Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Looking around the studio, I realize that's what I've been doing by not finishing, marketing or advertising these pieces. I've been over-invested emotionally in the whole black and white series and just don't want to really let go.

This little one, Karma VI,  in particular, the last of the series. Looking at it here, I'm convinced I want to change the orientation by one turn to the left. There's no sleeve on it yet, so no big  deal.

It's unfinished for the same reason I'm having trouble facing up to the last chapters of my book.  I just don't want this part, the making part, the fun and rewarding part, of the work to be over.  That's going to have to change and soon.

            I'm hoarding a lot of things that I'll have to set free.


I've been so inspired lately by seeing what amazing things other artists are doing with my cloth, I've added a page over here so everyone else can see what's possible. Humbled, I am.

If you've used my cloth in your art and want to be listed, email me with the linkage you'd like and pictures even!

past lives

This  came in a box of treasures gleaned here and there by someone who knows what I like.

It's a ladies blouse, all pleats down the front, linen calling for an hour of careful ironing using a pressing cloth to prevent shininess.

Not going to happen. Based on the tag I'm thinking it's quite vintage, but  still heading for dismemberment and the dyepots.  It has some exquisite details. Aside from my rude handing in the washer and dryer, it's flawless. If you'd like it as a garment, let me know and I won't chop it up. But you are going to have to iron it yourself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

it's Fling time

                                           After a few more false starts with the fish and leafy looking chunks of green
damask, I've put them away for now.

While I was looking for something else, I stumbled across one of the first flings I made a few years back "Stories in the Garden with Monkey Teeth".

Flings are lightweight quilts with no batting. There will be a new nephew coming in August so it's time to get busy.

The charm of making flings was all about ease and lack of rules. I used torn strips of random widths of muslin to build foot square base blocks on the machine. Sort of log cabin without all the fussing. Once I had enough blocks to make the size quilt needed, each on got its own little hand appliqued picture. I kept the pallet broad, used fabric that could take wash & wear use, more of the

same muslin in this case. Hand dyed. Then the blocks were arranged and the front and back machine stitched together poking the two-sided monkey teeth (think prairie points gone wild) in random location along all four sides..not too many. Snaggly.

Then the whole thing gets stitched together with some more loopy, random lines of hand quilting.

I got a peaceful, easy feeling just looking at these pictures.

Sunday, April 24, 2016


A pink moon and that purple rain has me dislocated in time.

Trying to quiet the buzzing and humming of my life with a little stitch, but it's not happening. I guess four stitches is not enough. I'll try again tomorrow because  I really like these little fish and don't want to waste them.

The rest of the second dye lot has been cleaned and processed and is good to go.

This has pretty much taken over my life.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

tales of woe, cont.

Grace, here's your Sun. It was a woven tea towel at one time and I swear it came from your thrift shop years ago, white and pristine.

 I remember now that the soy wax just doesn't work all that well on wovens. But on the harder fabrics, like this Kona cotton, Pow!

Hard Lessons...

....relearned. Beyond dye and soy techniques, it's important to pay attention to the hand or character of the various cloths when you are salvaging vintage or otherwise castaway cloth.

Every single one of the pieces from Round Two has been machine washed and dried twice. The water in my washing machine was still not hot enough to dissolve the soy wax. It left the cloth happily then floated to the surface to clot around the inside of the upper regions of my washing machine. Hand picking and scrubbing was the only remedy. Then, there's a big problem with the cloth.

There was a piece of flannel and two sections of something really nasty I can only describe as silk (?) noile (?). It took the dye, to be sure, but it left a residue of tan, fuzzy sludge over everything else. The only solution has been to hand wash each and every piece in a shallow pan, twice.  This is going to take some time.

that was Monday

It's pool cleaning time. None of the tough stuff (and it's tough down there, folks) is on me, but it's still an all-consuming process for a few days.

 If it wasn't for Colin, I'd be running a heartbroken in on Craigslist, "free  pool. Come and get it."

I keep this picture in the front of my thinking....

Yesterday was Charlie Monday for real, even if I didn't make the FB post -something I'm going to be phasing out anyway.

