Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've put this and the last of the stuffed cusspots up for sale in the Random Acts of Dyeness store - I cranked this one out last night between customers and, for the first time, had an inkling of what carpal tunnel feels like. I can do without crocheting for good while!

There are new books to be read and I don't anticipate a busy evening although holidays have a way of bringing the wackos out of the woodwork. Since I'm working until midnight anyway, I've offered up my services as a designated driver so I may be out and about after dark this New Year! A first in many.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gallery Updating

The studio lies fallow, but that's ok - it's that time of year for me. There are things on the design wall, in the sketchbook and the back brain burner that will all come into being in their own good time.

Until then it seemed prudent to review so I spent the morning updating the main gallery and being so bold as to post prices again instead of half-hearted and hopeful messages of negotiation or barter.

Here is my work. I am well satisfied.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sweetie's first snow

Sweetie has been acting so strange since it started snowing last night, running around the house (she sounds like a herd of ponies) and going around with her hair all up.

Then I remembered that this was probably her first snow. She joined our family last year and spent a good three months sequestered  upstairs, recuperating from being a feral waif, a minor surgery and keeping her from the rest of the crew. I'm sure she missed the brief snowfall we had last winter.

It was hard to get a good shot because she was doing that foot shaking dance cats do when they step in something they don't like.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

A lovely day. Everyone got gifts both unexpected and welcome. Jake and Missy are here, Colin had to go serve the movie going public and we are hunkered down waiting on the first Christmas snow in the ATL since 17 years. The real worry is the potential for ice.

Yes, the pie tasted every bit as good as it looks and the lasagna will be at it's best tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

quiet time

The quiet time took me be surprise last night. I was prepared to be inundated with the complaints of every inept malcontent and miscreant up and walking  last night only to have long minutes of blessed silence between brief, businesslike "let's get it done" calls.

My scrap basket was just within reach so, with my eyes closed, I felt out the pieces of cotton that had the same soft weave and started hand piecing them just for something to do. This is only about 3"x5". Maybe I'll grow it a little more later on. Hand piecing is not a favorite pastime as I seem to stick my self often ...some of those red spots around the edges are NOT dye.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Looney Eclipse

When will I learn that the time to learn about  proper camera settings is not as you stand on the deck in your slippers and nightwear shivering? The moon was dead overhead so I reckoned that putting the camera on 10 second delay and laying it on it's back on the picnic table would be a good thing to try. Then the cloud cover started racing by. You can even see Venus I think.

The clouds parted for just a second and this shot came out pretty good.  No, that's not my finger...I threw those shots out with the other forty odd that I took.  I even sat up in bed reading the manual for a while. Better than a glass of wine or a pill.....

the one below is my favorite. who knows what the camera settings were?

The creatures were celebrating in their own fashion - I took three dog bite  reports over the course of the evening!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"Taken By the Night" finished

"Taken By the Night"


It was nice to get something completed before the year ran out. It's charmed and puzzled me every step of the way but last night it really felt finished and this morning I faced it with a piece of even sky colored cotton and called it good.

It finished out at 11.5"x13.5" and is ready to frame. $290.00 includes shipping inside the US and if I get off Priority Mail tomorrow, it should arrive in time for holiday gift giving.

go here for a clickable close up. email me if you are interested.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lavanderia completed

Update - I just had to paint over that yellow canvas background - it annoyed me every time I walked into the rooom

"Lavanderia" was a long time in the works. I used it in the mummy making tutorial   but did not complete the process by sealing the front with acrylic medium. There was just too many fiber effects that I knew would be lost - the sheen of the damask, the definition of all those tiny french knots - so this one looks and feels like cloth but is permanently mounted to a stretched canvas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cusspots explained.....

Melly has posted about her recent acquisition of some of my stuffed cusspots, and the questions are rolling in.

 The name "cusspot" came to me out of the blue (like all my titles do) when I was thinking about how to name these little containers that I started crocheting at work rather compulsively. When I made the first one, I put it on my desk and put a few coins inside with the notion that the nickle and three pennies might breed like hangars in the closet tend to. Didn't happen.

Then I remembered how some offices and families have a Swear Jar that you have to put money into if you swear out loud, as a kind of punishment or deterrent to bad language. Where I grew up you got five upside the eyes for anything past "Hell" or "Damn" (and those got you the very evil eye). Of course, we swore like sailors when Mom or Dad were not within earshot.

