Saturday, December 14, 2013


Got a phone call late today asking if I would be willing to have the show extended another week.  Oh gosh, let me think about that----Ye-e-e-s!!!  Two more pieces sold today, bringing the total up to 9. Needless to say I am thrilled.

Friday, December 13, 2013

show update

Tomorrow is the last day of my show,and so far, I have sold 7 pieces.  I am thrilled!   I have been getting a lot of feedback on one of the pieces.  It is the middle piece--a landscape--in the third picture of the last post.  This is the most recent piece I have made and people have been approving of the new direction my work is taking.  I guess it is a new direction,but I hadn't realized it.  I am being encouraged to explore this type of work further.  One lady even suggested that it is in the style of the Group of Seven.   ( I don't think she was under the influence, and have to acknowledge that is is a very sparse stylized landscape.)  At first the idea of making this a series blew me away, but having given it some thought, at least two more designs have come to mind that would stretch the design a little further.  Since the first one required four  large pieces of fabric to be painted, it may have to wait for warmer weather, as most of my painting is done outdoors.

This piece--the most expensive of the lot--was one of the ones sold.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The day is finally here!

My gallery show has been hung.  Now I wait two weeks and then go and pick them up.  Here are a couple of pictures. It looks quite sparse in the pictures,but it really isn't.

Friday, November 29, 2013

This week'sproduction

Last Thursday the November Fast Friday Fabric Challenge was issued, and we had a week to post our interpretation on theFast Friday blog. I decided to give it a try. With my recent medical problems, I haven't really managed to do a lot of this type of work and my deteriorating skill level certainly showed up while working on this.  Basically, the challenge was to create a piece using the various cultural beliefs about butterflies.  ( )  There were several references, all of them discussing various myths and legends

One of the myths was about one of the gods putting all of the colours in the world in a bag, shaking it up and when it was opened, out came the butterflies.  Pretty straight forward.  Let's give it a try.

Well, that's not very exciting.  What else can we find.  One of the references was a serious article on the role of butterflies in the beliefs of pre-Columbian central Americans.  Stylized motifs, representing butterflies have been found on armour, in carvings and even stamped into pottery.  There was a picture of a statue with one of these motifs created in bas-relief on the breast plate of his armour.  Would it be possible to re-create the motif using a stamp, as they had done with the pottery?  I started to get excited.  I could make a stamp out of craft foam, and try this out. Stamp done.  Made up a stamping surface and carefully measured out fabric and marked the areas for placing the stamp.  I used Seta-color out of the bottle and carefully applied the paint to the stamp and then stamped three motifs.  Although the test stamp went well there were a couple of blobs on the final stamping.  Oh Darn!  So, I learned that one layer of craft foam is not enough for a good result.  I should have used two.  But is it too bad to use?  No, not really.

The next morning I heat set the paint and got out some colours to fill in.  I attached the fabric to a frame to keep it above the surface below,which would have messed up the paint.  But I didn't have the right size frame and had to move the fabric on the frame after each motif was painted.  Well, I got excited and hurried and moved them too soon, and some of the paint smeared.  Blobs and smears?  Time to start over.

Here is what we have at this point.
This technique doesn't seem to be working.  Is there any other technique that might be better.  Stained glass!  And this would give me the chance to try out my little bias strip maker I bought.!  I haven't done stained glass in 25 years, but ever the optimist.   I chose to paint the coloured sections rather than try to applique them. I very carefully marked them out with the lightest pencil.  When the paint was dry the pencillines stood out like beacons under the yellow paint. Oh Darn!  But when I checked the back there was no evidence of the pencil , although the actual colour was somewhat lighter.  Okay let's use the back/. Then, first fused, then machine stitched the bias strips.  Here is the result, first in process and then finished.

 In my opinion, all of the spontaneity, and character is gone.  I have lost the firm edges of the stone in the original picture.  It's now Thursday,and this should be posted by Saturday, although we had been given some leeway because of American Thanksgiving..  

At this point I am becoming attached to these little critters!!.    How bad is version #2--really??  It's the one I like most, despite the blobs and smears.  Okay, let's go with that.  It is now echo quilted, as I believe that anything fancier would take away form the motifs, and bound.  But,boy! Does my echo quilting ever need practice!!  Regardless, I think I am well pleased with the result.  I have certainly learned where my skills need work, and I have this little motif that I hope to use in some other project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I sense a muse in the building

I came to the realization that caffeine had crept back into my life, and quickly put a stop to it.  I have much more energy, and there are even some creative thoughts creeping into my brain.  The first charity quilt top is all put together, neatly folded up and put away for later.  The other set of squares is neatly put into a storage box for later.  I found out yesterday, that my conduit to my quilt charity is backing off for awhile.  She didn't go into details, but it means that there will be no call for quilts for several months.  Well, on the whole, I would rather be playing with my FMQ'g.

