Friday, February 19, 2016

Carving a Willow Wall Hanging Staff

Wood Carving in February

Wood carving, who knew it would be so much fun. Our newly formed carving group in Creston, BC has been busily carving once a week over the winter. The weather has been so nice that one member has already been carving outside. This really is ideal as the chips can just fly. 
Leaf details
This diamond willow staff was purchased years ago on our trip to Alaska. Finally, this winter I started carving entwining leaves on it with a few clusters of berries. To start I sketched one or two leaves, scored around the shapes and carved out some wood to create a relief. Best to think ahead a little as you may want two leaves overlapping one another in which case you want to be careful not to remove too much wood. Making the most of the bumps and twists in the wood is one of the challenges of designing the pattern. Somehow I have a knot right in the middle of a leaf. What am I going to do with that?
For variety I am carving a few different leaf details with one of the designs being the mostly dominant throughout the piece for consistency. The stick is currently about 5 feet long but I will be cutting it down to the necessary length for hanging a textile art piece on (yet to be created by me).

I keep thinking I would like to add some transparent colour to the leaves and berries.
There is as much variety in carving subjects as there are number of people carving. Here are some samples from this week's carving get together.

 This is only one in a whole set of figures for a nativity scene. Note the one below that is finished and painted. L has her block of wood screwed onto a vise. Let me tell you those wood chips can really fly with the piece being so steady. Take care when sitting in the line of fire!
 A, has a good start on this 'mountain man'. All began from a simple rectangular block of wood purchased at the local hardware store.
 R, harvested this lovely piece of diamond willow himself and is cleaning off the bark and carving out the diamonds.
C is in the beginning stages of carving his own designed figure. C, is a painter so working in the three dimensions required with carving challenges the mind in a different way. I find it quite exhilarating.  
Joseph was painted in acrylic and then an antique stain was used to age the finish. After it was all dried, L sprayed a clear finishing coat to protect it.

A, is really getting into carving of characters. The first guy originally had a hat but things happen and you just have to adjust. Just look at that wonderfully shaped cowboy hat on his next carving. The pipe was carved separately and one day at the end of carving it was missing. I looked through the chips in the dust pan and didn't see it. Luckily someone else checked again and found it. Those little items are difficult to carve.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Art Party - Fabric Painting on Aprons

My Completed Apron
My hand dye painted fabric is so colourful, it will be good to have a neutral apron for the Vendor Markets.

Preparing Ahead:

Sew or purchase aprons ahead for the amount of people you want to invite.

Have extra material available:
- for a test piece to start ie 18" square
-in case someone gets their apron done early

Gather supplies needed for fabric painting and provide adequate space for placing materials to share. Don't forget to cover your tables with protective material.

Provide fabric paints. These are ready to use.

Keep acrylic paints separate as equal amounts of the fabric printing medium (Golden GAC 900) will need to be added to make the acrylic into permanent fabric paint. 

Provide a place for your pet and some toys. If your dog is like mine, they are going to want to be in the action.

A tea and snack station is nice.

Tables for participants and their materials ready ahead of time allows everyone to start right away.

 Starting the test pieces:

A bonus of fabric stamping with others is they bring their stamps to share. Look at this beauty carved from a large eraser. Oh yea this was carved by the participant's spouse. Hmmm, how nice is that!
All could be made into something useful: colourful linings, tote bags, wrapping material, adhering to heavy paper for making into bookmark or boxes....and the list goes on.
There may be some highlighting that is going to be done to this piece yet but I love it as it is.

One person brought beige jersey fabric for stamping, later to be sewn into garments.

A harmonious colour scheme with the neutral white and black gives cohesiveness to a sampler. 
A blue blob that started this test piece simply becomes part of the background. The stamps are all of a natural nature creating a theme to the sample.

 Getting into painting on the aprons (after a cup of tea that is):

Starting on dampened fabric. Applying paint with a nylon dish scrubber - the things you learn from others.

Working in black and white. The pocket was stamped separately to create design element.

A completed apron. The stamps were dabbed off on a paper before applying, leaving a beautifully muted appearance.

This apron was built up in successive layers with each layer getting a little stronger colour. Some of the stamps were from Art Foamies, a local company that I can highly recommend. 
The newsprint sheet this participant tested her stamps on becomes wrapping paper.
After drying overnight all fabric must be heat set either in the drier or by ironing. Follow the instructions on your painting mediums.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Year, New Techniques: Mark Making in Ink and Heavy Thread

Mark Making in Watercolour:
A new year inspires one to try new things. So at drawing session, I've been using a dip pen with acrylic ink. It dries fast and if I am quick I can add some values in watercolour. The poses last from a minute, at warm up, to about 20 minutes for the longer seated poses so there is no time to get too fussy. It forces you to make decisions about what you will include in your drawing and what you don't have time for.

 With having to dip the pen to replenish the ink, it causes a sketchy look. I find because I work with textiles, when I am painting I am often focused on depicting the fabrics. This chiffon skirt below, draped marvelously and the dots were spell binding. The colour in the background was from a commissioned watercolour I started but abandoned as the composition wasn't to my liking. It could be an interesting start for some added watercolour paint. 

 Look at those side buttons on that jumper. Who could resist focusing on those? Notice I was using fuchsia ink. Feeling colourful that day I guess.

In summary, I like the combination of the ink and watercolour. The acrylic ink which dries quickly seems more suited to this technique than India Ink which I have found has a tendency to bleed. 

 Mark Making with Thread:

When free motion stitching on my hand (dye) painted fabrics I generally use a regular weight polyester thread. Out of the blue I decided to try a heavier weight in the upper thread. The bobbin thread remained the same regular weight thread. I did need to adjust the thread tension slightly. The thread line is NOT smooth (likely due to the differences in thread weights between the bobbin and upper thread) but I like the textural nature of the line.

Cherry tree in Bloom using a heavier weight thread.

Who is peaking out the screen door?

More wrought iron and a hanging basket.

For my friends in Yuma, "Is this the gate to your yard?"

This heavier thread weight worked really well for these flowers.

Something for the recycle bin. Too much of a contrast between the heavy black line of the thread and the light value of the hand dyed fabric for my liking.   
In summary, I think the heavier weight thread suits the more organic images but when thread painting buildings, for instance, I prefer the standard weight sewing thread. Also consider using a lighter thread when the dyed fabric is of a light value.