Friday, March 31, 2017

Admitting defeat

Some time ago I posted about a hand stitching project using hexies to make a single bed size quilt.  I ran into problems with my arthritic hands and put the project on hold while they healed.  Feeling pretty confident, I tried again this week.  Not going to happen.  I've accepted that this is just not a good idea.  I had hoped to find some hand work I could do while watching tv.

I have put together a few of the lozenges, and basted most of the black hexies I would need--all by hand. Now I have to figure out whether to chuck the whole thing out, or spend some time experimenting with putting the rest together by machine.  This is what I have so far.  Each beige lozenge is 12" long and 7" wide.

The best thing would be to consider this a personal challenge, and dust off my machine piecing skills.  Oh My!  Old age is a b---h!

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


The beading project is pretty well the only thing I've been doing over the past couple of weeks, and there is some progress. It's now about 2/3 done, but there has been about 14 hours of intense work gone into that.  I still have no idea how it's going to be finished, but I'm thinking about using a canvas wrapped frame.  If the piece is sewn to the canvas as well as being glued, it just might hold up.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Bitten off More Than I can chew??

Three weeks ago, I taught a Beading workshop, and at one point, wanted to demonstrate some encrusted beading.  This was in order to show how the techniques they were learning could be used in such a project. I purposely made up a project, and a couple of days ago, I decided to finish it.  Well......

I'm not sure if I'll have to time to finish the beading this lifetime, let alone going any further.  I haven't a clue how it will be finally finished, as its becoming so heavy that I can't imagine it holding up as a hanging.  Nor can I imagine a pillow being the least bit useful with this much beading.  

But...I love hand beading, I have lots ( more than lots) of beads, and have lots of time on my hands.  As well, I find my mind working in creative ways, visualizing other projects, while I'm working.  So I'll probably persevere.

Here it is--so far.  The beading is about 1/3 done.  The cabochons are hand made fused glass, created by June Derksen, and the whole project is planned around them.  This is also the first project in which I've incorporated the machine embellishment techniques that I learned in the Craftsy classes I took recently.

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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Results of printing

Here are the pieces that resulted from my printing marathon yesterday. Remember that these are intended for use either as a  a background to which a significant amount of work is added, or to be cut up and used for piecing or applique.  This is just the first step in the journey, and when finished these pieces may not be recognizable.  I also tend to work in portrait orientation, so most of the directionality that might occur in these pieces, is vertical.  I am particularly pleased with the two narrow pieces that have been done in black and ultramarine blue ( not navy).  My second favourite pieces are the two red ones at the bottom.  They were done with red paint over a shadow print  of the the two long black and blue pieces, which shows, as areas of paler blue with the red.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


With Shattered Dreams needing only the binding, I decided to do some prep work, today, for another project.  I don't have a clear idea of what I'm going to do, so decided to make a few mono-prints, big enough to use as either  backgrounds, or to cut up for piecing with larger geometric pieces.  The fabric printing process takes longer to set up and clean-up, than it does to actually pull the prints.

 My usual process is to set up an assembly line and pull 25-35 prints, knowing that those that don't work out for framed pieces or hangings, can be used to make the small purses that I sell as my "bread-and-butter" pieces at craft shows.  ( "Bread-and-butter" pieces are those easily, and inexpensively, made items that attract customers, and will sell well enough to make your booth rental) This time, I was more concerned about producing background pieces that might work for the vague idea that I have at the back of my mind. So I spent more time preparing the paint on the large piece of plexi-glass that I use for my printing base, than rushing to produce a large number of prints.  After 2 hours of steady work, I ended up with 11 prints, five at least 34" square, and 6 longer narrower pieces.  So far, at least 4 of them have real potential, and I already have ideas forming about their use.  Now to wait for them to dry, before I can heat-set them, and then--start some serious pattern drafting.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roughened up

Shattered Dreams has been roughened up a bit.  I figure that if I'm trying to represent a stylized explosion, there wouldn't be a lot of straight lines and points.  The basic machine quilting was done first, mainly using FMQ'g. The next was modifying the straight lines with thread painting, although  I'm not sure you can call it "thread painting" when only one colour (navy) was used. I may have to do a little more FMQ'g within the navy shape.  This turned out to be more of a challenge of defining  positive and negative space than I had anticipated. Now it just has to be trimmed and bound.

Here is the full view and close-up.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Background done!

The basic background of the piece inspired by the words "fragile, fragmented, and fractured" is done.  The light blue-ish  pieces were all cut from one piece of my hand dyed fabric, but the navy is commercial fabric.  I've never found a navy dye that gives me the rich colour I prefer for some projects. To get the image and mood I wanted, I had to go right back to basic techniques and drafted my pattern pieces and then cut them, by hand, with scissors!  Been a long time since I used that method.  Then I folded back the 1/4" seam allowances, pressed them in place, butted the edges of two adjacent pieces, and stitched them down with a very narrow zig-zag, using a mono-poly thread. Here is the work in progress.

 And here are the rest of the pieces waiting their turn to be processed.

