31 July 2008

Rayna and the Gelatin Printing adventure

Our shop hosted a workshop by Rayna Gillman on Thursday and I decided to play and take the class as well. Although I've done a lot of printmaking techniques over the years, I've never done gelatin plate printing. What fun!

Rayna demonstrated a few things and gave us a bunch of pointers and then set us lose. She provided enough instruction to make you feel comfortable and then encouraged you to try and experiment on your own. This really ensures that everyone makes fabric unique to themselves and you don't end up with a classroom's worth of Rayna-lookalike fabric. In my opinion this is the hallmark of a good teacher.

I decided to experiment with visual texture in monotones and low color contrasts (quel surprise!)

I used leaves from the gardens around the shop, stamps I had made and a multitude of found objects for adding and removing paint from the plates. Yeah, I need to do more of this.

Later Rayna showed us some of her "going back in" techniques of paintstik rubbings, writing and mark-making with paint in a syringe and a few other tips and tricks to bring cohesiveness to a piece of art cloth.

Vivien sat behind me in class and we had a great time comparing and contrasting our work areas and processes. In fact, we were having such a great time I made her laugh so hard she snorted. She's pretty genteel, so it really cracked both of us up. It was a good day and I would recommend a workshop with Rayna (or the purchase of her book, or both) - I know I'm going to keep experimenting with gelatin plate printing on my own as soon as I have time.

Sometimes as an artist it's easy to fall into a rut, working the way you've always worked, because it works for you. Trying something new can really shake things up and give you new directions to explore in your art. I think we can all benefit from exposure to new methods and a general shaking out of the dust from our ways of thinking and doing on occasion.

Project Runway Challenge - week two

Week two's challenge was to make a young and trendy cocktail dress with "green" fabric. The show had the models choose the fabric, which was impractical when your model's a paper doll, so we choose our own. Yeah, yeah, I know, but what else could we do? Their little arms just can't carry the bolts of fabric to the cutting table.

My baby doll dress is made from a piece of silk dyed and sprinkled with sea salt. I wet and crinkled the skirt for texture. The bodice is a piece of dyed mulberry bark and the straps are twisted and knotted silk. I intentionally left the hem undone for a deconstructed, organic touch.

I tried making shoes, but gave up and choose a pair from the Bluefly accessory wall, along with a cute satin Valentino bag. This is fun and the scale is definitely a challenge.

Painting assistance

Last night I was helping my daughter make a flag to mark a camp for her and a bunch of her friends at a huge outdoor concert that starts today. She picked Hypnotoad as their mascot and we painted him on a piece of canvas and mounted it on a tall stick. They're heading off to Gathering of the Vibes with 25,000 other crazy people where they'll camp on the beach, listen to the bands, check out the art, and be young and free.

I had a special assistant help me paint my section of the banner. She made sure I did a good job! Painting with a puppy on your lap makes things just a tad more challenging.

Here's hoping for good weather!

26 July 2008

Art Quilting dvd

The dvd that Elin Waterston and I taped back in April has just been released. Jane & Elin Teach You Art Quilting Basics is available in quilt shops worldwide or you can order a copy directly from me.

The dvd has lessons and demos based on material from our book, Art Quilt Workbook, and also includes a tour of my studio.

25 July 2008

Art Quilting Student Exhibition

Last night was the opening reception at the Country Quilter for the latest Art Quilting 101 Student Exhibition. Elin Waterston and I have been teaching this class for the last five+ years and it's where our book, Art Quilt Workbook, came from. This was the last time we offered this class in its original ten-week format.

The opening is always my favorite part. The students are so proud of their work, their families get to see what has been obsessing them for months, they get a chance to see what their fellow students have created and it rounds out the art quilting experience rather well.

If you'd like to see the entire exhibit, I've posted pictures of all of the work on the Country Quilter website. Didn't they all do a great job? I know they all worked hard.

I remembered to take pictures after everything was hung (from a few directions at least) and then totally forgot to after the place filled up with people. So imagine it full of beaming artists and their friends and families, wine glasses in hand.

The show comes down tomorrow night but will remain online for a while. Next week, the shop is hosting Rayna Gillman for a Gelatin Plate Printing workshop - I can not wait!

22 July 2008

Sisters, part deux

Here are more pictures from the cliche challenge from the Project Patchwork class I taught in Sisters OR.

Once in a blue moon

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Can't see the forest for the trees

And one quilt from the fortune cookie challenge. I can't remember the fortune and it's too small to read in the picture, but isn't the quilt cool?

I did take a few pictures at the show. What an absolutely amazing sight! Something like 20,000 people come to town to see this one-day, outdoor show. The whole town is decked out and it's a sight to see. I highly recommend the experience. The store that started the whole thing 33 years ago, Jean and Valori Wells' The Stitchin' Post, has quilts hanging all over the outside of it.

The main road is closed and all of the traffic is detoured to make it safer for photo-snapping quilters. Look at that sky - blue, blue, blue and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.

Everywhere you turned there were quilts. A huge, highly-organized, highly-efficient team does it all. Kudos to them!

Project Runway Challenge - week one

I was invited to participate in a challenge based on those presented on season 5 of Project Runway each week. Each of the five participants has to make an outfit for a paper doll following the PR rules before the next episode airs. And the organizer rounded up some judges so we'll get feedback and snarky comments (I hope). I don't think anyone will be eliminated - but I'll let ya know! Week one presented a challenge to use only items found in a grocery store to create an innovative outfit. Mine is comprised of parchment paper, dried basil leaves, aluminum foil, star-shaped pasta and silver dragees. Can't wait to see what the new challenge tomorrow night brings!

I have a feeling this is going to be a great inspirational exercise. In fact, I challenged the art quilters who meet at The Country Quilter each month to make a small quilt following the PR challenges. Come play along with us!

13 July 2008

The Sisters experience

I taught in Sisters Oregon last week and uneven internet access prevented me from blogging while I was there, but now I'm back and here's the scoop!

Sisters is a beautiful town in the high desert of central Oregon. It has a wild west vibe that's very foreign (but very cool) to this Connecticut Yankee.

The hotel where all of the teachers stayed was also a llama ranch - it was really, really cool to wake up every morning and look at the herd in the paddock outside the window.

I taught a different class every day at the high school in an open area in the middle of all the action.

On two of the days I presented one of my favorite classes, Project Patchwork, where I challenged my students to create three small quilts in six hours, based on different criteria. One of the challenges was to randomly select a fine art postcard and use it as a source of inspiration, no copying allowed! The best challenge on Project Runway last season was the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I wanted to capture that energy. Here are a few of the pieces made in class, plus the postcards that inspired them.

Another of the challenges involved interpreting a cliche. Here is good things come in small packages.

I'll post a few pictures from the big outdoor show later today and more pictures of my students' work. The whole thing was a terrific experience - the students were wonderful, the organizers were organized and thoughtful, and the show was outstanding. And of course, hanging out with the other teachers was a treat.