Monday, March 31, 2008


What a great guy I married! He made the soup, and then decided that it would be good day to bake bread as well! So I did get time to spend in the studio. I tidied up--and then had a chance to try out my new vacuum. We really had to get one, as last week while putting away groceries, a 10 K bag of flour burst open and there was a light dusting of flour oer everything in the basement. All cleaned up now.
Anyway, I'm amazed at the things I found when cleaning up. I now have a list of about 6 projects that were either in progress, or already to start--just sitting there waiting for me to get downto work. One is a little quilt that I plan to donate to the charity project of our local guild. I have a whole huge bolt of polyester batting that I use in donation quilts, but it isn't as easily controlled as the Warm battings that I prefer. This means going back to the older techniques such as actually pin basteing the quilt sandwich before starting my machine quilting. But, while I certainly have things to do, I have to force myself to sit down with paper and pencil and actually do some design planning, before leaping into the actual construction.
If I want to be taken seriously as a designer of fibre art, I have to develop the discipline of the working through the whole process. Then if I have to, I can actually prove the design process should a copyright problem emerge. If I want to teach, --and that's the only place that I would make any money--I have a documented process that I can base a class on.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Strength in Numbers

Yesterday was very strange, but confirmed my idea that we, as women artists, need the support and encouragement of other women artists. I was to attend a needlework/design class taught by a friend. On Friday she called to let me know she was very ill, and she asked if I would teach the class for her. As it happened, I had promised my DH that Friday would be for the two of us, so I didn't get around to doing any real planning the class until late Friday night, although I had gone over my friend's notes and has made some notes of my own to augment hers. The plan was that I would attempt to turn the class into a discussion/seminar on the topic, as I have never taught design ( and was actually scared stiff at the whole idea). It worked!! We had five hours of discussion and encouragement and inspiration! What a fantastic day! But, as I said above, it has been proved to me that we need to encourage and support each other to succeed. I believe ( I hope I'm right) that every one of the participants went away with new ideas, validation for the ideas they expressed, and a whole new sense of energy about future work. Even I have several ideas for new projects--and I had vowed to never do embroidery again!?

But, setting up the class has left my studio in a total mess! Thank Goodness the weather is foul. It looks like I'm spending the day tidying up the studio and attending to a few domestic chores. I will have a chance to think about future projects. I work best when ideas have a chance to percolate in my brain before I actually sit down and start work. I think my worst disasters are when I jump into something without having thought it through. So today, I make soup.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back to the labyrinth or one piece down---

and about 25 to go. I used one of the pieces for a set of post cards for a swap. First I stamped the piece with a stamp I made of a Minoan Labyrinth ( I know there is another term for this very ancient pattern, but darned if I can think of it). Then I drew a larger labyrinth on it that took up the whole piece. I made a machine-wrapped cord and couched it over all of the lines on the labyrinth. Then I cut the large piece into the correct postcard size. This way everybody gets a piece of my labyrinth. I know I'm being somewhat "flip" about this. The labyrinth is a very important spiritual symbol for me. Many times over the years I've turned to this symbol in my work, and the rewards have been great--not always visible rewards, but rewards none the less. Now to figure out how I'm going to use the other pieces that I printed on Monday

Time to plan

I've spent several hours thinking about what I'm going to do with the prints I made on Monday. This lead me to thinking about where I'm headed in general. I find myself spending more and more time altering the surface of fabric, and less time actually doing anything with the fabric. I read the messages on several of the internet groups I'm a part of, and I read of many others who appear to be doing the same thing. Somehow it seems as though our sense of direction has been lost. What had been a journey toward the destination of finished art, has become the destination itself. The surface modification has actually become the art that we attempt to achieve. I really need to explore this concept a little further, because I now have visions of an art gallery filled with pieces of artistically draped, altered, fabric.

