Wednesday, November 30, 2011


We continue to be satisfied working in this effortless manner. Some much like eating expensive chocolate truffles..but so much better for me.

There is a message in here somewhere.

PS... thanks Mimi..this is not even finished and someone submitted it to
CraftGossip but they cropped out my assistant!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Shopkeeping

I spent some time today going through the inventory and cutting prices!

Random Acts of Dyeness is fat with bargains and in plenty of time for holiday gift giving, in fact, a few of those magic cloth burritos came off the shelf and fell straight into my sewing basket.
Will wonders never cease?

Monday, November 28, 2011

rain dancer

I looked from stitching and caught him dancing on the windowsill.
Some brass!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

eyes wide open

As I work on this with ever tinier stitches  (I've switched over to the 2.0 cheaters - I keep thinking about distant horizons, wider vistas and working larger. Thinking of each little element as if it was measured in feet instead if thread counts. Judy Martin's recent post has given me another point of  view about working large with cloth. Commitment to the outcome after long, long engagement is a daunting prospect. It's not like there's a shortage of raw materials around here.

Meanwhile, I've been touring other art courtesy of a crazy little widget on the bottom of each post at Oh, What a World and other sources. Getting away from cloth and standing back to look at other art  has  been refreshing. Take a look at the work of Paul Baumer, Brian Rutenberg, Emily Mason, Clare Kuo and Clara Fiahlo  among others...are you drunk yet?

Friday, November 25, 2011

my not-black friday

This is how I am feeling this morning. I am so grateful to be off today from work. We had a great time yesterday, birds, biscuits and all. It's nice to have guests at the table during the holidays - makes me clean the house like nothing else. Between the cleaning, cooking and working a shift last night I am done in.

Except for tending my friend's cat family while she is away, I will not be leaving the house today. All this lunacy over shopping for a lot of crap that you have managed to live without for a whole year is just plain ugly.

I spent some time this morning  working on this with a little help from Voodoo. I unburied my beloved sewing chair in the studio the other day and sat sewing in the sunlight with a friend. Later....leftovers for everyone. He seems to know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

floor glory

From ABC Carpet & Home..myself, I couldn't walk on these...too beautiful.

They do make me think about working larger.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I shoulda been a stone mason

I'll pull out the basting stitches and correct the helter skelter as I go but the overall composition pleases me.

Each little brick is a world unto itself and I keep thinking about what it would be like to make one like this on a much larger scale. Scale matters a lot when you are working with cloth.

(Earlier this morning I stumbled across the paintings of Matthew Johnson)

I am so happy to have the respite, the promise of this scrap of cloth over the upcoming days and weeks.  Hope you all have happy Thanksgivings.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Candy for Breakfast!!

How bout some color excitement to kick off a busy holiday week? Thank Lorraine Glessner for these links!

Joan Snyder



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rêver 4 underway

 After all that yaddayadda and left brain stuff yesterday it was good to unpack the basket and get started on the fourth in this series.

Setting the stage was pesky -working with that woven, gridded rayon is like weaving  oiled eels- then, after half the morning shuffling and pinning it became clear that I had lost my space eye and bearings. Pulled everything off and started over with #3 close at hand to keep me straight. 

I love these nylon body Ginghers - super tool and very photogenic.

self critiquing

From Robert Genn's  Painter's Keys, the latest article "How to critique yourself" has sparked a lot of interest in my circle of web acquaintances. Like any other lesson, I'm sure it's only useful if you actually implement it as intended.

  I was inspired to take a long view of what I have been up to by snatching up some four or five hundred or so images taken from all the blogging I've done (there's a speedy little tool for that) and you know how I love my eye candy.
Then I pared that batch down to just under 300 images that showed finished or nearly finished pieces.

Then I made three folders on the desk top. "What Was  I Thinking" (read with a sneer) , "Don't Care One Way or the Other", and "I Would Hang That on My Wall" .  Taking some more time to learn a movie making tool that came with my new laptop was good for a few hours aggravation, so here are the ones that made the cut.

