March 25, 2010

Foundation Pieced Quilt Block Journal

Today I wanted to try using some leftover fabric scraps AND try a "real" quilting technique. I've been browsing through an old crazy quilting book again and again, admiring the embellishment stitching, but I've never put much thought into the construction of my own quilts - just fused and layered things without any special construction or techniques otherwise. So I chose to try "foundation piecing" - my block turned out a bit wonky and not exactly like the book showed, but I'm still happy with the end result! Since I only made one block to start, I turned it into a journal. I think it would be neater if I could make the lines on the "flower petals" a little wavy, and combine 4 blocks to complete the flower - I might give that a try someday.
But for now, I have a beautiful new journal!! The edges of the block are trimmed with silk sari ribbon (again, I *love* the stuff...) and the journal cover fits a standard size composition book, so it's refillable.

March 24, 2010

"Crayons, Candles, and Heat - oh my!!"

Aside from the Wallpaper medallions (previous post), I also used the crayons/hot wax to create a few other interesting things.

You can also use the hot crayon wax on FABRIC!! Just follow the directions for the medallions, replacing the wallpaper with a piece of muslin or other fabric, and color randomly (or in your own designs). The fabric turns out just a little bit stiff - but still easily workable for an art quilt!

I'm going to be making a BUNCH more melted-crayon fabric pieces - I just love how the gold crayon worked as a blender in this piece.

I would recommend for fabric pieces, to finish and before use, sandwiching with newspaper layers, then ironing, to remove some of the extra wax (it will soak into the newspaper) and give it a lighter "hand" for sewing.

I also got out a stack of my hand-painted papers, and started adding more layers, using the crayons-on-griddle method - nothing is safe now!!! (mhua-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!)

This paper started as a very unsuccessful - rather sorry, uncolorful, boring painted piece of paper - I hated the design that I had stamped, and really considered throwing it away - so I just went crazy coloring over it with the melty crayons, randomly adding lines and squiggles, and now if I cut it out into shapes, I think it could work into something definitely not boring !! : )

On this last piece, I colored long curved horizontal bands of color across a piece of thick textured watercolor paper, with the paper on the electric skillet, letting the crayon melt as I colored. Once I had the bands of color, then I grabbed a WHITE CANDLE, rubbed it over the page (as if it were a crayon) in squiggly rows vertically, then grabbed the page with the tongs and held it up over the skillet (holding the paper vertically), to allow the extra wax to drizzle and run down the page. It made a VERY neat effect - the colors swirl into one another and make a beautiful texture with the wax all at the same time.

So - a plain white candle can act as a "blender" for crayon I'm off to see what else I can do with that new discovery!!

Coloring with melting crayons is fun, fun, fun!!! : )

Tutorial - Encaustic Wallpaper Medallions

So tonight I was experimenting with melting crayons together, to make new, random-color crayons (in an effort to help myself use more colors that I never use). I didn't quite get as far as making the actual crayons for myself, but I *did* have a heck of a lot of fun making "Encaustic Wallpaper Medallions."

I have long admired the look of the "encaustic" pieces, wonderful paintings with melted layers of beeswax - however I don't have all of the equipment that goes along with that type of artwork, so here is a low-cost, very easy, and super fun method of creating wonderfully sophisticated and artsy-looking pieces.

Here are the instructions:

You will need:
  • Electric Griddle (Check your local thrift store if you don't already have one! It's good to have one dedicated to crafting.)
  • Vintage (or new) deeply embossed wallpaper, NOT prepasted, white or off-white (I have some for sale at in my etsy store.) You want the designs to have a nice frame within them, or border, and you'll want the designs to be embossed deeply enough so that it acts as a reservoir for the melted wax.
  • Twinkling H2O's or Pearl-Ex watercolor paints (optional)
  • aluminum foil or non-stick craft sheet
  • Crayons - LOTS of them, with the wrappers peeled off
  • Old paint brush
  • Tongs, or something to hold the paper in place as you work on it, and to lift it off the griddle with when you are finished

