Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Playing with My ScanNCut2

I have been wanting to buy the ScanNCut2 for a while now. I have been watching all of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's click here You Tube tutorials and blog posts on the ScanNCut2. She is a paid rep for the product and she does all sorts of fun things with it. What caught my eye was the fact that it has a built in scanner and can cut a big variety of materials. As opposed to the other cutting machines on the market that only use expensive dye cutters. Of coarse this made the ScanNCut2 more expensive, but it will use my own original designs, and will cut stencil plastic. This is going to be my last splurge for myself, after getting some lawsuit money, now I have to watch my pennies, and be responsible with the dough.
I am a stencil addict!! I have a large collection of stencils that I have purchased, and I use them on gelatin plates, and direct painting on fabric. So the idea of cutting my own stencils really appealed to me. I have tried to cut my own stencils with an Exacto knife or a hot knife tool, but my hand cramps up before I get too far. The first items I tried to use were women's figures, that I cut out of Oprah's "O" magazine when I was up at my sisters. I made outlines of the figures and scanned them in. The machine is so detail oriented it tried to cut both the inside and the outside of my lines, and tried to cut out my handwriting that I had put on the drawing.
The contortionist figure in the original magazine format, outlined, painted black and resized. So I took all my magazine images and painted them with black acrylic paint. These scanned very well and I did about 30 of them. I just could not stop cutting them out. They all had such different body language, and the body language tells a story. I even named them after some friends because they reminded me of gestures the friends make.
I first tried an inexpensive packet of template plastic I got at Hobby Lobby (the white plastic). Now I know why it was cheap, it was way too thick, even hard to cut with a scissors. So I went back to my dwindling stash of Xray film, the plastic is perfect for templates. It is getting hard to come by, everyone has gone to digital xrays. I got mine from a friend who's a veterinarian, they still use the old xrays, and there is no confidentiality issues with pet xrays. The quilter's template plastic from Joann's & Michael's is just fine, but more expensive.
With simple designs that have a single line outline and no interior cuts, you get a stencil and the mask. I use masks more on my gelatin prints than I do the stencils. You can also use spray acrylic on the masks, and it leaves a negative image.
Next I decided to try to make stencils from some of the built in designs. I bought the 650 model instead of the 250, because it had more built in patterns, more accessories, and free access to their online software and patterns. You can see how detailed and delicate it will cut. Of course it will reverse and resize the image too.
Next I made a stencil with different size snowflakes all grouped together into one stencil.
Next I made three different sizes of grapes, masks and stencils. It is much better when painting to have a size variation to your stencils, it adds more interest and variety. The xray film comes in colors any where between clear and dark, maybe you can clean the dark color off the plastic? If I think I am going to need the view for placement or fussy cutting, then I use the clear sections, it also came in a gold tone which was opaque. I cut a lot of plastic that day and decided to take a break.
A few days later I had gotten a couple of stacks of scrapbook paper on sale at Joann's. So I decided to just play with cutting paper. The ScanNCut will also cut fusible backed fabric, and since I am primarily an art quilter that excites me too, but I will wait til later when I have more practice with the machine, and develop some original designs. It will also cut, leather, felt, rubber stamp material, vinyl and many more materials. I cut out a whole bunch of my ladies in paper, just playing with sizing and placement on the material.
I laid all these out on a piece of fabric, to give you an idea where I want to go with my art quilting. I call this arrangement the "Party Girls" find the Marilyn Monroe figure and the one with the wild hair, several look like they are dancing.
I cut two girls doing handstands out of printed paper and two from solid card stock. I was going to use the orange as a shadow on the printed girls, but this arrangement looked like fun too.
I cut these built in designs out of the heavier card stock, just to try them and to see how large I could make them. They maxed out at 8 inches, I wonder how small I can go. These patterns were more complex and took longer to cut, and I had to pick all the little bits out, but a lot of it stuck to the adhesive mat. They are so much fun, I can't wait to use the medallion as a stencil!
Just goofing off, I made some paper name tags for me and my friend Susan for when we go to the Fyber Cafe meetings. I have several embroidered name tags, but could not find any of them when I went to the meeting yesterday.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Bandon Art Retreat 2016

Back in June, Fyber Cafe textile arts group had our annual art retreat to the Oregon Coast. We went for 4 day/3 nights to the retreat center at Forget Me Knots quilt shop in Bandon, Oregon. Lots of fun was had by all, I'll put a more detailed account on the Fyber Cafe blog click here I decided to take a couple of projects to finish up, that needed machine quilting and binding. My first priority was to finish a baby quilt for my nephew's new baby, it is made with Flower Fairy fabric and I free motion quilted hearts all over and added her name and the year in stitching too.
My next project to finish, is my medallion based on a Ricky Tims book. The title is "Fire in the Hole." It is my original design of curved machine piecing, and machine applique with a blanket stitch. When I saw the book, my first impression was "that looks fun to free motion quilt" NOT. There was no room for any fancy machine quilting, I used matching rayon thread to stitch in the ditch on the piecing and an 1/8" echo quilting on the applique.
Stitching the background was more challenging, I sat down to just do a small stipple to fill the area, then decided, no, I needed something more. I use freezer paper for everything, so I got a piece and sketched a design to coordinate with the applique, folded paper is great for symmetry. I cut four layers of paper and ironed them onto each corner and stitched around the pattern. It filled the area nicely, but I still had a lot of space on each side.
I cut a symmetrical pattern to use on the side, and stitched it also. The quilt binding is solid black to finish off the edge.
My friend Susan went with me, and we had wanted to do a project together. I had gotten the book "Happy Villages" by Karen Eckmeier, I had seen this before in an old issue of Quilting Arts magazine and had wanted to do it back then. This was the perfect opportunity to try it. I choose the pattern with a hillside over a lake, with a sky in the top corner with fluffy white clouds. My colors were sort of white, warm tan, gold, terracotta and some blue. Her technique starts you off with squares of fabric that are cut into stair step shapes and arranged onto the background. Then doors, roofs, windows, stairs, trees and other details are added to compose your picture. Well I got carried away again, over achiever syndrome, I fussy cut and fiddled with the doors etc... and made them too small and detailed. I ripped a few of the lower ones off and made bigger doors & windows, and they got smaller as you went up the hill. It took a LOT longer than I thought it would to arrange and glue everything in place. I like Avery glue sticks for my raw edge applique. The whole picture was covered with light blue tulle before the free motion stitching.
Over achiever OCD person here again, I did a lot of free motion quilting, very densely, with matching rayon threads. I used a few accent colors for roof, rock walls and such. The stitching details took lots of time, the whole rest of the retreat in fact. I am very happy with the result and have another village in mind that I would like to do.
Lorraine knew we were doing this project, so she brought her village, that she had made in a class with Karen Eckmeier, it is a lot simpler and smaller, with nice warm oranges and rust colors.
Susan got her village assembled at the retreat, but did not do any quilting yet. Her colors are clear and sharp and she choose a pattern with a river running through the village, with a bridge. We had lots of fun! I am linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday" click here check out what other textile artist are doing this week.