Tag Archives: problem-solving

Quilts Stored in Bathtub. What could go wrong??

Sometimes I look at people and the awkward or unfortunate situation in which they find themselves and I think, “Really? You didn’t see that coming?” Well, this week I’m saying that again while looking in the mirror.

Quilts in the bathtub.

Quilts in the bathtub.

As we moved into our new house, I was just stashing things wherever I could find space. My new studio is a spare bedroom with a full bath. That’s how my rolled up quilts ended up in the tub. After a few days, I decided it was the perfect storage place. It’s not like anyone was going to be taking a shower in there. I removed the handle so the water couldn’t get turned on, stood up about 20 quilts, and pulled the curtain. Five weeks went by and all was well…

Then, last weekend, the power went out. Our water now comes from a well, but the pump is electric. In time, we used water until the pipes ran dry.  When the power came on, the faucet began to drip.

Two days went by before I happened to look in the tub and see that it was now filled with 3-5 inches of water. YIKES!!!! Quilts came flying out of the basement. Cloth storage bags were stripped off and every surface in the back yard that wasn’t dirt was covered with a quilt. There were wet, dripping quilts everywhere. What a mess!!!

Wet Quilts 1Wet Quilts 2

Next, every towel in the house was brought out to soak up as much of the moisture as possible. Most of the quilts were OK, but several had colors that had begun to run, including: Bamboo, Running Commentary, and Turkeman Mother with Children.

What now??

Bamboo was the worst; a piece done in green fabrics, red dye from the backing fabric migrated to the front.

In a panic, having nothing to lose, I filled the tub again with cool water and poured in some Synthropol to capture the color. I submerged the quilt and let it soak for about 20 minutes, pulled it out, and rolled it in dry towels. This seemed to do the trick as most of the red color was washed out. What remains is faint; probably not noticeable if you don’t know what happened. No time for the “Before” photos, but here is the “After” shot.

The red is gone--almost.

The red is gone–almost.

Next was Running Commentary. There were multiple colors on the runner’s white shirt, but worse, were dark streaks across his neck and chin. My runner became a “batholete” and went swimming in the tub. He, too, was restored except for some faint areas on his white shirt. Again, only a photos of the end result.

Extra dye is out of the face.

Extra dye is out of the face.

Some unwanted dye remains.

Some unwanted dye remains, but it looks like shadow under the numbers

 

Out of time, I’m off to Kansas City with Turkeman Mother in tow. I’ve still got to deal with the water damage to her. Stayed tuned.

 

 

 

 

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Puppy Love, Part 2

Oh joy!!! I’ve finished something in less than a month; 2 1/2 weeks actually.  It’s such a thrill to jump into a project and just breeze through to the end.  With this piece, I took a break from thread painting and just did some dense stitching.  The new challenge was to establish some designs that would fit with each element of the composition.

The blonde hair of the girl was easy.  I used various values of yellow threads in long, undulated lines of stitching.

PL hair

Next, similar, but shorter, wavy lines were put down with some variegated threads in a pattern that alluded to the hair of the dog.  Several times I had to stop and pet my dear Coco’s face in order to really understand the changing direction of her hair.  She didn’t mind too much.

PL dog

Stitching the face was a leap of faith.  It is so tricky to stitch the face!  If you try to recreate the actual contours, and the lines aren’t just right, it throws off the perceived shape and makes the face look distorted.  I decided to go in a completely new direction: loop-d-loops.  I covered the entire face in a small repetitive design that had nothing to do with its shape or contour.  I still varied the threads, letting the values do the work.  I’m really pleased with the results.

PL face

The background was the most troublesome decision, just as with choosing the fabric.  The print was complex and busy.  Afraid that it would become too strong and overpower other elements, I didn’t want to stitch the printed design.  I came up with a wandering ribbon design with a tiny meandering stitch to fill in the spaces.  I feel like the 2 patterns of the fabric and stitching sort of neutralize each other and take away their power to dominate.

PL background

Finally, here’s the finished piece.Puppy Love

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Golden Mean Calipers Part 2: Crop a Picture

This is my second video on how to use the Golden Mean Calipers.  This week I show you how use them to crop a photo around a focal point so that the outer dimensions are harmonious and the subjects in the composition are well placed. These calipers are available in my web store.  If you find these videos interesting or helpful, subscribe so that you get notified whenever I post a new one.  I’m trying to do this once a week until I run out of things to say—like that could ever happen.

Calipers video part 2

calipers 2

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Using the Golden Mean Calipers


Golden Mean Calipers

Today, I want to share with you a tool that I’ve discovered called the Golden Mean Calipers..  I’ve also seen them labeled “Fibonacci Gauge.” can be a useful design tool in your artistic process. There are a variety of ways this particular tool can be used. Let me illustrate a few.

