Friday, March 29, 2019

An Extraordinary Opening for Outside the Ordinary

The eight members of our small critique group, Joined by Stitch, were asked to put together an exhibit at the Essex Art Center in Lawrence. Housed in an old mill building, its high ceilings and brick walls create a beautiful background for fiber art. The Center staged a reception last Friday for our exhibit and for two smaller exhibits in their other galleries and so the fiber art was expected by some who attended and a complete surprise to others. The evening was a lively, well attended event--always an interesting time to talk at length about fiber art with people I just met, or people I know well, for that matter. I didn't get a photo of every piece but came close.

Works by Sue Colozzi

Works by Betsy Abbott

Works by Anne Kimball

Works by Madalene Murphy (left) and Janis Doucette (right)

Work by Tarja Cockell

Work by Alanna Nelson

Works by Tarja Cockell

Works by Alanna Nelson
Works by Agusta Agustsson
Early crowd and view of gallery

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My Favorite Color

Haven't posted one of these in a while but couldn't resist sharing this discovery from my birthday.

Friday, February 15, 2019


I seem drawn to hidden things--tiny bugs camouflaged in bark, a shadow at the bottom of the pond, or those secret dark spaces surrounded by green on a far away hill or almost overgrown with grass on the edge of a field. As I neared the end of that very large Explorations project, I knew I should plan for another piece. I needed something that would entice me back into the studio and get those curiosity juices flowing again after I took the final stitches on "From the Stillness." I had another large piece in my heavily textured technique that I had begun many months ago but that would be no enticement. This must be a smallish piece so that the gratification of my curiosity would be much faster.

I played with sketches and liked the idea of an unfolding, an opening around a dark focal point. And I wanted to work with purple. And here is "Lotus," 13 x 13 inches, made from cottons and lots of silks that I dyed and finished with the glimmer of a small purple stone.

Hope you are finding lots of things to be curious about this week!

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays.

Friday, February 8, 2019


After the holidays I managed to cross paths with a cold bug that laid me low for what seemed like an endless session of coughing and nose blowing. Since I was not up to my usual elaborately plotted novel as bedtime reading, I tried a book I had bought on a recommendation I read somewhere, The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair.

It was the perfect option, although I probably would have loved it whenever I got around to picking it up. But these brief two or three page snippets about a particular shade in a color family were the right length for my attention span between coughing spells. And it is full of actual colors as the edges of the pages subtly change from ultramarine to cobalt to indigo to Prussian blue.

The book looks at color from a variety of perspectives--from some descriptions of the actual chemical processes that produced a hue, with sometimes lethal side effects for those who created them or those who used them (lead seems to show up too often as a crucial element in color production) to how colors were named or used to attempts at capturing their essence (Kandinsky: "Orange is like a man, convinced of his own powers.") And all the human emotions are here as well, from delight to greed. One amusing story from the 13th century describes how the folks who sold madder, which produced a red dye, were feeling threatened by the rising popularity of woad, a plant in the indigo family that produced a blue color. The madder merchants somehow convinced the stained glass makers to help them undercut this upstart blue by making the devils in stained glass windows blue and hoped guilt by association would do the trick. Their ploy did not work. Woad kept gaining in popularity until another indigo plant that was processed more easily was discovered. 

I highly recommend this book, particularly when you need a distraction from an annoying cold--or from annoying news you can't get out of your head.

And then there is the distraction of color itself. An order of perle cotton arrived and a pile of glorious color sat on my cutting table for a while, warming my soul every time I wandered into the studio with a box of tissues.

Linked with Off the Wall Friday

Friday, February 1, 2019


Since I have embarked on a heavily textured piece that will involve months of work, it was time to explore some smaller pieces and add a few pieces to my raw edge applique series. A pile of red fabrics caught my eye for the background and I somewhat arbitrarily cut a rectangle about 8 x 11 inches and hung it up on the design wall to see what the next step would be. 

Since I was feeling adventurous, I cut a rectangle from a nearby golden orange piece of fabric and liked the glow it created. My traditional stitching that echoes the outline of the piece seemed too tame for this and so I began looking for something unstructured. 

And here is Etude 2, a warming presence in my studio:

It measures all of 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches and uses three different hand stitches as well as some machine stitching in the background.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Do Old Dyes Die?

Our mild New England weather turned into a bully last weekend, threatening up to 18 inches of snow with some intervals of freezing rain, high winds, and temps in the single digits.

Meanwhile (skip to Paragraph 4 to get to the fiber art stuff) at our house I (snow shoveler #2) was nursing a pulled muscle, a final gift from a cold that would not leave, and Tom (snow shoveler #1) had just been diagnosed with pneumonia.

Monday morning dawned, and the mixture of snow and ice balls (nowhere near 18 inches but officially "a lot") was reasonably shoveled out, a little bit by me, a whole lot by our helpful son-in-law, and the tough stuff by a neighbor's friend with a plow.

The first snow of the season often becomes a snow-dye, a fun adventure but not unusual enough to write about, and I had doubts about this one--so dry it was almost like salt from the cold temps. Not worth spending a lot of time on but worth an experiment. My last dyeing sessions had been much earlier in 2018 for my Explorations project but stitching took all the studio time after April. I had a collection of already mixed dyes sitting on my cool basement floor that were mostly 9 to 13 months old and, even if refrigerated, these dyes were too old, no longer useful. "They should be discarded," the books would say. But I, who was feeling somewhat old and useless, wanted to prove that rule wrong.

I piled the grainy snow on the fabric, shook the bottles, and poured on the dyes. I held my breath as I rinsed them the next day. But the color did not completely wash away!

The first, which relied heavily on a sun yellow from April, was indeed pale. I had added a few spots of golden brown (Apr), nickel (Dec 2017), which showed up as that blue gray, and deep yellow (Jan 2018). This will be quite usable as a quiet background.

The second was a surprise: primarily from a deep yellow dye (undated but at least 6 months old), a little more deep yellow (Jan 2018), some nickel (Dec 2017), and charcoal gray (Jan 2018) that grayed things a bit, and finally some teal blue (Feb 2018), which I was sure was dead but obviously created a lovely green.

And then there is the exciting piece, mainly from a golden brown dye (Apr 2018) and a lot of nickel (Dec 2017) with ultraviolet (Dec 2017) thrown in as an afterthought--no way was that dye still working. But you can see the brown breaking down into golds and greens with hints of the ultraviolet here and there against a beautiful blue gray background.

Even the snow did its work, creating the characteristic little watery petal shapes. Probably the only one unhappy with this experiment are the Marie Kondos of the world because, unfortunately, I now have another reason not to throw something away.

Hope the winter (or summer) is treating you well!

Linking up with Off the Wall Fridays. Check out some of the blogs that show up there!

Friday, January 11, 2019


The branching sketch caught my eye as I paged through one of my journals--simple but full of meaning. Perfect for the time of many decisions I found myself in last year.

Purple for the untextured part and then all those golds moving through yellows and browns for the layers.

But funny thing about a simple branching: in one direction it is separation--a decision made, a parting, an individualizing. From the other it is a joining, a strengthening, connection, unity.

And are all those layers of gold building up around the purple shape? Or has that moving shape cut through those layers revealing what was hidden, buried beneath our view?

The name of this small piece (18 x 25") is Experience--a word that holds its own contradictions since it means both a single, often memorable event as well as a slow accumulation of knowledge and life events.

And, of course, you may have come up with an entirely different interpretation--the reason I love abstract work.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays!