Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wasted time

The online feature Quilt Art Daily talks today about how jumping in and rushing things can result in a great waste of time when techniques don't work because time wasn't taken to work knowledgeably and at a constructive pace. AHA! Is that what happened yesterday?! I actually felt that I had time to work on a Fast Friday piece. There was one of my gelatin prints that was appropriate. I FMQ'd it, and then tried to do an overcast edge, as I didn't want to take the time to bind it. My new Janome Horizon doesn't like that sort of edge treatment--period. It might have helped if I'd used the right stitch width for the zig zag, ( by this time it was 8:30 and I was tired--rule #2 Don't work tired) but the actual problem was that when the fabric is only under half of the foot, the feed dogs don't work right. So I need to find out if there is a better foot for this task. I also discovered that my FMQ'g had missed spots because I was in too much of a hurry.

But all is not lost. Since I only have to post a photo, most of the problems, except for the wavy edge, won't be noticed. And I really, really wanted to post something this month. But I still won't have a piece worth keeping, so the time and supplies used in the printing and stitching, have been wasted.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I spent yesterday in a workshop with a highly-respected local artist. This is the second workshop I've had with him and I've found both of them highly stimulating! Very much out of my realm, but suprisingly appropriate to my work. This one was actually for beginners and involved exploring colour using acrylic paints. We also did a mini-exploration of how the acrylics work on different substrates. This was the part I enjoyed the most. I mainly used a palette knife, after receiving a little more information on "how-to" use it. In many ways I'm finding this much more satisfying than using the brushes. I came home with two small painted (knifed??) pieces-about 6 x 6--done on canvas, and a larger collage done on "mixed media board". I want to play with mixed media board a little more, but will have to wait until I have a little more $$$ before I pick any up. January is usually a pretty lean month around the old homestead!
I have another class with this gentleman scheduled for mid-February, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

Monday, December 27, 2010


I'm slowly getting Twilight Snowfall bound, but, as you might have guessed, my heart really isn't in it. Then I have to have it photographed--at a very specific pixel count and size. I'm really not sure how to proceed. I'm starting a hands-on PSE class February 1st. While I don't want to mess up the teacher, I could take the photo myself, and hope she can help me re-size it at the first class. That would still give me time to get the entry forms away. Or I could ask my friend the art photographer to help me--yet again--although I w0uld be much further ahead if I learned to do it for myself.

BUT! Today I spent hours doing gelatin printing. My friend BrandyLynn came over this morning and we worked for almost 4 hours. Both of us had a drying rack full of pieces by the time we stopped to breathe. After she left, I had to have a wee nap. Then this evening I did a few more. Boy, did we ever go through fabric! Finally, about 7:30, I did a piece that I had been trying for all day. This is based on the colour field painting style, and is a Fast Friday Fabric challenge monthly challenge. Now I have until noon next Saturday to finish it and get it up on the internet.

My main intent for these pieces is to turn them into smaller hand embellished pices that can be mounted and framed for sale. Yeah, I bit the bullet and accepted that I'm still going to have to sell some of my work so that I can buy the supplies to keep going. This afternoon I picked my favourite of all the pieces I painted, and actually started to work on it. Ruined it, but I may be able to salvage something. Otherwise, I have 27 more pieces to keep me busy and off the streets over the next few months. Considering that I have two teaching events to prepare for, and quite a few classes that I've signed up for as a student, I don't think I'll have any time to get into trouble.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Twilight Snowfall

is blocked, sized and bound--as a rectangle. When I was told that it had to be a rectangle to enter the exhibition, I lost heart with it. It will go off to New Zealand, with plans to re-shape it when I get it back, but I wonder if I'll really follow through. The local quilt guild has plans for a big show in the spring of 2012, so perhaps If I focus on getting it into that, it may give me an incentive.

Now I'm very busy making a couple of sample collages to help in publicizing the class I have scheduled for the Crafts Museum in late February. I hope to be able to take them into MCML when I atttend a meeting there January 3rd. Much of my collage work is based on work done by Beryl Taylor. I gave myself her new video for Christmas and it arrived last Wednesday. The actual project she uses to demonstrate her techniques does not appeal to me at all, so there's no danger of stealing her ideas ( I wonder if it was planned that way?) I found out that she has a previous video, so it looks like I know what I'm going to give myself for my birthday--or maybe sooner.

Next week I have another class with the same local artist as I spent a day studying under last fall. I'm very much looking forward to this--moreso than I'm looking forward to Christmas. It's so very convenient to have everything included in the class fee, and so supplies to worry about.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

finding a voice

last evening I attended an informal presentation/art critique. A slide presentation had been put together of pictures produced by four different artists. Each artist was introduced and then we saw a sort of retro-spective of that artists work. We had been given a bio and had an idea of each artists's background and education, and how their work had been accepted within the art community. Some of them had achieved international recognition, some more local. A couple had been recognized, even as students, as potential"movers and shakers". So why? As I looked at the pictures, I realized that each of them had a unique and recognizable style that was out of the ordinary--and none of them produced "pretty pictures". Each of them had a special talent for a certain type of work--one did snow and water like I've never seen it done before. One used a specific blue colour in so many ways and scenes that I was in awe. another produced architectural sketches that were stunning. A third could create a scene with just a couple of brush strokes, and while I didn't particularly like his style, I very much appreciated his skill.

So maybe the answer to acceptance, is in finding that one style that speaks for my vision and can become distinctly mine. A tall order, but already I know that I am most comfortable in small, fussy, detailed work. I enjoy, and am challenged by working in a muted, slightly mono-chromatic colour scheme. I need to work more with, and become more confortable in, the proper use of value. So why do I keep trying to work against my nature and pleasure?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What a day!

I should have the snowflakes finished on Twilight Snowfall by bedtime tonight. I had no idea it would go so quickly, once I had the quilting finished. I painted some fabric to use for binding this morning, so could conceivably have it finished in the next day or so. A big piece of my energy, both emotional and physical, over the past few weeks. I still haven't found a way to post pictures, and that's maybe a good thing, as I'm not sure what the exhibition rules are about posting before the exhibit opens.

So--what do I do next?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still fretting

I have sent a sketch of Twilight Snowfall" to the show organizer to see if the shaping on the lower edge might be acceptable, but I haven't heard back yet. DH has suggested that I finish it as a rectangle, and re-finish it once it returns from the show. I had thought of that, but held back in consideration of the technical issue of the actual finishing, as I had planned to face it. However, if I cut it as a rectangle and bind it, then I can remove the binding, re-cut it, and face it once it returns. The actual quilting should be finished to day, even if I have to add some around the lower edge to fill in the rectangle shape. This has been the only thing I've worked on for almost 7 weeks. Then comes the scarey part--I have to paint the surface. I've experimented with a couple of ways of doing it, on my doodle cloth, and have a pretty good idea about it, but painting!! After all that work quilting!??

