Wednesday, July 30, 2008

people will think I'm unemployed!

A basket full of handwork represents purpose, productivity and comfort to me. Lordy, next thing you know, I'll be darning socks. My grandmother had a carved ebony darning egg and I watched her darn a sock once and thought "that's nuts" but then, I was six or seven and not in charge of keeping decent socks on a hard working husband's feet. I also seem to remember getting in trouble for gently whacking my sister on the head with the sock egg. This is the second not-quilt in what is sure to become a series but none destined to languish on walls or in art galleries. In time, these will be gifts. It seems kinda like cheating as they seem to manifest out of thin air and some otherwise aimless hours. Just as I was tossing it over the railing to be photographed this little feathered jewel stopped by for lunch, gave me the hairy eyeball and went about her business freeloading at the Hummer Bar.I was about three feet away and afraid to lift the camera to my eye so I just tilted it up and clicked. My first ever decent shot of one of these little buggers.

Colors and Emotion

Here's what came out of those jars from yesterday's post. So full of joy! I left them hanging over the railing just before the rain got serious. When I went outside to retrieve them and watch Jimmy cooling off in the pool (despite the thunder and lightning) there was a tag team of hummingbirds staking out the feeder on the lower deck. It warmed my heart to witness both.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

summer rolls on

Each day boils up bronze, green and wet. The cicadas riot in the trees. We have troops of golden orb spiders camped out in the ivy. I imagine I can hear them muttering to themselves, testing their lines with a hairy legged pluck. Maybe they are why we have seen so few hummingbirds this season. The deck boards are too hot to walk barefoot but by by 3 or 4 in the afternoon the clouds loom over the treeline and thunder revs up in the west. I think I'm finished stitching on Summer Garden and have started piecing a new one. This time I'm using some of the wonderful rusted fabrics hatched earlier this year.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer Garden

I had to piece the back together out of scraps of white and ecru muslin but Summer Garden is nearly done. Not a quilt - there's no batting - I want to spend some time doing some sort of hand stitching to hold the back and front together but it's so grisly hot and humid right now I think I'll put it aside awhile so I don't rush through this last step. The blues and greens for the border came from deep in the magic cupboard. I found a whole group of hand dyes of that soft, gauzy James Thompson Mills cottons from OHCO. I had forgotten all about them. I half contemplated inserting a handful of monkey teeth (think Prairie Points without precision) around the edges but got hasty with the heat and stickiness. This was fun to make so I'm sure there will be another time to try this again. I had forgotten how much I enjoy free form hand appliqué.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I've zeroed in on what's drawn me to those Blues in the previous post and making me quietly repeat my quilter's prayer. It's this spectacular painting by a young painter living in Halifax, Nova Scotia,Ambera Wellmann. I keep staring at it an wondering what it's making me feel. Something I can't put my finger on. Art with deep emotional content has been pulling me in lately at every turn and making me realize that I want this from my own work and have no idea how to capture it beyond obvious moodiness. I turn away from the anxieties of reality to times past both real and imagined with escape in every stitch. Instigated by Jude's wondrous Fling, I've tried to escape the heat with my own version, A Summer Garden. Dye junkie that I am, you cannot imagine what it took for me to come up with some white fabric for this. It's only 45" square and I'm fresh out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Blues

I've finished cherry-picking the dyefest results. These are the ones I've gravitated to over the past few days. Perhaps a reaction to the heat and humidity? There has been no real work for the new Featherweight as yet but this fabric is making me think of piecing something functional. In the meantime, the rest of the harvest has been posted over to the Hotcakes site for sale.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last of the Mystery cottons dyed

This china platter hasn't seen a turkey's backside in years mostly because it weighs at least five pounds all by itself. These are the last of the mystery cottons and a few new colors that I cooked up from the original concentrates. You can always count on a critic or two at the Lawrenceville Frankenstein Dyeworx. Now it's time to "clean" the pool.

