Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hoffman Challenge: Collection 2013 - Betty Johnson's Guest Post

I am very pleased to share with you two submissions to the 2013 Hoffman Challenge, by Betty Johnson of British Columbia.  Check here to see what the Hoffman Fabric Challenge is about.  How fun to see two very different but equally beautiful wall hangings made including the same 
'challenge fabric'.  Both of these wall hangings are travelling for a year as part of a Trunk Show and they will in the quilt show at Yuma, AZ on January 17 & 18, 2014 at the Yuma Civic Centre. Enjoy Betty's guest post:

'Butterfly Whimsy'
Hoffman Challenge: Collection 2013
 by Betty Johnson from British Columbia
'Aerial Tropicana'
Hoffman Challenge: Collection 2013
 by Betty Johnson from British Columbia
Betty Johnson:
"The first one I called "Butterfly Whimsy".  The beautiful challenge fabric had large, colourful leaves which reminded me of butterfly wings so my goal was to use them it create butterflies.  Using my Electric Quilt 7 program, which has an excellent photo section, I took some photos of flowers that I had taken in my garden & created new, whimsical flowers which I appliqued onto the bottom third of the wall-hanging.  I took some of the smaller leaves from the challenge fabric & incorporated them in amongst the flowers.  I then took the lovely, large leaves & created butterflies.  The stitching was done in metallic thread & gold Sulky rayon.  I bound the sides & top edges of the wall-hanging & faced the bottom edge to get the effect I wanted.  My entry is travelling with one of their trunk shows for a year.  (Both entries are also published in their "The Hoffman Challenge Collection 2013" catalogue.)
My second entry is also travelling in the same trunk show.  I called it "Aerial Tropicana".  I had seen a quilt at Quilt Canada in Penticton that became my inspiration for this wall-hanging.  The bright blues in the challenge fabric reminded me of the tropics & I thought they would look wonderful overlapping background fabrics.  I drew my design on paper & chose the best areas to include the challenge fabric so that the leaves overlapped other sections of the background.  I created 1/4" bias strips from the co-ordinating fabrics & used them to separate & anchor each section.  Once I was finished, it looked like an aerial view of a tropical rainforest with a river running through it.  I was also told it looked like a dragon's head.  Interesting how we each interpret images differently."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Oriental Painting Lesson by Linda Lashbrook

What fun to attend a workshop on Oriental Painting on Friday. Below are a few of the samples our instructor, Linda Lashbrook brought for us. The samples definitely inspired us.  
In the morning we worked on perfecting painting fish. Notice I said worked on. It takes years to master the complexities within the simple brush strokes. Loading the brush with several strengths of pigment at once results in brush markets that flow from light to dark. For us beginners we loaded our brushes with a medium strength of colour and tipped it with a thicker strength. Even this gave us a little variation within the brush stroke!
After painting schools and schools of fish, we felt more confident to attempt the bamboo, of course only after we had had  step by step instructions from Linda.

Oriental Painting Lesson
Instructor: Linda Lashbrook

Linda Lashbrook giving us a demonstration of the various brush strokes.

At the end of the day Linda demonstrated a blossoming tree. Something for us to aspire to painting.

My attempt at bamboo on rice paper.
Although Oriental Painting is traditionally done on rice paper or silk fabric, I thought as I mostly paint with dyes on cotton fabric, I would try that at home the next day. Below are two samples one in black and one in dark blue. I love painting the fish tails! The following were painted on soda soaked fabric and are now curing in plastic sheeting. After rinsing, I am imagining them quilted with some echo stitching of the same motifs.
At home I practiced the Oriental Painting on Cotton Fabric.

Six small blocks with fish and bamboo motifs on Cotton Fabric. Note the brushes with the thickened dye on the plate palette.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hand Painted Textile - Barn Panel

Kathleen Little's Wall Hanging
Using Eileen Gidman's Hand Painted Fabric Panel
When on a vacation, Kathleen stopped in at a small quilt store in Kaslo, BC where she first saw my hand painted fabrics. Later on in their vacation, Kathleen and her husband visited me at my studio in Creston, BC and purchased this panel. Thank you so much Kathleen for sending me this photo of the wall hanging you created. The dark inner border really sets of the detail of the black line in the barn panel. I am certainly going to remember that idea.
The following three quilts are from members of the Tuesday Quilt Group I belong to. The first on is created by Patty who is a co owner of 'A Quilter's Lumberyard - A Scrap Management System'. All those striped fabric pieces work well here to create this eye catching quilt.
Hilary sewed the harmoniously beautiful, mauve and green quilts. The first one she free motioned quilted for the first time. Hilary you have inspired me to try machine quilting the quilt top I have ready.

