Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Squish Book Saga Part Two (Venturing Into New Territory)

As we discussed in my last post, I'm making my own adapted version of a Smash Book but with fabric. I promised to tell you about "gilding my pages".

I was going to machine sew a satin stitch up each side of the squares to make a border that would be similar to the idea of gilding if it were actually a book page. Well, I hated the satin stitch after I tried it on some scrap fabric. Besides, it took a LOT of thread. I still wanted a blue border though. What I ended up doing was using a different decorative stitch on my machine but I used random spools of left over blue thread. Fortunately, it didn't matter what the bobbin thread color was so I didn't have to wind any bobbins. I also was lucky to have two spools of dark blue that matched pretty closely to use (really they were half spools left over from other projects). I swear I really will get pictures taken soon but I don't have any right now.

Anyway, I put the border about 3/4 or an inch in from the edge so it would still show if I seamed the squares together into a quilt and I let the sides overlap at the corners instead of turning a corner. That way I could run all the squares through on one side daisy chain style. It made it way faster. No, I didn't measure how far I came in. I really just set my edge guide a random distance from the needle and went with it. You could use a piece of tape as a guide for the edge of the fabric or even a fridge magnet.

So, about my pages; I started my first "page" for my squish book. I decided to embroider a wreath of daisies. I like to learn new things so I'm using a technique that has been called long and short embroidery and also called silk shading. The daisies are white with very light blue toward the bottom of each petal and, of course, yellow centers. I guess the truth I am speaking here and that I will likely be speaking throughout my pages is that I love to learn new things, constantly.

I chose daisies because I feel a sort of kinship to them. They are so perfectly wild and uninhibited. They are innocent and friendly. I'm not a perfect daisy though. I have thorns. I'm not elegant enough to be a rose so I decided to go ahead and embroider the daisies clearly but, once they are done, I will quilt on a pattern of thorns I think in the background. We will see if I still feel that way when I get to that part. I've also thought of sewing bands between the squares (I guess kind of like bookmarks) and I might make one band a quilted thorn pattern or maybe all of them.

The fabric for this square was an experiment with ice dying (I wrote a blog about ice dying.) that I did in a forest green. The resulting design looks like a sort of unfocused picture of some leaves and yellow flowers (the colors in the dye often separate when you ice dye).

I promise, next time I will put in pictures. I needed good strong light for it and the week did not cooperate as I mostly got rain until I was too busy to take them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Squish Book Saga Part One (The Adaptation of an Idea)

I have always loved Smash Books. Those books that you take forever to fill with art and poetry and lists and color and texture and which help you to do your own self therapy; art self therapy. I've always thought it would be good and so cathartic to work out an issue through art to learn something about yourself through brushes and pencils and markers and so on...

My beloved and ultra creative and talented sister, Janet, offered to teach me and some of our other sisters about making smash books so that we could explore this intentional creative therapy for ourselves. I jumped right in and rapidly discovered that working outside of your preferred medium can be a right bastard of a struggle.

I decided I would like to work on a project to learn to "speak my truth". This means something different to each person but I mean to open my throat chakra and allow myself to speak up and be heard instead of just sighing a lot and feeling trapped and hurt when I am not understood or heard. Your intention could be anything from wanting to learn to eat to live and not reward yourself with food to letting go of old hurts or addressing how you feel about abuse you suffered or letting go of anger.

I began my book like this:

I started with a book of my choosing (it was suggested that an inexpensive book like a composition book would be fine and perhaps preferred so that's what I chose.)

I glued two pages back to back through out the book to make the pages more sturdy with a glue stick successfully. (So, I've got that going for me.)

I gilded the edges of the pages blue using an acrylic paint because I had it on hand and because blue seemed the right color for the project. The color of the throat chakra is blue.

I was supposed to put a book mark or ribbon in after every 8 pages. I didn't like that idea and I was struggling to find a way to accomplish it in a way that was comfortable for me. I guess I didn't see the purpose and there probably was a good reason for them but I didn't ask because I am an incredibly stubborn person. Really, really stubborn. Trust me.

I decided to skip the ribbons for now and work on a page. I was just looking and looking at that book day after day and nothing was coming to me. I decided to gesso a couple of pages to make them good surfaces to paint on and I even tinted some gesso with acrylic paint.  Still nothing.

I wanted to include this super cool quote I found on Facebook so I glued it in the book and stared at it for a while. Nothing. Just crickets, man. Zip. Zilch. I was starting to get angry with the book.

This didn't seem right so I just walked away from the book for a day or two. Then, I talked to Janet. Did I mention how super awesome she is? Not even kidding.

Sometimes what you really need to do is explain the issue out loud to someone else to come up with the solution. That's what I did.

Paper is not my medium, I realized. That's why I've been getting rid of all my decorative paper and scrapbooking stuff. I had so much and it never got used. HOWEVER, it's pretty clear I love fabric. I have drawer after drawer and bin after bin full of fabric. I love to dye it and sew it and stitch things to it and glue things to it and paint it and embroider it... FABRIC IS MY MEDIUM. It's how I express myself.

So, how do I do a Smash Book type project with fabric? That's the project I'm going to share with you; my "Squish Book". I've already started.

I'm going to need 16 squares of fabric of the same size (I picked squares of 12.5 inches but I don't think it matters if they are all the same or if they are the same shape even. That was just my choice.) and I'm going with all cotton fabrics because I like working with cotton fibers. I didn't choose the same weaves or weight or density for all of them. They are all a bit different. Some are just plain undyed and unbleached muslin. Some are fabrics I tie dyed. Some are quilt fabric I really liked.

I picked 16 squares because it makes a 4 by 4 layout and I can make that into a wall hanging easily. It would be just over 4 feet by 4 feet square once all the piecing and finishing is done. Not 100% that's the way I'll go but it's why I figured the sizes and numbers. I could also sew them all in a banner like prayer flags. That might be cool too.

The same way I glued pages together to make them sturdier, I overlocked the edges of my fabric on my sewing machine with just whatever thread I had in the machine. Turns out it was just an off white general purpose thread which worked fine.

Some of the fabrics are more flimsy so I might iron some interfacing to the back of them. More on that later.

Next time, I'll talk about how I tackle the "gilding" of my "pages" and a few other things. I'll try to post some pictures too.