Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Foundation of Happiness

For my March bead journal, I decided to continue with February's theme of happiness. This month I focused on the foundation of my happiness, my family.

While I worked on the February page, I thought about friends instead of family in relation to happiness. I have to admit that bothered me. It was worse than bothered. I felt guilty. It was almost creepy. I gave myself the heebie-jeebies thinking about it. And by the time I finished February (in the middle of March, I freely admit), I was ready to think about my family.

To me the term "family" is generously inclusive. In addition to the usual suspects, our family includes our other-in-laws, our auxiliary grandson, our daughter-in-law's brother-in-law's father and brother.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with Adirondack Color Wash Spray in Stream.

The beads are various shades of teal, with more than the usual number of metallic beads included. Those metallic beads all have a teal cast, but it doesn't show up in the photo. Sizes are 15/0, 11/0, and 8/0. There are cubes, triangles, hexes, and twisted hexes, with a few bugles and drop beads.

The good old backstitch again dominates. There is a bugle ruffle, some fringe, and a section of wallpaper stitch. There are a couple of nameless (meaning I don't know the names) stitches, too.

The page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

I used green C-lon thread.

What I Was Thinking:

With the theme of family as the foundation of happiness, I wanted to portray something primarily solid and strong. The teal color immediately came mind as solid but not dreary. The metallic beads are meant to add weight. The vertical columns are pillars, representing how a family holds a member up. In contrast, the sparkly beads and the ruffle and fringe show fun and happiness coming out of the strength.

Issues that Came Up:

The beads are a little squished together. I guess I just had to squeeze a little more family into the piece.

I was surprised at how much contrast there was between the metallic beads and the glass beads. Spread out, the contrast is not so noticeable.

Now I know why I like to have the background the same color as the beads. When it is different, as it is in this piece, I find it a distraction. My attention is drawn to the contrast between the background and the beads. A totally unnecessary waste of valuable brain space.

The ruffle looks like a slithering snake. That's the word from the seven-year-old grandson, and his five-year-old brother agrees.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Reasons to Be Happy

These hands belong to two of my good friends. We had lunch today, and I showed them my February page.

I have received so much from the two of them that it will be impossible to ever pay it back. So, thanks, you know who you are. My hope is that I will be able to pay it forward.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Why Are You Always So Happy?"

he asked.

I stared at him. Then I replied, "I guess I'm just a happy kind of person."

His question got me thinking. Am I always so happy? If so, why?

Now I can be as cranky as the next person. And as irritated, as anxious, as worried, as frightened, as sad, as frustrated, as annoyed, and so on. It usually doesn't last long, and I hardly ever get really angry. Depending on the person you asked, I would probably be responsible for causing as much crankiness, irritation, anxiety, worry, fright, sadness, frustration, and annoyance as anyone else on the planet.

But overall, I am a happy kind of person. I have a pro-active, prevention-oriented, analytical, problem solving, glass half-full mindset.

Then I wondered why I am happy. Psychologists have researched the reasons for happiness, and I wondered what that research meant for me. First, my basic needs--food, shelter, clothing--are met. Second, I have meaningful volunteer work. Third, I have activities that put me in the zone. Fourth, I have a wonderful network of family and friends.

And that brings me to February's BJP. I decided to focus on one of the things contributing to my happiness--my women friends.

Technical Details:

The foundation is Lacy's Stiff Stuff painted with Memories Mist.

The page started with a column of red and pink heart beads. The other beads are 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, some 13/0 Charlottes, some hexes, and some 10/0 triangles.

I always gravitate to the backstitch. It seems to be my default stitch.

The beaded page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

I used red Nymo thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I selected raspberry as the color for this page because it is a happy, loving color. I see raspberry as not a blatantly feminine color but definitely not a masculine color. I used curves, circles and swirls to represent the reciprocal and undulating nature of my relationship with my women friends. We are mutually accepting, affirming, respectful, supportive, encouraging, and comforting. We laugh together and we cry together. We celebrate together and we grieve together. We learn from each other and we teach each other. The role each of us takes varies from time to time according to our needs and to our abilities to offer. I am very grateful for my women friends.

