Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It worked!

So nobody is home to share my excitement--except for Terra, who rarely gets excited about fabric unless it has had chicken juices or some such splashed on it. I just ironed a piece of fabric that finished batching this morning. A couple of days ago this piece of fabric came out of the dye bath with these great stripes of blue green on it along with regularly spaced irregular lines of dark blue green. I liked it, but I wanted to add something more so I folded it again and over-dyed it with golden yellow in the hopes that heavier lines of yellow would appear between the green lines.
It worked!

And, if you are home and reading this, thanks for the company!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Beautiful Day to Dye

Since the trees here are just beginning to remind me that fall is coming, I thought I really should get around to that dyeing I have been thinking about all summer--before my dyeing studio, otherwise known as the basement, gets too cold for the dyes or me to work properly. And so for the past couple of days, I have been, like the trees, adding a bit of color to my world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Summer's Day. . .

Thanks to a post from a blogging friend, I found the perfect distraction after the intensity of Jane Dunnewold's class and other projects I have been working on and discovered a great website--Lenna Andrews' Creative Swaps. Each month she posts a couple of possible swaps you can sign up for and the first one in September was a postcard swap on the theme of "A Summer's Day. . . ."  If you send her three postcards on that theme, you will receive three back, each from a different artist. She supplies plenty of helpful guidelines about making art postcards, and they can be done in any medium, not just fabric. So I decided to give it a try.

For my first attempt, I used some little tree stamps I had made in Jane's class to add some paint to a hand-dyed pieced of fabric:
I obviously added some stitching and some fused shadows. On the back of the card, you were supposed to put your name, e-mail address and then finish the phrase "A summer's day. . . ."  I added ". . .is all about sunshine and shadow."

I decided on butterflies for the focus of the next postcard, and just happened to have a butterfly stamp that I made in Jane's class as well.  I played with transparent and opaque paint and then topped the painted butterflies with a fabric one and added some quilting lines:
And on to my third! I was having a lot of fun by this time and decided to give my butterflies another try since I had already made the templates for the one above. This time, instead of stamping I decided on a fused background of large circles.
The gold thread I couched on the wings and the variegated pearl cotton scatter stitches gave it a zing. On all of these the background fabric was fused to Peltex and then the edges turned over to the back and fused to form a finished edge. Then the back fabric was fused on, covering the turned over edges. In all three I made use of those leftover bits of my hand-dyes that I hate to throw away. 
The back of this reads "A summer's day is not complete without a butterfly."

Something kept me from finishing the second postcard, perhaps because I was feeling that it needed something more. So one day I started playing with adding bits of color.  See what you think of my addition of some small rough cut circles to my final version.
I added my theme statement, "A summer's day brings sunshine and butterflies," put a backing on it,  and declared it done!
Now I just have to add plastic sleeves and postage and send them off to Lenna.

And, if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Deep Spaces

I received an exciting e-mail this week. The postcard for the Deep Spaces exhibit (which my quilt On a Sligo Hill will be part of!) is out and the schedule for the venues where it will hang has been finalized. Unfortunately, unless the state of Washington or Texas gets a whole lot closer to Pennsylvania geographically, I am not going to be able to see any of the exhibits in person. Sigh. . .
Deep Spaces
A Textile and Mixed Media Exhibit

Curator Larkin Jean Van Horn selected the theme "Deep Spaces" following a conversation with friends about the limits of space and the photography from the Hubble telescope. While it was clear that textile art dealing with the cosmos would be an appealing exhibit, the title implied so much more. Artists interested in participating in the exhibit were encouraged to interpret the theme in any manner that suited them, and the entries were outstanding. The artists went deep into space, deep underground, deep under water, deep into the woods, canyons and prairies, and deep into the mysteries of the heart. Each artist worked in her own style, whether photorealism or pure abstraction or something in between. Holding all this wide variety together is a common size (18 inches wide by 45 inches long).

The task of choosing the fifty pieces in the exhibit from the hundred-plus submitted fell to Larkin and two other highly experienced textile artists, Debra Calkins and Anne Niles Davenport. For one of the venues (Latimer), Larkin also invited several artist friends to create three-dimensional works for an existing display case. In the final total, we have 58 works from 19 states and two international entries.

In line with Larkin's desire to do good in the world wherever possible, a catalog has been created for this exhibit, and will be for sale in disk format, either at the exhibit venues or from the Deep Spaces website:, or in book form from Blurb: (A direct link will be available on when it is ready.) All proceeds from the sale of the catalogs will go to Doctors Without Borders.

Dates and venues:

September 5 to November 6, 2011
Latimer Quilt and Textile Center
2105 Wilson River Loop Road - Tillamook, Oregon
Opening Reception: Sept. 11, 2011,  Noon to 4:00 pm
28 textile art and 8 special 3D pieces

October 20 to November 30, 2011
Edmonds Conference Center
201 Fourth Ave. N. - Edmonds, Washington
ArtsCrush Opening: Oct. 20, 2011, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Art Walk Opening: Nov. 17, 2011, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
22 textile art

January 10 to March 12, 2012
Sam Houston University Museum
19th St and Avenue N, Huntsville, Texas
Opening Reception:  January 19, 2012, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

March 28 to June 24, 2012
LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum
700 Second Street, La Conner, Washington
Opening Reception:  March 31, 2012, 2:00 to 4:00 pm

Due to the limits of space, 28 of the fifty pieces, plus eight 3D pieces will be shown at the Latimer while the remaining 22 will hang in Edmonds. The full fifty pieces will be shown at the other venues.