Finding the Sweet Spot Within Your Composition

A focal point is used to grab the viewer’s eye and engage the viewer in your artwork. Generally, it is best to avoid taking the viewer’s eye to the center, for when it arrives there, it will tend to stop and rest. Placing key elements off center will tend to prolong the viewer’s engagement with the composition. Use the calipers as shown below to determine the best placement of the focal point and other key elements of a composition. In portraits, eyes and mouths are important features for focal points.

Use calipers for cropping the sides of an image.

Use calipers for cropping the sides of an image.

focal point 1

Lay the calipers over a photo print, to determine the best way to crop it.

Focal Point Landscape

Use the calipers to determine the placement of a design element within a larger panel.

Taking Elements Off the Edge

Avoiding the middle also applies when taking lines or elements off the edge of a composition. See how the calipers can be used to determine the most visually pleasing locations for the placement of lines that will carry the viewer’s eye to the edge of a composition.edge 2edge 1

edge 3

Creating Borders with Harmony

This tool is also useful when adding borders to a traditional block quilt. One method is to start with the blocks themselves. Place the outer points of the calipers at the edges of the blocks. This will give you two new measurements that will be in harmony with the blocks. Use the larger measurement for the total width of the border. This area can further be divided by placing the outer points of the calipers on the edges of the border area. This will indicate pleasing widths for and inner and outer border. All measurements indicate finished sizes. Don’t forget to add seam allowances.

Measure the width of your block.

Measure the width of your block.

Create a single border matching the wider measurement of the calipers.

Create a single border matching the wider measurement of the calipers.

Create harmonious smaller borders.

Create harmonious smaller borders.

Divide the border area using the calipers.

Divide the border area using the calipers.

Sometimes, a specific finished size is necessary and this isn’t achieved in the process above. In this case, determine the desired total width of your outer borders, open the calipers to this desired width and then measure the distance between the points to determine the finished widths of an inner border and outer border.

Perfect Facial Proportions.

The Golden Ratio occurs naturally within faces and calipers are useful when creating portrait works, either when drawing the face, or problem solving when a face doesn’t look quite right. See the photos below for ways to check the proportions of the face, and placement of the features.

Placement of mouth between nose and chin

Placement of mouth between nose and chin

face 1

Bring of the nose in relation to forehead and chin.

Placement of eyes

Placement of eyes

If you are interested in learning more about facial proportions and portrait quilting, check out my book, Thread-Painted Portraits: Turn Your Photos into Fiber Art 

AND look for videos on my YouTube Channel Lea McComas Fiber Art.

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Value Finding Tools

I’m trying something new in my blog this week: a video.  This is my first attempt, and let’s just say, it was a learning process.  I’m thankful that I get to spend a large part of my day with teenagers who know all about this and are happy to advise their teacher.

Follow this link to learn about the tools I use to select fabrics.    Value Finding Tools Video

These tools are available in my web store if you want a set of your own.

Value Finding Tool Kit

Value Finding Tool Kit

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Life Imitates Art.

deck view

View from the deck

Often we think that our quilting is just a hobby, but I’m here this week to tell you that it is more than that.  It is rehearsal for life.

Just the other day, I kiss my husband goodbye and send him off to the airport, then step outside on the back deck to breathe some fresh air, absorb some vitamin D, and appreciate the storm clouds building over the mountains.  I’m glad to see it’s going to rain because it’s pretty hot right now.  My bare feet are getting scorched on the hot planks.

A storm brewing

A storm brewing

I turn to go back inside and find that the slider has locked behind me.  After checking the windows and finding them all closed tight, I give a “you hoo” to my neighbors, but no one is there to hear.  This deck sits a mere 10-12 feet off the ground with no steps to get there.  Also, the spot with the least distance between deck and ground happens to be the place where we have stored some extra landscaping rocks, and a bucket where we put bags of dog poop until the trash man comes.  A sense of panic would like to rise up inside of me, but NO.

I stop and think, “What would Quilter’s do?”

deck drop

No good place to fall.

The answer: I must save myself.  I need to take stock of available resources and get creative: see what is in the stash, and find new uses for available items. I find chair cushions and drop them over the side on the spot that I determine is the best place to land. Unfortunately, cushions bounce.  I manage to create a ring of cushions that will soften my landing as I fall over after hitting the ground.  I climbed over the rail and hung from the lowest plank until I lost my grip.  Apparently, I too, bounce when dropped from the deck.  With some minor scrapes, a nasty gash on the ankle and a modest amount of swelling, I am earthbound once again.

Limping up to the front yard brings the new realization that I am still locked out of my own home.  We had installed a new garage door opener the day before, but didn’t get around to programming the keypad. Damn procrastination!!

Once again, thinking like a quilter, I knew that sometimes you have to rip things apart and put them back together. I can’t give further details on how exactly to break into my house, except to say that, that particular option no longer exists.

