Tibetan Prayer Flags

January 17, 2015

I’m still home, but dreaming about going on vacation, so thought I’d try my hand at making some prayer flags in the Tibetan manner to help nudge me on my way.

Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five: one in each of five colors. The five colors are arranged from left to right in a specific order: blue, white, red, green, and yellow, but I’m making my flags with Tucson on my mind. This is the first one I made:

Tucson Emb

The sun embroidery was sewn out a few months ago with plans of using it for the base of a Bead Journal Project, but thought it was perfect for this project. The sun always seems to be shining in Tucson, so I used a built in alphabet in my sewing machine to sew the city’s name in lots of different rayon thread colors. The design is from Kreations by Kara

The second design was done this past week when I got home from the hospital:

Hand Spiral

Inktense pencils were used to create the watercolor background on the same muslin as the first flag. The colors used were Burnt Orange, Sicilian Yellow, Baked Earth, and Chilli Red.

I much prefer the bottom of the piece. I like how some of the background fabric shows through, and I like how it looks a bit like paint flaking off an old fresco.

Too much water was used in the center, so the colors blended too much for the look I was going for, but this was a good learning experience. If you click on the photo it will enlarge for you, and I hope you can see the difference between the bottom and the middle.
It’s the first time I’ve used these pencils, and I definitely plan on using them a lot more. The fabric was left nice and soft.

Then I placed my hand on the colored fabric, and traced around it with a pencil, and added a spiral design on the palm. It looked pretty flat to me, so to create some depth, I made a freezer paper mask for my hand, and stamped spirals all over the piece. Oh yes, instant depth.

Metallic YLI thread was used to sew around the spiral in a double straight stitch on my sewing machine, and then I hand beaded around the hand image.

I’m pretty sure I’ll make a third flag, maybe with a saguaro cactus on it, but then again, it could be more spirals. That sun is spiraling, the palm design is a spiral, and I actually had that spiral stamp used for the background in my stamp collection. I obviously have a subliminal attraction to spirals.


Dye Play Day

January 2, 2015

Yesterday was a “what if” surface design day for me, and I added a couple of techniques to a piece of fabric I had been saving for a dye day. It all started a little after Thanksgiving.

I had a lot of left over paint from making Child’s Play, and decided to use it all up after the piece was finished. I cut a piece of PFD fabric, placed it on a plastic drop cloth, and proceeded to draw circles and make marks:

Painted fabric 1

I let them dry for 24 hours, then heat set them with an iron. The holidays arrived, and the fabric sat in my laundry room till yesterday.

I love stitch resist dyeing so did some straight line stitching in a 12” block arrangement. 5 rows every 2” horizontally, then 5 rows every 2” vertically. Gathered the stitching to get this:

Scrunched Fabric 2

Now to use the last of the print paste I had mixed up – which somehow hardened. I really didn’t want to mix up more, so added a bit of hot water, nuked the container, stirred, nuked the container again, stirred some more, and Ta Da the print paste was rescued.

As this was a totally fun play dye day, I didn’t weigh anything or do any math. I put a plastic teaspoon full of soda ash in the print paste – and I have no clue how much print paste was in the container, with a dash of Pro Chem’s Deep Purple #8147. The fabric was not presoaked in soda ash, so soda ash had to be added to the print paste for the fabric to dye. Using a sponge brush, I painted all the high spots on the dry, gathered fabric, then let it sit in the sun for an hour:

Print Paste 3

A couple of months ago, I had mixed all the dye concentrate I had into one bottle. I have no clue what colors, or depth of shade it was, and being over 2 months old, wasn’t sure if this concentrate would still dye the fabric, but went for it. This concentrate was poured into a plastic container, but didn’t cover the bottom, so I added some water. The fabric was laid flat and squished a bit so there would be no white spots.

After 15 minutes, I added a cup of soda ash water, and batched it in the sun for an hour and a half, and this is the result:

Finished Fabric Close-up

I’m pretty darn happy with the results, and learned quite a bit.

First off, I lost all the red circles made with the Liquitex ink and aloe vera. I’m not sure if that is because the dye concentrate color covered it or not. Most of the yellow disappeared also – made with Adirondack alcohol inks and aloe vera, while only some of the green did, and a lot of the blue stayed – both made with Daler Rowney inks and aloe vera. The bronze circles stayed the best, and they were made with Golden acrylics with lots of textile medium added for a very watery consistency.

