About Me

Saturday, November 22, 2008


These dolls are the first of three types of angels we are making in Chaska (Mai-Liis) Peacock's online class. I worked on them at the same time, and they are for the most the same except for halos and embellishments.
Their faces are my first attempt using polymer clay for anything. I used some Sculpey III in beige. I didn't use a mold; I kneaded small balls and flattened them to round and oval shapes and used my finger to roll a concave back which I thought might better conform to the stuffed head. I did not try to sculpt this time around. I drew the faces with permanent markers and added a little blush. I wish I had taken the time to get better proportion. I'd like to try watercolor pencils or some other medium that would allow me to properly blend and create the illusion of contour on a flat surface. I'll work on more expressive faces as I continue learning to create dolls. I'll be dabbing little spots of glue around the faces to make the hair better conceal the sides of the face cabochons.
About the hair. The bright aqua is some kind of fibery yardage I bought as a remnant at Walmart. I had no idea what I'd use it for at the time; I only bought it because it looked interesting. It's sort of like a lightweight Pellon interfacing. It drapes, it crinkles, it's translucent. I came across it looking for something else, and I don't know why I even thought to use it for doll hair -- just one of those serendipitous moments when I decided I liked the way the stuff scrunched! Dare I say, it came to me out of the blue... The second angel has purple hair.
I first tried needlefelting some purple wool. It worked well, but to get a sculpted hair style I was afraid I might chew up the fabric too much. I settled instead for stitching on curly eyelash and feather yarns.
I had a wonderful time shopping at Michaels looking for potential halos. Infinite possibilities with lots of wired eyelash and bead garlands all sparkly and pretty for the holidays. Oh the ribbons!
I cannot wait to shop the after season sales! My turquoise haired angel has a halo made with
gold star garland (found in party supplies!) twisted with a multi colored glitter eyelash. Her purple haired companion has feathers for a halo. The feathers came as trim, glued and stitched to ribbon. I had first considered it as a substitute for the beaded fringe at the bottom of the doll, but the ribbon was too rigid to follow a curve even when clipped. It was next to impossible to try to sew by hand, yet I was set on having a feather halo. I ended up cutting individual feathers with parts of the ribbon (I couldn't pull the feathers out) and glued them in a way to frame the head. The meant the back of the angel's head wasn't pretty, and I couldn't stitch more yarn over it for hair. What I did was place a spoked wire "donut" from the jewelry findings section and placed a bejeweled button in the center.
I had such a good time making these angels. It was like having the best play date ever with my inner child.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


My latest healing doll! He may appear fearsome, but if you recall the films, the Gillman was no monster, just a misunderstood biological anamoly who scared the living daylights out of Julia Adams' character along with all the teen girls in the audience back in the day. The Creature from the Black Lagoon movies have become cult classics in the genre of 50's B movie sci-fi. The Gill Man films have always been faves in my family, so when the need arose for a healing doll for my daughter, the Creature jumped first into my imagination. Hey, it was either him or a great white shark; she collects both. She has some surgery coming up, and I wanted to make something to cheer and heal. My choice was easy. I don't think Jaws could ever be considered benign, do you?

Truth be told, it was the fabric that brought on the idea. I found it while browsing a local fabric store in CA last month. As soon as I saw it I knew what it would be, and I started work on it that very evening. I cut the pattern freehand , a technique my mother taught me. The doll's head should not be as pointy as it turned out -- my mistake for leaving the turn opening at the top.

I sewed him by hand (next time I may try my mom's 40's era Singer, probably still works), not
the best thing for dolls, but I did try to reinforce in the curves. I covered the seam line with beads. He has seed beads to outline his mouth (I read that the actual creature costume had bright, bubble gum pink lips which for some reason gave the right effect when filmed in black and white) and olivine crystals for eyes. Of course I tucked a prayer and appropriate crystals,
purified and programmed for target healing and overall wellness inside the Creature. I think my daughter will be tickled when she receives her doll.

My thanks to Mai-Liis Peacock for introducing me to the joys of making and presenting healing dolls. I am already at work on the first project for her new angel class. Below is a peak at the fabric I will be using for the abstract flying angel (think Chagall!).

Monday, October 27, 2008


I'm back, relaxed and no longer mired in catch-up. If you'll recall I put previous group activities on pause and gave myself permission to quit as long as I needed to. I did manage to get in some creative time during my stay in CA. I knit. I started a doll. I made some floral arrangements. I got to do some sightseeing, pix of which you can find on my Flickr site .

Within 24 hours of my return I had signed up for another class. And maybe a day later I enrolled in another! I know, I know, your're already admonishing me for setting myself up to fall behind again. But understand, both teachers are wonderful instructors and the contents are such that I can work when and as I wish.

