Back Home From Sailing Adventures!

Been having a great time on our sailboat, but because it is hurricane season, we parked the boat in a safe location and flew home for the summer.  That is a good thing since I have been having withdrawals from my longarm and other art supplies.

I took up photography while we were on the boat, so I wanted to show you a slideshow of few of my favorite images:

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Now I need a good way to organize and stow all the 1,000’s of images I took.  Luckily, my good friends, The Pixeladies, are having an eClass starting soon on organizing all your images using Photoshop Elements.  I am going to take it, and I hope you will join me in this class.  Stay tuned, I will tell you more in tomorrow’s post!

Hugs, Carla

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Digital Designing Process

Hello, I thought I would give you a sneak peek into how I come up with designs that I plan to turn into machine quilting designs on my Tablet PC.

I open Photoshop Elements and create a new document.  I just start sketching freehand style and erase any designs that seem not to work.  I do not worry about the lines if they are wobbly at this point, since I know I will redraw and edit lines later on in this digital format.

If I am designing a small wholecloth design, often I will just draw a section of the quilt, then copy, paste and flip to make a square shape.  I love to work digitally.

carlamotif1Here is my quick sketch design, with color added just for fun:

 

Now it is time to redraw and edit the design.  I know that the center is rather boring, so will adjust that.  I will also edit some other lines, too.   Sometimes, I will redraw a design multiple times, until it flows for me.

 

 

cbelegascrolltropHere is what my first edit looks like.  Again, I added color just for fun:

At this point, I can edit further, or pull out individual elements that could make nice simpler designs all on their own.  These designs can later become part of a larger set of designs.

 

Breaking down the larger design into smaller designs also allows me to play with the idea of creating matching borders, sashings, corners, etc.  Here is an example of a smaller design from the larger quilt design: scroll border panto

Anyhow, this gives you a general idea for how I work.  I plan to redraw these designs and fine tune the stitch path for commercial application.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment.  Happy Quilting!  Carla

Around the World Blog Hop- My Turn!

I was invited to participate in the Around the World Blog Hop by two amazing fiber, art quilt and digital artists, The Pixeladies, also known individually as Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki.   Years ago, I was asked to do the quilting on one of their art quilt projects, and through this collaboration, we became friends.  Recently, I visited their studio and got to see all their stunning works in progress.  If you are unfamiliar with their incredible work, and art quilts created with fabric text, click now to visit their gallery page.

The format for the Around the World Blog Hop is a series of questions that I answer, so here we go:

What are you working on right now?  I tend to work on multiple projects at the same time.  On any given day, you will find me machine quilting in my studio, then working on my Tablet PC laptop drawing and designing, and finally, working on a freeform beading or crochet project.  So, in that spirit, here is what I am working on currently:

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Quilting by Carla Barrett

Machine Quilting- I recently borrowed back the above quilt (previously quilted a few months ago, titled Bold Beauty),  to share with students in Australia. The picture above shows you the back of the quilt. This quilt has won many awards in Montana for the owner, Teddie Egeline, including Best of Show and Judges Choice at the Montana State Fair.  Anyway, while in AU, I noticed a couple of places that need fixing, specifically, color repair of some white marking pen oops previously discussed in a post here.

whitemarkI realized that to be more archival, I should have heat set the repair.  So now I will go back over the lines with several shades of Inktense pigment pencils and once dry, heat set them.  After this repair, I plan to work on 2 quilts- one by applique artist Jill Rixman, and also one by my friend, Doug Hodder.

 

freeforminprogFreeform Beading and Freeform Crochet- Currently, I have two different projects in progress, though both are freeform.

The first one is a freeform beaded purse, so I am working on the freeform peyote embellishment.  I have just started to bead a 18mm Swarovski crystal, which will be a focal point element of this project.  My color palette is magenta, purple and blue.

My current freeform crochet project is a bit different from my usual freeform crochet work.  I like the combination of my random freeform combined with some more traditional freeform scrumbles, so I decided to take a Craftsy Freeform Crochet class with the talented Myra Wood to learn her process.  Below is a picture of my class homework so far.  These are “scrumbles” in progress as I learn her technique.