I have been spending time on the internet looking at various blogs containing good quality FMQ'g.  I have several ideas I want to try, and have chosen three different hand dyes to work with,  and selected, at least, 5 different threads to use with each.  I know that I'll have to spend some time warming up before starting on any important piece--who am I kidding--I'll have to do a lot of practicing before starting anything important.  It's been months since I actually did much in the way of FMQ'g!!  This will even give me an excuse to do more dyeing!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Charity quilts

I prepared 24 blocks for one quilt and 20 for another.  I had the sashing fabric ready to go, and settled down to square off the set of 24.  Half of them were wrong, and had to be re-done.  What a disappointment.  This is not me!  over the years I have gained a reputation for the quality of my technical work, and it sure wasn't here in this set of blocks.  They needed to be taken apart and re-stitched.  Ar-g-g-g-h!  However, the job was done,-- with the help of my husband, who is one of the best "reverse stitcher" that I know.

I have been exploring blogs and found a very inspiring art quilter.  Her name is Rhianon and she lives in Scotland. ( ) This ladies work is phenomenal, and from what I see she is very, very productive. Hr feathers are particularly interesting, as she echoes several times and uses bright and different threads for each echo. I notice that she also appears to use hand-dyed fabric, which is something I have liked in the work of Diane Gaudynski.
so, once these charity quits are tucked away, it will be time to audition my hand dyes, or maybe make some more!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Calmed down for now

My Ravenesque ladies were over last Monday, and agreed that the piece I last spoke about needed to be modified in some way.  That's not to say they all agreed on how it was to be modified.  Generally, the beads have to go, and probably the purple strips as well.  This brings us down to the background dyed fabric, which is my favourite part of the piece.  So I will see what I can do.  It will be a major hassled to get those things off, as the strips are fused and then satin stitched, and the cabochons are glued before being stitched in place. It may not be possible, but I have a secret weapon--another half yard of the dyed fabric.  I could maybe re-create the piece and no-one would ever know.  I read on the internet that a piece inspired by glass balls, created by a famous glass maker -and shown with the balls in a gondola, won a prize at Houston.  Then this week, an artist, whom I admire, showed me a piece she had done with background covered in coloured and shaded bubbles, and her grand-daughter climbing in the bubbles.--very, very effective.  So I bought a piece of dark purple cotton and want to try making bubbles by discharging the dye.  If this works, I may try an array of bubbles over the dyed fabric background.  If this can be done, I think the shape of the bubbles will nicely echo the shape of the pearls in the background quilting.

But I am no longer in a panic over creating more pieces for my gallery show.  When I was so discouraged, DH and I went through my available stock and identified thirty pieces that would be suitable for the show.  I have now mailed a master list of those pieces to the venue, as required, and DH and I have spent the last two days making sure that each piece has the necessary dowel and chain, for hanging.  Other than some paper work, I think I'm ready for the show.

Today, I relaxed and worked on a couple of charity quilts.  It was a welcome change to spend an afternoon in somewhat mindless work.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Not a good day--so we are having a bit of a "wake"

In all of my frenzy of activity for the upcoming gallery show, I have had one general focus--to finish as much as I can and then get to work on what I had hoped would be the main piece of the show.  I have a wonderful hand dyed fabric, which has been FMQ'd.  I have spent the last few months collecting just the right beads to stitch on, and bought the three cabochons that I had hoped would create the focal point of the beading. As of this week I  was ready to start the hand work.  Well, it just isn't working.  I asked DH for an opinion, and he was very, very carefully neutral about it--always a bad sign.

I have to consider that I am not really feeling very good today--aches and pains and not much sleep.   That's always a factor in my work, and must be considered.  But, I've learned over the years to pay attention to this sort of "oh oh" feeling, and now think I must send this to the "crap quota" file.  A sad time, lots of regrets, and not a few tears.
Here is the overall piece.  The plan was to have a swath of beads from just below the horizontal applique, curving around and up the side to just inside the top of the vertical appliques.  The problem, as I see it, is that the beads, that I've spent so very much money on, are just not right for the fabric.
  Here is a close-up of the beading done so far.  My husband says that part of the problem is that the cabochons are maybe too big for the piece.
and here are all of the beads that I had selected for possible use in the piece.  All of the stacking jars are full of beads, and the "bead soup" spread out on the table weighs about 3 pounds, or represents about $150.00 worth of beads.  The round tin on the right is full of lightly polished amethyst chip beads, that I bought a couple of years ago and saved for a special project.

As is my custom when I'm unhappy and frustrated, I started to tidy up.  In this case it meant sorting through my entire bead cupboard, and re-arranging things so that all of the new beads fit--somehow.  It took a lot of energy, and a  few more tears, but it is done, and I have pile of "stuff" to give away when my Ravenesque ladies come for the day on Monday.

Friday, November 1, 2013

May I introduce--?

May I introduce......?

Finally I have work finished,--sort of.  This first piece is titled 'Generations". I took the pictures several years ago at McConnell Lake, and combined elements from three of them into this hanging.  I really wanted the focus to be the height and age of the trees,but soon realized that I needed the  figures to provide scale. I have never put figures in any of my previous pieces--and there have been quite a few of them.  Creating a working sketch of the figures was quite a chore,but I'm happy with the result.I had a simpler image of the three people simply walking away, but thought that it would be more interesting if there was some evidence of interaction between them. There are a couple of techniques in this piece that I've not used before, and I think I  learned quite a bit making it.

The title refers to the many generations it has taken to grow these trees, the five generations of my husband's family that enjoyed the family cottage at McConnell Lake before it was sold, out of the family, this summer, and finally the three generations of my own family, who were models for the picture.