When I was auditioning various snowflake methods, I had asked my friend Rose Anne about a very tiny tatted snowflake. She didn't think it could be done, but surprised me with three small, delicate, tatted snoflakes, at our recent Ravenesque meeting. Tatting is something I associate with a dear friend who passed away this year--Vera--who was a Master Tatter. Rose Anne also knew her and learned from her. So, in honour of both of these friends, the small snowflakes--a little too large for the front of the piece--will be attached to a special label that I'll make for the back.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taking stock

Time to figure out where I am in my "sabbatical". I've been having great fun, I have a few paintings that are okay, but only as a measure of my learning curve, but I haven't actually produced a piece of fibre work in about 4 months, although I did quilt and mount two gelatine prints that I made while demonstrating the technique. For the last month I've been working on "Twilight Snowfall", but have now found out that it may not be accepted for the exhibition, as I plan to make the bottom edge irregular. Last night I spent some time looking at it, as I could still square off the bottom, to make it "legal", but then I would be compromising my artistic vision. This isn't a quandry I've had to face before. I have e-mailed the show organizer to ask for some guidance in this, but haven't yet heard back. I really think my answer will be to proceed as I planned, and accept that I'm giving up a chance at a major exhibiiton, should I not make it through the jury process. In reality, this is what artists face every time they enter a competition, and they rarely have the opportunity to modify a vision in advance.

The other reason that I may be non-productive is that I'm feeling great guilt when I look around and see how my housework is being neglected. Or maybe it's just that I'm busy perfecting my ability to procrastinate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Whoops! Here comes another deadline!

Promised myself to avoid them but I'm finding out that I work best when I have them. The deadline for "Twilight Snowfall" is January 1st. Quite do-able. And then I started experimenting with making snowflakes, as my hands are so sore from tying off quilting lines. Yes, I can do the snow flakes, and mainly by machine, but they look like they're going to be as much work as the quilting--not much tying off, thank Goodness. So I'm really pumped up about this, but at the back of my mind are the two classes I'm teaching in February and March. I need to be starting the prep work for those.

I also put my name down for another series of painting classes. I learned so much from them, mainly about myself and how I work. As well, we hope to have the formal "Call for Entry" and entry forms for the Fibre Art Exhibition in November, ready to go by the end of January. Originally we had planned to get it out sooner, but the gallery is closed for all of January, so there isn't much point.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time to start doing, not learning

Just have to accept that it's time to move on, and stop taking clases. Time to actually produce something. The silk painting class was difficult. The teacher, who normally lectures to university students, had left preparation for the class to the last minute, so was operating on very little sleep--if any. University lectues are quite different than adult education classes. In adult education I expect more of an interactive approach--not do it this way and don't ask questions. I made the mistake of asking a question, and was told that she had been doing this since 1994 and her way worked. She said that she painted her silk because dyeing it involved setting it up in a large canner and finding some way to suspend the fabric so that it could be steamed for 4 hours. No Canadian source for supplies?! No place in Winnipeg to buy silk?! Say What?? I've dyed silk fabric and silk roving both in the microwave ( 1 minute)using an acid dye, and flat on a table using Procion MX--both with excellent results. And so we went on. For most of the class, I fought to keep from saying anything more, although, at one point, I did have to ask an appropriate question. My quandry now is whether I go back for the second half of the class.

So comes the question--Should I be taking classes? Am I a "bad" student? I've certainly been enjoying the painting classes I've been taking, but the last one is on Wednesday. Part of the rationale for my "Sabbatical" has been to re-discover my muse. So, yes, I should be trying to produce. But I can continue to produce paintings as well as fibre pieces.

There is a second question as well. What sort of teacher am I? Am I receptive to questions and other ideas? I hope so, unless it reaches the point of interrupting the class. Do I arrive at class well-rested and prepared? Not always, as I never believe that I'm totally prepared, but I certainly try to be well rested and ready to perform (Yes, teaching is performance art--IMHO). Recently, I was talking to a friend, who is well-experienced in teaching adult level classes at a national level. I expressed concerns about my teaching methods, as I've noticed that there have been times when I have taught once and never been invited back. She recommended working some humour into the class (performance)

So, my introspection and procrastination continues.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Still dithering

After the sale last weekend, I did a volunteer shift with my art group, and got to see what was selling. Again it was small stuff--under $100. So the issue of sales or exhibition remains a valid question.

But this week I have classes. On Tuesday I took a begginners acryclic class called "Paint a Landscape in Two Hours"--and I did. Never plan to show it to a soul, but I did it. Wednesday was one of my regular classes. This time we were to go with an idea, but were not allowed to use brushes--only pallette knives. I took some of my pictures of rock faces, and managed to get one painted, but didn't have exactly the colour of paint that I wanted, so my rocks turned out a little to brown/red. The grass around the rocks was great--I was very pleased with it. I'm almost tempted to re-do it but with better coloured paint--but that might mean buying more paint--and December is just around the corner. Saturday, I'm taking the first half of a silk painting class. I have no idea when or where I might use this, but this is my year to explore my creativity, so on we go.

Last evening was a little different. My son the magician visited, and brought me some clothing for alterations--the sort of alterations that magicians need to dazzle ther audiences with magic. This isn't the first time this has happened and it's always fun to find out how these things are done. Even when you know the trick, it can be quite amazing. And I've never seen this trick, as there was a part of the set up that he didn't show me, so I don't really know how it will work during a performance.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quite a weekend.

The big sale is over, and it turned out to be somewhat of a mixed blessing. Yesterday was not good. We only grossed $42.00 in 6 hours, but I took some dyed fabric and a few small purses to a quilters' Guild meeting and sold more than twice that. This morning there were no people and we only grossed $35.00. It was so slow that I went to take a look at another sale a couple of blocks away and left DH in charge. However, this afternoon was a bit better and I can now say that we made a bit more than expenses.

But that wasn't my only reason to be there. I'm really wondering if these sales are the way I want to go. For the past two years, they have rarely been profitable. If I want to enter any more, I'm going to have to do some more production work, and I've promised myself a year off of that. So--some hard decisions to make.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sad day? Maybe not!

My first task this morning was to take my new sewing machine in for repair. The needlethreader just wasn't working, and I figured I better have it seen to while my warrantee was still good. I checked my schedule and realized that I'm going to be pretty busy the next few days and that it would work well to take the maching in today. Si I phoned earlier in the week and told them we would be there today. It's quite a performance getting the machine redy, and then DH has to carry it out to the car. Off we went, carried it in and within 10 minutes he had the problem solved. No need ot leave it behind. What a relief! she is home safe and sound, and hte threader works--for now.

