Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Artwork update!

I realized that I don't have any of my artwork posted here... and as geocities is closing I guess I'd better post it somewhere other than Facebook.

So here's a bunch of paintings I've done over the years. As this is a public forum, with a wide range of social values, I will not post my nudes here... though they are beautiful & very proper I don't want to offend anyone.

Red Mermaid
This is a painting of Cori, my best friend. I did a whole series of her as a mermaid. Her favorite was the one where she had a shark's tail.

The best part of this was the "gown" she was wearing. Curtains & safety pins are often the mother of creativity.

Death & The Maiden
White charcoal on black paper
Cori & cousin Chad at a Halloween party. I finally gave it to them.

Jacob Never Sits Still
charcoal on paper
This little boy is beyond cute. When I fist did this portrait he was looking out at me like I was insane. I asked his mom if he had a problem with the photographer. She said he wasn't too crazy about her and thought she was silly (not in a good way). So I asked for a candid shot & got a great portrait. Any expression is always magnified in a painted / drawn portrait.

Orange Blossoms & Low Tea
both charcoal on paper
Both gone or destroyed. Glad I got the photos.

Orange Blossoms is pretty small, and was a study for a painting that never happened. I gave it to Trevor & Jen.

Low Tea was a still life for a class handout on texture. The composition is so-so. The textures were wonderful. I'm sad it got smeared.

Cosmo in Blue
oil on canvas
"Portrait" commission.
Just for future reference, a portrait is of a person, ie human. Not a 'pet portrait,' which is VERY different.
So don't pull that crap on artists. It's not funny, and even though I signed a contract before I knew it was a canine, I'm not a dog painter. So don't even ask. I don't have anything against dogs, but when you say "he's black, is that going to be a problem?" and I assume you think I'm racist, it gets things off on a bad foot... then when you send an image of a dog... well... it's just not good for the soul.

The following are acrylics on various surfaces. All plein air paintings (mostly). I think they fit the 80% rule (don't ask about that either).

Beaver Pond
Acrylic on Paper
Hot, buggy day. It was lovely. I added the beaver, they were all sleeping.

Farmall M
Acrylic on canvas
Lovely, perfect summer day.
Only city folks don't like this one.
That tractor didn't move for years. Now it goes all over the place.
I don't like the frame it's in.

Letchworth, Lower Falls.
Acrylic on Canvas
I hiked down to the lower falls several times a week for this summer. Got to know the lady at the snack shack really well. I think I finished just after 4th of July.
My calves were killer.

I don't know if this one still exists.

Too Cold to Cut Corn
November 2006?
acrylic on panel
It was really cold & damp this day. The field was being cut as I painted. The title should have been "too wet to cut corn" because Joel got stuck in the lower field (you can see the ruts in the mud). He managed to finish that section before I did.

This got a judges choice award at a local show. The really nifty thing is that it changes with the light. Kinda like those portraits with eyes that follow you.

Glenice's Camp
oil on canvas
Don't remember when I did this. It was almost all done at once on site. There were only a few touch-ups from memory in the foreground & brightening the sky a little.

Glenice's real name is Janice, but somehow it got all switched around and stuck.

Bumpy Yellow Squash
watercolor on paper
This still life destroyed my favorite t-shirt. Worth the sacrifice.

Onions & Tomatoes
watercolor on paper
This is much better now. Someday I may re-photograph it. I painted it for a JoAnn's watercolor beginner level class. The class didn't run, but I got invited to teach in Italy because of it. The checkered cloth is a memory, replaced with a beautiful John Vesure vase.
Can't imagine why I didn't get any takers on that class...

Row of fruit
watercolor on paper
I made this for a class exercise. Fun... I should mention I was teaching, not taking the class... and the fruit was from someone's pear tree. Free still life, even better!

Last but not least, the Sculpy sculptures!

Dragon Bride Eating Groom
Sculpy clay, satin, tulle, thread, glue wire, tin foil, 1/2 Bratz Doll, fake flowers, acrylic paint, etc.
This was a commission from Sara Berg & Eric Schuman for their wedding cake topper. It was their idea, not mine. Really.
But I laughed like crazy while I was making it. It still makes me giggle.
It was in a show called Humor in Art at the RIT gallery. They dropped it and didn't tell me. It's cracked all to pieces underneath. I glued it for Sara, but it's not the kind of thing you can handle much.

Purple Dragon
sculpy clay, wire, tin foil, acrylic paint.
This was a birthday present for my husband, who was not my husband then.
His wings are a little cracked from being taken to show & tells at various demonstrations, but other than that, it's all good.
He collects dust on the book case, but when we played D&D he was a great trick to set on the battle mat.

I haven't taken any photographs of my work in the last couple years. When I get to it I'll post. There are a few really great acrylics, and the occaional drawing that have been stunning, but nothing fabulous aside from clothes. I guess fabric designs have taken over that aspect.

