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Archive for September, 2006

framed 1

Sometimes a frame can make all the difference in the world. These two little trees measure about 6×4 each. Finishing them as miniature quilts was a possibility, but they really needed something that would a) make them bigger, b) accentuate their elegance in a minimalist way and c) protect them from the forces of nature and their inevitable impact on small things.

2nd framed

I’ve opted to go with ordinary dark wooden frames. The mattes shown here aren’t quite the final selection or layout; I have yet to cut those. In the second piece, the aperture will be slightly larger to allow for the entirety of the twigs and the first piece needs minor repositioning (I’ll slide it 1/8 of an inch to the left).

The tree panels are pen and ink drawings on cotton, over-painted with Pebeo fabric paints and the upper piece is accentuated with silver foil. They are stitched to a back panel of cotton with is stretched over an acid-free mounting board. The matte is also acid-free, to prevent deterioration and yellowing. Finished size is 10 3/4″ x 8 3/4″, which is still small enough to be pleasantly minute, but large enough to be visible..

The pictures aren’t the greatest, but you get the idea. I’m really quite pleased…..

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detail shot foundations closer 2

I have learned, through trial and grievous error, that it is a mistake to attempt critical or integral portions of work while really ill. It is also a mistake to do any work that might seriously injure you (i.e. using chemicals or blades) while sick. So for the past several days, I’ve really not accomplished much creatively, which is a nuisance.

detail shot foundations

Last night, though, I was actually feeling semi-human and able to complete the ante-penultimate step of this large piece; the wisps around the pillars. All that is left to do now is stitch a few spots in the sky and slap on the binding and hanging sleeves. This piece is large enough that it’ll need a second hanging sleeve about midway down to disperse the weight.

If I’m lucky, that might just happen today. Not that I’m counting chickens or any such thing…

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New pages

I’ve just added a couple of static pages to this blog. the first is a small gallery of my recent work and the second is a ditty on how to care for your textile art. The former will be updated as work transpires. The latter is intended only as a brief guideline to customers. For more detailed information and ideas for hanging and displaying textile work, I redirect you to Marla Mallett’s excellent webpage on the subject.

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Every year that I have been in the Newfoundland & Lab. Craft Council Christmas Craft Fair, I’ve had queries from people who wanted to know if I made baby quilts.

I have, in fact, made baby quilts. In recent years, I’ve been focussing my energies on decorative textiles rather than functional ones. Also, I’ve typically found making baby quilts to be either labour-intensive (for ornate, complex designs) or boring (for repetitious, simple designs) and make them primarily for friends and family. This year, I decided to get over it already and make some very nice, colourful, well-constructed quilts in an assortment of themes and patterns (I designed a few a while back with this project in mind) and charge more or less what they’re really worth.

So I called the Craft Council to get the standards for textiles, children’s stuff and quilting, just to make sure I had all my bases covered. Most of it is common sense; use natural fibres, do high-quality work, label things properly, don’t have cords, buttons or other kid hazards hanging on the piece…. the usual.

Then there was the phrase “must conform to industry standards”.

Statements like this, involving government regulations, normally make my heart quake with fear. Hoping for the best, I waded into the morass of the government regulations for textiles. For my purposes, the Guide to the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations (pdf file) covered the necessaries. I was doing fine until I got to page 25. Everything looked good. All I had to do was label things appropriately and we were copacetic, right?

Um, not so much. Page 25…… “Flammability Standards” – there exists a basic, minimum flammability standard for all consumer textile articles, in particular children’s soft toys, articles of bedding…. strict standards apply to children’s sleepwear…” See Health Canada for details. Swell.

So I spent some time at the Health Canada Consumer Product Safety site. Mattresses, futons and bedding are covered by one link, while Children’s Products are covered in another. I was able to discern that sleepwear and bedding are, in fact, categorized separately. Children’s sleepwear has to be extremely fireproof and there are all sorts of amazing regulations about the construction and fit. Resolution: never make and sell nighties for kids.

The real information was in this pdf, entitled “Flammability of Textile Products in Canada”. There’s an awful lot of complication stuff in there, but, for the purposes of flat, traditional-style quilts without any fuzzy fabrics or 3-D embellishments, the 3.5 second flame spread test applies. What’s that? Well, here’s what the Canadian Government tells us:

a dried piece of fabric measuring 5.1 cm x 15.2 cm (2″ x 6″) is mounted at a 45 degree angle to the horizontal, and a standardized flame is applied for one second to the surface near the lower end of the fabric. The flame spread time is the time taken for any flaming to proceed a distance of 12.7 cm (5″) up the fabric, and is automatically recorded by the burning of a stop cord.

