Thursday, 28 January 2016

Great challenge

Yes, this is a challenge.  I know that when I travelled to Europe a few years back, I wanted to take pics in some of the museums.  I learned that if I changed  the aperture settings I could take great pics with no flash.  (If you wanted to take pics in some of the museums, you could not use a flash, but you had to buy a separate entrance ticket).  I can't wait to experiment while in Arizona!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

How did she do it????

We have been exploring the work of Vivian Maier recently and have a little challenge going about doing self portraits in the manner that she did them, usually holding her camera at her waist and capturing a reflection of herself.

I took my digital camera into my bedroom and tried to do a pose similar to what she had done with her SLR camera.

Too low

Too high

better angle, too bright

too much flash

way too much light
I tried to turn off the flash but the camera refused to take a shot. OK got that!!
getting closer
tried it with no flash

This is going to be a real exciting learning experience.
To think that Vivian used a film camera to get those shots is boggling. She would have to shoot a roll, get it developed before she even knew if she had the correct focus.  I can take a lot of shots and choose instantly which ones I want to keep.

I have taken a few photography classes-mostly with my old SLR camera. these included developing my own prints in the darkroom. I was quite reluctant to buy a digital camera but finally gave in and bought a Nikon. The photography teacher at Niagara College used to say "Make every print count." Now I still try to make every one count but I have the luxury of deleting the prints that I don't like and only keeping the good shots.

I am looking forward to seeing what Al does with this challenge.

Monday, 25 January 2016

self portrait challenge

wow the more I look at Vivian Maier's self portraits, the more I see. they are fabulous. I am going to try some too.
maybe have to go find some fab mirrors. she did just amazing things.


Things to Ponder!

I tell my students when their work ends up doing a complete 360....
" it is not what I planned, but exactly what I wanted"

Looking forward to a new adventure!

Well soon Debbie and I will be leaving for our first winter holiday to Arizona!  We usually go to Florida in March every year, but we needed a change.  Florida just isn't doing it anymore.  We found a wonderful "artists' " town called Tubac.  The arts are everywhere there!  I hope to do a lot of drawings and some small watercolours and of course some hand dyeing and sewing.
We are also going to Phoenix for the AQS quilt show! OH BOY!
I would also like to thank Lisa for the wonderful day we had at her pottery studio.  I am excited about  what I produced and can't wait to see the end results.
I was teaching in Amherst NY this week and the students were amazing.  We were working on my new folded fabric techniques.  They were very excited and the results were great. I thought I had a lot of fabric stash!
I promised myself I would set new challenges for myself this year.  Karen has challenged me to take a self portrait every day while in Arizona.  I plan to get real creative with this.
Have been clearing up a lot of loose ends before going away.  Customers quilts, commissions, gallery work, even dental and eye appointments!
Watch for those portraits!

Chronicles of Snow Dying

....And when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she turned into a butterfly.

The story continues.  I was not really satisfied with the results of my snow dying experiment so I decided to continue with the same fabrics and re-dye them using the same snow dying techniques.

I soaked them again in soda ash and dried them. I found aluminium broiler trays at the dollar store. The have slots in the bottom to allow the snow and dyes to melt off but keep the fabric elevated from the water.
I crumpled up the fabrics with lots of twists.

I covered the bundles with a smaller layer of snow. It was about two or three inches deep. Last time I used way too much snow. It took almost a whole day for the snow to melt.
Then I sprinkled dye powder on top of the snow. I used black, olive green and brown dyes. I also discovered that I have a few tins of black!!! why?? I don't really know.
But actually the black is a good choice for this type of dying. As soon as I sprinkled it, I could see the separation of colour. A dark blue emerged first, then something along a cranberry red colour. All of the dyes that I used the second  time released different colours as the snow melted.
I rinsed and rinsed and washed and hung them over the shower rod to dry. Next time I take a selfie, I will have my makeup done. We've been discussing Vivian Maier's work and I have decided to follow her example and do a lot of self portraits.
I think I have finally finished!! The colours are very vibrant. There are a few very good lines of separation, which is what I was hoping to achieve. Heat setting to follow and then I hope to use them in a series of  log cabin quilts that I am planning.

