Sunday, March 15, 2015

I've been published!

Here's a fun recent fact that I want to share. If you look back in the posts on my blog here, you will see the one focusing on the pink felt breast pocket I made in support of women with breast cancer. It was made at the request for submissions for Melanie Testa's Breast Pocket project. I put the name of my mom, my sister and Melanie under the pocket flap; in memory of and in honor of their struggles with breast cancer...

Well, Melanie was interviewed by Quilting Arts Magazine this past year and she gave them some of the pockets to photograph for her spread. I subscribe to this magazine and so when I opened that issue   (Nov/Dec 2014), I was really surprised!

There, right on the page, was the pocket that I had sent to Melanie, right on the first page of the article! I was so surprised to see my work at the center of the page along with other "pockets." And so darn pleased that I did a little happy dance right then and there. If you zoom in on the first photo, you will see that my name is also in print, right page, bottom  :-)   :-)   :-)

Here are some photos I took of the spread:

“You know how sometimes, your life is so perfect you’re afraid for the next moment, because it couldn’t possibly be quite as good? That’s what it felt like.” 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The different faces of paper

I recently finished my Level 3 Art & Design course at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Studies in La Conner WA. It's been a rewarding last 2+ years of learning about art and design. This course was a pre-requisite for the Level 3 Stitch class that I want to enroll in when it becomes available.

Level 3 Art & Design has proved to be a wonderful learning experience, although at first I missed working in stitch. The medium of choice for this course was paper, in all of its many guises – from thin tissue-like to the mighty illustration board. And then, manipulating that paper by way of dyeing, painting, distressing, cutting, assembling again and applying all sorts of gel mediums to get different effects. Along the way, we worked out aspects of design, and how to create a piece of art that fit within the parameter of the principles of design.

Each student works in an individual way creating work that is unique to their style, all of them with special talent. Gail has a gentle way of supporting us and encouraging us to “really look” at our subjects. It is with this teaching method that I have learned to expand my artistic reach. It’s been an enriching two years.

My favorite item was paper cutting, and that, along with book making will be techniques that I will further explore.

At the end of January 2015, the class held a open house to show our families, our friends and the surrounding community just what we had been up to. If you go to the center's blog you can see posts of each of the students work. Here are a few pics of my work: 

Original block print cover (see book below) enhanced with ink pens and markers
Fabric-bound, handmade book, original design and block prints
Counter change from original block print
Original block print with watercolor

Fabric bound book of my original block prints and stamps

Inside pages of fabric bound book showing handmade papers and block prints

Back of fabric bound book with original stamp cuttings
Paper cut of lines taken from a rock
Paper cut of lines on rock in grey w/hand painted papers

"The master of the garden is the one who waters it, trims the branches, plants the seeds, and pulls the weeds. If you merely stroll through the garden, you are but an acolyte."        --Vera Nazarian

Friday, May 17, 2013

What's a little rust?

Did you know that you don't have to use chemical dyes to change or alter the color of fabric and paper? I've been reading a book by India Flint, Eco Colour. She has done years of research in the area of dyes from the plant world and also from bugs. My interest in indigo dyeing brought her to my attention. I now have a nice stash of indigo dyed fabrics... There is something about the dyeing process that has captured my interest and to do it naturally, to me, is especially favorable.

For a long time I have been curious about the eco-dying process using rusted objects. So, this week I went ahead with trying this unique dyeing process which results in a nice rusty orange color.

First I needed to find some rusted items. This is where the story really begins. I asked my husband (last year) to be on the lookout for some rusted things around the house. Nothing turned up--at least nothing that registered as being rusty and that I could use. The search continued up until spring of this year. He was replacing some of our deck boards and upon removing the rusted screws and depositing them in a small bag, I happened to notice that they were a pile of "rusted" screws. Happy dance here!

So, I put those aside and continued my search. Next items to be found were out in the garden in the raised beds. We use u-shaped metal stakes to hold down the drip system hoses. Another aha moment when these stakes were being removed and I noted more rust...  woohoo! I now had enough rusted objects to experiment with.  I used some steel wool as it came out of the package, as I'd heard that you can get interesting results.

I have been reading about the process finding that is involved the use of plain white vinegar, water, plastic sheeting, salt and more water  and finally mild soap. The vinegar, water and sheeting gets the process started. I let them all process the same amount of time, which was about 19 hours. The water and salt is used to soak the dyed fabric following the processing; neutralizing the rusting action. Then the fabric is washed in a mild soap solution to remove extraneous rust and whatnot from the fabric.

I chose about five different fabric--Kona cotton, Osnaburg (indigo dyed), linen (indigo dyed), fine muslin. I also tried some inexpensive water color paper.

Steel wool and rusted screws on fine muslin

Closer look at steel wool and rusted screws on fine muslin

Steel wool and rusted screws on water color paper
The key word here is experimentation. Someone asked if my results could be precise and predictable. My answer was that each time I experiment like this, I also document the materials and objects I use so I can refer to them at a later date. I found that the rust on the water color paper most interesting, although the orange on the indigo produced some great color. (I'm not sure about the "archivability" of the rust on the paper--more study needed here) Next, I will try again on a better grade water color paper with fewer rusted objects, less time processing and maybe by then I will have more rusted objects. I would love to try wrapping fabric around something large.  Hmmmm...  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Testing, testing, 123...

