Monday, December 21, 2015

New Work

It's Monday and here's the ice dyeing I've been up to over the weekend.  The first two pieces came from the first ice  dyeing bath, and the rest from a second  ice dyeing bath. This first piece amazes me.  The fine detail is unbelievable.  I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.  Maybe I'll just keep it around to look at once in awhile.

At first glance, I just about wrote this one off, but by the time I had washed it with Synthopol, and pressed it, I realized that it was probably my second favourite of the bunch.  The delicate colour changes blow me away.

I have been experimenting with folding the fabric in four, and then, using the center of the fabric as a fulcrum, working in accordion folds, from both sides.  The next fold will be in  half, and will put the accordion folds to the outside, before finally introducing a fold of the entire piece and clamping it.  I think with this one, I made a mistake and ended up with one set of accordion folds to the inside and one out.  But the lace-like delicacy, and very intricate detail makes this piece special as well.

Here is a, not very good, detail shot.

I have no idea why this piece ended up darker on one axis.  But, again the delicacy really appeals to me.  Below it is another detail shot.

For the last one I used a slightly different technique. I started with the four-fold, and then continued to 1/8th fold, and 1/16th fold.  Then I started at the center, and used a Tesuji Shibori wrapping technique, before submitting the piece to the ice dyeing bath.I hope that some of the tying threads show a bit in the picture.  They do in the piece itself.

Now I really do have to take a couple of cays off.  Happy Holidays to everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Holiday plans

It is great to have so much going on in the studio.  I almost feel like there are so many potential pieces of work pulling at me, that I'm just spinning in circles, and will soon just spin myself right into the ground.

But, as with most people the next couple of weeks will be busy.  Not only do we have Christmas coming up, but a couple of days later Dave and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. We have made plans for a large family celebration dinner, and family is coming in from around the country, some of them staying with us, or at a local hotel and eating their meals with us.  With no apologies to anyone, this is going to have priority in my life for the next couple of weeks.  But--I drew up a couple of "to do" lists, only to find that most jobs have been done, and, now, I think I have until Monday to play.  There is a charity quilt on the machine, and the piece I showed in the last post is sandwiched and ready for hand work  ( Yep, I'm going to give it a try, even though the snow and cold arrived yesterday, with vengeance, and my hands really aren't happy)  I'm also hoping to squeeze in another dye bath, so that project doesn't loose momentum.  Wish me luck!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Look what I found!

I found this today in the washing machine!  I had thought there should be one more piece, but when I couldn't find it figured I was mistaken.  The colour isn't too good here. What appears as blue is actually a darker green, which is amazing as I didn't use any green dye in the dye bath.  This just reinforces my love of the serendipity of ice dyeing.  What appears as light dots or tiny squares is the imprint from the small heads of the clamps I used. I think they add a lot to the design.

I'm still trying to decide what to do with the pieces.  I found two 12" wrapped canvasses today, with matching frames.  The size will work fairly well with the smaller dyed pieces.  I'm considering basing a piece on that size and augment the dyed fabric with simple hand stitching.  Since the colours are so busy, I would try to match the thread colour almost exactly, and keep the stitches simple--possibly only running stitch, as used in traditional Kantha embroideries.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Time out

After playing with UFO's for the past week, I took a day off and did some ice dyeing. Over the past year, I have been exploring various dyeing techniques, looking for a method that can result in a mandala type of design.  Over the month of November the blog "...and then we set it on fire", discussed variations of ice dyeing.  Some of the techniques discussed lead me to give  thought to, not only clamping the fabric, but various ways of folding it prior to clamping , and dyeing.  All four of these pieces went through the same dye bath! While I haven't solved the "mandala" part of the problem, I'm thrilled with the pattern and colour that was achieved.  Here are my results.

The first three images are each about 22" square.  

This is a larger piece, about 45" square.

This next is a close up (bottom right hand corner--I think) of the one above it, as, in my opinion, the fine details of that piece are wonderful

Friday, November 27, 2015

Back to UFO's

While browsing through "stuff" to find those elusive UFO's, I stumbled on three pieces that were sandwiched last spring, were ready for quilting, and totally forgotten.  So after finishing my ATC's for this months exchange, I started on them.  I've also found two small quilts that would be suitable for  charity quilts. So my hope is to have, at least, 4 quilts to take to the next meeting of the LQG, and donate to charity.  One of the sandwiched pieces is much more an art piece than any sort of charity quilt, and I'm not sure what's in its future.

