Friday, April 24, 2015

Gallery Wrapping Art Quilts

More and more of us are finishing off our textile art by framing it and gallery style is the latest trend.  Ordinarily I tend to buck the trend but I really like this one.  There are many good ways to do this but I thought I’d share how I do it with you.  Feel free, of course, to alter as you wish.

We’re starting out here with a either a 2 or 3 layer art quilt. That is:
 1) a base, a top and batting in between 
(2) a top and felt on the bottom.

The frame can be a store bought stretched canvas or 4 stretcher strips with a piece of foam core board glued to the top of it.

In most cases, I’ve made a quilt and later decided to put it on a frame; however, I’m starting to make them to a specific size before I start. The most important reason is I think it makes a neater final product if the batting ends at the top edge and you don’t have to wrap the whole thing around to the back.  It gets pretty bulky to get a truly square corner.  If I make it to size, I don’t have more batting than I want already stitched beyond the exact size of the frame I’m going to put it on. (The red arrow indicates where the batting stops.)

So, to begin, make sure you have an adequate amount of fabric (minus the batting) around the edges of your quilt to wrap it. You need it come at least a half inch preferably ¾ inch over the side.  Here there’s about an inch but it’s better with a little less fabric so there’s room to tape it when you’re finished. But this works and you can extend the tape beyond the edge or you can trim any excess if it’s larger.

I begin by stapling the center of each of the four sides, then proceeding on one side at a time by stapling all along the edges on both sides, tugging some as you go so it stretches to the frame ever-so-slightly.

Then do the same on top and bottom leaving the corners unstapled until now. I had to go back and pull that staple out of the left corner before I went any further. You'll end up stapling there but to begin it's good to leave some leeway until you know exactly where you want it.

To make your corner, you just tuck, pull and staple as shown. Now, maneuver the fabric to lay flat and pull taut, hold and staple in place.

 Just make sure it’s lying flat, taut and square before putting in the final staples.
Sometimes it folds right over easily and sometimes it takes a little finessing of the fabric to make the last fold nice and neat.

And you might want to catch it here with a staple.

Fold it over .
Hold it in place. 
Tack it down.

Another for good luck!

And there you have it.

Repeat this until all four corners are done and then you’re ready to tape off the edges with gaffer’s tape for a clean look.

You may find that you need some tools to help you pull the fabric taut (gently though!)

I wish I had some canvas pliers, which is on my list of things to buy (grin…a long list).  Here’s a link to one

But, especially for the smaller sizes, regular pliers do the job.

You can wire your frame before or after you’ve attached your art.

When it comes to wiring the back, D-rings work best but small eye hooks are just fine too,  They go inside the frame so it lays flush against the wall. It’s tricky to put them in though, so this is how I solved the problem of getting those pesky little screw eyes into place with only 2 hands: begin by starting a hole for the screw with a pushpin.  Remove the pushpin and insert the screw eye as shown.
It’s an awkward task because of the size but also the fact that the D-rings are mobile and the placement is on the edge of the frame.

Also, it’s worth picking up some flexible wire for this.  It’s amazing how much easier it is on your fingers.  It also gets nice and tight because it’s easier to wrap around itself and achieve a secure fit.

Loop the wire into the screw eye or D-ring and pull it around first to one side of the wire and then the other. 

Pulling tight wrap the wire around itself repeatedly, pulling and pushing taut as you go.

Now that the first one is in, put the other screw eye in on the opposite side and proceed with inserting the wire into the screw eye in the same manner, always keeping the line as taut as you can.  This wire will stretch some as you go so keep it tight.


Ready to hang!


Janis here for my last guest post!  It's been fun!  Thanks for having me!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

the continuing story of beads

Hi, it's Anne Marie again! My pieces always start off with a colour, shape, object, or germ of an idea. I work intuitively, so am reluctant to sketch, or commit anything to paper. Although frustrating at times, it seems to work! I start with a shape &/or theme, choose and attach the main focal (always with an off-centre placement), audition clusters of beads and found objects, take a quick photo, then begin stitching. Depending on the size, I may decide to add smaller focals/clusters, and possibly a path (linear division). As I get closer to the edge, I flatten the texture, using a unifying stitch (moss/boucle), and size 11 seed beads. Where do I get my ideas, you say? Imagination, dreams, and the stash of a magpie! ..... I pull the colours from my main focal (but not always), gather a bunch of beads, shop if I must, and then start stitching. Somewhere in this process, the piece starts talking to me, and the flow begins. Trust your instincts, listen to your imagination, don't worry about the end result, tell a story, and just focus on the joy of the process! I leave you with photos of some of my 2013 and 2014 Bead Journal Project pieces.
The little houses, in my 2012 series, all include a number(s), corresponding to the month, a vintage button, and one or more buttons from the family button jar. My unifying theme for the 2014 series, is the shapes of the leaves (collected in the fall of 2012). I love to blend techniques, and include gifted items, found objects, and recycled items in my pieces. I challenge you to include some in your art! If you'd like to see/read more, I invite you to wander over to my blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunprinting Tips

Hi!  Janis here, another guest post!

