Monday, 15 December 2014

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

Well, this is our final Principle of Design in our series of Elements and Principles of Design. We've enjoyed the time spent on these collages over the past months and have learned a lot about design in the process. The Principle was Depth and Space.

Unless we work in 3 dimensions, work on a canvas is only 2 dimensional. We can only convey space and depth with visual cues.

There are a number of ways that you can do this incorporating many of the Element and Principles of Design that we have done over the past months.
Warm Up Collage
Design Principle - Depth and Space
The most common ways are:
·        Overlapping objects to suggest depth.
·        Creating shadows.
·        Size of your subject matter, sometimes in conjunction with a known object.
·        Colour can suggest depth, where warm colours appear to advance and cool colours recede.
·        Depth of field. If your object is out of focus it seems that it is further away.
·        Where an object is on your page or canvas. Towards the bottom they will appear larger and smaller towards the top.
·        Use perspective to indicate depth or distance.

Stay tuned in 2015 to a new series of warm up exercises that we will be working on during FOG Tuesdays.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Calgary Public Library - Meet the Maker - Session Update

The Calgary Public Library is offering a number of “Meet the Makers” events over the next six weeks and Jan and I have been invited to lead two of the sessions.
These sessions are a chance for library patrons to meet us and for you to learn a new skill with these easy make-and-take projects.
No registration is required and all supplies are provided.

Wire and Bead Pendant Session

This session has been rescheduled to Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM at the Central Library downtown.

Wire and Bead Pendant: Monday, December 15th from 1 – 3 PM at the Central Library downtown 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Calgary Public Library Sharpie Marker Dyeing Project

This past Saturday was the last of 7 sessions for the Calgary Public Library using Sharpie Markers™ and rubbing alcohol to create a lot of interesting patterns. Our original project, a cotton scarf, often morphed into just having a lot of fun making marks on the 100% cotton fabric and adding 99% alcohol with an eye dropper to see how the Sharpie pigments moved. 

Let me tell you about our 2 main supplies – we did use Sharpie™ Markers for this project, but any alcohol based marker will work. Bic Markit™, Copic™ and Spectrum Noir™ are others that you can use. Sharpies™ and the Bic Markit™ alcohol markers can often be found on sale at Staples here in Canada.

The second ingredient is rubbing alcohol, and if you read our post in June of this year you may remember that rubbing alcohol comes in three main strengths, 70%, 90% and 99%. We used the 99% for this project and used an eye dropper to drop it onto the marker ink. Rubbing alcohol (perhaps due to its therapeutic use) also has an expiry date, so it’s probably wise to buy a fresh bottle for this project. Costco here in Canada has the best price and does sell the 99%, where many pharmacies do not.

The rubbing alcohol pushes the marker pigment concentrically away from the drop location so you can experiment with where you are making your alcohol drops for different effects. If you want to repeat a motif, it’s not a bad idea to do a sample piece with your motif before and after dropping the alcohol so that you remember how you made it.

Other supplies needed are 100% cotton, an eye dropper, a table covering and a good supply of fresh air!

We also did this project at our June FOG group on silk scarves, so visit that posting if you want to know more about doing this process on silk.

Although many finished a scarf during the session, we only had the pleasure of seeing one of our participants wearing her creation as she brought the finished piece to another session. As you can see from the photo below, she folded the 54” piece of cotton in half lengthwise, sewed around it, right sides together and then turned it right side out. She then did a beaded fringe on one end only and lovely beading up the seam side. Folding it gave it a nice feel and the beaded fringe some nice weight.

Carleen's finished Scarf with beaded fringe

What follows are some awesome examples of motifs that our participants came up with.

In each pair, the motif before the alcohol was dropped is on the left,
after the alcohol was dropped is on the right

In each pair, the motif before the alcohol was dropped is on the left,
after the alcohol was dropped is on the right. In the bottom example,
the drawing was enhanced with black marker lines after the alcohol was dropped.

In each pair, the motif before the alcohol was dropped is on the left,
after the alcohol was dropped is on the right.

Other uses for the decorated cotton could be quilt blocks or small fringed pieces for the fronts of cards.

Joan's southwest sunset.

Once all the decoration is completed, let your cotton dry thoroughly overnight and then heat set with your iron set on the cotton setting. Once heat set, they are washable and the colours will not run.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Calgary Public Library:Meet the Maker Sessions

The Calgary Public Library is offering a number of “Meet the Makers” events over the next six weeks and Jan and I have been invited to lead two of the sessions.
These sessions are a chance for library patrons to meet us and for you to learn a new skill with these easy make-and-take projects.
No registration is required and all supplies are provided.
Our sessions are:

Wire and Bead Pendant: Monday, December 15th from 1 – 3 PM at the Central Library downtown This session has been rescheduled to Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM.
Recycled Jean Journals: Monday, November 24th from 1 – 3 PM at the Central Library downtown

November 24 Central Library "Meet the Maker"
Two decorated and completed recycled jean journals.
Journals were bound using a 3-hole pamphlet binding.

