Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thinking About the Fam

Granddaddy, an ancestor book
This time of year often brings memories and family issues to the forefront. For me, I can't get through a Thanksgiving without thinking of my own father, who passed away suddenly 20 years ago on the Friday after Thanksgiving. I will never forget the last conversation I had with him the evening before he died.

Last year at this time, I got word that an artist friend of mine had lost her daughter quite suddenly following a seizure. In December my daughter-in-law's mother died after two years of fighting cancer in various forms. In the Spring, my favorite Aunt died. She was elderly, but had remained vibrant until the very end. This past August, my brother died very suddenly, a week after being diagnosed with cancer. We never found out exactly what kind it was; it didn't matter, since there was nothing they could do.

Such news is always shocking and sad, and reinforces for me how important it is to live each day, express my love to those I love, and make the day count for something. Life is too fragile to do otherwise.

I have made a lot of artwork over the years around these issues, some of which I have posted on this blog. Making art, at least for me, is the only way I have found to face these losses, to begin to find meaning in my soul. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Journal Workshop

Gayle's Tri-fold journal
Anyone who knows me also knows how much I love journals. I have been making and keeping journals for most of my adult life. I love this compact tri-fold journal, because it's so beautiful, and is small enough to bring anywhere.

I had a fun group of women this past weekend in my Tri-fold Journal workshop. They did meticulous work, and we all had a lot of fun, chatting away while we worked.

Stitching the journal covers together

Arrange and affix the finishing squares for the edges
Bind the paper signatures in place

and voila! a beautiful journal

Thanks, guys. Had a really fun time with you guys!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Upcycling with Paint: New Fabric

As I mentioned in my last post, I was experimenting with various paints from my stash to re-do some fabric that was slightly faded.
The fabric is a stretch cotton, so it took the paint a bit differently than, say, silk or plain cotton.

Since I want to use the remaining skirt and spaghetti strap ties that I cut off this dress, I upcycled the fabric with a watercolor effect. I dampened the fabric in my washer, then placed one of my painting boards underneath the circle of the skirt. Then, I simply painted away, adding my Jacquard Dyna-Flow blue paint directly from the jar to the black areas, which darkened them up nicely, and wetting my brush a bit to spread the paint in the formerly white areas.  I love how it came out, and can't wait to create an upcycled piece with it!

A final note: Mary Helen, I have been trying for days to leave a reply to your comment, and have been unsuccessful. Blogger must be having some issues if I can't even comment on my own blog! Anyway, thanks for taking the time to have a look.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Discharge and Painting Experiments

Discharge complete, here is the wet shirt.
Earlier this week, I posted a picture of a t-shirt tied and ready for discharge. I mentioned in one of my comments on that post how fun it is to discharge fabric and purchased shirts, because you never know that color they will become once the discharge is complete.

In the photo to the left, you can see the shirt that has been discharged, soaked in vinegar and untied, still wet, sitting on my bucket in the utility sink.

I immediately washed the shirt, then dried it. Here's how it came out. The navy blue design is where my tied string left the original color. The rest of the discharged shirt turned a lovely shade of brown. Love it!

I have posted two pix here of a turquoise t-shirt I had previously discharged, but using only a bleach pen. You can immediately see the difference. In the turquoise shirt, more of the original color remains. That's because I was able to apply the discharge with a bleach pen only on the tied areas of the shirt. Because the shirt was not soaked in discharge solution, only the area where the bleach was applied was discharged.

The navy shirt I began with turned a lovely shade of brown.

Finally, I have added a picture of today's experiment: fabric paint. I received a package this week, a box of items sent to me to use in my Magic Baby Designs upcycled line. This cute black and white dress was in the box, but is a bit too faded to use as is. The stretch cotton fabric is in still in good condition, however, without pilling or damage other than fading, so I decided to paint it. I did the test on the upper bodice area, which I will not be reusing. I could, of course, overdye the entire garment, but as I said previously, I don't typically have a lot of dyes on hand. I do, however, have a large supply of various types of paints.