Issues that Came Up:

I was quite surprised to find that I was using more of the brighter raspberry colors. What in the world could that mean? That the more I thought about my women friends, the happier I got? Yep. That my raspberries were not ripe yet, giving them and my friendships more time to grow and mature? Sounds good, too.

The real fun of this page will come on Monday when I have lunch with two of those good friends. I'll bring this page to show them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome To My Rainbow! It's Not Your Mother's Roy G. Biv!

I finished my rainbow book/screen. The front is pictured above. The back is pictured below.

I got started on the book through the Sampler Book class I took at Joggles. But I went off in another direction and had lots of fun.

The idea of a rainbow came after I took a quiz to find my personal rainbow at spacefem.com. This book is my real personal rainbow. And before any meteorologist becomes upset, I know that modified the arrangement of the colors. I mean, it's MY rainbow!

I tried to use stuff I already had, and I was quite (though not totally) successful. I have to admit I have a lot of stuff.

The last thing I have to do is make some flags or pennants for the dowels at the beginning and end of the screen. If you want to see how I made each of the pages or what is hidden behind the buttoned door on the second page, look at some of my earlier posts.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Remaining Rainbow Book Pages

I've finished the remaining pages for my rainbow book. The back of the yellow page is above. First I fused some yellow cotton to felt. The light peach color of the felt seemed to show through so I fused another layer of cotton. The fibers going across the page are perle cotton, embroidery floss, some vintage silk buttonhole twist I found at a thrift store, and a collection of fibers that came together in a package. Those fibers are couched down by hand, while the others are sewn on with a running stitch. I have to say that sewing through felt, two layers of cotton, and two layers of MistyFuse was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I needed to use a rubber jar opener to get a grip on the needle to pull it through the layers when I used the heaviest perle cotton. One of the fibers from the package is glued on as an edging.

Below is the front of the yellow page. Again there are two layers of cotton fused to felt. I used a direct-to-fabric stamping technique with gold and yellow ink pads to add a little stronger color around the edges. To make the pocket, I laid various yellow fibers on tulle, sandwiched it between water soluble stabilizer, and stitched it in a grid pattern. Then I rinsed it in cool water to dissolve the stabilizer. There is a chenille wire wrapped with the fibers stitched on the left side. The tags in the pocket are decorated using a variety of techniques and they each have a word I associate with yellow--cheerful, energetic, warm, etc.

Above is the front of the orange page and below is the back of the orange page. They have several layers of fabric paint--more than I anticipated using. It took a while because it had to dry between coats of paint.

First I painted wet white fabric with yellow and a little orange. Then I added an orange wash on one side. Next I stamped on the fabric with more orange paint. On the front I used several sponges. On the back I used a foam brush, a wine cork, a cosmetic sponge, and a nine-patch stamp I made from PenScore foam and a cake cooling rack. I also stenciled through some mesh from a fruit bag. The next step was more stamping with an opaque fabric paint. For the front, I carved some stamps from erasers. You can see the stamping on the right side of the thin horizontal lines. On the back, I used bubble wrap. Look for the little circles on the left side of the page. After it dried, the opaque paint stood out too much so I added another orange wash.

Finally, I used Super Copper Lumiere to add some thin lines on both the front and the back. I thought it might look cool to have some accent lines with Indigo Lumiere. It didn't. So I painted over those with a second line of Super Copper. The front has three small beads at the intersection of the lines. Because I couldn't find the right color of ribbon for the edging, I painted some with the orange paint.