 Here is a close-up of the figures.  Poor little girl has had her shoe fall off, and is asking her Mom for help.

The other piece is titled simply " Bonsai Tree". I spent a lot of time reading about bonsai trees on  the Internet.  I found out that they can be made from almost any type of tree.  They are defined by severely stunted growth, which leads to very dense foliage.  The containers they are grown in are often quite elaborately decorated.  And they can appear in almost any shape and configuration you could imagine.  This piece is done on hand-dyed fabric.  I don't know if it meets the definition of thread painting, but is entirely created with densely stitched thread, two shades of Superior Fantastico in shades of brown and beige, and two shades of green Sulky Blendable, two shades of sulky Blendable in grey,  along with two shades of 30wt Sulky solid.  The different densities of quilting made it necessary to block this piece, but here it is with the binding sewn on ready for hand finishing.

And here is the close-up.



Sunday, October 20, 2013

Panic time

Today I was out to the gallery where I will be showing in December, for another artist's reception.  She is an acquaintance, well grounded in the arts, who has displayed at this gallery before.We had a chance to chat, and she asked me how things were coming along with my show.  When I told her what I had figured I would need, she quickly cautioned me that I would be needing several more hangings than I had planned.  We walked around and it became obvious that she was right.  OMG!!

So now I need to do an in-depth inventory, and come up with a very serious, and very realistic "To do" list.  I have just over a month to get it all finished.  Not much time for blogging.

Friday, October 18, 2013

digital techniques

  The last three weeks have been lost while I have been dealing with medical issues, that almost derailed me.  However, I still have the gallery show in December and just over a month to be ready for it.

Digital Techniques--No, I don't use them.  I have Photoshop Elements 7.0, have taken a couple of classes with it, but haven't used it enough to remember anything.  On the Quiltart list the ladies often talk about how they use photos, tinkering with them in all sorts of ways and producing remarkable fabric art.  But the whole process scares the bejeebers out of me. Lately I have been wrestling with a major piece that has lurked in my sketch book for a few years ( can you say --six?)  I have three photos of a similar view, two of which have figures in them.  I plan to amalgamate the three into one image. I don't do figures, but thought they were needed to demonstrate the scale of the other features in the photo.  One photo shows the three figures in very static position, walking away from the viewer.  The other shows them interacting in a much more dynamic way and would make a much better composition.  But the figures are very tiny (3/4" high in a 4X 6 photo.)  I need them at least 6" in the larger piece.  Sketching leaves me frustrated and angry and produces crap.  So, today I planned to get the photo enlarged.  Last time I did this, I had to have an electronic photo and the process cost over $40.00. This cost is also a factor in my avoidance of digital images in my work.  All I have is a photo.  So we took a chance and went to a photography store.  I explained that I needed the photo cropped to just the figures, and then enlarged 8 times.  Could they do this?  Yep!  I will loose some clarity and definition in the picture ( doesn't matter, I'm just looking for proportion).  Okay, it will be ready tomorrow and will cost--hold your breath--$1.27.

Maybe I have to take another look at this whole field and its relekence t my work

Monday, September 30, 2013

Another class done and today's rant

This was a more basic and fairly structured class.  The ladies were enthusiastic, and eager to learn, but also a little apprehensive.   While I was prepared to work steadily through the class outline, I was soon sidetracked when I realized that some of these ladies were almost afraid of their machines.  There was confusion about what the machines were capable of, presser feet were a mystery, there was confusion regarding the difference between various needles. So, while, in the end, the class was completed, it became more of a class on using a sewing machine, than I had expected.

This disturbed me. I can't think of any craft that can be accomplished with any degree of competence without a knowledge of how to use the tools involved.  With that knowledge lacking then the machine controls you, not the other way around. I went to teach fibre collage.When the ladies left, almost every one of them thanked me for helping her understand her machine, and helping her understand what she can and can't expect from it.

They also left with some awesome collages!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Life goes on

The Free Motion and Machine Quilting class is done--both days. The Janome worked quite well, and now deserves a visit to the shop for a tune-up.  A very enthusiastic group of ladies, but by about 3:00 on both days they were  exhausted.  Somehow, I have to modify the class to make it less stressful, but still teach the basics.  One of the primary goals is to give them the skills, and confidence, to actually design a small piece for themselves.  But, until they have the basic free motion skills, they aren't able to design anything.  Many of the skills can't be written down, but rather, must be demonstrated, which further complicates the problem. Will really have to think this one through.

On the good side, several of them indicated that they would enjoy a class on painting and/or dyeing fabric.  I already have a fairly detailed class prepared, on painting fabric, that could be used to develop a simpler class, that could include the dyeing.

Sunday was a very special day.  I was able to go and pick up the fused glass cabochons that I had commissioned.  They are wonderful!  She had done an excellent job,even making a few more than I had asked for, so that I would have a choice.  Of course, I couldn't make a choice!   I wanted them all! A new price was negotiated, and they are carefully tucked away in the studio, waiting for me to start working them into my next piece.

