Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Fun Tips and Giggles #10

There is a growing trend to add embroidery stitches to our quilts.   If you are anything like me, you only know how to do the running stitch, and wonder how everyone else can make all those other intricate stitches that make their quilts come to life.   Check out this great site that shows easy to follow videos on embroidery stitches.  There are over 85 different stitches with videos and they are broken down into  categories with a picture for each..

Have you started working on our latest challenge, Through the Eyes of a Bug?  Did you see the prizes being offered?  Fat Quarter Shop is our sponsor and they have donated a Fat Eighth bundle for First Prize and a Jelly Roll for Second Prize!  Check out the details of how to enter here.

Fat Quarter ShopFirst PrizeSecond Prize

And now for your little giggle of the day:

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Monika Kinner-Whalen

There is a delightful young woman who lives in Saskatoon.  She is taking the nation by storm with her detailed landscape fibre art.   Her love of  her country becomes evident when Monika puts camera, needle and thread together.  Her blog is an overload of colour and talent.  It is a total thrill to have interviewed  such a talented and wonderful young woman!

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

 My name is Monika Kinner-Whalen.  I live in Saskatoon SK with my family of 5.  I've been an active part of our local quilting guild for almost 5 years.  I'm a juried artist with the Saskatchewan Craft Council, and a member of the embroiderer's guild as well. 

What got you into this type of fibre art? 

 I was raised by a landscape artist who couldn't sew.  That's my story.  I grew up on an acreage right across the tracks from a grain elevator.  Summers were spent at the lake.  I know my subject matter like the back of my hand.  I just never loved using paint.  I preferred needle and thread.  So for a long time, art was a hobby and sewing was a hobby.  Three years ago I was given a Quilting Arts magazine.  I had never heard of such a thing - my entire brain re-filed and I sewed my first art that day.  I've been going strong ever since. My transition from quilter to artist happened via Postcards.  I fell in love with these little projects, and the happiness they bring people.  I've been offering Creative Quilted Postcards Workshops for 3 years now.

Explain   how you go about constructing a piece.  
 My main body of work is my thread-painted landscapes.  They are free motion stitched and hand embroidered on canvas.  All are based on my local surroundings.   I don't trace or use templates - I just stitch 'by sight' with photos nearby.

Is all your work from your own photographs?
 Being raised by an artist gave me a VERY strong sense of respect and etiquette for the art and artist.  It was drilled into me from a very early age never to copy anyone else's work EVER.  Not even a picture in a magazine. That would be breaking the 11th commandment and I would surely go straight to you-know-where.  The only photo exception is with commissioned work, but even then I ask for permission from the original photographer.   Sometimes I work with no photos, but when I want to get the true depth and distance in a landscape, a real image helps SO much.

So yes - I only work from my own photos.  I spend a lot of time photographing scenes to stitch.  I love driving down dirt roads in search of pretty things. I have THOUSANDS of personal photographs to work with.

You do threadwork and embroidery on your fibre art, tell us about the embroidery?  Is there only a few stitches you use?   
 My machine stitches are mostly straight stitch, grass stitch, or zigzag.   Not a lot of other stitches will work for free motion embroidery.  My hand stitches are what I call 'freestyle'.  Ultimately, my goal is to use whatever stitch will be most effective in resembling what it is I want to convey.  If it will look better done by hand, then that is what I will do.  I take no short cuts.  So, grass needs long straight stitches.  Dots of flowers may be seed stitches.  I love to fill a canola or flax field with French Knots.  I make things up as I need them - wrap once, wrap twice, wrap three times.   I've used Sorbello stitches for buffalo beans.  I don't have formal embroidery training - I try to learn as much on my own as I can to broaden my choices.  Double knot stitches, long and short stitches, couching, herringbone... There are a LOT of stitches out there!

