Sunday, August 31, 2008

holding my breath

With Gustav advancing on the Gulf coast here I am mentally whining about the possibility of a week of rainy overcast once it's fringes reach my area. Some gall. I went to a meeting of the GA chapter of the Surface Design Association yesterday afternoon. The group has put together an exhibition proposal and was working out the details of which local venues to approach. Talking about exhibits in 2009, 10 and 11 makes me anxious. For several years I have been unable to project my life or career as an artist any length of time into the future. I started mining out the studio yesterday evening and found myself with a pile of happy playfellows on the work table so I started building houses...again.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Joanie San Chirico is right! No one is ever going to see the things I've made if I don't take action on the marketing front. I joined the Professional Fine Art Network a few months back without giving a it lot of thought - I was flattered to be invited. Now I have to work on making it work for me. Now that my free (read "unemployed & broke") time is hopefully running out I'm inspired to take some action. As the song goes "you don't know what you've got til it's gone". I've applied for a couple of small grants and have selected few juried show to enter and my main gallery needs updating. It's August already and I haven't posted any 2008 work yet. The dust bunnies have had babies in the studio too. pFAn is a networking index for fine artists and consultants working in the hospitality, health care, corporate and public art sectors. Having just spent a lot of time staring at some truly hideous not-art gracing the walls of a hospital, I have a new appreciation for how far a little beauty and positive energy might have gone in that particular setting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

groping & sketching

EB had a really thought provoking post yesterday. It actually put my withered brain in gear for a few hours and on into sleep thinking about the answers to the questions she posed. Which art & artists inspired and, more importantly, why. At first I opened an old sketch book and scratched around with pencil in the dark. There were some old drawings in there by someone I barely recognized. Some were good. Some were awful. The questions raised were around what we like and how to stay on the task of bringing those elements into our own work. What is it about a particular piece (mine or anyone's) that captures my attention and keeps bringing me back? The list got long and strange. -energy -stealth -symbolism -gestures -"living" color - that which is not seen but hinted at. - moods suggested rather than stated - a "booga booga" quotient. Not wanting to waste any more ideas (I find that if I commit something to paper it never finds it's way off the page) I dragged some lines around with fiber and thread. I love the way you can force your will on strips of old damask. It's old and full of unknown history and will slither away on it's own if you don't rein it in tight.

Monday, August 25, 2008

August Sun

It feels like I haven't seen the sun in weeks. Between time inside the hospital - the smoked glass panes made every day a cloudy one - and the blow back we've been having from hurricane Fay, my tan is fading and my swimming pool is green. I started this little piece of hand music to try to loosen up my appliqué technique. Leave things a little loose, hairy and puckery. There may even be some beads down the line.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

UFO's continued

I got the last 500 or so pins out of this one last night and was dizzy from stitching in circles for hours. It's over 80" wide and is busy overwhelming my design wall. I hardly know what to make of it right now. It's kind of a throw back for me design-wise but I continue to work my way through the UFO pile in hopes of turning up a gem. This one might just be a really nice blanket someday.

house fling

We are under the shield of overcast from Fay. It's dark like it wants to rain but so far only a spit or two. The trees toss with strange smelling breezes - winds from somewhere else. Nothing left for this one but as much hand stitching as it take to hold front to back respectably. I rushed the building of it this morning and the side borders are a bit wonky. Just thinking about hurrying is a signal to me that this is the last of the Flings for this year. I have prayer flags promised and not being much a a prayer, I'm at a loss for the moment. It will come.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sugar dyeing

A few folks have asked about sugar dyeing. I wish I had done a few process photos while I was doing the last batch but I wasn't thinking about making a tutorial just then. Plus I was working with two left gloves - someone's idea of fun while stocking the grocery store shelves I guess. Sugar dyeing is not all that exotic. There's nothing really chemical going on. "It's MECHANICAL" to quote Bugs Bunny. When I first started dyeing my own fabric I read bits and pieces about different ways to bring the dye and cloth together including the salt dyeing process I found at Paula Burchs' fabulous site. I took a stab at it but wasn't in love with the results on regular fabric. When I started dyeing damasks, I took another try at it but I had a new idea of what I wanted the salt to do for me. Keep in mind this technique may not work unless your humidity is high like here in Georgia. Do you know why you put a few grains of rice in the salt shaker? To keep the salt dry. At high humidity salt and sugar crystals will take on a bit of moisture from the air - simple kitchen science. I started with a half cup of rock salt in a small plastic container. Left the lid off overnight, out on the deck. Readied a piece of damask soaked in soda ash on my work table. Dust mask plus wet neckerchief and goggles in place. No breezes. (I do all my dye work outdoors- ignore safety rules at your own peril). Folded a quarter teaspoon of dye powder into the salt. The dye sticks to the damp crystals. As I work, I change colors by just adding more dye in to what's already in the container. With a spoon, I sprinkled the salt/dye mix over the fabric. Rolled the fabric up lengthwise and then coiled the roll. More or less manipulation of the coil at this point will blur and distribute the dye or not. Pop the coil in a zip loc baggie and let it bake in the sun for the rest of the day. I rinse the fabric by hand in a cold water tub and follow up with a hot water machine wash with Dawn and machine dry. Where does the sugar come in? I ran out of salt! Sugar works just as well as salt.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