The reds and pinks you see on the left are several types of airbrush inks. Although I like how they look on the white portions, I did not, however, like how the paints looked on the black areas, which is where the problem was, after all. I needed something that would cover the black, darken it, and add color to the white. On the left, you see three different blues painted on. The two on the farthest left were also two different types of airbrush ink, one opaque, and one not. Again, they affected the black areas in an undesirable way. The deeper blue on the far right worked perfectly. I used an azure blue Jacquard Dyna-Flow paint, and it did the trick. I painted it onto dry fabric, but will evenly wet the fabric in the washer, spin it, and paint it damp when I finish the painting. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ready to Discharge

Yesterday, I had a minute, and took a shirt I had been planning to play with and tied it up. I don't keep on hand a lot of dyeing materials, so I tend to prefer discharge techniques. This shirt is ready to go! I accordian pleated it side to side, then tied it tightly with string. Next stop: the bleach bucket!

Easy bleach dip discharge recipe:
There are many ways nowadays to discharge, but this method is easy, inexpensive, and utilizes what I always have on hand.

1) In your laundry area, prepare two large buckets or trays (such as the ones used for kitty litter); use a try if you want to lay your fabric flat. Your buckets or trays should be used for this purpose only, for safety reasons. You will also need an old wooden spoon and an old pair of tongs.
2) In one bucket: 1 part household bleach to 4 parts water. Use as much water as you will need to cover your fabric, then stir the bleach in carefully. I use an old wooden spoon for stirring, and do not use it for any other purpose.
3) In the other bucket: 1 part vinegar to 1 part water; your fabric will be wet when it goes in here, so you won't need as much water as you used for the first bucket.

Ready? You can wet your fabric before (or after) tying it for discharge, or you can use it dry for a slightly crisper result. When you are ready to go, place your fabric in the bleach solution and press it down into the bucket or tray with your old wooden spoon. Let the bleach work for maybe two
minutes. It doesn't take long. I then pour the whole concoction down the utility drain flushing with hot water. Avoid splashes.

Using the tongs, immediately place the rinsed fabric and place it in the second (vinegar) bucket. Soak for 5 or 10 minutes, then wash thoroughly.

You can also use bleach in a spray bottle, which you can mist directly onto your tied fabric, or around stencils placed on flat fabric. Use 1 part bleach to 1 part water for bottle spraying, and work outside to avoid breathing the spray mist, and to avoid spraying bleach all over the place. Rinse the same way to finish.

I'll post a picture later, when I have finished. Talk to you then!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Art Strikes a Pose Exhibition Opening & Retail Show

When: Friday, September 9, 6 - 8 p.m.
Where: Valley Art Center, Bell Street, Chagrin Falls, OH
One night only, at the opening of the wearable art exhibition, Art Strikes a Pose
I have several pieces in this exhibition, which opens tomorrow night and is on display until October 13.

Tomorrow night, at the open, all of the exhibiting artists will be participating in a retail vendor's mall.
This is Magic Baby's first retail show. Hope to see you there!

If you can't make it, please visit my etsy shop for my Magic Baby Designs and my artwork.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Preparing for a Show

Next week, I am dropping off some work for a wearable art exhibition, Art Strikes a Post, at Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls. In addition to the Magic Baby Design clothing I will be exhibiting, I have been working on a few other things. Since I remembered to take pictures of this upcycled denim jacket as I went along, I'll show you the stages of development in the piece I am called Rules for Happiness jacket. Enjoy!

I started with a denim jacket with a strange cut: a cropped body shape and elbow length sleeves.
Next, I added my Rules all over the jacket using textile ink and stamps.

I added appliques and buttons, but to make the shape of the jacket really work, I added lined sleeves with roll up cuffs and a lush, purple velvet skirt. Now the proportions are just right.

