About Me

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I'm off on vacation, packing more supplies than clothing. I won't often have access to a computer, so I'm going to miss your blogs and eye candy. It is my hope to do the July and August bead journal pages and not get too far behind in our TAST adventure. I'll also be working on the More Options in Hardanger EGA .

Monday, June 25, 2007


I could fib and say this is a WIP, but the truth is I worked long and short stitch on an earlier experiment gone awry. Back when we did the woven and whipped wheels, I envisioned a tidepool filled with starfish. It was my first time playing with Tyvek, which was to be the rocky base for the pool.

All right, you have to picture upside down. I painted sky about a third of the way and left the rest in the neutral beige aida as that part would be beach. You can see the horizon line where my water begins with running stitch and woven waves. I recycled a used priority mailer, spraying it with various inks I had just gotten and was hot to try. I used the heat gun I bought probably 5 years ago for the first time and watched with delight as it bubbled and crinkled. The piece has been trimmed by half, but you can see how much of it utilizes the concave side of the bubbles, because, remember, this was going to be a tidepool with lots of little pools and rivulets. I added seaweed, white caps and crashing waves
and a few shore plants before I learned how tough the tyvek was to stitch through. I decided it would be an awful chore trying to hand stitch urchins, crabs, wheeled starfish -- the entire ecosystem of a tidal pool. I abandoned the project.

I've been pressed for time this week, but I did want to practice the stitch of the week and thought sky could be quickly worked on the aida. Obviously my pearls were not heavy enough for a dense covering, but it's blue sky. I haven't done long and short since my crewel days in the 70's. I've never liked this stitch because I think it takes a gentle, patient and skilled hand to render it properly. I know it's a vital stitch, but if not executed nicely and carefully it looks like, well, like my dandelion, I mean sun. And I must tell you that sun is only there out of the sense of guilt I felt for just doing the basic canvas version. My hats off to the many of you TAST'ers who created wonderfully clever and beautiful patterns and designs this week as well as L & S fillers as fine as any Japanese master.

As I mentioned time is short. I'm frantically gathering supplies for TAST and BJP to work on while I'm away.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


This is my June beading, my first page for the 2007 Bead Journal Project initiated by Robin Atkins. If you haven't already heard of this undertaking, do take the time to read a brief description on the BJP blog site; it appears at the top in the left margin.

Thinking I might make a cloth book for these samplers, I'm making my "pages" rectangular with a one inch margin for binding. One of my goals with this project is to experiment on different beading surfaces and trying as many techniques as I can. I could well change my mind and do a decorative box to hold these pages, which I suspect may become heavy, especially if I do them back to back.
Okay, so you're wondering about the title, right? I cut a piece of craft felt and gathered my stash of purple and blue beads because I have more of them than anything else. I confess, I picked up a few more accent type beads at the craft store while I was there for something else, and you know you'd do the same thing! It was a focal bead I applied first and because it was 8 or 10 mm, I put size 8 seed beads to either side. I looked at the irridescence and thought it would make a great dragonfly. So I made one, then another. Then I went about surrounding them until they merged. At this point their irregular shapes made me think of an opened oyster. I suppose I was also thinking of another fave seafood sadly no longer available, abalone. If you've never tasted the meat, you've at least seen the shells. Those are the colors I wanted to bring out.

Laying down beads around the dragonlies I practiced 3 methods, couching, add 3/back 1, add 5/back 2. I decided the 3/1 system looked best for me, and I tacked down to the previous row as needed. My tension was too tight, but I left it that way because I liked the irregular surface that presented: wavy, like the lines themselves. By the way, the dragonfly tails end with 3 delica that are close but not the same as the surrounding color. They are laid in such a way the dragonflies might be emerging.

After the wavy, inner shells, I tried to be more careful with tension. I added the next color in the same stitch to bring the two shells together, but changed stitches after the first row. On the right I built a ruffle from comanche stitch; on the left I worked it into peyote, incorporating beads of different colors and size. At the bottom I alternated stitches with lines of color to change direction of the beads.