Tell us where this fibre art has taken you.
 Oh my - where hasn't it taken me?  It's crazy really.  It's my day job now.  It pays the bills.  I pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming.  'Paid to sew?'  I thought that was just a silly fantasy.  I couldn't be happier.  My work has been purchased and commissioned from all around the world (thanks to the internet).  I had a Wearable Art piece accepted into the NJS, and that was the first time I'd ever entered anything.

 I've won awards for my art, and cash prizes for my photography as well.    I've been invited to do many public presentations to guilds and groups.  I've been invited to teach creative sewing to adults and children.  I'm doing fibre presentations in public schools now which is so very cool. 

 I am already booked into 2015 to teach nationally, and to curate a provincial art exhibit.  Truthfully, none of this would be possible without a strong presence on the internet.  That's how you get seen these days.  I was scouted for national magazines and recently had images of my work prominently published in Mastering the Art of Embroidery by Sophie Long in the U.K.  My head is spinning!  The possibilities are endless.

What is your greatest accomplishment with your fibre art?   

 My greatest accomplishment...  right now this solo exhibit I'm preparing for in the next province over is a pretty big deal to me.   Having A Needle Pulling Thread magazine and Janome America ask me to be profiled as an artist... that meant so much.   My Prairie Dress - it has a life of its own.  It was accepted into an exhibition with the Saskatchewan Craft Council, it went to Halifax for the NJS, and then later the provincial craft council used it for the visual in their ad in a national art and craft magazine. 

 I would also like to add that I've been published several times in Quilters Connections and A Needle Pulling Thread magazines.  I wholeheartedly support Canadian businesses as much as I can and encourage readers to do the same.   I have my own blog and also founded a blog called The Needle and Thread Network (TN&TN) that links Canadian crafters together with weekly WIP's and interviews of talented Canadians.

Do you have your own studio to do your work and how many hours a day do you spend on it?
I work full time.  You can find me there on weekends, late into the night, and all day too.  It's a big sunlit room with a vaulted ceiling in my home.  My three kids go to school right across the the street and come home for lunch every day, so I like that I can juggle motherhood and career like this.

What is your favourite food?
 Vietnamese or Korean food.  Salty, fresh, and gluten free. ; )

Truly a pleasure finding out about Monika and we will look forward to see where she goes next!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Gunnel Hag with a Screen Printing Tutorial

Gunnel Hag is simply stated, every art quilter's dream.   What she can do to the fabric is astounding. You simply have to check out her blog and website.  Read on to find a fun and easy tutorial.

Super Easy Screen Printing on Fabric with Gunnel Hag using Colour Vie.

I have been creating patterns, pictures and textures for as long as I can remember. Fabric, leather, paper, metal - nothing was safe. When I was studying English at Stockholm University, Sweden, I was introduced to master textile printer Richard Kunzl, who taught me fabric screen printing in his wonderful studio in Stockholm. That was it! 
I had found my calling. 

After art college in London, England, I emigrated to Canada. Not being able to find work as a textile designer, I started tie dyeing T-shirts, sold them to boutiques in Toronto and realized that I had in fact started my own business: Trees Textile Designers and Printers. 

I produced my line of hand printed clothing and accessories (sold across Canada and in the U.S.) as well as custom screen printed fabrics. For 12 years I was a professor in the Textile Studio at Sheridan College in Oakville. Now I teach workshops in my studio in Toronto as well as at quilt guilds, conferences and art schools. I also produce printed fabrics for theatre, ballet, film and television. Most of the fabrics are used in costumes. For several years I worked on the fabulous musical “The Lion King”, which is still running in England and other countries - and my Colour Vie pigments are still being used in these productions. 
 Screen printed silk crepe de chine by Gunnel Hag)

The Colour Vie Pigment System was born after I became quite allergic to some of the chemicals used in the pigments and base that were available in the early 80s. Colour Vie on the other hand is water based and environmentally friendly, completely washable and light fast. Its three parts consist of a liquid pure fabric Pigment that you mix with a colourless Base and Resfix (a fixative). The Base is what actually binds the pigment colour to the fabric. The colours are completely inter-mixable, so you can create an endless palette of hues and shades for your fabrics. Needless to say, this is what I use almost exclusively in my work. 