almost home

Jimmy was sort of half sprung from the hospital today. The medical doctor cleared him to leave pending the surgeon's approval but the surgeon was too busy running through the halls with a chain saw. He finally popped by after I had gone home promising to spring my man in the morning. I nipped out in the middle of the afternoon to come home and see what had become of a batch of damasks that I had pushed into a stew of soda ash the day before Jim's surgery just about a week ago. What was I thinking? When I opened up the container I half expected 20 gallons of mush but the cloth seemed OK so I went ahead and sugar dyed it all. I have a "what if" in mind for some of this fabric. Nothing fully formed, just a notion. I was busy elsewhere so daily life has taken a back seat. My pool has been sadly neglected this past week and all manner of strange things just came out of the skimmer and dip net. I just hope I can get back in the water to do the real cleaning. The water has cooled down a lot and hurricane Fay will be drenching us in a day or so.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Thanks to everyone who has sent prayers and expressed concern for my husband's recovery. Jim is on the mend. He took his first solid food in a week last night and seemed to be tolerating it when I came home from the hospital last evening. My mock nursing was getting on his last nerve. While I was gone this weekend, Raquel cleaned my house and it was such a pleasure to come home to peace and order when I had expected the chaos and clutter that I had left behind. The only room she wisely didn't go into was my studio. I peeked in, looked around cracked the windows and closed the blinds. A storm is coming soon. The mess in there is dispiriting in a small and laughable way at the moment. I had no photos for this post and found this one in a file on the computer. I know the piece is in the studio somewhere, unfinished, but I'll be dipped if I can find it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thanks for asking

No pictures, just the facts. I have been sitting by Jim's bedside in the hospital. He is recovering from surgery to remove a section of his colon where cancerous lesions were found during his first routine colonoscopy. I won't preach. Can't preach because I have not yet had my own first checkup - it will be scheduled shortly - just know that his doctor said that another very few months would have made the difference between a good and a poor outcome. Bumping up against mortality in this way has us both rattled to the core. And that business about sitting by his bedside? That's a lie! They have huge, high tech lounge chair that I spent the first night sleeping in but the next day Jim found he was more comfortable in the chair than in the hospital bed so at any point in the last 72 hours nurses and doctors have found me sleeping, sprawled out and generally lounging in the bed. I'm just home for a moment to count cat heads, change, shower, brew myself a decent cup of coffee and head back to duty. A duty I am so grateful to be performing. More when I can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Pursuant to the discussion I had with myself on the previous post I've started hacking up some of the larger pieces of fabric I have in my stash and putting together little sampler bundles. This from a girl who thought nothing of wearing striped socks with a plaid skirt. The individual pieces are roughly fat quarter or dinner napkin sized and total up to more than a square yard. Plenty to mess about with. I'll be listing them on Like Hotcakes adding more bundles as I keep grouping, ironing, folding sounds like work but it's kinda fun. I just have to remind myself that these little beauties are headed for someone else's studio or sewing basket.

cutting up the cloth

I've been thinking about Elizabeth and Rayna's posts about the reluctance to cut into art cloth once you created it. Looking around my studio, I have to say I'm guilty as charged. Could be partly why I have so many humongous pieces of fabric that are not selling like Hotcakes. If I can't bear to cut them up, what makes me think someone else could be so bold? Time to break things down into imaginable hunks so later today I plan on dragging out the scissors, slashing away and putting together the yard+ bundles that I used to offer. There are also about twenty-five pieces of damask stewing in soda ash solution out on the dye deck that must be seen to quite pronto. Got to mix some colors later today. It' gray and raining and color would help lift the mood.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hot Houses