Patty's Quilt
Can you believe all the fabrics used were stripes?

Hilary's Quilt
This quilt was machine quilted by Hilary.
Hilary says "I love mauve!"
Whoever is getting this mauve, blue and green 'Charity Quilt' is fortunate. A lovely quilt.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Watercolour Lesson for Christmas Cards along with One Textile Card

On Fridays, a group of people meet to paint for the day. I love Fridays! On this Friday, I gave a lesson for painting Christmas cards using masking tape for the birch trees, salt for texture and painting with a cut credit card for the birch tree. Here are some of the results.
Red, an unusual colour choice gives a delightful result. 

Joyce prefers to paint holding her watercolour block

Charlsie's vertical paper orientation gives a great variation.

Some of the day's work from the Friday Painting Group

Another unusual colour variation and it still works. I wonder what other colours we could try?
The same image (note below the red spool of thread) painted on textile with thickened dyes. Next I will add some details with thread sketching by sewing machine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


A couple of week ago I posted about this little nuthatch painting in watercolour that I was working on. Do you find you like to work in more than one medium? Carving is fairly new to me but I have watched my friend Joyce carve for years and this winter as I have a little more time, I thought I would give bird carving a try. Do you see how close I am sitting to Joyce, my mentor? I think it is as much for her to keep an eye on me as for me to be close at hand when I frequently ask "What do I do next?"

I am carving a bird while Joyce is carving a camel
Don't you find learning from someone else the absolute best? I remember learning to crochet from my mother-in-law many years ago. We sat side by side on the couch. As she was right there to ask when I was unsure, I never went too far wrong. Oh I agree, there is much to be said for your own experimentation, but for learning the basics, a mentor is wonderful. Plus it is a lot of fun!
Joyce has kindly brought a nuthatch she carved as a reference model. This really helps when working three dimensionally. I am becoming more aware of  the trickier parts of the anatomy of birds which will be a bonus when painting them. This week, I am going to be starting a hand painted textile panel with a chickadee as part of it. I am so looking forward to beginning.

Take note of the safety equipment necessary for carving. There are special finger and thumb leather protectors for one hand and a special glove for the other hand. Those tools are sharp!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Colour Confidence for Quilters-Summary

(the coaster was given to me by Patti Bowers of 'A Quilter's Lumberyard'
The Reds in the Fabric Stand Out when beside something Red
The Yellows in the Fabric are more Prominent
On Monday, I enjoyed meeting with a group of Quilters to facilitate a talk about color. Everyone has had experiences with color and it was an opportunity to share what we know. We used Joen Wolfrom's Color Tool and Color Wheels to explore several colour schemes that would work with printed fabrics the group brought that day.
Firstly, we tried a monochromatic color scheme.  One color was selected from the print fabric and using the colour tool or wheel the groups identified its exact color. Solid colors or those that read as one color were selected from fabric scraps that were provided. Shades (with black), tints (with white) and tones (with grey) of that selected color were added to provide varied values within a monochromatic color scheme. Weren't we surprised to realize that a shade of yellow is actually olive green?
Here it was a good opportunity to discuss how color and value are a part of Design Elements. Other design elements that could also be present in a quilt are shape, size, line and texture. One thing we didn't talk about was how having one design element dominant helps to create a pleasing composition.
For the harmonious or analogous color scheme, the group selected the same or another print fabric and again chose one colour from it. Then 3 or 5 colors were selected close to it on the color wheel. Several values of these colors were chosen to accomplish the harmonious color scheme. We discussed the very common use of this type of color scheme in quilting, home decorating and clothing. We also talked about when using pure colours in quilts and how introducing one toned fabric of that colour would likely not work.
Group members shared their tricks for identifying value. One member photocopies her fabric to black and white, one showed the use of a red or green transparency and I suggested squinting to eliminate color.
For a triadic color scheme we started the same way be selecting a dominant color within a print and identifying the three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel (including their selected print color). We were able to identify that some of the prints themselves were of a triadic color scheme.  Amounts of colours in a triad scheme were discussed. Equal amounts could result in a busy quilt (sometimes that may be wanted for a child's quilt) whereas using a large amount of one color, a medium amount of the other color and a small amount of the third color is usually visually comfortable. As a memory aid we referred to the amounts as Pappa Bear, Momma Bear and Baby Bear.
At some time in the morning we also got discussing neutrals. We talked of how adding black throughout a quilt can unify it. We talked of white and grey as neutrals and when they might be used in quilting. "What is brown?", was one question asked and when we looked at the colour tool we could see many shades of brown under the oranges.
Complementary color schemes, one of the members identified was a color scheme that they were told would be pleasing in a quilt. It was interesting to see the red and green complementary colors in the decorations around the room. We discussed the need to have one color dominant in the this scheme unless you wanted a very strong, quilt. One member mentioned how having a little amount of the one color provides some dazzle to quilts. So true. When one group identified that the complement of turquoise is red orange, they weren't sure how this would look but one lady told us of her necklace that was turquoise with orange red accents and how beautiful it was. Excellent example. One member also showed a wall hanging using aqua blue and toned orange red (terra cotta) fabrics. It looked wonderful.
By this time, all this talk of color schemes although very exciting was also challenging, so we were getting tired and hungry for the wonderful lunch that was prepared for us. To finish up we talked briefly about split complementary and polychromatic color schemes. I think having the terms to using in discussing color can help quilters when they are making their color choices. Interactive group participation is such a fun way to learn! I thank the group for the opportunity to explore color with you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hand Painted Fabric in Marj Moore's Wall Hanging