  • Cut out sections of vintage wallpaper to paint. My wallpaper has both circle medallions and squares, so I cut out a few of each.
  • Optional - Paint your wallpaper with Twinkling H2O's or Pearl Ex watercolor paint - using however many colors you'd like. This makes a shiny, sparkling, yet translucent layer of color, which is nice in areas that show through where any wax isn't applied. Allow to dry thoroughly.
  • Set up your electric griddle in an area where there is circulation, either on a deck or on the stove where you can turn on the fan directly above the griddle (to prevent breathing fumes).
  • Pre-heat electric griddle to about 260 degrees.
  • Line your worksurface on the griddle with a non-stick craft sheet, or a large piece of aluminum foil.
  • Place your piece on the lined griddle, and allow it to heat up for a few seconds.
  • Select a few colors of crayons for the piece you will be working on, and organize them from light to medium to dark.
  • With the lightest colors, begin coloring on your medallion with crayons (it helps to have the wrappers already peeled off), filling in background areas. Gently push against your piece with the crayon, and you will see the wax melt down onto your piece - after some practicing, you'll get the hang of how quickly to move your crayons around and still allow nice layers of colored wax to form. Don't worry about any imperfections - they add to the charm! And resist the urge to "fix" any lumpy or unfilled spots with your fingers - it will be hot!! Remove from heat, and turn down temperature setting on griddle if you see any smoking of the wax or your wallpaper. This means the temperature is TOO HOT for the wax - just turn down, allow to cool for a little bit, then try again.
  • You'll notice the wax will melt and spread out on your piece, filling in the flat bottom (embossed) areas of the design with a thin, liquid wax. Apply more color to fill in all of the flat areas, or purposefully leave some of this "white space" - if you painted beforehand with Twinkling H2Os or Pearl Ex watercolor paints, these painted areas can show through and add a really neat dimensional effect.
  • With the medium colors, start outlining embossed shapes. Go around them, right on top of the lightest colors, close to the shapes. The shapes that are raised will work like a template, allowing you to quickly trace around them. Allow the colors to mix and swirl together in places, and in spots hold the crayon down in one spot for a couple of seconds to "pool" the wax in areas and spill into the background areas.
  • With the darkest colors, hold the crayons sideways above the piece, using tongs or tweezers if needed, and rub the crayon horizontally down across the piece - as if you were making a crayon rubbing. This allows the very tops of the raised images to touch the crayon, and draw the wax down on top of them, without interfering with the color you've already applied in the previous steps.
  • Add more color in areas, or add accent colors wherever you feel it is appropriate - I found myself going around shapes 2-3 times and coloring over the raised images again and again - it can be addicting!!
  • My FAVORITE last step is to use one of the metallics, gold/copper/silver, and highlight various areas of the design. You could also use white or black for this.
  • Keeping the piece as flat as possible, remove from heat and set on a solid surface covered with a non-stick craft sheet to dry (deli paper would work as well).
  • Watch as your piece cools - the wax will become a little more opaque and solid before your very eyes!!
For the more adventerous - you could sprinkle some embossing powders, mica flakes, pearl-ex, or mini-beads into the wax as you work - these would all make really neat effects as well.

Once you have allowed your piece to cool, you can do SO MANY cool things with it. Add stitching, add additional layers of color, cut out sections, piece them together, attach to cards, journals, ATCs, decos, art quilts.... show me what you make!! I'd LOVE to see what you create!! : )

Here are a few photos of my own medallions, ready for further embellishing:

Please contact me with any questions! ; )

Crazy Fabric

Yesterday I had a lot of fun in the art room! I came up with something I'm calling "Crazy Fabric" - lots and lots of rows of layered pieces of fabric, fibers, sequin strands, and silk ribbons - all applied to a raw silk base on top of Warm & Natural batting, and quilted - in many, many, many rows.
After it was all quilted together (hours and hours of time!) I went crazy with the Shiva Paint Sticks and some liquid acrylic paint, plus a little sharpie scribbling. Great fun!!
Now....what to use it for?

March 17, 2010

Another Impressionistic Style Art Quilt

Still using the technique for "Impressionistic Art Quilts" with tiny cut up bits of fabric, I began another art quilt yesterday. I'm not as pleased with the composition/arrangement of elements as in the other one I made, but I AM pleased with this wonderful fabric - it is "Vincent Van Gogh's Irises" fabric that I purchased from Field's Fabrics here in Holland, which was the most wonderful fabric for fussy cutting the foreground flowers. It is difficult to find floral commerically printed fabric to use with this technique, because it has to have all of three characteristics - a good size, good coloring and shading, and good outlining. This fabric happens to have all three!! There were also some other wonderful fabrics from his "Starry Night" that inspired me - but for this quilt I used the Irises. It's my mom's favorite flower, so I wanted to include lots of them : )

I think the whole view is not nearly as exciting as the photos I took of the parts and pieces - so I think I'm going to deconstruct this and make it into some smaller quilts.

See? Just look at these floral closeups - they're so much better than the entire quilt!!

(I love how the irises stand out in this one!!)

And another closeup view (bottom left of quilt) which features the VanGogh Iris Print fabric:

(possibly my favorite!!)

My next evil plan is to cut this apart, into these 3 sections, then use the background pieces that are leftover - such as the large piece of sky - and build a second layer on top of it, to see how a dimensional effect would look - or with a ground section maybe do some ribbon embroidery work and add some beading to the centers of the flowers.  I'm so excited about this technique!! More to follow, soon!! : )

Woops, almost forgot to attach the photo of the backside of the quilt - to show how much free-motion embroidery goes into one of these art definitely giving me good practice!!