Having said that, I have a studio day planned for this afternoon. We plan to explore rubber stamps. I believe we are going to be making our own, which we then use to alter the surface of fabric.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I heat set and washed all of the prints I made yesterday, and the colour faded on most of them. I wonder if it would be better if I left them for a week or so before washing them? Who am I kidding? I can barely wait the 24 hours before wanting to play with them. I have ideas for at least two hangings/collages out of them, but I have a sewing commission that needs to be finished today, if possible. Two lovely canvaswork evening bags that I have to finish-very pretty and very well stitched. I'm flatttered to even be asked to work on such nice things! DH went over to finish some painting today, and says that there is still chaos over at my DD's house. The electrician was there trying to sort out a problem in the basement, and to install the new dining room chandelier. DH is home now and absolutely worn out. He's sleeping in front of the tv--maybe a good thing. Since we retired we're just not up to a full day of physical work anymore. I mailed the forms to enter two more quilted hangings in the upcoming quilt show. This was an accomplishment for me, as I know my work is different, and not likely to be well received. But if no-one lets them know that work like this is out there, how will it ever become accepted? So now I have stuff out there waiting for the selection process for our different shows. I wonder why I seem to need that external validation of my work. I know I will keep working regardless of what people say about it, but it would be nice if someone said something nice.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A friend has the motto "Genius thrives on Clutter" I'm sure getting my share of clutter these days. I spent some time at my daughter's house again today. They are trying to pack away everything they won't need until after the move, to sort out the junk, and paint everything that isn't nailed down. Both of the children are unwell--not seriously ill but just not well. The baby is "snuffly", and just wants to be held. The three-year old is whine-y. While I can't help with the sorting and painting, I can hold the baby, and make appropriate noises to the older one.

BUT--I spent part of the day in Dianne L-J's studio. We were trying gelatine printing. Now neither of us have ever done this before, but at least she had read the instructions. I used my gelatine on the table and she kept hers in the tray. My started to deteriorate almost immediately, but I got over a dozen good prints off it. For the first time I tried thickening my paints so as to have better control while I worked--and it was a good idea. Since we were working at her place we had access to a variety of leaves. Not only did they make a good mask, but I also tried to print with a leaf that had paint onthe surface. Very nice effect! She even let me bring a few home. I will press them and use them in the future. Once all of my pieces are dry, and I've had a chance to heat set them, I'll try to take pictures and put them up here on the blog. I think that my best option will be to use the individual prints as part of a collage. I did 3-4 in each of four colourways, so should have lots of material to develop a collage around. I want to take the process a little further and make more surface modifications to the fabric. I've already antiqued a few of them with walnut ink, but stamping and over-dyeing would lend themselves to this as well. Maybe I can take pictures along the way, and put them up. Now putting up pictures is my nemesis, but we'll give it a try.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Must be spring! I'm having trouble breathing again. So I took one of my husband's Claritin. Well, now I know why I prefer my own --I've was hardly able to sleep at all and now I've been up for an hour and it's only 6:00 a.m. The pill should wear off around noon and then I expect to crash. But the time was not wasted! I've been lying in bed planning new work. I have two pieces pretty well finished--in my head! Now to get down to the painting and dyeing of fabric. I'm going to need four different pieces of fabric, and I think one will be painted and then the other three dyed. I want to experiment with dyeing very small batches of fabric. That darn dye is expensive! So that's my plan for today. I also have to get ready for, not one but two, studio days this week, as well as a meeting of one of my small quilting groups. And we're still busy getting the house ready for sale.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Feeling Guilty

The painting is going well. Yesterday, I stayed home while DH went over to paint ( he did this for a living in another life). He's off today to finish up. He says that the houe is looking a little better--I sure hope it is! Now, of course, the children are sick, especially the three year old.

So yesterday I had the whole day to work in the studio with no-one else in the house. What a strange feeling! It very rarely happens that I'm alone in my house. I couldn't settle to studio work, so started to do some prep work. I have a studio day planned with a friend on Monday. We are going to do some gelatine printing, so I started to make up the gelatine. I wasn't sure of the proportions, so I used two tablespoons of gelatine for one cup of water. I wanted to put it in a large cookie sheet. I set the cookie sheet up in the fridge, mixed the galatine and poured it in. Not a drop spilled. Then I noticed that the sheet wasn't level. I had it on a lazy susan and tried to take the lazy susan out. You guessed it. Gelatine everywhere! And everywhere it landed it solidified in place. I had a perfect imprint, in gl;eatine, of the pattern off the lazy susan, in the middle of the floor (where I threw the darn thing!) Do you know how difficult it is to get solid gelatine out of the gasket in a freezer door? It took almost two hours but I have everything cleaned up, except what may be hiding behind and under the compartments in the fridge. You actually have to scrape gelatine off walls and floors--it doesn't wash. Now that the tray of gelatine is set, I can tackle the inside of the fridge today. Studio work?? Never got there.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Just a few words

