Friday, February 27, 2015

Animal Quilt - Kakapo

The next animal I'm working on is the Kakapo. This endangered little parrot is just too cute and I thought that since he doesn't have a great deal of detail that he would be another good one to start painting. I forgot to take a picture of the line drawing first but believe me you didn't miss anything. It just looked like a fat weird bowling pin shape with eyes and a beak.

This bird is full of greens and yellow. I started with the brightest green color and roughly laying it in avoiding the bright yellow chest and head. Then I added the yellow areas and blending that into the green. Next, I layered some dark green and a greenish brown color to shade some of the beak area. I let this dry for several hours.

Next, I added background colors. This little parrot likes to walk on the forest floor so the background is an abstract of greens and browns. After a while, I thought some leaf shapes would look good peaking in from the sides and so I added those.  In the second picture, it looks like I lost a lot of the shapes and so when the second layer dried, I went back in and added more leaves. 

I'm thinking of painting some leaves separately and then appliquéing them to the area in front of the bird for a more 3 dimensional look. It's just an idea I'm kicking about but it has potential.

Next, I filled in some facial details really making the face pop. The little cheeks looked like it had some peach in it but I couldn't get the inks to work well. So I mixed red in with some white and a lot of yellow and more white just to get that hint of color. 

With some additional white highlights, here's the finished Kakapo. This one came together fairly easily. Hopefully the rest will be too! 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Animal Quilt - Orangutan

The next animal portrait for my Animal Quilt is the Orangutan. This portrait is making me nervous. Hair/fur is notoriously hard to draw but I'm hoping this little guy's big eyes and cute smile will be the focus not his hair. I started with rough outline of the little Orang. I started painting the background in abstract greens since he lives in the jungle and added the first layer of skin tone.

I added body color and added the facial details. Before it just looked a weird skeleton and was starting to get into my head so I had to fix that. I also added the first hints of fur.

I kept adding to the facial features highlight and shading and blending over and over. I'm still not happy with the white ink. It either disappears into your fabric or becomes kind dull.  I also added several more colors of the fur from dark brown to orange to even a bright yellow. I'm still not happy with the eyes or the hand but I think he turned out okay.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Animal Quilt - Leopard

I've been playing around with the new paints I bought. My practice/learning piece is the Amur Leopard. Not that it matters what animal it is because I'm just learning how these paints work.

I'm pleased to say that the fabric has remained soft even after using the paint and extender Ink Potion No. 9. so that's a win. The paints also go on MUCH darker and lighten as they dry. I can see where I'll have to go over some areas 2-3 times to get the right shade.  I'm also mixing colors a bit to get the right color hue so we'll see how that works out.

I can also see where I maybe working on 2-3 pictures at one time. If you add another color or layer down and your fabric is still just slightly wet then it will bleed everywhere.  Not good. So there's going to have to be drying time accounted for during this process.

My leopard is a nice golden beige but all the paints I have are no where near tan, golden or anything resembling the color of leopard fur. So I'm using brown, reddish brown, beige and white to get a lighter brown color. Seriously. 

I discovered the bleeding problem when I added some black spots. I thought it was dry.  It was not. As you can see the black spots are fuzzy in some places. I'm hoping I can fix it but I doubt it. It may work out though. Animals are fuzzy and I can't capture hair all that well so I'll have to ask my husband for his artistic opinion.

The background is just going to be minimal on all of my pictures. Its about the animal not the background. This particular background is supposed to be some dry grasses. Although my leopard isn't finished its close but I've already learned a great deal about using these paints, extender, bleeding and drying times.

Remember, this portrait is also going to be quilted and quilting can add a lot of interest and details that you wouldn't normally consider. But I'll wait until I figure out how to paint these portraits before worrying about the quilting.

I wanted to add some yellow color to my leopard and had to order the ink. I just added some highlights to it and finished the eye area.  I also used my black fabric pen to hopefully cover some of the black spot bleeding areas. I really needed to do the spots after I set the other colors but live and learn. I may do this one again at a later date once I get the hang of the inks.

Friday, February 13, 2015

New Quilt Project - Animal Portraits

Last year, I took a portrait class at Quilt Trends with Maria Elkins. If you don't know who Maria is, I'd suggest you take a look at her website She's awesome and all should bow down to her and her craftiness. She taught the class on portraits and showed us her method of making portraits out of fabric. My little giraffe came out pretty cute but the quilting really helped it out giving it some extra details. Here's some before/after pictures.

So this was the class that got me thinking about making an animal portrait quilt specifically of endangered animals. At first, I thought I could maybe do them as black/white thread art type pictures but discarded that idea fairly quickly. I can't image working with nothing but black thread on white fabric for literally months on end. Then, I thought I could simply do what I did for the giraffe portrait and use fabric. This wasn't a bad idea but I do want to get it done sometime during my lifetime. 

What I can really do well is draw. Paint? Not so much but its close enough to drawing that I usually think I can pull it off. So I decided to draw the animals instead, paint and then quilt them. But I've never done that before but I know someone who has. Yes, Maria Elkins. Maria's quilt "Windblown" was done using the same technique. If you've never seen it take a look on her website. It's beautiful. 

