shibori and new techniques

I've gotten to the point where I don't take many workshops. I've got too many ideas in my head already, and I've enough of a voice as an artist to know that I don't want to corrupt my style. But workshops in techniques are different; they add to my skill set and provide other options for construction of my ideas.

So yesterday I took such a class, in the basics of shibori. The class was held at the Fine Line Creative Arts Center in St. Charles, Illinois; about 10 miles from my new house. Yay. They sponsor a lot of great classes, including many in fiber.

The teacher was Dagmar Klos, a leading expert in natural dyes and well versed in shibori. We worked on a silk scarf, and after sewing the resist lines dyed the scarves in acid dyes. Today after the piece was dry, I was able to take out the threads and see the results:

I did this by drawing a circle on the silk, then stitching across about every 1/4". When the stitching was done, I pulled up the threads and knotted them--it looked kind of like smocking does, but much tighter. The stitching lines run roughly from 2 o'clock to 8 o'clock. If you don't iron the resulting piece, it stays all puckery and cool. I ironed this one, though. The hardest part turns out to be not cutting the fabric when you're taking the threads out. I know, I was warned. But I'm far sighted, that's my excuse.

Here's another circle I did:

The lines on the sides were supposed to go all the way across; only one of them made it. But this circle was made by stitching around the perimeter, gathering that up tightly, then winding thread around the pouf made in the middle. I purposely left some openings in this wrap so there would be some variation in the circle. Anywhere the thread is tight, the dye can't get into the space--more or less. If you look closely you will see a faint blueness to some of the areas, probably because I didn't wrap it tight enough. But I like the imprecise look.

To see some really nice shibori, and what can be done with it, check out Chicago area artist Frank Connet. He makes quite large pieces with some nice shibori included in them.

And expect to see some in my future work. I have lots of ideas percolating up in my brain...Meanwhile, Happy Christmas and Merry New Year.

That is all.


decisions, decisions

I hate getting stuck on a piece. Somehow it becomes so wonderful in my head that I'm afraid of messing it up...most of my pieces I liked better during the making than after they are done. Not that they are all messed up, just that when in the moment it can go in any direction, when I can take it anywhere I want to take it, I'm more enamored of it. Of course, the side effect of this is that I have no problem with selling my work--most of it anyway. There's a couple of pieces that would have to sell for an unreasonable amount of money for me to part with them.

But how to quilt this piece...lately I've been doing a lot of close quilting, geometric shapes alternating with organic shapes, filling in the space. I'm kind of tired of that. So I just dove into this piece, and started with where I knew I wanted stabilization lines. The rest just grew from that, and once I started, I didn't have problems continuing with it.

Also lately, I've been quilting as a kind of middle step rather than a final step in the process. I've been adding hand work that seems to look better if the thing is already quilted. This particular piece is going to have some raw edge applique on it, too.

I splurged a little lately, too. When I noticed that I had written 100 posts, I wanted to save them and decided to get a book made from them. Blog2Print will go and find your blog posts and put them together for you. The result is either an ebook you can download for $2.99, or a slickly printed paperback book--mine was around $35; it varies with the number of pages. One thing to watch out for is that there are some missing jpg's in mine, I didn't edit it carefully enough.

For a while my go-to guru for jpg questions has been Gloria Hansen. She has been very generous with her help. And now she's put together a great book that answers all the questions--Digital Essentials. Right now it's on sale for 10% off, but it's well worth the investment if you need help preparing pictures of your art for the web, for juried shows, for whatever. She also designs great websites if you're looking for a designer.