Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Silk prep and drop spindles

There. My least favorite part of silk painting is done: the initial prep work. After several hours standing at the ironing board, I now have 24 extra large silk scarves all washed and ironed and ready for the dye. Next up is playing in the colors! These scarves will end up being a dozen of my silk ruanas. Now that my photography class is almost done for the summer (tomorrow is the last day), I can devote a chunk of time to making things to re-stock the Etsy shop. And since I love my own prototype ruana so much, I plan on adding the silk ruanas to the product line. Stay tuned for some color shots!

Oh, and just for fun, here is a picture of my drop spindle collection. Over on the 365 project ( I'm posting a picture a day for a year. Last night I realized I hadn't taken a picture all day. I haven't missed a day yet since January 1, and I wasn't about to start now. So I looked around the studio, and saw the canister full of spindles. I put them out on some black poster board, and took the shot. I kind of like it.

And now I think I need to find a better way to display my spindle collection than just tucked into a canister. Maybe a shadow box, so they look like this picture? Or a mobile, hung from the ceiling? Or a display rack? What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The finished ruana

I've been working on making a hand painted and hand woven cotton ruana. If you look back a few posts, you'll see the process that I went through.

Well, the weaving went surprisingly quickly, once I got it onto the loom. I was actually able to weave off the yardage in one day.

After I got it off the loom, I washed the fabric in the washing machine on hot, and then tossed it into the dryer. It came out of that with a lovely soft hand to the fabric. I cut the yardage into half, put the two rectangles next to each other, and sewed them together not quite halfway up the yardage. Then I hemmed the cut ends.

Today, I took my finished ruana out to Lake Pleasant, and took some pictures between rain squalls. (I set up the tripod, put the camera on a timer, and then ran back and forth from behind the camera to in front of it.) Here are my two favorites of the pictures.

I am super pleased with how this project came out! And I've done the initial calculations. If I make these for sale, I can put them in the Etsy shop at $335 each. I've got a few other projects on the docket before I can do a production run on these, but I do want to make some more. (Though, if I get a commission I'll certainly bump it up the to-do list.) It was fun to do, and I love, love, love the look and feel of this ruana.

Verdict? Success!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Warping the loom

I've just about got the loom warped up and ready to go. Yesterday I put each thread through the reed, to spread it evenly on the loom.

And then this afternoon I threaded the heddles. Each individual thread goes from where I had it spread through the reed, and then through an individual heddle that will lift it up when I'm weaving. Which of the threads get lifted up at any one time determines the pattern I end up with.

After that was finished, I wound the threads onto the back beam.

And now you can get a hint of how the finished fabric will look like. I think it will be gorgeous!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Painted Warp

Oooh! I really like how yesterday's warp painting job turned out. I can't wait to get this beauty on the loom!!

(No, there really isn't anything more to this blog entry. But the yarn turned out so beautifully that I had to share. As you were.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Warp Painting, and Photoshop blended images

I spent some time this afternoon painting the warp for my woven ruana project. I used Dharma Fiber Reactive dyes, and the instructions on this page: . I chose black, turquoise, blue, and wine red for my colorway. The yarn is sitting all rolled up in saran wrap for the evening, so the dye can set. I'll wash the extra dye out of it tomorrow, and see what I get then.

In the meanwhile, I've been playing with Photoshop at school in my photography class. Oh man, I so need to upgrade the version I have. Elements 7 just doesn't do some of the fun stuff that I was doing this evening.

The current assignment is to blend images together. We used two different methods. In the first, we put two (or more) images next to each other, overlapping slightly. Then we used the auto-blend feature to fuzz the edges and stitch the images together. Here's what I came up with:

My cat, looking at a pond full of ducks. Itty bitty ducks! (Well, ok. They weren't itty bitty when I took the shot of the pond at Bumblebee Ranch. But I love the illusion.)

A horned toad sitting on top of my garden sculpture.

Fireworks + a 'walk' sign at night. (The car was moving, so I got that neat 'whoosh!' to it.)