We hope to see you there and we’ll be back in 2015 at the Saturday Arts Club at the Central Library with 4 new projects!
Recycled Jeans Journals

Monday, 17 November 2014

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

We’re nearing the end of our exploration of the Elements and Principles of Design with our look at Balance and Symmetry.

Balance can be achieved in an art piece using any number of the following criteria:

·          position - an element further from centre is heavier
·          texture - complex texture has visually more weight
·          value - darker is heavier
·          quantity - multiple small objects balance one larger object
·          size - larger appears visually weightier
·          shape - simple shapes are lighter than more complex shapes
·          colour - brighter and more intense colours are visually heavier
·          isolation - an isolated elements has more weight
·          value contrast - the higher the contrast the more weight
·          orientation - diagonal orientation is heavier than vertical or horizontal orientation
Warm Up Collage

Design Principle - Balance and Symmetry
Symmetry in a piece of art can take on a number of different forms:

·         Radial - elements radiate out from the centre
·         Symmetrical - reversing the design, or having elements of equal weight along the vertical or horizontal axis
·         Asymmetrical - considering the influences above, balance is achieved using disparate elements
·         Crystallographic - allover pattern, repeating elements like a quilt
·         Unbalanced - can be specifically used to create a disturbing or uncomfortable effect

Saturday, 18 October 2014

FOG Tuesday – Creating with Crayola™

Ive said this before when discussing our FOG Tuesday activities, but it bears repeating, Who knew that a group of women could have so much fun for an entire day...with a shiny new pack of Crayola crayons, some fabric, paper, heat guns, rubbing plates and more? Well we were those women last Tuesday at FOG.

It started with a short show and tell of some things that Jan and I had tried before the session and ended the day with a myriad of brightly coloured and very creative pieces, some requiring some additional embellishments, and some nothing more.

Methods seemed to group into direct application of crayon to surfaces, or the application of the crayon to a surface that was then transferred to another surface.

Sandpaper Transfer
A technique that has been around for some time, though new to me, was to draw images onto sandpaper with the crayons and then heat transfer to another surface, in this case fabric. Donna did a great piece and I think that the sandpaper image is a keeper as well. It was interesting to note that in some of the samples we tried before the session we found that the wax residue in fabric crayons tended to melt into the surrounding fabric causing a ghosting image, while the Crayola crayons did not.

Wax Paper and Melted Crayons

Diane and I attempted another tried-and-true application and that was to grate/break crayons onto folded wax paper and melt with an iron. These created stained glass type pieces that I think will work well as the front to cards or perhaps journal pages.

Coloured Fusible Web 
and Crayon Rubbing
Jan came up with an idea to colour the sticky side of fusible webbing with the crayons. She then put that piece over a rubbing plate, rubbed an image onto the fabric and then fused it to a piece of fabric. Her rubbing plates were from Scholar's Choice though similar ones can be purchased from Cedar Canyon Textiles

Shalinder did a piece based on this method and used punchinella to create some additional surface texture to her piece. The fabric she used had raised metallic motifs which added a lot to the overall effect.

This technique left the fabric with a nice hand which will make it great to use as a base for additional hand work, beading, embroidery etc.
Metallic Motif, Crayon Rubbing, Punchinella Design

Melted Wax and Mono-prints

Karen used her heat gun to melt crayons directly to some canvas and then pulled crayon mono-prints from the melted wax. 

I think that there will be more exploration of this technique by all of us.

Melting wax in a protective box.
Debbie utilized a box to melt broken crayons to a canvas and then stamped into the wax with a large red rubber stamp. Just a side note - if you are grating or breaking crayons to melt use a box to contain the bits as they are easily blown all over the place with your heat tool. (You can ask my sister if you dont believe me.)

If you are interested in a fun craft to do with your kids (or adults) Crayola now has a new set of crayons called Crayola Meltdown Art Set. Adult supervision required.

Sandpaper transfer and
Tsukineko Fabric Inks
Chris did a lovely fall themed piece using several painterly techniques, though the base piece started with a sandpaper transfer that you can just see below the surface.

We didnt reinvent the wheel, but we had a great time colouring it!

Until next time...Meredith and Jan

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

As usual our day started with our collage exercise using supplies on hand and creating a small collage in 30 minutes.

This month the Design Principle was Rhythm and Movement.