Scrumbles in Progress

Scrumbles in Progress

How does your work differ from others of its genre?  With regards to my machine quilting work, I plan out my quilting lines using a Tablet PC laptop in Photoshop Elements.  This allows me ease of editing and planning, communicating effectively with collaborators, as well as provide me with a road map to follow during the quilting process.  I also will design a special motif, border or fill to use on each quilt using a digitizing software called Art & Stitch.  I also will use my tablet to draw a quilting cartoon from time to time, too.  See more what you can do with a Tablet in this post here.

10waystabletHow does your creative process work?    As mentioned earlier, I use my Tablet PC to sketch out machine quilting designs (like the example above).  I also use my Tablet PC to create custom quilting designs that I can then stitch out on a quilt.  My process is as follows:

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

Copyright 2014 Carla Barrett

First, I draw with my stylist on my Tablet PC monitor in Photoshop Elements.  Once I like the design, I will import my design into Adobe Illustrator and  Art&Stitch digitizing software, converting the artwork from a raster drawing to vector artwork.

On the left is a custom design drawn for Teddie Egeline’s quilt, Bold Beauty.  This is a screenshot taken of the finished vector art.

In Art&Stitch, I finish editing the art, adding stitches and saving it in a computerized quilting format that my system can read- which for my Intelliquilter is “.iqp.”   The design is next imported to my machine and then I further manipulate the design to fit my border.  Here is a screenshot from my Intelliquilter tablet showing you how I used this design to create an interesting custom border:

iqpdesign

I love to leave spaces for freemotion quilting because I love the look of freehand work.  The curlycues in the image above will be filled with my freehand feathers.  Once quilted out and the freehand work added, the finished design and border looks like this:

carladesignboldbeauty

I also used my Scroll-Heart Design in other areas on the quilt, too:

scrollhearttri

If you have any questions about my process, I would be happy to answer them.  Just leave your question in a comment, below.  If you would like to know more about buying a Tablet, I do have a 4 part series on purchasing a Tablet for artwork here.  If you would like to know more about working and creating with Art & Stitch software, please see this post.

Before I close, I would like to nominate a very talented machine quilting artist for this Around the World Blog Hop:

Judi Madsen, quilting artist, author, teacher and designer.  During my teaching trip to AU earlier this month, I met Judi a couple of times as my class was ending and hers was due to begin.  Her freehand machine quilting work is young, vibrant, and has a modern vibe.  Be sure to visit  Green Fairy Quilts blog to see Judi’s stunning work.

Take care, Carla

Tablet Budget Buying Tips – Part 4

Buying a new or refurbished tablet when you have a strict budget can be challenging.  I decided to write about this topic after receiving many requests for help in buying a tablet on a budget, for use in quilting and creative arts.

This post is Part 4 in my Tablet Series.  To start at Part 1, please click here.  Part 2 is here, and click here to see Post 3.  If you are curious as to what you can do with a tablet, please see this post.

Wacom Bamboo or Intuos Option

This option uses/adds on to your existing computer desktop, laptop, notebook or ultrabook that you already own.  If you are currently happy with your computer system, either Mac or PC, then this would be a low cost alternative for you.

Wacom makes several entry level tablet peripherals which are inexpensive choices for occasional tablet users.  These are tablet devices which are either wireless or plug into your USB port on your existing computer and allow you to draw off to one side while looking at the screen.

Drawing in this manner takes lots of practice to do, and can be frustrating if you are used to drawing on a piece of paper.  However, if you are determined, you can master this way of drawing.

Wacom Bamboo

Bamboo USB

Bamboo USB

For only $49 US or 49.90 Euros, you can buy the Bamboo tablet which plugs into your computer by way of USB port.  For $79.00 US or 69.90 Euros, you can purchase the Bamboo wireless model.  I do recommend the wireless model, if it is in your budget, mostly because it is easier to draw while being untethered.

The largest benefit to the Bamboo is the low entry price into tablet drawing.  You may also use it with either a Mac or PC computer system, too.

Bamboo Wireless

Bamboo Wireless

The biggest downside relates to drawing  off to one side while looking at the computer screen, as well as the size of this

tablet, which is small.  When a tablet screen is small, you have to pick up the stylist pen tip and readjust.  You also need a drawing program to use a tablet, but this is true with all tablets.

