Sunday, January 31, 2010

mad purple flannel

I just finished housekeeping in the store over at Random Acts of Dyeness. Took down all the sold pieces (everything shipped yesterday!) and put up some new ones. I've hoarded this luscious hunk of flannel for a long time and I'm finally letting it go. 

I've put the Preview photos here until I can finish posting. If you see something you like that's not got it's own post at the store, send me an Email  and I'll get it done with sizes, prices, etc. I'm also willing to cut a piece in half if it's too big, just let me know.

Speaking of hoarders..have you seen that show on A&E? Now that's  a car wreck I can't stop watching even as  I skeeve! The lady whose false teeth were under the debris with the dead cat was the freakin' limit.

more on the whitework

Working on this one has claimed me. I was sitting at a traffic light on the way to work and actually glanced at the sewing bag thinking about the 8 or 10 stitches I could manage before the light changes.  *slaps self*

I scored a huge Mountmellick tablecloth years ago with thoughts of hitting it with the rainbow but I could never quite bring myself to violate it's purity. Until just the other day, I never even noticed a tiny worn spot that probably got it  demoted to a "cutter" on Ebay. Here's a better look.
I wanted some white and decided to take another bite out of the corner. You'll be seeing a lot of this cloth in my work in the future and I'm sure some color will come into play eventually, for now it will have to pass for winter snow. So far I think we've had six flakes...not that I'm complaining but I still miss a New England winter even after all these years.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

whitework to go

I'll be working a stretch of days coming up so I started a second "to go" piece last night. Darn thing kept me up late.   
Arlee and Jude have inspired me to some white work to balance out that other dark, intense thing that I'm working on but I'm lugging around about five pounds of threads.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

break time

I spent the whole morning folding, sorting, measuring, photographing and posting these great big pieces of fabric for sale at Random Acts of Dyeness. These were pieces of cotton that I was dyeing back when I measured my work in feet rather than inches.

Then I took a break and sat in the sun for a while stitching with the help and I realized that I might not be the only one working smaller these days and wonder if I should be hacking all these acres of fabric into little sampler bundles? Take the whole inventory and feed it into an industrial shredder? Rip, tear and roll. When I was taking the pictures I kept spying little pieces of the whole that I wanted to cut out and keep, like this one:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


While looking for something else, I came across the last batch of things that I dyed last summer. There are about 40 damask table napkins, most of them 20" square. The fact that they were ironed tells me I was hoarding them. I've pulled out the duplicates and will be posting them for sale at Random Acts of Dyeness.

Monday, January 25, 2010

cusspots found

Well these have been missing in action since the art fair back in October - the leftover cusspots that I was cranking out.  Still have a few undyed and half a cone of string so I know what I'll be working on today at work.     These were part of an early experiment in fiber Mummification. I wanted  them to feel like baskets so I dipped them in a water/matte medium mix, squeezed them out, shaped them by hand and let them dry.
There is something relaxing and reflexive about this kind of work. After a few, I start to wander from the original plan and get crazy. See that tail on the blue one?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a working Sunday

With youthful exuberance, Sweetie will draw blood no matter how quick you think you are.I couldn't resist adding those little touches of red in this piece - a little bloodshed has to happen when chaos reigns. Maybe I watch too many crime dramas on TV.

It's time to put this one to bed and start rounding up the fabric suspects for the next lineup.

I dumped out the two big baskets in the studio this morning and have put an almost dozen bundles of scraps up for sale on Random Acts of Dyeness.  I have to make room in the stash for new things, clear the decks to clear my palette.

Friday, January 22, 2010

as yet unbaptized....

...may become the title for this one. It's coming on fun but the color constraints are starting to irk me. I cut off a piece of screaming chartreuse from my rag tote last night and draped it here and there around the piece looking for a niche. No luck last night but that was far from the last word on the matter. It's a tattered piece of damask that wants to carry on. You can bet I'll oblige.

I got a response to the question of UV protective qualities of the Golden matte medium I am using on the mummies. Summed up - NO.. but Scott sent a raft of useful links and information:

Hello Deb,

Most acrylic mediums do not offer any UV filtering, as this requires special chemical additives. Both of our conservation grade varnishes do have UV filtering compounds in them, and one medium, Gel Topcoat with UVLS.

Gel Top Coat with UVLS:

Our regular Matte Medium does not offer UV filtering.

Some of the confusion that arises in this regard, has to do with the fact that all acrylics are naturally UV resistant. This is sometimes touted as one of the attributes of acrylic, and is then sometimes confused with UV filtering capabilities. UV resistant means that the acrylic molecules are resistant to UV light and the various types of damage that UV light can have on many different materials. This is one of the main reasons that acrylic is used in so many coatings today, including most house paints.

