Friday, March 30, 2012

Art Quilt Elements in Philly

 It's opening night!

Thanks so much for sending these pictures Sue!

 It's  really gratifying to see people examining the work close up..seeing what I was seeing when I made it. Maybe wondering "What the heck was she thinking?" or "How was that done?"

I wish I could have been there this time, my first ever rilly big shoe

happy friday

I have to step back from hand dyeing for a few days. My process includes hand rinsing everything before putting it through the washing machine and last night my poor paws were begging for drugs.

So for the next few days I'm falling back on this little bit of hand stitching which is shaping up into something compelling. Tonight after work I'll slather my hands with some Bengay, put on gloves and be well in the morning.

I have also taken huge step in the direction of Peace of Mind and made an appointment with a tax professional for tomorrow afternoon. The 800 pound gorilla is packing his crap and vacating my studio as we speak.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

spilling its guts

Here's the original purpose of the original cusspot which is about the size of an apricot - a thread catcher to carry with me when I was still working at the office.

Today I'm decanting everything I was able to cram into it since last nesting season. I've decorated the crape myrtles up by the mailbox and hope that some of the birds have ignored the crazy weather and are just now building nests.

Rather than drive everybody to bored tears with an ongoing project I've created a separate page for the Sun Lion piece....the link is up there on the tool bar.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

sun lions

I kept going back to this design and color in my sketchbook. Now I really have to leave it alone before waxing and moving on to the next colors.

in the meantime, a new clutch of cusspots gets the boston beanpot treatment and once they are washed and dried they'll be stuffed with hand dyed scraps for sale. The way I crank these things out would make someone think I was trying to quit smoking - not the case.

work before play

I've spent the morning hatching out some test pieces. Tinkering with the colors, seeing which appeal and which need either flushing or rebooting. I have officially renamed that fuchsia "the Devil's Blood" because it's so seductive but such a contaminating pain to work with. Look at it out there pinking everything all crazy.

I've cleared the table in preparation for doing some (big) whole cloth dye painting but I'll have to wait until later because it's turned nippy..not optimal for the strong colors I want right now..

For everyone who is waiting for a package, please forgive the delay. I hope to get everything to the PO tomorrow!

Monday, March 26, 2012

a very good dog

Don  & Brewster headed out this morning but not before I put Brewster to work modeling the latest WIP. He was so busy posing for the camera he didn't notice the saddle blanket and while I was fiddling with the settings on the camera he wandered in place. At least today he didn't fall in the pool. They have only been gone since 11 and the cats have already figured out that the house is all theirs again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

sunday song

After a deeply overcast day, the setting sun set the evening all a-pink with wonder but Karma was oblivious..exhausted from a day of lurking and hiding from something the cat crew has never experienced; a canine house guest!

Don and Brewster rolled in from Texas for a few days visit. You couldn't ask for nicer house guests, two or four footed!

I dreamed about where this one is going next and hope to spend some time with it today. The base is an woven cotton upholstery fabric and I want to preserve and incorporate the design somehow, maybe embroider over it in another far it's been "sew & pick out, sew & pick out"

Friday, March 23, 2012


I had wanted to sit with this piece and shuffle things around until they started talking sense but there's been a change of plans that call for some emergency, "company's coming" housekeeping.

back to the rubber gloves.

 these will have to wait.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

prayer flags someday

I think spring has

come so early

in honor of WAS

Magic Time

Okay...browsing around in the basket I was reminded about the double life that these hand dyed damasks lead. Straight from the dryer they are supple as snakes and soft as clouds. Once ironed..the magic begins as the woven patterns leap into view and the flattened threads take on an iridescence that is very hard to capture digitally. This particular 18" square napkin is a perfect example of why I love working with this vintage cloth.  I'm posting this and three others over at Random Acts of Dyeness later this morning.

update..this piece has flown.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

washday at Wingdale

urg...I was run over by a migraine earlier in the evening and my head feels like a spoiled melon...I have a soft spot on my head like new babies do. please don't touch my head, pillow.

I had a lovely note from a reader regarding prayer flags and I sent her this photo of a set I made in the fall of 2010.  Looking at them now I'm reminded of lunatic laundry...washday at Wingdale which was the local nuthatch for my hometown. The place where everyone's mom would swear she'd run off to if we didn't behave.

my Monday (your Tuesday)

Here's what is not happening today, despite the continued glorious weather. No ironing, folding, sorting, stitching. It's my Monday and there are catchup chores to do after a weekend of slacking.