Last summer I thought I did a blog post on the process of sun printing but in response to some recent questions, much to my surprise, I looked back on my blog posts and found none. That’s why I’m posting one now, so we can think ahead to warmer, sunnier days!

I paid serious attention to the blog posts I found here on the Fire blog and adding my own thoughts and experiences on the matter.

I tried using ProChem translucent textile paints, DyNaFlo, Speedball Screen Print Ink, and Solar Fast Sun Printing Dye. I was not able to do any real study to compare each of the products, mostly because here in New England the weather tends to change often and without warning and the results are completely related to the brightness and warmth of the sun and test results are easily skewed by such temperamental fluctuations as the clouds going in and out!

Nevertheless, and perhaps because of this, I can tell you that Solar Fast was the most reliable of them all for me. That’s not to say, I won’t persist in trying out other products for the best results from them, such as Setacolor products, which, by the time I tried them, the warmth of summer days had already begun to fade and I was getting too frustrated with it all.  So, I turned to other forms of printing on fabric and dyeing it until it became too chilly to stay outdoors working.

The process itself is pretty straightforward.  Start with small pieces about 12” X 15” or so. You apply paint, ink or dye to the fabric and you lay down leaves or flower petals  and place them in the sun. For good directions for Solar Fast go here:

 From my experimenting, I learned some things that are worth passing on to the novice.

Avoid sun printing on windy days for two reasons.  First, because you have to take extra steps to secure the leaves onto the fabric.  Second, it tends to dry the fabric so quickly that it’s more difficult to get a good print. However, if you can’t avoid wind altogether, I found it most helpful to use trays to place the whole shebang in.  

You can use those inexpensive molded plastic frames, which I love the best.

Or you can devote some larger baking pans to the process as I did here.

I also used various sized acrylic sheets over the trays (or simply on top of the pieces that are place right on the ground) to keep the wind out and to keep the moisture in. I also have a plastic sheet (4 ml) underneath them all, which I print them on and it helps to carry them from table to ground.

Remember the variables to achieving good prints are many and prepare to play without knowing quite what’s going to happen for awhile.  It takes practice before you can control all of the various aspects: heat, amount of water in air and in the fabric and paint or dyes. You may want it to be quite wet, as well, to give it a watercolor look.  Here’s one that was quite wet with DyNaFlo and has a lovely watery feel.

And here’s a Solar Fast print that has a very clear and detailed images.

Are your leaves lying tight to the fabric or is it loose?  I use my fingers to press down the leaves as much as possible, but it helps, to begin by placing the acrylic sheet over the top of leaves that just don’t want to lay flat.  You can take the time to flatten out your leaves or flowers the night before – that can help.

Here’s one that shows vivid color with lots of detail but not a great print because the colors didn’t blend at all (too dry). Still a great piece to cut up and use in my fiber art but not as a whole cloth piece.

 The fiber content is also an important choice.  When you begin, use anything cheap to play without fear of ruining good fabric.

This is translucent fabric paint but it was one of those days when the sun kept disappearing and it didn’t have enough moisture or enough pigment.  It’s also on a light, gauzy cotton.

But as you go along, start choosing better grades (smoother and tighter weave) of cotton or silk. I also love to print on organza or other sheer fabrics to use in my mixed media collage process. 

 Experiment! Overprint! 

And Enjoy!
Here's what I did with a lot of my solar prints in the following months!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

now for something different

This post is going to be short on words, but heavy on photos. I'm a fibre artist, with a passion for techniques. I became involved with Robin Atkins, Bead Journal Project (BJP) in 2008/2009, and haven't looked back since. Although my fibre roots have been neglected lately, I hope to correct that in the near future. My 2010 BJP pieces, are probably my favourites, as they combine my love for fibre, free motion stitching, beads, paint, memorabilia and found objects. Each tells a personal story!
I only completed seven in this series, but it's definitely something I would like to revisit in the future. If you'd like to hear more, please visit my blog! To think that it all started with a simple triangle!
The Bead Journal Project is now on Facebook, and will be open for new members, in December of this year.