I've also discovered two quilts in progress.  Both are traditional quilts, with most of the pieces cut, and a few of the squares put together, but no where near enough to make me want to sit down and get to work piecing.  Both had been kept as there were memories attached, but those are my memories, so the project would be pretty well meaningless to anyone else.  Both are probably headed to the garbage.  I just have to "gird my loins" and do the deed.  I also found a partially done quilt that would be worth finishing as a charity quilt, and a larger piece for which all of the squares have been pieced and are ready to put together.  Those two pieces have joined the "finishing queue".

I also discovered that the local quilt show--a big one--is the same weekend next spring as I'm out of town teaching. There would be no problem getting things to the show, either for the exhibition and boutique, but I wouldn't be able to pick them up from the venue at the appropriate time.  This is a major disappointment, as I had spent the last year preparing myself to enter the competition.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Latest dyeing

Here are the pictures of the latest dyeing. I'm very please with all of them, as I got the mottled effect I was hoping for. 

I'm not sure of the colours of dye used, but my best guess for this one is turquoise and Deep Purple
and a close-up

I think the colours in the second one were Turquoise and Emerald.
and the close up

The next one was a little paler than I really wanted, but it's always easier to find a use for paler colours for a future design.  the  colours were Deep Purple and Fuschia.  Whoops!  Looks like the close-up comes first.

and the last one, which I believe is fuschia and scarlet.  I already have a plan for this one--an abstract based on a photo of a group of flamingos feeding

and the close-up

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Play Day

Despite my plans to dedicate time to cleaning up the UFO's, I was committed to a "Play Day" with my local Art Group.  Some of the ladies wanted to experiment with dyeing fabric rather than using paint on it, and this day had been organized.  Very nice to have a dedicated facility for this type of thing, but a "p-i-t-a" to transport all of the supplies and equipment.  

I did some LWI dyeing to demonstrate the technique, and then demonstrated pulling some prints using a home made gelatin pad, while another lady demonstrated on a Gelli Pad.  Then we all proceeded to do our own thing.  One lady fell in love with the home made gelatin pad and spent the rest of the day with it.  She expressed that the results were some of the most satisfying work she had done in awhile.  I used a Plexiglass sheet to make about 10 mono-prints.  I had the vague idea of producing a series of 12" by 12" pieces over the next few months, but the finished prints turned out to be a little too small for that, so I'll have to give the whole concept some more thought. The LWI pieces ( 4 of them) are good.  One in particular is ear-marked for a long range project. I'll try to post some pictures in the next few days.

My "to do"list of UFO's is progressing slowly.  The left over fabric from two recent projects is slowly being turned into hexies.  This is something I can do while relaxing with the tv in the evening. Where the hexies will end up is another issue, but I justify by saying that hexies are much more likely to end up in a project,  than they would as fabric scraps in my bin.  And re-purposing is a very acceptable way of dealing with UFO's.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What to do, what to do---

Since I've been feeling better, there are new ideas crowding my brain. But we have been cleaning out the junk in the house and discarding all of the dust catchers, in an effort to alleviate some of my allergies.  This means  taking a hard look at the storage areas of the main studio, and this means being forced to deal with the dreaded UFO's, as well as the 12 big Rubbermaid storage containers of fabric.

So how do I set my priorities?  There is, at least, one project that must be finished for Christmas, and a set of ATC's to be finished for a trading group meeting on December 6th.  Both of those chores are at the top of the list, but then I think I'll put new projects aside and take a look at the UFO's.  There are probably less than 20 of them, maybe as few at 10.  Half a dozen of those are finished quilt tops that need quilting.  There is no way I can afford to send them to a long-armer, as they are destined  to end up as charity quilts.  I'm not sure I could even afford to send them to a long-armer for basteing.  There are also about 4 partially pieced quilt tops, which may just end up being re-purposed, in some way.

So maybe, for now, I'll work on my two urgent projects, and spend time sorting and preparing a prioritized "to do" list.  At this point, I don't even want to think about sorting through all of that fabric!