I used the same fabric accent for the center back as I used for the outer sleeve additions. Think Outside the Lines, embroidered on netting, finishes off the back.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spirit of Summer's End

Turtle Spirit by Gayle Pritchard
A Commissioned Quilt for a Wedding
Today is my sister's birthday, which means August is right around the corner, which means, in my mind, that summer's end is beginning. Have you noticed that the days are becoming gradually shorter, that the flowers in bloom have changed, that the gardening season is slowly winding down? For me, this is the spirit of summer's end.

As summer winds down, the still-flickering childhood memories of relishing the remaining month of summer, and of preparing for going back to school in the fall remain impressed in my psyche. While I strive to live "in the moment" each day, the busyness of fall looms, as the events and deadlines on my ever-present calendar remind me to get ready.

I am working on a new piece, a companion piece to the one shown here, Turtle Spirit. The artwork at left was commissioned for a couple's wedding, and I have always loved it. The companion piece will be larger, but still focused on the turtle in the central panel.

Turtle,  a native american animal symbol
is the central focus of the piece.
In Native American symbolism, which is where this turtle symbol comes from, turtle is sacred, and contains fetish properties. Among other things, turtle is a symbol for fertility, truth, and long life. It seemed the perfect wish for a couple entering into a marriage.

Meanwhile, I have been invited to create some new work for a wearable art exhibition at the Valley Art Center. Art Strikes a Pose opens September 10 and runs through October 13, 2011.

Turtle Spirit II by Gayle Pritchard, in progress:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thinking about Color

Hydrangea and daylilies, side by side in the garden
This time of year here on the North Coast, as we fondly call our lakefront city, the garden is usually dry, and the grass is beginning to brown. This year, though, we have had so much rain, that the garden looks lush. This creates an all the more beautiful background for the flowers that are in bloom this time of year. I adore each season of blooms in our short flowering season, but love this blue and orange combo in my garden.

Seeing this color combination in nature reminded me how much I love complementary colors together. I have never shied away from using them in my artwork. Since I am in the process of shifting between computers, though, I am having trouble finding pictures of all the examples I wanted to share with you. The following are just a few that happen to be on my computer. What colors inspire you?

Joie de Vivre I: love these happy colors

Bye Bye, Daddy, detail bottom: a rubbing from a statue in Mexico in blue and yellow
Shrine to (mid)Life in blue and orange
Gayle's paper bag journal in blue, orange and yellow
Another of Gayle's Shrine to (mid)Life series, called My Hands Don't Look the Same Anymore

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


With Ann Rebele in front of her piece at Quilt National
It's been more than a week since I returned from Quilt National's opening weekend in Athens. As always, it was fun to see old friends, and meet some artists whose work I know, but whom I had never never met in person. Over the years serving as curator for the Firelands Association for the Visual Art's The Artist as Quiltmaker, I had the chance to see so much beautiful artwork, and to correspond with hundreds of artists. I made new friends over the years at the openings, such as meeting Terry Jarrard Dimond, Ann Rebele, Nancy Condon, or Denise Mucci Furnish, among many others. I had yet to meet Wen Redmond, however, and have followed her work through the years. At Quilt National this year, Wen's piece was a show-stopper, so I was especially pleased to finally meet her.

Gillian greeted us like queens
We arrived, and were met by our hostess with a spread fit for queens, homemade scones and tea. We had the strawberry-rhubarb pie I had brought along for breakfast on Saturday morning, then headed over to the Quilt National artist's preview and gallery talk.

Nancy Condon with her Quilt National piece in the background
We met our hosts for lunch on Saturday, then went to see Quiltzilla, a fun store front at the mall promoting art in public places. We met up there with our tArts (a Cleveland area textile group) friend Christy, who was in town for the weekend.

tArt friends Po and Razzy in front of the Quiltzilla dinosaur
 On the way home Sunday morning, we stopped in Lancaster to visit Michael Mrowka and Debra Lunn at Lunn Fabrics. Although they were packing for return to the Kaufman fabric offices in Indonesia, there was still plenty of unbelievably beautiful fabric out on the shelves. They had also recently redone their floors using their fabrics. Wow, what a creative solution!