But that won't come for a few days.  I have two pieces in the works, and have to finish preparing for a two day class over the next weekend.  Once that is out of the way, I can settle down and work on the ideas that keep running through my mind, and interrupting my sleep.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today was a mixed blessing

Yesterday I was doing some fairly dense thread painting, when the needle "jammed".  This has happened before, and is a bit of a pain to pull everything out and clean up the mess, but then you can usually start again and carry on. Not this time.  There was absolutely no way I could get the needle or anything else out.  In the end I had to cut the needle in half with a pair of side cutting pliers.  Then I was able to pull most of it out.  But something still seemed to be wrong, so took the throat plate out and cleaned up underneath.  Then I noticed that there was chunk out of the bobbin holder and a raw, scraped groove underneath the bobbin holder.  Oh! Oh!  This called for a trip to the repair shop.

This is the machine on which I hope to be able to teach a class in free motion quilting to nine paid up students on Wednesday--yes, Wednesday the day after tomorrow.  I don't want to run this machine again  until someone who knows about these things tells me it's safe. So, what is my contingency plan? Plan to take it into the shop first thing Monday morning hoping that it might be fixed in time for pick up by late Tuesday. And if that doesn't work?  Fire up the old Pfaff.  I've been using it for piecing and bobbin work, but haven't done any FMQ'g on it in about 3 years.  In order to use it for a class, I would need the  table platform which has a broken leg.  Okay, next plan,  find out if we can replace that leg first thing Monday morning.  If that turns out to be necessary, I would have to spend all of Monday and Tuesday re-teaching myself to do FMQ'g on the Pfaff.

Turned out that there was no hope of seeing a technician for the Janome until the weekend, but the table leg was available. ( Two different dealers, you understand) But my husband, who has been servicing, cleaning and repairing my machines for years, thought that we might be able to get the Janome going if we replaced the bobbin holder.  So, new bobbin holder, new table leg, and into the studio to work something out. Tried some free motion on the Pfaff, and remembered why I prefer to do the FMQ'g on the Janome.  Worked at it all day, even took half an hour off and went out to get supper, instead of trying to cook something here.  By 8:00 the Janome was purring away and doing free motion feathers better than ever before.  I am still a nervous wreck, but things are looking better for the class on Wednesday.

Shibori has come up in a couple of communications recently, and someone has asked what I do with my Shibori dyed fabrics.  I may have posted these pictures before, but here are the three Shibori wall hanging that I've made, so far. They are all machine quilted, but the middle one has hand quilting as an embellishment.  I use #16 coton a broder, and dye it with the fabric to assure a match. The first one has leaf prints in three of the clamped circles. They are all about 25 by 35 inches.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

slow progess

We have been very busily involved in selling a vacation home that has been in the family for almost 70 years.  It sold quite quickly and for a good price, but with a closing date of Sept 20th. Now we are having to go through and sort and remove the debris of two extended families over those 70 years.  Considering that the place is almost 120 miles from home, this has been quite a time consuming endeavor.  In the middle of it all, I had a nasty fall in the studio, and have been barely able to walk. Needless to say, studio work has come almost to a stand still.

However, as part of all this, my niece gave me a large tub of beads and beading supplies.  What a treasure trove!  So, while following medical advice to stay off my feet as much as possible, I have been sorting beads.  Great fun!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A bit of joy, and a bit of sorrow

I have been working hard, in the studio.  Housework much less so.  It shows.  This week both my dishwasher and A/C gave us grief.  the Dishwasher is being replaced, provided I can find a plumber to set it up for me, but the A/C will have to wait ( where is September when you need it??).  So every minute spent in the studio contains a little bit of guilt.

The class sample for my collage class at the end of September is finished and looks fabulous.  I ended up buying a length of a batik for the backing and binding.  While hand stitching the binding on I realized what a joy it is to work with a fresh, crisp, top quality fabric.  While the fabric I use for my hand dyes is fairly good quality, the multiple washings, involved in the process, soften it up, and makes it a little bit more of a chore to finish really well.  While I was just planning to use this piece as a teaching sample I think it has turned out nicely enough to put into my gallery show in December.  Here is both a close-up and a full view

My Bonsai Tree is coming along nicely.  I had to put it aside while working on other deadlines, and hope to get back to it this weekend.  I had sketched it out on the background, with machine basting, completed all of the background quilting, and then started work on the thread painting.  DH, who looks in once in awhile had seen it  with just the basting and background done, came in, took a second look, and remarked " Why are you doing the clouds green?"  He had seen the spaces left for foliage as clouds in a sky. (Marked with X's in the picture Go figure!

And where is the sorrow, you ask.  I have been working on a larger sample for my class in the middle of "September.  This is a machine quilting and Free Motion class, to which I have added a second day dedicated to Feathers.  I have been attempting to make a finished sample of Machine Trapunto feathers, since my original sample was sold at the July sale.  I used an absolutely gorgeous piece of hand dye, for which I selected and ordered special thread--a 100 wt Kimono silk.  Since I had been disappointed with the blue piece--now titled "My Blue Rag"--where I had used a closely matched thread colour  to the background, I chose a slightly darker, rosy red, to go with the variegated rosy brown/beige background.  The trapunto stitching was finished, and the extra batting carefully cut out (two days work).  Then all of the feathers were quilted.  while doing that, I was having difficulty  where the water soluble thread had obliterated my marked lines, so decided to wash it out as soon as the basic feathers were finished, and before I tried to do the background filling stitching.  The piece was thoroughly wet with a huge spritzer, and carefully blocked.