 I spent the morning with him because he's been fevery and unable to go to daycare. Happy that the doc said it was just
A Thing, no ear infections and he'll be on the mend in good time.

All other concerns and activities go by the boards, family comes first, always.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

round 2 - full sun

 There's no cover on the deck anymore and it's ablaze today. It might be 70 with light breezes, but I am roasted. A hat would have been smart but the worst is over.

These foundlings have been dashed and dotted with soywax and will probably undergo a second round of dye once this one is over. Some of the over-dyed pieces are going to be smashing. Patience is in order. I've run out of time for this stuff today.

With a nod to my dyemaster, Elizabeth Barton, the dry cloth went straight into the dye, low water style. They'll wallow a while and then I'll bless everything with the soda ash sauce.

My own technique is harder, faster, but all new things considered today, a day of fresh starts in many ways.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

fry for now

The Fish project is coming along. I started digging in the closet just to see what is actually in there. Holy Crap!  That request I put out for white goods?? Don't go crazy.

I pulled one box from a high shelf and the bottom broke...a blizzard of white goods is now up for review for a round of soy-resist and dye tomorrow, weather permitting.

There were boxes and baskets of things that are going into the Fat Baggies blend. Of course, I took first dibs. It's funny how one's taste will change. Stuff that I used to hoard for myself will now be up for grabs.

 I found small baskets of treats and wonders that just fell into place for an as-yet unclear vision, but I know I want to hand applique and embroidery  -  think in terms of the Creatives. Critters just doing what they do when no one is looking, just like people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


 FB served up this and other memories this morning. I'm ambivalent about that feature, but for this, I'm grateful.

I can remember the hand of each of these cloths - the black hole went into one of the first Karmas. The rich orange with tiny white spots was a cotton lawn scarf I bought on spec from Dharma Trading.

I can also see I need to work on this year's color set. My reds are too warm and too many.There's soy resists and textures going on  here too - things I'd like to revisit when the weather final decided to cooperate.

If anyone has any old table linens that they'd like to swap for a set of hand dyes, get in touch. We'll deal.

Saturday, April 09, 2016


I can relate to that face. Charlie and I have been struggling with the same upper respiratory day care cooties for a week now. If snot was gold I'd be ordering that Benz E-550 right about now.

Slap me for complaining, I'm grown and know the course of these things. Poor little guy can actually get up and run when he sees me pick up one of Jimmy's soft, old handkerchiefs and will point to his nose and say "Boo-boo" as in "take it easy, Nana. It's only boogers."

The best time of the day was when I knew he needed a nap, but would fight it to the point of hysteria, so I shut us both in his room, put his pillow and blanket on the floor and we settled in for seven consecutive, slow readings of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", trying on a different character voice for each reading because my own is so cracked and broken.

After three, I settled on a soothing, gravelly whisper and he lay there on his back, clutching my sleeve with one hand and his own topknot with the other, eyes heavy-lidded and focused somewhere magical. I am so full of wonder to be the one (not the only one, I'm sure) to be introducing him to the magic of books.

I actually got in some writing time last night and ironed out a few things that have been taking up too much of my RAM. More about that elsewhere.

In the light of self-promises to get my corporeal self back in functional order after a long period of neglect and abuse, I volunteered to wheel my little assistant around the neighborhood for an hour or so this morning in the service of getting my stamina back. All this before downloading this  and cobbling together my own dance program. Here's music to move to or you're dead.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Move along quietly

My draw for the day (thanks, JR), which I think I'll just dwell on for a week or so.

Enough of that other thing - it's a very long time 'til November. After a week of no car, I have running to do.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Monday, April 04, 2016

I got mine!

You know how I am...

the rest I've divvied up and are for sale.

I kept this little weirdo too.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

the dryer buzzes!

the damasks.

Now I can see which colors need tinkering with. The black is better than it looked wet.

Grace, this is the rest of that hard linen I sent you.

It loves the dye, as I predicted.

and most happily, my fish. ready to fry.

session 1, wrap-up

Who else gets up to rinse cloth before the coffee is ready?

Superstitions, I rinse out the color 'kin" together. Learned that from accidental fuschia poisoning.

The fish came out exactly as I hoped. Looking forward to putting them on..everything.