Tomorrow is "the big sale". My heart really isn't in it. I can't work up any enthusiasm. I'll go and work hard and maybe--just maybe sell something, but somehow the "spark" is missing. This is sad, and I wish things were different. I'm soon going to have to start thinking about next summer's sales. Right now I have no desire to sign up for anything.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I think I've taken on more thanI can handle. As I'm quilting "Midnight Snowfall" the blendable thread is changing the values within the piece and making it much light. So now we have "Evening/Twilight Snowfall", and I sure hope we don't end up it "Noon Snowfall". But the quilting is turning out to be a massive job. I've got 25-30 hours into it now and have finished less than 1/4 of the quilting. The problem is that each individual line of stitching, and there are hundreds of them, has to be tied off at both ends, and the ends buried. This is what's taking the time. I'm also at the stage where I'm starting to doubt myself, and my pea brain keeps saying "This isn't going to work. How the heck are you going to get the snowflakes to show up on this." The answer is "I don't know how I'm going to do the snowflakes. That's why I made such a big doodle cloth. And it has to be quilted as well, just to truly test the damn snowflakes. " Arg-h-h-h! And there are still 4-5 other ideas whirling around in mybrain. By the time the snowflakes are finished,I'll have forgotten them all LOL
Regardless, I have a 6:00am doctor's appointment tomorrow and then I have to drive out to Beausejour to pick up some sandwich boards, and deliver them to the Crafts Museum to use at the "Big Sale" this weekend. So bedtime.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Donkey work and doodle cloths

Slogging away at my latest piece "Midnight Snowfall". Yeah, we're into snow again--and I don't care! It's mine and --so far--I love it. I have large-ish piece of fabric I found in my stash, that had been painted a rich, darker blue (Ultramarine I think, with a few very subtle overtones of some sort of scarlet). I've sketched some whirling curves of wind on it, and am densely FMQ'g these with a Sulky Blendable in shades of blue with a bit of yellow ochre. Those small areas around the edge, and in the middle, where there are no curves of wind, are machine stippled with a much darker Blendable. This will make a subtle patterned background on which I want to put snowflakes. Today's problem is that where the curves come against each other and the lines are moving in the same direction, the outline of the curves disappears. This may not be important in the whole image, but is bothering me, so must be fixed. I tried overstitching one with a medium value periwinkle coloured thread, but no good.

So the next step is the "dreaded" doodle cloth. In my little pea brain, I know that these are wonderful and essential for most fibre arts-- but-- they slow me down. Of, course when I measure the time it takes to make and use a doodle cloth against the time it takes to completely rip out hours of stitching, or the loss when a whole project is ruined because a technique wasn't tested out, then they don't slow me down at all. When I was stitching, a doodle cloth was just a scrap of fabric, similar to the one used in the main piece, on which to test colours and sttiches, before adding them to the project. In my type of fabric art, I put together a fabric sandwich using the same weight of fabrics and batting used in the main project. I also have to anticipate how large I need to make it, to allow me enough room to test all of the techniques and stitching I hope to use. Some times I'm able to just use the edges of a project--the ones that will be cut off when I square it up. But in this case, I know that I'm going to be trying quite a few techniques for making the snowflakes, so I'm going to need a fairly large (12 by 12 or bigger) doodle cloth.

When the project is finished, the cloth goes into my sketch book along with any preliminary sketches I might have done. While this gives me a permanent record of how projects were put together , it can also prove, to a certain extent, that I made it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

OMG! I'm at it again!

More introspection! Today, I'm at the point of saying that I accept that I'll never set the world on fire, that my work will never sell for $$$. So where do I go from here? I think I just carry on, carrying on. But maybe I'll do things I want to do and not care if they join my "crap quota". Maybe I'll spend time visiting galleries and enjoy the art rather than trying to analyze what is successful about it, and why it's there in the gallery and mine isn't. I've certainly learned that who you know and being in the right place at the right time are more important, in securing gallery space, than how sincere your work is. I've also learned that while I may pretend that I'm working in series, I haven't really had a new conceptual piece in several years--just several pieces all based on the same few concepts. That doesn't mean that I'm going to stop being obsessed with snow, snowdrifts and blown snow.

I've been trying to start a new piece for an exhibition whose theme is "Canadian Content". I've been lying awake at night with ideas going through my head, trying to meld what I believe they want, with what I believe I can do well. So I've been trying to get out of my box and design something very, very different than what I would normally do. Yes, a couple of ideas came out, but I wasn't happy with them, they didn't interest me, and I felt that my technical skills weren't good enough to produce something worth exhibiting--especially in what may turn out to be an international exhibit. So at this point I've started working on a piece that has its basis in snow, and is technically similar to My "Inua-Spirit in the Wind", but with an added twist--a melding of what I consider my strengths. I will go back to the ideas that I couldn't work with, and play with them in the privacy of the studio, without any expectation that any one else in the world will ever see them.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


A friend has had a proosal accepted for a fibre art show at a local gallery, next November. I will be helping her. I'm very, very excited. We anticipate that most entries will be quilts, but we have friends who favour other fibre media, that we want to leave it open for all fibre arts. That, in itself, will be challenging.

Monday, November 1, 2010

New direction

For awhile now, I've been hearing about artists who attach a fibre piece to a painted stretched canvas--so I decided to try it. I have a painted canvas and the fibre piece, and plan to spend today completing the technical part of attaching the two. I have put them both in conjunction and I'm quite pleased with the appearance. I have to confess that I'm not totally pleased with the quilting and edge finishing on the fibre piece, but, as this is experimental, I'm going to proceed. I'll use this piece to solve the technical problems, before moving onto a second piece that I plan to treat in the same way. The second fibre piece is much more pleasing, and I want to make sure everything is perfect with it, each step of the way. If either of them prove to be successful, I plan to put them in a gallery show next February.
My other task for the day is to start the designing of a piece for the "Canadian Content" show that will be going to New Zealand next spring. The entry deadline is January, so there really isn't that much time. There is another show in April 2011, with a slightly later deadline, that I hope to enter as well. But one thing at a time.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More excitement

Found out yesterday that a proposal that a friend and I made to a local gallery for an art quilt show, has been accepted. Wow!! We're in business!! This will be a juried show that will hang for a month. Beyond that--nothing has been decided. Watch this space!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

First step

I've been out buying supplies. Stocking up on several things that I feel I just must have to be an artist. (Did you know that Fabricland sells a water soluable stabilizer? Have to try that one!) Then I realized that many of the women at the retreat wore shawls in the evening. So I had to get one of those, since it appears that one needs to wear one to be a successful fibre artist. Mine is cheap man-made fabric, but quite soft and warm. Maybe when I get old(er) I can afford a soft wool one.

All of the clothing and supplies that I took with me have been sorted out, washed and put away. So now I'm ready to work. Wrong!! I have a finishing job to do, and a sewing job for DH. And we need to buy food! But wait--painting class is this afternoon. Life really does get in the way. So I made a list ( Now where have I heard that before?) I wrote down the basics of each idea I've got whirling around in my brain and I'm going to post it on the wall so I don't forget.

One blessing--the "big sale" over the weekend was a washout so I don't have to worry about having enough stock for the sale in November.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Professional Conferences

Yep, that's where I've been. Never thought of it in those terms before, but someone in the group described this week's retreat in those terms, and they fit. We had all of the components, a keynote presentation, workshops, professional papers, and field trips to local areas of interest. We had four days in a quiet residential facility, with meals provided. The seventeen participants were members of the Fibre Art Network,(FAN) a group of Western Canadian professional fibre artists. Often when quilters and fibre artists get together, they each share their recent work. At the local guild level this is often a short show'n'tell session, but with the FAN group this is an interactive, in depth, presentation, that can take 30-40 minutes, and could be considered the presentation of a professional paper. Based on discussion at the time, this event is the highlight of the conference. There are also meetings, and the Annual General Meeting of the association.

So, why do I go? This is the third time I've been in the last four years. The resulting enthusiasm for my work, and almost ovewhelming inspiration can last for months. Having spent the better part of a year trying to find my muse and jump-start my creativity, this was, in a way, a last ditch attempt to do that. But I've come to realize that what I'm really searching for is my place within the fibre art community. Am I a "newbie"? A beginner? Is my work on a par with other artists? Where do I fit inthe scheme of things? I see an emerging role as a bit of a coach--suggesting strategies and cheering others on. This may suggest that I'm a "poseur", but I don't think so. My knowledge and skill puts me at a slightly higher level than that. I think it may be the creative gene that's damaged or partially missing. I also know that there have been times when I've subtly sabotaged my own efforts, possibly because of a lack of confidence in my own skills and abilities.