Right. Okay. So technically, according to that, anyone selling textiles to be used either on a bed or to hang on a wall (textiles are still textiles, even if they’re art, according to Industry Canada) in Canada and especially folks selling quilts for use in beds by children should have tested their work for flammability. This means cutting up a sample and conducting several burns and finding an average time. It may also mean that all fabrics and batting, even traditional, natural materials, should be treated with flame retardants prior to use.

This strikes me as a little overboard. Don’t get me wrong; I do see the need for standards. I agree with most regulations like this because of the vast number of imported products that are made in places where standards and reason don’t prevail and where heaven knows what sort of batting is used. What I can’t fathom is the logic in this particular case.

You cannot buy quilt fabrics that are flame-resistant here (or if they are, they’re not labelled as such). In fact, I haven’t seen them thus labelled anywhere. The chemicals used to flame-proof fabrics are either not for use against the skin or have to be applied in a factory somewhere. Quilt batting may or may not be flame-proof, I don’t know.

My points are these:

  • anyone who smokes in bed with their child is asking for it anyway, regardless of how my quilt is made
  • if you have open flames in your child’s bedroom, you have other problems
  • natural fibres, which disintegrate into dust are preferable to artificial ones which melt and stick to a child’s skin, causing burns
  • a burn test is not as essential for childrens’ bedding as a flammability test. The question, “If a quilt falls out of the crib and onto a standard heater, will it burst into flames?” is a far more realistic query. It’s also one that’s not tested.

Anyway, the Craft Council is in the process of finding out some more information for me on this one. I wasn’t even able to find out from Health Canada if a typical, cotton, flat quilt comes anywhere near to failing the “burn test”. They had tests, but no guideline results. So I may be worrying about nothing.

In any even, for my own piece of mind (and because, hell any chance to play with fire is a good thing, right?) I’m going to do up a sample using my standard materials and batting and seem how she burns.

I’ll post the results (and the neighbours’ reactions) when I have them.

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Okay, I’ve just about got everything ready for the show. Only one piece still being quilted and another that I can do if time allows. So I’m in good shape, despite having been virtually comatose yesterday with a horrid cold. A pox on the generous soul who gave it to me.

As is usually the way when you’re incredibly busy, sick or away from the studio, inspiration stuck me two nights ago. I had casually thrown down on the design table a couple of pieces of fabric that I wanted to make into something but had not yet blossomed fully into an idea. As the pieces fell, they landed somewhat side-by-side and near yet another piece in the same state (uncommitted to a particular project). I rearranged them slightly and they looked more or less like this:

three panels

To me, this bespeaks the passing of a day into night over the same stretch of ocean. The two left panels are painted cottons (with some small quantity of pearl paint for a bit of sheen) and the right panel is painted silks with the same sort of glistening texture.

I’ve been mulling over a way to include a few lower-price pieces in the show that still personify my work and aren’t slip-shod. If these were quilted up rather simply, in a way that accentuated the sea-sky combination, they could be hung as a set (like a three-paned window) and sold individually. Each measures 14″ x 24″.

Or I could shelve them and keep waiting for inspiration to hit them. Any thoughts?

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I just finished the binding on “Cumbria”, below. The picture isn’t quite squared, as I was trying to finish up before the toddler woke up, but you get the idea.

Cumbria

The rocks were giving me a small bit of grief, because I just couldn’t get the effect for which I was looking. Then I remembered the stack of used dryer sheets that a friend had saved for me (she knows better than to ask why I need things like used dryer sheets, meat trays and old tissue paper these days). I painted the sheets with acrylic-based fabric paints and left them to dry. In fact, I let them cure for about a week, as I couldn’t heat them hot enough or for long enough to really set the paint (they melt, btw. Guess how I found out?). Then I pinned them in place and stitched over them. They worked like a dream and I got just the effect I wanted. Plus they don’t fray and, being used, have a crinkled and holey feel. Just the ticket for some old rocks…

Cumbria detail - large stone

… and a rock wall:

Cumbria detail - wall

Other folks have found them useful, too. On quick surf, I found a piece by Arlee Barr and some samples by Pamela Kellogg using this same technique.

One last detail shot, showing the stitching on other stones, used to give life, movement and shading:

cumbria detail stitching

Now off to work again!

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I have finally gotten around to starting the “Supplies” page for this blog. I’ve been meaning to do it for some time now and now it’s done. Or at least started. It should be on-going; as I get more sources and information, I’ll update it.

It’ll probably only be really useful to those living in my area (or visiting).

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