Charting new waters....

Charting new waters or wading in over my head.  I'm about to start the waxwing and they have such a soft smooth look that I want to use layers of tulle and keep it simple.  On this frog from the gold RR I used lace over several layers of tulle.  The lace has been cut away and he is ready to cut out but you can still see the tulle.

On this perfume bottle I tried netting over about 4 layers of tulle and lame....  This was from the same round robin.

So on the waxing it's only going to be only tulle...4 layers - two different colors.  To keep it spare I will only use the tiniest of my gold beads for the shading and the smallest cording to secure it.  That is the plan A anyway...should work..  hope not to  have to find a plan B...(or C).

I have picked the lace for the wing and painted it gold. I will pin down all layers of tulle and work through all layers and not cut away the tulle until it is entirely done...

Had a spectacular sunset last night. 


Let there be even MORE light...

I got another Luxo magnifying lamp so I have one at the dining table in addition to the one on the painting table.. What a difference.

I purchased my first Luxo over a year ago for my button painting and I just can't imagine life without it now.. Shirley Fassell got one about the same time and I emailed her to see if she still liked it....  Received a sentence back with a long string of loves describing her feeling about her Luxo..

The first Luxo is attached to my painting table and not easily moveable and I had been using my old magnifying lamp at the dining table.

I can tell you what I didn't like about the old magnifying lamp. Besides the incandescent bulb, the spring arm was controlled with little knobs which were constantly loosening no matter how hard I tightened them and I ttied to solve that with a pieces of wood and clamps..  Then there was the lens and lamp... It only was adjustable up and down - not side to side... AND weight of the lens and lamp always caused it to gradually sag downward.  So I was constantly adjusting it...  Plus the magnification and light were as not strong enough anymore. 

I had recently sold two antique wrought iron lamps and the money couldn't have a better use than more light for me.

The original post about the lamp was fall of 2014  but to recap  I learned quite quickly that magnifying lamps are available from about $38  to about $500.  First you are confronted with an alphabet soup of initials... KFM, LFM, IFM, LED, and ESD plus what seemed to be endless choices for mounts, length of reach, lights, position of lights and  circles of increased magnification.  etc...and then there's the shape of the lens and the quality of the lens itself.  I was desperately wishing there were somewhere I could just try one...  I had already ordered one that was mid-range price and sent it back as it had a problem with distortion and the lights were on each side of the lens which was terrible.

Then much to my delight and  surprise at this very moment Shirlee Fassell  published on post on this subject.  She was having the same problems but her husband bought a lamp at All-Spec and she loved it... And that is how I came to order this wonderful magnifying lamp.

And I can tell you right off the KFM refers to the quality of the construction.  This lamp is heavy duty construction and suitable for use in a scientific lab and when I position it, it stays there.  The head is completely adjustable... side  to side, up and down and tipped every which way.  This is especially nice when I am working on MOP buttons which have weird reflective areas.  I had a 3 diopter (strength of lens) and moved up to a 5 diopter and chose a LED lamp which is dimmable.   The lens itself is optical quality and fabulous..     This lamp was  about $360 or more plus shipping but right now it is on sale. This is definitely a case of getting what you pay for.  I don't know how long the sale lasts but if you are in the market for an excellent magnifying lamp...


The Luxo KFL026128 is a KFM LED 5 diopter high output illuminated magnifier with a 30" reach and edge clamp mount.
Luxo KFL026128 Features:
  • Ideal for any inspection or assembly applications
  • Dimmable 9W LED light source produces 2500 lux at 12" working distance
  • Produces nearly 75% greater light output than traditional KFM models
  • Automatic shut-off feature for energy savings
  • 5 diopter (2.25X) optical quality glass lens
  • Fully enclosed neck assembly with 30" reach heavy-duty internal spring arm
  • No knobs to tighten or adjust
  • Self-balancing shade allows the lamp head can be secured in any position
  • Weighted base for easy transfer and mobility
  • Color: Grey
  • UL/CUL listed
  • 5 year warranty


Next birds and progress report

One of the things I failed to mention last month that often I will print several paper copies of a bird (or other image) in various sizes and place the cutouts on the block to see what size works best.  I can also use these cutouts as "space holders" when I'm planning my stitching.

The next two gold birds will be a cedar waxwing and a hummingbird.
The waxwing is, as you can see, fairly simple shapes and can be transferred  easily with my "cut away" transfer method.

On the other hand the hummingbird is quite complex but it too can still be easily transferred you just have to cut away more parts.  Shown here as a paper cutout above (sections marked for placement of gold embellishments)  and below the results after doing the transfer by cutting away bits.

Things I've learned so far: 

I figured the gold velour was going to be a bit stretchy headache but I had to try it anyway because I loved the color and texture.  But it turned out to be fabulous.  The color enhanced the beads, etc. and it was a dream to applique....so I am using it some more...  I couldn't have been more shocked at how well it worked out.