 “Heartbreak Hotel” screen printed quilt published in Quilting Arts 2009)

When it comes to creating pattern and texture on fabric, the possibilities are literally endless!
On my blog I am currently having a lot of fun creating prints from ordinary objects - a bit of an obsession of mine. To challenge myself I decided to print with objects starting with the letter A and working my way through the alphabet towards Z! I am currently working on the letter “I”. To see what patterns I have been printed so far please check out my blog.

“C" is for Credit Card” by Gunnel Hag

There are so many techniques for imparting colour onto cloth that it was hard to decide what tutorial to teach. I always get questions about screen printing on fabric, so that is what I decided to share with you:

The easy do-it-yourself-from-scratch version of Screen Printing on Fabric 

A Bit of History:
The first silk-screen was made in France in the early 19th century. It evolved from the paper stencils used in Japan as early as the 8th century A.D., where strands of human hair were often used to keep the stencil together.

The silk-screen is a frame of wood (or plastic or metal) with a mesh stretched tightly over it. The mesh used to be silk, hence the name silk screen printing. A stencil is adhered to the screen, and the design is then printed on the fabric by pushing the dye across the screen and through the open areas of the stencil with a squeegee.

The Screen:
  • The important thing is that the screen needs to lie flat on your table.
  • You can make a silk screen from a wooden stretcher frame (available in art supply                     stores), an old picture frame or even a wooden or plastic embroidery hoop.
- Instead of buying mesh from a screen print supplier, you can just use a curtain sheer.
  • Use a staple gun to stretch the mesh/sheer tightly over the frame. There should be no “bubbles” or loose bits of sheer.
  • Trim off the excess mesh/sheer with scissors.
 Student’s screen made from stretcher bars

Taping the screen:
  • The screen will need to be taped all around to cover the staples and to create a “dye well”, a taped area measuring about 1.5” wide inside the wooden frame. (See Picture). Duct tape works very well - packing tape is also good, but a bit trickier to handle. The dye well will stop the pigment/paint/dye from bleeding into your print area. 

 Student’s screen taped with duct tape

The Squeegee:
- You can buy a squeegee in an art supply store OR just use a plastic drywall spreader or a credit card for smaller prints (a lot cheaper).

The Print Table:
For printing on fabric you will need a slightly padded surface.
  • Simply put a couple of layers of polar fleece, thin foam rubber or a blanket on your table and cover it with some old smooth fabric. 
-You can also make yourself a pallet from a piece of plywood or insulation foam board and cover it in the same way as above. Very useful if you print more or less the same size fabric all the time. You can pin your fabric straight onto the pallet, print it and then put away the pallet until next time you use it.

Print pallet made from insulation foam, foam rubber and fabric

The Design:
1. Draw a design on paper. Newsprint works really well. 
    It can be your own simple design. The paper stencil  technique is perfect for designs that are not too detailed. Start simple. Think of a silhouette. As you become more comfortable with cutting out the paper, you will get more adventurous and use more detail in your designs.
2. Use an X-acto knife or scissors to cut out your design from the paper. The open
    areas in your design is where the pigment will print onto the fabric.
  1. Tape your design to the bottom (back) of your screen using masking tape.
 Student holding her cut paper stencil ready to tape onto the back of the screen

 Student taping her paper stencil onto the back of her screen

1. Pin or tape your ironed fabric to the pallet/table surface.
2. Place the screen on top of the fabric that you want  to print.
3. Put your pigment along one inside side of the screen. (Make sure you use a water based pigment/ink, so you can wash screen and squeegee under your tap after use).
4. Place your squeegee at about 80 degrees angle behind the pigment and push it  
 across the screen with a firm even pressure while holding the screen securely with     
 one hand (or get a friend to help). Squeegee the pigment back and forth a     
 couple of times (more times if the fabric you are printing on is thick and absorbent).

