Monday, 28 February 2011

First postcard swap

Today was the first Fibrecircle postcard swap. Like most of our projects, there's no pressure for anyone to participate, so today only Maz and Nola had finished postcards. We're a very relaxed group! Tricia had one underway, which  may be finished for the next swap, in March.

Here's Maz's finished postcard. She was working on it last week  remember?
Small pieces of patterned  commercial and hand painted fabrics in black, cream and gold were pleated and attached to the black cotton background. They were surrounded by silver stitching, and the whole mounted over card stock. A cream fabric backing, drawn like a blank postcard, was hand stitched to the back.

Here's Nola's postcard:
The base of Nola's postcard is painted fusible web, with an overlay of crystal organza. It's one of her From the Heartland series, which has been running intermittently since 2007. This one is inspired by satellite photographs of the Menindee Lakes system in western New South Wales, although it uses the same basic pebbles-on-sand layout of the earlier postcards. The shapes were free-motion embroidered, and then further textural stitching was added by hand. Lastly, the brilliant lakes were painted inside the stitched shapes. The backing is brown felt, with a filling of Timtex, and the edges were satin stitched over fluffy yarn to give a firm edge and cover all traces of the Timtex.

Tricia's unfinished postcard looks like this:
All the details are hand stitched onto a hand-dyed background. She brought it along today for ideas about how to finish it into a postcard. So we looked through Nola's collection of ATCs and postcards for finishing ideas.

A Dozen Easy Ways to Finish your ATC or Postcard
1. Turn the front edges to the back over the lining material, and glue or hold with thread. Layer over a backing, attached with slip stitching, like Maz's, or with fusible web and stitched down with machine straight stitching or a patterned machine stitch. This also works well with a card stock backing that can be glued in place.
2. Satin stitched edge, like Nola's postcard, or a zigzag stitch. Nola's was satin-stitched over a yarn, which tends to cover the inner layer nicely, without showing glimpses of white around the edges.
3. Bagged - i.e. stitch from and back layers, right sides together, leaving a small gap for turning. Works best with softer fillings like quilt batting.
4. Bound like a quilt, either in strips or a continuous mitred binding, slip stitched on the back. One variation is to stitch the binding to the back, turn it to the front and top stitch it down with a patterned machine stitch.
5. Straight stitch around the edges - this can be simple or complex, but thicker inner layers, like batting or Timtex, tend to show around the edges. Straight stitching a narrow braid on the front side is effective.
6. Use a machine herringbone-style stitch, so that the outer edge of the stitch passes over the edge. Also better with thin or no inner layer and can look striking on a card stock backing.
7. Free motion swirls or loops, with inner layer hidden between extended front and back layers
8. Hand or machine buttonhole stitch around the edges - this also works best with thinner inner layers as batting or Timtex will show.
9. Cut lining slightly smaller and adhere front and back layers with fusible web. Trim with pinking shears and straight stitch inside the pinked edge.
10. Overlock (serge) the edges together, then cover the stitching with braid, rickrack or glued fabric strips.
11. Stitch eyelash or similar yarn on each side, beginning with the back, and using matching thread. The fringes blend, hiding the lining.
12. Layer a fabric between the front and lining, cut 1/2in oversize. Stitch around the edge through all four layers (front, extra fabric, lining and back) with wide zigzag or buttonhole stitch , and then fray the larger piece of fabric back to the stitching line, making a simple fringe.

Possible linings - Shapewell interfacing (a stiff but light woven interfacing), Timtex, quilt batting, cardboard of various weights, Pellon in various weights.

Nola did very little, creatively, today. She looked through her folder of samples for ideas for the next month's postcard and for our Lost Treasures challenge. For the challenge, she found this little piece:
It looks very like Lost Treasure, doesn't it? And for her next postcard, she found this little piece of painted fabric:
Carol was working on baskets woven from craft cardboard. Much of her life these days is spent in working out creative activities for her Scouts and Joeys!
Tricia was stitching today and she brought along two pieces to work on. She began the first one in a class with Jan Irvine-Nealie at Orange Fibre Forum a couple of years ago, based on a photo.
She has rocks to add in the foreground and some trees. It's looking really interesting!

