Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Looking for trouble.

The gold strip along the top of the black box is gone replaced by a dark red piece that doesn't show here. I want to hand stitch this badly - needle and thread goes through it all like butter but the series calls for machine stitching and I doubled the batting so the stitches will really furrow into the damask and show. When I do start stitching, I'm not going to want to stop until it's finished so I can't really start until Saturday. Other pieces are building on the opposite design wall to keep hasty mitts off this one.

Monday, April 28, 2008

new WIP at last

I can hear that music in my head "At last...." These two pieces of fabric have been nagging me for action since I made them over a month ago. It seems like all the fiddling around I've done since then has led me back to them. This new piece has been hatching in me head since then so it was no surprise that it's fallen together on the design wall so smoothly. Now I should let it hang there a few days to ripen and tell. I should have put the camera on the tripod but I'd be tripping over it ..

This one is about 60"x42"

Sunday, April 27, 2008

old things become new

This was one of my first attempts at dye printing. A little fore thought would have gone a long way but it was a messy undertaking (the way I did it) and I remember feeling an urgency as if the images I was transferring with the sponge block were evaporating before I could transfer them to the cloth. I used too much alginate and as a result the colors were so pale that I over painted almost everything with and acrylic wash and then some metallics. This morning, I cut it up into the elements with the idea that I can rearrange them. For the moment, I did this instead:

warm up continued.

"Frida Brings Home the Bacon" Any of you who are addicted to watching the barn owl cams will appreciate this one. After the mayhem and cannibalism of last season I only peek in from time to time. Still, nature's ongoing drama is compelling. I've jumped up to a 12"x12" format playing with shapes and space. Still very aware that the details and patterns of the much of the fabric that I have just made will not translate or work for much larger pieces. I might have to (gasp) make some more fabric with just big stuff in mind but the trouble is, in the past those pieces have become whole cloth pieces as I am unable to break down the dye painted design elements. Start with smaller pieces of fabric?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Warm up pitches.

Once again, Jude at Spirit Cloth leads the way with something charming and thoughtful. I sat at the machine for the first time in weeks last night and then spent nine innings hand stitching this tidbit. Through Jude's post I tracked back to the latest at the Ragged Cloth Cafe which has given us much to think about - that which appeals to us visually is an evolutionary response to what's good for us. What I want to know is,what does this say about people like myself who have never had a single qualm about critters of any stripe. Did our ancestors survive because we ate better? Did our ancestors come from another planet?

Wrapping up the dyefest is this little piece that I pleated and machine stitched. Did I not recently swear that I would never do this again? How quickly we forget.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

the naughty bits

Lest anyone thought I lost my tiny mind selling off all the fabrics I've been working on, here's a shot of the private stash - the stuff I'm keeping for my own work which I am itching to get on with. This one makes me laugh just to look at it. For now, I'm going to squirrel it away so nothing rash occurs. It needs to stay in one piece but that blue is so delicious looking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Avalanche of Fabric

I've just finished shooting and posting 16 new pieces of fabric to Like Hotcakes. Making them was a whole lot more fun and there's a lot more to do. Take a look -> Of course I kept as least as much for my own stash. I'll post the pictures of that tasty stuff as they come into the palette for projects. It's wonderful to take a piece off the line, iron it and start daydreaming about how it will work with X, Y or Z who are waiting to get on with the work. I was rooting around in boxes in the ex- studio and found another damask tablecloth that had been dyed by some lunatic. It called out for soy wax and overdyeing so that's been added to the morning agenda.