 Student printing with a drywall smoother used as a squeegee

  1. Lift up the screen and repeat the print as many times as you want. The paper stencil will automatically stick to the screen after you’ve printed once. A word of warning here: Make sure you don’t leave the screen for too long before you screen print your second print. If the pigment dries into the screen, the mesh gets blocked, making further prints impossible with that screen. 

 Excellent student fabric

Washing the screen:
- Wash the screen and squeegee. (Like Colour Vie, many pigments are water based, so your screen, squeegee and all your utensils can be washed with water). When the screen has dried, you are ready to create another design and print more fabric!

Heat setting the fabric:
- Look at the instructions for your pigment, paint or dye.  Most pigments need to be heat set to become completely wash fast. This can be done by ironing the fabric with an iron set on a cotton setting after the fabric has dried.

There are thousands of different and fun ways of creating your own personal patterns and textures on fabric. Check my web site for more information, upcoming workshops (in screen printing as well as other exciting techniques) and loads of pictures. The Customer Gallery has some awesome printed quilts and fabrics!

 “Drunkard’s Path” screen printed - not quilted by Gunnel Hag

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us and how you create it!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Where Do You Read The Canadian Quilter Challenge

Our last challenge closed at the end of March and all I can say is, "You be the judge as to how talented our Canadian quilters are!"  With a theme of "Where Do You Read The Canadian Quilter?" these members rose to the challenge and beyond.   

The quilts shown here are not the top 3 winners of the challenge.  They will be revealed in the Summer edition of 'The Canadian Quilter'.   

by Lauren MacDonald

by Diane Chambers
My entry is a 12x 12 fused applique with free motion stitching,shading with oil sticks,permanent marker and thread painting used for detail.

by CQA's Vice President Judy Kelly, who came up with the theme for this challenge.

by Elizabeth Carter

'In My Garden' is composed of a quilted fabric collage background with a small quilter’s house and a large fabric tree ...  the house boasts hardware store washer vines and a metal number plate; the tree is 3-dimensional with batik leaves and beaded embellishment,  the trunk is made of tens of strips of a variety of batiks giving a funky bark effect. 

by Dawn Odegard
When I read about the challenge I thought of where I most enjoy reading The Canadian Quilter and it is in my backyard in a comfortable lawn chair. Several years ago I had actually built myself an Adirondack chair so I thought that was fitting.  Over the past couple of months I have been researching stitches I can use on a crazy quilt and came across the idea of making geraniums with ric rac which I thought would fit with this setting. 

by Helen Hubert
The TELEPHONE is often where I read the newsletter - discussing program ideas that I see in the guild recap section with some of my quilting buddies.

by Louise Hardy
The Quilt  is of me  reading The  Canadian Quilter, all curled up in my rocking chair in our den.

by Yoka Scott
My quilt represents where I like to read “The Canadian Quilter”. Any where in the world, spring, summer, fall and winter issues. Its inspired by a weather picture of the internet, its 12x12 machine quilted the binding is done by hand and the appliqués are ironed on with “steam a seam”.

by CQA/ACCAlberta's Regional Representative Cindy Simpson
Over the past two years I have been fortunate to travel within Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. I have taken copies of The Canadian Quilter with me to read and sometimes share with other quilters! I have stylized the luggage tickets and used the airport call letters to the airports closest to where I have been. Raw edge appliqued and machine stitched on a beautiful sky print!

by Lily Kangas

I love to read The Canadian Quilter magazine in my garden, where the blooms & butterflies abound! I found this an interesting challenge. I designed this Rose Window design with some inspiration from Angela Besley's book "Rose Windows For Quilters". The techniques I used are fused appliqué, couching, some beads and free-motion quilting. 

Congratulations to all who entered!  Your quilts are fantastic.   
Our next challenge is called 'Through the Eyes of a Bug'  and you should see the great prizes donated by The Fat Quarter Shop.  Be sure to check it out, so you can enter.

Fat Quarter Shop