Sunday, November 29, 2015

Animal Quilt - Center Panel Part 3

I posted about the quilt borders a few days ago by accident. I meant to post the center panel part 3 first but oh well. It's okay. Just pretend you didn't read about the borders first.

A few months ago, I decided to finish my center panel. I wasn't certain if I was going to thread paint it or not. It's a nice painting and I really didn't want to screw it up because its a really big panel to have to re-create.

But all the other animals are thread painted or at least the backgrounds are but I had some reservations about thread painting the rhino. When I used the white ink I had (like for the polar bear) it was a lot more opaque and dried harder than the other inks. So when I tried to thread paint over it it looked like giant holes where punched through the paint which looked really bad. So I avoided thread painting on white areas or ink mixed with white. And the rhino has some white on it and mixed with other colors so I was concerned it was going to look really bad.

But I took a deep breath and started thread painting. I didn't want to thread paint the entire thing because I knew I was going to have to do that to the background and I didn't want to ruin the painting. I just wanted to enhance it. I decided to started in the darkest areas first. I started with black embroidery thread and worked on the horns, ear, eye and mouth area. There's also a small spot of black on the legs/body which isn't shown.

I slowly worked my way out color wise from there. I went to dark gray, brown, gray/brown, silver and a gold/beige color and I focused just on the head area. I want the viewer to really look at the animal so I focused on the head/face area.

I added a little bit of thread painting to the body of the animal just to round it out but I didn't do much.

Since I'm added tall grasses in front of the rhino, I took a variegated thread and did some of the same grass shapes around the sides of the rhino so hopefully those "grasses" will look more like they're in the background. The rest of the background is just a meander stitch done in gold from the grasses up to the top of the panel.

I also started tucking the edges of the fabric around the tree and limbs to make them into an applique that I've started stitching down to the panel. I simply took some fusible tape, stuck it to the fabric edge, rolled the edge under and iron it. The edges are now nice and smooth. Fusible tape is now my new best friend.

As I was stitching the tree branches down, I decided the leaves I had made were not going to make it. They were just too small to have to try to sew down without a bunch of raw edges and that's not the look I'm going for. So I decided to paint more fabric and using my embroidery machine, I embroidered some leaf shapes and I'll applique them down. They're much bigger than what I had and look nice with a finished satin stitch and some leaf veins and stems. I think these leaves will work out nicely for my tree.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Animal Quilt - Borders

I've gotten a lot of my Animal Quilt done and I'm ready to begin the borders. I had this grand idea to make the borders 10" wide and make one with an arctic, savannah and jungle theme with additional paintings of animals but this seemed really daunting to me for some reason. Maybe because they're quite large? I didn't want to screw them up and have to start over? I dunno, but for whatever reason I was dreading doing them. I am really struggling to get excited about them. They're big, complicated animal/nature scenes and I'm worried about them. Period. Just worried about them.

I also keep going back to the footprint theme. I thought before I would have footprints that would fade away as the animal progressed showing that the animal is disappearing. Then I thought I would simply put the footprints of the animals on the back of the quilt. At least they would be somewhere, right?

After sleeping on the problem, I thought I should figure out something else for the borders. And I don't why I hadn't thought of this before but it would've saved me a great deal of worrying. Footprints. I can put the fading footprints around the border.

So I decided to paint more fabric and quilt the footprints on the border and paint them black, gray and light gray and see how that works out. And I think my border will be 6" wide instead of 10". That should give me enough room for footprints and keeps the attention on the animals and it sends the message that these animals are endangered. So win, win all around! I'm really pleased with this idea and my excitement is back!

I've cut my fabric and I've decided to go with "ground" colors. Mostly, browns, greens, yellows and once they dry, I need to work on the footprints.

I've been thinking about the footprints or animal tracks. I'd like to show them fading or disappearing. So how do I do that? How to get the best results without ruining the fabric I painted? I think that's the most challenging part of making something that's not a pattern out of a book. You have to visualize the end result of if you do something one way vs. another and that's not easy. For example, I could draw the animal tracks on my painted fabric, quilt them and then add black ink to the print to make it stand out or I could draw, ink then quilt it. Which would give me better results? Would the ink bleed too much into the surrounding color? Would it look bad - black bleeding into green or yellow? Could I control the bleeding? Experience tells me - not really. I could use a less liquid like product like Inktense pencils. They go one like a color pencil but you lightly get it wet to make it more inky but you have more control. But the color isn't as intense as inks and probably wouldn't cover another color well and just look muddy. So how else to get the tracks on the fabric? I could dye more fabric black, gray, light gray and cut out the prints, fuse them down then quilt them. That would eliminate bleeding and I would have control. This is a lot more work but probably the best.

So I tried it. I had my Cameo cut out a wolf (or dog) paw prints just to see how it would look. I dyed some fabric, cut it and laid the paw prints out on my borders and I hated it. It just looked like gray blobs that didn't really work against the colors I had. I could dye more fabric in brownish colors and that may have worked better but I wanted to make some progress so I went back to the idea of drawing them on myself.

This time I used the oil paint sticks. I roughly sketched out the paw print with my frixon pen and then used a stiff bristled stencil bush and worked the color into the outline I drew. I used wolf, cat, rhino, bear and giraffe prints. After the ink set overnight, I tossed them into the dryer for 30 minutes on high heat. That took off the frixon pen markings and my paw prints look more like they are a part of the border. Like an animal just walked across the ink colored border when it was wet. Some prints are darker and some are really light and hard to see, which is what I was going for.