Someone, at the conference, spoke of taking a sabbatical. That may well be what I'm trying to do with the year I've given myself to find myself. Or the year ahead of me when I plan to restore the fun in my work. And the ideas are certainly spilling forth. Now I just need to catch and tame them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Quilt shows

Thursday evening I attended a lecture and show of the work done by the Glacier Grannies in support of the Stephan Lewis Foundation. This action is in support of the grandmothers in Africa who are in the position of having to raise their grandchildren, who are orphans of the AIDS/HIV epidemic. These quilts were all original designs that took their inspiration from pictures or concepts related this disaster that is taking place as we speak. Some very beautiful and thought provoking works.
It took place in the Bay store downtown. My observation was that there were more people at the lecture and show than in the entire rest of the building--and the store was open. Saturday I volunteered at a local art gallery where there is a very low profile quilt exhibiiton. During the five hours I was there 47 people came through, when the average daily attendance is more like 6-8. These people didn't just wander through. They talked, and asked questions. In this very small gallery, some of them stayed for more than an hour. And gratifying to me, the most interest was shown in the art quilts.
Now--I know several local art quilters, and only a small portion of those exhibit their work--in other than guild shows. Why couldn't someone organize a local art quilt exhibit? The interest is obviously there. This is "hot stuff" right now.
There is another side to this. While viewing the exhibit onThursday evening, a friend and I were discussing the wide range of skill that was obvious in the smaller venue, both having seen a preview of that show. One of the people who visited the gallery yesterday, was someone whose work, on exhibition, was not , IMHO, gallery quality. I talked with this woman at length and was blown away by her interest in learning more. She is very anxous to improve her knowledge of the techiques used in art quilting, and equally anxious to find out about opportunities for classes etc. Based on many of the questions I was asked, I don't think she was the only one. How does one "mine" this opportunity?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

People do read this

Not many, but enough to make me feel less alone in the world. Thank you Beth, Linda and Corina. Sometimes I think artists function very much in their own small bubble of reality, finding it a distraction when the world intrudies. I know it's this way with me, until that sudden lightbulb moment when I realize that I need people too. I came to understand this many years ago, when I was the mother of small children, and suddenly realized that I hadn't spoken to another adult--other than the clerk at the grocery store--in almost 7 months. ( My husband had been away) Since then, I've made the effort to be with people, mainly accomplished with my volunteer work. One of the potential difficulties with reducing my volounteer work, in the next little while, has been the possibility of isolating myself, especially with impending winter, and the natural isolation that can bring. Thank Goodness for the internet and e-mail.

The natural "high" that came with starting my painting and design classes has diminished, and now I'm in that middle state where there is just hard work and few satisfying results. I knew this would happen and am prepared for it. I know I just have to plug along until one day I'll see results. My painting is not going badly, but I'm nowhere near the state where I can put down, in paint, the vision I have in my mind. I can almost do this with fabric, and when struggling with my painting, sometimes find myself reverting to the techniques that work with fabric. Yes--I used a rubber stamp successfully in a piece I was trying to do of "the forest floor" ( barf). I made some pretty good rocks that way, and was able to use a rubber stamp I had made a couple of years back.

A good thing happened, when I was sorting out my supply cupboard, and came across a box Beth had sent me. I opened it up and discovered two bottles of acrylic paint in exactly the two colours it had been suggested that I buy--well sealed and usable. Beth, you have contributed much to these classes. The brushes you sent turned out to be acrylic brushes. My watercolour brushes sure wouldn't have done the job! Thank you.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One response

One person would miss me. So much introspection and then the acceptance of the fact that I do this blog for myself--always have. So we carry on.

This year has seen a reduction in my volunteer hours. It often turned out that I was busier outside the studio than in it. There has also been a purposeful reduction in production work. I need time to encourage my creativity, not dull it down in repetitive "donkey" work aimed at selling. This means focussing on learning as much as I can about whatever I want. So I'm taking classes in art. I fell into a wonderful opportunity to take a series of classes in painting with acrylics, from a highly respected local artist, and I've signed up for three separate classes from another equally well-thought of artist, well known for abstract collage work. My first class with him will be this Friday, on "Composition". I'm really excited about it.

No word yet on help with the posting of photos. Our regular "techhie" fellow has been on holidays. We've pretty much made the decision to install PhotoShop Elements on our new desk top computer, but even then, he'll have to show me how to post the photos.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I've been very busy in the studio, and have two new quilted hangings to display, but can't seem to figure out how to get them onhere. In the past I've always uploaded directly from my camera, however, we very recently upgraded our computer, and I can't do this any more. i was told that I should use the card reader on the new computer--but I can't find it. So I tried to up load from the card reader on my lap top--could find that one--but no luck. So I went into PSE, which will send e-mail, make greeting cards and burn onto a cd or dvd--do everything except mount it on a bill board, evidently. But not up load onto a blog.

This blog is getting less and less of my time. I have to wonder if it has ended it's usefullness. I don't know how many people read it--one or two maybe. If you'll miss me let me know. Leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back in the saddle again

On Monday five of my friends came over for a "Play Day". We painted and dyed and talked and ate and had a marvelous time. I now have three pieces of fabric prepared with a flour resist that has lead to a black "crackle" pattern all over. Two of them had been previously hand dyed, and I plan to submit the third to a low water immersion dyeing. The other previously dyed piece will now get some stamping and stencilling in gold, before some embroidering.

I have several pieces that were coloured with a paint method that involves shaving cream. This results in a swirling pattern. In the past I used shaving cream to create a faux marble effect, but this is quite different. I also came away with a piece of previously hand-dyed fabric that I used as the base of a sun print. I did a couple more today and learned that the top painted layer must be significantly different in colour to create the efffect I wanted. Even if there is a noticeable difference in value, if the hue is too close, the result is just a muted sunprint. Lesson learned.

So now I have several projects lined up---and--hopefully, the energy to deal with them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

what's wrong?

I'm sitting in my studio. All of the beautiful new fabric is on my work table sorted into colour groups, the bits and pieces of my dragon flies are gathered together with the last bit of painting on their wings done, my quilting books are all out on accessible shelves ready to sort--and I'm playing internet poker. I just keep procrastinating. I have no deadlines, and so no incentive to get my act in gear. But I do have a few deadlines in that my art quilt group will be here next Monday, and I have a meeting the day after tomorrow when I'm supposed to have some samples ready for discussion--not even started yet.

So tomorrow, I may just have to start writing those dreaded "to do' lists again. It was fine to say that I would take a year off the heavy production work and show entries, and just see where my muse might lead me. Obviously it's leading me into sloth. A lesson learned. I don't have the self discipline to function without clear objectives and a focus for my energies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

An explosion of riches

I used the last of the little bit of extra money I made this summer, and bought fabric. (To be honest I used a wee bit of credit as well). I ordered 20 fat quarters of African fabric over the internet. These are from Uganda. The pieces I've made with the African fabric have sold well, and they are certainly eye-catching in my booth. So it would be nice to have a couple for the sales coming up this fall. So having done that, I needed some calmer "filler" fabrics to add to the mix for my piecing. On my travels, I also finally found some appropriate beads to go with the African fabrics. Finding any insertion beading has proven difficult, but I finally checked out a store half way across the city and not only did they have them, they were on sale at 50% off!