Tricia's other stitching piece is a trial for a larger work she wants to make. Both use her own dyed fabrics, but this one is smaller. She's experimenting on this one with thread colour and different stitches, to get the effect she wants for the larger piece. It's hard to see the stitched area in the photo but it has the feel of something ancient.
Beverley was working on her Language of Threads quilt, which she'd like to exhibit in her quilt group's show soon. She was working on this last week too. It's coming along nicely, isn't it?
Maz was stitching on the next challenge, Lost Treasures. She found this "lost treasure' in her cupboard and was inspired to keep working on it. She painted and stamped the fabric quite a long time ago, and now she's adding stitch.
The printed pattern on the fabric is bottle and carafe shapes like the one she is stitching.

Helen was working on her rug canvas work, like last week.  The rug canvas is quite fine, this time, so it's fairly slow work.
She painted the rug canvas, as she often does, before she started stitching. She also brought along a canvas work vessel, a challenge from another group. By moistening the canvas, she softens the glue that adheres the fibres together, not enough to make them come apart, but enough that, once it has been moulded into shape and dried, it stays in the new shape. Sorry, no photo of that one!

Helen's main show and tell, though, was a collection of works from her embroidery group, Lateral Stitchers. Each year, they have a paper bag challenge. This time, they took a copy (by permission) of an original image by Toni Valentine, which she made in a class on Hundertwasser. They cut it apart and each person took a section to reproduce in whatever way they chose. Here are the sections they made, laid out on top of the original image.
Just stunning work by those girls, and Toni too!

See you in a fortnight.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Back together again!

Today was our first full meeting after the holidays and the unveiling of our first Challenge, The Language of Threads, set by Maz before Christmas. Four members had works to share.
Helen showed us her completed bag, called Threads of India.

The embroidery was done on rug canvas, which was stiffened with pelmet vilene and assembled with calico and braid into a bag. The colours were inspired  by a photograph of dye workers in India.

Carol's Language of Threads piece is called Treasure Islands. She hasn't quite finished it yet.
She began with a felt background, and hand couched hand spun and threads and then machine embroidered. Like most shiny things, it's hard to photograph well, but it looks wonderful.

Maz showed her piece, Impressions, which is also not yet finished.
It's made using fabric lamination of newspaper images and text onto synthetic organza, using matte medium  as the adhesive. If you enlarge the photo, you can see the stitching she's adding, which  gives a lovely rich texture.

Beverley's challenge used her own hand-carved blocks. She carved a positive and negative version of the same image, and stamped it onto different fabrics. She pieced a background from two fabrics and is mounting her images on that background. Some images are a single layer, with frayed edges, while others have been lined. She is adding running stitches, French knots and other embroidery in Perle thread.
We had a perennial visitor to our group this time. Janet Bass from Pittsburgh was making her annual visit to Australia and came to join us. Her task today was to crochet a breast shape from strips of plastic bags, for a future installation planned by a fellow artist.
Here she is crocheting away, with Maz hard at work beside her. Maz was working on a small piece that may become a postcard to swap.
Beverley brought along some little embroidered fragments she has been making. She used an adhesive to hold the elements in place while she stitched them, and used Solvy as the stabiliser.
 Helen was working on another rug canvas piece.
It's very soft and pretty in colour - can't wait to see it finished!

Tricia brought some beautiful roving to spin. Helen was happy to help her manage it, though it did look as if she had plans to make away with it. She does have rather more of it than Tricia, doesn't she?
Tricia is keeping a firm grip on the end, though!

Nola was busy with her orphan blocks project. From leftover quilt blocks and units of different sizes, she's making twelve inch blocks for a quilt top.
Here are some of the blocks she's made already. Today, she was converting a 5 1/2in finished Log Cabin block into a 12in block, by adding double borders - 1 1/2in finished borders with corner posts and 1 3/4in finished pieced strip borders, like the ones in the top right hand block.

Our next Challenge was chosen by Carol. She has set us the task of making a work on the theme of Lost Treasures, to be shared at our first April meeting. So many possibilities! Meanwhile, we're busy making postcards to swap for our next meeting in two weeks' time.