Mudcats final

For the moment, this series of raw edge, hand stitched pieces has run it's course. Now I have to make myself finish them so they don't languish in UFO land. Too much fun to waste. I think I'm going to cover a large(30"x30") pillow with this one. Eeww, actually sewing? I have a ton of administrative work to get through; pieces to ship, new fabrics to post for sale, entries to finish and mail, and that power point presentation looming...all with Spring fever lulling me senseless. Yesterday afternoon I sat outside on the deck painting fabric and listening to the frogs and owls telling tales - a perfect day.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Rust Never Sleeps

Lately, neither do I for any extended period of time. You would think I would need a good night's sleep after yesterday. After I finished drying and folding all the new fabric, I decided it would be a sin to waste the beautiful weather ironing.Instead, I got busy with the annual Cleaning of the Pool, easily on a par with the Cleaning of the Aegean Stables.

This year I beat the tree frogs to their egglaying but they were not too busy to hang around on the walls of the pool kibbitzing as I worked. In the foreground, Jim's cast iron frying pans are hard at work rusting a couple of pieces of fabric that got left behind. The studio is in chaos with piles of fabric everywhere waiting to be worked on. Tomorrow.

Chag Sameach - Happy Passover !

Friday, April 18, 2008

wash day was never like this

This beats using a dryer any day but I'm real glad that I didn't throw out my old ironing board. You know, the kind you can adjust for ironing while sitting. My grandmother is spinning in her grave. The rusty business in the middle here is one of my favorites. The spotty looking things are in a preliminary state. Painting comes next. Some of these things look like skins taken from non-terrestrial beings. My "Custom Blood" recipe worked out quite nicely. I usually don't dally much with reds unless they are close to neutral. From the sublime to the ridiculous. All delicious.

Spirits in the Cloth

It was a transcendent day at the dyeworks yesterday. I found the right music (thanks Vin), surrounded myself with all the tools and materials and worked the fabric directly on the table like I was working pizza dough (but not too much kneading). Some of this fabric is top shelf 400M and batiste from Testfabric, some is mongrel cotton from OHCO, some vintage damasks from strange tables in distant times. Spirits in the cloth. Now for the fun. Finding out just what went on in all those mason jars and baggies over night. These are wet so don't get excited yet about the intensity of the colors but there was almost no dye in the rinse water. A portent of good things. These were rinsed in tubs of water that stood overnight on the deck. I feel for all the generations of women who hauled the laundry down to the river to pound the clothes on rocks and rinse in the freezing streams! I'll let these drip dry for a while before I try to haul them upstairs to the washing machine. Many of these pieces are destined for further transformation through discharging and textile paints.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dye Day Redux

I finally got a chance to get the rest of that fabric into the dyes. It was too beautiful a day to NOT be outside working on something but now I'm pooped and will save the rinse-wash-dry-iron boogie until tomorrow. Best to batch anyway.

good Motto

I wish they had sent one in my size! Colin is the only street team rep for Rhymesayers Entertainment. He gets cool freebies in the mail. The band is Atmosphere and that <- is the name of the new CD that dropped yesterday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The making of it anyway! After I get home from the office today I'm going to be incommunicado for a while. I forgot how much fun magik-making was. left - Worlds Away 25"x18" below - Mystic Cheerioz 17"x23"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fizzy Fat Quarters

I returned to the studio last night and started rummaging through all the wonderful commercial cottons I was recently gifted with. My intention for these fabrics is to transform them any way I can. These two fat quarters have been discharged and then hand painted with textile paint with some iridescent powder mixed in for sparks. They've been heat set and I don't really want to see if they are wash fast since my intention is to use them only for Art pieces that will never be washed or dried. The base fabrics are all excellent quality cotton that you will probably recognize if you look hard enough. As these accumulate and strike my fancy (or not) I will start moving them over to Like Hotcakes! where they will be for sale.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Juicy bits

Okay - here's what excites me about dyeing my own fabric. This black is just like most black horses - from a distance they look inky. Step up close to pat a flank and you discover that their color is more likely a layer of dark brown, rusts, with black dusted over the top. In this instance, iridescent paint too. Behind that one is one of the two rusted pieces that came out so well. The teal damask has an overlay of iridescence too.Impossible to photograph but still gorgeous.