Acrylic mediums can certainly hold fibers together, and can add a different surface. They can add a bit of water resistance, especially glossy sheened products, however, all fine art grade acrylic paints dry to films that are porous to water vapor and air, so they will not work to completely seal a material from moisture. In this regard, they may help to add a longer life to some materials, but they will not necessarily stop other factors from causing various forms of degradation. Oxygen is a major cause of some kinds of damage to materials, as are acids that might already be in the material. Things such as cardboard or newsprint will yellow and become brittle over time due to acids in the fibers. An acrylic medium will not stop this from happening.

Here are some links with more general information about acrylic, along with technical information about our varnishes, which may or may not be suitable for your fiber pieces:

Golden Acrylics on Fabrics:

Aspects of Longevity of Oil and Acrylic Artist Paints

Will it Last?

Dont Fade Away article about msa uv testing on inkjet prints

Here is the varnish application literature :

Here are the individual varnish product tech sheets:

Creating a Brushable Isolation Coat - youtube video:

Brush Application of an Isolation Coat - YouTube video:

If you have any further questions, or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,

Scott Bennett
Technical Support
Golden Artist Colors, Inc.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

more mummies

I'm pleased to report that "Hollow Places" survived the mummification process with it's bright whites intact. The matte medium will make weave structures recede if you use the brush like a brayer and stroke the fibers in one direction. Here, that technique has enhanced the mottled colors of the hand dyed pieces. I've posted this one for sale.      I've written to the folks at Golden about the UV protection aspect (or not) qualities of their matte medium and when they get back to me, I'll post their response.
"Firefly" also came out as I hoped for. This time, I only used the medium around the edges of the piece - wherever the black with gold spotted Japanese print is. This piece has a lot of wispy textured elements that I didn't want to obscure or change, so this one is a hybrid of sorts.  "Firefly" is the last piece I worked with my cat Jinx and I'm keeping it for myself as a memorial to her.

I really appreciate all the interest and input you've given me regarding this technique and these recent pieces. It makes me feel like I'm NOT talking to myself when I talk about these things.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

more about fiber mummies

...or fiber fossils as Jude called "Mayhem".  I was going to do a tutorial but there really is nothing more to it than fixing the piece to a bare canvas with white glue, allow 24 hours to dry and then brushing matte acrylic medium into the work, pressing the cloth into the canvas.  This is "Held On Tight" after the process with hard morning light revealing the texture formed by the stitching still evident. Catherine, they feel like sandpaper - the soft hand of fabric is lost but we didn't want folks feeling the art anyway, did we?

My pieces are built in layers on a base of Warm & Natural batting so when I apply the matte medium, whether thinned with water or straight from the jar, the surface become malleable almost like a layer of clay. I use a 1/2" short bristled, flat acrylic brush to work the medium into the fabric.  

The question everyone is asking themselves is "Why?" apply the medium.  I had to think about it myself.  I've decided that committing a piece to canvas brings the work officially home to the Painting ball park - I was a painter before I ever took a serious stitch -  stitches become marks, weave and hand recede and flatten, colors intensify and darken a bit. Different fabrics react in different ways to the process.
I encourage you to try it yourself and see if you like the results before committing a big fat mistake.

I wanted these pieces to be permanently considered as pieces of art as opposed to unmounted fiber pieces that sometime in the future might become potholders or place mats - believe me, I've done it. Right now there's a small hand painted quilt stapled over the outside of the cat door to cut the drafts. 

These little bits of slow cloth now mounted and mummified are another matter and will remain so.
Sweetie, studio assistant in training.

Monday, January 18, 2010

good weekend

It was a very productive weekend, artwise and even made a little headway in the studio mostly sorting through older pieces, UFOs and "wonder whys". Not making any firm decisions about what  next for these things but getting much of it ready for storage. My empty nest will be fully restocked come march and my overflow studio has been returned to it's original state as a guest room.

Jim hung "Shell Vapors" over the fireplace yesterday. It was at risk of  damage up against the wall in the studio. There's been a dreary mock-Turner print hanging there forever and this was a welcome change of pace.  I keep looking at and smiling.  

I was rummaging in the studio looking for a particular piece of a fabric that I made last summer with no success. It was late in the day when I realized that it was up there over the fireplace. I had forgotten that I used it.

I also made a find at Michael's getting 50% off  on some canvases to mount some of the recent things. I know I promised a tutorial for doing this but my time was short and I got three of them nailed down before I recalled that I was supposed to documenting the process. Really the only hard part about all of this is the will to sacrifice a piece of cloth that you might have spent hours stitching by hand.  Well, sacrifice might be a bit strong - it's not like you're feeding it into a shredder but glued fast to a canvas with white glue and then saturated with matte medium & water mixed 50/50 is a radical change. I recommend a test piece before you commit something beloved. You may hate the results. Me, I'm tickled.  