Monday, November 9, 2015

New work

I haven't posted any pictures of the newest piece, as I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, and many shows will not accept work that has appeared on the internet.  Well, this piece won't be going to any big shows, although I may enter it into next spring's show with the local guild. I have talked aobut it in previous blogs,but here is a precis 

I am calling it "Winter Sky".  I think that if there is any ongoing theme to my work it is "Winter" and "snow".  I have been trying to teach myself dyeing in a mandala pattern,but when this came out of the dye bath, my heart sank. I had used Olive green, Burgundy, Brick, and a mix of brown and black dye. Obviously I should have used more dye.  But the more I looked at the  cloth, the more I saw things like a sun and clouds.  I used Trapunto in the central area to emphasize the sun, and then used straight machine stitched lines to represent the rays of the sun.  The darkest clouds looked heavier, so I used a FMQ'g in a design of curved lines, to accent the weight I felt.  The lighter clouds were FMQ'd using a more frivolous spiral design.  ( after all, all of my FMQ'g has a spiral somewhere).  The sun was then beaded.

And here are the pictures.

So--what's next you ask?
I have so many ideas, and none of them jumping out and shouting "me, me". I am in the middle of smaller piece ( about 12" by 12")that uses dyed wool roving and Duipioni silk, and have a hunch that I'll be making a series of 12" by 12" pieces, not necessarily in related topics.  Some of them may come from re-worked previous pieces.

Monday, November 2, 2015


Not much luck with "The Whore of Babylon".  It seems that this is  a general symbol for the Antichrist, and not much more.  A very complex visual image--one that would be very difficult to utilize in fibre art.  

More luck with "The Green Man".  I finally managed to get hold of the book "The Green Man"by Kathleen Basford. (D.S. Brewer, 1998)  A very detailed history of the image.  I think it might have been written as some sort of academic thesis.  I find myself keeping the dictionary close to checkout the meaning of some of the big words. A lot of the discussion about symbolism tends to be mostly conjecture, but I think that would be true of any discussion on such an ancient symbol.  Fortunately, the most of the book consists of images of The Green Man or The Foliate Man, many of which are found in church or temple architecture.  This is exactly the sort of image that works well in fibre.  I already have some ideas about how to present it, technically

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Time for Something New

While slaving away on the recently finished piece, several ideas and images came to mind.  So I'm taking a bit of time to try to get them onto paper.  This means a bit of research on things like "The Green Man", and "The Whore of Babylon".  Pleasant topics I'm sure ( Snort!)  Google Images, sure helps.  Not sure where this will take me, but it will be pursued.

I've also spent some time talking to a friend who is an art Photographer.  She had one piece that bothered me. It was, basically, the view, through rain on a window, of a pine tree. The tree was in soft focus, as she wanted the clear focus to be on the image of the rain. She gave me a print, which I brought home, and worked with using a viewing board ( a square hole in a piece of cardboard)  By moving the board around I finally found two areas where the image of the rain became primary, by muting or eliminating the shape of the tree, but retaining the colour and shading. Now I'm wanting to translate this into fibre.  

Yesterday, I put together a pattern to use with the dyed wool roving and fused glass button. that I bought at the recent Fibre Festival.  I've added some chip beads of yellow jade, and anticipate a finished size of about 12" by 12".

Two more ideas are still in my head, as I just can't pin down the sort of image that could result from them.  But I'll keep going.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Blocking a quilt

The day before yesterday, I finally finished the quilting on my most recent piece--the one I can't post a picture of because I hope to enter it in a show.  This has taken over two months to quilt, after it was dyed, and prepared as a whole cloth hanging.  Just finding the "right" colour of silk thread for quilting proved to be a challenge. But "tis done.  Because the quilting was somewhat uneven, the piece had to be blocked.  

This has never been a problem, as a friend gifted me with a professional blocking board that she had used for years with her exhibition quality crewel embroidery.  In turn, I used it for a number of years, during which I worked as a needlework finisher.  For the past few years, I've used it for my mixed media and fibre art wall hangings.

A quick glance told me that the board would be too small for the current piece.  A closer look told me that it was time for the board to retire. This meant finding a board that would take multiple uses involving Tee-pins, and could be covered to prevent contamination of the fabric blocked on it, and to minimize the chance of any watermarking of the fabric.  The original board had been covered, first with a waterproof layer, and then with 1/4" Gingham.  The Gingham provides straight lines and right angles, so that the piece being blocked can be carefully squared up during the process. Gathering the necessary materials took two long days of shopping in unusual places,  I found the necessary board, and then, after having bought clear vinyl to use as a waterproof layer; instead of cotton Gingham, which was too narrow for the board, a length of flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth that had been printed with a Gingham pattern.  Thank Goodness the clear vinyl was on sale, and I have no regrets in putting it aside for another project.

