Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 4 - 10, 2011 Turtle Art Camp

My Turtle Art Camp for May 4 - 10 had only one student, but Louise Harrington, of Cork City, Ireland, brought her husband and son along, so we still had a full house and lots of action that week! Here are Louise and Libby, down in the Girl Room, my studio, on our first full day of class.

We picked the theme "Birth and Death" for our first day's painting, so here's my drawing for my piece.  My friend Janie had died on April 30, and Osama Bin Laden had died the next day.  She was the sweetheard darling of everyone who knew her, and Bin Laden ... he had mixed reviews in the world!   I showed the big differences in how they ended up after dying, as well as contemplating the what-if of them being reincarnated as twins, coming from such contrasting last lives.  I threw in the bride at the Royal Wedding, which was the day before Janie died.

Here's the start of my painting for this piece, before I started adding writing to it. These paintings are roughly fat quarter size pieces of Robert Kaufman Kona cotton, PFD (prepared for dyeing.)  So they're about 18" x 24."  I only care about us all working in about the same size pieces, so that we have some chance of getting our paintings done about the same time.

Louise worked hard on her piece about her 3 year old son Oisin, as he sails through his life, with her quilts as his sails.

At camp, most nights we all go out to supper together at non-chain restaurants.  Here are Louise's husband Arran and their son Oisin, enjoying Eva's Etch-a-Sketch, while we waited for food at The Green Leaf, our local family restaurant, the one that still has a drive-in part outside.

My good friend Kathleen Kenneweg had been here since April 26, and came back one more night during the camp.  Here she's studying my People Magazine, the rare one I bought, so I could get all kinds of cool info about the big royal wedding, for my artwork.  She's posing as a famous James Bond character, glamour puss that she is (like ME!)  :)

Louise went straight from her first one-on-one airpen lesson to working on her actual painting. She's a brave one! And she did quite well. It's good to see that painting as an experiment anyhow, so you're willing to take risks with it. In fact, it's good to see all of your art as experiments!  My Jamie and Osama piece in the front here has much of its airpen writing on it here, though I added more later.

Here are Louise and Oisin in downtown Wooster on Saturday morning, enjoying our lovely rainy Spring. Tut-tut, it looks like rain! It's time for our grand downtown tour, after having breakfast at The Parlor, our favorite diner.

At Uptown Downtown, Louise and I found this stunning set of 12 quilt blocks and ended up splitting them for our non-deadlined project.  Here's Mary Jo, who works in Early's store.

We laid out our quilt blocks to admire them, on top of another quilt, on a bed in another student room, and just swooned.  Each block is made from feed sack cloth, machine appliqued onto this super tomato orange-red background.  We each now own six blocks. I think mine will become a duvet cover for Eva's bed here, and that I'll have Eva help me choose the sashing fabrics. Then we can dust off our Hello Kitty sewing machine and see if we can make any headway on that duvet cover this Summer.

Saturday afternoon, it's time to get that airbrush going!  We use an Aztek double action airbrush, and it's the most user-friendly airbrush you can imagine.  You will notice the fashionable 3M 6000 respirator that Louise is sporting.

Here's my line drawing on cloth for the Royal Wedding piece, which will be the Kitchen Tarot card the Knight of Wooden Spoons (Wands.)  We're using the same Kona cotton for the cloth and black Createx airbrush paint for the airbrushed lines.  This painting is about 34"h x 32"w, and I liked it a lot, but from the start, I've seen it as a study for a much larger piece that I hope to begin soon. It won't have the exact same images, but the same subject, characters (and more) and will have room for a lot more writing than I can get into this little one.

Here are Louise and me, BOTH wearing the same fashion statement respirators, posing proudly with the starts of our airbrush paintings.

To heat set the paints, you use a hot, dry clothes iron, and you iron the painting face-down, so the iron doesn't get paint on it and doesn't dirty up your painting.  We've got a big exhaust fan built into the wall, in front of the ironing board, and use it both for heat setting and for airbrush painting.  These are also the two activities we wear a respirator for.  It's got cartridges on it for both particles (airbrush paint that's airborne) and fumes (the gases given off during heat setting, even though you often can't even smell these gases.)   When you heat set airbrush or other fabric paints, you're making them permanent, and there are compounds given off during the chemical changes involved.  Wearing said ugly respirator can keep some nasty heavy metals out of your lungs, and therefore out of your bloodstream and entire body.

Royal Wedding with yellows and oranges, as Louise and I pass each color back and forth at the wall.  The nicest thing about this is that we each have plenty of time to contemplate our next moves, while watching the other one work on her piece with the current airbrush paint color.

Oisin Towers - Kaleidoscope Singer, in progress, with just the yellow and then orange paints airbrushed on.