Warm Up Collages
Design Principle - Rhythm and Movement
Use of this principle allows the viewers eye to move around your piece.
For example, the colours of a piece can convey rhythm by making your eyes travel from one coloured component to another.
Lines can produce rhythm by implying movement. For example lines may be wavy, rippled or straight.
When elements are repeated, or arranged in a pattern, rhythm and movement is created in the art piece. 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

FOG Tuesday – Silk and Wool Paper

FOG started the new season with a foray into paper made from a variety of fibres including silk and wool roving, silk cocoons, fire star and silk hankies. In addition we added moss, Angelina™ fibres, thread waste and anything else we could think of.

While there are many methods out there to make silk paper, we chose a simplified version which required hot boiled water, a container, netting or J Cloth™, a watered down medium and a bit of elbow grease. We used a variety of mediums including acrylic gel, semi gloss and matte, Jo Sonjas™ textile medium and good old fashioned Stiffy™.

The process begins.
While your kettle is boiling, lay down a piece of netting or J Cloth™ in your container and start laying on a layer of silk or wool fibres, carefully pulling from your roving a thin, wispy pieces. Once you have one layer, add some inclusions (if desired) and lay on another layer in a different direction. (This is very similar to the steps you would take if you are wet felting).

Once you have made your layer, place the other piece of netting or J Cloth™ on top and carefully add your boiling water with a spoon or sprayer.
(Pouring directly from the kettle may move your layers around, so use a light hand.)

This cat litter tray was perfect for the project.
Once it is saturated, press down with your hands or a brayer to ensure that all the fibres are sticking together. Roll the layer up and squeeze to remove as much of the water as you can.

Dip your roll into a 5 parts water/1 part medium, squishing it several times until saturated and then squeeze out as much as possible. Remove the top layer of netting or J Cloth™ to reveal your sheet of paper.

At this point, you can fold over the edges to create straight or firmer edges. Cover with netting (J Cloth™) again, roll up and re-dip into the medium mixture. Remove the layers of netting (J cloth™).

We are very lucky in Calgary to have Legacy Studios quite near to us to purchase many of the fibre related supplies that we used in these projects.

Lay to dry and then use as you please. These pieces can be run through a printer, hand or machine embellished with stitching or beading, cut into pieces for use in other projects or used as pages of a journal.

Several of Jan's pieces.
Left: Merino Silk, commercial stencils, spray inks.
Centre: Very thin piece of merino/silk blend paper, coloured with coffee,
mounted on freezer paper and run through an HP printer.
Right: Hand dyed silk tops.

Left: Silk paper with moss inclusion. Donna
Centre: Silk hankies with silk fibre inclusion. Meredith
Right: Silk cocoons. Chris

FOG Tuesday Collage Exercise

This month’s collage exercise was based on the Design Principle – Unity and Variety.

It’s interesting the further we delve into Elements and Principles of Design that they all start to meld together. How cool is that?

Warm Up Collages
Design Principle - Unity and Variety
Unity creates harmony by using similar elements within the composition and placing them in a way that brings them together. For example, using all circles (unity), but varying the size (variety). Other examples to suggest unity would be the use of repeated colours, textures or patterns.

Variety adds interest by using additional elements within the composition. For example, varying the colour of the circles (variety) but keeping all the circles the same size (unity). Too much variety of elements may result in a busy composition.

The key to a great composition is to find just the right balance in your work using both unity and variety to their best advantage. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Serendipitous Opportunities For Creativity

Recently on our evening news there was a short story about a local charitable organization called Art à la Carte which has been operating in Calgary for 20 years. Their mandate is to “bring art, conversation, and joy to long-term patients by transforming sterile hospital rooms and treatment areas into places of greater comfort and hope.” (From the Art à la Carte website.)

A very few short days later we were contacted by one of their coordinators asking if the Fibre Optics Group would be interested in providing some backless hospital gowns to be used as table décor for their annual fundraising event in September. It was a serendipitous moment that had to be acted upon.

I suppose that I must have made clothes for my dolls growing up but it was my mom who provided my sisters and me with wonderful hand knit sweaters and hand sewn clothes for our dolls. Later in her life she rescued, cleaned, repaired and clothed dolls each year to donate to the Kelowna Firemen’s charity to be given to children at Christmas.

Hospital Couture

Making the hospital gowns for the Gowns without Bounds event in September was a neat way to remember that significant detail about my mom and her life.

Jan and I tied the last bow today and they are ready for delivery.

Visit Art à la Carte’s website to learn more about their programs, how you can donate or volunteer.