This is a much more dimensional piece than the scan allows, and the colors change with different lighting. My intention was a small composition of color and texture. I'm happy with the resulting design and hope it invites playful interpretations. Do you see two faces or masks or heads? Do you see a butterfly or exotic bird that has taken on a couple of passengers? For me it's enough if you find a pleasing arrangement of shiny beads.
Below: I have a goodly supply of purple and blues. I'm ready for a change of pallette and an excuse to buy more beads...

Monday, June 18, 2007


TAST 24 called on us to practice French knots in different sizes
and fibers, and we were encouraged to use them in conjunction
with other stitches. Short on time, I selected a scrap of onionskin dyed cotton and used a small hoop (I normally stitch without). Without a pattern, using only the circle of the hoop as a guide , I started stitching. I began with a spiral of butterfly chain
stitches in #8 lavendar pearl. A leaf green silk floss gathered and linked the straight stitches, and I used the same to French knot the tops of the straight stitches and extend the line into a
curlicue. Next came the feather stitching in a strand of Watercolours variegated in teal, tan and rust, using the same thread for French knots and somewhat echoing the previous curlicue.

Stitching in the opposite direction I used wheatears and knots in mint green cotton floss. Keep in mind, the very first line and knots are medium to dark green! I like the organic nature of these stitches so I followed up with fern stitch on the left side. I decided to vary the knotted ends, and this time I put them in the center of each fly. What I thought was a mint green turned out to be light blue rayon floss. I left it at that because the fern was done in a variegated dark green silk floss that was almost teal in some sections. It would better define a circular shape (not that it matters) and probably make the design more complete. This was about all I had room for on my cloth. I debated whether to leave it as is or attempt to fill in the sparse area. The result I think emphasizes an elliptical shape. I like the before better. If I'd had an extra inch or two I'd bring another line out from the right that would merge with the others.

If you're wondering why I've detailed the colors used, it's because none of the above pictures have captured the real ones. The different colors in the cloth are very distinct and actually work very well together -- I was going for a woodsy, fern grove effect. I'm guessing it's the rayon and silk and their reflective properties that are generating hue havoc with the scanner.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I don't recall when I started posting photos to Flickr but I think it was because it was an easier way to blog at the time, plus I had become dissatisfied with my previous photo hosting site. I came to appreciate Flickr's many upgrades, conveniences and greater efficiciency and eventually purchased a pro account so I'd have more space to store my photo collections. I started out just uploading pictures of my various projects, then sets of photos to be viewed by family and friends, finally pictures from my travel I left public for anybody to peruse. Beyond that I only used the site for show and tell and discussion within my limited groups, like CQ,
embroidered motifs, and those created in conjunction with Sharon B activities.

But one day my life with Flickr changed. It began when a comment was posted on this picture. It was one of many shots I took in the Badlands and I'd titled it simply "Strata". Imagine my surprise and curiosity when I was invited to join a geology group.

I checked it out (I really do have an interest in rock formations and minerology) and discovered Mark Willocks whose landscape photography is everything I wish mine could be. I take snapshots; Mark captures those creative visual essences I can see but never reproduce. I had just completed Density and Diffusion for Sharon B's Developing a Personal Library of Stitches class. Landscape, strata of canyon walls contrasting with water, memories of travel through the Southwest -- all influences in the back of my mind as I stitched. You can see how Mark's images of Yellowstone and other western venues just took my breath away. One look at his recent National Arboretum Pool Reflections series, you'll also see how Mark is equally brilliant with any subject.

Besides admiration for a photographer I learned more. I learned to truly make use of Flickr for artistic inspiration. I started searches by subject starting with geographical landscapes. When I came upon a Flickr users whose work I liked, I'd mark the pictures as faves for future inspiration and add them as contacts so I could more easily find their Flickr sites and see when new photos were posted. And if I want clues as to their inspiration, I read their profiles and take a look at their favorites, groups and contacts. So many of us credit nature as inspiration. How many design students are encouraged to look through magazines like National Geographic for ideas. I will never have to cut up another magazine!