Marj Moore's Wall Hanging using some Original Hand Painted Fabric
by Eileen Gidman, Textile Artist
A few days ago, late at night, I was reading my IPad in bed which is one of my new favorite things to do, when this popped up in an email from Marj Moore. Marj had purchased one of my hand painted fabrics at Quilt Canada. My half shut eyes popped open and I gave an exclamation. Here was proof of what I work for. I paint one of a kind fabrics so quilters can create their own unique textile pieces. Thank you Marj for being so thoughtful as to send me a photo.
Three things I really like about this piece is the inclusion of commercial fabrics as it shows that hand dyed pieces can be combined with other fabrics. Also, I like the movement that the different sized triangles give the piece and the quilting just enhances that, I think. Thirdly, I love the modern style with it's geometric shapes and off white neutral background.
On Monday, I was privileged to give a 2 hour interactive class on 'Colour Confidence for Quilters'.  Thanks Jan for inviting me. We talked about the difficulties in using white in a quilt which seems to be one of the tenants of the modern quilting style. In this wall hanging, off white is within the hand painted piece so it fits well as a neutral background.
We had an exciting time on Monday and in my mind, I am going over the things the Quilt Group shared about colour. In Sunday's post, I will attempt to summarize the highlights, so be sure to check back then.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Plein Air Painting - Do You Paint Outside in the Winter?

Sketching while my Husband is Fishing

A New Sketch Book
Don't you love getting a new sketch book!!! I sure do and here I am plein air sketching. It is my absolute favorite way to sketch. How do you manage to keep up your plein air sketching and painting skills in the winter? I find it hard to do as the weather cools. There are people who even paint in the snow but this is not something I have attempted. Those would have to be very special paintings.
In this sketch, I decided to stylize the ripples in the water leading up to the coots. Wouldn't this be great in free motion stitching on some hand painted fabric.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bird Studies in Watercolour

Red-Breasted Nuthatches: Bird Studies in Watercolour
Red-breasted nuthatches are so special at my home as we don't commonly see them. They like coniferous forest but unless we are feeding them, they tend to be flitting high in the trees.
I have never seen them in a grouping such as this but after I painted the one, I thought I would try and paint one in another orientation. Well they looked a little silly so I decided to go for it and created a background including a third nuthatch to complete an L composition.
I am committed this winter to painting more varieties of birds so this will involve more studies. Next time I will think of the composition before I start as well as the bird's nature and habitat. Check here for more information about the red-breasted nuthatch.  One fact mentioned on that site, is that the nuthatches place resin outside and inside the tree hole entrance into their nests, perhaps as a deterrent to predators. The mom and dad nuthatches enter by diving into the nest. I think I have seen this bird a little disheveled with a few feathers stuck together!
Check back because I am not only painting nuthatches, I am carving one in basswood. Be patient because that is going to take me a little more time.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Experimenting With Fabric for Dye Painting