This is just a test to see if my new "follow my posts" signup link is working. Hope it does. And since it is February, what better than to share something red...

Sketchbook work from my Level 2 course at Gail Harker's Center for Creative Arts

Thursday, January 31, 2013


“And so you say your bead book is finished…”  Yes, indeed, my bead book is finished; and much to my satisfaction.  It is the culmination of two years of work and study encompassed in the Level 2 Design and Experimental Stitch course at the Gail Harker Center for the Creative Arts.
The bead book itself is comprised of pages of beading techniques we learned as a part of the studies included in this Level 2 course. They were to be our samples. We used our own hand-dyes fabrics to stitch the bead samples on. We then proceeded with beading the edges of the pages and designing a front cover to complete the assignment. I stitched the bound edge of each page with a Knotted Buttonhole stitch. Then used the Raised Chain Band stitch to bind it together (fourth picture).  Holding this book now is a wonderfully tactile experience. It is my little gem... and along with its completion (and the satisfaction), comes the realization that this course of study is changing my life.

The Level 2 Design and Experimental Stitch course has helped me realize my ability and potential as an artist. Gail’s unique talents and unwavering patience augment her ability to systematically teach using her extensive knowledge and background.

The course sessions included design and color, paint, print and dyeing of fabric, portfolio of stitched samples, integration of design and embroidery, historical research and study, techniques and special effects in fabric manipulation, fabric book binding, sketchbook work and documentation, and the list goes on. It has been two, very enjoyable years of studying deeply, working with other like-minded women and realizing my passion is being fulfilled. [doing little happy dance here] 
I just returned from my next course of study which is the Level 3 Art and Design and look forward to each session with great anticipation. It will consume my next two years in a very good way.
Here are some photos my bead book:
 My bead book.

  Tabbed edges.

  On end.

 The binding.

 Puddle of beads.

 Open position.

“Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” 
                                                                                                                                                    --Rumi, Essential Rumi

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

One brave and awesome woman!

Today, I am posting a picture of the breast pocket I have created for Melanie Testa, an artist that I admire for her strength, courage and bravery.

She has put out a challenge for folks to make 1000 breast pockets to raise awareness for the women who choose not to reconstruct their bodies after breast cancer and to pave awareness for those who would like to put their forms aside entirely. Breast pockets are coming in to Melanie from around the world! My pocket honors Melanie's passion and bravery. Here's a quote from Melanie:
"I would never have thought that an aspect of the cancer experience would make me feel so passionate. I firmly believe the ability to ‘Go Flat’ is an issue of women’s rights. This is an issue of body autonomy, women must have complete control over the only thing we can control, our bodies. As a result, Going Flat must become normalized. Women who forgo reconstruction should not wear breast forms for any other reason than having a preference to do so.
When the beautiful, diminutive 75 year old fella pool program attendee looked at me and pinched her ‘bubby’, which is what she calls her breast form, telling me she hated wearing it for the last __ years (more than 2 decades). I fell in love with her, and fell in love with being a feminist, again. Her daughter keeps telling her to put the breast form away. But she does not feel able to leave the breast form behind!
She called me brave. A teacher. She looked at me in awe.
And I am brave, many women cannot imagine leaving home without their breast forms. Others very much want to leave them behind, but feel pressure to wear them for their jobs, and for the people in their lives who expect them to look a certain way. As more women like me, Margaret W. Smith and Jodi Jaecks put their bodies and their choices out there, normalization of this bodily form, this aspect of women’s lives, will occur. Society will re-member the full array of shapes that an individual woman’s body can take in a lifetime. But no woman should feel compelled to wear forms because our society is misogynist and ignorant and has set up an expectation of what the female form should look like. Especially in light of breast cancer."
You can read more on Melanie's blog here.

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been.
                                                                                       --Alan Alda

Saturday, October 6, 2012


I am currently finishing up an online class that I signed up for in August. It's called Spirit Cloth 101 and is led by Jude Hill, a wonderful embroiderer whom I admire for her whimsical and slow approach to quilting. AND, I'm having so much fun--it feels like play to me. Big shout-out to Jude Hill here.

In the class we created small sampler quilts by assembling the bases first. Those bases could be whole cloth, patch worked or woven. Of course there are other methods but these were the methods Jude taught. My favorite was the woven approach so that is how I proceeded with a base. I actually made several bases that I will use at a later date.

My sampler began with a 9-patch structure using the weave as the structure of each square and then the "what-iffing" began. I used a simple leaf shape for my focus using bits of fabric that I had laying around in my fabric stash. The leaves look playful, hence, the title. Also the word "play" will be embroidered in the top left corner.

laying out the leaves...
Finding ways to embellish has been engaging my creative abilities and I feel "at home" when doing hand stitching. That "at home" feeling seems to center me and makes life peaceful. It has a wonderful, meditative quality that I love being part of. My piece is not finished as each leaf needs a personality of its own. I will be adding some wind lines when the leaves are finished to give the piece movement. Here are some pictures of my work on this piece up to this point.

some embroidery has been added--still what-iffing on how to proceed
reverse applique
windblown tree on mini woven base

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.”
                                                                 ― Ralph Waldo Emerson