Flowers were next. Looking through the flower groups (there are many!)or groups like on Flickr reminded me how much I love macro photography and wishing I had the equipment to do it myself. When I found the group Natural Abstractions I was elated, the moreso because I discovered Sue whose work is stimulating and consistantly view worthy. When I visited her Flickr site and saw her organization of sets, well, just see for yourself!

This morning I learned about Miksang with thanks to Arlene Barr's blog, and I must agree the concept transcends photography; it's about any way we see something and communicate it through artistic expression by any means. From my reading so far I'm gathering the idea behind the photographic Miksang has nothing to do with the grandeur of nature, but rather attention, awareness and appreciation of our ordinary surroundings.

If Flickr isn't my new best friend, it's rapidly becoming one of my best resources. I hope you'll take a moment to browse my favorite photos by other users . Here is the link . I'm always surprised when I stop in. It's teaching me a lot about my preferences in composition, color, line.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


With the wheatear stitch I really had to resist the temptation of grains and grasses. Instead I tried to render the grace of this stitch into tall, slender flowers of no particular variety. I do love wildflowers like lupine, fireweed, delphinium, but I'm also fond of old garden favorites like stock and hollyhock. I like everything to do with flowers except growing them. I'm no gardener.

For this TAST I started with a piece of my hand dyed linen and 1 strand of Watercolours (carnival, I think) and just started a background of flowers. This only brought me a third of the way down the fabric. I could have done 2 more overlapping layers , but I thought I needed something to break it up a little. I happened to have a piece of light aqua charmeuse from my latest dye session, so I cut a freeform shaped pond and tacked it down with "blades of grass".

I truly intended to just continue down the fabric with more tall flowers; then an inkling of a fence crept in. I pulled some threads from a loose weave burlap and voila! a black, 3 rail horse fence such as often seen here in the Bluegrass. You can see, I just stitched the bottom half like the top part, adding French knots and lazy daisy flowers here and there, plus some satin stitched leaves to make up for last week.

An explanation is certainly needed for the oversized flowers on the far side of the pond! I agree they belong in the foreground. But despite the wrong scale, I felt they gave a little balance to the upper portion. I also wanted to show them off for a reason. I ruched strips of dyed dryer sheets! Comparitively speaking, they were even more whopping before I took scissors to them.
Trimming was fine, if anything it added a little fuzz and fluff. I would make these again when I wanted a full bodied flower like a marigold.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I'd been intrigued with all the rust dyeing showing up on favorite blogs lately. It looked fun and seemed easy, but I didn't decide to try it until I saw one could capture images. I didn't think I had much rust around, but I remembered a set of seriously oxidized stack chairs with this great grid. I set out to see if I could capture the pattern. I got this ---->

I should have left it on the chair seat longer and should have pressed down to get those little verticle lines which work underneath the cross ones. But I could see the possibility was there.
I also found a few other experimental goodies. Here they are after washing clockwise from top left:

Cable chain link

Arm of stack chair (pink is accidental ink stain)

Mixed bag (box cutter blades, nails, steel wool)

Arm of stack chair (silk/poly cream charmeuse)

Mixed bag (reusing above items)

Stack chair seat

I experimented overdyeing the rust as well as rusting on previously dyed fabric. It works both ways, but my trials were done in haste and I don't have anything showy to display. Couple of swatches can be seen in another picture.