And my violin, a piano, and my son playing my doumbek.

The second method we used was to lay one image over the second, and then mess about with how opaque the images were. The under image shows through the over image, so both are visible. Like this:

This is one of the fireworks shots, and a photo from last week's SCA fighter practice. I am amused by how perfectly the fireworks ended up being placed. Targeting systems ON!

This is one of the photographs I took of the most recent annular eclipse, seen through the smoke from the Arizona wild fires. I overlaid it with an image of a camp fire.

This is the modeling stand at the local community college, where I spend my time as a life drawing model. The skeleton is my plastic modeling buddy Jerry. He's holding the timer that lets me know when a pose is finally done.

And this one amused me. It is a cotton field, and the sign from the side of a truck. The 'Snow for Arizona' folks were out last Christmas time, making a snow pit for the desert kids to play in. But normally here, if I see a winter field all covered in white fluffy stuff? It is cotton waiting for harvest.

I need to print two pictures from each method of blending images, to turn in on Wednesday. Help! I can't decide! Which ones do you like?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Winding the Warp, and Photography Class

I've been up to my eyeballs keeping up with my photography class this summer. I've got just two weeks left to go. This week, the assignment is to combine two images. I'll have to do that one on the computers at school, because the directions the teacher gave us don't mesh with the old version of Photoshop Elements that I have at home. So, hopefully I'll have some cool shots to show you on Wednesday.

However, the final project that is due next week is to tell a narrative, in 5 images. I spent several days scratching my head trying to figure out what to do...and then decided that at heart I'm a fiber artist. I'd just do one of my projects, and take pictures as I go along.

So, I'm making a prototype hand painted cotton ruana. I love the idea of making wearable art, but I don't know if I can make a loom woven project fast enough to keep the cost down to what folks might pay. So I'm experimenting. At the least, I'll get a final photography project out of the deal, as well as my own beautiful piece of clothing. And then I'll cost things out at the end of the project, and see what I'd have to charge to sell the result.

So far, I've spent 2 hours and 15 minutes. The 3/2 cotton warp is all measured out. It started on the cones. Then I wrapped it around the warping mill to measure the length I wanted. Each bout on the warping mill has enough threads to end up 3 inches wide on the loom. Then I chained the bouts off, to keep them from tangling up. Here's the first of the 5 pictures for my final project:

Tomorrow I hope to get this pile of white cotton all dyed up into a colorful mess. So....what are your favorite color combinations to wear?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

4th of July Fireworks photos

It was just about a perfect 4th of July (US Independence Day) celebration here. There was rain in the morning, which cooled the Phoenix desert down to the point that I could actually have the windows open for most of the day. The rain cleared up by late afternoon, when we went over to some friends' house for a cook-out. And then we went over to join the rest of the community for a traditional fireworks display, with live music. Friends, family, rocking music, hot dogs, ice cream, fire can you go wrong?

For the past several years, I've been attempting to take photographs of the fire works. This year, I think I came pretty close to getting it right. I put my camera on a tripod. I used manual focus. I used a several second long shutter speed, with a mid-range f-stop. (I tweaked that now and again, so I can't tell you an exact setting.) And then I pointed the camera at the sky, waited until I saw the streaking spark of a firework heading upward, pushed the button, and hoped for the best while not touching the camera until the shot was done.

I edited the pictures in Photoshop. Most of these got cropped a bit. All of them had the contrast increased, probably the saturation bumped, and maybe sharpened a little bit.  I think I got pretty close this time around.

Haven't I seen something similar to this next one on the cover of a Science Fiction book? If not, I should have.

I swear this one looks like a palm tree.

And I love how clear this next one turned out.

Some nice traditional blooms.

Big Bang Theory! I'm thinking this next one is what the beginning of the universe must have looked like. What a celebration that must have been!

Look at the smoke shadow in this one. Love it.

And feathers!

So...what do you think? Any tips for next year's efforts?