I swear a LOT on my job, violently and elaborately, but inside my head, at my customers. I curse them all, need it or not. It keeps me from burnout. My  little crocheted container would never serve to hold a day's worth of swearing fines, they were not big enough to be real Swear Jars, they were merely CUSSPOTS.

I started poking thread ends into it instead of letting the bits fall where ever and getting more evil eyes from the vacuum cleaner guy late in the evening. The threads stuck to the office carpet like crazy and he had to spend extra NOISY ANGRY minutes around my desk once a week. In the spring, I pulled all the thread bits out and left them in the shrubs around the office for birds to make nests with.

What will you do with a cusspot? Melly is cooking hers!

Last Chance for Holiday Fiber!

I'm almost done "shop keeping" for this year....

I think tomorrow is the last day before Christmas that I could promise a package arriving in time for holiday gift giving (US) .  If you buy one at the regular price any additional bundles will be 10$ off  and I'll get them out to you by Priority Mail, lickety split. (Note: Dont use those PayPal buttons for this me for an invoice so I can work in your discount! )

Cloth for Christmas!

See the inventory at Random Acts of Dyeness (remember, ignore those PayPal buttons if you want that discount! Email me for an invoice)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm starting to get that "what now" message from this piece and have twice forged ahead with uninformed, headlong sort of stitching only to stop myself and painstakingly pick the buggers out. The royal blue damask is particularly fragile.

I can see that I need to do something defining for that birds right wing and the blue moon. I've gotten too close to this one and need to step away for a while. Maybe some cooking, cleaning and shopping? Nah...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Juicy observes

How would you like to turn around in the studio and find this looking over your shoulder?

Juicy is Jake's cat and is just starting to fit in instead of spending every moment in hiding.

Although he is fierce and intimidating to look at, he's a big scaredy cat and bolts the minute anyone but Jake approaches him. Sweetie is quite put off by this incursion and has been walking around with her back fur all up in disgust.

Friday, December 10, 2010

it's Friday!!

 I spent most of my day off yesterday in bed trying to ward off a cold/the cold and working on this piece which is becoming quite compulsive.

Things going are are being revealed to me as I go.  Can you tell that I watched "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and was quite spellbound with the costumes and wigs, not to mention the intrigues and sea battles.

In a little while I have to report to the office for work evaluation and spend the day there interacting with live humans that I am not related to. I wonder if I  remember how.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

found money art

Alexander Hamilton never looked so good. Melly, do you recognize this guy?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Taken By the Night continued

Elizabeth Barton's recent post about avoiding cliches made me focus on why I have not been doing any hand work for a while now. She actually had me sketching faces on paper last night!

The word "twee" kept coming to mind (and gagging me) as I tried one small composition after the next, each time with some literal objective in mind. Finally, I went back to my established way of composing - gathering small bits of cloth that work well together, color and textures, and then stirring the two dimensional pot until a  design emerges.
When something recognizable emerges, like figures, then I start to smell trouble. What is the story? How much to show? How much to leave in the wind? How far into cartoon do I want to dive.

At this point I have to rely on my admittedly limited stitch repertoire to define and refine. Faces are particularly deadly as they usually say too much. I prefer faces to be incongruous, contrary even, to what seems to be going on.
I don't want to to spell it out for the viewer.

Sometimes there are elements that have to be weeded out or brought into focus in an unexpected manner.

This piece continues to compel me.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

sunday stitchin

Sweetie was annoyed that I abandoned our afternoon nap in favor of other things like bothering her with the camera and stitching in the afternoon sun for the scant hour and change that it  comes through the bedroom slider on the back of the house. If I'm ready early enough I can catch the morning sun in the studio now that the leaves are mostly off the trees in the front of the house.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

sweater days

Brrrr. It's a sweater day in Georgia looking as if it could snow any minute. Spending this day chillin', stitching and watching old movies on the tiny TV. (and the occasional Lexulous move)
 Later there will be home made pizza and
"The Town" on the big screen.

Friday, December 03, 2010

just a little comfort

Waaay back when (note the date on the site!)  I did an entire series of digital images that used scans of commercial fabrics as fills. I was learning several graphic programs and teaching myself to write HTML code at the same time.

Here's one of my first websites..I did run right back to a comfort zone when I made my own gallery.