The Gloria Loughman book has been put aside. I have been sorting my library and came across a book on stumpwork dragon flies by Jane Nichlas. All of a sudden the idea for the Acceptance collage for my Serenity pent-tych was there, and I've been working on that. The stump work is hand embroidery and it's been along time since I've done much of that. I can certianly see that my fine hand sewing skills have deteriorated over the time away from the work, but I think I can finish the dragon flies well enogh for the use I have in mind for them.

The Serenity pent-tych has been in the works for a couple of years. It is based on the five concepts expressed in the Serenity Prayer: the concept of a Higher Power, Serenity, Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom. Each piece is entirely separate, and each is based on a different colour scheme, but they are of the same size and similar techniques, and each concept is expressed in a distinctive Celtic Rune. But developing five distinctly different but similar desings has been a challenge. I was discussing this yesteday with a knowledgeable friend who suggested researching the symbolism of each concept via the Internet. Duh! Wish I'd thought of it sooner. Regardless, I have decided to use dragon flies as a symbol of acceptance, as they, as a species, have accepted everything nature has thrown at them over milions of years--and survived.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mixed results

I made a small sampler of techniques based on the Gloria Loughman book. The overall design is the pits, with too busy fabric and value problems. I won't be adding it to the sample book, but I think I'm going to cut it up and made a couple of small purses out of it. My fabric paper bookmarks haven't sold at recent sales, and I thought I might make a few quilted ones to test, so every scrap of the sample will be used. Here are a couple of pictures. Whoops! The first oneis up side down, but I think you can get the image.

Here is a close up. I didn't try out every technique in the book, but I plan to. I have an idea for another piece, with a very different look, that will include some of the more subtle ways she breaks up her shapes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Best laid plans etc

I've been seduced by the book Quilted Symphony by Gloria Loughman. My sister and I have been playing with paper and coloured pencils and construction paper and glue! We were almost embarrassed to be buying children's art supplies in Wal-Mart ( You don't need artist quality stuff to play with!) But we decided to claim we were shopping for "the grandchildren", if asked. The concept and resulting images are very far removed from what I normally do, but this is a year for play and experimentation, so I will travel where ever my Muse directs. Certainly my experiments with using African fabric paid off, as I've sold two of the three pieces I made--and for a good price!

However, neither of the recent sales were particularly lucrative. But on the positive side, I have lots of stock left for the other two sales I have committed to, for later in the fall. (HoHoHo) I had hoped to make enough to be able to spend a day or two shopping for supplies South of the border, but now I have neither the funds nor the need. Well, there's always the Internet!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Enjoying this year so far

As you know, this is the year that I hope to be able to forget the shows and commitments and producing for sales. I plan to play. I borrowed the book "Stitching to Dye" from the library and have been slowly working my way through the exercises. It's also been a good chance to put the new sewing machine through its paces. The concept behind the book is that you can produce/finish everything in neutral colours, and then apply dye to the finished project. I produced three pieces.
The first was whole cloth cotton, heavily free motion quilted. I then tried to apply the dye to various parts of the pattern, and was moderately successful. I had put the piece on a piece of construction plastic to protect the table while I worked. I hadn't thought about the dye moving between the plastic and the fabric and then seeping up through the fabric in places I didn't want it. I had used three colours of dye--yellow, green and blue. Well, the blue got into the yellow, and the green got overpowered by the blue. The finished piece looked fine, but the yellow had a green tinge and the green just appeared to be a blending of the two other colours--sort of what I was looking for, but not really.
The second piece was entirely silk, except for the batting. Again it was heavily FMQ'd. I used a much more subtle colour of dye this time and only two shades--spring green and aqua marine. I applied them with a funnel spouted plastic bottle so that I had more control over where the dye went. This worked well. Each of the 5 types of silk took the dye differently, but the differences were very subtle. This project had the best result--imho.
The third project was a combination of silk, acetate and cotton within the piecing. I FMQ'd with a more planned design that had minor variations in the density of the quilting. I pre-soaked the bound piece in soda ash, and discovered that this helped immensley in controlling the spread of the dye. I used four different dyes and their spread was quite controlled. I used very dilute dye, hoping for very pale subtle colouring. Boy, was I ever fooled. The silk noile took up the dye and became quite dark, the acetate barely took the dye ( I didn't really expect it to). The piece is much darker than had wanted. If it had been important --and it could have been--I would have thrown it out and started again. But I think I'm going to keep working and use it as a practise piece/bad example.
My next project is to start working through the book "Inspired to Quilt: Creative Experiments in Art quilt Imagery" by Melanie Testa. This one has several printing methods including the use of soy wax, as a resist. Guess I'll have to wait until I can afford the soy wax.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Love the new machine

The last two days have been spent in free motion work. wow! I'm doing things I've never done before. At the same time I'm getting used to the new machine, and I have to confess that it seems to be going much better than the same process with the old Pfaff. There are a lot of other techniques that I still have to try, but all in goood itme. So far I'm pleased.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I now believe that I have enough stock for the four sales between now and Christmas. The emerging problem is storage until I actually need it! Finally,-- my DH understands that I need to have something new for every sale, so yesterday we went through everything and culled out some of the stuff that has been around for awhile, especially stuff for which I have replacements. So what do I do with that stuff? For now it's in a trunk in the basement. Knowing me, it will probably be forgotten and stay there.

But now I can spend time working on things I want to work on without worrying about being able to sell them. I can take classes. And I can participate in some of the challenges that arise through my internet groups. During the "cull", it was interesting looking at some of my earlier work. IMHO it is better than the more recent stuff where I've been driven by maketability. So one of my goals is to step back and re-visit some of the concepts and ideas from 3-4 years ago, to see if they can be developed further or in a different direction. And I've already signed up for classes in using oil pastels and lino block printing.

A second goal is to learn to use my new sewing machine. The little bit I've done tells me that I am going to have to forget a lot of my old habits and learn new ways of dealing with things. This is going to take time--no question--and I think the first thing will be the free motion work. A whole different methodology with this machine, although I hope my FMQ'g skill set will still be valuable. My first actual lesson is next Saturday, but unless I get some practise in before then, I won't be able to ask the right questions.

Can't take any pictures. At some point the flash has been turned off in my camera, and I'm going to have to spend some time going through the manual to figure out how to turn it back on again. lol

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Reconsideration, and new direction

I attended a lecture last Tuesday evening. A successful local artist described the marketing of her work. She stressed that you have to have a clear sense of direction, and a clear definition of what you want out of your work, as the very first step in your journey. Arg-h-h! Not the things to say to a navel-gazer and procrstinator like myself. So--what do I want out of my art? Do I want to make scads of money? Hell yes! Do I want to work as hard as I would have to to make that sort of money? No Way!!