Next my initial plan was to paint a bunch of lace gold and work from that.  But there is such small amounts of lace on the birds and the shape has to be so specific, I realized I'd end up with a pile of gold lace I wouldn't use.  So I will paint lace gold as I need it..


First block finished... adventure underway!

The January block was finished once my signature button was attached.  The first birds that come to mind now are waxwing, hummingbird, and swallow...  Having a new bird to look forward each month will keep this challenge interesting.


All work and no play

From its inception Susie and I had planned this visit as "all work and no play."  Usually we do a lot of stitching, shopping and fun things but not this time.

I had a basic pattern for the chatelaine but it desperately needed fine tuning and better instructions before it could be saleable.  Susie is a whiz at detail and we have been breaking down the pattern step by step and she has been busy redrafting the pieces to be useable in PDF format.

As for my part (besides helping with the pattern) I have mostly had my nose to the computer as Susie is about to launch a new venture and needs a blog which I have been helping her set up and also have been working on the graphics for her new header and business cards.

For breaks we have been experimenting with the variety of DecoArt gold products which she is sharing with me.  I was able to finish gilding the lace the January CQJP2016 yesterday and have gathered a pile of more lace  to do over the next few days... There are about 5 shades of gold in the paints and another 5 shades in the rub-on pastes.

Of course doing all this work does not keep us from continually chatting and laughing..


Pattern for little bird...

I've had many inquiries about a pattern for my little gold bird.  I worked directly from a picture of a real wren and just
marked off sections for gold treatments.  Exactly what I worked from is in the tutorial.  You could download it to whatever size you would like and work from it.  Feel free to do so.  The reverse image is because I applied it to the back of the material...  see tutorial.  If you put something different in each section you can't go wrong.


Almost done

I know I said I would photograph how I did the bird and I had every intention of doing a step=by-step but I got started and so caught up that I forgot all together.  I promise to do the next one in steps.

It is done except for the beak and will be about here on the block.  I will also add a branch and legs and feet once it is appliqued on the block.

The lace I painted gold for the wing was a orange/rust piece to begin with..  I painted it gold, added a gold rub and then a tad of glitter.  At first it was too big so I removed it, cut it much smaller and was happy with it.  As I look at it now I want to move the perky little tail a little further back.... but all in all I am delighted with it and eager to try another bird next month...


How many women does it take to thread a needle?

I knew I was going to be in a waiting room at least 2 hours today in order to drive someone home.  So I took my little folding TV table, my beads and my sewing bag.  I don't see well anyway and the light was poor.  I struggled in vain to thread the tiny beading needle for #15 beads. 

Finally a lady came and offered to help....when she couldn't do it, another lady came and tried in vain.. A third lady gave it a try and called her daughter over who did indeed get the darn thing threaded.  The five of us all gave a cheer.  I had her thread another one as well so I had enough to last the wait.

And this is me dancing with joy as Susie Wolfe arrives tomorrow and I will be able to get her at the airport.  I hadn't mentioned that we haven't been able to get a car in or out for a week due to the condition of our long access road.  I was afraid she would chicken out and cancel...(being a California girl who thinks 60 degrees is cold)  But we were able to get out today and I can hardly wait for her arrival.  We have a full work agenda planned.


Cut-away transfer AGAIN!!!

Of all the things I have shared I feel my method of cutaway transfer is the absolute niftiest.  If I want to transfer a design or image to a fabric with texture (velvet, linen, lace, etc) or a fabric that has a prominent print or    fabric that is too special to make any mark on, I ALWAYS use this method and apply it to the BACK of the fabric.  There is already a tutorial on this blog but I will go though the steps once again...

Since I work from the back of the fabric  I need a reverse image of my design.  Then I apply an iron-on interfacing to the back of the fabric.   I mark my image into sections. 

I then cut out the reverse image I want to transfer and lay it on the interfacing and trace around the whole image.

Please note:With birds I do not cut out the beak.  I always apply the beak at the very last.

Then I start cutting off the smallest outside bits.... in this case the top of the head and the tail.  Then I place the image back on the interfacing and make a line where I cut away.

I just keep cutting away bits and marking where I cut.

Eventually I was down to the wing which was the last part to cut up.

You can see what is left of the paper image as I cut it all up into small bits.

Then I do some basting with a contrasting thread on the lines...

And when I turn it over  I have my bird on this velour fabric.  There are no marks or chalk  or tissue paper to deal with and the basting stitches are easy to remove as I go along.  You would be amazed how easily and quickly you can transfer even very complex images this way.

So I have gathered my metallic gold threads and sorted them from light to dark and will soon show you how I start the stitching.


