Monday, December 29, 2008

Eighty! Can you imagine eighty birthdays? That's a lot of cake, candles, gifts, days, everything! My Father just turned eighty this month. He is quite the musician; playing the sax, tuba, and saw amongst other instruments. I recently purchased a dulcimer and have had so much fun I thought it might be something he would enjoy.

So this is his present for his eightieth. The base clef sign (for the sound hole) is in honor of his sixty-fifth year playing tuba with the Cedar Falls Municipal Band. Underneath is a patchwork bag I made and quilted to hold the instrument while not being played.

My pal Kate, at right is such a joy... for a holiday gift I made her a pillow with a stumpwork initial, beading and quilting. Not the radiance that she portraits, but lovely none the less.

And speaking of radiance...

Yesterday Christopher alerted me to the impending beautiful sun set. He could not have been more correct... and here is one shot of the sky filled with colour.

So how were your holidays? What gift were you the most proud of giving? Did you make something as a gift? Please share...

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Nature and Decay
Why are we so interested in these things?
I was at a party last weekend at a friends farm. This structure was on the property adjacent. I was fascinated not only by the whole, but the parts -- Ghosts of the past immortalized in the barns...

And this has the look of a pieced quilt. Linear, repeating with variation. Quite interesting.

What in your world excites and stimulates you visually?

This piece: a top that is pieced but not quilted yet...
Has a similar quality.

Here the light filters around smaller objects. Perhaps the Sun rising or setting viewed from behind a, iron fence or prison...

This is a present in process. I am hoping that the recipient will not see it. I had to share it as I am SO EXCITED that this little bag (it will be) has it's points matching. And I only redid two seems. Not bad!

After this election I decided I could try anything!

If someone knows what this manner of setting is called -- please let me know. Streak of lighting? Or is that only with 'Log Cabin'?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Visual Splendor

This weekend was spectacular…

Most of you probably share my opinion about spiders: I don’t like them. However during the past year living in the country I have grown to appreciate and understand them. They must have had a convention over night because when I took the puppies out for their morning walk around the pond Friday there were the most beautiful spider webs all kissed with dew. Thankfully no spiders were in sight!

Saturday I was introduced to the Ghost River. It is part of the Wolf River basin. There you will find a beautiful boardwalk over a swamp. The diversity of plants; berries, leaves, lichen, bark were all visually intriguing. And the light – the light filtering onto the plant filled watery surface was spectacular – a few rocks, trees with knees and buttresses, a turtle and the occasional water lily.

Where have you gone that you were inspired by what you saw?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The portrait is finally finished or at least the embroidery part is finished. Now the question is what next... perhaps a layer of trapunto and then a painted layer under that to give more dimension like in "Icon". Here is a closer look at the 'back stitch'. In an earlier post there was another version of this image done in 'chain stitch'. I was not please with the ease of manipulating the stitch. Another embroidery artist, Michael Aaron McAllister ( suggested the 'back stitch' was more suited and his preferred stitch. I love the ability to create lost and found edges with this stitch.
After a year in Tennessee I went to a Quilt Guild meeting. There I met a group of art quilters who have a bee. I so miss my bee in Florida, BeeArty. Now I have a new group to play and learn with. This is the tart of my version of the current challenge. The challenge, a cliche...
Can you guess what mine is?
Whether it is cliche or not the autumnal colours are breath taking. And best, they are just beginning. This year I promised myself I would not miss photographing the change. Here is one if the first bursts of colour.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

There is new wall in town...

There is a new wall in town. Last week I took down the smallish flannel I used as a design wall and replaced it with a new one. Larger and pin-able it is terrific to work on!

I started with a layer of insulation board. Two pieces that I cut and wedged into place. The outlet and the light switch were cut out and the whole was wrapped in 'headliner' (the stuff used for the ceiling of your car, foam on one side and a knit fabric on the other). It is perfect to pin to and large enough for a couple of projects at once or one really large one.

BeeArty, the quilting group I belonged to in Florida has been including me in a number of their projects. The current one is the annual "Zippy Challenge". That is where you take a number of items, fabrics, trims, etc, and put them in a Ziploc bag to exchange for another person's. This is what I made the machine lace for in a previous entry...

This is the fabrics that I received. After studying them I saw something... can you guess what it was?
This is an image of the piecing. Now I must determine how to quilt it. I will let you see in an upcoming post...

Monday, September 1, 2008


I had the opportunity yesterday to just 'be'. I was outside sitting for quite a long time. I noticed all the various greens of plants, the crystal blue sky as it reached from one tree lined horizon to another, the quiet and solitude of the country...

Then I noticed the grass. There were a few blades of grass where I was sitting that were taller than the others. I watched them shiver in the wind. Then it occurred to me -- what if they aren't shivering, but dancing, swaying. Firmly rooted in the soil they are free to bend and twist with the whims of the wind without consequence or harm.