If you own a Bamboo now, and find that there seems to be a disconnect between what you draw and the lines on the screen, then you will need to re-calibrate your device, also called “mapping”.  Wacom has  helpful how-to support here.

Wacom Intuos

intouslineWacom also makes their Intuos line of tablets, which come in 4 different sizes.  Prices start at $79 US or 69.90 Euros for the smallest Intuos up to  $499 US or  470.90 Euros for the largest size Intuos Tablet.

Pros:  Low, starting price for their smallest tablet, may be used with either a Mac or PC computer system.

The same downside as the Bamboo line applies here.  Drawing “blind” off to the side is not natural if you are used to pen and paper drawing.   I happen to own an XL sized Intuos tablet, an earlier version model that I used once.  Why?  It was a gift from my dear husband, who didn’t know about the “drawing off to one side” aspect- and my particular feelings about it.    However, if your budget is small, and you don’t mind drawing while looking at the screen, then I would recommend the largest size Intuos you can buy with your budget.

There are several Wacom competitors, however, I do not recommend any of them.

Buying Refubished or Discontinued Tablet PC

The other choice available to budget minded tablet buyers are to do your research, and then buy a slightly used, or discontinued Tablet PC.  My favorite place to buy them is on eBay, however, do your research and double check that the seller is legitimate and has a high rating.  I also know of quilters who purchased a used tablet from a local computer store that refurbished models, then sold them with a warranty.  Once again, check to see this store will be around if you have any issues.  Same with shopping on Craigslist.

fujitsuoutletAnother tip for budget tablet buyers are  that computer tablet manufactures often sell refurbished or discontinued models on their eBay page.  Say you buy a tablet, then return it for any reason.  They repair it, then the company may resell on eBay.   Here is a link to the Fujitsu eBay Outlet page.

I decided to run an experiment.  My particular model of Tablet PC Convertible is only about 3 years old, however, I know it is a great machine.  I paid $2000 US when I bought mine new, fully loaded.  I recently found a similar set up on eBay recently for only $500-600 US.    It pays to do the research and buy a slightly older model to get more value per dollar (or currency of your country) .

I hope this post and information contained here will help you to stay on budget.  I love drawing and creating with my Tablet PC convertible, and draw at least once a day, if not more.  I would love to see what YOU create with your tablet, too.

Regards, Carla

Tablet Info for Quilters- Part 2

Carla Note- This is a multi-part series for anyone interested in purchasing a tablet for creative use.  The series starts with Part 1, please click here to read first.

Buying a new tablet can be very overwhelming due to all the technical decisions you must make.  Quilters (and other creative people) don’t want to think about technical specs and details, they just want to buy the right product for them and create.

In this second post of the Tablet Buying Info for Quilters Series, let’s discuss some of the other considerations you must think about in order to narrow down your tablet choice.  In Part 1,  you have a general idea as to what Operating System (OS) will fit your needs, so let’s move on to other decisions:

What is Your Budget?

Your budget will be one of the most important factors when buying a new tablet.  You can spend anywhere from a entry level Wacom Bamboo (plug-in) tablet  for $49 US to a $4000 US Panasonic Toughbook H2 Pro.   Defining your budget will help you to narrow down your tablet purchase choices.

Note for tablet buyers who are on a tight budget, I will be writing a future post just for you.  🙂

 

How Do You Plan to Use the Tablet? 

How you intend to use the tablet will also factor into the mix.  If all you need is a tablet to read books, play games, videos, answer emails, and do simple drawings, then you should look at either iPad or Android Tablets.  If you are draw and design everyday, then you would begin your search at Tablet PCs- either Convertibles, Hybrids or Slate models.  How often you plan to use the tablet will also influence your decision, no matter if you are a professional artist or a hobbyist.

What Size Tablet Do I Need?