The inks were very easy to sew through and gather. The thinned Golden acrylic did not want to be tightly gathered. It also changed the hand of the fabric. Since I used an iridescent bronze there are wonderful highlights in those circles. Everywhere the light hits, it shines.

I know I’m not done playing with this fabric. The bronze circles are way too dominate, and I liked how the circles linked together in the first step, so will definitely add more circles.

I achieved my goal of using up all my old mixed supplies, and now have a totally clean dye studio – also known as my laundry room. It won’t take me long to mess it up again, but it sure was nice to be able to see the top of my washing machine and dryer again. Anybody want to start laying bets on how long it’ll stay this clean? ;-)


Happy New Year 2015

January 1, 2015

Nothing profound or earth shattering happened to me in 2014, and while I could have stood some enlightenment, I was very happy nothing earth shattering occurred. I usually associate earth shattering as something negative, due to all the disaster movies I’ve seen on the SyFy channel, so all is actually good in my little part of the universe.

For those of you who remember my focus on trying to destash some of the “stuff” in my home, it has slowed significantly. That must mean I really want/need what I own. Only 93 pounds of “stuff” departed in 2014. My grand total has reached 3,181 pounds out of here. It looks like it will take an actual household move to get me to the 2 ton mark.

No recap of what I’ve accomplished this year, no list of what I’d like to do in 2015, but I do have to admit, I have a file on my computer titled “What I Want to Make”. It’s getting longer and longer. I’m like a little kid at Thanksgiving who puts too much food on their plate. Their eyes are bigger than what their stomach can handle, but I consider having that long list a very good thing. It fills me with awe, inspiration, and offers a world of creativity for my future – an opportunity to learn something new every day.

I wish you all the same future, plus one filled with good health, happiness, and love – lots and lots of love.


Clothesline Bowl

December 18, 2014

Usually, I gift a bottle of wine when I attend parties at this time of the year, but I came across an interesting book called It’s a Wrap by Susan Breier. Hmmm, what about a fabric bowl? I have fabric. Boy do I have fabric. I even had the correct type of clothesline in the house. All right, I was in the basket making business.

Clothesline basket1

Clothesline basket2

It is so much fun making one of these baskets. Yes, it’s a little tedious wrapping the fabric strips around the clothesline, but when you get to the sewing, before you know it, a basket is constructed before your eyes. Fill it up with macaroons and scones, and you have a wonderful hostess gift.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. Before you know it, you’ll be making bowls, and purses, and plates galore.


Child’s Play

December 16, 2014

My most recent piece was for the international art quilt blog I belong to Sky is the Limit and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process.

Childs play finished

This piece started out as a white piece of fabric. I selected an image, and traced it with a fine Sharpie black marker. Then it sat on my kitchen table for a month. What can I say? I’m wonderful at procrastination.

The deadline passed, I was going to have company soon, and needed the kitchen table, so I got busy last week. First thing was to stamp those swirls all over the fabric. I used Golden Bronze mixed with a lot of textile medium, but it came way too dark. Solution? I took it to the kitchen sink, and scrubbed it with soap and water. Now I was happier with the much lighter swirls.

Next came painting the image. I love, love, love using textile and alcohol inks with clear aloe gel, so did exactly that. Still worried that one side had darker swirls than the other, I decided to paint both sides of the piece.

Thus came the disastrous bleeding outside the lines in the apple tree leaves. I did not wait for one side to dry before I flipped it over and painted the other side. Lesson learned – let the paint dry before you attempt to paint both sides of the fabric. It’s really not that big a deal, and I kept it “as is” to remind me not to do that again – unless I want a watercolor effect.

Next step was layer it up with batting, and using 6 strands of DMC floss I sewed big stitches around the image – just like I did when I was 3 years old. I added the numbers as I sewed the big stitches with an Ultra Fine Sharpie marker.

Then I added backing fabric, and machine quilted around the apple tree branch and apples. Heat set the piece with my iron, then used my favorite binding technique, and ta da Child’s Play was completed.

This was so much fun to make. Every time I approached this piece, I felt like it was play time. With all the misery in the world, I needed to create a bit of calm and happiness for myself, and wish the entire world could be at peace. That is my fervent desire for all of you.