Art Cards using leftovers from Silk Sari Ribbon Pillow

Today I also had a little look on etsy and saw some fabulous handmade greeting cards, of all sorts - the very "scrapbook-y" style, the handmade cross stitch style, the printed style, some with calligraphy, and some very very artsy - I was inspired to create a couple of my own, using leftover pieces of the center panel of the art pillow (previous post) - the only problem was, how do I complement these silk ribbon panels with ANYTHING that doesn't TAKE AWAY from the beauty of just the ribbon? I think I auditioned every color of every little thing I have in my entire art room that could've fit onto a card (that is a LOT of things...) and nothing seemed quite right. So I tried a couple of hand-painted backgrounds, but it really just looked better on plain white. So I only added simple stamped text...for now. But the ideas are flowing : )

One of the handpainted backgrounds for these cards ended up turning itself into this card:

I love cards because they are small, quick projects that can definitely help you use up leftover pieces and scraps, try new techniques, and ALWAYS need to have some cards on hand!! : )

Silk Sari Ribbon Pillow

Today I finished up a little project using more of my WONDERFUL silk sari ribbon - ( get it at - delightful stuff!!

This is a black cotton broadcloth base with a squared center panel of rows and rows of layered silk sari ribbons machine-stitched and then quilted into the pillow. The edges of the square are trimmed out in more silk sari ribbon combined with fancy fibers, twisted and couched down with zig-zag stitching.

I love the "painterly" effect that this ribbon gives!!

I put this one on my own etsy shop:

Next time I want to make this same pillow, but with beading in addition to the center panel, plus some silk ribbon rosettes, and loopy fringe - if anybody out there has any ideas on how to create my own loopy fringe, let me know! : )

March 10, 2010

Art Quilt Finished! Hail vintage jewelry!!!

This is the art quilt I was working on  in an earlier post, where I explained how to make "confetti fabric."
I topped it off with some vintage jewelry pieces, layered burned-edge tulle, and added some more hand-stitching and a sleeve for hanging.
Vintage jewelry makes EVERYTHING's the perfect final touch that makes the piece sparkle - I just have to make sure I don't choose pieces that overpower the rest of the design. Well, unless I want that look. You know, a LOT of "bling."  My daughter says "bling, bling on everything!!" as she decorates her digital camera with rhinestone stickers. Vintage jewelry pieces are just "big girl" rhinestone stickers. ; )

Voila! C'est fini.

Now, as for showing the BACK side of the quilt....that feels to me a lot like being walked in on in the dressing room. BUT - I did do a lot of wonderful quilting that I ended up just covering up, so I guess that would be the only place to see it now!! (I'll just close my eyes and hit "upload" and it will all be over!)

I *am* however, going to make the image smaller. That would be like being walked in on in the dressing room, except you haven't actually started changing yet. !!

March 9, 2010

Anthropologie Statement Bib Necklace with Silk Ribbon Flowers

I have been inspired by the "Anthropologie" style necklaces, AKA "Bib Necklaces" or "Statement Necklaces" as I've been browsing around on etsy. So I decided to try making my own! It turned out pretty OK for a first attempt - I heart it so much I could barely stand to list it! ; ) I'll post a tutorial soon.

The flowers are made from 100% silk sari ribbon - which I'm completely obsessed with - all except the center flower, which is a layered style flower made from all different types of fabrics stacked on top of each other. The center flower also has a miniature antique/vintage pearl brooch sewn on - I love upcycling vintage jewelry. The necklace portion is made from two different old necklaces that I pieced together and hand-stitched down onto the "bib" portion, so it has a double-strand effect.

Very fun! Very easy! Make one!! (for yourself!)

Find the Silk Sari Ribbon here:

Find the necklace at my etsy shop, or something else crafty I've made, here:

March 1, 2010

My daughter's pillow!

My youngest daughter Bryley, who is only 7, REALLLLLY wanted to make a pillow. So, we now have the top finished - she chose all the fabrics and all the ribbons and trims - and did all of the sewing all by herself!! I'm so proud : ) She really chose a delightful color combination - bright and happy. I helped her a little with how to applique the heart in the center and change the machine to the appropriate stitch selection, otherwise this little beauty is all hers!

My Daughter's Art Quilt

My daughter Bryanne was inspired by my art quilts, and wanted to make one of her own!! How could I possibly tell her "no?" I cringed a little at some of her fabric selections - thinking of how she might just cut into the center of some of my favorite stash pieces - but amazingly she seemed to intuitively know how to cut pieces from the edges to save the rest... and I'm actually quite jealous of her piece!! It's wonderful!! The *only* assistance I gave was to help her change the thread at times...she cut out all these little flowers, arranged everything, and free-motion quilted it all by herself! Then she even went through my stash of vintage buttons and picked out "centers" for her flowers. Sweet little hands : ) She made this for her sister's upcoming birthday - then momentarily decided she would keep it for herself - then decided to give it to her sister again, with the realization that since they share a room, it would be in her own room too - LOL!