So the board is together, and the piece blocked.  We had to use brass thumb tacks instead of the Tee-pins, as the board was a little harder than expected. (brass to prevent staining from rusty tacks). And we had to deal with a recalcitrant compressed air stapler, but the job is finally done.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Last evening I attended an art sale fund raiser that included a fibre artist.  Her work was about half way along the continuum from traditional quilting to pure art worked in fibre. Sales appeared to be going well.

Today I attended a "Fibre Festival".  A very large exhibition building, with live sheep and alpacas at one end. The baby Alpacas were s-o-o-o cute!  There were demonstrations on sheep shearing, cleaning, preparing, and carding the wool, spinning, knitting weaving. There were even a couple of booths that were selling individually constructed garments.  These had hand dyed fabrics, often decorated in some "one-of-a-kind" way.  There was felting, wet and dry.  And everything for sale from raw wool to beautiful spun yarn to buttons and embellishments to slumped glass bottles (?!?)

To say that my brain is on overload would not be an exaggeration. I am overwhelmed with colour, and realize that exuberance and colour have been missing from my work for awhile.  Awhile ago, a friend(?) told me that she could always tell my work because it was controlled and  elegant.  I have valued that comment as a compliment, but now wonder if it has, in someway, limited my use of any childish approach and certainly in the use of vibrant colour.  Once I add my frequent forays into depression, it's no wonder my work sometimes appears lifeless, and that sales have been off in the past couple of years.

Now I look at the piece I'm currently working on, and almost feel despair.  The colours are pale and the design static. But--there are already three more designs wrestling for position in my brain. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll get some of them into my sketch book.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Time for more introspection

I spoke about this on my other blog, but felt it would be more appropriate to enlarge on it here.

Yesterday was my alcohol ink workshop, and for some reason, I came away a little dis-satisfied.  I had taken the workshop last spring and had to leave for a couple of hours in the middle of it.  My hope was that I would come away with more on the technical aspects of making landscapes.  Didn't happen.  Thinking about it I realize that the instructor had moved on in her own journey and the class she taught yesterday reflected the direction her work has taken--as it should.  So, maybe the flaw is in me.  This left me thinking about what I had wanted to accomplish by taking yet another workshop.

Alcohol inks are hot right now, but there aren't enough years 
left for me to become really skillful with it. So why do it?

1. to satisfy my curiosity. I've never met a technical challenge that I didn't, at least attempt to, meet.

2. to answer the question of whether this technique might have a place in my work.  No, probably not.

3. Is there any potential for me to make money  at this? No, others are doing it better,and this really is a sort of "flavour of the month".  just a passing fad.  And the supplies are expensive.

So, Only # 1 provides any rationale at all for me to pursue this.  I will play with the supplies I have, but go no further.

And I will appreciate the skill I see in others.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Some progress

The newest piece is coming along.  With the help of the silk colour card I ordered, I was able to find the last bit of thread I needed.  But buying off the internet can be expensive.  For a spool of thread that cost $7.95, I paid $11.40 in postage.  Ar-g-g-g-h!

It is certainly a labour of love.  I underestimated how many times I would have to start and then break thread, with ends at beginning and end of each line of quilting, some less than 1/4" long, that need to be tied off and buried.  My arthritic hands do not like this, and frequent rests are needed.  Two days of hard work resulted in an area about the size of a dinner plate being quilted.  But--it is lo-o-o-o-king go-o-o-o-d!  Since I have no idea whether this might be a show piece ( it just might!), I can't post a picture.  I also think, that until I've finished the quilting, the surface may be too pale for a good picture.

Somehow, over the past week, I've acquired two 50% off coupons from Micheal's.  Tomorrow we head out to use them.  I'm thinking of some Zentangle tiles.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

buying supplies

Studio time has been limited, the past couple of weeks.  There is a serious piece brewing in my mind, which means selecting and/or buying the necessary supplies.  I decided to use 100wt silk for the FMQ'g, but needed to be sure of my colour match, so went off to the one LQS where I knew the silk was sold.  Imagine my shock to find out that they are significantly reducing their fabric and thread inventory in favour of more machines!!  Evidently they are loosing a lot of business to the Internet and, to a lesser extent, to "cross-border-shopping".  I know this is a problem all over.  What will people do when there is no LQS to go into for advice and help?  How sad!