So what do I want out of my art? I need to make enough money to buy the supplies that I need to keep doing the things I want to do. So--this is a hobby-not a vocation. Is this realization a good thing? Mixed. I now have the freedom to do what I want without having to consider the sale-ability of what I produce. That is a tremendous epiphany! But I still need to be able to sell. Downer! Where does my membership in artists' organizations fit into all of this? I htink it fits well. Being around other artists is a gratifying way to model your thought processes. It's an essential step in the development of any artist's mind-set.

So, for now, I will carry on with the sales I have committed to. This means more production work over the next couple of months. Not signing up for any further sales means that what I produce over the next couple of months will just have to be enough for the four sales I have scheduled between now and Christams. So, in the long run, I will have much more time for play. And I think I need to start today.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eternal search for self

The work I spoke of in the last post--the collage with the watercolour paper and the make-up wipes--is sitting in the studio where I can see it every day. From an artistic viewpoint, it's not very good, lacking a focal point, but the colours and concept work--for me. I said I had been working on it for two years, and maybe it needs more work. But sitting and looking at it appears to be giving me a message that there are many, many more media than fibre for expressing yourself. Other ideas for collages are coming to the surface.

I confess that lately I've been more often identifying myself as a mixed media artist than a fibre artist. I wonder if I've stuck with the fibre over the years because I'm confident in my skill in that area, whereas any skill or talent I might have in other areas is yet to be developed. As a teen ager, I studied oil painting with a private tutor for several years, only stopping when I made the decision to go to university. A couple of years ago I took some classes in sketching and watercolour painting, with the idea that the sketching would help in any design development that I attempted and that the watercolour painting would help in my use of water-based textile paints--and both have worked-to a certain extent.

So--while I have no intention of leaving the fibres behind, my intent for right now is to explore other expressive media. I wonder if the answers I'm looking for might not be in an amalgam of various techniques.

Friday, May 21, 2010

exploring techniques

I borrowed a book by Sherrilyn Kahn that is full of techniques. Now I want the book but can't wait until I can afford it, so have been working my way through the techniques. Learned a few things that I swear I will never touch again, and a couple that look promising. I can't seem to settle to any one task, so have decided to explore the Beryl Taylor suggestion of creating a stash of bits and bobbles to use in collages. This has led to me finishing a collage I started a couple of years ago when I took a collage workshop. The workshop piece was awful and I told the instructor that I planned to paint the whole thing black! But instead, over the past couple of years, I've been working away at it. Layers of gesso and walnut ink and watercolour paper etc. Now I've added some painted make-up wipes, from the Kahn book, and I think it's finally finished. Very different from anything I've ever done before, but maybe something to pursue.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dancing Muse

yes, she is. The ideas just keep coming! I can't get them on paper fast enough!

The photography didn't work out. I really need to play with my lighting, expecially given that I need to start to use one consistent type of light source, rather than the two I've used up to now. The fusing/piecing for Rock Face is done. I'm not really happy, but I'm not sure how to change anything. I believe that I should be able to modify it with some carefully planned quilting. This will be a bit of a stretch for me--up to now, my quilting has "just happened".

Last evening, a friend gave me some pieces of paper she acquired while in Japan. I'm interpreting this as a "sign". Over the past week my mind has kept going back to some ideas I've had for collages that would be much more paper based than fabric based. Now I have a few pieces of very special paper to use. This has beeen a recurring thought for about a year, and it makes me wonder if I may be moving into a different phase of my art work. This isn't necessarily a Bad Thing, but rather something I've been fighting for awhile. Maybe the gift of paper is telling me to stop fighting.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


After a few years of avoiding the priviliege of collectign retail sales tax during my sales, I finally "bit the bullet" last November, and registered. I collected the tax atthe sale in November, and again at the sales in lat April and May1-2. Then this week I found out that the government had decided that it was no longer necessary for any business with gross income of less than $10,000 to collect. Now, neither can we take advantage of being able to purchase goods without paying the tax, but this isn't something I've been doing. So having finally finished filling out overwheming government forms, I have to start all over again, in order to reverse the whole process.

However, I'm finally working on my Rock Face piece. The idea has been developing over the past 3 years. I've collected pictures and fabric, I've had one picture enlarged and I've drafted a pattern. I dyed fabric, and created a vinyl overlay to use during the piecing process. But now I'm actually cutting and fusing fabric.

Yesterday I took a workshop on photgraphing two dimensional art work. The lessons I learned were that lighting is everything, to use my "point and shoot" in manual, and to use a tripod. So I plan to practise while I'm working on the "Rock Face" piece, and see if I can document the process.

Even more exciting, my creative muse appears to be coming back to life. I have ideas for two new boxes, but need to get them onto paper. Exciting times!

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Sale done!

The first big one of the season. This is the third time I've participated in this sale, and I did as well as before. Enough to make me consider going back, but certainly not enough to retire. Two things helped--I sold one big piece, and I was able to accept credit cards, by processing them through the Crafts Musem. The Crafts Musem will take a 20% commission on the sale, but this is still better than loosing the sale. The small colourful purses attracted a lot of attention, and most of them sold. The next craft sale--as opposed to art sale--isn't until the end of July, so I have time to make a few more. I had some journals, and they attracted youg girls, but only one of them sold. That fad is over! Now there is a one-day art sale in two weeks, then nothing until mid-July.
To try to get over my creative blosk, I decided to try Morning Pages again. It seems to be working. I have several ideas, and now need to spend the next couple of days getting them down on paper.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Recycled craft

I attended a lecture on environmentally friendly and sustainable craft on Thursday ( Earth Day). While the speaker was a knitter, she covered many aspects of environmental sustainability in craft work in general, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed her talk. It was also nice that many of the suggestions and considerations she spoke of were a validation of some of the approaches I've already explored.

The second part of the event was a small sale of crafts produced using aspects of recycling. Knowing the sponsoring agency and the location, I did not expect ot sell anything, but had gone in hopes of getting feedback on the pieces I displayed and the direction I seem to be moving. There was a great deal of interest in my work, and the comments were all favorable. I made three sales, out of a total of four sales for all vendors combined. All the sales were my small purses using remnants of the African fabrics I've been working with, but there was just as much interest in the small hangings--enough that I now plan to take them with me to the next couple of more mainstream sales. I won't make any more of them until I see if any of them actually sell, but I have fabric ready should that happen. The next sale is May 1st and 2nd.

Exciting times embarking on a new style of work and new direction.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The quilt show was last weekend. Although I did a stint as a volunteer Friday morning, on Saturday and Sunday I took a workshop with Pippa Moore from Vancouver Island. Pippa has a blog where she talks about her work trying to establish quilting as a cottage industry in Uganda.
This gives her access to African fabrics, and the finished projects her ladies make, both of which she markets in North America to support the work done in Africa. So the workshop was making an African inspired wall hanging, using mainly African fabrics. I bought a second kit and made a second hanging over the past couple of days. I had hoped that the workshop would "jump start" my creativity, and while I'm pleased with what I produced, I'm not sure where I might go from here. I have lots of scraps of African fabric that I can use in making small items that can be legitimately called "re-cycled", and I plan to pursue that. But little of my stuff sold at the show, and I'm somewhat discouraged right now.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Where did the time go?