Just when I thought I had enough angst in my life, my DD has decided to move out of the city. She has given herself two weeks to sell her house, which whould be fine if her house was in good shape. It's not. So my DH spent today doing the prep work to start painting. My DD was in the same area trying to pack up junk for storage before they show the house, and my SIL, who is a taxidermist and works from home, was trying to mount a deer, for delivery on Tuesday. Did I mention that there is a three year old and a four month old in the house, along with a horkin' big black lab? Can you say chaos? Don't know when I will be able to blog again, as I have been assigned cooking duties for the duration. Wish us well.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

These are pictures of a small piece I did for the February 2008 Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. The challenge was to use soemthing found in Internet Spam as ispiration for a piece. I have a very good spam blocker, but there was a list of words provided from those who don't, and the word I chose was "locomotory". This innediately gave me an image of wheels within wheels, but when I started to draft the pattern they became cog wheels, and then rusty cog wheels. I was able to use a piece of fabric I had rusted for the actual wheels. It has been hanging around for awhile waiting for me to figure out what I wanted to do with it. Then I found that my skills at satin stitch applique were not as good as I might have liked, but that just meant that I didn't have to worry about the piece being perfect, and I could experiment a little. I tried a couple of ways of making the flower stems, and wasn't really thrilled with any of them--more thought needed there. The flowers were either fused to the surface or I fused two pieces together, cut out the flower and then just free-motion stitched them in place. I think I'm in a rut with the shape of my flowers and the FM patterns I'm using, as I think I've seen this flower on other pieces. Ther real experimentation came when I chose a non-rectangular shape and then had to strengthen the shape with heavy duty interfacing, and then use a facing rather than a binding-something I've wanted to try for awhile. Anyway, the piece worked out rather well, and I'm please with it.

Cost of doing business

What an emotional roller coaster! I have had to agree to being in one, two day sale only, but the cost is not as bad as I had figured. I had to buy a temporary vendors license for $11.25, not the business license for over $600, (when a zoning variance is calculated in). A friend told me that if I call myself a seamstress--and what else is it when you use a sewing machine to sew pieces of fabric together--I am exempt from needing a zoning variance. Now I have to pay 20% of my gross sales to the people who are hosting the sale. I have to confess that my mark-up is a reasonable one, so if I actually sell anything, I may make a little money!

After spending the morning yesterday negotiating with the city, I spent the afternoon with my friend, Carolyn, playing with fabric dye to produce something that we could design an embroidery around. We used mainly the Procion MX dyes although we also played with a small packet of Dylon--just for the colour. Carolyn ended up with several fairly nice pieces of fabric, and has ideas for most of them. She did some threads too, to use in the pieces she ends up making. Now I'm wanting to make up a few of my own. There is something invigorating about spending time with creative people, even if you are just "playing". Carolyn is a stitcher ( see Carolyn Mitchell Designs or Mrs. Twitchett's Eye) who is on the verge of retiring after owning an embroidery shop for many years. Well, there was a class going on in the shop, there was a private student, and of course, customers, and there we were in the middle of it all dyeing. What a hoot!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A New Beginning

I have spent the last few months debating with my self on how I want to live the rest of my life. I hate the uneasy time that we go through when we reach a crossroad in life. I can't say that I have all the answers yet, but circumstances are forcing me to make some decisions. I've always believed that when a door closes, another one opens. Lately I seem to be seeing a lot of closed doors. I have arthritis--have had for awhile. For several years I have worked as a finisher of fine needlework. This is a very skilled trade. Not only do we have to be skilled at sewing and construction techniques, we have to be familiar with ( but not that not skilled at) every type of needlework, so that we understand how something is created when we take it that step further. The shop I have been working in has now been sold. Considering the worsening problems with my hands, now seems like a good time to retire. When I realized that my days of hand stitching were numbered, I explored machine work, and a whole world opened up to me--a very expensive world. Not a good thing for someone living on a pension. However, I have created many beautiful things--which no-one wants. What will happen to them when I die? I decided to try selling them at fine craft shows. WOW! Are there ever a lot of hoops to go through in terms of licensing! Today I find out what the bottom line will be, but I know that I'll never make enough at a sale to ever pay the cost of being there. I'll let you know the actual figures tomorrow.