My husband suggested we take a look at other quilt stores in the province and make a day trip, if we could find the silk available.
No such luck.  My last resort??  The internet.  I have ordered some, but trying to match colours on the monitor is a crap shoot.  So I also ordered a colour sample card.  At least the source I found is Canadian.

In the meantime, I have been piecing a couple of charity quilts from a design from the most recent episode of The Quilt Show.  This design was provided complete, with fabric requirements and cutting instructions, for our personal use, so no copyright has been breached.  But, no matter how I tried, I couldn't get a decent 1/4" seam from the Janome. An old problem, but thank Goodness for the old Pfaff---still trucking along and working perfectly--if only it had the wider harp!!

Awhile ago I bought fabric to make two baby quilts.  I thought I bought about the right amount, but these two make quilts 4 and 5, all from the same fabric.  They aren't yet quilted, and that may  take awhile.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Hand Stitching

Hand embroidering these little ATC's has been difficult.  These elderly hands are no longer up to the task.  I don't know if the flareup of my arthritis is because of the hand work, or if it is the cause of the difficulty with the hand work.  The hand stitching on them has been finished, but I had to use every trick in the book to get it done, even to the point of dragging out my old floor frame.

My first love was hand embroidery.  I developed a fair bit of technical skill in this, especially with counted thread ethnic embroideries and in producing intricate, fine surface stitchery. I have taught both.  I have exhibited my work nationally as well as locally, and have won awards for it.  I have seen the writing on the wall in terms of this and have devoted a lot of time and energy teaching myself to work with the machine,  ( to say nothing of the money I've spent on machines!), which has lead to my fibre work and FMQ'g.

More recently I blogged about setting up four fibre pieces that would feature hand stitching, since that is all the rage at the moment.  Well, those will be done,but using any technique I choose.

My heart hasn't really accepted the end of this, and I will probably try it out every once in awhile, but I see it as the end of an era.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Who knew!

I've been embroidering the little ATC's, and it's maybe a good thing that the Shibori didn't turn out so well.  The stitching I used is all upside down on the ATC's.  I can embroider over it, and it may never be noticed. 

Who knew that Shibori can have a right way and a wrong way!?!

Go figure!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Finishing the Show Quilt

yes, we are down to the binding, but this is proving a slow process.  The problem is my arthritic hands and wrists.  So I do a bit every day, and am now more than half way around the piece. 

A second problem is my obsessiveness about keeping it clean. Somehow, I convinced myself that my ATC's for the end of the month will involve dyeing fabric in fall colours.  I must have been out of my mind, especially when I decided to do this using little pieces of fabric, cut just slightly larger than the finished ATC.  I refuse to run a full washer cycle with 4 little pieces of fabric, so have attempted to rinse them by hand.  Seemed to work fine, especially after I even did a full hand washing in very hot water using Synthropol.  And, of course, I got dye on my hands!  That isn't getting anywhere near that white quilt! And now I plan to hand embroider the ATC's!  Didn't I learn anything when trying to sew the binding on the white quilt??

I used an Ori Nui Shabori pattern to put three stalks of grain on each ATC, but the scale was so small that they didn't come out very well defined, so now I plan to over stitch them in a Tete de Boule stitch using variegated silk thread. 

As I mentioned--out of my mind.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What's next

The third of the four practice pieces I prepared is one that I'm really hoping will turn out to be a show piece, or one that I could enter into a judged show.  Again, it's a whole cloth piece, but done on commercial fabric rather than a hand dye.  I wanted a subtle colour for the feathers, and a white for the background.  Knowing how difficult it is to choose the "right" thread for the quilting, I decided to make a "doodle" cloth to try out the various options.  I managed to get down to two options for the feathers, a grey/white variegated Sulky Blendable and Superior King Tut No 916--a pale variegated in paste blue/yellow/pink--which reads as grey on the spool.  I did the left side of the feathers in the King Tut and the right side in the Sulky.  At first glance there isn't much difference, but where there are a couple of layers of thread, such as in the main veins, the colours of the King Tut show slightly--an effect I like.