I turned around and it was craft sale season again! My first sale--a small one that I send goods to on consignment--is next weekend. I started going through my inventory yesterday and realized how very little there is! Panic! There is another small sale on April 22. Anything offered for sale then must be made from re-cycled materials, and I have about 8 small pieces, made especially for that sale. Those little guys are such fun to make that I've used up most of my re-cycl-able stuff. It's hard to stop. But I think they have very limited appeal and I shouldn't make any more until the first batch sell--a very limited market. Then the first "big sale" of the season--May 1st-2nd. I have reserved space for my full booth--and will have to fill it! I hadn't really looked at the calendar when I sent some of my newer work out to a gallery in another town. I can't get it back until May 2nd. I think I may just enquire about picking it up April 30th. Bad form, I know.
Anyway, I think I've figured out what I would be doing for the next few weeks. Not what I had planned at all.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Directions

Here are two pieces that I finished this week. They are both on my own one-of-a-kind, low water immersion dyed fabric. I've added beaded embellishment, and framed them. I have no idea what sort of price to put on them , as I really need to sell them so that I can pay for a course on photographing two-dimensional artwork. The actual piece is 10" by 10", which works out to aobut 11 1/2" framed. Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What am I doing!!!

The Marketing Co-op had its Annual General Meeting last Sunday. This was followed by an "art Show and Sale". There had been a lot of publicity, and many people came out to the sale. Unfortunately there were only 8 artists who displayed their work. People would walk in the door and say" Is this all there is?" and walk out again. As well, several of the artists had more crafty than arty items for sale. So we end up in the never-ending discussion of what is art and what is craft. I feel very much caught in the middle. Some of what I do is art and some is craft. I go to great lengths to make sure that what I take to shows is appropriate to the venue. To art shows I take one-of-a-kind, original designs, and decorative pieces i.e. no functional purpose. Beside me at this recent sale was lady who had hand-painted switch plates and hand-painted pin-on buttons. Next to her was a lady who takes forks and spoons and bends and twists them into "bugs" that can be used as fridge magnets.

It has been noticed that the more traditional artists are no longer participating in our sales. Could it be that they don't want to associate with what are definitely "crafters"? The other problem could be that our co-op is so small that we have lost critical mass and can no longer put on a large enough show to remain credible.

The Co-op is mounting a gallery show next week and, as of last Sunday, had very few entries. I have been working this week to make more, but will still only have 5 items to take--two of which might be considered more craft than art. ( I'll make the final decision about including them when I see what else is there, as I've volunteered to help hang the show)

The bottom line is that I've made the decision to only participate in the more "art-y" gallery shows with my art, and only enter craft sales with the rest of my stuff. No more "Art Show and Sale". This also means that I will have to give careful consideration to my continuing membership in the co-op.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Test classes

Over the past while I've been working very hard to set up classes. Until you've actually done this, you really have no idea how time consuming this can be--making samples, researching and preparing handouts etc. The one activity I'm finding very, very useful is a test class. This is a small class of students who are aware that it is a test class, pay very little for the privilege of attending, and are expected to offer critique and suggestions about every aspect of the class--even to the point of proof-reading the handouts. I have yet to go through this process without it resulting in changes to the prepared course.

This weekend I did a small test class for the course "Scrap It!". This course is still in development, and I learned that it is a very viable concept, but needs to be divided into two separate classes--one for traditional quilters and one for contemporary quilters. So, now I have my chores for the next couple of weeks. It was agreat experience! The ladies were thrilled. I had five small projects, each of which could be done with a "sew'n'flip" technique, or with the fusing technique, that I taught as part of the class. They all ( yes, all 7 of them) chose the same project, so the other 4 haven't actually been tested, and they all chose the fusing technique. Good information for future classes--fewer projects! They were a mixture of beginner and experienced quilters, so the fusing technique could well be part of both levels of class.

While the information is good, the other benefit is in my enthusiasm for carrying on with the class. I feel invigorated as a result of the success of the class and the good feedback I received.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Mouse Factory

This name has been with me since the 1970's. At that time I was making small mouse dolls, and finding a good market for them. Times change, and the mouse doll is long gone. I'm finding that the name has no relevence in today's fibre art world. This is becoming important as I become more and more active in trying to market myself and my classes. So--let me introduce you to

The Fibre Divas
Yes, there is a new game in town! My friend Dianne Leatherdale Johnson and I will be working together to promote ourselves as artists, and our classes. We plan to continue participating in art shows and fine craft venues. We also plan to proactively market our classes, throughout the province. Dianne accepts private commissions, but I prefer not to.
There are no plans to change this blog or the content of this blog. The Mouse Factory is a part of me, and will remain a part of me. At some point we hope to have a Fibre Diva blog, but that is further down the line. For now you can find both of us represented on the web site This is the website for the Eastern Manitoba Artists' Co-op, and you will have to search for us by name.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


An internet friend has decided to celebrate posting her 333rd post on her blog by having a give away. Check it out at Sort of a neat idea. I wish I had thought of it.

Reading back in my posts I realize that I hadn't let you know that the second of my classes in May had also been cancelled. Be careful what you wish for etc. But this means that I have another class that I can market in any way I want. This has been quite a ride over the past few months, preparing these classes, and forcing myself to become proactive in marketing them. In the past people would come to me and say "Can you teach a class in(fill inthe blank)? I would say yes and then work like a dog to get something ready in time. Now I have half a dozen of them all prepared with supply lists etc, ready to dust off whenever an inquiry comes in. The two I had planned for May will have to be cut down to one day classes to be marketed successfully. This will be easy for the first one, but a little more difficult for the second.

However, I am locked into teaching a "test Class" for the Box Making, at the end of March. Since I have a contract that was arranged when it was a test class, I won't be paid, but there are already several people signed up and I must respect the contract. It will still give me a chance to work out the "bugs" inthe class. These test classes are sure a good idea. The beading class I taught yesterday will be changed before I offer it again, but overall worked well.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Silly fun

Over the past few weeks I've been working on a "fun" project. During my fabric painting class in late January I painted a piece of linen with dark black and cardinal red paint, but when it dried I had a "dirty" purple/brown. I found a block-shaped ornament pattern in Quilting Arts Gifts 2009 and decided to try it out. I have changed the concept a fair bit, but the basic technique is the same--six, stabilized fabric squares sewn together and beaded--or in this case, beaded and then sewn together. I've tried to show the four different sides, but I see now that one side doesn't show up very well. This uses the same box construction technique as I teach in my box making class.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Another project

Sorry for having to break this into two posts, but adding pictures always caused me problems.

A couple of weeks ago, my support group-Ravenesque spent some time playing with Lutradur. I also experimented with Tee-Juice markers. I've painted Lutradur in the past and didn't like the texture after it had dried, but these markers are something else entirely. They leave a smooth, and an almost parchment like, finish. I didn't want to waste an inch of the coloured Lutradur, but felt that the trial piece would show best against navy blue. Since I didn't want any shadowing to ruin the effect of the colour, I fused the Lutradur to a second-uncoloured-piece and then cut out my design with an electric needle. I then fused it all to the navy blue cotton. I love this visual image and now have to figure out how I'm going to secure it all together, as the Misty Fuse is not holding it well. Obviously I need to stitch, but I was thinking of silver, and I fear the silver would fray very quickly going through the two layers of Lutradur. This is about 14" square.
On the whole, right now, I would rather play with dye.