If I don't do my own laundry I'll be working in my PJs tonight (although I understand PJs are formal attire for many telecommuters). The warm  weather makes me wish for an old fashioned reel style clothesline but given the insane levels of pollen we are experiencing it would probably be a waste of time to put wet cloth out to dry. My dark green Honda looks just like a Granny Smith apple right now.

 I have to go out for a few errands. Every time I leave the house I get the feeling she won't be here when I get back. Colin slept downstairs' in Jake's room with the AC last night and Karma cried bitterly most of the evening looking for him. Even if he had brought her downstairs with him, she would have bolted and come upstairs to sit on the bed and cry. Cat senility.

And speaking of diminishing brain functions, I downloaded a new application and am having the devil's own good time sticking with the tutorial. What I really want to do is just rip in at "start" like I always do but since that rarely pays off, I'm forcing myself to live by that description of "crazy" - doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.

Monday, March 19, 2012

first fruits

"subtle (for me)" would have to be the name for this lot. I used up all the remaining old dyes and can see which colors suffered over the winter and which held their ground.

 I now also know which of these cloths have a bit of poly snuck into the weave. I'm going to iron this lot tomorrow and they will almost all go up for sale in the store.

New colors have been mixed, new crayon poured and proven and a whole new batch of cloth is soaking in the sauce. Everyday this week will be a dye day as long as the weather (and my  stamina) holds up.

I did a lot of hand stitching on the big WIP this weekend too, despite my misgivings. There's nothing to say I can machine stitch right over everything if I decide to.

no eyecandy, yet.

Nope - no wet previews. I don't want to disappoint myself or anyone else. We'll just let this batch come into it's own when it comes out of the dryer; everything is in a cold water wash right now. Keep in mind the dyes were old and tired.

I have a large number of vintage damask table napkins and thought about dyeing them in sets of eight clear bright colors to sell in sets for prayer flags to be embellished as you wish with stitching, printing or other surface design techniques. I won't match the patterns...there are too many but they will all be close to the same size and hemmed all round.  Let me know if you are interested in a set for $30.00..well, let's see what the dye devils have wrought first!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

warming up leftovers

Before  I could mix up new dyestock I prepped a small lot of cloth to use up the leftovers from last year. They were stored optimally in a small cooler and I took them out for the first time yesterday so they've had a full day to come around to ambient temperature.

The method was a hasty "dunk it in here" parfait affair -  I was anxious to get the squeeze bottles cleaned and ready for the new colors. There are all kinds of cottons here from an embossed upholstery woven to some squares of humble, unbleached muslin. I'll give this bunch until tomorrow morning....

I made a big mess and am not inclined to clean it up right away. It's hot, I'm tired and there's a lotta later in today still.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

so far so good

After a few hours stewing in it's juices I rinsed this one in cold water to flush off the excess dyes and to not disturb the soywax in the process.

I actually left a few pins in the thing having missed a few corners here and there in my basting frenzy so I had to be a cautious and gentle washer woman. A firehose would have been useful. Keep in mind this is four by six feet and three and four layers thick in places.

The balmy Georgia spring day has turned ugly on us. Thunder is rolling and the sky has turned all dark and broody.

Most of the wax is out of this one now and I am really pleased with the potential of the process so far. It's dark here, soaking wet and I've hung it over the rolling rack in the rain.

There will be some discharging and painting in a few places that are still needing to be pulled together design-wise.  Correcting value deficiencies this way is more fun than it should be.


yes, I remembered my bartender's apron and gloves.
The entire piece is crammed into a two gallon steel tub along with about a quart of dye and a gallon of special sauce.   I'll do the reveal later today or tomorrow.
not a crime scene clean up unless the big piece turns out really sucky. this will be the first table mopper of the season, formerly a pristine 24" square vintage damask table napkin. I wonder what the mistress of the household would have thought!


It's hot enough outside ...the dyes are out of the  refrigerator and this piece is well and thoroughly waxed . I let the soywax get very hot and in most places it's penetrated through to the plastic tablecloth underneath.