Michael shows off the new floors at Lunn Fabrics

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Weekend with Friends

Susan and Gayle at Quilt National a few years back

 Just a quick hello to you, as I close up my suitcase to head south. I am going to Quilt National this weekend with my old, dear friend Susan Shie. I am really looking forward to the drive time, as she always has a lot of great stories to tell.

Have a happy holiday weekend, and I hope your weather is nice!

My book on display in the Athens book store downtown for the Quilt National opening weekend, where I was speaking.
Andi Stern's artwork is in the background.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Week; What Was Yours Like?

This snapshot says it all: my week was a busy one, and I am still not finished yet.

In addition to working on two custom orders from my etsy shop this week, I presented a lecture and book signing in Medina, drove another hour and a half to pick up artwork from an exhibition that was ending, did grocery shopping, and weeded in the garden while the world was supposed to be ending. I created two new workshops to offer in the fall, took pictures to email to the venue, wrote class descriptions for the newsletter, and prepared student supply lists.

What I have not done yet is clean up my living room, the repository for this week's activity, where I came in the front door, turned right, and left a pile to be put away later. You can see my artwork stacked up, leaning and lying on the coffee table. On the couch is an antique quilt I sold on ebay, that needs to be packaged and shipped tomorrow. Books from the book signing lie stacked, ready to be boxed up again for my lecture in June at the Akron Art Museum. On the floor is one of my archival quilt storage boxes loaded with quilts brought to my lecture, and covered on top with one of my art quilts just removed from the exhibit.

Since most of these artworks need to be re-photographed for digital format, I have told myself I will photograph them, then put them away. Let's see if they're still there next weekend! Oh, and I will be out of town next weekend. Heading to Quilt National in Athens. Hope to run into some of you there.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wearables for Spring

 I finished this jacket recently for a client, so thought I would show it to you. It is custom made completely: she picked the design, shape, sleeve length, and the colors she wanted from a selection of fabrics. I did the rest, and it came out beautifully.

The jacket is assembled in my personal collage style. I create my art quilts, Magic Baby clothing and wearables for adults in the same way: put bits and pieces of this and that together to create a quirky, fun and beautiful finished design. Hope you like it!

Detail of closures, jacket front

Jacket back in beautiful batik
Next up: a busy week ahead. I am giving a lecture and book signing for my book Thursday evening at the Medina Public Library. On Friday, I need to pick up my work from the exhibition Piecing it All Together: The Art of Collage. That means also either rehanging it or preparing it for storage once I get it home. I really need to schedule an appointment for professional photography of the pieces I finished for the show at the last minute, too!

Speaking of exhibitions, my friend Terry Jarrard Dimond is participating in an art quilt exhibition at BookSmart Studios. I received her invitation this week. I also received the Call to Entry information for The Artist as Quiltmaker XV from the new curator, Ruta Marino. The entry deadline has been pushed back from September to January 23, 2012, so get busy with your entries now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Update

Howdy stranger! I have been absent a bit this past week or so, as I have been heads-down working, and trying to balance paperwork, computer time and actual studio time.

Oh, yeah, and Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there who are mothers. We had a nice, quiet day here. The sun even came out, so I was pleased.

Rearranging closets recently, I came across this handsewn silk jacket that belonged to my mother. She has been gone twenty years this year; hardly seems possible. Anyway, she had given this to me many moons ago, and I have tried to care for it to preserve it. It is absolutely gorgeous in its construction and detail, especially the hand quilting and the hand made trim.

My own Mother's Day and upcoming birthday are made special by my sweet daughter helping me to set up a website and separate blog for Magic Baby Designs. I am so excited, and I hope you will also check it out when you get a chance. The website isn't 'live' yet, but the blog is begun. More to come!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Itching for Hand Stitching

I have a spring jacket that I hardly ever wear. I bought it when I went to visit my daughter in Galway several springs ago back, knowing how misty-moisty damp the weather in Ireland can be. After stubbornly putting away my winter jacket while hoping spring would actually arrive here on the North Coast, I had to pull it out today to keep the still chilly weather at bay.