Went to the most interesting dyeing class yesterday. It was given by a lady who has made a living involved in theatrical costuming at some of the top levels. We learned the difference between multipurpose dyes, fibre-reactive dyes, and acid dyes. I had always thought that the difference was only in the fibre content of the fabric being dyed, but there is also a rationale for being able to control the depth of colour and the speed at which you colour a fabric. After making samples with the different dyes we were allowed to do one piece for a personal project.

While I didn't have a project in mind, on Friday I had tried some snow dyeing that had gone wrong. I had ended up with two pieces of very pastel lavender spotted fabric with big dirty-looking whilte sections. Since I had used a lot of olive green dye, this was a bit of a mystery. so I took it along. During the class we had talked about Shibori techniques, so I tried a very simple accordian fold of the fabric-two ways. I used a multi-pupose olive green, and had to hold the folded fabric in the dye bath with the edge of a spoon, but with the multi-purpose dye, I didn't have to leave it very long. I got a wonderful piece. I was absolutely thrilled, so repeated the process with the second piece with the same results. Each piece is about 1/2m.

I have seen pictures of Shibori-type work but was never impressed with any of it. I am liking the pieces I've done, probably because the colour is more intense and the pattern itself a little more organized. I notice that one of them is a little off-grain but still useable.

Friday, February 12, 2010


One of the two classes I was contracted to teach in May has been cancelled. I haven't been notified yet, but but a person who had originaly registered for the class has been told that it's cancelled. And, of course, it is the one that I've put the most work into --so far. Official notification is supposed to be by March 1st, but they are usually a few days late, so I have to carry on with the preparations for the second class. Last night I spoke with someone who has taught at these events before and she told me that the group is far more demanding than other groups she has taught for. She said that, not only do they expect to be kept active and busy throughout the class, they expect to be entertained at the same time. Almost makes me wish that the second class be cancelled as well.

Last evening was a social event at the gallery where I currently have three of my pieces hung in a short-term exhibition. I had thought that two prominent artists were coming to talk about various pieces in the exhibition, but instead everyone in the audience was involved in the discussion. As a result, it went on for ever. Listening to as much of it as I could hear, the word pretentious came to mind. One of my pieces--Spiral Collage--received the most notice. The recommendation was that it should have been much larger (it's 12 by 12). After thinking about this for awhile, I remembered the larger labyrinth pieces I've tried to make over the years. Maybe this concept is something I could resurrect.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


We bought a tripod for the camera yesterday. This is on top of the camera itself--a good digital one, and the PhotoShop Elements program, along with the course on using it. So you would think that I could now photgraph any piece I wanted, for both show entry and to put up here on the blog. Well, we tried yesterday and it didn't work very well. So now we're talking about taking yet another course on using the camera, with a second one on photgraphing-specifically--2 dimensional art work. Then, getting the photgraph as well as the write-up on the same CD will become an issue.

To me, the time it will take to develop the necessary skills, is the problem. I don't want to loose that studio time. I'm starting to see the results of having divested myself of most of my commitments. More ideas and plans. Many of my ideas have a basis in previous projects. This makes me wonder if, maybe, I only have half a dozen original ideas in me and keep re-cycling those. But-you know- so what if that's true. I can kep working and finding pleasure and that's really what it's all about.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Test classes

Saturday was the first day of my first test class. Test classes are a "dry run" , an important part of preparation for any serious class. Unforntunately bad weather meant that only three students showed up. Two of those were well experienced, and off and running pretty quickly. the third had never done this sort of thing before, and was, hopefully, more like the students I'll have in May. With so few, the prepared schedule went much more quicklythan I had anticipated, which leadsto a prblem. If I put in a couple of more tasks, the students won't have brought enough fabric. So I either have to figure out how to spread the work a little more, or supply extra fabric for them to play with. Probalby I'll go with a combination of the two. I believe I have some cotton damask tableclothes that I can tear up for use.

Day two is next Saturday, and this is the area where I feel less comfortable-- the design part. But already we've discovered a couple of places where I have to make the written instructions clearer, and there are a few typo's.

Overall, I have to say that it was worthwhile. I was so very apprehensive, but, hopefully, got that out of my system. I know that I slept like a log Saturday night!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


The unexpected class I have in February is beading. I had would be comfortable just doing short drop'in demo's but have to do a lot more planning for actually teaching for three hours. I've given it a lot of thought, and pulled out my source books. I now have a basic ( very basic) plan for the class, and can concentrate on actually creating samples and developing greater skill. Last evening, I tried beading a button. I had thought that I was aiming for a fairly smooth surface, so used Delica beads--guaranteed to be exactly the same size and shape. The result was somewhat smooth as long as I was working in straight lines on an even surface, but when there were curves or the surface changed ( along the edge of the button) the finished surface became rougher. Next task is to make one with less expensive beads, although I did like working with the Delicas. I actually have a design in mind., and hope to give it a try tonight.

One topic I plan to touch on is creating beaded edges--picots and such. On Friday, I did some beaded buttonhole edging on a collage that is going to the Manitoba Crafts Council show at Cre8ery next month. I'm quite pleased with it, but I know there are several other ways of beading an edge. Gotta try them next!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Puttering along

My first test class is a "go" for the last two Saturdays in January. It is all written, so now I just have to assemble the kits. Getting everything down on paper has left me much more confident about the whole thing. The down side is that they weren't able to get the room I had asked for, and now I'm in a room without a water supply. Should be interesting. Thank Goodness I found out ahead of time, and I can make plans for dealing with it.
There is a second class that I had volunteered for, andticipating a very informal "drop-in" type of arrangement. But yesterday I received a formal contract requiring three hours of teaching. This is a bit of a shock, as I am not that comfortable with my skills in the area. This means spending the next month developing those skills. This is a good thing, forcing me to work and stretch myself.
Stretching myself is one thing that I've commited to doing over the next few months. I believe that I'm just too comfortable working within my comfort zone. Now, I have no idea how to challenge myself, so I'm anticipating participating in things like internet challenges, and working through some of the magazines I've been stockpiling. Machine quilting appeals to me. I have subscribed to Machine Quilting Unlimited, and received my first issue about a week ago. Talk about intimidating!! But when I look more closely, I can see that the pictures are coming from some very high profile machine quilters. Of course, I'm not working at that level--yet! The beading, too, is an area where I've spent lots of $$ collecting supplies--and now need to do something with them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Life is just getting in the way--especially over the recent holidays. My volunteer commitments are slowly ending, and I'm very much looking forward to the 6-12 months of personal space I've promised myself. November --when I was able to just clear up projects that had been started but not finished--demonstrated to me how very much I've been missing the freedom to play and create for my own enjoyment and experience. Already I have a couple of areas and techniques to explore. There are pieces that have been finished for certain exhibits, and at this point, they are all ready to go. The only comitment I have yet to meet is the teaching I've contracted to do in May in Regina. Test classes have been arranged, and hopefully, there will be enough students to make it worthwhile. The first class is just about written, and should be finished this week. The second class is half written, and the rest is in my head, but this test class isn't until March, so I have a bit of time.

The difficult part of all of this is in making the samples for the classes. My hands and wrists just aren't up to the marathon sessions I used to excel at. So pacing of all of the hand work is being carefully scheduled. But this means that I'm not starting any "just for me" projects that require hand work--and potential projects are cluttering up my brain.