So to get out of the fiber doldrums, I did that little oil pastel and after staring at it for a while now and being pleased with the design, I'm going to try to take it back to the cloth..round and round we go!
but sometimes all we want is just a little quick  comfort.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Winter Banner

I had to take the Ducky banner down. Daily reminders of the pool at this time of year just make me sad.  Right now this looks like the back reaches of a primeval   swamp. There could even be alligators in there. You don't want to see it now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


When I read about Judy's lost necklace I felt such a pang and thought about my frog and wondered about how and why we become connected with little things.

I've had this brass casting since the summer of 1969 when I lived in Provincetown, MA. It was a frog mummy - you know how they die and dry indoors sometimes - when I found it. I was helping put away folding chairs  at the community movie theater when I picked it up from the floor all dry and fragile.

I remember thinking "Magic!" and holding it in my closed hand as I worked. And then it kicked me. No kidding. I'm sure there were drugs involved, it was 1969,
but I was impressed enough take it to a local artisan who made jewelry from shells and leaves using the lost wax method of casting. He was intrigued and dubious at the same time. He filled it in under the jaw because the skull was so thin and fragile and there used to be a ring attached to the frog's butt. When it broke off I looped a ring through his arm. Too heavy to wear as jewelry, he has been on my keys since my very first car.

close ups here and here

Monday, November 29, 2010

steps in the right direction

After adding enough to call it good, plus a black & white border to rein it all in, I'll find a piece of batt big enough and machine quilt this one and call it done.

Spending time digging into Denise Schmidt's  more contemporary designs made me wonder about long arming and I  can see how someone, somewhere decided to take a quilt off the bed and hang it on the wall just to gaze at.

I'm still procrastinating about sewing these pieces together so I started a little oil crayon study that I'll elaborate on during my shift this afternoon.

I'll also be going through the stash and selecting juicy single, one of a kind pieces of cloth to post at
Random Acts of Dyeness.
I spent most of saturday morning learning the trick of adding PayPal buttons to the offerings there.
I hope I did it correctly! Please let me know  if I screwed this up!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

post holiday exercises

Relying on past experience, I'm going through the motions, groping for the spark.  To this end I'm trying to light both ends of the candle; hand and machine stitching both.

When something comes together and names itself, that alone will keep me going. That and the memory that several of my favorite hand stitched pieces started out staggering and unfocused. So it is for "Taken by the Night".

And below  just stealing edges from some of my favorite pieces of cloth figuring I won't miss a 3 inch strip down the line when I actually use the stuff in something.

I can't tell you the hours I spent shuffling these colors around only to come up with this. No doubt it will continue to grow. Ann Brauer makes it look effortless and elegant.

We had a marvelous Thanksgiving together, btw. I'm still suffering from a combination Turkey & Apple Pie poisoning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UFOs in service

This nasty piece of business has been troubling me since it was born. I  used a fat double batt because I was interested in how the machine stitching carved deeply into the damask. It's been kicking around the studio as a cat bed, seat cushion but now has been pressed into service as a rug in the upstairs bath. Hey, it's washable and just the right size, why not?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A change of medium

 At least I won't be bitchin' about the same old things!

This was the first time I've worked with oil pastels, which were applied directly to the canvas and blended with a pencil eraser.

Yeah, it was fun to do. There's an ease of use and a degree of control that's almost effortless. To get just the effect I want, where and how I want it without having to make allowance for the limitations of may be a long fiber sabbatical. Now to learn a little more about the possibilities of oil pastels and how these relate to that wonderful set of Shiva Oil sticks I was given and have let languish.

Monday, November 22, 2010

another and the stonewall

I found one more lurking on my work table the last one, biggest one.

Nothing else creative happened this weekend.  I continue to stitch on "Ocean Homes" but I'm at a stonewall place with my art right now wondering if I shouldn't start hacking some of the largest pieces into placemats and potholders.  There's no one to blame and I don't feel one way or the other about it all. I'm tired of the struggle and uninspired by working.

I've done little by way of promoting my work this past year, and when it's hard to get excited about making things, it's even less than interesting trying to market the results. I'm going to pick up the studio, take out the trash and let things lie for a while. Read, think things through and let time heal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

like so many cupcakes

 (update - A,E,F,H and K are sold!)

see which is who

Ok, now I'm really done! After rolling and stuffing hundreds of scraps last night my wrist aches and I'm finally out of cotton! And WILL NOT go back to HoAnn's to buy anymore. For a while.  What I really have to do is go to the library and get a good book. I need something else to do between calls...