Monday, July 21, 2008

more hand dyes

Awright....I'm going upstairs to iron. It's only 99 degrees, sure, why not. Hey! Gunga Din! over here with that water skin if you please! I want to thank everyone who anted up their two, twenty and 99 cents regarding my photography quandary. Combing through the wisdom I think I've distilled an answer. It's going to involve my Goodman building me a portable hard wall and some cooperation on the part of the weather but the job will get done and the results will be what I have been looking for.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

photo frustration

I've just spent the best part of two days shooting and reshooting four of my most recent pieces and I don't know if I'm losing my mind or my overworked and aging little digital camera is losing more than just a step. I hate that I'm feeling animosity towards the pieces as if they cared. This was taken on the design wall in my studio Getting good digital images of textiles is a struggle on a good day but throw anything shiny like metallic thread or paint or damask fabric into the mix and be prepared for hair pulling, crude cursing and lots of sweat.
This one was taken out on the deck with the sun overhead. Part of my problem is not being able to decide if I want the digital image of the work to highlight the basic elements of the design - the shapes, colors, lines and energy of each piece, to speak first and loudest, or do I want the textures of the fabric and the textures created by the stitching to have an equal voice. These decisions come with little or no thought during the design and creation of each piece but conveying these decisions through the digital image is maddening. As if I could afford one, I spent a lot of time rooting about on the web looking for local professional photographers in the metro ATL area and found a disappointing clutch of wedding shooters hell bent on selling that fuzzy dream image which is probably all that most folks remember of their weddings without expensive pictures to remind them. What do other fiber artists do with this problem?


Yesterday was an emotional contrast to the day before. I was in a hurry, on fire as usual, to get results. It was hotter & more humid than yesterday, a horsefly was chasing me around the deck and I was hellbent on murdering it. I couldn't even consider picking up the brush and painting so all of these came out of the serendipity of "bagging" each piece with color added as I went along. There was not one disappointment in the entire batch of mystery fabrics. Each piece took and held the dye as if it was born and bred PFD! So the method of one machine washing with HOT water and Dawn plus a 24 hour soak in soda ash solution seems more than adequate. I left this image large so that, if you click on it, you can see the variety of textures from a heavy broadcloth through smooth muslin even to a piece of cheesecloth. Even the table mopper on the top of the heap has promise. I can't feature ironing anything even this early in the day but if I decide to part with any of these they will be ironed and posted over at Hotcakes as the week goes by.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Standing on the Burning Dyedeck..

The mood is light, the sun is hot, the music cool and the pace is much slower and more pensive than my usual frenzy-with-color. I only bagged up three small pieces over the course of the afternoon. Must be the moon. I find myself painting in slow motion without thinking about anything at all. I think I am going to be returning to meditation to even my keel. This is a juicy piece of flannel. Remember, these are all "mystery" cottons from the remnant rack. I scrubbed them as proscribed by the collective wisdom of the QA list but I still won't know anything for sure until later tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Colin picked up up a hitchhiker in the grocery store parking lot this morning. After much research this beast (that's a nearly 3 inch wingspread!) turns out to be a Royal Walnut Moth...the Royal Walnuts of Georgia to be sure. He/She? is free now somewhere in my backyard. Click on the photo for a closeup!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Road Kill

These are detail shots from the piece in the previous post which is done and about to be sleeved and photographed. The slightly smaller scale of this piece, roughly 30 inches squarish, called out for more stitching to pull the design together so I spent most of two days smoking away with Big J.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lousy weather=good day in the studio

I started the day early doing my webwork. Sussing out the nitpicking details of transferring a domain and building a splash page for a new client. Because I have become a bit jaded to the Usual Suspects when it comes to deciding on shows to enter, I wavered just a little with a Google search on "call for entries" and came up with one of the comprehensive list of art opportunities I have ever found on the web. If you are at a place in your fiber art career where you no longer get any jazz out of entering quilt shows or maybe, like me, you never belonged there in the first place, here's your chance. Get on over to Artshow and be prepared to lose a few hours if you are the least bit serious about your work. I hate to admit it but I was ready to spend the better part of the day playing manatee out in the pool but one moment the sun was blazing over the rooftop and then next - cloud city complete with thunder, lightning and hours of rain. Oh Damn Well, there's always tomorrow for lolling about and reading a wet Sunday NY Times. So, I hiked up the sarong and let the muted daylight of the studio take me to a slightly different place in my work with the salt dyed damasks. Add to that, some of Joan McGee's silk scraps and a new piece rose up from the flames of an idle day.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Welcome Little Feather