Now, you know about getting too excited over wet cloth. But I suspect the center will hold.

Everything has been through the Zombie washing machine, gently, and is now tumbling because I don't want to wait for the sun.

I can tell from here that the black is going to need tempering away from warm. I'll divide the remaining stock in two and mess with them. Have to think about how.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Opening Day!

Not baseball. That's next Monday. It's the first dye fest at the Lawrenceville Frankenstein Dyeworx, indoor division, kitchen table league. (It's still a bit brisk outside today and I just couldn't wait.)

Once the colors have been cooked, things move pretty fast. I knew what I wanted - pure color -  and the session was over and done in an hour and half. Well, part one anyway.

Remember the fish batik that I cut into pieces? The plan was to overdye each one with a different color and then applique them back onto, I don't know what yet. Maybe stinky little pine pillows.

That pile of victims up above was the remains of a very tough linen tablecloth and a very tired cotton damask one. I think both will take up the color like camels at the oasis.

I'm not religious about batching like some. I've been known to give things a hot hour in the sauce and then hit the rinse. I'll leave these bits bagged up until tomorrow. I have other things to attend to.

My personal schedule has been tilted thanks to the day job. My new weekend is Thursday & Friday and my new start times the rest of the week is 4:15pm. Everything else will have to flux around that crap. At least I will get to go to some Friday night baseball games this season - the last at Turner field.  The fireworks should be outstanding.

Here is the first tablemopper of the season. I didn't preset it with soda ash this time but did drop it in a baggie with a half cup when cleanup was done. Somehow these derelicts become the star of my scrap basket every year and used to find their way into my more interesting pieces. Time will tell.

(notice the eyelet flannel sheet under everything, picking up drips and stains)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

close call

On my 27-minute dinner break from the paying job, this came into my line of sight and I came very close to folding it in half and stitching it into a pillow so I could stuff it with five pounds of balsam fir needles that have been reeking around the studio for a few days. The only thing that saved it (?) was that the Janome was not rigged up with white thread. I'll finish this as Art over the weekend and we'll have an auction!! I'll make stinky pillows from something else.

Colors of the days

I'll lead with the pretty pictures and I can see now that a few of these need tinkering, but I'll stay my hand because these are the concentrates that I will work with, so a little bit goes a long way - even with my predilection for waste. I need to find a good sized disposable syringe, the turkey baster is too big.

While waiting for these to come up to room temp, I replaced the agitator dogs in the washing machine- the final phase of restoring it to useful life before having to knuckle under and buy a replacement. No washer = no dye season. Never mind clean clothes. I work from home. Clothes?

I followed this funny video and found it to be much like playing with Lego. Years ago I tore down and rebuilt the carburetor in our lawn mower and MANY years ago, swapped out the engine and tranny in my '63 Ford Fairlane. Most satisfying endeavors. The washing machine thing was not nearly as hard on the fingernails, but Kids, it's Nasty in there!  Building computers from scratch is a joke by comparison. Hands-on feels good. What's next?  And where the hell did I put last years seeds????

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I missed Ostara... I'm celebrating today while everyone else is Eastering.

I should have taken this outside for better exposure, buts it's drizzling and I've lost the tent cover over the dye deck to rot and old age.

The fun part was trying to read the labels on the powdered dyes. 90% have faded away which doesn't speak well to the way I stored them.

Only time will tell if this batch of dye stock will be valid.

I stuck to the twelve. I'm particularly happy with what looks to be a very neutral black. No more cheesy plastic squeeze bottles. I invested in a dozen 16oz. mason jars which rack up nicely on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

No more fooling with this stuff today, although I'm tempted. I have a writing project with a deadline. These will keep until we get some sunshine. And I'm happy with this salvage job:

Friday, March 25, 2016

the provenance of twine

One of the prototype cusspots.

This one was made from 12 strand cotton string that came from the first post office that my mother worked at in Goldens Bridge. They used to tie bundles of mail and magazines with this stuff. In a pinch, they could have used in a hanging. When the old PO was closed, they were going to throw four giant cones of this in the trash. I was twelve and I knew it was wrong. This was the very last of it.