I quilted around the foot prints and did a simple meader stitch down the rest of the border working around the foot prints. My painting and drawing skills are much more advanced than my sewing/quilting skills that's for sure.

I still need to re-touch some areas but as you can see from the pic below at least one border has been sewn on. I'm in the home stretch of getting this quilt done!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Barn Hunt Ribbon Board

Since River likes scent work, I decided we should try barn hunting. There's a bit more of a "hunt" feel to it, since she really has to search little hidey holes, dig through loose straw and of course climb over bales of straw.

We've completed 2 trials now and she seems to enjoy it. We've gotten a few qualifying ribbons, a third and first place ribbon, a High in Class and of course a title ribbon. And just like with the ribbons she's gotten for scent work, I decided to put together a Barn Hunt ribbon board.

My ribbon boards are simple foam core and this one happens be a gold color. And since I still have some paw print scrapbooking paper and paw print stickers from decorating the scent work board, I went ahead and used them. I found some beige colored ribbon with chocolate paw prints on it and of course I founds some little cat nip mice.

I used my Cameo Silhouette to cut out the letters for each level and decorated the corners with the paw prints ribbon. I scattered some of the paper paw prints around and glued 2 mice down as well. I just have the qualifying ribbons on the board. I've got some longer and bigger place ribbons (1st and 3rd) and a High in Class as well as the title ribbons. I plan on just putting the title ribbons along the bottom and another board for Place and High in Class ribbons. Otherwise this little board would be overwhelmed.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Barn Hunt Trial - Columbus All Breed October 31 & November 1

River and I participated in our second barn hunt trial on October 31 and November 1 at Columbus All Breed. She seemed to really enjoy the barn hunt in Marysville at Anything Goes for Dogs and this one was no different.

We entered at the Novice level and after 1 successful rat hunt, we moved up to Open. We had a time of 1:27 for our 3rd leg of the Novice title. Not bad at all.

The second trial we moved up to Open and it's basically the same as Novice but you find 2 rats instead of 1. River searched the area really well but unfortunately, she only found 1 rat at the 2:30 mark which means we were out of time. So no ribbon for that run but that's okay. She was doing well searching everything but she just didn't hit on the right area.

On Sunday, November 1, we entered into 2 trials. Both were at the Open level. River is used to alerting to a scent when she's on the ground level. Here she has to try to alert to the rat when she's balancing on a wiggly straw bale up against a wall and there's a rat tube on there with her. She's not used to it, so she would sniff the tub and then jump down. Well, I wasn't getting that there was a rat there so I had her check it again but she wouldn't jump up all the way. She tilted her nose upward and that was about it. This happened to us twice. But I called the rat tube even though I wasn't exactly sure but it was right. Out of 2:30 seconds River had a search of 2:27 and 2:29 so we squeaked by literally by a few seconds but we qualified. I think the Judge was more nervous than I was. I asked the Judge when she was awarding ribbons, you know after she pointed out our fantastically close time to everyone in the room, "So the goal isn't to get as close to 2:30 as possible?" and we all had a good laugh.

All in all a fun rat filled weekend.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Adult Coloring Pages

Every day our lives are packed with stress. We are constantly bombarded with news and its usually horrific or shocking from around the world. It's some kind of disaster (natural or otherwise), people being murdered, sold, abused, neglected or tortured. It seems the human race can and does on a regular basis sink further and further to new levels of violence on a daily basis and between TV, computers, radio and smartphones we are constantly hearing all about it.

So we need to find a way to focus our minds on something simple and block out all the garbage and let our minds find some peace. Even tasks such as crochet, knitting or video games takes a certain amount of concentration. If these tasks are fairly routine for your brain and is soothing or calming to you, by all means have a go. But there's another way to "zone out" and turn off your brain. Coloring.

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Amazon will frequently indicate a coloring book for adults is out of stock. I've even heard that publishers can't keep up with demand for coloring books. There's a nice selection of books out there for adults now. Flowers, animals, mandalas and more are just some examples of the kinds of books out there. Some even have treasure hunts in them. Like there are 42 bugs, 120 hearts in the book that you can find while coloring. I used to take a really large coloring poster into work with me and my set of colored pencils. Right after eating my sandwich, I would tape the corners down and get to work for the rest of the lunch hour. Eventually, other's joined in and it became a lunch time ritual, that everyone seemed to enjoy and found relaxing.

The whole point is to just color. Don't think about it too hard. Don't stress about the colors. Don't worry about staying in the lines. Once you get your brain to focus on coloring in the spot you're working on, you'll kinda zone out and then next thing you know you've lost an hour or 3.

I got the BIC Mark-it, ultra fine point markers in 36 colors and I really like them. They're on Amazon for $24.49. They mark quite smoothly and I like the colors. Some are very, very dark which kinda look more black but oh well. I've had these about a month and none have run dry yet and they got good reviews on Amazon. But you can use anything you like from colored pencils to crayons. It doesn't matter. There's a lot of different gel pens on Amazon too, just make sure you read the reviews of all the different packs. Some pens may last longer than others. The good thing is buying some markers and a coloring book, won't break the bank.

The first coloring book I got was Creative Coloring Inspirations which you can find here on Amazon as well for $7.00 or so. The pages are perforated and I would recommend you remove the page you want to work on because these markers will bleed to the back. They don't bleed much but they will mess up the next page in the book if you don't take it out or at least put some kind of blank paper behind it.

Here's a few pictures of the pages I've done from this book. I mostly rotate through all the colors. I like the designs to have a lot of complimentary and contrasting colors and I think it makes for a more interesting picture. But that's just me. I'm sure that whatever you choose it will turn out great. But remember, the point is to relax.