Looking at it today, those places where I had difficulty following the lines were very obvious, and the water-soluble thread didn't come fully out, leaving dark lines behind..  I carefully took out and re-stitched the worst of them and started doing the echoing around the feathers.  Not pretty. There is no way I can take out all of the stitching--it is 27 inches square, and densely quilted.  The fabric was a special one, and there is a lot of money invested in thread. The thread colour is a little overwhelming, although the YLI rosy beige silk background thread seems to work well.  The end result is unacceptable.  I cannot figure a way out of this problem.  Time to take the rest of the day off, and then  move on.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back into production

Have been buying supplies, getting ready to go into production.  I already have a couple of hangings in progress, and I hope to have one ready for beading by Thursday, when we travel to the cottage for about 5 days.  Space limitations, and the presence of young grandchildren, mean not taking along the sewing machine, so I hope to have a good selection of handwork to take along.

Today was a good day in terms of supplies.  For a couple of years I have been wanting to introduce cabochons into my beading, and have been looking for someone to make some for me, without much success.  I thought I had someone.  I was told that if I could produce a pattern, she would be happy to make some for me.  Yeah, sure!  When I actually showed up, pattern  in hand, she found every excuse in the book not to do it.  I very quickly realized that the basic truth was that she just didn't want to do it. This made me determined to find someone. I next approached the Manitoba Crafts council, who referred me to one of their members--June Derksen.  A very gracious lady, she let me explain exactly what I wanted, and determined how flexible my ideas were.  She then gave me a tour of her studio, and we selected a piece of glass to work with--different but more exciting than my vision. She reviewed the process with me so that I could understand how the cost might change depending which options I chose.  Finally a price was negotiated, and the deal made.

I an SO excited!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


This weekend was the  "Big Sale".  For the first time in several years, we had huge crowds, as the sale was part of the 50th Anniversary of a small local town.  This town has a highly educated population, and a high median income level. These people buy art, and I have sold several larger pieces in the 7 years I have been there for what is an annual  ART, but not craft, sale.

My husband and I set  up two side by side booths, one for him to sell the older stock that had been reduced in price, and one for me to sell the more recent pieces.  We were run off our feet.  This is the first time DH has actually participated in the selling activity.  In the past he has acted as a cashier, sat in someone's booth, for security, while they took a short break, or even acted as a "gofer" for anybody involved in the sale.  ( I jokingly refer to him as my "roadie")  But this time he had to get out on the floor to "flog the wares".  I just couldn't deal with the volume of customers on my own.   For the first time ever, I was able to accept credit cards, and what a difference that made!

When the dust had settled, we had sold just about every wall hanging I had there, including the pricier ones, and even a couple that never made it to the display.  My lower priced items are pretty well cleaned out.  Wooden boxes with hand embroidered inserts-gone.  ( I have been trying to sell those for 15 years)  I had known that I would have a chance to talk to the owner of the LQS, and had taken along a teaching sample of machine trapunto and FMQ'g--very, very traditional work ( my design, however).  Another vendor saw me showing it to the store owner over to one side of the room and rushed over, cash in hand, saying--"I want that".  A second vendor approached me just before we opened the second day and purchased a small tote bag, then danced ( yes,-- danced) around the room showing it off.  Artists were buying my art!

As with many sales, there was some down time.  This is when you have a chance to talk to other vendors.  Several of the conversations turned to why it was that we got so excited about making a sale.  When someone actually puts down money for our art, it is a validation of our identity as artists.  So many of us have trouble seeing ourselves as having value as artists, and this external validation has a tremendous impact on the way we view ourselves.  Over the past 24 hours, I have been trying to reconcile my intellectual understanding of this, with my emotional internal inability to believe it.  But so many customers openly told me  "I've never seen anything like this!!", I now have to accept that my work is unique and has artistic merit

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Willow Tree finished

Yes, finally.  Here is the full view of the piece. It ended up about 20" by 30", and is faced rather than bound.  Since I wanted to emphasize the wide open spaces of the prairies, I felt that any sort of binding would provide a firm frame that cut off the idea of infinite space.

  The trees were thread painted using Superior Fantastico in a variegated brown for the main colour.  I then added highlights with Fantastico in variegated beiges, and low lights in Sulky #30 in a matt brown.  Here is a close-up.  The highlights and low lights sure made a difference in adding depth to the trees.

The final step was in free motion quilting the snow in the foreground.  I tried several patterns that I have been using for years, taken from photos I took years ago.  Nothing seemed right, but then I went to a Leah Day design called Lava Rocks, and, some minor modifications, it worked very well.  I'm quite pleased with the result.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Willow Trees

Lately, I've been working on a hanging featuring Willow Trees, with a working title of Prairie Wind Break. After a bit of research i was ready to start, but had to delay a bit while I figured out how to mark my images onto the fabric. I knew it would be fmq'g/thread painting, so that meant some stabilization to prevent gathering and rippling. So I layered the fabric, stabilizer, and then batting.  I machine quilted the sky, and added fabric to create a horizon line.

Next, I sketched out the entire scene, full size, on paper.  Full size allowed me to blend entwine the branches, as I wanted the trees very close together, and allowed me to measure and gauge the relative positions of the trees--and to do it in pencil, with an eraser in hand.  Finally, I transferred position marks to the fabric with water erasable pen.

