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Stencils and an Escape

Today, a few words about some more of my index-card-a-day experiments.  I won’t be going on much more about these, I promise (at least until next year’s ICAD edition).  The annual challenge is all about making something within the daily theme, with what you have on hand, and sometimes producing even when you are not at all interested in the subject.

The two above cards illustrate perfectly the concept of “use what you already have.”  Of course, taking on a daily mixed media art project, I already had a good stock of various art supplies.  The card on the left happened very quickly.  The prompt was “stencil.”  I simply reached up above my painting table and whisked my small collection of TSC Designs stencils off of their nail on the wall, and traced some of them onto the card with markers.  I’m interested in creating complex layers in my art, and this was an easy way to accomplish a few layers.

The prompt for the card on the right was “escape.”  On the day I was to create this card, I read the prompt while sitting at my painting table, thinking, “what a ridiculous prompt for a 3 X 5” card… what am I going to do?”  I was NOT inspired.  I stared at my table for too long.  No ideas were coming to my mind.  I stared some more, noticing how messy the newspaper that I used for a paint blotter had become.  I could still see bits of the newspaper text and images through the multi color paint splotches.  Eureka!  I could use the newspaper “drop cloth” as a base for a card – the escape card!  Quickly, I cut a 3 X 5” piece of the paper, glued it to an index card and used circle stencils to doodle on top of the paint.  I had successfully escaped artist’s block for another day.


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Daily Little Things

What’s this? I’m actually getting a post out on a Thursday, shocking!  Today I want to feature a few cards from my efforts in the 2019 ICAD challenge, and introduce a possible new daily project that I am trying.  I really have enough to do in my life, but as I always say, I will NEVER be bored.

From this summer’s index-card-a-day event, here is a group that all share the same concept in carrying out the prompt:

The prompts for these four cards were pendulum, tinker toys, guitar and skee ball.  I was not at all interested in these four prompts, and with a limit of time to produce a card each day, I had to get innovative with my interpretation.  For each of these, I looked at images of the subject, then extracted shapes, lines and patterns that I noticed in the images.  I then made paper cutouts of the shapes and arranged them in compositions that still had the elements of the object, but mixed them up in a new way.  These cards ended up being a lot of fun to work on once I tricked my brain into not seeing a guitar as a guitar, but a series of shapes to play with.  By the way, the guitar card is the only one that I drew the shapes with markers; I did not use my usual paper cut out collage technique on that one.

Earlier in the week, I received the current issue of Quilting Arts magazine.  One of the articles is a short introduction by Liz Kettle to daily meditative hand stitching.  It is another affirmation that if you want to be more creative, you have to make things every day, and build your skills.  One of the tips that Kettle gives in the article is to never remove a stitch in you daily stitch pieces – just keep going.  I absolutely agree with this!  If I keep redoing all the stitches that don’t turn out like I want, I’ll never finish anything, and I have enough trouble finishing things.  I have finished three 4×4″ squares, here they are:

I don’t know if I will keep this up daily, with so many other creative things I have in progress, but I have a goal of five of these little stitchies each week.  They are a great way to warm-up before working on a bigger project, and to play with design and composition.

Next week, more about the ICAD cards (I really love them!) and whatever I have stitched over the weekend.


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ICAD 2019, Card #47 – Turnpike

Just a quick post today.  I want to feature a few individual cards that I made from the 2019 ICAD challenge and the technique or inspiration behind them.  Up first is the card from day 47, the prompt “turnpike.”  I have an unexplained fascination with outrageous 1950s cars.  I’m not a gearhead at all, my interest is in the exterior design – the bigger the fins on the taillights, the better!  One of my favorite 1950s cars is the 1958 Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, so I naturally thought of this car when deciding what to do with the prompt.


My process for the card used a photo that I took of the taillight of a ’58 Turnpike Cruiser (above left).  I made a black and white copy of my image, using the photo setting on the copier and lightening the copy (center image).  Then, I simply tinted the copy with colored pencils (right image).  I think that the tinted copy looks better than the original photo.  Many antique postcards were colored with a similar technique, and hand tinting black and white photos continues to be at technique  occasionally used by photographers today.  I’d like to try the technique on an image printed on fabric.  Colored pencils apply nicely to fabric, I recommend brushing a textile medium over any areas drawn on with pencils.

Next time, another ICAD card feature, and some stitching.

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Rethinking Metallic Thread

While I was vending in Athens, Ohio recently, I had a chance to try a new embellishment technique from Kreinik Threads: iron-on metallic thread.  The company had several make-it stations, and I opted for the greeting card:

The iron-on threads are available in a flat 1/8″ ribbon and #16 braid.  They adhered quickly to the coated paper, making tight corners was a little tricky, but possible with patience.  While showing off my simple card to my mother (who happens to be an important sewing advisor and art critic to me), we had a discussion about the possibility of iron-on thread being a bit of cheating, or at best a cheap shortcut.  My immediate response was, “how often do you sew with metallic thread, and do you enjoy it?”  We both agreed that we hardly ever use metallic thread by hand or by machine, mainly because it is difficult to work with.  I have found metallic thread to be unruly, nearly impossible to put through a needle, and it shreds easily.  With this new way of working with metallic thread, think of it as another embellishing tool, not a sewing thread.  The shimmer would add much interest to some art collages, a little goes a long way.

This new metallic thread option still has some drawbacks.  The mini tacking irons that I used in the workshop were a little dangerous, and I really have doubts about the Teflon press cloth stuck to the irons.  Hot Teflon is nasty stuff, and combined with the melting synthetic fibers, there was a noxious odor in the workshop space all weekend.  I’m searching for a safer tacking iron, and I hope to find a way to use these threads with parchment paper to reduce my exposure to the chemicals.  Of course, I will post about my quest here in the upcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, I normally avoid current events and social commentary, but on this 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, I have a simple request.  Next time that you have the chance, please thank your local first responders – police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians.  A few words of appreciation means a lot to them.  And of course, our military members, current and past.

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Travel Journal – Athens, Ohio

Over the weekend, I swapped my home base rolling Appalachian hills for another set of rolling Appalachian hills – those of Athens, Ohio.  Thanks to the presence of Ohio University, Athens has the atmosphere of a funky, revitalized old-neighborhood section of a major city.  I was fortunate to be a vendor at the first Quilt Fest at the Dairy Barn Arts Center.  Welcome to all of those who shopped my booth!

I love the Dairy Barn not only because it is a novel reuse of an old building, but also because it is just beautiful.  Much of the original brick paving is intact on the lane leading to the barn and around the structure.

I’m envisioning a series exploring a single print design on rectangles of  fabric in various shades of one color.  I’ve said it before, I can find inspiration in almost anything, even a brick road.

The Dairy Barn was part of the Athens State Hospital, the full history can be found here.  There is a graveyard atop a nearby hill were patients are buried.  I took a walk there, climbing 89 steps (give or take a few) to the top of the hill.  Cicadas and crickets sang a constant chorus, and a gentle breeze revived me as I reached the top.  I actually enjoy exploring old cemeteries, and I always wonder about the lives of the individuals as I read the names on the gravestones.  In this case, the mysteries are even deeper, considering the unifying tie that bound all of the graves there.

Getting back to the present, I’d like to recommend a few places to eat in Athens, should you venture there to visit: Avalanche Pizza, Purple Chopstix and Fluff Bakery.  I anticipate returning in future for future editions of Quilt National, and hopefully, teaching some classes soon.