For more information on locations and hours, see

Monday, August 15, 2011


On my daily walks with Terra the past few days, I have been looking at the shapes of leaves. In my attempt to make more natural quilting lines and patterns, I have gone to the source, noting that, of course, no two leaves even on the same plant are exactly alike, but trying to get a feel for how much and in what ways they differ.

A day or so ago I began looking closely at milkweed leaves--big and fairly simple in shape--and decided to bring a couple back with me to continue my study. As I went to put Terra on the leash to cross the road, I realized my hand was sticky and, looking down, felt a momentary little puff of delight as I saw of bubble of what could only be described as milk forming at the end of the broken stem. My delight turned to chagrin at my stupidity as I realized, "Oh, yeah. That's why it's called milkweed."

Now I have lived among milkweed for over twenty years--and had encountered it on hikes before that. I know that its sap is bitter and probably is the reason why the monarch caterpillars, who love to chew on the leaves, don't taste very good to predators. I may even have been told the sap was milky. But it wasn't until I broke those leaves off that I made the connection with the name. So many things that I am ignorant about--or have forgotten. . . . .

Here's a picture of two differently shaped leaves--notice the sappy stems are not touching my cutting board. By the way, I washed my hands thoroughly when I got in the house. The sap was sticky enough that I didn't want to get it on anything else and luckily, I didn't swipe hair out of my eyes with that hand because I found out it can wreak real havoc if it gets in your eyes.

And if you are still with me and haven't run out to break leaves off a milkweed (but perhaps I am the only one who didn't know about the sap), thanks for the company.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

QBL Part 3

I am beginning to feel like I am writing one of those endless Hollywood film series, met with groans from those of us not entranced by the particular brand of violence, horror, or silliness depicted in the previous offerings in the series. I had, however, planned from the beginning to write not just about the details of the class, but the influence Jane's class has had on me because I feel that something changed during the course of that week.

That I was changed should not come as a surprise because, according to a book that is on my to-read list, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain by Antonio Demasio, our brains are changing constantly. As you read this, as a matter of fact, not only are you not getting other things done but changes visible to an MRI  are happening in your brain, according to one reviewer. (Remember my brain has not yet been changed by actually reading the book.) So a week away surrounded by focused, creative people should have made a difference--that the change was big enough that I felt it is what I am trying to capture here.

But feeling it and articulating it are two different things. I know it had something to do with the Wednesday afternoon moment of panic. We had all been working hard and were looking forward to a quiet evening--a lecture by another teacher and then perhaps an early bedtime since many of  us had been up rinsing fabric the night before. I was feeling as if the week was going well; I was not going to feel overwhelmed or inadequate and was learning some useful techniques. Then Jane said, " Well, I need to give you a little something to do tonight," and proceeded to outline three of the major assignments for the week. I was not alone in letting out a small gasp. "Oh, you don't have to begin tonight," she said, trying to reassure us, "but I know some of you want to move on to the next step." As we returned to our work, you could feel the pace pick up. We all worked until suppertime and many returned after the lecture; some even skipped the lecture.

By the next morning, the creativity in the room was fully displayed by the number of samples up on the design walls, and my inner critic was working overtime. A quick glance around assured me that everyone was being more productive and more creative than me, and, as I stared at the second assignment, I could think of nothing to do for it. Then, without my even putting effort into it, things changed. I looked up at one of my samples and realized that it wasn't bad. I took a sip of my morning cup of tea. I forced myself to look more closely at some of the other working walls and realized the variety of approaches there were. Some were working; some were not working as well. And mine were right in there with everyone else's. It wasn't a matter of whether I was creative or artistic or whatever adjective you want to plug in here; I just needed to keep working. And so I did. Yeah, yeah. I have heard this, even said this before, but this time I felt it. Perhaps it was because of the spirit Jane cultivated in the class or because of the talks I had had with another student I had become friends with or because of comments by other students--or some wonderful savory stew of all of these. By the end of the week I had not produced breathtakingly beautiful pieces and certainly had not finished as many samples as some of the other participants, but I had produced some pieces I was pleased with for a number of reasons. I'm still not sure I have competently captured what happened--sounds rather oversimplified as I read it over, but maybe you have a glimpse.

My work will change because of the techniques I learned from Jane Dunnewold and because of her attitude toward her own work. But my own connection with my work has changed and I feel I have taken yet another step on this quilt making journey.

And here's a picture to fill that mandatory picture slot in a blog post. It's one of those samples I did in class that is now in the quilting phase of things.

Well, I have changed your brains more than enough for one blog post and, if you are still reading, thanks very much for the company--and this is definitely the finale in the Quilting by the Lake saga.