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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Venice Door art quilt



I took a lot of shots of doors when we visited Italy last spring. I've always loved doors and windows, but the doors in Venice were really something special with their first step being right into the canal! I have shared with you the basic steps that I follow for making one of these little fabric collage quilts in a previous project, Ghost in the Wall, so I'll refer you to the written instructions on that post. Here, I'll just show you photos of the steps, and explain how I finished off the bottom of this one:


Digital photo transfered to muslin, fabric, and batting


Fabric wrapped and mitered around batting, backing pinned on (I removed it until after all stitching was completed on the front)


Image applied to front and eyelets inserted


To finish off the bottom:
Create hooks with spirals on each end. I used 4 inches of brass wire from Vintaj, and hammered it flat for more strength. Wire up some beads and charms to add to the spiral hook. I used copper wire, about 3 inches, and created a large simple loop at the top which would slip through the spiral on the hook. At the bottom, I made a wrapped loop, and hung a charm with a jump ring from it. The beads are some of the Murano glass beads that I bought while we were visiting Venice and Murano. They are the perfect accent to remind me how wonderful and magical our trip to that gorgeous region was!



Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

How to make fabric hearts

Slightly stuffed fabric hearts with lots of trim!


These hearts are super-easy to make. I don't ever use a pattern for them, although I suppose you could make yourself a paper pattern if you really wanted to. Also, if you decide to do more complicated shapes than my simple hearts, a pattern might be a good idea. Either way, you can use either a sewing machine or hand-stitching to assemble them. I used a combination, but did as much as possible on the machine, because I am LAZY!!


1. I folded a piece of fabric, right sides together, and cut out my hearts free hand. See how the point at the bottom is on the seam? That means you won't have to pin it at all to sew it unless the fabric is slippery.


2. Before sewing, I added a ribbon or yarn to each of them. Put it between the layers, on the inside. Pin each end, and the middle if you need to in order to keep it from getting stitched into a seam by mistake as you stitch around the rest of the heart. You can see the ends of my ribbons sticking out in the photo above after the heart has been sewn. 3. Sew all the way around the heart, starting from the bottom point.


4. You could leave a small space unsewn in order to turn the heart right side out, hand-stitching it shut later, but I'm too lazy even for that. Slit up one piece of the fabric and turn your heart through that. Place the slit in such a place that it will be later covered by embellishments, or place it on the back and hand-stitch it closed after stuffing.


5. Stuff the heart lightly with batting, and add your embellishments. Stitch them into place wherever needed to keep them from sliding off.





Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Rusted fabrics




Take one well-rusted object:




Wrap it in a cloth that has been saturated with white vinegar and let it sit overnight:




Unwrap the cloth and hang it to finish drying. Iron when dry:



I'll figure out a project to use this for later! Happy rusting :-)

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Making Ghost in the Wall (fabric collage)


I love to use my digital images in physical work! I never have to worry about copyright issues. I know that my images can be as mundane or as bizarre as the situation calls for. But mostly, after spending a lot of time at the computer, I like to step away and get my hands dirty, so to speak!

For this little art quilt collage, you’ll need to gather up some items, including the fabrics and interfacing that you want to use, the printed out image, some embellishments, and the tools: a cutting board and rotary cutter (or scissors), an iron, awl, hammer, eyelet setter, needles and threads, wire cutters, and chain nose pliers. Here are the steps that I already took to create the digital image that I’m using for this project.

1. Print out the image that you wish to use on Ink jet T-shirt transfer paper. Cut it to size.


2. Cut out the interfacing (I used Timtex for this piece, a very heavy and stiff fabric), and cut your front fabric 4 inches longer and wider. Center the fabric on the front of the interfacing, and wrap it around to the back, creating mitered corners as shown above. Use a hot iron to crease the mitered folds sharply, but don't adhere or stitch them down yet.


3. Iron the image onto muslin according to the directions on the package of transfer paper.


4. Use your awl, eyelet setter and hammer to insert eyelets into each corner and wherever else you'd like to attach embellishments. I use the top two for hanging the piece, and the ones across the bottom for hanging dangles.


5. Stitch on the surface embellishments. Bury the threads in the back under the fabric flaps as much as possible. This is why you don't want to stitch them down in the beginning; the eyelets in the corners will hold the fabric from slipping while you work. Finish by stitching the mitered corners together and to the interfacing.


6. Decide what your piece needs for hanging embellishments.


7. Use your wire cutters and pliers to hang the dangles. You can also add fancier hooks to the top two holes, but I didn't want to on this piece. Maybe I'll go back later and add them once I know where the piece will hang.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Making Ghost in the Wall (digital steps)


Since we’re coming up on the Halloween season, I’ve been thinking about spooky stuff a little bit. Last week, Diane challenged me to show her how I would use my texture photos in a real piece. OK, Diane, I’m in!

This is going to be a several step project, and the first part is digital. In a week or so, I’ll be able to share the finished physical project and all of the steps, but first things first. I decided to use images from the bunch that I shared last week:




My files were digital to start out with, so I just worked with them as is in Photoshop. If you have physical film shots that you’d like to use, simply scan the images and open them in your image editing software.