Next, I traced each individual tree onto tracing paper, again with the positioning marks.  Then, one at a time, I carefully, positioned my tracing paper, and carefully a securely taped it into place.  Then, stitching through the paper, I fmq'd the basic outline of each tree.  The biggest and worst part of the process turned out to be removing the paper after each tree was stitched.

Here is the third tree stitched and ready to have the paper removed, and the 5th tree in place ready for stitching.

Once the thread sketching is finished,  the next step is to do the thread painting, but that will have to wait until the thread I ordered arrives.  I tried to order it from my LQS, but, no luck and no stock and a bunch of attitude.  I would prefer to support local stores, but sometimes they make it difficult.

I also have a preliminary picture of the latest Shibori piece.  it is pieced and quilted,but no yet bound.  I am very pleased with this, as I managed to do all of the quilting with no mares nests on the back of my piece.
And a close-up.
Prior to starting this, I had forgotten doing leaf prints over top of Shibori dyeing.  I am very anxious to try more of this.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I promised pictures.....

The first is a mixed media collage that is about 12" by 12".  Like the next two this started with an acrylic mono-print.  I then tried some rubber stamping, machine quilted it,  and added dyed cheesecloth with my embellisher.

Next is a close-up.

The next piece has had dimensional pieces added as well a a gold metallic ribbon.  I think this is my favourite.
And close-up.

The third caused me a bit of grief. There were originally three black butterflies rubber stamped in the lower area under the dark discs.  The just didn't seem to work and I spent several hours going through all of my "unusual mixed media pieces"  ( read junk) but couldn't find anything that really worked.  I was still worrying about it when I went to bed.  I finally figured out that the actual piece of fabric I was working with was about 16' by 16" but the finished piece was only 10"by 10". My proportions were confused.  In the morning I put the frame I had planned to use over it, and all of the proportions just fell into place.  Mind you, finding the right beads took quite awhile, as well.

And the close-up

The final piece is much smaller, about 6" by 6" before framing.  I had actually been working on this for over a year.  The charm is a sterling silver earring that was given to me by a friend. I polished it up and put lacquer on it to preserve the shine.  Most of the other beads etc were also found objects.

And the close-up

Today was spent doing the preliminary work for not one, but two larger hangings. The first one was the scheduled activity for the day, but I had to paint some fabric first and, given the humidity, it just wouldn't dry.  So I started fooling around with some dyed fabric and managed to get a second piece put together and ready for quilting.  By  then I had decided that I really didn't like the colour  of the fabric that had been painted, so I washed it all out, and painted it again.  Now it may not be dry for a couple of days.

But it feels so-o-o good to be productive again!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Warm weather

Yesterday was the first day of summer and we are certainly feeling the heat.  However there is lots to do in the basement studio. I had just finished three mixed media collages, and had been framing them. Now it's time for things like screw eyes and wire for hanging.  DH joined me and we spent most of the day working on finishing these pictures, and creating hanging devices for quilted hangings that I want to take to the big sale in mid-July. I wanted to find a small quilt to take to my very small quilting group at the local active living centre, but instead found four more hangings that will be quite suitable for the sale and might even be considered for my gallery show in December.  They needed hanging rods, as well, but first needed sometime outside in the breeze as they had been stored in a cedar chest, resulting in quite an odor.

It was supper time when we finished all of this.  That may be the "Royal We", as DH seemed to do most of the work.  Given the heat, and how steadily we worked, we are now both almost ready to drop.  But there is now a wonderful collection of items to be offered at the sale.  Tomorrow I will try to post some pictures.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Last evening I attended a meeting of the local quilters' guild.  I stopped attending meetings over a year ago, as I had been very upset at the rigidity with which the Guild, as a group, tended to reject Art quilting. This particular Guild has gained a National reputation for being very, very traditional.  At the same time, they will invite teachers who are more "arty" in their work, and show respect to individual members who do original work. My distress had been a result of quite a number of comments made by several members, to me and within my hearing, disparaging any form of "art' quilting, during the Guild's very large bi-annual show, in April of 2012.

Last evening's Guest speaker was an art quilter, with fairly strong traditional roots, who had been invited to the area to teach free motion machine quilting. She was presenting a trunk show that demonstrated her traditional roots, but showed how both her interests and skills had grown.  She has now exhibited and taught all over the country.  I was appalled at the rudeness demonstrated by many of the guild members, talking loudly enough, during her presentation, to create problems hearing for others.  ( There was also a bit of difficulty with the sound system that aggravated the problem)  Despite complaints about not being able to hear, and even a couple of loud "shssss's",  this irritation continued for most of the presentation. The situation was further aggravated by one member of the audience who took exception to the techniques being described say, quite loudly,  and heard by many, "Those aren't real quilts!"  During a lull in the proceedings I asked her what she meant, and she told me that the quilts didn't have "two layers of fabric around a layer of batting, and they aren't big enough".

Well, while most definitions of quilts require "at least three layers with stitching through the layers", I've never heard of any requirement for "batting".  Nor have I ever heard of any minimum size requirement.  The speaker said more than once, that what she was showing were teaching samples of specific techniques. Small just made sense.