Hand Dyed Cotton with Free Motion Sketching
Last post I was experimenting using cotton fabric that had been given me instead of my usual wonderfully consistent fabric I buy from Dharma Trading. Well the results were less than perfect but I will be able to use 4 of the 6 images. The pinks seemed to do okay but the blacks and greys faded terribly.
Applying Pellon to Back of Hand Painted Fabrics
I am applying a heavy weight Decorator Pellon cut in 4 1/2 X 6 1/2" rectangles to the back of the fabric. These textile art pieces will be made into cards.
Supplies Needed
The supplies I use for free motion sketching are: an embroidery needle; black polyester thread, gloves with grips; free motion sewing machine foot and the stiffened fabric. You can see below I have an additional table flush with my sewing machine bed for ease of movement.
Beginning with Outside Edge
I begin with stitching all around just over a 1/4" in from the edge. When I cut the fabric after the pellon was applied, I added a 1/4" to each edge without pellon. This will be frayed before applying to the card front. Oh, it's fun to be drawing with thread again!
The lesson today, I guess, is that it is fun to experiment with other fabrics, but if you are looking for specific results when dye painting, go with fabric from a reputable company made especially for dyeing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mixing Dye Concentrates

Today it felt wonderfully comforting to be painting with dyes again having been away from it from it for a couple of weeks. How did I managed to get red dye on the underside of both forearms? A couple of days ago I mixed new dye concentrates as it is important to remix dye concentrates every 5 weeks or so to maintain full strength of the colours. As you can see, I mix only a ¼ to ½ cup of each colour so that my dyes are always fresh.
When I am ready to paint with the dyes, as I was today, I place 1 – 2 tsp of thickener (sodium alginate mixed with urea water) in a small container and add the same amount of the dye concentrate to it. As the thickened dyes doesn’t last as long as the liquid dye concentrates, I remix them every 5 days or more often if I run out. The yellow seems to run out before the other colours even though I thicken twice the amount of it. Check at DharmaTrading, for supplies and information about the dyeing process.

Just to warm up, I decided to paint 6 small images for cards. The details will come with the free motion stitching after the pieces are washed. I have tested this fabric before, having been given it by my cousin. It doesn’t take the dye as well as the fabric I buy from Dharma Trading and I was actually going to give it away but then I got such rave reviews about the texture of this fabric in the pieces I dyed previously, that I decided to give it another chance. Today I was sure to add a couple of layers of dye, letting it soak in between layers. This may help to keep the colours strong. Dyeing it a second time would also give added vibrancy. Currently the piece is curing at 70 degrees for at least 24 hours before rinsing.  I'll let you know what happens.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Watercolour Teaching for Community Projects

What fun we had with this worthy project. Brenda Silkie of the Creston Rotary group, conceived the idea for this fund raiser which will in part benefit the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors in Creston, BC. She approached me (Eileen Gidman), to oversee creating artwork with a group of seniors and special needs high school students for the purpose of printing Christmas cards for sale. As you can see from the poster the cards are printed and ready to be purchased.
If you are teaching a group of people not all that familiar with watercolour painting, I found it was best to meet and work on some basic painting skills. Then once you know the participants' abilities and especially their strengths, it is easier to prepare sessions that set them up for success.
Look at all the wonderful watercolour paintings, now made into cards that the participants created. The four tree and snow paintings, sold together in a set, have a cohesive look yet are individually different. In preparation for the session, I sketched out the images, each slightly different and masked out the white of the birch trees with tape. That way the group could make the most of the time we had together by focussing on painting. We worked through the process as a group but as you can see there was much opportunity for individuality.
The poinsettia was also sketched prior to the class but with no additional instruction, this participant used her own colour sense. The lime pot, added at the end, made this painting jump to life.
The highly creative Christmas tree ornament was painted by J. from the local high school. To prepared ahead of class, I masked out the circle with low stick shelf paper. The participant applied colour in an outward motion, then removed the masking and designed and painted the tree ornament. Many participants expressed their joy at painting and I observed several heart warming interactions between the two groups. Don't you love community projects!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Christmas Card for 2013

Watercolour on Paper 2013
Christmas Card image developed for a recent workshop

Hand (dye) Painted Canvas 2010
The following two images are started in a similar way, as the birch trees were masked out first with narrow width masking tape. This technique worked both with painting in watercolour on paper as well as when painting with thickened dyes on fabric. Try not to place the tape too straight and evenly. Add a little sliver on the bottom trunk of the tree to thicken it. This is a time saving trick and tape can be used in many other masking situations.
After the background it painted, remove the tape and add in some details. The watercolour paint on the birch trees was applied with about a half inch piece of credit card. Leaving whites is one of the most difficult things to do when painting in watercolour and dyes. It requires planning ahead as the white of the fabric has to be saved rather than painting on a white paint/dye after the rest is completed.
What do you use masking tape for in painting and dyeing?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quilt Canada Penticton Story of Reconnecting after 39 Years

