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Road Trip Inspiration

Road Trip Inspiration

On my way home from Washington, I was working in my studio journal and thinking about all the inspiration you can get from a road trip. Even when the scenery isn’t all that exciting, there is always something that peaks my interest.

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These were my notes on what was popping into my brain as we were driving along. Luckily, my husband likes to drive and will drive for most of the trip. One of the things I really noticed when driving over to Washington this past 18 months for stitch class was the change in seasons. Since we were going once a quarter, we got a different perspective every time we drove over. The difference in the colors is amazing. Even in winter, there are a variety of colors because many of the deciduous trees have different colored branches ranging from red, orange, yellow to gray and white.

Another thing I noticed this trip was the different shapes of road signs. We had just been working on geometric patterns in our machine stitched books and I thought it might be fun to use the road signs shapes to create a design.

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Here’s a not so good photo of us driving along. You can see a bridge coming up. The bridge connecting bits reminded me of the insertion stitches we did for binding small books. I need to get a better photo of the different bridge shapes because I thought it would be really cool to make a piece with insertion stitches based on the shapes in the bridges.

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I then started noticing other geometrical elements such as the supports for power lines and   telephone poles. I never pay much attention to those things but they have some interesting shapes. You can also find many types of circles as you drive along such as rolls of hay stacked together, tires, hub caps and farming irrigation devices. When the vents on the car start intriguing you, you know you’ve lost it! 🙂

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So next time you’re on a road trip, take along a notebook and jot down what you see that you might could use for inspiration in your work. The more you look, the more you see.

Second Quarter Challenge – Abstraction

Second Quarter Challenge – Abstraction

I have been attempting to work on Ann’s second quarter challenge but I have a really hard time with abstraction. I guess that most of my work ends up being realistic. I find it difficult to take an idea and make it more abstract. Do you find it easy or hard to do abstract work? At least with felt, it is harder to do very fine details so the process kind of lends itself to abstraction.

So I decided I would do some sketches with watercolors and ink. I looked online for photos and found one of birch trees. I took out all the background and just picked a dark blue. Then I was planning on painting the birch trees with pinks and oranges to represent the sunlight hitting them. I got to this point and just couldn’t add in the pink and orange. I tried it on some scrap paper and hated it. So this isn’t really abstract. What do you think?

Next I tried abstracting a photo of red twig dogwood in winter. Again, I really simplified the background and I used red paper cut into tiny slivers for the dogwood. I think this is a little better but I’m still not all that happy with the composition.

My local surface design group has been doing a monthly challenge where we pick an artist and then do something based on that artist’s style. This past month was a local artist, Marshall Noice, so I looked him up and lo and behold, he works in an abstract manner. I could take care of both challenges with one project. 🙂 I printed out two of his pieces and pasted them into my studio journal.

I had never really examined Noice’s work before and both of these examples are pastels on paper. I love the rich, deep colors and I do like the abstract nature of his work. So I decided I would try a photo of willow trees in winter to see if I could achieve a similar effect. Again, I used watercolors and ink in my studio journal.

Here’s the result. It seems a little anemic to me. Especially the bottom portion. But it is somewhat abstract, perhaps. I’d love to hear your critique. I am thinking of doing one of these pieces in felt. Which would you choose and why?

This last photo is definitely not abstract. Just thought I’d throw it in since it was the next page in my studio journal. So that’s what I’ve been working on in my spare time besides my stitch homework. I’ll keep plugging along with the abstract challenge. And it is a real challenge but I guess that’s the point, right?

Surface Texture Challenge – From Studio Journal to Finished Piece

Surface Texture Challenge – From Studio Journal to Finished Piece

Here is one of my many photos of bark. This type of bark has flat looking pieces that resemble puzzle pieces. The pieces gradually flake off and I collected a bunch of these off the ground. I love the different layers and colors that result. Many times, I work in a studio  journal when I find an inspirational source. Over the last several years, I have played around with these bark pieces.

Here I have sketched the various shapes of the bark. Most are multi layered like the sketch in the top left hand corner. I just shaped the overall shape of most of the pieces. I made several different stamps and a few stencils of these shapes.

This is a collage that I did in my studio journal with pieces of discharged paper and stamps. I also added the linear components to give it the feel of bark on a tree. This has been in my studio journal for two years and I really haven’t done anything else with it. This past weekend, I decided I was going to try a technique that I have been thinking about for a long time. Because I had this challenge to work on, I finally got this idea in motion.

I took two pieces of water-soluble fabric and sandwiched some wool and viscose fiber between them. On the top piece of water-soluble fabric, I had traced some of the imagery from my paper collage. I then free motion stitched with zigzag stitch over the lines and shapes. I ended up not putting in as much detail because it shrunk so much with the stitching. And it would shrink more with the next step.

I then took the free motion design and added it into a felted cover I was making for my new Kindle. Since the fabric is water-soluble, it would wash away during the felting process and just leave the stitching. When you stitch directly on felt with the machine, it gives a quilted effect. I was trying to add machine stitching without getting that quilted look. I also want to be able to add machine stitching easily to 3D felt objects. It is hard to get a three-dimensional felt to fit under the sewing machine.

Here is the result. It was a bit dark when I was taking the photos so sorry for the quality. (Click on the photo so you can see the details better.) I loved the result! The stitching is completely attached as the fibers it was sewn to, felted right in with the rest of the fibers. And the stitching is right on the surface, it worked perfectly. The darker lines in the middle were yarn that was couched down by machine stitching. The machine threads are shiny in comparison with the felt and add a very interesting texture as the thread didn’t shrink but the wool did. I will definitely be trying more of this technique.

Here’s the Kindle sliding into the top of the cover. I made the cover fairly thick so that when I put this in my bag, it won’t get banged around so much. That shows a little bit of the way I tend to work. Have you tried anything yet for the surface texture challenge? Do leave a comment and let us know.

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