When we get back from lunch, I'll don the gloves (don't forget) and apron and mix up the monkey blood I have in mind for overdyeing later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

basting sails

All of a sudden, it's shorts weather, and once chores and running around were out of the way, I took a chunk of this day off to do some more basting.

Some people may thing it a terrible waste of time but my basting stitches are like Attilla's march and  so I'm perfectly happy snipping and ripping if something needs relocation. I don't even bother sinking a knot at the end of a thread; a back stitch or two will suffice. Pins are such a pain.

I'm going to work on both these large pieces at the same time and have plans to do some some soy wax resist and direct dye painting on both pieces before I make any decision about if, and how, any permanent stitching, machine or hand, happens.

larger issues


there's just no telling where larger spaces and room to work will take a person.

several of the tablecloths in that lot are what I would call "service weight". Although they have a beautiful pattern loomed through, there is almost no diagonal give which made me think it would be a good base to build on ..but it's so starkly white.
The empty space has as much presence at the shapes I've basted on....there are more.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012


There's a snowstorm in my studio! I lucked into an enormous lot of damask tablecloths on ebay last week. I am going to have to haul this and the rest to the laundromat for a harsh thrash before any dyefest can begin..there's starch, fabric softener and other loving touches that will get in the way of a good dye result.

This is day 1 of a short stay-cation for Jim and I. This morning we are both doing chores but I am hoping to persuade him to a late lunch and a movie since the rain has put a cramp in his plans for the day.

I spent the morning filling the envelopes that have come rolling in with scraps and snips from baskets all over the place.
I feel like a crack dealer, giving away the "first taste" of hand dyed vintage cloth for free...and then, they'll be baaaack for more!   Off to the post office.

Richland WA, Huntington Beach CA, Berea Ky, Mascotte FL, Calimesa CA, Canfield OH, Wiscassett ME, and Crescent City CA – heads up! Your packages are on the way!

I'm also fooling with Colin's little Canon Elph since he has misplaced (somewhere in the hell of his possessions) my little Fuji. It's got too many options.

I recently started wearing a watch again because I am constantly (but silently) bitching out my customers for not knowing what date or time it is.

 It's a good thing I have a few days off.

 If one more fool replies "ten minutes ago" when I ask what DATE and TIME an incident occurred, I might hunt them down in whatever timezone they are in and slap them silly. 

And go ahead and give me another phone number without the area code, you huckleberry, and see what happens...THERE'S A WIDE WORLD OUT THERE!!  I feel better now...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

the saturday mail

The replies have started coming in from the runner-ups in the giveaway and I never imagined that people would send me THINGS!  besides all the fabulous postage. Wonderful, wordless salmon songs by Jon Parmentier and a wonderful handmade sachet filled with Maine Christmas tree  balsam that just transported me and, yeah verily, led me astray to strong drink. (YO HO, I hear the pirates sing).

When I was growing up my parents found the resources to haul  all of us up to Cape Cod each summer for a week. The cheeky Hyannisport address might  impress some but we stayed in a cold water, knotty pine cabin. I did wave at the Presidential yacht as it motored by one day on it's way back to Hyannis next door.

 We slept in  wooden bunks that were just the size of a small man's coffin and I loved every minute we were there. One of my prized possessions was a little calico cat that was stuffed with balsam needles. To this day, the scent of seacoast pines does me way better than Calgon.

I couldn't sleep last night; fretful with small mother-worries, so I went downstairs and poured myself four fingers of some Pacific coast grape's blood and drank it down like medicine all the while trying hard to taste the wonderment promised on the artsy label when all I could find was red kerosene.

So I lay awake in the dark, mildly drunk, with my Ipod in my ears and the little balsam sachet balanced over my wakeful third eye, until about 4am.

Now the house is redolent with sausage and peppers and noisy with men working on machines and I'm getting sleepy and must nap because I have to work at 3:45.   Kefaya! Tonight I will start picking scraps for those envelopes.

true(er) colors

Yeah, I'm as shocked as you are at the discrepancy between this one and the one I posted the other day. That was shot flat on the bedroom floor with only the feeble light from the overhead fixture.

This up on the design wall in the studio with just overcast morning light - closer to the harsh  truth and revealing my usual shortcomings..lack of value changes and/or balance. But  I'm not going to flush the baby down the terlet just yet.The mother cloth underneath it all is especially disappointing.