Crazy Quilt Block from Kathy Shawkl’s Beginner Online Class

November 28, 2014

I’ve been quietly working away on Kathy Shawkl’s Crazy Quilt Block class these past few weeks, and finished it up in time for Thanksgiving:

CQ Class 2nd finish

Her instructions were very good, and Kathy offers this class for free. Can you believe that? She is doing a great job promoting and encouraging fiber artists to try crazy quilting. If you want to give this a try, go to Kathy’s website to see when it will be offered again.


Alternate Grid – Success

October 26, 2014

What a difference a day makes:


My 12″ x 12″ blue alternate grid quilt is pieced. After I pieced the first few rows, I realized this would have been much easier if I’d fused the triangles onto the background fabric. Not only would it have been easier, I think the negative space would have read better as negative space. I stupidly didn’t dye enough fabric, so couldn’t start over.

And a note about dyeing these gradations. I’ve dyed gradations for all the pure MX dyes available in the USA and keep the fabric strips neatly in a binder. You’d be surprised that cutting it down sequentially – 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% did not give me a good gradation. These were dyed at 12%, 3%, 1.5% and .25% DOS – depth of shade. It really doesn’t take much time to dye a lot of DOS swatches for each pure dye, and I find I refer back to them frequently.

Now to decide how to quilt this piece.


Alternate Grid – Attempt # 1

October 22, 2014

Sometimes when I make something it goes together beautifully. Sometimes it doesn’t, and I thought I’d share with you the starts and stops of a really small, should be easy to create, but has turned out to not be, Alternate Grid quilt.

I spent 3 days drawing arrangements on graph paper as I am totally inept with EQ-7. Hopefully that will change in the future, and you know what? Sometimes I want to use a pencil and graph paper. My computer is not always with me.

alternate grid graph

Simple design, true? I wanted to make this in 4 shades of blue so it could be posted to the international art quilt blog I belong to for the Blue challenge.

Blue is not the predominant color in my fabric collection so I thought I’d dye the four shades I’d like to use for this quilt. We were having unseasonably warm weather last week, so out came the dyes, scale, and chemicals. Strained my brain doing the math, measured everything correctly, (Yahoo), got the exact depth of shades I wanted, BUT I managed to pick up the wrong dye container, and dyed the wrong blue. That was misstep #1.

The weather got back to normal – too cold to batch my fabric outside, and I was too lazy to dig out my dedicated dye microwave, so the blues I dyed are being used for this 12″ x 12″ quilt.

Today, I started piecing it, and it’s simple half square triangles – 3 different sizes, 3 different shades of blue. Easy true? Measured twice, cut once, made a mistake – misstep #2.

Recovered, pieced a few more sections, and I sewed the wide blue strip to the wrong side of the skinny pieced strip – misstep #3. Corrected that, and decided I needed to step away from this “simple” project as I was complicating it beyond words.

This is what I have done so far:

Partially pieced

Tomorrow is a new day, and I’ve reached my quota of 3 things going wrong, so I’m hoping for smooth sewing in my future.


Mother and Child

October 15, 2014

Waaaaaay back in January, a relative had a baby who’s arrival I wanted to celebrate, and I also signed up to join the Bead Journal Project for 2014. A lot late, but finally completed, is my January Bead Journal Project – Mother and Child:

Mother and Child

I used some of my hand dyed fabric, my embroidery machine to sew out the image of a mother kissing her baby’s head in rayon thread, then it sat, and it sat, and it sat around waiting for me to decide how to bead it. A friend was making the Oh My Stars! necklace from Shaped Beadwork & Beyond by Diane Fitzgerald, and I thought the stars would look great as flowers. I ordered the book, made a star/flower and it was way too big and solid for this small 8″ x 10″ piece. Back to the drawing board.

Being a crazy quilter, I have a lot, and I mean a lot of embroidery designs, and thought some of the simpler ones would work well for a beaded project. An antique embroidery book was available online, so I looked through that, selected some designs, resized them, rearranged elements, eliminated some, and came up with the design I beaded on this piece.

It’s simple backstitch beading with Mill HIll glass seed beads in colors 479 and 2017, with luster Miyuki SB in Pale Moss Green size 11/0. The flower centers are double French Knots with 6 strands of DMC rayon floss. The braid came from the wedding department at JoAnns – purchased ages ago. It was sewn down the center of organza ribbon. Out came my seam ripper. Now I have some organza ribbon in my ribbon collection, and the braid is on the piece. Can you tell I save everything?