A second consideration is the trouble I had with the Sulky shredding and breaking frequently while I was working--and I did use the recommended needle.  This is a problem I've had before with Sulky Blendables.  Normally I would associate this with old rotten cotton thread, but these threads are not that old, unless they had been stored for a long period at the retail outlet. This problem has happened so often that I have now decided not to use this thread again, and I'll be getting rid of what I have in some way--and I have a fair bit.  For the background stippling I decided on white Kimono silk.  I have not stippled in years and the "doodle"cloth gave me a chance to practice.

Anyway here is a close up of the feathers-Victorian Feathers, of course.  I had a picture of the whole thing, but it was a poor picture and showed nothing, so I deleted it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pink Quilt

I promised a picture of the pink practice quilt.  The quilting pattern is quite difficult to see, being done with white thread.  I used Superior Masterpiece, which I know is highly recommended for piecing, but it doesn't seem to like being used for FMQ'g.  I won't use it for that again, but then I have a huge cone, so will have to figure out something to do with it. The first picture is the pattern on paper of the quilting design.  The feathers are somewhat traditional.  The half inch grid was sewn with a FM Sashiko stitch, and I intend to add a bead at each intersection. 

The next picture is the finished quilt--although not yet beaded.  The seed beads I've chosen are a matt finish and almost a perfect match in colour to the peach-y sections of the quilt.

And finally, I tried to get a photo of the finished quilting by photographing the back of the quilt at an angle.  

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these little quilts.  I
m tempted to put a hanging sleeve on them and offer them for sale as a local craft sale.  There is nothing wrong with them, but they aren't my best work.  Obviously I need the practice, and maybe that's enough to justify their existence.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Slow progress

I have finished two of the four practice pieces.  The little black quilt was done entirely by "stitch-in-the-ditch", some free hand and some by regular machine stitching.  Boy, did I ever need practice with that!  There is really nothing that would show in a picture.  The other one was fairly traditional feathers around a center oval, done with white thread on a pink and white fabric.  I have to figure out how to photograph that to best advantage.

In the meantime, I came to realize that I have to have about 9 ATC's ready for an exchange next Sunday.  The theme is "landscapes", so my challenge was to make them as close to realism as I could.  Not easy, especially when working with fibre, the main problem being the very small scale of the pieces. 

I got out all of the fabric scraps I have, with fusible web already applied.  Then I tried to sort them in terms of things like sky, mountains, grass etc.  I ended up with quite a mess on my worktable, and, believe it or not, this is organized!

Since I'm showing pictures, here is the new Ott lite for the studio.  The very first Ott Lite I bought, many years ago was a floor model that I  have had beside my recliner in the living room.  Recently we noticed that it was interfering with the tv.  So when we found this one on sale last weekend we grabbed it.  With this on my work table, I was able to move the other floor model out of the studio and into the living room, and the old one back down to the basement.  This new one has a built in magnifier, and a base with spaces to hold small tools and supplies.  I love it!

Anyway, further to the ATC's.  I have put together 7 of them.  They have been trimmed to size but have yet to be attached to card stock.  They are fused, and each one has some sort of machine stitching on it.  Two are thread painted, three have trees FMQ'g, and for the other two, I used a built in stitch on my machine which is a row of blooming flowers.  I found exactly the right variegated thread for these little flowers--green, turquoise, pink,red, purple and yellow--Superior Thread's Fantastico # 5003.  So far this has taken the best part of two days, and I still have two more cards to make

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Good Day's Work

For the past while, I've been putting together a group of small wall hangings, getting ready to spend some time practicing my FMQ'g, and hopefully, end up with one piece that could perhaps be entered into a judged show.  Sometimes I just get down and dirty with the FMQ'g, and just wing it, sometimes I make guidelines,and then wing it, and sometimes I mark the whole piece.  Most often it is a combination of all of the above.  Today I had four pieces ready to spray baste.

Since DH gets very nervous if I try to tackle the basement stairs, he set up a work area for me out in the garage.  He had a table set up,and covered, had all of my tools available, and took my IV pole out to hang the pieces on before and after they were done.

This set up was also the best we could devise for actually cutting the batting to size.  It turned out to be a bit like solving a jig saw puzzle, but finally they all had a piece of batting and it was time to spray.

Then, one at a time, each was sprayed, very carefully, and, yes, I wear a fine particle respirator when I use basting spray.