I was looking at Shell Vapors again and paid attention to where my eye was going and when I happy with what I was seeing and where I gave it a pass and moved on, six square inches at a time.

There are maybe enough YESs here to go ahead and work over the NOs one by one. Haste makes scraps, although a lot of you are happy about that, aren't you.... :)

Friday, March 09, 2012

on the design floor

I hate to say it out loud but it looks like I evicted this cold from my head finally.  All advice was welcome and some actually sleep, tea, and more sleep.

 When I got up this morning I had a vision of moving around shapes and colors. Since the design wall is presently unavailable I'm working on the bedroom floor. This is very tentative (and large) and I'm not going to stampede it.  pins only for the moment. I spent a good hour just looking at Shell Vapors last evening and want more of what that one evokes only stronger.

and some of us just lay around vogue-ing

Thursday, March 08, 2012


We are exhausted.
I've been fighting with a cold since Saturday (that remedy failed me)  and it was a good thing I did not have to work yesterday. After filming the drawing I spent the rest of the day feeling like Jabba the Hutt looks. Today, a little better but needing a nap now. Solar flares, full moon and a perfect spring day....zzzzzzzzzzzzz.zzzzzzzzzzzz....

I went to the grocery store yesterday and stood in front of the cold remedies like a drooling dolt for five minutes unable to settle on any boxed  promises and then walked out empty handed. Today, a snootfull of VicksVaporub and hot tea per my sister. Earl Grey with a dash of lime & grenadine. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012


I spent the morning digging about in the studio, checking over inventory and putting up some new offering of hand dyes over in the shop.  Even though winter's chill is back in Georgia,  dye days will be on me before I know it -
the  tree frogs said so.

 I'm finally sharing some of the proceeds from last seasons adventures in going crazy with color.

I know that natural dyeing is all the trend and the delicacy and subtlety of the work is beautiful, but for me, I crave intensity in every direction so I flagrantly overdose my cloth with Procion MX..(.the good folks at ProChem bless me each night, I'm sure) and there will be more adventures with soywax as both resist and carrier.  There will be discharging and overdyeing and painting..things that have not yet occurred to me, stuff  I dream about and wake to try the next day as the mood moves me.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

the cure for the common head cold a few rounds Alka Seltzer for colds over 12 hours of doing not much of anything. Sleep if you can and follow up with a generous portion of General Tso's chicken to incinerate any remaining germs and sterilize the sinus tracts. Feeling much better, thanks.

Today - a little mending,  a mountain of laundry folding and a lot of Mad Men and Killing.

I was lucky enough to get on board with the pilot of the Killing last year and keeping up with it became quite obsessive.

The storyline may sprawl and wander, the locale would make most folks list "contemplating suicide" as a hobby but the characters and the acting are compelling. Hope the new season will continue to deliver. Catch up if you can.

This was my first exposure to Mad Men. The premise was repellent to me back when it first aired and, although the two episode I watched today had their saving graces, I don't think I'll become a fan unless someone promises me that Draper will drop out and get real.

Back in the real day, I was the teenaged babysitter observing on the fringes of many of the lives portrayed in this series. The  hypocrisy and desperation of the characters was like bad BO they all stewed in under their suits and shirtwaist dresses.  Society and advertising were still struggling mightily to steer young women into bunny costumes and/or the indentured servitude of marriage with all of it's buying power. I won't start in on my rant about the United States of Advertising. I refused to buy into it back then and still opt out at every opportunity.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

spring excitement

I keep picking this one up and looking for what should come next but not finding anything. Let's stick a fork in it then and get it mounted!

I pity the rest of the country suffering under the misery of bad weather - all the windows and doors in my house are open and warm breezes are sighing through. I feel like I'm in the crow's nest of a tall ship.

The sky is deep blue with bruised edges where the bad weather will be coming from once the sun goes down. We'll be ducking and covering under thunderstorms tonight.

The new dye  colors are on their way via UPS and the US mail will be bringing a special treat for the whole family - tickets for the first baseball game of the season at the Braves minor league park nearby.

They've come up with a great promotional exhibition - "The Braves All Stars vs. the Future Stars" or as they are know here, the Baby Braves. It should be a great night!