Monday, September 18, 2017

More Mandalas

The quilting is now finished on the four hand painted mandalas I posted about earlier. I'm quite pleased.

This one and the other blue/grey one will likely become a formal piece with two components.  So I have quilted both of them in quite similar patterns, using a twisted thread that reads as almost a metallic "gunmetal", but I have no idea where it came from.  Perhaps Marathon threads?

This one have been quilted with  variegated yellow/orange Fantasico from Superior Threads.  The working title for this is "Here Comes the Sun".  Titles are difficult for me.  I have a piece in a gallery show right now, that has the title "Shattered Dreams".  An acquaintance, whose opinion I trust, saw it and remarked on how joyful the piece was.  Once he said that, I could see the joy in it.  Guess I'm going to have to change the title.

I showed you the quilting on this one previously, but I've now got a good start on the beading, using Miyuki #10 crystal beads.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network

Future Perspective

Assuming that no news is good news, I have decided to post some photos of the piece Future Perspective, which I've made for the November show that has a theme of Prairie Perspective.

First is the whole view.  (Please ignore the strange background-I did the best I could)The piece is 36" by  24".  The statement to accompany it is that from the mountains and deserts of Alberta to the Canadian Shield in Eastern Manitoba, we need to look to the North, the "Land of the Midnight Sun" for future growth and prosperity.  All of the fabrics, except the dark red of the sun, are my own hand dyes.  

While it may look quite plain in an overall view, most of the detail and colour comes from the free motion, contour quilting, that covers the whole thing, with lines less than 1/8" apart. this was done with variegated thread, mainly Superior King Tut or Fantasico, but there are a couple of Sulky Blendables, that provided the colour I wanted. I tend to want to add white center line to the highway, but the proportions are just too bizarre, if I do.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, September 11, 2017

New work

Over the last couple of weeks, I've finished a new larger hanging, intending to enter it in my fibre art group's November show at a local gallery.  Knowing that it might be shown, I've not posted any pictures of it.  By Thursday I'll know if new constraints on entries will result in it being disqualified.  To have new constraints imposed at this late date has left me PO'd, to say the least.  I'll hold off posting anything until the matter is clarified, at a meeting scheduled for Wednesday evening.

In the meantime, I've painted four more mandala images over bas relief sculptures.  I got the first one FMQ'd today, ready for beading. This is the largest of the 4 pieces, being just over 12" in diameter.  The colours are paler than most of my mandalas, but a pretty good representation of the  misty, moody dawn light.  I have opted to do the FMQ'g  with clear mono-poly thread to maintain that atmosphere. Here is a full view and close up, of both front and back, as I think the quilting shows up so much better on the back.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread network

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Another bit of navel gazing

working on experimental fibre art usually results in a lot of either failures to re-purpose, or left-overs.  Often these end up in small projects, such as one-of-a-kind purses and such that, in the past, have done well at craft shows.  For the past three years, while addressing some health issues, there have been no craft shows, but this summer  I was encouraged to try again, which I did, last Sunday.  Did not sell a single thing. We were set up early, and after the first half hour of the sale, knew that it would probably be a bust. 

In the past such sales have contributed a bit to replenishing my supplies, and we have missed that tiny bit of income,  ( So tiny that neither the provincial nor federal governments require me to report the income or collect sales tax.)  Since we had so much time on our hands during the sale, we spent some time analyzing the problem.  Here are a few things we thought about.

1. Our prices were high for the audience.  I calculate the actual cost of supplies in making items, and price for a small profit ( less than a dollar an hour).  Additionally, I am proud of my technical skills and  believe that there is quality and value for money in my products.  At this sale I was competing with  a lady selling off her personal jewelry at far less than cost , "just to get it out of the house".  There was a man selling jewelry made from the pony beads that are sold at dollar stores, and selling for an appropriate price  for that product--mainly less than $5.00. This was what the audience was expecting.

2. I had been mislead  about the type of sale it was to be.  Evidently it has been exactly what it was, in the past, but the organizers had wanted to create a higher quality presentation. While they tried to attract more up-scale vendors, they knew their market would be expecting food, and filled most of the booths with food vendors, who did well.  At the same time, they were charging a healthy admission fee.  

3. I was treated well, by the organizers, and wish them well in future, but I won't be there.

4. In the back of  my mind, I know that many craft items are faddish.  Since it's been awhile for me, maybe my type of item has gone out of style.  Hate to think so, as I sometimes need the pleasure of making something other than fibre art.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

And now for something entirely different.