No Jude, this one may wind up with a light batting also. What shall we call flings that have grown a pelt because fall has peeked around a bush at summer? Our weather has turned rainy and cooler and I will be spending a good part of the coming week by Jim's bedside in the hospital where they have all the AC one could need in Georgia. Fearful that the red overdye I gave the borders would bleed all into everything, I gave it a good thrash in the washing machine last night tossing it in with a bunch of Jimmy and Colin's socks and underwear to pink up for fun. Murphy's Law at work - no red run off at all. When we first met and felt the need to get to know one another better, Jim came with me to the local laundromat where we did our wash together in one machine. Very sexy. My brand new red chenille bathrobe left everything he owned a loving shade of pink. I plan on doing some of that Indian edge wrapping technique on the houses before I decide if there will be middle to this fiber sandwich.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Safe as Houses

I was thinking about Judy Martin's protection series and the expression"safe as houses" when I was searching for some floating nines for this latest fling. I've pieced the striped border from A's beloved Cherrywood cottons but the grays and browns depressed me so I tossed them into a red dye bath for a makeover. I seem to be attracted to some kind of wayback machine notion of time these days - I actually sat in rapt, if puzzled, attention the other evening and watched all of "Now Voyager" for the first time. Made in 1942 back when Bette Davis really was exotically beautiful. She had on the most amazing pair of earrings for a long stretch of the film and I found myself webslogging for an approximation of same for my own lobes. No luck so far. These are from my deck garden. The tomatoes were just snacked up for dinner and the habaneros bagged and frozen for the Chili cookoff in the fall.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Ni hao World

Who knew that 8's were so fortuitous? Certainly not me when I painted "Congregants" in 2007. I'll take good luck anyplace I can trip over it. I was glued to the screen last night to the spectacle of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics. Chinese culture is so complex and old, it would take lifetimes of study for a deep understanding and I confess ignorance. I resigned myself to just taking in the visual aspect and kept hearing myself oo-ing and ah-ing over each new image. The general impression I got was of a people who will work together to accomplish a goal, no matter what that goal is. The results were amazing. I won't go all political on you here but I could not help but reflect on how opposite this culture is from ours and how our culture suffers from divisiveness, feelings of entitlement and the unwillingness to accept personal responsibility in the face of all the challenges we face as a nation. I had intended to stitch my way through the evening but didn't get much accomplished beyond sticking myself to bleeding a few times. When the actual torch lighting began I was charmed by the water spirals projected on the screen along Li Ning's progress around the inside of Bird's Nest stadium. My freestyle hand quilting is almost always spirals building out on one another much like these.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Last Fling (for now) - storm light

The thunder is rocking and rolling from the west and the trees are shaking out weeks of dry leaves everywhere. We haven't had serious rain in over a week of 95 degree days. It's time. I had to try to get a shot of this one before I start dragging it around everywhere blankey-style, doing the hand stitching on it. Can't exactly call it quilting if there are only two layers but there you have it. Now, if only the power doesn't go out!


For lack of anything current in the studio to show you , here's what I've stapled to the door outside it complete with my shopkeeper's bell so I won't jump out of my skin when someone enters without knocking - as if the door was ever closed. Titled "She Hears Voices", you would think it might keep folks out altogether. Anyone who's been around in the fiber art world on the web will recognize the strong influence of Pamela Allen. I made this piece when I attended one of her classes during my first visit to ACA in FL. I was thinking about the Wednesday doodling that a few bloggers do when I pulled this out of the UFO pile last night and tried my hand at thread painting. Now I recall that figure drawing was something I never conquered but always wanted to. Like many untrained artists I draw what I think is there as opposed to what really exists. I'll call this cartooning and promise to take up portraiture someday. My mother used to doodle women's faces complete with '40's hairstyles and this looks just like one of her girlies.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Last Fling (for now)

Sometimes you just lose focus, or maybe you never had it, and you were just going through the motions. I've recalled that going through the motions is how to keep one's head above the water.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Blueberry Picnic

I've finally finished this piece and it's time to say goodbye and send it on to it's new home. One problem - I haven't added the sleeve because I can't settle on an orientation. So, dear A., flip it around a few times and decide for me.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

another start

I skipped adding the hand appliquéd elements to the second one in favor of letting the focus fall on the rusted fabric but decided I needed to come back to the hand appliqué and take more time with the design of each block. Stop hurrying. Stop time. I made a big selection of colors and loaded up the basket so they would be at my fingertips. I have another idea for the monkey teeth this time also. The Summer Lightness is catching on. Look where Margaret is taking it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fireplace finds new purpose

Remember this piece from one of the first dyefests of the year? I am deeply gratified when an artist uses one of my hand dyed pieces in their work. As much as I loved it, I was at a loss for what to do with it beyond wash, iron, fold and squirrel it away for "someday". I'm lucky that "fireplace" fell into Jude Hill's magic hands. See what she's made of it at Spirit Cloth.