January CQJP and coveted buttons

I have finished the "crème d la crème" part of the block and it is ready for the gold
work bird which I am anxious to start.  Please notice the delightful little pearl square buttons lower left.  They were on a jacket belonging to my friend, Marilyn Lipmann.  For about  3 years every time she wore that jacket I followed her around with my scissors.  She finally tired of either the jacket or me (or both) and let me have the buttons.  There were several dozen and I adore them.
I left the basting lines in the photo.  The outer red is the size of the block and the inner  one is where I stop beading.


Thinking ahead....

I'm about to start my first goldwork bird for by January CQJP and it's time to make a decision... mainly what will the first bird be.  I have narrowed it down to two birds.. cedar waxwing and a wren. 

Since the gold bird will be monochromatic I decided to start with birds that were pretty much the same value..  It will be easier to translate to gold materials.

Another criteria in my choice was that it have some distinguishable  characteristic that makes it identifiable.  With the wren that is the white eyebrow and perky tail and with the waxwing it is the mask and top crest.

Then I need to find a pose that maximizes the opportunity for embellishment since I want to use a lot of my gold stash on hand.  So I am going through my picture file of birds.

I want some way to make some of my laces gold metallic and have been waiting for Susie Wolfe to arrive as she is bringing a variety of gold fabric paints from her supplies.  Luckily she will be here in 5 days...

Checked out my supply of gold threads left from the goldwork round robin and I have plenty.  In that RR I tried all brands of gold threads and found I definitely loved the very fine Kreinik metallic threads the very best.  The ones I liked the least were Candlelight gold and DMC gold....both shredded and disintegrated.  I like Sulky gold for couching. I will try some of the golds mixed with black and see if I can use them.

My world outside in general is pretty much monochromatic.  I can usually see all the way across the prairie to the mountains from this window, but the fog has come right up to the fence.  Our 4-wheel drive vehicle has been stuck in the driveway for 3 days so am housebound as well.  Hopefully we will get out today to get some much needed groceries.

Morris has perfected the art of couch potato and this is his favorite position. I can't see how sleeping with his neck all twisted can be very comfortable...


Help and inspiration picking your colors....

There are color generation sites where you can insert a photo or fabric and it identifies the color palette.  The problem with these sites is, first, they give you too many colors and it is already a palette that you like.  So if you want to color help or to experiment or be inspired I have the website for you.. Design Seeds.  They're not selling a single thing.. nor will they be a problem with unwanted solicitation.  Two or three times a week they send you 2 palettes. You can enjoy the photos, delete them or do as I do and save the ones you like for future reference. 

Left to my own inclinations everything I stitched would be pastels such as this selection,  They are so soothing and pleasant.
But I don't want to be in a perpetual rut and it is not easy for me to leave my color comfort zone.

For example I would never save this palette as it is too much of a stretch for me.

But I did save this one because I love the pinks and I had never thought of using them with just grays and this palette is definitely in my future.  I have very few grays in my stash and will start saving some now..

But this is my year to "do" orange.  I have a lot of orange and have never, ever, used it..  I am using this palette now because it is so autumn and I will show you later how I used it to select fabrics and thread.

But this is the other "orange" I saved.  It is not very autumn at all. ...very cheery and perky..  I will definitely do this in the  future.  Who knows after these two projects orange may be my favorite color.

I will let you know when I save a palette as it may appeal to someone else.

  You do not even have to choose to have them send you palettes, you can go to their website and wander through their galleries of palettes for inspiration.  I guarantee you will find plenty..  Their site is used by artists and designers primarily but is useful for anyone... And you will find yourself using color combinations you never dreamed of..
I use the color palette swatch as a guide to gather possible fabrics and also as a guide when making a final selections.
Using a palette that you love as a guide will guarantee a harmonious piece when finished...

I do the same when pulling threads and embellishments.  
Here are some examples of very diverse palettes... Any excite you?


Special buttons

 When I posted the assembled corset books I forgot to point out the very special buttons holding all the pages together.

Years ago I bought these buttons on Ebay.  They were on the original card and their origin was the USA zone of Germany so they can easily be dated to right after WW2 .  They are molded glass with a mirrored backing.  I have tried many times to use them but they always have been too glitzy or too large..  But I have found the perfect home for them and still have a five left.


More ribbon folding "Square Rail Fence"

I Have been dying for a day to experiment with the ribbons I brought back from London... As I thought they are spectacular.  The three folds on the right are "square rail fence" which I have finally mastered.  Kathy Streeter did the instructions for me and after I tweak them a bit I will post them. The top right blue is ribbon I already had.  It had a "right" and "wrong" side which makes doing this fold much easier.   The bottom right red fold is the back side of the "square rail fence"... also very cool. 
The London ribbons are wired and I thought leaving the wires in would make folding easier.  In a way it does but the end result is not as nice. 
I especially like this fold because it is fun to embellish..   You can see the ribbon rose buds on that fold (lower right)...  It was fold with two different colors of seam binding... (by Susie W.)
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