You can go here for a very large, clickable image of these cusspots stuffed with scraps from my studio. They range in price from $10 to $20 dollars. Email me and let me know which one you want.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stuffed Cusspots

I'm so tickled that Grace over at windthread  got the stuffed cusspot that I put in with her cloth at the last minute. It made the package lumpy and after I dropped it in the hopper I worried that the irregularity might delay or derail it's arrival.

Who knew there was so much inside it!
(all the scraps she has on that line)

There a half dozen more upstairs waiting to be filled and I just uncovered a new basket of scraps! I'm going to reshooting them and posting them for sale by the weekend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

reviving littlefeather

My quick fix for the Janome failed and it looks like I'll need a bobbin case too (it got "holed") so I've taken the Singer  Featherweight out to relearn the pleasure of using this machine.  A new needle a little oil and off we go. What a great stitch!  Now to tape off the feed dogs and see if I can get the freemotion going.

As I walked away from this scene, I heard that box of attachments hit the floor.

PS- pictures would have been nice but I forgot to take any! 
I was able to freemotion  some nice swooping spirals all around the border. Washed & dried it which caused it to plump, pucker up and look lived in, just as I wanted it to, and handed it over. Little feather is a dream to work with. Today I'm going to see if she fits down in the table and pack up Big J for a trip to the machine doctor after Holidays.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Nothing like an impending occasion to put an unfinished project to good use. I found this batch of pieced blocks deep in the stash and set them aside along with some fabrics that might complete the project. Then the need popped up and I "whipped it up" as the expression goes.

As I put the very last quilted heart in the last red square my Janome threw a shoe and that loose screw under the throat plate is finally going to call for attention I can't  give it right now.

I'll figure it out. In the meantime there is time to do some hand quilting in the pale blue border.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

old computers must die

...someday, but not today.

 But the warning bells sounded last night. Right in the middle of a nice session of Lexulous, a grunting clank issued from the box and a strange Blue Screen of Death popped up with a dire message about the Nature of the Soul or some such gibberish about the inner workings, both hard and soft, of this computer that I have been abusing since early 2005. 

The fan goes through spells of making sounds like a coffee grinder or guinea pig sex. The heat that comes off this machine makes this corner of the room cozy on a chilly morning.

After a night's rest for both of us, I powered it back up this morning, tinkered with the OS a bit and was able to restore to a few days back but time is running out on this one I fear. The errors are too widespread and diverse for it to be other than a impending motherboard  implosion.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Afternoon at the Cathouse

We took advantage of another gorgeous fall day to sleep outside while she stitched away on that blue thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

sun day on a friday

Took myself and Ocean Homes to the park for some sun and fresh air today.  Stitching, solitude and a good book on the ipod. There was not a soul there
but me and the geese who were less than interested after I made it
clear that there would be no snacks.

They  seem to think that everyone who sits at that table will be sharing but I had nothing to offer but bits of thread and they milled about and muttered amongst themselves for a while before they lost interest and moved on. This is at Bethesda Park which is a short three minute ride from my house.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I'm still in the clutches of a cold and will probably hang on to the cough until sometime in March just like last year.

Although I got up full of piss and vinegar yesterday I made the mistake of tackling a long put off cleaning project.  And this on my day off! "Hoarders" is really getting under my skin.

It's not that bad but I was thinking that months and months of dust piled on stacks of books, CDs, mail and UFOs right next to my bed wasn't helping me get better. Digging it out an doing away with it may have set me back a few days but it's done now and the opposite corner beckons. Maybe Saturday. 

After a spell of rest, I settled into bed with this piece to see if some hand stitching could bring some light. After cross hatching a handful of the white shapes with full ply floss I realized that it was not going to help and picked it all out and fell back on the comfort and ease of crocheting with cotton.

Next for this one, and irrevocably, will come paint but not until I'm feeling more focused. My head is full of echoes and hollow places full of NyQuil fumes...

Monday, November 08, 2010


I stitched on this one between coughing and sneezing this weekend. I have a world class head cold and should probably sterilize it when it's done.

The Janome continues to puke up when I try to use the Sulky 12wt cotton so the white was very slow going.

I still can't help feeling that I have done these pieces of cloth a disservice using them this way, but I'll see it through to the finish I suppose.

Meanwhile, this one continues to tantalize me over my  shoulder and I am thinking over how I want to build this one before I start the same unsatisfying dance I'm in right now. Back to handwork on something this large? Maybe I have to experiment with a sail maker's needle and full weight embroider floss.