Monday, August 31, 2009

Celebration! Finished On Time!

I finished my August Bead Journal Page on time! Today! Twenty minutes ago! 7:40 p.m. EDT.

Early in the month, I decided that my theme for August would be celebration. The celebration of completing a year's challenges, reflection and work. Again, early on, I chose purple with gold accents as the color of celebration. A royal color, for a celebration. And gold for a celebratory sparkle.

Technical Details:

As with the other pages, I used Lacy's Stiff Stuff. I painted it purple with Dye-na-Flow.

Most of the beads on this page are 11/0s. There are some Delicas, some 15/0s, some 8/0s and a few 6/0s. There are two kinds of 11/0 Toho triangles, some 8/0 Miyuki triangles and three cubes. A few bugle beads complete the design.

As I did throughout the year, I used the backstitch almost entirely.

The page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

This page was stitched with C-lon lilac thread.

What I Was Thinking:

When I conceived this Celebration! piece, I assumed it would be all about celebrating my completion of the BJP. Then I saw on the BJP blog how few of the 260 or so of the initial participants actually expected to make 12 pages. I was surprised at the low number.

This month I took a workshop with Anita Luvera Mayer at the Michigan League of Handweavers. As we introduced ourselves, we were to tell something that we liked about ourselves. And there it was, right in the front of my brain ready to be blurted out, "I take my obligations seriously." Well, that statement was far off to the left of what everyone else said. But I do take my obligations seriously, and I like that about myself.

Last summer I thought quite a while about whether I should join the BJP. I needed to be sure I could meet the expectations. If I committed to it, I would complete it. That's just the way I am.

Now I know that life happens. In fact, life has happened to me. Other people may not have thought that joining the BJP meant that completing the pages was an obligation. Or even a commitment. That's ok for them, but it wouldn't work for me.

So this page celebrates the completion of the project and honors my attitude toward my obligations and commitments.

Issues That Came Up:

I was majorly distracted by other activities--even commitments and obligations--during August. (See earlier posts.) I was determined to finish the page by the end of the month. In fact, my original idea was to finish exactly on August 31. I actually did not get started stitching until last week.

It was starting to get dark by the time I took the photo, and the purple looked blue. I doctored it up a little with the photo editor, but I'll take a new picture tomorrow.

Next on my list is to post all my photos to the BJP website. And I'm ready to sign up for next year's BJP.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

French Seams, Chinese Ball Buttons, Thread from Ikea and 16 Pounds of Money

I've been working on my jacket from the rayon tablecloth I dyed. So far, so good. It will be unlined and the rayon frays like crazy so I considered several ways to finish the seams. At first I planned on doing a Hong Kong seam, but I didn't have any amazing fabric to use as the binding. I wondered, too, if the added weight of the binding would be too much for the rayon fabric. I decided that I would do French seams. That's what you see above, on the inside of the jacket. To make French seams, stitch the pieces wrong side together with a 3/8 inch seam. Trim that seam to 1/8 inch. Then fold right sides together and stitch a 1/4 inch seam, enclosing the raw edges. Since the sleeve seams won't be seen, I just overcast them. I turned the raw edges of the facing and the sleeve hems in and stitched them down with a machine feather stitch.

I was concerned that the jacket would lose its shape because the fabric is so drapey. I redrew the interfacing and facing so it would be similar to the interfacing that would be in a tailored jacket or coat. It goes all the way across the back and around the armseye in both front and back. This facing will enclose the sleeve to armseye seam.

I decided to make Chinese ball buttons for the closure. I think the jacket would look very cool with some kind of elaborate frog, but I think they would be too heavy. The ball buttons I made really are round. In the picture the shank pushes them off to the side. The next time I take a picture of something like this, I'm going to put the button on top of a spool of thread and push the shank down the hole in the spool. Then the button will stand up straight. Of course I didn't think of this idea until I started editing the photo of the thread below.

Who knew Ikea was the place to get thread? When my daughter and I were there a couple of years ago, this thread was on sale for fifty cents. So I bought some of this blue and some navy. Now I'm a thread connoisseur--or maybe just someone who has already done enough sewing with unsatisfactory thread. I thought it was pretty good when I bought it, but I was too chicken to try it out. Since the color matched and I didn't want to trek out the fabric store, I decided to use the Ikea thread. It's fabulous! Very smooth, no lint, no breakage, and I wish I had more.

In one of my periodic "There's no room for any more stuff" fits, I decided it was time to get rid of all the coins that have been collecting around here. I rolled 16 pounds of coins! I'm feeling rich!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Experiments In the Dyepot

It's a good thing I don't have particular expectations for these experiments. It's a good thing any result that includes color is fine with me. It's a good thing that I consider this a learning experience. Because I'm having fun seeing the usually unexpected results and learning from them. And I'm ready to play more with the dye.

I spent a good part of yesterday in the backyard playing with Procion MX dye again. Now a true scientist would follow precise directions, document procedures and analyze results. Me, I just plunged my rubber-gloved hands into the dyepot and let things happen. And I have learned a lot.

For instance, a really tall person like me (five feet and three-quarters inch tall) will find it easier to work with the dyepots on a table instead of on the ground. Two plastic sawhorses and a piece of plywood that had served as the base of a model of the Jamestown settlement twenty years ago can make a fabulous table. Oops! I neglected to cover the wood with plastic (step 1 in the dyeing directions) so the wood got quite wet.

The entire process went much faster this time. I had a better idea of how to arrange the equipment and materials for greater efficiency. And I had a brilliant idea of how to rinse out the large pieces of fabric. I hung them on the clothesline and sprayed them with the hose. Brilliant! Extremely brilliant!