Thanks for stopping by.
Karen of the Fabrigos.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

our road trip to the potters studio

Jo talked about our road trip to the pottery studio in her post. I, too, want to thank Lisa Skog for her generosity in opening her studio to us. She was very hospitable in showing us her work as well as her home.
Lisa's pottery is very inventive. She is not afraid to try anything from the looks of her work. She is a pretty savvy business woman as well. She created a lot--I mean a LOT-- of small easily sellable doodads for the Christmas market in order to make it possible for her to make larger more  artistic pieces .

I think that its very apparent that one of Lisa's philosophies of life is --Go for it!!! She has experimented with other crafts including stained glass but I think she has found her calling in pottery.
The aspect of the unknown is especially exciting. You really don't know what the piece is going to look like when you finish.

Her lovely home is also a work of art. Definitely not your cookie cutter decorating.  When you enter the home,  there is a feeling of serenity and safety. The colours are bold and the furnishings are beautiful pieces that came from Malaysia with lots of beautifully carved dark wood.
Thanks again Lisa and I can hardly wait to see our results.

One of the things that Jo mentioned is collaborating with artists of different mediums. I wholly agree with Jo's comments about how much we can learn from other artists. I hope that we might be able to do a little bit more with Lisa and any other artists that we meet along the way.

When I started making art quilts, I took several classes in painting and I am still doing that. I learned a lot about colour and composition from various teachers. These lessons have definitely influenced my fibre art. It's not easy to point at something in one of my pieces and say that I learned that in painting class but I do feel that other classes have influenced how I mix my fabrics and colours--and I am not afraid to mix bright colours--I just really feel that learning from other artists benefits my art work.

Thanks for stopping by!! What's your philosophy of life?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Fabrigos and a Road Trip

Yesterday we had the pleasure of an out to to visit the Studio of Lisa Skog.  Please check out Lisa's website to find out more about her art, pictures and where her art is available by clicking on her name above.

Lisa is a wonderful ceramic artist who has been published in books, has work in numerous galleries, is involved in the Hamilton Potters Guild and is a very good friend.

Often we see posts or in books to become a better artist to try something out of our normal medium of choice.

Well yesterday after trying and being thwarted by bad weather etc. we finally made it to Lisa's to view her studio, learn about her work and have a try at creating a few pieces from a flat slab of clay.

Here we are working intently in our own style.











On boards sorted for specific glazes
Robynne and Al Starting

Lisa has graciously offered to glaze them in our preferred colours. They will first have to be fired in the electric kiln so she can glaze them. And then she is going to raku fire them for us. This is a special process and it is not safe to have outsiders or basically people who are not trained involved with this process. 

When the finished product is done I will post a few pictures. This may take a while considering Lisa needs to have a good day to fire the raku kiln and work into her schedule. 

Then we have to get busy and create a piece of art with our collaborative ceramics. 

Lisa's studio was sunny, the tea was delicious and we felt so uplifted to have this day out in our cold January weather.

Who knows there may be some more collaborations in the future!

Do you ever do a collaboration with an artist inside your medium or outside?

On behalf of the Fabrigos,


Friday, 15 January 2016

Snow Dying Results

I have finished the snow dyed fabric. It sat overnight until the snow melted and then I rinsed and rinsed until the water ran clear. It's always fun to watch the changes that it goes through when you rinse the fabric. The colours release at different times so the rinse water can be blue, then yellow and so on.

After they were rinsed I put them in the washer and washed and ironed, here are the results.