I had a very specific purpose in attending this meeting ( a reconciliation with a good friend), but I have to wonder how I can continue to socialize with a group  that shows so little respect for the work I do, and by extension, so little respect for me.  Again, individual members of the group have proven themselves true friends, and, after my absence, I was well greeted and acknowledged by several of them.  But, when they are together, "group think" seems to take over.  The guest speaker is an acquaintance, and a fellow member of FAN, but I don't know how I can face her after this rude treatment.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A lot has been happening

I have reached a point where I need to develop a working plan for studio activities over the next 5 months.  I have my sale in July, a two-day teaching gig in September, and the gallery show in December.

After a few panicky days, DH and I went through my stock, and took a basic inventory.  Then I went through all of the trunks and chests where the major pieces are stored, and figured out which would be suitable for the gallery show.  I am estimating a minimum of 25 pieces, but some of them can be smaller.  However, a minimum of 12 of them should be wall hanging size.  I found 10 that could be used.  I tried to select pieces that either had never been shown locally, or had been shown, and received major judged awards.  Of the 10 selected, two could be readily replaced, should I be able to produce something of equal size and quality over the next little while.

But in going through my sale stock, we found many smaller pieces that have been shown in previous years, and now need to be marked down and sold quickly.  Basically that includes anything that has been offered for sale more than once.  There isn't much left.  However, I really don't want to be constantly producing for sales.  The stress involved just isn't worth it.  Among the larger hangings that I didn't select for the gallery show, were several that I can offer for sale, and this will be done.  That leaves a need for smaller framed pieces that can be priced at less than $100.  I have a few of those and can produce  more.

So, as of last evening,  the resulting product list was:
5-8 smaller framed pieces for mid-July
at least one larger quilted sampler for the class in mid-September
Two or three larger wall hangings for the gallery show in December
Replacement small framed pieces for any that may sell in July, for the December gallery show

I have already dyed several pieces to be used in the smaller framed pieces and the quilting sampler, and have started gathering additional supplies to be used with those pieces.  I was considering doing another series of mono-prints to use as the substrate for a couple of the framed pieces, but wasn't sure if I really needed to do that.

Best laid plans etc etc.  Today I received a phone call from another local gallery where I have some shoulder bags that are also made from mono-prints. Can I deliver 4 more bags within the next few days?  Well, I.m not going to say "no", especially when I was just finishing some for the sale in July, and could actually make the delivery.  Since these are good sellers, and we are just moving toward the tourist season and then into Christmas, this made the decision for me, and today was spent producing a series of mono-prints, some sized for more bags, (eventually, but not right now), and some sized for the required  framed pieces. Tomorrow I will cull through what I made today, and make decisions about how I'm going to approach the whole assembly line.

One thing I know, for now, is that I have enough time for just about everything, without making myself crazy.  Or maybe I'm living in a fool's paradise. We'll see.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Parfait dyeing

I have just tried parfait dyeing for the first time.  I bought a gallon jar at the thrift store and it is just the right size for a three layer dye pot. I used Procion dyes and followed the instructions from Carol Ludington's article in quilting Arts June/July 2012.  Here are the results.

For the top layer the dyes used were Bright Yellow and Brick.  Nothing else.  I can only believe that the darker areas came from the splitting of the Brick dye.
The middle layer had some Burgundy and Blue  dye, but some of the yellow came through as well.
Here is the bottom layer
This third layer has Fuschia and Medium Blue, with far less of the Yellow coming through.  This is my favourite piece and the first one I plan to use.  I had included a close-up of some of the more interesting areas.

The same day I also did a piece of low water immersion (LWI)dyeing, that I am quite pleased with.  I used Purple and Bright Scarlet dye, and this is what I got. Go figure!  The background doesn't show well but is a pale peach (lovely!)This is absolutely gorgeous fabric and I'm already planning a very special project with it.

These parfait colours are really "in your face", and I find this limits the design possibilities. The results are so "busy" that I'll have to use them in small amounts, or mute  some way.  Having said that, my mind is moving toward three dimensional work.  Maybe an animal like a turtle--with beading, of course.
But, overall, I think that LWI will remain my primary dyeing process.However, I think I would much rather use Parfait dyeing than snow dyeing--far less work!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New work??

I will be having a gallery show for 3 weeks this coming December.  I know this is not the best time to be in a gallery, but, they had a cancellation, and  I take what I can get.  So now I have to start planning what will be shown.  I've pretty well decided to show mainly work that has never before been publicly exhibited.  I may have done a lot, but I certainly aren't well-known enough to have a retrospective show.  It has been suggested that I choose 4-5 larger, focal pieces and then fill in around them with smaller, less price-y art.

For the last two days, DH and I have been sorting through the many boxes, trunks and chest just sorting out in our minds what is actually there.  We also took the opportunity to cull a few things.  I had to sit down with myself and really admit that there are many techniques I can no longer do successfully, and this means that there are supplies that are no longer useful.  The process was heart-wrenching, but we got through a fair bit, and this meant a trip to the local thrift store.  I also have packages to take into local charities where they might be more useful than around here.