Above is the front of the red page. It has turned out to be my favorite. I had some hand painted deep pink fabric, but it was not quite as red as I wanted. I sprayed it with some red Memories Mist to darken it to a rich rose. It is fused to felt. Using all the different techniques to make the squares and rectangles was lots of fun. Each of the pieces has the decorative top layer either fused or glued to a rich rose fabric fused to felt. The edges of the felt were colored red with a Sharpie marker, and the gold leafing pen was used to edge the top of each piece. Gold ribbon is used as the edging.

The techniques used are:
Top Row: painted paper towel fused and quilted to felt, Tyvek painted and heat distressed
Second Row: alcohol ink on shiny paper, foil glue-stenciled on fabric, alcohol ink on aluminum foil
Third Row: Tyvek painted and heat distressed, cheesecloth fused to fabric then painted with red and gold paint, foil glue-stenciled to fabric, painted paper towel fused and quilted to felt
Fourth Row: Angelina film fused to fabric, cheesecloth fused to fabric then painted with red and gold paint, Angelina fused together and fused to fabric
Fifth Row: Angelina film fused to fabric, foil glue-stenciled to fabric, alcohol ink on vellum paper, Tyvek painted and heat distressed
Bottom Row: Angelina film fused to fabric, Tyvek painted and heat distressed, alcohol ink on vellum paper, cheesecloth fused to fabric then painted with red and gold paint

Below is the back of the red page. I used the same fabric on the back as I did on the front. It is stamped with Halo Pink-Gold Lumiere, and the stamped areas were edges with a gold leafing pen. Gold trim is glued on for the edging.

The next step is to finish painting the dowels that will hold the book up as a screen. I had lots of fun making this book about my personal rainbow. It's not your mother's Roy G. Biv!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Green Page

I finally finished the green page for the screen/book I am making. This is the front of the green page. The fabrics are some I painted when I was doing a color movement series last summer.

I drew the shapes in reverse on the non-shiny side of freezer paper. Then I cut them apart and ironed the shiny side of the freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric. I cut the fabric out, adding a seam allowance. I pressed the seam allowance on the left (convex) side under to the non-shiny side of the freezer paper. Then I removed the freezer paper. I fused some Misty Fuse to the felt "house" shape. Then starting with the largest piece on the left side, I fused the fabric to the felt. The pressed under convex seam allowance went over the top of the concave seam allowance on its left. There was no Misty Fuse between these pieces. Then I used a variegated thread and a machine buttonhole stitch to applique the curved shapes. I finished the edges with some rickrack that I painted with blue, green and yellow Dye-na-Flow.

The circular item sticking out on the right hand side is a CD. It is covered with painted paper towels and Mod Podge. Sticky stuff... Once it was dry I stamped on "dance" and finished the edges with more of the rickrack. It actually turns, but it doesn't spin wildly. Not at all wildly. It took several tries to get the CD attached. From the bottom, the layers are: The back of the page ( pictured below), Pellon #70, another piece of the green fabric, a flat button, the CD, another flat button, and the front of the page. My first attempt at attaching the CD malfunctioned. I ended up sewing through all layers with beading thread, and covering the stitching on the front with a fabric bead I made.

This is the back of the green page. I used the same fabrics here as I did on the front. I fused Misty Fuse to small pieces of each color of fabric and then cut the pieces into one inch squares. Then I fused another piece of green fabric to a felt, house-shaped backing. I arranged the squares on this green fabric covered backing, and fused them in place. Then I machine stitched using the same variegated thread. After the front and the back were put together (glued for temporary hold and then stitched around the edges), I glued more of the painted rickrack around the edges.

This process took about 2 1/2 weeks. Not continuously, of course. Grandma Ann wanted to know how I could work on so many different things at the same time. It's because I had to wait for stuff to dry in between the steps. Also, I like to ponder my options. I lean a lot closer to reflective than I do to impulsive. (Or as my son said when he was in high school, I'm a slow decider.) And it took three tries to get the CD the way I wanted.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm a Glitterati: Tales from the Front Lines of Ayrt

In Which the Spouse Comments of the State of the Household

Spouse: Your glitter is all over the bathroom.

