm linking up with Nina-Marie!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Show Announcement: Beyond Tradition

Hi all, I just wanted to pop in to say that I have several pieces in a SAQA New Mexico regional show called Beyond Tradition.  It's being held at the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs, NM and runs from April 5-September 1.  If any of you are traveling through southern New Mexico, you might check it out!

I'm privileged to have three pieces hanging in Beyond Tradition: Winter in Lincoln County 2: Sierra Blanca, Winter in Lincoln County 1: The Orchard, and Ring Around the Mole.

Concurrently hanging at the museum are A Walk in the Wild and A Color Runs Through It, so you can also see Seymour the Coelophysis, Taming the Gorgons, and Black and White and Read All Over.

Many thanks to Betty Busby who has worked really hard to make this happen, and also to everyone else who helped including my super Mom who has been the local contact for it.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Minky Blankets

I know more  minky blankets are not particularly exciting, but in the interest of documenting my projects I thought I'd do a quickie post about some I made last year and never got around to sharing.  One for a brand new baby (I adore that bug print from one of Jane Sassaman's old lines), and one for a terminally ill friend who has since passed away.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekender Bag for Mom

Ever since my mom saw my Amy Butler weekender bag, she's wanted one as well.  So for Christmas (which for this bag came in early February) I made her one.  I followed most of the same tips that I did the last time, you can see them summarized here.  The only thing I didn't do was make a shoulder strap- surprisingly I don't use mine all that much (the weight of the bag distributes weirdly on a single shoulder strap).  On this one I just lengthened the handles so they're long enough to carry the bag over the shoulder.  I think it turned out even better than mine, and I think my mom likes it!  

One of the coolest thing about this version is that I turned the zippers around.  I had to get a parka zipper which has the zips in a tail-to-tail orientation, rather than a suitcase zipper which has the zips in a head to head orientation.  I saw some things on line that indicated you could turn them around (provided it was s non-separating zipper), but I couldn't really find any instructions.  I thought I'd be brave, so I just cut both ends off the zipper, pulled the zips off, and put them back on the other way around.   I have no idea whether that's the right way, but it totally worked, and now the zipper opens from the middle like a real suitcase!

Possibly the most exciting thing about this project is that I didn't sew over any fingers during its construction (yay)!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Hello blogland!  I've been busy working (in the lab) and designing my Eucharistic Prayer C Quilt.  I can't show it, even in progress, but at this point, it's not even recognizable as anything, so I thought I'd go ahead and share.

It's taken a ton of design work to get to this point, but I'm now ready to screen print my first text.  Here's my background fabric all marked (the blue lines are registration lines to align my screens).  This is just the left panel, there's a right panel I haven't marked yet that's the same size.

isn't that the most boring in progress picture you've ever seen?

And these are all my silk screens.  They're made out of fusible vinyl (the black marker is scribbled on the vinyl before cutting so you can see it since it's clear) and then fused to organza.  I kept all the letters I peeled out of the screens- I'm bound and determined to do something with them but I'm not sure what yet.

I also painted this chiffon planet, but I'm really not sold on it- we'll see later whether I decide to use it, and then there are a few initials I sketched out that will be incorporated later as well.

I'm hoping to start printing tomorrow or Friday so wish me luck!

Linking up with Lee and Nina-Marie as always!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Small Christmas Lights Quilts

Studio Art Quilts Associates is doing a 25th Anniversary Trunk Show and SAQA members were invited to make small (7" x 10") pieces for it.  I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try something that had been in the back of my mind for a little while.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going around to see all the Christmas lights, and back in December I took this picture while we were walking around the Chesapeake campus.  In one of my upcoming big quilts I'm trying to figure out how best to depict a galaxy, and I thought I'd use this opportunity to try out some possible techniques using a related subject matter.

There were three aspects of this that I was interested in conveying.  The first was the diffuse color arising from the lights that more or less outlined the tree.  The second was the bright punctate lights themselves, and the third was the leaves on the trees, which blend almost into the background since they're not illuminated.