It was a beautiful realization. For how often have I looked at my life as something at the effect of a force outside myself. What if it is all perception? If I am rooted in my values and goals life may happen around me and yet I am strong. My family and friends give me strength and grounding to enjoy the winds life blowing at me.

If I pay attention that is...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Decorating walls and more...

Tape. I hate taping when I paint a wall. Over the years and dozens of rooms I have developed great skill at cutting in, partially in an effort to avoid taping. Why then you might ask would I undertake a panel effect that requires miles of tape per wall. Maybe insanity or perhaps laziness... Sounds illogical? Not when you consider painting a rectangle around a wall is simpler than painting the wall! And the look is dramatic... What do you think? Perhaps I should finish hanging the art and ask again!

Portraiture -- that is a topic I am passionate about. And somehow I have not felt the freedom to create one. I guess I have been waiting for the magic 'feeling' that I was ready. So I looked at some source material and started one of a friend. Of course I chose to execute it in embroidered back stitch, a slow process I seem to not be motivated to work with... I may finish this sometime before the end of this millennium.

This weekend I went to a friends house and next to her garden, full of beautiful Zinnia's was a calf. The little guy was born with his feet turned under, thus his proximity to the house. (He is doing fine.) He was so cute. I have never seen such eyelashes (that didn't come in a package), so long and thick! The joys of living in the country.

What experiances have you had with animals, either wild or livestock?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lacey FUN!

Machine Lace, or fabric made from bits of yarn, thread and fabric trapped between two layers of water soluble stabilizer sewn into a fabric. It is loads of fun and simple.

I created this piece (about 8 x 11) in under an hour. Not bad if you consider that I can create what I want, combinations of color, a specific texture or pattern, basically from scratch.

Here is how: lay a piece of Water Soluble Stabilizer on a work surface. Spray with 505 (temporary adhesive) and sprinkle shards of fabric, yarn, threads onto surface laden stabilizer. These shards are easily cut by laying down small pieces of fabric (You know those bits you cut off of everything; squaring up a block, bits left from fussy cut projects, even botched blocks...) and cutting with rotary cutter. Just roll blade forward over fabric and back again, angling at each pass to create smaller and smaller piece.

Spray a light coat of 505 over the top of fabric and threads. A second layer of stabilizer goes on top. Press lightly. Transfer to sewing machine and stitch. I start with one line of stitching down the center and then going around the circumference. From there you can do whatever. If you don't feel comfortable with free motion the is great practice just drop those feed dogs and go for it! Just remember that you need lots of crossing lines of stitching and it will all distort in the end.

Drop the completely stitched piece into hot tap water and swish about for a minute or so. I usually drain and add more water and then rinse (not the manufacturer's directions, just what I do, you should start with the manufacturer's directions.). I dry like fine knit wear, roll in a bath towel and then kneed. This will leave it damp. You can let it air dry -- I use an iron an medium (watch your fabric and thread content here) and finish drying.

Now you have a beautiful element for to use however your heart desires.

Here is another. I added the machine lace to two quilted pieces layered atop each other and beads.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Drawn to the spinning skies...

Another week -- another artist date. And this one was AWESOME!

Remember those spin art booths at the fair when you were young? Well Crayola makes a spin art creator. It is fun! I have enjoyed it so much it had to be sequestered so I would return to other things at hand...

Some are the spattered dripped things like we created at the fair...What I find really intriguing are concentric circles. I have used coloured pencils, inks, markers, brush tip markers, various paints and brushes.

I also like the way the paper does not sit perfectly flat. So as it spins it is heavier in areas and lighter, or nonexistent in others.

Another project was cleaning and organizing the studio. I had hundreds of drawings in pads and portfolios -- at one point I purchased a nice archival box to store the ones I wanted to keep. Months later I determined: that particular mound of clutter had to go.

Sorting through them was very cool. I was shocked at what I have created since I started in 2001. Some good drawings, some laughably juvenile, others flat out bad and then the special ones. It is interesting to me what I find I like. Some because they are finished or a portion is finished -- others just struck me as an interesting pose the model was in. Funny what we are drawn to...

I had forgotten about this little ink drawing from a class on hands with Abdon Romero. I love the line quality and hatching.

I love summer. Not because of the heat, rather the skies. This was taken in the evening last week. I love the sliver of the moon surrounded by the spectacularly coloured clouds. The only drawback to the whole love of the sky are the moments of shear and breath taking beauty WHEN YOUR CAMERA IS NOT WHERE YOU ARE! So I am pleased to have captured this...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Drawing, Pick your tool...