 The navy was, again, done from a hand-drawn pattern and cut by hand, from fabric that already had the fusible applied to one side.  Positioning this large irregular piece was tricky, and in the end, I pulled out my small hand held Clover iron.  I rarely use this, but when it's needed it sure is useful.   I haven't yet decided if this is the right way up or if I prefer the right side to be the bottom.  That decision can wait awhile.

The next step will be a heck of a lot of machine work.  Every raw edge of navy will be stitched down with a narrow zig-zag, and the seam lines extended with navy, to the edge.  Then I plan to use FMQ'g to add some small fracture lines within the pale blue, and roughen-up the edges of the navy.  I've titled it "Shattered Dreams"

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Clutching at straws

In the evening, if I'm too tired for studio work, ( and sometimes when I just feel like it), I play poker on the internet ( Play money only!).  Last evening, I was playing, but had a scratch pad next to me, and a pen.  I was jotting down random ideas, and two appeared worth pursuing.  One of them will take a lot more thought, but the other I started today.  It's not "great art", but it is interesting. (It will probably end up rolled up in a chest in the basement and never exhibited publicly--we'll see) It's inspired by something said at my fibre art support group earlier this week. One of the ladies is working on a project that gets, at least some, of its inspiration through having people give her three words, that are meaningful in some way to the people providing them. One of these prompts was the three words " fragile, fragmented and fractured".  I've just about done all of the pattern drafting, and some of the cutting, and will post a picture sometime this coming week.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Creative block

It appears that all this introspection is resulting in some sort of "analysis paralysis".  My husband, joined me when I was wandering around the basement studio fondling fabric and sort of tidying up.  We were both sort of looking at the three heavy-duty shelving units that hold my large storage tubs of, mainly commercial, fabric--most of which I will never use.  Bless his heart, he thinks I should make bed quilts out of it, to get rid of it.  But that's not "art", I bleat.  "Maybe not, but we need to get rid of it".  He's even offered to do the rotary cutting for me.  Well, one guideline that's been suggested for creativity blocks is to "just do something', even if that's just sorting fabric or cleaning the studio. The only difficulty with the idea, is that , while we might make the tops, they will still need quilting, and I can't do larger quilts on my domestic machine.  Yes, I know it can be done, but not with my limited hand strength, and the very small area I have for working.  I can't deal with the weight of more than about a 40 inch square piece. Regardless of that, I'm going to give some serious thought to his suggestion.

But at the same time, deep in my heart, I worry about whether my creativity is gone, as part of the aging process.  A slow, dementing process is always a fear in those of us who are getting older. So, I've gone back to the the jar of "prompts" that I made awhile ago, and haven't dared touch ever since.  This was little pieces of paper with an idea or suggestion written on each one.  The idea is that, when you're in a "blue funk", and don't have any ideas of what to do next, you reach into the jar and pull out a piece of paper and do whatever it says.   So, my jar is now sitting there, staring at me, and daring me to pull an idea.  I'm just having trouble actually reaching into it.  What if, whatever I pull isn't something I want to do?  What a stupid way to think!!

So, I think my next project will be making sign to tape on the mirror in the upstairs studio that says "JUST DO IT!!"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eye Candy

Yesterday was the monthly meeting of my small fibre art "support " group.  This is a group of local ladies who are serious fibre artists.  Many of them also belong to The Fibre Art Network ( ).  Our monthly meetings, in each others' homes, are informal and involve discussion about  techniques, problem solving, and luscious "Show'n'Tell".  While I've been involved in this sort of endeavor for most of my life, others are at various stages in the continuum.  It's stimulating to see the growing skills, confidence, and changing focus.  Our interests are so different, and even with our closeness, and the active exchange of ideas, our resulting work is dramatically different.  Some have found their niche, and others are still experimenting. A couple of them are becoming well recognized in the field, on a national or international basis. So-o-o, it's very hard to maintain a "blue funk" mood when exposed to such joy and enthusiasm, to say nothing of the "eye candy".

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The journey continues

Obviously it's been awhile since I last posted.  Some of that time was spent preparing for a beading class I taught last Saturday, but time was also spent in looking for options to the hand stitching that has been my mainstay for many, many years.  I mentioned taking several Craftsy classes to see if I could find some sort of machine techniques that I could use to facilitate my creative drive.  This strategy has lead to mixed success, and will need some re-evaluation.That creative drive has always been apart of my life.  I can  remember making my own paper dolls, and drawing and colouring clothing for them when I was barely old enough to hold scissors.  

Over the past few weeks the deterioration in my hand function has become more and more an issue.  Always, in the past, I have been able to use my training and experience as an Occupational Therapist to adapt my working methods to accommodate my diminishing function, but now I'm being forced to into the acceptance of an "end stage" to that process.  This isn't easy.  My hand function has been a source of self esteem and productive creativity for almost 70 years.  I feel as though I have nothing left, and that anything I attempt, from now on, will be second best.

Of course, I'm in the depths of some sort of grieving process.  I will have to work that through before I will be able to see any thing positive about what's going on.  In the past I have used this blog to sort out my thinking and try to make sense of things in my life, and today is no exception.  So, for the rest of the day, I'm going to "wallow"  in feeling sorry for myself, but I promise to start trying to look forward tomorrow.