Here's Libby in the studio (NOT in the airbrush room), hanging out with us, soft mouthing her favorite toy, Pinky the Flamingo.

Here's my airbrushed piece, before I quilted and added airpen writing to it.

Louise puts some final touches on the writing on the banners on her piece, also before airpen writing and quilting.

Oisin is fascinated by the painting his mom is making of him. And the kaleidoscope in the painting is one we have in our living room, so he's enjoying that, too.  See that painting on the wall between Arran and Oisin?  My daughter Gretchen made it of me back in 1980.  She looked at me while she was painting it with acrylics on paper.  It's my favorite painting in the world, and I need to get it framed.  It's starting to deteriorate, and I can't stand to lose it!

That evening Jimmy and Libby showed our Irish guests how he and Libby play Broom Hockey.  It's a great sport!

Because these pieces are too big to work on all from standing by the table, and too small to work on by just working along the table's edges, we ended up climbing up on the big table and doing some yogic Cat Pose.  I decided to use a large border, so I could write a lot more of the wedding story around the edges. You cut the batting to exactly the size you want the border to be, and you bring the backing fabric out past the batting enough so that it can come over the batting and tuck under the painting's raw edges.  My batting is bamboo and cotton Nature-fil, and my backing fabric is some now-vintage Lunn Fabric hand dyed crackle, made here in Ohio by Michael Mrowka and Debra Lunn's own hands.

Now we're both folding our backing fabrics over and tucking them in. We use straight pins along that painting / border edge, and when that's all done, we use bent safety pins to baste the sandwich body together.  The corners are butted, not mitered.  All of this sandwiching process is my own invention, and it's worked for me for many, many years now.

You have to be sure you've got all the layers really flattened out, before you start pinning.  So you slow down and feel both top and underneath, a LOT, to make sure you're not pinning in puckers and pleats.  Once it's all smooth, and you've reached as far as you can to put in your safety pins about 4" apart, you can start rolling up the piece, so you can keep on pinning.  I start at the bottom edge, usually, with the safety pins, and work my way up.

That night, before Oisin went to bed, the family hung out with our pets, Ome and Libby. Otis and Marigold aren't in this picture.

this was the last night of the class, and we all stayed up til 3:00 AM, to get our pieces quilted.  Louise is ripping along on the Janome 6600.  She had worked really hard, to get all of her airpen writing onto the painting itself, before she quilted her piece.  It's got song lyrics of tunes she and Oisin like to sing together, written all over it.

Meanwhile, the guys were working on leather belts over in Jimmy's studio. I think it got a little drunk out that one night ... but a LOT of creativity was going on over there!  I think Jimmy has some pix of Arran working with his Indian puppet, too, but he hasn't put them into the computer yet. So just wait for that!  It was pretty amazing!

Here are the two small pieces that Louise and I had quilted in my Crazy Grid way, before we quilted our bigger pieces.

I took a walk around the house in the morning, on the day Louise and her boys were going home.  This was the last sunny day for a while.  They had lucked out and managed more sun than rain all through their week here!

It was the last morning here, with the last of Jimmy's tasty, strong coffee, for our Irish friends.

Our dear friend Bill Jones (aka David Hazelwood) stopped in to pick up Jimmy, and the two of them took off to buy leather at Weaver's, down at Mt Hope, enjoying a ride through the Amish countryside.

Here are Louise, Libby, and me, in front of our quilted pieces from the week.

Here's Louise's big piece, as finished as she got it here. It's about 36"h x 34"w, probably.

I actually finished my "Royal Wedding: Knight of Wooden Spoons in the Kitchen Tarot" before the next Turtle Art Camp started, so here is what it looks like, finished.  I still may make a very large second painting/quilt of this card, but for now, this is what I have. It's 35.5"h x 33.5"w.

Here's a detail shot.  I wrote about the bizarre but beautiful fruitcake wedding cake, in my kidney pie cake.  I did all the airpen writing on this one AFTER my camp with Louise was overwith, as well as sewing around the edge and putting a casing on the back. Still have to do the label on back.

Thanks to Louise, there IS a wooden spoon on this piece, and it's the Welsh Love Spoon that I "tattooed" onto Victoria Beckham's chest, after Louise told me about Welsh love spoons.  Wooden Spoons are my Kitchen Tarot suit for Wands, by the way.

So I've decided to make the current Turtle Art Camp a separate blog entry, since this one got so long. (surprise!)  So the next thing I'll be doing is starting that entry ... maybe tonight. But this camp is May 18 - 24, so it'll be another entry that evolves over days.   Stay tuned - Lucky


  1. Hi Susan,
    Wow what a wonderful workshop to take. Louise did a superb job on her quilt. Yours is amazing as always. I love your work!

  2. I have seen the wonderful pieces Louise did with you today when she returned to a quilt class we both go to in Ireland ..amazing!!!!!