This was actually a big job, and I had to sit regularly ( That's why the stool is right beside me)  We have been planning it for over a month.  Afterward, once everything was cleared away, I celebrated by making a batch of blueberry muffins.  So-o-o good! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Working in short spurts, I've been able to put together the basic working surface of two collages, and have planned, in my mind, the next steps.There are two critical decisions to make with each one--first, how to back the piece, so as to provide a firm enough working surface, and secondly, how much machine stitching vs hand stitching does each one need.

My long range plan is to mount each one on a stretched canvas.  With enough laborious hand stitching, with mono-filament, This can be achieved with just about any fabric, but if I want to attach beads, a firm, fairly dense attachment process is necessary.  I tried the second (second picture) one with a layer of Warm 'n' Natural batting behind it.  I really don't think this will provide enough firmness to prevent the weight of beading from pulling the piece off the canvas.  The first one, I backed with a layer of strong iron-on interfacing.  I believe this will go a long way towards supporting the beading, but, with both, I think some sort of adhesive will be necessary to secure it to the canvas.

The white section of this piece certainly stands out, and I'll have to address that.  But my plan is to cover it with grey buttons.  Now that I can see how useful a photo can be in evaluating value, I'll be sure to check the results of my work that way.

To address the second concern, I have to go back to why I'm doing this.  Certainly, I need a few hand work projects, but I also believe in letting my pieces talk to me, and the one immediately below says that the large center piece needs to be attached by machine, even if it is later covered with beads.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Back again!

It's been quite a battle, but I'm back in the studio again, at least for short periods.  I've been able to accomplish small tasks. although not anything to do with the sewing machine, so there are a few things in progress ( and who doesn't have those?)

 I have been able to read, and was somewhat inspired by the Art on the Go article by Leslie Tucker Jenison, in the June/July 2015 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, .  At the same time I have been following the work on building collages as described in the blog  Collage has always been part of my art, but it's been awhile since I did anything serious in this form.  I was particularly taken with the suggestions that hand work can add to the collage.  For some time I've been looking for hand work projects. First of all to take to stitchery group meetings, and now, when I'm spending a fair bit of time sitting with cold packs etc, some sort of busy work to help pass the time.

So the need to do some serious planning and sorting and auditioning of supplies, served as an incentive to actually try to navigate the basement stairs.  This is a huge mental hurdle for me, but went off without a hitch.  Mind you, it's a slow process,using a cane and moving very carefully, but I did it!

So all the supplies have been gathered, and next step is to start assembling the basic collages.  There are four roughly planned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oh, Oh!

Ran into a small set-back with my knee, and won't be able to get into the studio for awhile.  Ah well. one step at a time.

Friday, June 12, 2015


The top for the little Hallowe'en quilt is done, and a backing prepared.  It has ended up at about 37" by 43".  I think that, design wise , the borders should have been a little wider, but I ran out of black fabric!

When I selected the green for the stripes, I just grabbed a piece that felt large enough, out of my stash.  It wasn't until I actually picked it up to use, that I realized it had been used to try out some fish printing.  This was several years ago and, yes, I used a real fish,--a Lake Trout. The process resulted in three pieces, long since gone to new homes, but I had totally forgotten this .  If memory serves me, this means that the colour is hand painted, rather than dyed.

The Hallowe'en piece is large enough that I want to spray baste it before quilting it.  Since I'm limited to the upstairs studio for awhile longer, this is a problem,  After discussing it, DH has agreed to set up a spray area outside in the garden for me.  This will take a bit of work, so I'm going to prepare two more pieces, to the spray baste stage, before we go ahead with it.  This means going back to the series of FMQ'g of hand dyed fabrics, that I had started before my surgery.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Getting back into the studio

Slowly, the length of time I can sit with my feet dependent, is increasing, and I can now spend enough time in the studio to actually accomplish something.  I had two projects in mind for this stage of the things, a knitting bag made with hexies, and the small Hallowe'en quilt that I started before going in the hospital.  I wanted straight forward simple projects, as I knew my brain would be fuzzy as long as I was taking pain killers--and Tylenol counts as a pain killer and brain fogger--as I've found out.

The knitting bag is now finished.  Nothing worked out as I had planned, and --I swear--every step of the way had to be ripped out and re-done.  I still don't think the workmanship is up to snuff, but I don't plan to tell anyone.  The hexies were pieced by hand, but everything else was done by machine.

