Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reality bites!

In all the preparation for the four shows I have in November, I've reached the point where there is nothing but hand sewing left to do. Well, my hands don't like it. I tried to slow the pace and only do one piece a day, and still the hands object. Dammit! Old age sucks!

As well, an acquaintance told me that a friend absolutely loves the collages I make and has now started to make some just about the same, and is selling them. This is not a "fuzzy" area. It is copyright infringement. If they are anything like mine, or based on mine, then I am being exploited. She is stealing my ideas. This is not a case where imitation is a form of flattery. While such a thing is against the law, in reality, I know there is nothing I can do. I was fooled when she took an interest in my sun prints, asking what leaves I used and what paints and how I did it. I often describe the method as part of my sales pitch, (although not in such detail)as the finished result appears deceptively easy, but she was actually stealing the idea, ---and I let her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Had a successful shopping trip down south over the weekend. Spent all of my money, of course. Found Kona Cotton at a good price and bought 11yds of both black and white. I use a lot of black in my work, and the white can become any colour I choose. Also found some beads. I was looking in particular for tiny little flower shapes in which the hole is through the stem and up into the blossom, so that you need to use a stop bead to hold them in place. these are great at the end of a fringe. I had a few where the hole went cross-wise through the stem end of the flower, which work just as well, but being me, I wanted the other kind. I did find two that were as I wanted but in green--for flowers--go figure?! I also got a few in other colours, and some that were quite tiny. Now I just have to find time to bead!

Today I sort of have an "Artist's Date". I know that these are supposed to be somewhat solitary, but I expect to go with two friends whose interests are similar to mine. We are going to a fibre art exhibit at a local University. The group exhibiting is "Articulation"--a well known and respected group of fibre artists who are starting to be known all across this part of the continent. I've heard that this exhibition is wonderful and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

African fabric

Some acquaintances gave me a big plastic bag of scraps fo African fabric. These are the very long, thin strips you get when you even off the edge of a large piece of fabric--most of them 1/4" or less wide and about 18 inches long. Nothing much was said, but the message I got was a sort of challenge--Okay, let's see what you can do with this!! So yesterday I took up the challenge. I started with a flat piece of black fabric and ironed some fusible web on it. then I carefully laid out the strips across the fabric, at an angle, and pressed them on. I sandwiched the fabric with Warm'n'natural and another piece of the same fabric, and machine quilted vertically about every 1/4". I cut out a small purse (FromQuilting Arts Six Pretty purses), added a zipper and sewed it together. I was very surprized at how thick and heavy the very close quilting made the fabric--it was almost too heavy for the machine. I'm well pleased with it, although it still needs some hand

My Pfaff is in the shop. Trauma Time!! Private Pity Party!! But it is 6 years old, and has had some hard use. So I see the writing on the wall--time to start thinking about a new machine. I haven't been entirely happy with the Pfaff, but here are some features that I've become quite dependent on, such as the Intergrated Dual Feed and the needle threader. While it's away, I've been using an old Elna Carina Electronic--and I sure find it different. Sews like a dream, but no free motion work. Now, it will be quite awhile until I can save up enough to actually buy a new machine, but I can start comparison shopping, and seeing if there is any hope for my wish list. The Bernina is out of my price range--no question there, although it is probably the closest I'll get to my "Dream Machine". I like the thread holder that I've seen on t.v., that will hold several spools at a time, and upright at that. The machine I'm hearing the most about is the Husqvarna. So I think that is the first one to take a look at. But no rush, unless I win a lottery.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So many beads, So Little Time!

Sunday I spent with two friends sorting beads. I had been given a huge bag of Victorian jet beads, with a few others included, but many of them were still attached to bits of fabric, as they were originally parts of clothing. Between two of us we spent 14 hours de-constructing and sorting the beads. ( The whole bag had been looked over by a museum curator before I got it, so we weren't destroying any artifact of value) Many of them had been sewn to netting that was rotting. It was really hard to de-construct this and some of it will be left. We'll just cut out those beads to use as we need them. Some of the best beads were pastel, square cut beads we found on a fabric belt/girdle from the early 20th century. They are gorgeous!! The other thing we found was a multitude of tiny( really tiny!)sequins, that will be very useful in more contemporary beading projects.

And then yesterday, I re-visited the local bead store that is selling off their stock at 50% off everything. I picked up a few pieces for an African-inspired piece I have in mind, as well as a couple of grab bags. A lot of the grab bag beads, along with a few larger, less useful beads from the Victorian collection well be quite usefull for entertaining my DGD's when they visit.