Some of these are for sale, if you are curious, e-mail me.
Please don't take the images for your own profit, they are all copyrighted.
If you want one as wall paper, e-mail me and I'll send you a high-resolution version.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Covered Buttons Using Wooden Blanks

Everybody who sews knows how to use those little covered button kits that you get at fabric supply stores like JoAnn's etc. You know, those metal disks with the plastic plungers that you have to hammer down or press with a spool of thread, or hook on those little metal teeth... that never really work out right (maybe 3 out of 5 turn out correctly, at least for me)...
And they cost $3 a batch.
And sometimes your fabric is just too thick and won't go in (wool).
And you (I) end up crushing, losing, messing up a bazillion times?
And forget it if you want a directional button 'cuz your flower is going to tip to the side no matter what...
For historic clothes they work well as a quick fix. But for serious Thread Counters, it's like putting a zipper in a pair of 1720's breeches. Or (gasp!) metal grommets in a 1600's corset! You can't see it, but you know it's there. (BTW, I've been asked to do both of these things).

The solution to this is using wooden blanks covered with fabric, just like it was done back then!

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make this simple, easy & elegant button.
(Do I sound like DIY or what?)

1. Gather your materials.
Hand sewing thread (cotton, linen, silk) It must be thicker than regular thread as you are going to pull on it a lot.
Wooden blanks (you can get these at any craft supply store, they are really inexpensive. Look for them in the "wood" section).
Fray-check (optional)

2. Lay 2 of the disks side by side on the back of your fabric & create a square around them. This is the size of your fabric disk. Cut as many cloth circles as you need.*
Note: I always cut circles from squares. It helps me keep the size right, and things don't get lopsided... also write down how big your square is in case it's too big/small.
*Do one test first to make sure you've got the size right.
I always cut extras because I know I'll mess up at least 3 times.
If you are cutting silk, or some other fabric that likes to fray, draw your circles on, fray check, let dry, then cut... test it first!

3. Secure your thread about 1/8" in from the edge of the fabric circle and then make a running stitch all the way around. (See the picture above).

4. Place your (sanded & cleaned*) wooden blank in the center of the fabric circle, hold it down with your finger & slowly pull the thread to tighten the gathers around the blank.

note: if your fabric runs, you will have to lightly fray-check the edges before doing this... not all fabrics can handle this amount of stress without reinforcement.
*Don't be perfect. As long as it's not going to cut the fabric, it's OK

5. Push the fabric down flat, making sure it's tight in front and not bunching up in back. It should meet in a nice star-burst pattern.

Note: if it's bunching up in back, the circle is too big. If it doesn't meet, the circle is too small. Re-cut your circles. Sometimes it's 1/16" off.

6. Carefully overcast stitch across the middle, catching each fold & pulling the thread tight. You should end up with something resembling the spokes of a wagon wheel.

Secure your thread. Do not cut!

7. When you know what direction your button holes are going, orient your button correctly and create the shank by passing the thread under some of the fabric & the threads in the center of the button. Do this a minimum of 5 times, 10 is better. Make sure your loops are even and not through the same hole every time. You want a secure shank, not something that will pull out.
Once you have all the loops finished, secure the thread again. DO NOT CUT.

Wrap the thread around the loop to create a single shank. You can tie knots periodically by looping the thread back through itself.
Finally, secure the thread at the other side of the shank, lose it in the fabric & cut.

Your final buttons will look something like these.

To sew them on...
Mark your button placement, secure your thread and stitch in the middle a few times.
Going from the center toward one edge, stitch the slack of the shank down.
Then go toward the other side to make the button sit evenly.
Leave a little bit of play so you have room for the fabric on the buttonhole side.
Secure your thread & cut.

The really nice thing about these buttons is that they are 100% historically correct (1500's - 1950's), long-lasting and very inexpensive. They take a little more time to make than the 'fold& press' covered buttons, but about the same amount of time as the 'hook on the metal teeth' covered buttons.

You can't let these buttons sit in water. They are wood and will swell & crack.
If your garment needs washing, either spot treat, hand wash quickly (5 minutes max), or at the very least don't let it sit in the washing machine over night; dry it right away. On low.
Or you can seal the wood before sewing the buttons together. Thompson's Water Seal is great to dip these things in.

Do a double cloth-covered button for a more plush look.
Add a bit of stuffing on top for a padded button (either before you sew it on, or carefully spread the fibers & stuff it, then re-arrange the fibers to close again.
For a domed look, use a rounded top wood blank.
Hand-embroider the button material prior to cutting for a truly custom look.

Note: This entry is totally DIY/FLN/Martha Stewart-ish. Will someone please slap me the next time I do something like this??? Seriously, it'll be good for me.