Ayrtist: (taking her second slurp of the morning coffee) I know.

Spouse: It's in the sink.

Ayrtist: It's not glitter. It's embossing powder.

Spouse: It's on the counter.

Ayrtist: I tried to clean it up last night.

Spouse: It's on the floor, too.

Ayrtist: What do you expect? I'm a Glitterati.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Improvisational Bead Embroidery as Conceptual Art, Part 2: What It Means

What it means, folks, is that if this were algebra class, I'd get no credit. Zip. Zero. Nada. And I'd hear voices whispering from the back of the classroom. "Toast. She's toast."

Mrs. Eagin, the teacher, would take me aside and inquire about the situation. Then she'd kindly--but very firmly--explain how important it is to do each week's homework in a timely way. I needed to understand and practice last week's lesson in order to be successful with this week's lesson.

She'd ask how she could help. Were there things I didn't understand? Did I have her phone number and email address so I could ask questions instead of getting stuck? Then she'd remind me that I still needed to go back and do last week's homework. And if it became a pattern, she'd have to call my parents.

Appropriately chastened, I'd slink back to my seat, determined to stay up to date in the future.

And that's where I am now.

Throughout February, I've been thinking about the meaning of my February page. I'm very clear about it. I have it more or less designed in my head. It has been "mentally journaled," even though my hands were doing other things. I will get February finished this month. And I will get March finished on time. Mrs. Eagin taught me well.

At the risk of showing myself to be a cultural illiterate, an Art Luddite, there's stuff about Conceptual Art that I don't get as Art either. But I live in what was once described on the news as a "laid-back farming community" in the Midwest. There's lots of stuff about Art that we don't "get" here. Like when my real artist niece temporarily left a urinal, on its way to being part of an art show, in my brother's front yard.

But I do find Conceptual Art a useful, er, concept. Much better than, "The dog ate my homework."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Improvisational Bead Embroidery as Conceptual Art

My February BJP has taken the form of Conceptual Art. With this, I believe I must have have moved from Craft to Art. I first became acquainted with Conceptual Art during a visit to the National Gallery of Art in 1994. It was all new to me, since Conceptual Art had not been, well, conceived of when I took Art History some (many) years ago. I knew immediately that I was destined for Conceptual Art. And it was destined to be mine. It was perfect. For Conceptual Art, all you had to do was think of your art. You didn't have to actually do it.

Which brings me to my February BJP. I have thought of it. I even picked out the raspberry beads. I just haven't done it yet. I hear you skeptics out there. "Slacker," you say. "Not done on time. Tardy. Procrastinator." Not so. It's real ART! I refer you to this article in The Real Source of All True Knowledge.

If the February BJP is Conceptual Art, several other projects are Partly Finished Art. The front of the little red doll is finally done. I need to attach the back, stuff her, and bead an edging. The back will not be beaded. I'm hoping she'll be done when my book group shows up here in 10 days.

The front of the aqua ornament is done. Again, I have to sew the back on, stuff it, and bead the edging. This is a commission--a birthday gift for someone's mother. This will be done by Wednesday, when I will see the giftor.

This is the front of the back cover for the book (in screen form) that I am making for the online Sampler Book class I am taking through Joggles. It is two layers of tissue paper fused to felt. Then I did a running stitch with a variety of decorative embroidery threads, with some beads. On the right side is the start of the beaded edging. I am using a curved needle to sew these beads on. I hope I develop some more skill by the time I finish. I feel like a total fumble fingers now.

And this is the back of the back cover. Again, two layers of tissue fused to felt. The medallions are paper clay. I made holes in them so I could sew them on. I will glue the lace on as the last step.

For those who asked, I like taking online classes. I like time to ponder the options and I like the freedom to use the lessons to go off in my own direction. I'm definitely a "read the directions to learn" person so it works well for me. I'm not sure it would work for a "show me how" person.