Archive for the ‘Crafts’ Category

I read a blog post by S. Marsh. C. on making a cone shaped Christmas tree.  She used jute twine, wrapping around a cone of brown paper.

It gave me an idea of how to use some twisted cloth strip cord that I make compusively. I saw the method on Pinterest a few years ago — it involves two strips of cloth, and you twist them in one direction and wind them together in the opposite direction.  Basically. Anyway, I have a lot of it.

So — here goes.

After taking the paper bag apart, there was a tear.  I tried to ignore it, but it got in my way.

The cat was interested in this process.

The cat finds this interesting and the tear was in the way

So I stopped, ironed the paper, and fixed the tear with MistyFuse and some scraps of paper.fixing tear - Copy

Once ironed, it was good as new.

So — I wind the cone and tape it, and start to wrap the twisted twine around it, starting at the small end. I used a scrap of recycled styrofoam as my glue palette.

I think I wrapped a little too tightly, because the cone buckled a little. But not too bad. I trimmed off the end of the cone.

winding more

When it was all wrapped, it seemed to need a base, so I stuck it on the styro palette I had been using. Already full of glue! Perfecto.

plunked down on the glue palette for a base - Copy

Then after letting it dry overnight, I trimmed it off, and Voila — my new cone tree!

It didn’t seem to need ornaments, because of the color variations in the cloth twine.

Thank you S. Marsh C.  I hope you see this!

All done - Copy

 

 

After I made my sampler for my upcoming “12 Ways to Use Found Objects” in art quilts class, I decided I liked the little cat  (#9) so much I wanted to turn the idea into a little art quilt. (see my posted blog for Dec. 22.)

So, here is how I made him. The substrate is black felt (I lined the back with a fused piece of cotton fabric for extra strength. Next I cut the various elements, mostly using a tin snips (Stanley). It makes light work on plastics. The red tool is just a wire cutter. (yikes I really should clean these tools!)

Then I started to lay it out.

 

Hm, it looks like he needs something behind him.

Krazy Kat 1

I had started to add the hand embroidery at that point.

Here is Krazy Kat finished.  He is 5 x 7, and waiting for his frame.  I’ll show him in January.

Oh dear, the ears get a little lost with that background .  .  .  .

Krazy Kat

 

I am designing a class that I’m calling “12 Ways to Use Found Objects” in your art quilts. This is my Sampler of the 12 Ways. Which are listed below.

Can you see the numbers next to each image: 1, 2, 3 etc?

Sampler for 12 Ways class

  1. Glue on/ sew invisibly.  This is the easiest and most obvious.  I try to at least rotate the object, so it is not so obvious what it is, or was.  Can you tell what this is/was?
  2. Sew on decoratively.  This changes the “thing,” using decorative or contrasting stitching.
  3. Trap/ tulle/ cheese cloth. Trapping the object with net, cheese cloth or tulle.  sewing the cloth down can be done in a number of ways.
  4. Paint the object. This is very useful.  An ordinary object like a bottle cap can look quite different. In this case I also drilled a hole in the bottle cap.  Also useful!
  5. Change shape/ cut.  This is crucial.  I use many different tools, depending on what I am cutting. For example a utility knife for cork, a metal shears for plastics and metal and a Dremel for ceramics. Can you tell what this was before I cut it?
  6. Paper –  text. By fusing MistyFuse to both sides of paper it can be preserved and stitched. Text can be meant to be read. This example shows the text using two different ways of cutting it out.
  7. Paper – as texture, design only. Or papers can be used just as a design element.  Can you tell what this paper was originally? Either way, it has MistyFuse on both sides of the paper.
  8. Reverse applique. This is not quite the proper use of “reverse applique” but I wanted to express the idea that an item can be placed under the top layer of the quilt.  There are many ways to do this.
  9. Create animals/ figures. Of course this one takes some time.  The little creature has to be created, then attached.
  10. Heat/ distort/ plastic bags. This takes some experimenting with heat, and different types of bags.  I have quite a collection!
  11. Sew directly on the paper – Greeting cards. This method isn’t really for art quilts, but is useful for making greeting cards out of your collection of cards received.
  12. Combinations methods. Stacking. Paint/ trap. Cut/ paint. A reminder that by combining methods the possibilities are endless!

I’m sure there are more as well.  This is the first time I am offering this class. I hope to continue to experiment and learn from my students as well.