I made the movie complete with music by Neil Young , the song timed by Windows Moviemaker to match the images ( or was it the other way around?)
...and yes, Neil, I liked it so much I paid for it.  Alas, YouTube has decided that paying for it wasn't enough and the music has been stripped away (but you can see and hear it here if you want but be warned, it's huge)

As for this whole process being an exercise in self discovery...that remains to be seen. It turns out that these images are in fairly accurate chronological order  and that's been a revelation of sorts. If you want to comment and Blogger gives you any kind of trouble, email me...and thanks!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Friday

Madam Karma knows just what to do with November sunshine in Georgia.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

worked up over weather

I spent several HOURS looking for that gridded rayon that was the base for "Rêver 3" and finally unearthed it in the "safe" place I had stored it in. I've been wanting to start the next one in the series and last night fell asleep listening to "Diving Bell and Butterfly"   which prompted me to get on with it, stocking the basket with scraps for the project. Once I have the fourth in this series I may find a way to mount all of them together.

We spent most of yesterday morning under tornado warnings but were luckily passed over by the worst of the weather. The cats were all acting up and Karma insisted on having a ringside seat from the planter on the deck. Her senior moments and eccentricities keep us hopping and waiting on her hand and foot. Sweetie chewed on my right elbow while I finally put together the artists statement I needed for the one that's going to AQE12....99 words!

"Using vintage fabrics in my art is a constant and welcome reminder of the character and original purpose of this cloth - beautiful utility.Old damasks and linens take to contemporary surface design techniques,such as dyes and resists, in unexpected and satisfying ways.

This composition came about while waiting in my car in the winter sunshine outside the laundromat and observing several women inside go back and forth between heated arguing and companionable agreement as they watched their own laundry churning. "The fabrics of our lives" seemed to be the theme of the day for all of us."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

grey day mending

It's overcast and unseasonably warm today so I thought I'd take some time for stitching.
I'm following Jude's lead and putting a much missed breast pocket back on the Magic Invisibility Cloak. At first I couldn't find it, then I remember getting some shmutz on it and setting it aside to be washed.

Alas, it got scooped up in a wash day  frenzy and got pounded as in on a rock at the river with a load of jeans. Some of the damask and linen pieces have slipped their mooring stitches so some decorative and restorative work is in order.

Monday, November 14, 2011

spotted imaginings

just moving things around at the moment , trying this and that...far from pins even. I'm in no hurry to commit. So far I just like these colors, patterns and shapes. So far.

there are many UFOs to fart about with rather that rushing into anything here and 
I have misplaced "Ocean Homes" and "Beaches" - neither ever properly photographed .

I was looking for "Beaches"  because of how that spotted cloth that keeps turning up.
I like making it and using it. The spots are not quite  orderly but each one has it's personal space.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Thinking about what to write for an artist statement  has made me think about the origin of the piece and how and why I've been working with vintage fabrics. This naturally led to thinking about my own artistic process, the steps I take, and it was like striking a match to tinder. For me it always starts with color. In the wake of a long and productive dye season, I've been overwhelmed with beautiful cloth..even if I do say so myself. For a while I have had a design in mind - an iteration of a previous piece - and this morning light helped me choose a palette of cloth and take it out of the studio where there are too many color distractions.

I already knew what the base piece would be (which came right from here)  so I selected a double handful of colors to go along for the ride promising myself that I wont be using every crayon in the box...this time. The design will be relatively simple so the colors will have to be limited.

Squeezing the paints out onto the palette is what artists do...marshaling the materials. Ahead of time I know this piece will be permanently mounted to a large canvas 36" square, so my design has boundaries to consider. A piece of batting has been cut to fit and will act as my design wall as the piece develops. Hard decisions will be made about what cloth will be cut and which will be left whole.

The design itself is abstract but will have inferences and suggestions that always come right from the cloth.

(notes for the statement - Reasons why I work with vintage cloth)

I am old fashioned Yankee frugal or just plain cheap depending on your point of view. I could lie and say I'm all about recycling for the good of the planet but then there would be people taking exception to my use of contemporary dye processes and they would be right. I work with whatever my vision calls for- vintage fabric is everywhere and can be had for next to nothing and a little dye goes a long way. Long ago the fashion of setting a white table was the rule and a lot of that cloth has outlived the fashion and I am happy to be able to reap the harvest. I have my favorites, Irish double damask and cotton lawn, but I'm an indiscriminate collector and don't mind if a piece has holes, stains or burn marks- it's all going to be transformed anyway. I've surmised that because of changes in the manufacturing processes, cloth that was made sometime before the 60s takes up dye and other surface treatments better than "new" cloth. Fabric that has never been treated with fabric softener takes up the dye almost fiercely, yielding colors that could be described as translucent, even iridescent. You can begin to see my "whole box of crayons" dilemma.