This afternoon I worked on the little Hallowe'en quilt.  All of the Flying Geese blocks had been pieced before I went in the hospital.  Today I pieced them into 5 long strips.  I had thought I had everything planned, but every time I counted them, first in groups of two's, then four's, and finally 8's, the count came out differently.  Finally I gave up and just pieced what I had.  The quilt will be slightly shorter, but does it matter?  Tomorrow I hope to get the top completely pieced, since it is basically done at this point.  Just a couple of borders.  ( I guess I'm living in a fool's paradise.--we'll see how it works out).

Friday, May 29, 2015

The "Bird" Quilt

I had the strangest phone call yesterday.  I answered, and she said"Is this really Pat Findlay?"  I assured her it was, and she then identified herself as the lady who had commissioned the "Bird" quilt, that I made for the Crafts Guild of Manitoba, over two years between 1984-86.  She had evidently "googled" me, and luckily, our phone number had followed us through both moves, since then.  She had also kept the very detailed letter I wrote, describing the whole process.  She lives in Quebec, and, she and her husband, are at the stage of leaving their home, for gentler accommodation.  They sound quite wealthy, as some of their furniture is being donated to a special Foundation that furnishes diplomatic residences all over the world.  We chatted for quite awhile,and mutually agreed that she might prefer to find a museum or something similar, where she has a little more control over how the quilt will be handled, in future.  She has promised to let me know what she decides.

I certainly remember the quilt, as it consumed my life, at the time.  It is the largest, and most complex piece I have ever done, as almost every block was an originally-designed appliqued bird, and almost every stitch done by hand. I expect that it would be appraised at between $10,000 and $15,000.  The provenance is impeccable, as the letter details every individual block, who designed it, and how it was constructed, including problems I ran into. I hope it finds a good home. 

Otherwise I am home from knee replacement surgery, and have no inclination, whatsoever, to even look at my sewing machine, but have sewn a couple of "hexies" together, by hand

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Putting in time

Saturday I found a link in The Quilt Show Newsletter for a method of making four Flying Geese blocks out of one charm square.  I had a package of charm squares that I had won in a small raffle about 2 years ago.  They are all ugly Halloween prints, and have been sitting in my studio, almost daring me to do something with them.  So I thought "What the heck, take a day off, and play".  So I did.  I chained as much as I could, and ended up with 112 Flying Geese blocks. 

 I used black as my background colour, and then hit my stash looking for any colour that would fit into the bright neon-type colours of the prints.  I found a green and a purple, so I'll use those in the sashing, along with more black.  This has been a very good bolt of black, a deep, pure colour, but this is the end of it. I have another bolt but the colour isn't quite as good.  Not that anyone would notice unless the two were side-by-side.  Anyway, all of the blocks, and extra fabric are carefully put away in a project box, for when I get home from the hospital

The quilting project on the hand dyed fabric is done.  I have mixed feelings about it, but read a message from Angela Walters in a recent The Quilt Show newsletter, talking about three things a quilter should never do.  She emphasizes that we should remember what the purpose of the quilt was, and never loose track of that. This quilt was an experiment in trying to design quilting to accent the colours in hand dyed fabric, and as a means of practicing my machine quilting.  Within those requirements, it did the job, and the finished result is what it is--nothing to get excited about.  I decided not to bead it, although I had purchased the beads.  I felt it would be distracting, and would prove far too much work for these old arthritic hands, especially on a piece that won't be leaving home.

The design did not work out well, and I learned several things

  • with LWI dyed fabric the various colour patterns do not flow well enough to support a feather based design
  • choose a design with as little travel stitching as possible.  It will show, especially with a variegated thread.
  • if you want to emphasize the colour  of the dyed fabric, choose your thread very, very carefully.  Variegated thread does not work as well as a neutral.
  • make sure you have enough fabric to use as binding.  Otherwise you will be looking at a facing.
  • unless your machine has perfect tension ( mine doesn't), match your top and bobbin thread for colour
  • I need a lot more practice in turning sharp corners during FMQ'g
  • beading will be a distraction to your fabric colour and stitching design
  • If you  see beautiful quilts with designs that appear to have been chosen to match the colours, you "bet your bootie" the colours were added after the quilting.
I probably won't be back in the studio for a couple of weeks.  Talk to you then.