I decided to make two different versions on two different types of fabric, one on some black polyester with a wannabe dupioni silk finish, and one on black velvet.  To start I outlined my trees, made some vector shapes, and cut them out of adhesive foil using my silhouette. I wanted to use adhesive vinyl but the foil came with the silhouette machine and vinyl didn't, but the foil worked fine.  I used both pieces of the cutout.  First, I stuck the outline to my fabric and used it as a stencil to fill in the tree shape with my Shiva paintsticks, then I peeled that off and stuck down the tree part.  I rubbed the paintsticks on the foil of the tree and then smudged it off onto the fabric.  You can kind of see the smeary edges around the tree outlines that I achieved doing this. The velvet was kind of a pain to use the paintsticks on- I think the nap of the fabric was not my friend.


To make the punctate lights I wanted to try foiling, so I made a screen, again cut on the silhouette from the adhesive foil.  I put it on chiffon and then tried to screen glue through it for foiling.  I didn't have foiling glue, so used regular creamy white fabric glue.  This was a bit less successful than the first step.  In the first place, although the silhouette cut out all those tiny little dots, they didn't peel out automatically and I didn't have the patience to peel them all out by hand.  To give you an idea of how many there were, my silhouette took an hour to cut this.  The places where I did get the pieces out the glue went through ok, but it dried in the holes really fast so I didn't get very much through on the second one.

When it came to ironing the foil, it didn't work very well on the velvet.  The foil didn't really want to come off on the glue, and the glue wanted to come off of the fabric (again, I think the nap of the velvet was bad for this).  It was even worse when I got to the quilting, the little globs of foil/glue were really popping off. You can see below how much less sparkly foil there is after I quilted it.

velvet one after foiling before quilting
Velvet one after quilting

Shannon Conley, Lights at Chesapeake, 2014, 7x10
This is the polyester one, it turned out better, the foil was much less inclined to pop off since the glue was stuck down so much better.  I did wind up dabbing the glue on mostly by hand (this was the second one I tried to screen with the glue so the screen was pretty clogged) and you can see some places where the glue was kind of globby so there's a big clump of foil.  On each of them, I put the leaves in during the quilting, and I think that part at least was successful.

Neither of them came out quite as good as I was hoping, but I went ahead and sent the right one (the one on the polyester) to the SAQA exhibit.  I hope it captures the feeling I was going for.  The jury is still out on how I'm going to do the galaxy though since this paintsticks-plus-foiling didn't work quite as well as I'd hoped.

Have you guys ever tried to portray lights, like Christmas lights or stars, before in your work?  How'd you do it?  What worked and what didn't?

I'm linking up with Nina-Marie's as ever.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Old Throw And New Throw

Over the weekend when Mike was cleaning out the garage and organizing his tools (incidentally, have any of you ever noticed how allan wrenches multiply),  I came across this giant quilt that my mom and sister and I made.  It was certainly one of our very first quilting projects-based on the T-shirts in it, my guess is that we made it in 1997 or so. The back is denim- all old recycled jeans we cut up into 6" squares and pieced. You can see it's tied, not quilted which is probably good as it's so heavy.  Of course this was long before we really knew anything about quilting so there's no interfacing or anything on the t-shirts, but it makes a superb picnic blanket (it's really too heavy to sleep under).  I'm so glad to have found it- I actually thought it had been lost.

And here's a new throw I just finished last weekend.  It's smaller, about 62" square, but I really wanted to make myself a cuddly throw.  It's backed with yellow minky, and uses some favorite prints that have been in my stash for a while.  I love that purply color (it's Kona Berry), and I just cut and appliqued pieces on until I liked it.  Kind of fun that the main shape is sort of kite like and we had to take pictures on such a windy day.  I quilted it (in contrast to the baby sized minky blankets I've made), and bound it with soft satiny blanket binding.

It's gotten cold here again, so this is the perfect thing to cuddle up under by the fire.