I’ll blog after the class this winter!

The Little Red Maple lo res

The smallest of our red maple trees, with the final leaves clinging to its branches caught my eye in late autumn. The background is pieced sections of a hand painted cloth panel from Malaysia, bought at Ladyfingers Sewing Studio in Oley, PA (a treasure trove of fine fabrics.)

I had actually made most of this piece a couple of years ago, but added the extensive hand embroidery during my recent vacation during long hours riding in the car. I  think it changes it completely, echoing the white of the tree section. Now, it’s done!

Martha Ressler

The Little Red Maple

Art Quilt

17.5 x 16.5″

Okay, this post isn’t quite about art.  But — I admit it — I get almost as much pleasure out of craft. And, truth be told, as much pleasure watching people having fun making things.

That’s how it was in the Upcycling Denim class I taught recently at our local Salvation Army store.

With the carefully arranged shoe and clothing racks as our backdrop, participants cut up and put together old denim jeans that weren’t up to the store standards for re-sale.

I introduced the class with an appreciation for denim. Each person held a pair of jean in their hands as I briefly explained the origins of jeans as work clothes in the late 19th Century in the US. Denim itself — the warp indigo dyed and the weft white — in its distinctive twill weave, goes back to France.

I worked briefly in a Lees jean plant during my 13 years as a sewing machine operator, and remember that it took 13 separate types of sewing machines to make a pair of jeans. I pointed out the flat fell seams on the jean that have them, that make a decent handle for a tote.  And the rivets which you do not want to include in your seams!  A broken needle will be the consequence.

By the second day of the two-day class, the 5 members had learned each others names, and seemed really happy with their projects. An eleven year old fit in as an equal.  A 70 something gentleman decided to make a second belt pouch to balance out the first pouch which he had completed.  And wine totes abounded.  They were based on my own design, but each bore the distinctive personality of its maker.

This class is scheduled for another session. I hope the magic happens again.

 

 

At some point as my husband and I planned our year, we decided it would be a good idea to participate in 10 art fairs in a row, August, Sept and into October.

I’m not sure what we were thinking!

Maybe I thought some little elves would create more of my inventory in the few days between unpacking the car and packing it again to head off to another art fair.

I’m new really working flat out hard to try to keep up.

But, that being said, there is a lot of good that has come from this intensive experience.

We’ve both made an effort to ask advice from other artists we trust on how to show our art to its best advantage.

My sales have been much better this year than last.  I attribute that primarily to having started to frame my art quilts. It not only shows off each piece to its best advantage, but lends a more unified look to the booth. Plus I’m making a number of small art quilts: 5 x 7, framed to 7 x 9.  They sell well in an art fair setting.

Customers are now clear about how to hang the art quilts. I was always trying to explain about the “hanging sleeve,” the “slat,” etc. and it was going over heads.

My husband, Jay Ressler, is making my frames.  They are hand crafted from either re-purposed barn wood or hardwoods, stained and oil rubbed. I then cover a piece of foam core with black linen fabric, and sew the finished quilt to that.  Then I complete the frame with a backing and wire.  No glass of course!

I’m also beginning to weigh whether I want to continue making my craft items: Friendship Wine Totes and “Hot Spots,” that is, hot pads. Both carry through a constant in my work: using re-purposed fabrics and objects. For now, I plan to keep making them.

Compare the show on the left, this year’s booth shot, with last years’ booth shot of the same event.  They are similar, but the framing, on the left, unifies the work.

 

 

 

I’m going to switch to Art History mode for a few posts.  Although at one point I earned an MA in the subject from the University of Michigan, I never pursued a career in it, and thus lost a lot of the knowledge I’d gained. But I never really lost my interest.

In preparation for a recent trip to Rome, Florence and Venice, I read the following books (in addition to 5 guide books): The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone, Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane by Andrew Graham-Dixon, The Medici: Power, Money and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance by Paul Strathern, The Venetians: A New History from Marco Polo to Casanova by Paul Strathern, Pax Romana: War, Peace and Conquest in the Roman World, Adrian Goldsworthy, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower by Adrian Goldsworthy, and The Feud that Sparked the Renaissance: How Brunelleschi and Ghiberti Changed the Art World by Paul Robert Walker. I used Audible.com for all of them, so I could continue with my art work while listening.  I loved the performances by the readers almost as much as I enjoyed the books.