Then again there's a fool at every party!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Personal Archeology

I'm worn out and not entirely thrilled. It's a real mixed bag of results. Some of the things that I already know won't suit the work I have in mind are posted for sale on my Like Hotcakes blog. The second day of hand dyeing is all about the hard work - the serious cleanup, the rinsing, washing, drying, ironing, measuring, documenting....yada yada, on and on. There are a few jewels still rumbling around in the dryer waiting to pick up my spirits later on. While I was rooting around in one of my directories looking for old hand dye images to delete, I found this one from early 2006. The imagery got me thinking about the work that I want to be doing. I have no idea what became of the fabric. Hacked up into something no doubt.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

done but not done

Just couldn't resist washing out just one to see what all the fuss was about. Do you think that she thinks she is sleeping by the fireplace? I am rubberlegged! I ran out of soda ash and personal energy before I ran out of fabric to dye and color, so now I rest and I'll live to dye another day. Arrrr! Madame Karma expresses her opinion of my tablemopper - I always dedicate one clean yard of fabric to general and ongoing cleanup during a dye session. Interesting things usually happen.

Snow Storm?

This is only a small portion of the snowstorm of fabric hanging around waiting for dye. It's been soaking in soda ash solution since last week and I was getting a little nervous about it dissolving or something so I'm drying it out to use as the mood strikes me. It had better strike sometime today - this is the first real sun we've had in a while and the weather whiner portends crapola by the weekend. I saw my first hummingbirds this morning. One took a sip at the upstairs feeder, turned to look at me and SPAT..I'm cooking a new batch right now. Apologies from the chef. Here's one small piece brewing. Note the pollen everywhere. It's all over the wet fabric and I know it will wash out but wonder if it will create a resist in any way. I am among the fortunate few who have no idea what pollen allergies are all about. I blow the stuff off my dashboard with abandon. Everyone I know suffers somehow. Even one of my cats is blinking his weepy eyes. Alien blood will tell.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Spawn of the Frankenstein Dyeworx

Of course I'm only going to post the particularly tasty ones. Believe me there are some devil's dregs upstairs in the studio quaking over what I have planned for them when I get the strength and inclination. The green goddess draped over the chair is a large section of damask table cloth and to me it looks like the south lawn just inside the gates of heaven. This was a fun little cartoon to draw in soy wax. Looks like I have an indigo bucket hidden away somewhere but I don't. Below are the Cherrywood fat quarters that I had the nerve to tamper with.As nice as they were before, I like them better now.

uplift me

After a night of bad sleep due to some kind of intestinal uprising I find myself cranky and apologize if I spoke harshly or flipped you the bird during my foray to the post office. I usually dance in line and lip-sync with the Muzak while I'm in there. Today all I could do was let the half-wall hold up me and my packages. So I came home from errands and delved into the Sunday New York Times as I crouched over a bowl of tomato soup with too many crackers in it for a pseudo liquid diet. The image on the left is my interpretation of the one blazing from a full page ad for Sothebys May Contemporary Art Evening Auction. It's a good thing they keep the riff raff out, I woulda waved my paddle for this one. In the magazine section there was an ad for ABC Carpets version of a Gee's Bend Quilt. They happened to depict one of the few that I like but when you go to the website, it's not there. Meanwhile Bravo was showing back-to-back early episodes of West Wing that I had never seen.As always, late to the feast. Between Mark Rothko and Aaron Sorkin I am on the road to feeling better emotionally if not physically.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


This is what goes on when your back is turned.This is Voodoo making himself comfy on the kitchen table on a piece of fabric that has been prepared with soy wax. Black hair will be an interesting element.

palette brewed, holding for weather

FOF08 - day 2 (finally) A good time to cleanup, break, think about lunch (hey! I've been up since 6am) and wait for the fog to break and the temperature to head from the present 51 to the promised 70 and sunny. These are dye concentrates and I rarely take one color straight out of the bottle without spicing it with one or two others. All unique, all the time. Like that Custom Blood? A new mix that includes the dreaded Fuchsia 308. We'll see how the fabric likes it.