Next, I decided to buy some supplies including, prepared for dyeing fabric (PFD), paints (All Purpose Ink by Tsukineko), paint extender, markers and new brushes. I took a piece of the fabric and outlined a 10x10" square, found a picture of an Amur Leopard and got drawing. The outline is rough with focus on the eye, nose and mouth area and I used a good 'ole No. 2 pencil so nothing fancy. After that it's all about color and spots and that's nothing to do with a pencil but I added the spots/dark areas so I'd know where they go. The leopard will be my test piece.

The next step is to make a chart of the paint. If you've never painted before sometimes colors are not what they seem. They're super dark or light or simply not what you were thinking it would be. So make sure you make a color chart. 

I think the one that surprised me was the sand. I think of sand as a tan color and this color came out fairly dark. I think it should be re-labeled as wet sand since that makes me think of a darker color. The chocolate also seemed a bit more red to me than brown. So that's the type of thing you want to know about before you start on any good fabric. 

This color chart also serves to show how much your paint is going to run on your fabric.  This didn't run or bleed at all which is good to know, but that isn't going to help me shade or blend colors. Fabric isn't like a slick watercolor paper. Its porous and paint is just going to soak through. So, I bought a paint extender. 

Its called Ink Potion No. 9. I bought a small bottle just to see how it works and lightly spritzed the bottom fabric of my paint chart and my brush. I got two colors and very quickly applied the paint. The paint immediately wicked and bled a little and I was able to scrub the paint together blending them and getting rid of any hard paint lines.  Awesome! 

Now, I just have to wait for this to dry and see how hard it makes the fabric. Some extenders are not kind to fabric once they dry and I don't want to quilt on something hard and scratchy feeling. My medium is fabric not sandpaper.

Just another note about the paint or ink. It's permanent with heat not when it dries so technically it'll wash fine if I really mess something up but I don't know if it really washes out or not.  Sounds like that will be another test. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Baked Vanilla Doughnuts TryOut

I've been perusing several food blogs and came across several and I decided that I would pick a recipe from these blogs and try them out myself. This recipe comes from Chocolate Moosey. If you click here it will take you the Chocolate Moosey website recipe for Baked Vanilla Doughnuts but I warn you. This website is like five kinds of awesome so be prepared.

The recipe reminds me of a dense vanilla cupcake in doughnut form. It's pretty good but I warn you now. This recipe only made 11 doughnuts for me and the recipe says 9 so you may have to double it if you want to freeze some. I decided my large KitchenAid mixer probably would have a hard time mixing so little ingredients and figured I'd just stir it all together myself.

I got my dry and my wet ingredients together. The recipe calls for vanilla bean pods and vanilla extract. I didn't have any vanilla bean pods laying around but that's okay. I use vanilla bean paste which is made from the pods and has lots of little specks of vanilla goodness in it.

It also helps if you have two doughnut pans. I picked mine up at my local Joanns store for a few dollars. I gave the pan a spritz of cooking spray although I probably didn't need to.

These little guys cooked in about 8 minutes. I tested them with a toothpick to ensure they were done. They're really easy to throw together and I'm sure you could make the dough before going to bed. Just put it into a zip baggy and in the morning snip the end and dispense it into your doughnut pan and viola breakfast is done.

In lieu of making a glaze, I had some leftover vanilla frosting in a can in my refrigerator waiting to be used. I simply melted the frosting in the microwave until I had a thin consistency and just spooned it over the doughnuts. You can use other toppings such as cinnamon and sugar, maple or powdered sugar. No matter which way you prefer them I'm sure they're a winner.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

New Quilt Project - Affairs of the Heart

Well, its winter and the weather isn't pleasant so that means its time for a project that I can work on in the evenings away from my machine. I decided I'd work on some applique blocks for the Affairs of the Heart quilt. I prep the squares and grab my batik scraps and get sewing.  I didn't think I was doing a whole lot but I've already got 8 blocks done.

This quilt has some sashing between a group of blocks and the large border and I've decided it would pretty to embroider the sashing. The sashing is 1.5" and I'm thinking it should stay that width and not any bigger. I did some testing and I didn't like it wider.  I want to enhance the blocks not detract or under or overwhelm them.

Since these blocks have a ton of colors in them an the background is entirely white, I thought I'd find a nice embroidery patterns with flowers and/or heart themes since that's what in the blocks and maybe use a variegated rainbow type thread. So begins the auditions of thread to see what would look best with the blocks I've got done. There's a lot of different types of thread and I picked up one that I thought might work.  Its Superior Rainbows metallic thread Forest 811 that variegates between every color of the rainbow as far as I can tell and then some.  Here's my first stitched sample using this thread.

I wish I liked it better but I don't. I may need to find something brighter. Its' fairly underwhelming. This probably looks really good on a navy blue or black fabric but on white it just doesn't do anything for me. It's a test piece so maybe I'll try it out on another color. I still like the design and I think it'll work out fine. Instead of lots of colors, I should probably go with a solid. I think I have a gold thread that might work. 

Hand stitching the applique or needle turning these designs has been challenging yet fun. Some of the designs are quite difficult and I may have to restitch some pieces or entire blocks. I always seem to start off bad but by the end of the quilt, I'm in the groove and so I'll go back and redo some of the early blocks I did.