The piece that was already dyed with orange splotches looks better. One is bluish tint and the other is pink. The recent dye is not a real strong colour but it will work well in a landscape piece.
Its not very easy to see this but I got quite a large piece that is a softly mottled grey. Just exactly what I wanted for a new work that I am doing. There is not a lot of delineation of colour, which is what I was expecting , and really wanted--but it is good for my new work.
This is the unknown fibre that I had convince myself that it would take the dye well. WELL I was surprised--it did not take the dye very well at all. This piece has the most colour in it--but it is quite faintly blue.  Lesson learned.

Results were not as good as I wanted or expected in any of the pieces. I really like the mottling that a lot of the snow dyed pieces that I have seen. I did not achieve those results.
Why--I don't know. Did I not use enough dye? maybe and maybe I should have used more colours on each bin-next time.
Did I not elevated the fabric as well as I should have? Before I do it again I will purchase a colander  for exclusive use in my dyes. I think that the elevation method that I used did not keep the fabric away from the dyes well enough.
Next time I will not use synthetic fibres.
I think that I will buy some Rit dye and throw the unknown fibre into my pot and boil it away--I do like the finish in this unknown fibre. it has a quiet sheen that will work well with a lot of my work.

Successful??? not really but it did teach me a few things.
Will I keep trying?? oh yes.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

snow day

We were scheduled to meet yesterday at Jo's house for a fabrigo day but a little bit of a snow storm stopped us in our tracks. We cancelled and rescheduled for next week. So what do you think about when you have a snow day--Why snow dying fabric of course. We have had a milder than  usual winter this year-its really our first snowfall and we are mid January-all the way closer to spring my sweetie!

So today I have decided that I will do some snow dying. I have done quite a bit of other kinds of dying but never the snow kind.

Right now my fabric is soaking in soda ash water--getting prepped to soak up all that amazing colour from the procion dyes that I will use.

 I have a few pieces of muslin that I will dye.  I have one piece of bleached muslin, one unbleached and one that I dyed that last summer that I think needs some more work. It has big splotches of orange on a white ground. I think it needs more blended colour. I am considering red overdying. And I have a piece of unknown fabric - probably a synthetic that has a nice shimmering look. I have used this fabric in other dye projects so I know that it will take the dye.

Now to prepare the containers. I am going to use three different containers; one is the tub that the fabrics are soaking in now, one is another plastic container from the basement and one is a coffee can that was emptied this morning. The fabric should be elevated from the bottom of the dye pot so that it is not sitting in the dye for a long time. (at least that is what I read.) so in order to elevate the fabric I have a few jars and pop cans that I have placed in the bottom of my containers.
I am hoping that these cans will provide enough elevation to keep the fabric  out of direct dyes.  I think that the action of the snow melting slowly is what gives this method such an interesting result. That's a shot of the pop cans inside of the coffee can. Good shot!!  I like the effect of the background. The can has a silver lining.  think I will use that idea again in some of my photography. My camera was just on an auto setting.

So, my fabric has been in the presoak long enough.
Since I have three containers, I have decided to cut each of the fabrics into three sections. Then I can dye each container different colour but have each fabric dyed with each colour.

I crumple each fabric and place it in the containers, take the containers outside, cover each batch with snow, pour dyes over each pile of snow and wait for the magic to happen.
I will continue this post tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

So you call yourself an artist

Deer Crossings@ 2014

So I think now I can actually start calling myself an artist. I have the pile of rejection letters to prove it!!!

 In recent weeks I have received two very nice letters telling me that my work was not selected for their show.  They were very kind letters. They explained their difficult selection process and their visions for the show and encouraged me to keep working.

You know what---I will keep working.... not because I feel encouraged but because that's what I do. I can't not work! I need to join those pieces of fabric and watch the needle going up and down--almost as much as I need to inhale and exhale and feed my body and sleep at night.

So I am going to go into my studio (AKA the basement) and I am going to make some more art. Maybe I'll create something I will enter into a completion, maybe not!! But I will be working.
Thanks for listening, I feel better already!