Smiling faces

So what if I didn't get to go to fiber camp? Better,I got to meet Colin's lady Raquel who is a delightful young woman. They left here midday yesterday to get her home to Gainsville, FL in time for a singing engagement but she has happy plans to relocate here to the ATL. I think they will be making great music together.

First Fruits

What's this, you say? Some kind of bread dough complete with mold? Nope. It's a yard of vintage cotton damask hatching out a sprinkling of rock salt (which actually had rocks in it!) coated with a variety of dye powder colors. Yesterday during a particularly slow Braves game I just couldn't stand looking at all that fabric waiting for color. I left it stewing in the soda ash solution since Tuesday as it has been just too cold and wet outside for dyeing. Wet is OK but cold is a no-no. Here it is after wash, dry and iron. I also gave the rusted pieces a thorough cleaning. I made two of each of these pieces with the intent of doing some further surface design stuff to them. Some soy wax, some overdye - who knows. Today is going to be the first sunny day in a week! Today the colors get mixed and the real fun begins.

Friday, April 04, 2008

harken back to days of yore

The recent acquisition of a ton of beautiful cotton prints has me thinking about the genuine blankets that I have made in the past. As with most quilters, my very first quilt was for my first child. Colin will be 28 in a few months. This blankie was used daily as much for dragging around as sleeping under and so was machine washed and dried almost every other day (for about three years) out of necessity. To this day, I'm impressed at how well it held up. Nine months is a long time to fiddle with one project. The only exposure to quilts I had then was casually examining a few dusty relics in antique stores. Even then they were undervalued. I think I took a book off the shelf in the library and put it back. No one in my family quilted. I was on my own with my own ideas about how a quilt was built. I saw it as a building process even then. The fabrics were all special except for the pink backing. I just can't remember where I got it but I know I chose pink to hedge our bets - this was before you could easily know the sex of your child before it was born. The rest of the fabrics were all family treasures in my eyes.Even then I was a fiber hoarder. The pale blue came from one of my favorite dresses back in sixth grade. The light brown print was a shirt that my husband wore when he was very young. The orange, green and yellow print came from a Mumu that my Aunt Jo brought me from Hawaii and the dark batik was a hand-me down maternity blouse given me my own of my longtime friends, Hilary. I can still picture her wearing it. She's a grandma now. I cut each two inch square by hand using a cardboard template and a pair of paper scissors. Once I had piles of squares, I decided that the design possibilities would be improved if I cut each square diagonally. Then came weeks of puzzle shuffling and then the hand stitching began in earnest. It's all hand pieced and was originally tied with cotton floss in the middle of each unit but in early use the knots weren't holding up so I went back and hand quilted inside each and every triangle. What else should one do while watching your baby grow?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Christmas in April

I have not mixed one bottle of dye and the temperature has turned sweater cold and greasy for lack of a better word to describe mist mixed with pollen. I have spent the entire morning paying bills, filling out forms and contemplating (just contemplating) getting our taxes done. Grim stuff. There's a knock at the door- it's the mailman with three packages and right behind him, the FedEx guy with a really big box. It's fabric from Testfabric by way of New Smyrna Beach, and an outfit I scored on Ebay and a really heavy box. Imagine, if you will, that you walk into a new fiber store. One that is stocked with the most amazing array of prints and hand dyed cottons. Drool provoking rainbows of light and texture.Generous cuts folded precisely, colors and patterns in love with one another, bundled together in tiny towers and tied with various exquisite lengths of iridescent ribbon and lace. Your eyes wander, your fingers fondle, you take mental notes coming back to your favorites over and over. Then, the gracious shopkeeper hands you a 20 inch square box and says "Pack carefully, fill it full and take all you can carry." How strong are you? What does it take to respond to such incredible generosity? I have an angel who has just made this reverie come to pass. Thank you A., from the bottom of my heart.