About Me

Saturday, April 28, 2007


April 10 I was just short of apoplexy. I thought for a thankfully brief
while I might have to choose whether to download TAST 15 materials or catch my flight to CA. I had already packed an activity bag with supplies I'd need. I even prepped an 8 x 7 inch piece of Aida cloth I'd dyed by tacking down a gnarl of dye batch waste thread into a center oblique S-curve. I placed some of my dyed gauze and rug canvas roughly on the other diagonal and stitched that down, too. I was ready for whatever stitch Sharon B might send our way. It turned out to be the Oyster Stitch.

Good that I had time and beautiful space for stitching, as I had to do a lot of practice betwixt doodlecloth and project fabric. Even then I didn't quite get the knack so my oysters look mutant -- plump with texture, I'd like to think, however incorrect they may be. In a setting like the above, who minds frogging? I had a balcony with table and chairs. In addition to poolside, there were two lovely garden patios where I could choose to work in sun or shade. Gurgling fountains refreshed and soothed to the point not quite right oyster stitching could become palatable. And although magaritas are helpful, they can only aid digestion so far. I got tired of oysters and just started filling in with other stitches until I could access TAST 16 , which I did compliments of the hotel lobby computer.

Ahh, the Palestrina! More knots for texture. I've mentioned before that I often work spontaneously. This is not to say I stitch away with random abandon; I am mindful of basic design principles, and although the composition may be abstract and asymmetrical, it still requires attention to overall balance. I consider this with the placement of color, type of stitch and direction. The only thing definite about my sampler at this point is a colorway and specific stitches I want to use. If I'm lucky the piece will eventually suggest a form; in this case it wanted to become a bird so I began to create general shape -- just enough to give a hint of birdlike form. As a kid my favorite puzzles were the find the hidden object kind; freeform affords me an opportunity to share such a challenge with viewers. For myself as viewer, I prefer to look beyond the visually obvious and seek the intent, technique and methodology of the artist. I firmly believe appreciation of anything involves contemplating "the good, the bad and the ugly".
Did you experience the return of Quetzaquatl or the uncloaking of a Klingon warship? Can you sense a bird from the Painted Desert, a butterfly, or just a jumble of colored threads? In the cloth my bird is rather shaggy and made me think more of a pinata decorated with colorful crepe paper. At the very least you'll surely agree with me that it represents something festive from south of the border.

I'm getting another inkling from the sampler. Hmm, it wants to live on as a large handbag -- or tote. Obviously it's familiar with my stash collection of southwestern and Hispanic fabrics. I may have to re-do my running stitch border from TAST 17 . Add a little bling, maybe.

Friday, April 27, 2007


View from Las Brisas Hotel, Palm Springs, CA

I'm back from my second trip to the Palm Springs area this year, helping my dad explore the area for possible relocation. Since we found what we were looking for the very first day, the rest of this visit was total indulgence relaxing, eating, stitching and happy hour'ing poolside. While my 91 years young father swam laps, I dug into TASTy oysters. When I had my fill, I used the hotel computer to drool over Sharon B's Palestrina samplings .

Dad ready for laps

His new pool? >

Although this area abounds with shopping and opportunities for resale therapy , I limited myself to only one thrift shop foray (remember, I was relaxing, eating, stitching) and only because we were checking out the Mizzell Senior Center. I came away with a huge stack of white cotton and linen fabric remnants (the saleswoman insisted since the pieces were so "small", she'd charge me $1.oo for the lot instead of 25 cents per), numerous partial skein and other oddments of novelty yarn, amazingly priced at 10 cents each, what I thought was a small velvet pouch decorated with shisha and soutache that turned out to be a huge purse @ $8, a really cool necklace of wooden beads for a buck, and a tags-still-on, lined, ultrasuede jacket that fits me for, get ready, $4.00! A nice score for under $16. Dad's treat.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Pretty straightforward sampler, all in bonnet stitch worked in every direction and combination I could think of. I think this stitch works best with a heavier thread, but I only got into silk floss and some #12 silk perle. I did use Caron Watercolours for the outer petals of the medaillon. Still it gives me enough idea of possible effects for later use, and I see plenty of places that would lend themselves to further embellishment.

One nice surprise was the formation of petals on the outer circle (a bit too taut at the bottom!) achieved when instead of leaving space between stitches as in the middle circle, they are joined. I also liked the results of the first and second bands on the sampler. They are the same except for the size of the stitches and the space between the baselines in in the first band. I like that little wavy space.

When I look at the sampler overall, I get the impression of scissors snapping away. Hmph. I was going for a conservative approach this week.

Monday, April 02, 2007



I try to explore new fabric techniques and surface treatments as I make these TAST samplers. I use a small format, no particular size, just random pieces , that gives me just enough space to do something with in a week's time. These are not intended as major projects, just mini samplers for study, so if something turns out not to my liking or an experiment fizzles, I haven't invested too much in time and materials. I mention this because as you look closely, you'll see I was so fabric frugal, I used the selvedge. I loved this dye batch from a couple of weeks ago, and there was no way I was going to sacrifice even part of the large pieces of quilters' cotton for the sake of experimentation in the name of fiber arts and science.

What you see here as the background is about a 4 x 4 inch scrap of buckram thrown in with the dyable melange. Now, were it not for Sharon B's class in stitch development, I would never ever have dreamed of trying to stitch on stiff ol' buckram. But you know what? After scouring and dyeing, it has substance without stiffness and is a pleasure to stitch. Meanwhile back in the lab, I played with Angelina fiber for the first time. I scrunched some pale aqua cheesecloth where I wanted to use the Angelina. I laid a few wisps under the gauze, and a little more on top. In manipulating the mesh, I thought I saw a horse, a spectre of one maybe... Ok, ok, dark fabric, must be night, need a moon... I once applied a flat back jewel like a shisha with cretan stitch. Could I do it again with knotted cretan? Reaching for an acrylic gem, I spy something shiny the same color. Already on my work table for another project is a package of equine confetti (it'd be horsey sequins, but there are no holes) I spotted among the party supplies for upcoming Derby. So what if they don't have holes, I'll bond them down with the Angelina! It worked, but I'd use less next time. I placed some violet tulle over (a local store that specializes in Derby hats sells 6 inch tulle in a myriad of colors, purchasable by the yard for 35 cents, or by the roll between $6 - $9; I splurged on 2 yard pieces of all my favorite hues), pinned it down and chain stitched the edges.

I opted not to add much detail to the big horse; I wanted to let the fabric suggest the form. I thought stitching over the mane and tail areas added enough definition. With a needle I coaxed a few strands of gauze out from under the netting. It's a time consuming effort, and would make allowances for this if I ever want little tufts peeking out. You should be able to see little wisps between the ears, here and there along the mane and tail. I added a few scattered beads to fill gaps in the night sky, and probably overdid those on the moonbeams. I added one more horse to the surface; it too is of a different color, but it matches the fuschia moon.