A new Tool has come to join the crew here in my studio. Big J seems skeptical but it won't be long before Feather will be working alongside him. I have craved a Singer Featherweight for many years. My Grandma owned and treasured hers enough to never allow me to touch it - I was a well know "tinker" belle, inclined to de-construct anything mechanical - but she promised it would be mine, someday. After she died, her machine found another home somewhere and I never had the nerve to press the matter. At a recent lunch, a friend and I were talking about our respective sewing machines. (Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the gentlemen at the table leaning back and a glazed expression came over their faces) I mentioned my quest for a reasonably priced Featherweight and dear A. simply said "I will send you mine". Done and done. It arrived yesterday in a flurry of pink packing peanuts and I am smitten and so grateful.

Monday, July 07, 2008

after the crowds go home

We had a BBQ yesterday. Thank goodness one of our guests considers himself a Grillmaster. My idea of barbecuing is when enough smoke comes out from under the lid, it's time to turn things burnt side up, raw side down. Nice folks, too much food, water volley ball and a little thunder and showers. All and all a pleasant change of weekend pace. Company is always a great excuse for a little overdue housekeeping, pre and post party. A Braves game got underway a bit late due to the thunderstorm but once it got started it rolled on to a Turner field record - 17 innings and a badly needed Braves win. Although I missed the first half to hostessing, the cats and I watched the last half of the game right through to the last amazing frame.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July

My deck garden is starting to make food. These are grape tomatoes which will probably be good for a salad a day for two weeks. The other shot is a green pepper, bell, I think, and a jalapeño which freeze well but may wind up in homemade salsa. I've been thinking about what it takes to "put food up" as my grandmother used to. I used to get to pour the hot wax over the top of the jam and relishes she made. She also put things in Mason jars and boiled them...stewed tomatoes, yucky. Liberty next year would be plowing under my whole front lawn and growing food instead of grass. And now that I think about it, I want a pair of mules and some goats and chickens. Folks are coming by today to grill and eat and swim. It will be nice to have a little company. Tonight I will watch the fireworks from my bed and listen to mariachi music. I can look out across the woods to the next street where, each year, they compete to burn down their houses with illegal fireworks displays.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

back to the Studio

I finally feel like I'm waking up from the sludge of a long working trip. Thankfully, it's been deliciously cool overnight (for a change here in Georgia) as our AC has been on the fritz. Throwing the house open wide at night has made for good sleeping weather and renewed energy for the studio. I'm picking up this piece where I left off before I went to Tampa. Finished my one foot squares last night and will shoot and submit them to SAQA later today. Hmm, maybe I should pay my dues first... With an order in the pipe to Dharma and several juicy auctions in progress on Ebay, there's a big dye day coming up at the L'Ville Frankenstein Dyeworx in the not too distant future. Raquel wants to try her hand at color magic and having an assistant would be interesting. There are several handmusic projects in my magik basket and much contemplation afoot regarding a possible career change. Corresponding with AnneP has reminded me of keeping my eyes, hands and feet on my own artistic path. Lots to do, lots to think about.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

making them last

I've been missing my Mom lately. She can't answer the phone easily anymore so I can only speak with her when someone else is visiting. This fabric flower is silk and metallic organza and cotton. I'll post another picture when she puts it on. Today we rounded up Jinx & Voodoo for their annual trip to the vet for shots and such. Had to knuckle under and buy that nasty crap for flea prevention (the collars were an expensive joke) and now NONE of them are speaking to me.