There are a wide variety of tablet sizes being sold.  Too small a screen makes drawing uncomfortable or challenging, as you have to lift your pen and readjust. A small screen  may not be compatible with over age 40 eyes, too.  The opposite is true, too.  If you draw sitting down with a tablet on your lap, as I do, then a XL Wacom Cintiq 24HD, which is actually sized at 30.3″ x  18.2″ x 2.5″ and weighs 63.8 pounds, would not be the tablet for you!  For metric blog readers, that translates

Example of Google Logo art created on Wacom  Cintiq Tablet

Example of Google Logo art created on Wacom Cintiq Tablet

into 769 x 463 x 64 mm and weighing in at 28.6 kg!  The size and weight of this XL Cintiq makes it a wonderful desk tablet and it comes with an adjustable tilt stand.

Before you fall too in love with this high end Wacom, I must mention the pricey $2599 US price tag.  I once saw a television interview with several Google Artists, and noticed they were using this largest Cintiq combined with a Mac.  I am a bit off point, but the key message is to determine what size tablet you want and could live with to further define the right tablet for you.

What Software Will You Be Using With Your Tablet?

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

Example of Digital Quilt drawn in Photoshop Elements

I touched lightly on this in Part 1, but if your desire is to design and create using Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (PSE), Adobe Illustrator,  Art & Stitch (which is a digitizing program for machine quilters and embroidery artists), or any other large design program, then you would want a compatible tablet OS.

Some design programs (like Art & Stitch, for example) will only work with Windows OS (specifically Vista, 7 and 8, 8.1), while Photoshop, PSE, and Illustrator are available for both the Mac and Windows OS.   If you plan to buy and work with Art & Stitch, then that would obviously rule out a MacBook with a Wacom tablet plug-in option.  You would need to go for a Tablet PC option.  Consider carefully the programs you plan to design with and then choose your OS accordingly.

What Tablet Options Are Available in Your Country?

clipartglobeI happen to live in the US, where it is rather easy to buy every brand of tablet online. This may not be the case in other countries around the world, so become familiar with reputable online retailers and their tablet offerings in your own locale.  This may limit your selection of tablets available to you.

If you happen to live near a big box electronic store, be careful!  Retail stores which carry a wide variety of tablet options are rare, and will certainly sell you whatever they have on hand. It is important to do your homework, know what YOUR needs are, and don’t be pressured by sales people.

Still More Tablet Considerations…

For fear of overwhelming you, I have decided to continue this list of things you must consider when buying a tablet into Post 3.  It is a lot to think about, and I want to encourage any quilter interested in purchasing a tablet to grab a piece of paper and write down both the question or topic and your answers.  This will help you to narrow down what tablets you research.  It is very easy to start surfing the net, then become confused and overwhelmed by the amount of information available.

Click here for Part 3 of the Series.

Please let me know if I have confused you on any post so I may clarify  the topic for you.  As always, I love hearing from you, so feel free to leave a comment.  Regards, Carla

 

Another Quilt Design

Here is another digital quilt from my tablet:

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

digital quilt by Carla Barrett

Here it is colored:

digital quilt design by Carla Barrett

digital quilt design by Carla Barrett

 

colorpalette2Like other digital quilts, I took my color palette from a photo, then sampled different colors out of the picture and made a color palette.  Here is the one I made for the above quilt, then decided to go minimalist with the final quilt coloring.

That’s all for today!  This week, my grandson has a childhood illness, one that has no immunization.  He has been very uncomfortable, which means no quilting!    Take care!  Carla

 

 

 

10 Ways to Create With a Tablet (for Quilters)

10waystabletMy “Digital Quilts” have created lots of interest lately, so I thought I would share 10 ways to create with a Tablet.  This technique is not just for Quilters, it is also perfect for Zen Doodlers, Embroidery artists, and anyone who likes to create.

For the examples shown in this post, you will need a Tablet capable of running Photoshop Elements (PSE), or similar program.  This means that the tablet you use can be a Wacom plug-in type of tablet, a Tablet PC, or a Tablet Slate.  If you have an iPad or Android tablet that uses “Apps,” then watch for a future post dedicated to creating with this type of tablet.  My tablet also has a stylist pen, which I highly recommend.

10 Ways to Create With a Tablet:

1planawcquilt1. Plan out a Whole-cloth Digital Quilt.   This is very rewarding and creative task to do with your tablet and only takes a fraction of time required to make a fabric quilt.  For example, I made the design shown above in about 15 minutes.  It just makes sense to save time planning your design out digitally rather than draw it out on paper or fabric.