This is about the size of a baseball and was covered car grime. A soak in laundry detergent, no bleach and it looks like the day I made it and will go back to catching coins in the console of his car.

All this whiteness has me itching to stoke up the dye deck this weekend. I feel the need for color.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


There's nothing sweeter than unexpected company on a Sunday morning.

(My camera needs its eyes checked)

Monday, March 21, 2016

the Sordid Tale continues...

"The Error of Her Ways"  (cont.)

Picking everything out wasn't as bad as I anticipated.  Music helped. The base cloth is a sturdy, service weight damask, not too vintage, so it can take a little punishment without falling apart.

But..web research is telling me I am well and truly screwed for using an indelible (hello!) metallic gold ballpoint ink to so arrogantly lay out the lettering. Such chutzpah!

The solution I'm too familiar with is laying in a needle-turned patch of the same base material with the tiniest, most invisible, made by blind Bavarian nuns, stitching and then, getting the damn words right, bless you Beatles.

Relax baby, it's gonna be OK.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

ugh and shit

That little badge I've been working on? It took me a week of mulling to decide on the text. Another few days of drawing the letters with my finger before I committed to the gold metallic pen. I was pretty smug about how nicely I fit the words around the perimeter of the design. That should have been a warning.

And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love 

you take.

Did you see the error? Neither did I until I was finished stitching. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Scary, isn't it.

Nothing like yesterday, though.

While I was at the park yesterday I scored a few good books from the Little Free Libray on a stick. I owe them a bunch, now that I think about it. Morbid has been the flavor of the day, politics aside.

"A Morbid Taste for Bones" is probably out of print so I'm keeping this yellowed little paperback. I was first introduced to the work of Ellis Peters while I was checking out anything and everything that was unabridged audio back when I had two hour daily commute to the Deathstar.

Imagine my surprise when I investigated the authors backlist to find that Ellis Peters was a little old lady who was dead and not writing any new adventures for Brother Cadfael. Then I stumbled on the BBC TV production of one of her books,  "the Virgin in Ice" and I was reminded of how well-written drama can break your heart wide open.

And while I was doing the dishes this morning, I wrote a scene that has been wanting and waiting to trouble and terrify me. Good day and it's only noon.

Monday, March 14, 2016

practical matters

The sun coming in over the sewing chair is rich in the mornings, strong until 11 almost, but once the trees get leaves all that will change. For now, I'll take advantage of it if I can.

The washing machine heard me boasting about getting a good deal on those lumberjacks yesterday so it decided this would be a good time to up and die. Not if I have anything to say about it.

We jackassed it off the base because I thought we had to take the back cover off. Then I did a little web surfing and found the trixie technique for getting at the works - flipping the lid and yanking off the cabinet from the front. It was nasty in there.

 In search of a clog, hoses were disconnected, but I forgot about the several gallons of dirty water still in the tub, even though we siphoned off most of it. Damp carpets will look cleaner someday. There was NO sock blockage, although I did find an ATM card in the basket that I hadn't even missed yet.

The next part to be investigated/replaced is the timer. Part ordered and an excellent tutorial found. All I need is a strappy t-shirt and crack-revealing jeans.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

passing time

I was going to call this post "killing time", but it's such an awful expression when you think about it. Lately, if anyone was to tell me to my face that they were just killing time I might smack them!

While I got even more fussy with the corded lines on this piece, I waited for a phone call from the tree guy.

The house phone was ringing the other day and out of sheer spite, I answered all prepared to send some telemarketer, politician or bill collector to a venomous hell with my snappy repartee. Instead, I took a cold sales call from a local tree company who must have scouted the property from the street even though my concerns are in the back yard.

He came, he saw and he conquered me with an amazing price for felling a group of trees that have been threatening my pool for years. The time has come. Well, it will come later in the summer after I've sold a few pounds of cloth and/or a few gallons of blood.

In the meantime,  it's Spring Break at the Froggy Club Med. This strange climate year has emboldened a host of tender-voiced leopard frogs to come out ahead of the shrieking tree frogs. Who will eat whom? All of them will be evicted in the coming days.

             I cleaned and relocated my favorite, deep-voiced wind chimes.