Friday, January 15, 2010

old botherations

While I was in the studio this morning stumbling over stuff and trying to shoot pieces on the design wall, I stumbled over this old troublemaker that I started this time last year.    I'm so ambivalent about this piece that I've decided to make a project out of rescuing it from UFO oblivion.                 I was inspired by Tricia McKellar's "Flowers - Still Life" series and bits and pieces of this one fall right in line, but on the whole, I'm bothered. I'm going to take it to work with me and hang it up in the cube and study it for a couple of shifts and see if there are any revelations.

Winter Solstice finished

I'm finally satisfied with this one after another long sessions of stitching, picking out and more stitching.  Once again, I can't settle on an orientation so I won't be signing this one anywhere on the front - a great way to stay uncommitted.  Now, out of sight, out of mind until I can find the right size canvas to mount it on.
My camera was unhappy being cold in the studio this morning but here are a couple of detail shots.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter Solstice almost finished

I may have to retitle this "Under the Influence". The doctor gave me several prescriptions with warnings about what you should NOT do while taking them. Stitching was not on the label but I spent an hour last night picking out a whole series of black borders that I put in around the red rectangles which completely obscured the pink glows around each one. Wretched. You think I would have seen how wrong it was as I did all the initial sewing. This one is closing in on done and will be mounted on canvas.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Market Day

Sunday  continues to be  the day I locate pieces in the studio, photograph them and post them for sale at Hand Music

Because I'm including small works that are current and a few going back a few years and one or to of the larger pieces from my main gallery, I wonder if a lack of cohesion bothers collectors. Then again, there's  a little something for everyone here. Maybe I should dig out some of those summer flings now that it's the dead of winter.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Stitching on Winter Soltice

I may rename this one "Winter Solace".

I hurt my back trying to adjust my chair at the office the other day and normal doings, like just walking, make me shake with pain.  The plan is to spend the day sitting in my new sewing chair upstairs with the heater pulled up close, and stitch on this one. Yeah, and get up and move and stretch every twenty minutes or so.....

The sun is bright today but the temps are still in the teens. Brutal. The hot colors in this one are little fire spots. I want to be careful to not over stitch this one as the scraps I used have enough color and character going for them I think.

Jimmy made a batch of chili yesterday so I'm off the cooking hook for the weekend. More heat!

Several people have asked about my method of attaching a finished piece to canvas so I'm planning a tutorial that I will post here in the upcoming week.First I have to find the right sized canvas, a pesky square 22"
Here are some closeups    one   two

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Glad Tidings

I'm thrilled to announce that  "Companeros"  and "Supernova" , most recently in Chandler, Arizona at Art Quilts XIV: Significant Stitching ,have both been acquired by a private collector.  Making both of these pieces was all fun.
Companeros is covered with french knots and heavy running stitches  which I did while sitting with my mother she was in the hospital for a stretch. Supernova is newer, one of the first pieces I worked on while at my call center job.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Social Networking

Talk about your slow cloth. I've been dragging this one around with me since the middle of December. Colin pointed out my usual value issues and rather than paint or stitch to amend them, I'm going to mount this one on a canvas leaving a two or three inch border and paint it a flat gunmetal gray. Finding the right size canvas will be the trick.

I've joined Slow Cloth on FB and am amazed at the lively conversation taking place around what's normally a solitary and contemplative pursuit. My personal reasons for working in this manner are purely practical, in fact, almost enforced by circumstances. I don't have a whole lot to say about it but it's interesting and fun to see what others are thinking and doing.

         Sweetie and Colin

Sunday, January 03, 2010

"Dirty Pool"

Some time in the night,I got an email letting me know that someone bought "Dirty Pool". 
I did a little research and found that this one goes back to 2005 when I first started blogging. There are links here and here that tell about it.

Update..I spent the afternoon adding eight piece to the store some as old as this one and some that have never seen the light of day!

Concentrated Focus  (the original Handmusic, 2005, unfinished)

Saturday, January 02, 2010


There should be music here but I dont' know what to play. A tango perhaps.

Winter afternoon light

As if I needed another path to follow, a new piece has sprung into being. I'm still shuffling the spots around.
The afternoon light over my shoulder in this new chair has rekindled my flagging interest in this piece. Under the fluorescent lights of the office I was getting mighty bored with all that gray kantha stitching. New things have been revealed.  And here are two other pieces in progress, one barely thought through and the other one about to be let go. Catch & Release.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Chair

Not really but a new location. A nice spot where I can catch some afternoon light over my shoulder. And a new perch where Sweetie can watch Squirrel TV. The bold little buggers actually come up and put their paws on the glass! Just wait until she can go outside.

This chair is actually part of a suite that we bought from This End Up back in 1980. In fact, we still have most of the pieces. When you buy this kind of furniture, you had better really like it cause it's going to outlive you.

No pithy thoughts here for the new year. There was a SALE in the store and I have a lot of new ideas perking. Who could ask for more?