After many years, (too many years.  I took my first dyeing workshop in the early 1980's), of fabric dyeing, I recently did my first "parfait" dyeing. Since I had only a vague recollection of what people have told me about the process, I just went my merry way. Here is the result.
This is my first dye bath, in order of layer.  First grey dye with a bit of yellow
 Second, add a bit more yellow

Third, add a bit of fuchsia

Fourth, add a little more fuchsia, and a bit of grey

The second dye bath also started with a little grey, but the first layer did not come out well, at all.  There were just a few bluish spots, but it was mainly white.  ( No picture-yet) Next time I'll know to put a lot more ice over the top layer. 

For the second layer I added a bit of fuchsia and olive green

Then I added more fuchsia for the third layer
And finally more fuchsia and a little blue

When all was said and done, I had a lot of mixed dye left in each container, so I mixed them together and added the failed first layer from the second dye bath, and got this pretty piece.

These pieces are all, at least, 20 inches in one direction and sometimes more in the other.  I'm not really sure what they will become, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It's been awhile

Then reason I've been quiet is that the current piece is somewhat experimental.  If it works, then it's slated for the gallery show in November, if not, then it may never be seen---ever.

The recent preponderance of "matchstick" machine quilting has bothered me, a little.  If it's well done, there is little evidence of "the hand of the maker".  If it's not well done, it's just messy.  In the past I've done close parallel lines of machine stitching, in small irregular shaped areas, and I've done it free motion. I love the process, but find hours spent machine quilting parallel lines is both boring, and exhausting, without any sense of accomplishment--IMHO.  I know others love this type of work.

At the same time, I've taken some time to look closely at the art of  Hundertwasser, and finding some similarities, there, to Panamanian, San Blas Molas. I also took another look at the Melanie Testa , 2009 book, "Inspired to Quilt", where I first noticed what is now called "matchstick Quilting". The only way I could see of translating Hundertwasser's techniques into fibre work, would involve very intricate reverse applique, which would then be echo quilted with very dark colour thread.  There maybe other options, but I couldn't, yet, visualize any of them. (I can now, but that's for the next project.) Still, I like the parallel contour lines in his work.

So--what if--- I were to make a fairly simple applique design, and heavily augment it with close, parallel echo quilting, done with free motion.  This quilting would, IMHO, require colour, to create any sort of impact.

So, over the past few weeks, that's what I've been doing.  I wasn't terribly happy with the result, and spent some time trying to figure. out how I could save the piece. Last night, I realized that the contour quilting just wasn't doing what it should, and was far less prominent that it could be. So today, I started FMQ'g again, between the lines I had previously quilted.  This is a section where the design places a bit of desert.  While this may not be the solution to my problem, I certainly think it's part of the solution.  This is worked over a piece of rusted fabric.  I can't really recommend that you do this, unless you're a bit of a masochist.  Never again!

Just for a giggle, I took a picture of all of the various threads I'm using during this process.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's, Off the Wall Friday, and The Needle and Thread Network.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A chance to play

Visiting the hardware store can be a great prompt to your creativity.  There are many wonderful things there that a fibre artist, with a little imagination, can re-purpose.  I didn't have long there today but I came home with two finds.

First was something that, I'm told, fits into a vent opening, but I see the perfect device for some Shibori Pole wrapping. Not only is it free standing, but it will also fit nicely into the big plastic pail I use for preparing a dye bath when doing this sort of thing.  The tube is about 8" in diameter.  I have a much smaller one of PVC pipe, but have always wanted a larger one, as I really don't like having to fold my fabric to much, as it changes the dye pattern.

The second thing I found was another ceiling medallion.  This was more of a challenge, as I asked for directions when I first went in and was directed to one side of the big box store, when actually I had to go all the way to the other side. and it took awhile to find someone who could answer my questions, correctly.  This isn't a good thing for my poor knees and hips. 

This medallion is smaller than the first one, and, because of the depth of the relief, I have a hunch that only a smaller part of it will print well.  Since I was looking for a smaller medallion in the first place, I'm happy.  

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network, and Nina- Marie Sayre's, Off the Wall Fridays.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Finish some, start some

This has been a week of finishes.  Today I finished "Tiara II".  The same basic design as "Tiara", but in a different colour way.  The crystal beads I had bought for both just weren't right, so I ended up using a smaller silver bead, for "Tiara II".  This meant that I could also change the beading patter, to a certain extent.