I like the randomness and serendipity of the results of my dye process on vintage cloth. When I used to use acrylics on canvas I never, ever used a color straight from the tube, in fact, I rarely cleaned my brushes completely leaving them pickling in jars of dirty water waiting to be wiped off (on my jeans) and used to reveal hints of whatever color had come before  a reminder and echo of the previous days work.

There is a deep sense of personal history inseparable from these cloths. Many of the pieces I collect were created and used in ways that no longer exist. I hold a length of cotton flour sack in my hands, examine a hasty, unskilled mend and think about the life of the person who worked that rough needle and thread and what repairing this cloth meant to them - how important and completely utilitarian cloth was in their daily life.

I pick up a large damask dinner napkin that is as thick as felt with the depth of the fine weave and layers of jacquard design embossed in glossy white and monogrammed with the mark of the owner, the possessor of the cloth done with incredible complexity and skill by a person of low social station, her skills taken for granted and cheaply bought.
 I can drift away thinking about her sitting on a stool by a window with cold New England sunlight coming over her shoulder as she works the fine threads into the hooped napkin. Time traveling at it's best.

Ripping into these cloths and transforming them with color sometimes feels steeped in hubris. Not so much ballsy as lunatic.

I digress and have sidetracked myself but I'm rolling on two rails right now..writing about the how and why and starting something completely new. Really? 100 words?
Good times, noodle salad.

Friday, November 11, 2011


You spend hours working on a piece. Later you feel like gambling and rather than run off to buy a few lottery tickets you spend hours deciding which pieces to enter into a prestigious exhibition. The nerve!

Then you spend more hours re-photographing them and obsessing over the paperwork and meeting the deadline, barely.  Then, one day after you've forgotten about it, the Fat Letter (or Fat Email)  arrives to let you know that your work has been accepted and your job is far from over. "Lavanderia" will be going to Art Quilt Elements 2012  and I am incredibly honored.

I submitted my three entries without artist statements and now I have to come up with one hundred words either about my work in general or this piece in particular.  You say "How hard could that be...she never shuts up here on the web.."

Well folks, this time it's going into print and I don't want to make a fool of myself.  I didn't write a statement in the first place because I wanted the work to speak for itself. Now I have to speak for and about it carefully and thoughtfully. I probably shouldn't go on about how the basic composition came about while I sat in my car parked in the winter sunshine outside the local lavanderia (I like that word so much more than laundromat)  waiting on three huge loads of wash to dry and observing several older women inside go back and forth between heated arguing and companionable agreement as they watched their own laundry churning.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It was time to do a little interior redecorating. Most of you would be appalled to know that the walls inside my house are still the "realtors oyster" as when we first moved in.
I hate the idea of painting a room a specific color. I get tired of whatever color it is before I'm even finished painting! Instead, I like to hang curtains and let the light coming through color the room. The blue curtains in the master bedroom are getting pretty old and faded but it's a whole lot easier to redecorate here. The new banner is a detail from "As Yet Unbaptized".

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


If anyone knows of a class on knowing when to stop, let me know. I still don't know what's going on here but I can't bring myself to call it done because ....well, just because. Part of the problem is the pleasure in the process. Just the act of sitting and stitching on cloth is it's own reward, whether something comes of the effort is always a crapshoot.

stitching on something with an end in mind is no less's another feather bound for Jude. The base cloth is a vintage linen napkin with a stamped design that someone left unfinished and Grace found abandoned in a second hand store that was going out of business . Once headed for oblivion, it's going to keep on working a while longer...the threaded needle was still in it and still incredibly sharp. I'm using it to work the feathers.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

lazy Sundays...not

This household does not have that kind of Sunday. Jimmy gets me the NY Sunday Times and I'm lucky if I open it before Wednesday!  I take the time to do the housework I should have been getting after during the week . In a while, I'll make a point of getting outside and get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise.