Tablets, along with Photoshop Elements, are the perfect tools to draw, copy & paste design in quilt sections in order to make the entire quilt.   Did I mention that creating digital quilts this way is fun, too?

2wholeclothcolor2. Create a Colored Whole-cloth Digital Quilt.

Using a photo editing program like Photoshop Elements, you can quickly color the  whole-cloth quilt.  Best to work out your quilt color combinations digitally rather than start coloring or painting the fabric, only to discover you dislike your color scheme.

Above is an example of what I colored digital quilt looks like.  Here is another colored digital quilt from a recent blog post:

Tablet Quilt by Carla Barrett

Tablet Quilt by Carla Barrett

 

3.  Experiment with Quilt Color Hues/Saturation.  Experimentation with Hues/Tones is very easy to do with a Tablet and takes hardly no time at all to do using a software program like PSE.  Here are 3 different colorways for the quilt shown under #2:

3hues

?'4. Design Your Quilt- Both Pieced and Applique Quilts.

You can also use your tablet to visually design your quilt top.  This method works for both pieced quilts and applique ones.  For instance, after my trip to the South Pacific, I designed this applique quilt with an island flair (shown on the left).

 

 

Below is a collaborative quilt design created with my friend, Lori.  We call it “Hairy Leg Quilt,” because I quilted hair in each block.  This example shows you how the design concept completed with my tablet, and the photo of the finished quilt block.

 

4designyourquilt

 

5. Plan Your Machine Quilting Design.  I have been drawing on quilt photos over the last decade with my tablet in order to plan out what I want to quilt before starting the quilt.

5quiltingdesignThe digital quilting plan becomes my visual road map for the overall design.  This is most helpful since stand-up quilters only work on small sections of the quilt during the quilting process.  It is easy to forget what you quilted at the top of the quilt when you get to the bottom border.

6panto6. Make a Pantograph or Edge-to-Edge design. 

In quilting, we call an edge-to-edge design which is similar across the quilt sandwich a “pantograph” design.   Here is a sample pantograph design drawn with my Tablet:

 

7tracedesign7. Trace a Design to use as a Motif.
A Tablet is also useful for tracing a copyright free image from a clip art book, or from the web.  This is especially useful for quilting themed quilts.  You can also take a picture of any object, or fabric and trace that design, too.  In my example, I took a stock retro image for an Astro themed quilt, traced it, then edited to make it more continuous for quilting.

8practicedrawing

 

8. Practice Drawing Freehand Quilting Designs.  Practice makes perfect, if we take the time to learn and draw new designs.

If you can draw it, you can quilt it, is one of my philosophies.

I use my Tablet to practice new motifs and quilting fills before freehand quilting them out.  Once again, the tablet wins hands down for convenience.

 

9. Create Zen Doodle Designs.  Many fiber artists are combining zen doodling with fabric to create interesting and cool art quilts.  This is another task where the Tablet wins out over paper.  If you slip and make an oops, you simply click the “undo” button and re-draw.  It is also a great way to use all your fabric quilting fill designs, too.  Here are 2 examples- a heart and a birdy head:9zendoodle

colorinspiration

b981c636164529fe75c19fdc540dbd4a10.  Easily Chose Color Palettes For Quilts and Other Projects.

I found this photo of Rarotonga, Cook Island online, and loved the colors.

So I created this custom palette (see below) using my tablet and PSE.  In PSE, you sample color using the eyedropper tool.  This is very easy to do.

colorpalette

 

Next step is to audition it on a quilt or whole cloth quilt design.  You want to experiment ahead of time to ensure you like the colors before putting time and energy into the quilt.

Below is what the quilt might look like using this palette.  If I wanted to change a color, then it is easy to do.

10example copy

 

These are my favorite 10 ways I use my Tablet PC and PSE together in my work.

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into a few of the wonderful things you can do with modern tablet technology combined with quilting.   Part of the photos and ideas are from my Tablet Design Class for Quilters.  Please note that if you live in Australia, I will be teaching this class in person at the AU Machine Quilting Festival in October, 2014.

Author of this post is Carla Barrett, a fiber, quilt and digital artist from Northern California.  Carla owns at least 6 or 7 types of tablets, and is considering her next tablet purchase. 🙂