There are few times in life that things seem to flow, work together in the manner you intend. This is one of the times it has for me.
This is charcoal on paper of a model at the Atelier, finished this month (15 x 11)
I love this image. Bathed in soft light the figure sleeps (she really did fall asleep) unaware of being watched. Subdued shadows define the form resting on the draped bed.
What does this make you think of? Perhaps it looks familiar? This is the same pose as an older post, but from the other side of the room.
I am in the process of doing the "Artist Way" by Julia Cameron. Part of the process includes weekly 'Artist's Date' or a time each week when you do an activity designed to feed your Inner Artist. This week I got finger paints and had a blast!
Here are three of my favorites:
First swirled on with no fingers, Next swirled on, finger swirled on half the sheet of paper then folded over to create mirror images,
and a Mono-print (made by swirling on paint, finger swirling and then placing paper on top of wet paint).
This date was so much better than last week when I purchased a few toys from the dollar store. One was a gun that shoots ping pong balls whose trigger broke on the first shot. Expensive toy!

And last, but definitely not least is out new puppy. Isn't he cute! And looks like a handfull at the same time, no?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Watching the figure. Anyone else not?

So the season of bathing suits is upon us. I for one will not be donning one this season. My mouth has taken control of the waist-line and, well it's just not a go for this year...
I have been watching other figures however . Want a peek?

There are faces and there are faces. These are the three faces of Mary... (These are in Ink on cotton)
The first (center) is 'Drag Mary'. "She looka like a mah(n)" Miss Swan.
Next we have 'Fake Tan Mary' (left). She felt bad being so pale and went nuts with the bronzer.
Last we have 'Serene Mary'. She is soft focus and beautiful, but awaits her appointment to get her brows fixed. Note though that 'Serene Mary' is the only one with her left eye showing. Wonder why? CAUSE I SCREWED THE OTHERS UP... this was not an attempt to copy Warhol, just an attempt to get it right. Perhaps 'Serene Mary' can indeed have her brows worked on otherwise She will be a quartet.

Bet you are wondering what purpose Mary serves in my work and on my blog! You will have to stay tuned to find out... (dun dun dah!)

This is Sue. Perhaps more accurately a depiction of Sue... I am trying out stitches for a 'drawn' portrait. Here 'Chain stitch' is employed to mixed results. I have been advised to try 'backstitch' and that will post upon it's completion. (Note: there is a janky spot in the drawing. I know it's there and I know you know it's there -- just proves that drawing really does count.)

This is a drawing, or rather drawings from the Atelier: The Contemporary Realist Academy in Memphis where I have been studying. This is on the pose currently underway.

This drawing was created using a variety of graphite (hardness's) in paper and two layers of velum. The paper layer is dedicated to the contour or outline of the model. The next vellum layer is dedicated to the space around the model, background and foreground. The final layer is the shading of the model.
It was done for specific purposes and the effect is lovely...
Designed in this manner to give me references to work from when I translate this to fabric. Something else you will have to check back to see...

Curious? Me too!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

From me Lovinger-ly

Months ago I was reading an e-mail digest when Margot Lovinger's name came up. I clicked the link and went to view her site AMAZING. Not much longer I learned of a class with her. You can guess what happened next!

I trekked to upstate New York to the beautiful town of Greenville and the Greenville Arms. The Arms is a charming B and B with art classes/workshops. For five and a half days Margot lovingly supervised our efforts and shared her techniques. She is a most interesting person with a truly great eye and spirit. I enjoyed her as much as the knowledge.

To start I took a picture or some beets. Well it was supposed to be a simple image. I thought two beets were simple. I ended up cropping it down to one whole leaf and part of another. Simpl-ER...

Layers of tulle tacked down all creating light and shadow whose colors shift as the viewer moves slightly giving life and depth to the piece. Not the quickest stuff and yet breath taking. Well at least hers is -- I have some time to put in to the technique before mastery!

So here is my beet... can't wait to get started on a figure!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Prize Winner...

The challenge quilt at "Quilt Show by the Sea" for 2008 was 'War and Peace'.

I knew I wanted to do the challenge -- well, because it was a challenge.

I thought and thought about what approach to take. At first I wanted to do a portrait of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto after she was assassinated. As pumped as I was I could not secure rights to a photo of her in time to complete the challenge...

What to do?

I was looking at the three fabrics whose use was required in the challenge and the country-ness struck me and I started thinking about children, specifically the red reminded me of a school. Could a nursery rhyme be a catalyst?

Then it occurred to me that political leaders are like Jack and Jill. Going about their own business with little regard to consequences. And the victims of their selfish ploys (war) are the next generation and the hope they embody.

Jack and Jill the challenge quilt was born...

When my hill was pieced and the schoolhouse appliqued I turned to stump work (a form of embroidery that is raised).

Jack and Jill have shisha mirror faces. Reflecting the ones culpable...

The background quilting on the border repeats icons of war and peace; dove, nuclear symbol, heart, missile, star, pentagon, laurel wreath...

The poem is written around the border. It reads:

Jack and Jill
went up the hill
to kill off all the peace
Jack fell down
and broke his crown
and Jill thought it a joke
up Jack got
and down they trot
with all their ammunition
and when again to aim at hope
to doom this generation

Not a very uplifting sentiment and it makes you think. What part do you play in all that goes on to create war? How do you contribute to peace? Making you think -- one image at a time!