First I'm doing some marketing experimentation...I can't sanction another dyefest until I move out some of the creations I already have! Thinking that the Magic Cloth Burritos may be too much cloth for people who are working "smaller" these days, I put together a new offering called "tatters"...more about it here...

Saturday, November 05, 2011

shop updates

As promised, some new burritos have been posted to the store..more to come
later today and tomorrow, so hold off ordering until Monday!

until then, ponder this incredible photo take by my friend Lynn in California. Doesn't it look like a Turner painting ? What is that little tiny fire?
This staggers me.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Sunny Jim gives direction...

I've been thinking about the creative dichotomy I work in with fabric, swinging from making art cloth that, (ostensibly) winds up in art quilts and making traditional bedwear. "Sunny Jim" above and "Big Muddy" below have reminded how both approaches meet in the middle with satisfying results - putting my art to work while soothing my frugal Yankee work ethic. I does my art.

Somehow, in my morning blog slogging I came across Amy Ellis' Bloggers Quilt Festival. With only hours to participate I'm linking up Sunny Jim. Did I mention there are Prizes to win? And later spend some time rummaging around here too.

Winter looms long and dreary so I plan on working out ways to incorporate many of the fabrics I have been dyeing over the recent months. Stabilizing "tender" cloth with be part of the that challenge- don't want my blankets falling apart in the first round of wash and dry! 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

kitchenworx - day two

I remembered to cover the kitchen table with a rescued white cotton blanket first thing instead of a stack of newpapers...good stuff will come of it eventually.

These pieces have just come steaming from the oven after having my own soywax/dye blocks shaved over them. They have to cool and dry completely before the next step and there may not be time today to move to the next step.Grrr.

Grace wrote to me about the difficulty of cutting into a piece of cloth that has been dyed or otherwise changed and become (in her eyes) a unique and beautiful piece of art, no further manipulation called for.

I know what she means. I have a small stack of good sized pieces that I just can't bring myself to force or otherwise organize or incorporate into something else.
What to do?
What do you do?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

beach inspired experiments

Moving on with my surf and jellyfish dyeing experiments - this piece turned out predictably erratic and uninspired.

This morning I fired up the kitchen dyeworks, broke out the soywax and set to work.

I did not stop to take pictures of these two in progress but spent the better part of the morning transforming just two 20"x20" pieces of damask with a series of wax resists and overdyeing.

Time was I measured the success of a dyefest in quantity as much as quality. Working within the restraints of the kitchen will add a new dimension of FOCUS . blah blue becomes .........

and differing set of steps produced a phantasm!
Go Here for a closer look. yes, I did take notes.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

back to the world

I got in from Destin late Sunday night after an exciting (not) eight hour charge over the back roads of GA. We missed our exit off FL 10 and wound up crow-flying it north across the south eastern border of GA and taking 30 mile stretches of industrial farm roads at break neck speed because there was almost no one else on the road and Jake saw to it that my Honda had an alignment, among other preventive measures. Who knew it could go 85-90 mph? On the  way down, at saner speeds, I wrung 419 miles out of one 10 gallon tank.  Along the way home, fields of cotton ready for harvest looked like fields of snow. I sent my sister a picture of the beach and she sent back a shot of their deck covered with snow!

We went to the 16th annual Destin Festival of the Arts held at my favorite beach, Henderson state park. Most of the artists were there to sell interior decoration to condo owners who never stay in their own condos and there did appear to be buying going on.

I spoke with one painter, Bill Billingsley, whose impressionist seascapes I found spellbinding. In a genre that was invented to sooth and lull, his work was compellingly beautiful. I wish I could find some links or images to share but Bill spends his time building his own (large!) canvases and painting instead of farting around on the internet..go figger! A lady at the fair offered to buy the shirt off my back. I declined.

I have idle (read "lottery winnings") fantasies about moving to this sugar sand beach and making art. The truth is I would spend all my time lolling about the beach and surf, grow gills and probably swim off under the moonlight one night with a pod of sea turtles.
Time to get back to work.