Here are my steps, as near as I can reconstruct them, for merging these images into a new composite.

1. Open images, and crop the parts you wish to use. Resize as needed so that all images will be compatible. I usually size everything to 300 pixels per inch when I intend to eventually print the image out. You can see that in the examples above, I used just the window grate from the one picture, and the closely cropped face from the other.

2. Start a new file and open the image you want to use as the background. Copy it so you won’t be working on your original image. I chose the grate for the background.

3. Move the other image on top of the first. Play with the blending modes until it looks the way you want. I used “Hard Light” and chose an opacity and fill of about 75% each. It gave the face the ghostly look, with the grate seeming to be engulfed within it.

4. Shrink your second image and place it in a new layer on top of the layer stack. I used “Hard Light” again, but this time I allowed the opacity to stay at 100% so that the image floated on the top. I also went into the layer and erased most of the image that surrounded the face so that there wouldn’t be a noticeable rectangle around it.

5. I created a grungy-looking black frame and filled the middle of it with aqua (the color that seeps through in a Polaroid image transfer). This layer was inserted under the other three image layers, and I erased around the edges of the other layers to allow the frame and some of the color show through.


Next week, I hope I’ll have my little fabric collage all finished so I can show you want I ended up doing with Ghost in the Wall.


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Monday, September 22, 2008

Texture photos


I use photo images in so much of my work that my camera has become my most essential tool. Even when we went to Italy, I spent a certain amount of time just simply shooting things that would make interesting texture shots. Most of these are less interesting as compositions than they are in terms of how they can be used in the future: backgrounds or elements of a collage, a layer in a digital piece, warped and Photoshopped into something else…

Do you spend time shooting elements for later use too?






Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Text in Stitches


Here is a brilliant online tool that will allow you to chart your text in six different fonts. These are perfect for cross stitch, backstitch, or even beading! Text in Stitches has been made available by StitchPoint.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Graphic-style florals


I can hardly say the word "poppies" without hearing the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West as she croons, "Something with poison in it, I think. With poison in it, but attractive to the eye—and soothing to the smell! Poppies! Poppies! Poppies!"

Anyway. I took lots of pictures of poppies and other wildflowers in Italy, and decided to try something a little different with them. Floral images are often great subjects to play around with in Photoshop and other image-editing software. Just when you think that everything has been done with a flower that can possibly be done, you find some new digital tricks that you’ve not thought of before.

Although I like "plain old plain old" flower photos, I’m always tempted to see what else I can do with them. Here’s one such experiment:

1. Crop small piece of image and increase resolution to slightly pixilate

2. Boost contrast using levels

3. Add grain. Layer>new layer>>overlay mode, check fill

4. Filter>Noise>Add noise>>amount 100%, gaussian distribution, check monochromatic

5. Blur the shadows. Copy the layer, add gaussian blur 5, darken mode

6. Recover some detail in lights. Double click layer to open dialog box> move white slider below “This layer”

7. Flatten layers

8. Add edge burning. New layer, large soft brush with black, adjust opacity.

9. Flatten layers again


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watercolor backgrounds for mixed media

Sometimes I forget that there are other media in the world that are useful for creating backgrounds besides my usual acrylics. Watercolors, for example. No instructions are needed for a piece like this:


The only thing I would caution, though: if you plan to use your watercolor background with other wet media in the future, spray it several times with Krylon fixative, or it will run. That’s what watercolor does!

So here's how I used it: It struck me after I had fooled around and painted the watercolor background paper, that it would be a really good backdrop for some of my pictures of Venice. I’ve been sorting through them, and I particularly love the doors and windows, weathered and peeling as some of them are. So I scanned my watercolor piece, and sized the Venice images to fit:


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Mounting beaded pieces


I have been participating in the year-long project known as the Beaded Journal Project, or BJP, started by Robin Atkins. You can see all of my pieces on the BJP website. When they were all finished, I needed to figure out how to mount them.

I used 12″x24″ gallery-wrapped Frederix canvases to mount my the pages. Each one is 6″x4″, so this left plenty of space around them.



Materials and Tools

3 gallery-wrapped canvases
Golden’s acrylic paints
Sponges
Waxed paper
Beading thread
Beading needles

1. Arrange beaded cards as they will be on the canvases. Mine are arranged by month: otherwise I may have grouped the colors somewhat differently.

2. Test the colors that you plan to use. I only ended up using one color on each canvas, despite the mottled look that they have.

3. Sponge on a first thin layer of color. Apply it in wide sweeping circles. As soon as it’s tacky dry, apply a second layer, not covering the canvas evenly, but allowing darker spots to form. I used slightly smaller circular sponging to accomplish this.