When the silhouettes of the trees on the horizon begin turning that beautiful shade of lime green, I know spring here is around the corner, and my mind automatically starts making lists of things to do: rake the leaves away from the emerging spring bulbs, gather up dead tree branches, wash the kitchen floor.

Gayle's stitched collage, Changes
In my Magic Baby work studio, I am slowly sewing up the piles of designs I tend to cut out at night while watching the news or a movie with my husband. Once I have finished a design idea and my prototype, I sit and cut and cut and cut at night, and end up with large piles of sewing to await me each morning when I start to work.

Detail, Changes by Gayle Pritchard
I have decided to stop cutting out new garments to sew until I get my piles of unsewn ones under control. I get stir crazy, though, if I don't have something creative to do while I am sitting. Spring's imminent arrival has made me itchy to have some handwork to do.

At I seminar on creativity and work productivity, I made a note of the speaker's comment, paraphrased here. She said, when you want to begin new work, and have nothing in particular in mind, go look at your body of work and be inspired by that. I have always remembered that. I am rarely short on ideas, but frankly, at the end of a long work day in my self-created sweat shop, I am tired. I still want something creative to do with my hands, but I also want to relax. Handwork, for me, has always fulfilled that desire. With a composition already created and put together during my peak thinking hours, at night, I can just sit and stitch. Rhythm, pull the thread, put in the needle, repeat. It's wonderful.

The framed collage here hangs in my living room. I have always loved it, refreshed by its quiet colors and serene symmetry. I love the raw edges of the antique linen and other fabrics used for the collage, and I love the stitching marks that lead my eye around the piece, and back to the slightly obscured drawing I transferred as the focal point. This will be my inspiration for some light night stitching.

Happy spring, Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it, and may peace find you in the wee hours of the night.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The months seem to be flying by already this year. The calendar says it's late April already, and yet, as I look outside today, the trees on the horizon have not yet achieved their lime green spring glow. The weather is cold and rainy. Only the daffodils know it is spring.

Detail of I Hear Voices In My Head by Gayle Pritchard

I have been accomplishing a lot in the studio as of late, and at least spring activity, bringing me out and about, is heating up.
I had a great time when I made my presentation to the East Cuyahoga Genealogical Society last month. Tomorrow night, I will be presenting a lecture and book signing for the Willoughby Hills Quilt Guild. On May 19th, I will be in Medina for a lecture at the public library, and June 23 at the Akron Art Museum. I am so pleased that interest in my book continues, and love having the opportunity to speak with large groups about the amazing treasure trove of fiber art that exists in Ohio.

The struggle of balancing paper work and household responsibilities with studio time continues. Luckily, I still have the energy to work 14 hour days! Have a great week, and hope to see some of you at my upcoming lectures.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Art of Collage Opening, Part Deux

I wanted to post the rest of the pix I have from opening night of Piecing It All Together: The Art of Collage. As at most openings, pictures standing in front your own artwork is a prerequisite : ) As I mentioned previously, there were a lot of artists represented in the exhibit, and a lot of great work. Hope you enjoy seeing a few more pieces here.

Me, standing in front of one of my larger pieces, Beauty Queen. On the wall to my left are works from Opie and Linda O'Brien, one called Sorry, and, above that, Unlock the Magic.

Two black and white collages by Jeff Kallet, being studied. These were very interesting, and almost assemblage in their dimension.

I love the stitched details in Shirley Ende Saxe's work.

More typical of Gail's work historically, here is This is What a Feminist Looks Like

These two collages, Her Cocoon, by Shirley Ende-Saxe, and Aujourd by Jeff Kallet, complement each other perfectly, and are both warrant study.

Hope you enjoyed your vicarious visit to the exhibition. Now, get back to work : )