Although the Renaissance is definitely the star of the show in a tour of Italy, I want to highlight a couple of pieces from the Middle Ages today.

Andrea Pisano, a sculptor and architect (c. 1290-1348) executed panels for the Campanile (bell tower) of the Duomo (Cathedral) in Florence.  These included artisans and workers at work, such as ploughing, building, weaving, painting and forging metal. I loved these little panels.  The originals have been removed from the Companile and installed in the Cathedral Museum. They are thus being preserved, and also are easier to see.

A second thing that fascinated me were the inlaid marble floors, especially in the Duomo (Cathedral) in Siena. Although the cathedral itself was completed 1215 – 1263, the work on the floors continued in the 14th through 16th Century.  About 40 artists worked on the 56 floor panels.

The earliest method they used was “graffito,” scratching lines in the marble that were filled with pitch. (yes the term graffiti comes from this word.) The effect is of drawing.

Later they used the “intarsia” method, which had been perfected in Islamic North Africa. It was use to create intricately fitted different colored stones into elaborate pictures.  Actually “intarsia” mostly refers to wood inlay.  For stone it is called “pietra dura.”

Even though I sort of understand how this was done, I can’t imagine how the accuracy in fitting together the stone was achieved.  Today it is carried on in Agra, India.  And a workshop still exists in Florence.  I want to follow up on this in the future.

Just as I head off to Italy (today!) for vacation #2, I finished my first piece based on our trip to South Africa last month.

I made the linoleum blocks based on my quick sketches in the back of the open “safari-mobile” in which we traversed the bushvelt, on the lookout for the “Big 5.” This is a term widely used in Africa.  It’s origin was in hunting.  The “Big 5” were the hardest and most dangerous animals to hunt: Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Cape Buffalo. Now their images grace the South African currency (with Nelson Mandela on the obverse.) And seeing them is a benchmark of success for your photo safari.

We didn’t get to see a Leopard.  They are the one animal which has the ability to cross in and out of the huge, fenced reserve.  Nor the Cape Buffalo.  It is nocturnal, and our brief 3 day visit did not include night time drives.

The Rhino here is a White Rhinoceros. They feed on grass, and their heads are always down.  The Black Rhino feeds on leaves of trees, and their heads are up.  They are more dangerous, as they can charge any time for virtually no reason.  Both are endangered. They are killed for their horn which is mistakenly said to have aphrodisiac powers.

This little piece will be a donation to the “Spotlight” Auction which is an annual tradition at the SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) conference. This year it is in Lincoln, NE, and I will be attending.

my-first-safari-6-x-8

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks as we took a fabulous trip to South Africa.  Beforehand I was immersed in preparation, and afterwards I’ve been catching up with myself. More on the artistic inspirations from that trip at another time!

Today I’m getting ready for my first ever Hand Embroidery class, which commences Saturday.

I made a PowerPoint presentation to get students’ creative juices flowing.  Thank you Pinterest and the artists who posted these wonderful images, and many more.

I bought supplies: markers (air and water disappearing and heat transfer markers), thread –6 strand and Perle (5 and 8 weights) — cloth, fusible tear away stabilizer and of course, needles! I’m sticking with embroidery needles size 5-10.

materials

After the presentation, and I explain the tools and materials, we’ll start right in with the stitches.  I’m going to limit it to running stitch, back stitch, blanket stitch and French Knot. If there’s time I’ll add chain stitch, seed stitch and couching.  You can create a world out of those, with their multiple variations.

 

I’m fortunate that my artist friend Cristina Saucedo has allowed me to use her delightful pen and ink drawings as embroidery templates for my students.

I hope someone decides to use them.

Wish me luck. Meanwhile I’m doing a lot more embroidery myself.  More on that later!

I tried something different. Starting with an old map (with which I am well supplied!), I created a mono print using gelatin printing and stamping. Then I covered both sides with Misty Fuse to preserve and stabilize the paper, added some fabric pieces, made a quilt sandwich, and quilted the piece. Finally, I added some found objects. The piece is called “Gulf Coast Pastimes,” after some of the wording on the map of Mississippi and Louisiana that is still visible. Plus I was thinking about some of the Gulf Coast pastimes of my younger years while working on it!

I am inclined to try more of these, but would appreciate some feedback.

gulf-coast-pastimes-smaller