As well, I found a few unfinished pieces that might work very well in the show with a bit of finishing and mounting/framing.  I have a couple of ideas for new pieces, and with finishing the UFO's, I should be able to keep myself well busy for the next few months.  Now I just have to find the discipline to get down to it!  LOL

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Need a little help from my friends

I have a piece that is causing me some concern.  This was on my design wall for a few weeks, and I gave a fair bit of thought to what I wanted in the finished image, although I never had a clear picture in my mind.  So I 'bit the bullet" and started working. ( I know many people just start and modify and change their ideas as the work progresses, but I've usually had some fairly definite idea before starting, even if I do actually change it a fair bit as I go)  In this case I didn't even use a pattern, but rather just cut "by the seat of my pants."

Whoop!  Bang!  Less than two days, and it was pretty well done.  I may add some tiny silver beads at the tip of the grasses, and it has yet to be bound, but here it is. The background is vertically pieced strips of white, silk, cotton and polyester satin.  It was completely quilted before  it was very lightly painted with grey. Then grasses and the mist were fused in layers, before raw edge machine stitched.

My concern is that it was too easy.  It just came and now sits there. My work is usually far more complex and far more colourful.  This is grey,white and a tiny bit of grey/green in the grasses.  I almost feel that it is a bit of a "sellout", as I feel it is very marketable,but is it really  done from my soul.

Please, please--comments and suggestions.  The most basic question--is this good enough for exhibition?
                                                          Marsh in the Mist

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Life's transitions

I have mentioned that my hands will no longer support any degree of hand stitching.  I've been doing less of that for a few years now, and I can see a real deterioration in my skill with a needle.  Needle work has been a major part of my life for almost 60 years, but within the last couple of weeks, I've had to face the end of using a needle in my hand.  This has been coming for over twenty years, but I never thought it would actually arrive.  There have been a couple of times in the past, when I've faced a major transition in  my life.  One that springs to mind is the day I had to surrender my professional license and retire for good, another was the day I found out I was pregnant with my first child.  Not necessarily sad times, but definitely times of change and adaptation.

As I did then, I did today.  A formal ceremony of doing away with the old life and taking a look at the new.  With my retirement, it was a matter of shredding all of my notes and papers ( even the old Roladex) pertaining to my professional life, and taking all of my test books and professional books to a thrift store. ( I did keep a couple of professional journals in which I was cited or published)  Today, I sorted through all of my fibre art related magazines, and literally threw out most of those that related to hand stitching. Embroidery Canada is gone.  Needle Pulling Thread is gone.  My recycle bin is full.  I have empty shelf space to fill with new interests.

As in the past, I find that I'm not sad, but rather relieved, as though a weight has been lifted.  It actually feels good.

Friday, April 5, 2013

what I've really been up to

The past few months I've been talking a bit about the whitework that I've been doing by machine.  I have spent a lot of time looking at the work of Cindy Needham, Diane Gaudynski and Leah Day, and I've been doing a lot of practicing.  For the most part, "whitework" is a bit of a misnomer,as most of my work has been on hand-dyed or coloured fabric.  I've even taught a couple of classes in using the filling stitches,and should soon have another class on focal images such as feathers and paisleys. The following are all my original designs. Please respect that, and don't copy.

The first piece was done on pale green, low water immersion dyed cotton, with #50  cotton thread.  Unfortunately there wasn't as much value contrast as I would have liked, so some areas have been augmented with Lumiere paint.  The interior of the paisleys has been beaded.  It was a friend's comment that the paisleys looked like Carp that lead me to make the School Days piece that has been previously posted.

The next piece is a little harder to see, as it is white on white.  It is about 36 inches square, and I learned many,many things making it. Never use a square-drawn grid design as filler at the edge of the piece. You will never get everything absolutely square-never! And when it is off square, it shows.  Don't make your focal areas, and in this case they are hearts, too complicated or fussy. they will just get lost in the background. Otherwise, I was very pleased with my ability to pull this off,considering that it is the first larger piece I have made in years.  Learned something about quilting larger pieces too. This is done with #60 white cotton thread on cotton muslin.

The next piece is my favourite, and not yet finished.  It is also about 36"by 36", and is done on hand-dyed, and painted cotton Damask with #100 silk thread ( Superior Kimono Silk)  I have posted before about the difficulties quilting on cotton Damask, and this almost drove me crazy. The actual quilting is very hard to see, except where I have traveled on a previously quilted line. In some places I have done it purposely, to show an area better.  I am trying to bead areas of this, and in one picture there is a clear image of how the actual quilting stands out better where some of the beading has been done, and the lower area not yet beaded.  It is my intention to bead the entire area of 3/4" grided quilting, but I find I can only work on it for about 20 minutes before the hands give up. I have mounted the piece in an 18" frame, and then I place this over an open area between the support of two tables.  In this way I can work with two hands, and not worry about trying to hold the weight of both the quilt and the frame.

The final piece is more experimental.  I was trying to create a more formal piece, firstly with the possibility of a show entry,(not going to happen!) and also to experiment with machine trapunto.  The machine trapunto worked very well. I really like the effect, and plan to use it frequently in future.  But when I hung it beside the three previous pieces, it looked too formal.  It had no life--no movement!  Lesson learned--I must remember to invest some emotion into my designs.  This is about 25" square, and worked on cotton with rayon machine embroidery thread for the Feather Tree, and Superior BottomLine for the background.