Here is the finished piece, and a close-up.

Now, while most of my work can only be termed"Fibre Art,  I have a guilty secret--I still love more the traditional, and indulge myself once in awhile.  This mean that I have an accumulation of finished projects sitting in my studio.  So, after a long break, I've decided to dip my feet into the Craft Sale circuit over the next few months.  A good friend, who is seriously into the circuit, and actually ekes out a living with it, has told me that well made baby quilts sell fairly well, provided they are priced reasonably.  So, as well as my stock of "Pouches, Purses, and Bags", I'm going to try taking two baby quilts.  I have one in more masculine colours, and need one in pink.  Having finished the "arty" stuff for now, this pile of pink fabric is ready for me to get my act together. All of this, except two long quarters, has come from my stash.

There is a more basic reason that I have lots of stock.  At the urging of my family, I have been trying to reduce my "stash".  Once I'm gone, I figure that they are more likely to be able to sell or gift finished items, than scraps of fabric.  Meanwhile, I get the pleasure of making things. It's the making, not the finishing, that keeps me going.  The craft sales usually ask for a donation of goods for a silent auction fund raiser, as well as a fee for table rental.  So, over the past week I have used painted fabric, from the stash, to make some simple tote bags to use for this sort of donation. There were four big pieces, for which I haven't been able to find a use, in the past 6  years. I stamped them, on a whim, and put them together fairly quickly, without using anything that hadn't been in my stash.

 I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread Network.

Friday, July 28, 2017


Both "The Old Summer Kitchen"  and "Tiara", are finished.  These pieces have been plaguing me for the past couple of months, but now both are done, and hanging in my basement studio.

"Tiara" is my first attempt at a circular hanging.  It's only 12" in diameter ( well, 12 1/4". but maybe no-one will notice).  Here is an angle shot to emphasize the beading,and a full view.

Both of these pieces will be entered in a gallery show in November, with my fibre art support group, "The Fibre Art Divas".

"The Old Summer Kitchen" has been in several of my blogs.  It has required a lot of patience and trouble shooting. Never the less, I'm very pleased with this.  It is a bit of a departure from my usual more abstract work, and the first larger, "made in response to a call for entry" piece that has been completed in almost three years.  It's pretty good, but I can't call it my very best work.  There are a few problem areas, that only I know about.  This presents a quandary. Price! Do I price it so high that no-one will buy it, or do I price it a more reasonable level, in consideration of the problems?

Here is a close-up of the leaves in the trees, and a full view.

I plan to link this with Nina-Marie Sayre's, "Off the Wall Fridays", and The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, July 24, 2017

More frustration

The piece "The Old Summer Kitchen" continues to frustrate me.  I have added stuff, removed stuff, and done a heck of a lot of "reverse stitching".  Yesterday, when I attempted to back it and bind it,  the need for blocking became obvious.  This is the first time I used my new blocking board.  The expensive board we bought, to make it, turned out to be too hard for my T-pins.  With my husband's help we persevered and found some small brass tacks that would work, but we didn't have as many of them as we should have had to do a thorough job.  Good blocking requires some sort of fastening device every 1/2 inch around the edge of the piece, and by that time of night, heading out to buy more just wasn't an option.

But we got it stabilized and shaped.  During my time as a needle work finisher I did more than my share of blocking and this was one of the more difficult jobs, and maybe not my very best work, but the job got done.  

This morning we put it out into the yard to dry, as it would never have dried in the basement studio.  We rested the board against the fence upside down, and I'm not physically strong enough to flip it for the picture, but this actually shows the piece right side up.

I plan to link this with The Needle and Thread network, and Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Navel Gazing Again

Earlier this week I attended the gathering of my fibre art support group, The Fibre Art Divas".  Because we meet in members' homes, we tend to be a small group, and rarely does everyone attend every meeting.  So it's always exciting when someone we haven't seen in awhile manages to get there.  This time we had a member that I only remember seeing once before ( I don't attend all the meetings, either)  She had three pieces, and they all blew me away.  I was stunned at what she has achieved. 

Now, I'm one of the older members of the group, and have slowly been plugging away at becoming more and more adventuresome in my work, over almost 60 years.  I am impressed at younger members who seize an idea, and advance in their work at a lightening pace. I'm realizing that many of them have surpassed me and are accomplishing things that I have never even dreamed of. I admit I'm envious, but at the same time I applaud their creativity. I'm also forced to admit, that I will probably never reach the heights they have, and to acknowledge that there is sure to be someone who bypasses them in the future.  This is the way of world.  