I’m going back to my studio where there is nothing to break but a needle and thread.

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See Me on The Quilt Show

I recently taped an episode of TheQuiltShow.com with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  Subscribers to that website got to see that episode last week.  Many thanks to those of you that sent kind words through email and Facebook.

sitting talking

Photo by Gregory Case

Now, I can share a link to that show with the rest of you. Click on the link here and you can watch too.

Watch The Show

This link will work until May 11, so make a cup of tea and sit back to enjoy.

Let me know what you think Also, for those of you that subscribe to The Quilt Show, I have a new series of lessons in the “Classroom” section of the website.  This course is on “Contemporary Batik”  If you’ve ever wanted to try batik, but were afraid of the mess, check out this class.  It will be FUN, and EASY!! http://thequiltshow.com/learn/classrooms FTI: you have to be a subscriber to the website to access this class.

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The Tangled Web

I’ve managed to get the first two panels of my 4 Horsemen triptych fused together and have come to terms with the reality that I will not get the 3rd panel finished in time for my May deadline. I will make the 3rd panel—someday—maybe in the summer.

Before I can begin stitching, I must to do some planning and prep work now if the three panels are to fit together later. Toward that end, iI want to make sure that each panel works individually AND in concert with each other.

Panels side by side

Panels side by side

Here is the process:

  1. Lay the panels side by side. (Panel 3 is just a large sheet of muslin)
  1. Mark the corner points and 1/3 marks along each side.
  1. Run a line of string string between each of these key points.

In doing this, I can accurately place lines of the riverbank, foothills, mountains, and place the final riders in just the right position. Additionally, this web of string creates a grid for identifying key lines and points of intersection within the piece.

Here is my dilemma: the whole thing is way to large to fit on my design wall. The best I can do is clear the floor in my family room and lay out the panels. Unable to pin into the hardwood floors, I’m left to lay the string on the floor and they won’t stay put.  They are continually shifting as I move things around under them.  Eventually, I do get a sense of how things are laying out.

I see some good things going on in the right panel:

Lines o the right panel

Lines o the right panel

  • A diagonal goes down the face, hits the shoulder, belt buckle, then follows the line of the tail
  • Another diagonal follows the line of the neck, a crease in the blanket, and the shadow of the back haunch.
  • The lower horizontal connects the reins, rifle, and blanket fold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the center panel:

Lines on the center panel

Lines on the center panel

  • A diagonal connects the hand, a stripe of the blanket, a line of rope, and then runs down the back leg
  • Another connects the eyes, bottom of the rope and follows the tail.
  • The lower horizontal runs along the belly of the horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the left panel:

Lines on the left panel

Lines on the left panel

  • I place the horses in the center between the horizontal strings
  • Diagonals from the upper left corner will fall along the head and back of the horse and also connect the nose, chest and stirrup.
  • I also sketch in lines for the background so that it will all come together in the end.

 

Doing this on the floor stinks! Every time I move something, I have to reposition the strings.   To make things worse, my trusty companion, Coco, has her own ideas about the placement of these strings.   I love her, but I REALLY don’t appreciate her design sensibilities.

Coco tries to help

Coco tries to help

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Does This Butt Look Big??

Too much off the edge

Too much off the edge

While fussing over the second horseman and I find a couple of problems with the composition.  I’m irritated by the horse’s back end hanging off the right side of the composition.  It seems to be too much.

Because I have already finished the background, extending it could be a problem.  Can it be done without creating a distinct line down the panel that is obvious and distracting??

 

 

horse butt after

Extending the water

I’ve got to try.  At this point, I think the key to the expansion project is to break up the vertical line.  As I add to each component of the background, I’ve got to stagger the additions of fabric.  The water is the largest area and most obvious, but I can camouflage that line with ripples.  Here is what I have at the end.  Let’s hope stitching hides the rest.

Try to ignore those black lines on the second photo.  I’ll explain them another day.

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Just the Right Face

Too much shadow.

Too much shadow.

The second figure has come together, but I don’t like the face.  Even though it is turned away from the viewer, it is still important to get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair and face distinguished.

Hair and face distinguished.

First, I don’t like that the head is a solid black shape as it creates too much shadow.  Replacing part of that black shape with brown helps to distinguish the hair from the face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reference tools

reference tools

With that done, my attention now turns to the line of the profile. To make it accurate I  refer back to a drawing I did for my book showing the correct placement of features.  I hang it next to my fused image. BONUS: the drawing happens to be almost the same size as face of my rider.  Using a ruler I hang in front of the fused face, I place pins to mark important benchmarks: top and bottom of the head, bridge of the nose, bottom of the nose.

 

 

 

 

From there, I make some nips and tucks and put the best face forward.

Now its right!

Now its right!

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