Larch trees turing Golden in Autumn
The following is a story of reconnecting with someone after 39 years. This happened due to both of us attending Quilt Canada in Penticton this spring. Notice, I didn't say we met at Quilt Canada, Penticton. What actually happened was during one of the rare times I was away from my booth where I was selling my hand painted fabrics, someone came by who used to be from the town where I live. My husband talked with her and got her family's name. She did not recognize my married name.
At home, when I was going through the names from the draw that I had at my booth, I saw a name I recognized from 39 years ago. Jean and I knew each other during high school. I emailed her and she emailed back. Then when she was visiting family here this summer we got together with our spouses. It seemed we had some things in common, not the least of which was quilting!  Jean showed me some pictures of her quilts on her ipad and I showed her some of my hand painted fabrics and quilted wall hangings.
This fall, we met again when she was back here caring for family. Interestingly, my sister also met someone at Quilt Canada from high school and no, we didn't grow up in Penticton. I wonder how many other quilters renewed friendships as a result of attending Quilt Canada?
Here is an interesting recipe Jean shared with me. I haven't had a chance to try it yet but it sounds tasty.

Squash Icing – Jean
1/8 large buttercup squash cooked
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
2  tbsp or to taste maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of salt

I melted the honey and coconut butter but not the butter and blended the heck out of it, cooled it outside,(this was the end of October ) and spread / poured over cake.  Enough for a 9 x 13" cake.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Free Motion Stitching 20 new Textile Cards

My Personal Favorite
I love the colours and its simplicity.
These cards were created by first hand painting on cotton fabric. They were then free motion stitched, all with original images.

Twenty new Textile Cards
now available at Creston Card and Stationery

Bear in Stitching
This bear was the most challenging image of this set cards. Stitching is not like drawing because I have only so much control when moving the fabric under the sewing machine, therefore I find it important to simplify the images. After placing the bear, I couldn't resist adding the log cabin in the background to further enhance the wilderness scene. Too fun.

A Little Whimsy

Wildlife in the Golden Fields of Fall

Pottery Pot by Doris now graces my sewing room
The design of this little clay pot by my friend Doris is very sweet. There are  three long horizontal shaped legs on the bottom which is totally unique but  very stable. It seemed the perfect addition to hold my drawing tools and seam ripper when I free motion stitch on my sewing machine.
The clay pot was created, I know because I asked, by a slab method and stamped with hand carved stamps. The stamps are typically made either in clay or Plaster of Paris. The glaze was a happy accident as something was left out in the mixing process but the glaze turned out this lovely green. Now known as 'Green Man Green'!
There will be a few pots of a similar design available in Creston, BC, November 16th at the Mudder's Pottery Sale.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sketching with your Sewing Machine

Coleus Plants Sketched in Pencil Crayon and Stitched onto Hand Dyed Fabric
Last week it was so much fun using recent sketches from a trip for reference when free motion stitching on my hand painted fabric that I decided to flip through more of my sketch books for additional ideas. To get started, I laid out about a dozen card size pieces of hand painted fabric in various colour combinations so I could see them as I was going through the sketches. Sometimes it was quite evident which image would work on which fabric and sometimes it was a leaf of faith.

This Sketch was done while riding the train into Rome from the airport several years ago. Part of it was used to look at when adding the tall leaning weeds to this autumn coloured textile. 

This Spirea plant has never looked more beautiful than this fall. Although the gold and the reds are reversed on the fabric to what is in the photo, I thought the colours would remind us of autumn.

Gail, my friend created this beautiful card. Isn't it a reminder of the beauty of autumn. How did she attach that delicate leaf to the burlap fabric? I thought of asking, but sometimes things are even more special when they remain a mystery. What a treasure.
 Simplifying a sketch of pansies worked for this fabric that was actually painted with pansies in mind. As I was painting with liquid dyes, the edges are diffused therefore the stitching helps to bring definition.

This piece was inspired from a sketch of cormorants sitting on top of pilings with their wings outstretched to dry them. It feels great to not only be using my sketches in further art projects but flipping through the sketch books evokes so many memories. If you like to sketch and like to free motion stitch, try combining them in your own creative way.