Technique of the Week #22 – Thread Painting

Project Hours: 8 hours
Design and Materials: 2 hours
Execution: 6 hours
It was soooooo good to be back in the “saddle” again.  I took this thread painting class from Elin Waterston at the Cloth Paper Scissors’ art retreat called CREATE.  I had one day, so I was limited in my choices of classes to take, and when I saw this one, I thought it wasn’t going to be something I was interested in, but as usual, I was wrong.  I also thought I “knew how to do that” so it wasn’t going to hold my interest.  Again, wrong!
Essentially thread painting is the layering on of thread free motion style to build up a subject.  Like painting, except with thread.  So the octopus here is only made with thread.  The shading is done to give him some dimension.
The first thing Elin teaches you about thread painting is that there are no mistakes.  And that sums up how our approach was: a free and casual approach.
We were encouraged to bring designs with us, but of course, I had been thinking for two weeks of a subject with no inspiration.  When I got to class, I was going to make an octopus or a pomegranate.  I chose to stay “on theme” for this year, with this little dude.
There are things I did “wrong” that worked itself out, like some puckering that ended up “quilting out” and the shadows of his bumps on his head were done in reverse, so they look like holes.  OOPS.  Oh well, he was an experiment. 
A couple of things: this eats up thread. A LOT OF THREAD, so if you covet your expensive thread you may not want to try this.  Second, Elin teaches you to look up, get up, get away every 20 minutes or so.  This was critical, since I ended up hunched over the bed of the loaner Bernina 440 machine slaving away to cover my background.  The class hours were from 9 am to 4 pm, and we sewed for about 4 of those hours. In that time I got the octopus above done and most of the machine quilting, and he isn’t finished yet, so I will post a photo of the finished work later this week! I’ll be adding a section of beads and an embroidered school of fish to complete him.  Enjoy!

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Technique of the Week # 20 – Notan Japanese Cut Quilt

Project hours: 2 hours
Design and materials: 1 hours
Execution: 1 hours

I learned about this awesome technique many moons ago on Jane Dunnewold’s website.  She has a great tutorial here about the art of Notan, or light and dark design principles usually demostrated with papercutting.  This isn’t about Scherenschnitte, German scissor cutting, though they can be similar.  The voids you leave in the paper, flipped outwards are an extension of the design in this technique.  Be sure to check out Jane’s website for more info than I could possibly explain here.   
Papercutting is a great design source for quilting, and I was stumped at first to come up with a design that I wanted to actually cut from fabric.  This is one instance where my “Year of the Cephalopod” comes in handy, it’s an easy design resource.  I was able to make this octopus design quickly, and I was happy with the results.  Most Notan is done in black and white for easy contrast, but to take the technique one step further I decided to use grey and pink.
Sorry it’s not quilted yet, it’s been a hectic week!

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Technique of the Week #18 – Watercolor fusible interfacing

Project hours: 5 hours
Design and materials: 3 hours
Execution: 2 hours

Some projects are better than others, and the same goes for techniques.  I had this iron-on interfacing that you fuse your specially chosen watercolor charm squares down onto, and then you just “fold and sew” along the lines to make this easy to do watercolor effect.  The hardest part was picking out the fabrics, and I had a box of old Keepsake Quilting swatches that I used for this purpose.  The squares were one and a half inches to start, but because of how I spaced them on the interfacing I got more or less mileage, depending.
The down side was that this interfacing is so bulky at the seams when you are finished, that I really didn’t want to go further and quilt it. I know this is a “needlebreaker”.  It’s so thick at the seams in the intersections I don’t know how I will avoid them.  I ironed on my tentacles to act as my silhouetted “gate”, as I knew I didn’t want to do a traditional gate.  This wasn’t hard to do, but having done it, I don’t think I will want to revisit it.

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Technique of the Week #5 – Wholecloth Painted Surface

Project Hours: About 4 hours
Design and materials: 1 hour
Execution: 3 hours

The idea for this week’s quilt came from an episode of Quilting Arts, Season 4. After watching Sue Kelly show how you could paint over a quilted surface with oil paintsticks, I decided on a faster approach with a “dry brushing” technique of my own.  Paintsticks take 3-5 days to dry and cure before they can be heat set.  Ths is done with fabric paints and cured in 1 hour.
The Octopus was freedhand drawn with a chalk fabric gel pen, and then quilted over in Blue thread to match the background.  I chose dense quilting and a couple of bubbles to add interest to the background.
Once the piece was quilted, I ironed it from the back so the front would have as much heighth as it was going to get.  Using a piece of cardboard as a pallate, I daubed on some paint and got my paintbrush wet.  Here is the “dry brushing” part, where you get a lot of the paint OFF of the brush and glide it over the “hills” of the quilting, leaving the “valleys” paint free. It takes a lot of passes witht he dry brush to get the amount of paint to show up.  This was a lot of fun!

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Technique of the Week #2 – Bleach Pen

Project Hours: About 5

Design and Research- about 2 hours
Execution – About 3 hours

So the LED light up squid got lots of attention from Craft blog and other various websites, and many thanks to the folks that commented and asked about the project.

This week’s technique is taken from a book called Fabric Embellishing, in a chapter about discharging fabric. I could have used all of the methods in the book, but I chose to buy and try out a fabric bleach pen.  

The image is my representation of the Kraken.  A new version of “Clash of the Titans” is coming out this year, and the 1981 version is a beloved movie of mine.  My DH is playing God of War 2 on the PS3 and he also encounters a Kraken as part of the Greek mythology in the video game.  So much to my surprise when researching this lil bugger, the myth of the Kraken is NOT Greek at all.  It’s Scandinavian.  And it’s a gargantuan size squid or octopus, not a reptile/man thing.  This was interesting timing to learn this news, as we had just booked a Scandinavian cruise.  So the “tentacle” of fate has reached out to me once again, and I could not pass up making a version of the Kraken.

Things about this technique…  Shake the bleach pen well before using.  My first two tries the bleach was runny and bled much more than this final one.  Also, work in a well ventilated area or use a mask, it’s still strong.  Follow the Anti Clor directions well.  And I thought the use of this unusual batik made for even more interesting discharged areas.  

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