So what are my options?  I can wallow in envy, or accept that someone will always be better than me and give up (maybe take up Candy Crush, or internet poker?). The third option is to carry on, learn from them, and continue to take pleasure in whatever I achieve. So, the lady who brought the exceptional work to our meeting, described how she achieved a certain image. It just happens to be related to the piece " The Old Summer Kitchen", that I'm working on.  I think I'll try it.  I certainly have nothing to lose.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


After the frustrations of putting together my piece, " The Old Summer Kitchen", I wanted a bit of a break before starting the FMQ'g and thread painting on it.  I also thought it might be an idea to do some warm up of my FMQ'g, as it's been awhile.  So I did the basic preparation for a couple of mandalas I'm interested in.  Getting these quilted, will give me some take-along hand work for when I volunteering at a local gallery.  The gallery is often quiet for periods of time, --an excellent spot for some quiet hand work--and the gallery encourages its volunteers to be doing something creative while they're on site.

The two pieces were created by placing wet fabric over a bas-relief ceiling rosette, and then pushing the fabric into the crevices with a paint -covered ( Pebeo Seta-Color-well diluted) brush. Then allowing it to dry, in place. This is a technique I've played with a few times, with mixed success, but it went fairly well this time.  The secret, I think, is to find the perfect depth of relief.  Here is the plaster rosette I used.  It is just about an inch thick in the middle and about 3/8-7/16th at the edge. The rosette is 12" in diameter. I bought is at a garage sale for $1.00.

The first piece I did was in red, yellow and blue.  Depending on how well the paint is diluted there is always some blending between the colours, and I think this is desirable.  I quilted loosely along the lines of the image, with Superior Kimono Silk, trying to match the colour of the thread to the colour of the paint. I plan to bead this with clear crystal No.8 beads.

Figuring out how to quilt the last border area was challenging, as none of the features of the bas-relief were imprinted.  My first thought were something geometric, but then I decided to continue the "soft" feel of the piece with curves, and used a modified McTavishing technique.

The second piece was done in blue and yellow, which, of course, blended into shades of green.  Again, I tried to match the colour of the thread (polyester, this time. I have no idea where it came from). Some of the quilting is done with silver metallic.  The imprint of the bas-relief is much clearer this time, and, I think this shows in how detailed the quilted ended up being.  But the final border was still not clear, and I was happy to use the modified McTavishing again.  This will be beaded with either the same clear crystal as the first one, or, maybe, smaller silver beads.

I'm considering the titles "Tiara", and "Tiara Too".  I plan to exhibit both of them later this year.
I plan to link this with Nina Marie Sayre's "Off the Wall Friday", and The Needle and Thread Network".

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Old Summer Kitchen

In the last post I ranted about the frustrations of putting together the latest piece--"The Old Summer Kitchen".  It has been a b---h!  Most of the techniques have been used before, but probably not all in the same piece. My usual work is much more abstract than realism.  My physical limitations have forced me to utilize a small bedroom as a studio rather than the entire finished basement I could previously access. But the basic construction of the piece was completed today, and all that's left is FMQ'g and thread painting.

Like many prairie families, my husband's parents had a summer camp.  They bought raw land with a sandy lake front, in 1942, and slowly developed it as  a haven for, first, their children and later grandchildren, great-grand children, and even a great-great grandchild.  After the privy, the first building was a kitchen.  The windows were screened and had only shutters.  This gave a protected area for the small children.  I remember my MIL cooking meals for more than 20 people,  on a wood stove with no running water,  in this very small space--probably only 10 by 15 feet.

Eventually there was a one room sleeping cabin to replace the tents, and later electricity and finally running water--but still with a very primitive system.  In the 1980's a bear got into the kitchen, and defecated in the wood stove.  Since the building had been built around the stove, and it couldn't be removed, a new summer kitchen had to be built, and this one was moved aside and relegated to a storage shed.

Sadly, the property recently had to be sold.

Here is the basic piece with most of the background fused.  Then the two birch trees on the right were added, and more fabric painting done

The building itself was assembled separately.  The fabric is mostly either hand-dyed or hand painted.  The sky is my last precious piece of "Fossil Fern"

And here is the building applied to the background.  This is only the basic construction.  There is still quite a bit of "tweaking" to do.

I plan to link this with