Monday, 21 July 2014

“Must have” gadgets for the fibre artist in your life

Just before Christmas I did a blog posting about two neat tools for mixed media projects and promised that I would do a subsequent post on my favourite tools for fibre related projects. While I don’t fancy myself as a gadget kind of gal I do have a few “must have” gadgets on my Chatelaine that are very useful for quilting, surface design and fibre related projects.

What is a Chatelaine you ask? Historically it was a grouping of small items that a housekeeper or lady of the house (a chatelaine) would have attached at her waist or neck with keys, scissors, hanky or other items useful to her every day needs.  Over the years these have morphed into use as a sewing tool complete with scissors, needle cases etc. Some were made of silver and very elaborate, some quite plain as mine strung on a piece of soutache cord, but never the less just as useful. Google Sewing Chatelaine images and you’ll see quite a variety of them. On a similar note, a Housewife or Hussif were small sewing kits often carried by soldiers in the field to mend their uniforms or sew on loose buttons.

Sliver Gripper Tweezer™ 
The first “must have” comes from my favourite Canadian store Lee Valley ToolsThe tool is the Sliver Gripper Tweezer™ that comes with its own handy clip so that it can be attached to your Chatelaine.

They are invaluable to those who paper piece to get rid of those tiny pieces of paper that just won’t give way; for taking out teeny tiny machine quilting stitches; and if you were my dad, removing slivers. These are modestly priced, well made, and from the US.

Gingher Snips™
My second “must have” are my Gingher Snips™, well worth what I paid for them many years ago ($8), but are still worth the price at $12 - $27 depending on where you live or if you have a coupon.  Just 4” long, sharp and light weight; they have a loop on the top so that they can be strung onto your Chatelaine. I also like that they have no thumb hole and are easy to pull out and return to their topper with one hand.

LoRan Needle Theader™
Lastly is the LoRan Needle Theader™ by Dritz. This threader is much more robust than those with the tiny piece of wire that always pulls out with one good tug. It is not useful for small eyed needles, but great for threading embroidery floss/perle cottons onto a larger eyed needle for hand stitching. Once again, this handy tool can be strung onto your Chatelaine for easy access. These are reasonably priced at about $2.

There is no affiliation to any of these companies – I’m just pleased to share with you the tools of the trade that I find very useful.

What’s your favourite sewing tool of all time for quilting, hand stitching, surface design or fibre arts and why?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The Lost Art of Ribbon Work

Project and close up shots of leaves, bud and flower.
Jan and I just completed the spring session with the Calgary Public Library and presented “The Lost Art of Ribbon Work”. Each participant received a kit, complete with wired ribbon, linen backing and a frame and learned to stitch a simple boat leaf and Jewel Weed flower and put it all together in the frame.

Ribbon flowers have been around for a long time and along with other artistic pursuits, was a skill learned by young women.  In France, one centre of fashion, women could earn a living making these flowers, leaves, rosettes and other ribbon trims sold to design houses and women to embellish hats, gloves, lingerie and headbands.

The 1920’s saw quite a resurgence of the use of these types of decorations.

Republished by Dover Publications in 1986.
Along with this came an interest in The Language of Flowers, where each flower or colour of flower had a particular meaning related to love, death, sorrow or happiness.

We showcased a sample board of other flowers and leaves, which surprisingly are very easy to make, many only requiring a few inches of ribbon and a few stitches to shape and hold them together. The Calgary Public Library has many books in their collection and videos and on line tutorials for making ribbon flowers abound on the internet.

Sample board of ribbon leaves and flowers.
We will be teaching again with the Calgary Public Library this fall, presenting two new projects at 13 libraries throughout the city. 

Registration for these sessions will begin towards the end of August so watch for the new program guide. We hope to see you there.                                                   Jan and Meredith

Thursday, 12 June 2014

FOG Tuesday - Collage Exercise

This month’s collage exercise was based on the Design Principle – Motion/Movement.

This is not referring to kinesthetic art, which is actually movable art such as clothing, or a mobile, but it refers to the techniques that imply movement, or art work that illustrates movement.

Movement or Motion:
Warm Up Collages
Design Principle - Motion/Movement
  • can be made with lines and streaks around a figure or shape
  • can be implied through blurring the outlines of an element
  • can be achieved by the blending of colours at the edges
For example:
  • a figure of a runner leaning forward, or a tree bent at an angle may indicate wind.
  • a variation in the size of elements, moving from small to large, similar a bouncing ball
  • by overlapping elements, like a time lapse photograph, movement is implied

Movement can also refer to the way a viewer’s eye moves around the art piece. This is created by the artist arranging the elements to encourage the eye to move around the entire art work. This can be enhanced by using curved forms that keep the eye moving in a circular direction.