This piece was stretched over an Artist Series archival quality stretched canvas. They are very reasonable at JoAnns, and just so happened to be on sale this week. Yeah for me!!!

If you’re in the Rochester, NY area, this piece will be included in the Rochester Gem, Mineral, Jewelry and Fossil Show and Sale at the end of the month. I hope some of you will be able to see this in person.


Hopping Around the World

October 6, 2014

I was honored to be asked by my friend Judy Warren to participate in the Hopping Around the World blog hop. The purpose of the blog hop is to answer some questions about our art process, and to introduce us to some new blogs. It’s a great way to meet kindred souls, and learn more about art making.

What am I working on?

Actually, quite a few projects. On the quilting front, I’d like my Disappearing Nine Patch to speak up and tell me how it wants to be quilted. I look at it every morning, it remains stubbornly silent, and I then walk out of my sewing studio. That’s fine because if I force this step, invariably I’m not happy with the final piece, and life is too short to be unhappy with what you make.

My mother and baby beaded project is coming along nicely. It will hopefully be completed in time to be entered in the Lapidary Show at the end of the month.

A painted textile project is on my kitchen table waiting for me to mix my colors. It will be titled Child’s Play and is a whimsical look back at the 50’s.

And last but not least, is a knitted counterpane I started years ago, and am finally getting round tuit. There are hundreds of little triangles knit on size 0 knitting needles to put together, and it will be finished.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I combine multiple textile disciplines wtih abandon, and have been doing so, way before I believe it was commonplace. It’s a bit like cross pollination – take something from one field of interest, and apply it to another unexpected one. It’s an awful lot of fun for me to do this, and I highly recommend trying it.

I’ve been quilting since the 70’s, and been hand knitting, and machine knitting for ages. In the 80’s, I came up with the idea of knitting a lap blanket, covering a quilt batt with flannel, layering the two, and then quilting it. Was it a knit blanket? Was it a quilt? Whatever it was, it was warm, cosy, and a big hit at the local baby store that sold them for me. I lost track of how many I made.

When I purchased my first embroidery machine, I started embroidering on machine knits, and wrote a series of articles for a machine knitting publication sharing the technique. My oh my, did that cause a stir.

I’ve used copper wire to use as sewing thread – way hard on your fingers by the way, but I do so love the glint of copper. That piece sold at an exhibit at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY.

Paint, paper, beads, tatting, embroidery, macrame – remember that? – kumihimo, soutache, leather, wood, found objects, you name it, I’ll use it on my fiber art.

Why do I create what I do?

Because I want to.

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of sewing. Some of you might remember those little cards with numbered holes, where you were to outline “sew” the images with shoelaces. Well, I wore out more than a few sets of those cards.

Cross stitch and hand knitting were next. Then my grandmother taught me how to machine sew with her treadle sewing machine – which is proudly residing in my home.

Everything to do with textiles appeals to me, and has ever since I can remember. Working with textiles satisfies my soul.

How does my writing/creative process work?

I don’t know. It’s always been present, and it’s always been an easy, natural part of my life. I did get a BS degree in Business and Economics, and worked as an accountant for a few years because it was the only way my parents would pay for half my college education. Guess who spent a lot of time in the Art Center though? Oh my, those looms were calling my name. The only good part about that degree is that I got a job right out of college during a difficult period of finding employment, and I can do my own business taxes now.

For 25 years, I wrote technical articles for machine knitting publications, and created over 80 orignal designs. I would dream about a design, remember it when I woke up, and start making it the next morning. If there was something about the design that wasn’t working, a solution would invariably come to me while I slept. Go figure.

For art quilts, I like pencil sketching. Now these are rough sketches, but they are enough for me to get proportions correct, and an idea of where I want to go.

It would be very nice if I could quantify my creative process, but I can’t.

Linking to Talented Artists

Kathi Everett is a member of 2 local art groups I belong to. Her blog Pearl Street Road always has something of interest on it. Creativity bubbles out of this woman. She has had an art quilt shown in Houston, and I’m sure there will be more in the future.

Ellen Lindner at Adventure Quilter is not only a wonderful artist, but also a wonderful teacher. It’s really difficult to be both, but she’s talented that way.

On closing, I hope many of you will visit their blogs, and go back to visit some of the previous blogs on this blog hop. It’s a wonderful opportunity to find some new artists, and support textile arts.



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