I dyed a cotton damask tablecloth and a small linen napkin a golden yellow. I started with lemon yellow, but it was too greenish yellow for me. So I added some fuchsia. And a little more fuchsia. Hmmm... It looked somewhat orange, and I am not an orange person. I started to re-think the orange situation. Maybe I was an orange person after all. But after the fabric dried, it was more of a golden yellow edging toward appricot. I'll put that orange stuff aside for now. In my previous dyeing experiments, I cut the tablecloth into pieces so it would move more easily in the dyepot for more even color. This time I did not, and the tablecloth has more of a mottled, hand-dyed effect. I think it will make an interesting jacket. Note that the napkin is a slightly different color.

The other fabric I dyed was some cotton, mid-wale corduroy. I used lilac with a little midnight blue. I thought the lilac might be too light for me. Since there were two yards of this relatively thick fabric, I did cut this into four shorter lengths that would fit the pattern pieces of a jeans jacket. I think I should have used a larger container for a more even effect. One piece must of been stuck on the bottom of the pot. But the distressed look will be well suited to the pattern.

The piece that got stuck on the bottom of the dyepot has quite a few spots of undissolved dye. I don't know whether the magenta spots came from the lilac or the midnight blue. Next time I'll pour the dissolved dye through a coffee filter to reduce that effect. But, it is the distressed look.

Other important info gathered during the dyeing process:
1. If one wears jeans, one does not get varicose vein-like dye drips on one's legs.
2. Mosquito repellent does not keep the bees away.
3. A real ayrtiste would sacrifice a Rubbermaid tote to serve as a dyepot.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hand Dyed Fabric

I spent most of Saturday dyeing fabric in the backyard. I used Jacquard MX Teal and Midnight Blue dyes. I was delighted with the results, except that the next time I'm going to use a table to hold the dyepots. I'm way too tall to stir the dyepots on the ground for over an hour.

The adventure started with a trip to four local thrift shops. I was looking for buckets, pitchers, stirring implements, measuring cups and measuring spoons. I didn't find everything I was looking for, but I did find a few treasures. Who wouldn't want to dye fabric in a pumpkin? A perfect container.

I also found a white cotton damask tablecloth. Although it looked grungy in the store, all the spots came out in the washing machine. Now I'm not sure if I will use it as a tablecloth or dye it. The only drawback to using it as a tablecloth is that it would be ironing heck. I also found a set of four napkins and an interesting damask towel with a monogram.

The top photo shows the dyeing in progress. The four napkins, the towel and a piece of silk dupioni are on the left. They were dyed teal. On the right are a rayon damask tablecloth (garage sale) and a piece of cotton muslin in the midnight blue dye. The tablecloth has been cut into pieces so I could move them around in the dyepot. I hope to make a jacket out of it.

Here's the clothesline with the rinsed fabric.

One of the most interesting things was what happened in the teal dye. All three of these pieces were dyed in the same pot for the same amount of time. The green piece is the silk dupioni. Then on the right are two of the napkins. It turns out that they were a set, but not a matched set. The darker one in the middle is heavier fabric that the other three. I think that may be why it is darker.

This is a picture of the design on the rayon tablecloth. As far as I can tell, all the coffee stains were covered up by the dye.

And this is the towel. I'm not positive what the monogram is. Suggestions are welcome.

All went well. I do not have purple hands. They have a bluish tinge, as if I needed more oxygen in my system. And no, I did not have a sudden attack of varicose veins, although it might take a doctor to tell for sure. They're just dye drips down my legs. Maybe another shower will take care of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Have Purple Hands


It's a good thing I hadn't planned to have tea with the Queen. Her Majesty hasn't invited me. Actually, none of the other Majesties have invited me either. That's a good thing, too, since I don't have a thing to wear.

Nothing that will go with purple.

Today's purple hands are compliments of Creative Synchronicity with Silks and Dye, a class at the Michigan Fiber Festival taught by Rita Petteys. A way fun class!

Last week's purple hands were compliments of Mudpies for Adults, a class taught by Anita Luvera Mayer at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference. Another way fun class!

This is what I've been wondering... When I wash my hair tonight will it turn purple from my hands? Will I look like Kelli Perkins? Will I be able to do art like Kelli Perkins? I wish!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Joy of Joy: July BJP

July is warm summer, relaxation, vacation. It's marigolds and tomatoes, blueberries and corn. It's the All Together Week. It's a joyful time. My July BJP is The Joy of Joy.

Technical Details:

July is beaded on Lacy's Stiff Stuff (as are all the others) painted with a fabric paint, but I can't remember which one.

The beads are 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, and some bugles and hexes. I stumbled on the teardrop shaped beads in a sale bin.

Most of the piece was done in the backstitch. There is one ruffle made with bugle beads and one made with 11/0 beads. There are some stacks of 11/0s that increase in height toward the middle of the square. There is a twisted chain, a stitch that must have another name in English, since the name in Japanese was not clear to me.

The page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

I used yellow C-lon thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I was thinking about what joy meant to me. It's not loud or raucous. It's not flashy or hilarious. To me, the best kind of joy is bright and serene. It is internal. That's the difference between fun and joy. Family and friends are the best kind of joy, although they are usually fun, too.

I choose yellow beads to be sunny and cheerful. But I choose a more subdued yellow with golden tones and several pale yellows. This is a serene, internal joy, and I wanted the piece to glow.

Issues that Came Up:

As I worked on this page, I was surprised to discover what joy meant to me. And it was the beads that showed me. I expected joy to be more of a very bright yellow. Like "Whoopee, yahoo, and yay!" But it wasn't. The Joy of Joy is warm and serene and comfortable inside me. A softer golden yellow. Calmer and longer lasting.

I like this page.