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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Go Green quilting challenge

This is my first art quilt, an entrant in a challenge at Quilting Arts Magazine - splendid bi-monthly inspiration. Here's hoping it makes the cut for publication. I call it "Eyes of the Sea." Five inches square, made from paper, cotton, felt, several different kinds of mesh bags from produce, an old t-shirt, yarns, beads and sequins, and paper beads. The batting is foam packaging material. Jayn helped. She made the "bubbles" using a fat straw and a hot glue gun. The base looked like this before embellishment.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Summer comes early with my dolls

Here are my two latest art dolls. I think that these are pretty close to being my favorites so far. In addition to using my new wavy edge paper beads, I have tried a new technique of varnishing the faces once they are painted. The idea is to offer greater protection against the remote possibility of smudges or moisture - so now you can go ahead and give this doll a kiss on her cheek.

The happy summer party doll is available on Etsy.

The beautiful purple doll is a commission, inspired by this wonderful creation.

I do take special orders. Please contact me directly if you have a hankering for a custom doll for a gift or to commemorate a special event. I love making cloth dolls!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Vintage fabrics

My mother-in-law sent me a couple of yards of this beautiful vintage upholstery canvas, from the 1960's. In a former life the screen printed fabric was a roller blind she remembers in her apartment in London. The piece had some stains and fading, and was generally dingy, but had been well stored rolled around its own dowel. That's one of my grandmother's teaspoons for scale.

I machine washed it and then soaked it in the wonderful "Retro Clean" for several days in the sun. A clear soda bottle full of water made a terrific weight. The result is beautiful - the vibrancy has been restored to all but a couple of inches at the "bottom" which evidently hung in the sun for some unknown number of years and faded. I plan on making a couple of dolls, including one promised to said MIL, and matching mother and daughter A-line skirts for Jayn and I. What a bonanza!

Taking the opportunity to restore some of my grandmother's kitchen linens, I also soaked these two pieces of screen printed cotton. I am guessing that they are from the 1940's or 1950's, and I think they were table runners. Sadly there are a couple of holes and a few stains that even Retro Clean couldn't remove. The aesthetic reminds me of the work of "Made With Love by Hannah". I'm thinking some cute hostess aprons with some co-ordinating cotton and rick rack.

(Hey - I learnt how to insert hyperlinks into the text of my blog - Yay!)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tie dye bleached tees

We were inspired to do some bleaching. The black t-shirts bleach to a really nice chocolate brown, which is a color I enjoy wearing, while the cool pea soup green top in the picture started out as chocolate brown. Who knew?

The shirts are from movie projects that my husband was involved in at different times, and one of the equipment vendors he works with.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Wavy Cut Paper Bead How-To

I am crazy for paper beads! I use them as part of the embellishments on my dolls and other things. I enjoy using paper from catalogs and junk mail. Mine have a fairly large hole to accommodate yarn. Sometimes I paint the edges gold.

Up until recently I made beads from torn strips. Then I acquired a paper cutter which includes a zig zag blade. I love the beads that result! The monochrome ones make me think of snakeskin and the colorful ones are like tiny mosaics. And the manufacturing process is absolutely addictive!

Here is my step by step tutorial for making paper beads.

Choose your paper. I like catalog pages where the color reaches the edges of the paper.

The cutting can be lengthwise or widthwise. I alternate up and down the sheet tilting back and forth. No two beads will be exactly alike by this method. I like to cut up a couple of pages at a time with the wide edge being about 1 to 1.5 inches and coming close to a point.
Here is a selection of long and shorter wedge shaped cut papers with the wavy edges.
For basic beads, start rolling from the wide end until the tail is about as long as your finger. Then a swipe of glue stick on paper work surface (I usually use old catalogs and turn the pages when they get grubby), finish the roll and roll it over in the hands to "seal".

Here is the difference in thickness between a bead made from a lengthwise cut, and a widthwise cut. For most of my purposes it isn't very important.

The glue stick beads are fairly soft and can be flattened easily. I have found that using an archival paste glue, such as "Yes", results in a harder bead, almost like paper mache. However because it takes a bit longer to dry, sometimes the beads end up like this, with a lifted end.

The solution is to use a dab of glue stick and roll the bead on the paper for a moment to flatten.

When I roll with paste, I pause with a longer tail and paint on the glue with a brush. Then I will dab gluestick on the last 2 inches. I finish the roll and then roll the bead back and forth between my palms. This gets a bit mucky on the fingers after a few beads. A box of wet wipes can be helpful.

Here's the difference between torn beads and cut beads.

I can't get enough of my new beads.

Soon I will post about some jewelry I am planning with some of these.