4. Let them dry at least overnight so that your work won’t stick to the acrylics.

5. Pin the pages in place and stitch them on from the back. Heavy pages will need extra stitching spots to avoid drooping later on.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Making an abstract collage that focuses on shape and repetition

Cosmic Flowers

This one almost got named Lucy in the Sky with Flowers, but that seemed too cutesy. Cosmic Flowers is a fantasy abstract that I created when I was fooling around with repetition of shapes. I would recommend reviewing my post on creating an abstract, where I quoted Nita Leland’s explanation that the elements and principles of design are what an abstract is really "about". To add a bit to that here, let me share another quote with you from Nita’s Creative Collage Techniques:

The elements of design are the tools with which you construct the framework for your collage….The principles of design are the rules that you apply to the elements of design to organize your collage into a unified whole.

Keeping all that in mind, the elements that I primarily focused on were shape, size, and color, and the principles that I primarily used to create the piece were repetition, rhythm, and harmony. The color scheme is an analogous one, with a few splots of the complementary colors thrown in. This usually results in a very harmonious color combination, but not one that is static or boring. Secondly, I played with the size of the circle shapes, from single beads up to the largest (about 1″ across) punched circles. The repetition of the circle shape across the various sizes helps to unify the piece. The paper circles were cut from floral images in a catalog. The placement of the clusters of circles, looking like flowers themselves, was designed to develop a rhythm as your eye moved around the piece. Single circles and smaller ones were placed around for balance.


I wish I could give you the "Three Simple Rules for Making An Abstract", but I really don’t think they exist. Most of this design work simply happens without too much thought as you move your potential pieces around and make decisions about what stays, what goes, and what gets moved. Still, I think it’s helpful at times to look at your piece and analyze the design elements and principles that you see in effect, and consider whether tweaking them somehow would create a stronger piece.

Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Messing around with curves

Bear Lake Trail, before

Sometimes it’s well worth reaching back into your own archives and revisiting something. I went to hike the Rockies with my family when I was in high school. I love this particular shot taken from Bear Lake Trail, and I’ve used it for several different pieces over the years.

So, how about surreal?

Bear Lake Trail, after

There are only a few steps used in making a surreal landscape like this in Photoshop, but that doesn’t mean that it’s fast and easy! I spent more time on this piece than on many that have far more steps. Take you time and play around…it’ll be worth it!

1. Open your original image in Photoshop and size it as desired.

2. Make a copy layer of your image to fool with.

3. Go to Image –> Adjustments –> Invert

4. Add a curves adjustment layer and go to town!

5. Adjust lightness, saturation, and contrast to suit.

6. Use the Multiply blending mode for your adjustment layer.

7. Crop a portion of the landscape that pleases you.



Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Painting your summer sandals

The Owl and the Pussycat

I shared this pair of painted sandals before, but I thought I should show you a second pair and maybe suggest that it might be a nice project for a quick pair of summer wearable art.

I don’t like buying new shoes. In fact, I tend to wear the same pair of sandals all year, even in the snow. When they get worn out, I do buy a new pair (the exact same style…aren’t I exciting?), but I can’t stand to just throw out the old pair.

So I usually paint them.

Acrylic paints, a black fine-tipped marker, and clean sandals are all you need!

1. Choose your colors of acrylic paint: a main background color and a couple of accent colors.

2. Using a sponge or foam brush, paint all the leather surfaces of the straps with your main color. Mine was turquoise. Let the paint dry.

3. Lightly sponge on your accent colors. I’ve always found that I get a better look if I return to my main color last, and lightly sponge it on as if it were also an accent color. Make sure you let the paints dry between colors.

4. Using a fine-tipped black marker, write or doodle whatever you want. I used a Zig Millennium pen with a bullet tip.

5. Use a heat gun to help set the colors and words further. Don’t get it too close or the paint may bubble.

6. Spray your shoes with a light coating of Krylon acrylic fixative.

Baa baa, Black Sheep



Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Waxed paper transfer collage



Here’s the image that I started with for this piece:



It wasn’t high resolution or anything: just a pretty picture. I used Golden’s Digital Ground White, and stroked it onto a piece of waxed paper, adding a few layers until the piece was covered where I planned to print. The image printed out quite well, and stayed a bit wet for awhile. I didn’t worry about that, though, since I planned to do a transfer. The transfer was made onto plain white copy paper, using the instructions for a basic paper image transfer.

Once the transfer was completed and dry, this is how I assembled the collage:

1. Paint a wrapped canvas frame. I used dark teal green acrylic.

2. Apply a wash of gesso, thinned with water.

3. Add layers of cheesecloth, using matte medium to adhere them.




4. Slice up the image transfer and use matte medium to adhere it to the canvas. Use a layer of waxed paper and a heavy book to make it dry flat.

5. Add a bit of black to your gesso to create a medium gray tone, and wash the piece with a very thin layer. Gray adds a chalky look. Mess up the edges of the image a bit.

6. Add some extra-heavy gel medium around the edges for more texture and let it dry.

7. Add another thin coat of matte medium to the entire piece.

8. Layer teal green glazes and white gesso until it looks good. Stop before you go too far!


9. Apply a final thin layer of gray gesso.


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.


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