The rest of my studio time has been spent trying to clear up the half-made projects that have been littering the place. I'm preparing the place for a full-out work session getting ready for the November sales. The bad news is that my sewing machine needs attention. I called the service centre, to negotiate taking it in and they told me that they are working on a 10 day turn around time right now. Say What!!? You've got to be kidding!! So today, I'm putting aside the less important projects and working on needle-felted collages, which all require a small amount of FMQ'g--something I can still do with the machine. I had been going to delay this task until I've been down to the States to pick up a bunch of cheap matts for the collages, but I need to have them finished and matted before the end of the month, and I can't afford to take any chances. Then the machine goes in late tomorrow, and the trip down south will be over the weekend and early part of next week.

I feel bereft even thinking of being without my machine, but I'm realizing that this is maybe a wake-up call for me. The machine is 6 years old and has had some hard use. I need to be thinking about replacing it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mood swings

Well, now I'm doing my happy dance. Yes, I did get juried into the big sale at the end of November. The deadline was extended, so I'm hoping it was a genuine jury process, and not a matter of them taking just about anyone who applied, because there were so few applicants. I don't care! The e-mail said that they would be getting back to individual applicants to sort out individual details. My fear is that they are going to ask me to apply for a retail sales tax license. But it's probably time. So the next 6 weeks will be busy.

Right now I'm working on finishing the sample hangings I had for the class that was cancelled. I'm trying out some different methods of beading with them, and so far I'm happy with the results. I'll post pictures as they're finished.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I found out yesterday that the class I was to teach in another city was cancelled due to lack of interest. Quite a disappointment to me, but, at least, I was told before I had invested a lot of $$ in supplies etc. I've also heard nothing about a juried sale I had applied for. We were to have been informed by October 2nd, so I'm guessing I was one of the rejects and will be getting a letter telling me so. This is how that organization works. For another sale, where I have frequently done well, I have been told that one of my best selling items doesn't have enough stitiching on it and will not be accepted. This is not turning out to be a good year. So now I'm reduced to one pending sale. Hope that one pans out.

Finally finished

Here is a picture of the piece I have been obsessing
aobut over the past three weeks. The title is
"Inua-Spirit in the Wind" I made it for the Fiber
Art Connection of Southern California Challenge "Inua"
The piece is about 22 by 33
, but, as you can see, is free form. I started with
white cloth and used paint sticks to colour it.
The green/black colour represents the colour one
sees in the depths of a solid piece of clear ice.

Here is a close-up showing the intense FMQ'g, and the holes that have been cut through the piece. Each hole was faced, cut and finishe don the wrong side. I then put on the back using an envelope technique. This means that I sewed the fabric , right sides together over the front, cut a slit in it and turned the whole thing to the back. I then cut out the holes and hand stitched the backing around the holes
Here is another close-up, again showing the dense FMQ'g.
This was a very intense piece. Once I had started, it was
as though I was possessed. I had to work it through.
I had tried a similar piece a couple of years ago, and it
went nowhere. I think I was too rigid in trying to make
my quilting lines regular and precise. I had to loosen up
quite a bit to get the effect I wanted. But I found it
very difficult to make the work look loose
and un-planned. A lesson to me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Artist's date?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to help set up a juried show of fine craft. The jury process is hard to understand. I've been told that, either the sponsoring organization, or the jury itself, usually has a vision of how a show can present a cohesive image or concept. Pieces are then selected on the basis of how they contribute to this image. I had trouble trying to figure out what that concept might have been with this show. The only answer I came up with was "variety", although, IMHO, the show itself was heavily weighted toward pottery. I suppose I'll never have an answer. I had applied for this show and was not selected. It's frustrating to know that my work is exhibited all across the USA through the travelling exhibitions of the Fiber Art Connection of Southern California, and across Canada through FAN, but has never been selected for a local show. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong. There are 6 fibre pieces in the show hung yesterday. and they are quite varied. Two quilted pieces, one of which is hand painted fabric, densly quilted, the other a raw edge applique piece organized into a triptych. There was a hand painted piece that had been hand embroidered, (very nice!), an embroidered piece that absolutely left me cold, and a three dimensional, hand crocheted and knitted piece that was downright weird, and could have used more technical skill.

I know that the two quilted pieces and the hand-painted embroidered piece were all made by people who tend to "follow their own star", so to speak--doing their own thing and exhibiting wherever and whenever they can. Perhaps I worry too much about local acceptance. Maybe I just need to try to produce the ideas that are in my brain. But if they are never seen, what have I gained by making them?