Since I was in the mood, I cleared time and space and went for a second dye session with Procion Mx dyes, trying 6 more colors: lapiz, teal, turquoise, dusty mauve, evergreen and marine. Like my first session I just wanted to see the dyes on different fabrics, and I followed a low immersion, marbly tone on tone technique.
L>R lapiz, teal, turquoise, dusty mauve, evergreen*, marine. Turns out the evergreen Procion was an acid dye and turned everything but the piece of silk chiffon I tried a light blue. The silk was a very pretty green. I intended to try some wool, but didn't get around to it. I did, however, experience some success with a 4 dye process. It was supposed to be 3, but I had so many uncolored areas I went back with a 4th dye and an eye dropper to saturate these places.
Top left is silk habotai, then 2 different pieces of linen, and below is a soft cotton. I did a few other trials like using leftover dyes and times and dutifully recorded everything in my dyer's journal. Below is a sample page and a picture of some other things I dyed including a piece of dotted swiss and a swatch of cream print cotton. Toward the bottom are a couple of from the overdye rust.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Oops! The exercise was supposed to be SATIN Stitch !!! We'll just have to make do. Imagine

a contrasting color in the negative spaces. For purposes of this game, pretend those empty areas are filled with ecru thread, cotton pearl #5. Excuse me while I take an arggghhhh-h-h-h moment.
I remember what happened now. I started out adapting a different design from the same sourcebook . I was working with #3 and #5 cotton pearls along with a #8 silk pearl. It was my intention to create filled space with dimension as in padded satin stitching. I must have frogged the beginnings half a dozen times. The center of my sampler aida cloth was growing black fuzz, and I realized #3 pearl was not a good choice. At that point I also reached the conclusion that I didn't want to waste any more hand painted silk pearl no matter how great the gray-brown tones worked with the tweedy, ecru background.

I went for this Huichol textile pattern because it reminded me of a heavy
cotton woven vest from Central America. My mother and I shared it as part of an apres-ski outfit we wore with a hooded, black wool jersey. I still have it! Several decades later I noticed ponchos and overshirts of similar design were popular. Somewhere betwee
n reminiscing and ripping out horizontal straight stitches that didn't work, I must have forgotten all about satin stitch. Like I said, I could still fill in with an ecru thread and morph from straight to satin, but I like the clean look of the design as is and know the ecru would grow black fuzz...

What I liked about this pattern was that it could be broken down , shortened, widened. I started at the top working 3 motifs across, deciding I didn't want to go farther than the center.
Next I worked vertically with the 2 rows of the first motif to establish the bottom margin. Working down the next motif I was tempted several times to stop, make finishing stitches and leave a tapered design. I contemplated working the opposite side of the sampler in reverse,
leaving the middle area for another design, but I worried by the time I fiddled and frogged that center would become a hole.
A similar Huichol form allowed me to vary the straight stitches from vertical to horizontally worked, giving quite a different look. Nothing seemed to work for the remaining space. I gambled on a scrap of silver and black cord. I thought it was heavy enough to compensate for the less
dense side. I couched it down with a pattern of two diagonal stitches, then connected with a opposing single stitch.
I think this is one of my favorite samplers to date. I love the way it presents from any direction. The motifs on take quite a different look from horizontal orientation to vertical. Up and down I see Z's or S's. Turned on its side the multi repeat can
resemble waves; in fact, I almost used fish motifs as fillers at several points in my progress.
Well, even though I'm pleased with my result, I did not do my assignment correctly. By way of penance I shall attempt some satin stitches on plain cloth on another TAST-y project.

Monday, June 04, 2007


This pretty lady journeyed from Colorado to be with me. She was created by Leslie Ehrlich and has found a comfortable stance next to my computer and seems to want to keep an eye on me. Well , actually I'm not sure what her intent is. It's like she's totally absorbed in whatever I'm doing. Could it be she shares my eclectic taste? I've named her Delilah Delightful as she is an amiable companion. Or guardian -- I'm hoping she'll protect me and my technical lifeline from evils of the internet.
There is a site where you can see pix of Delilah's and Rose's friends gathered for a garden party. Crazy Quilters International (CQI) keeps a blog gallery. Labels appear on the left sidebar. While visiting the gallery do check eye candy entries and winners of a recent purse contest!