I have already gathered in supplies and started on Sharon B's Joggles course, Studio Journals: A Designer's Workhorse . I need this class -- desperately! Before I had a computer I kept art and craft ideas in manila folders. The ideas were magazine clippings or notes hastily scribbled on whatever was on hand while watching TV how-to's. On my lifelong quest toward organization I filed, sub categorized, made new files and labels and soon had a complete file cabinet filled with snippets of ideas now long forgotten. My current computer (#2) has two files with pix and notes for ideas I'd like to work with some day. One I called a visual journal and the other "Concepts".

Both are so long, they're taking forever to load and just as long to scroll down to find stuff. At the same time I've tried keeping journals for each interest one for CQ, one for knitting, beading, freeform crochet, embroidery -- the list goes on ad nauseum. Of course no journal was ever handy when I needed it, and if I travelled the idea of hauling these suitcase-filling journals was absurd. Like I mentioned, this class is a must .

In theory my artistic productivity could increase if I could just corral the ideas. If I could only wrangle them into one place... well, I'm already thinking two, a big one for studio use and development and a small one for thoughts on the go. Sharon told us to just start in the new book, get something on that first page. Mine happened to be a watercolor paper, so I dug out my watercolors to do a simple decorative wash and was aghast that I'd really forgotten techniques long ago learned. Since my overall premise is ideas out of sight are soon out of mind, I thought of lightbulbs to symbolize ideas. I soon got carried away and had makings for collages, stitchings and even dolls. Working the exercises from Lesson 1, I have more ideas in the development stage. So it's already happening;
creative concepts are replacing idle thoughts of a sedentary mind.
Speaking of dolls, I'm very excited about Mai-Liis's latest offering, the Angel Project. I took away so much more from her healing dolls class, I know I won't be disappointed in this one. There's still time to sign up for this very affordable course which is conducted via a closed Yahoo Group. I will shamefully admit that if you mention my name, I will receive a perk in the form of a squishy. That of course is not as important to me as learning ways to make dolls and embuing them with a spiritual essence or intent!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Right about now I feel like I'm spending time in a bottle. I feel like a condiment, like all I'm doing is playing catchup. Right now time is not my own, so rather than stressing out, I'm going to let myself slip down into the bottle (that's the ketchup one, friends!) until -- well, until my creative muse gets a hankering for fries.
I did get a lot of knitting done during my two months away. I got the better part of 4 sweaters done. Since I only had computer access once during July, all I could manage was journal about the TIFC color palette and sketch ideas for the theme. I did play with the mini looms I took along.
Tomorrow I pack for another month in CA. I'll be flying ergo travelling light, limiting the kinds of projects I can take along. I will take yarn for at least one sweater and maybe materials for a piece of stitchery.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


The May challenge concept is a question I ponder all the time. What do I call myself when trying to explain my creative endeavors? When I tried to work through The Artist's Way , polite arguments in my head erupted into battle. Considering myself an artist won out for the time being, but that word itself is inadequate to describe the scope of activity in which I engage.

I invisibly wince when an outsider responds, "Oh, you do crafts!". My body reacts with an inward cringe if they add, "Me, too!" My inner snob and judgemental self silently separate that crafter from me and my artistic values. For me the difference has to do with creating from within, compulsive self expression, following a whim or instinct rather than a pattern. For me the barrier has nothing to do with technical proficiency or aesthetic appeal. My TIFC above, albeit an exercise, is a piece of art because it is a piece of me. It's not pretty, doesn't show proficiency, but it's not intended for anyone but me.

Let me explain my interpretation of both concept and palette for this month's challenge. In a nutshell, I'd resort to looking in a crystal ball to find a suitable name for what I do.

a. needle artist

b. fiber artist

c. textile artist

d. mixed media artist

e. all of the above

f. none of the above

g. some of each

Most of my artistic pursuits involve thread or fiber, some kind of needle or hook. For sake of convenience I generally tell people I'm a fiber artist, leaving them to presume I spin and weave (I don't -- yet) and no inclination that I bead. I have no commercial goals; I keep or gift everything I make. I love to learn new techniques and share what I learn. I have fun. All the time. And to those of you reading this, you will understand why I call myself

FIBERDABBLER. I don't know that there is an answer to the May concept question. Dare I suggest it doesn't matter semantically how others perceive us? I'm evolving, and I love the mystery of not knowing what comes next.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Lucy Nieto, a fellow Flickr user, contacted me the other day to ask if she could use my April TIFC design to create tiles. I agreed, not really sure what she meant until she sent me the results. Wow! I then asked permission to show the results here, and in the meantime she created another series with my Take a Stitch Tuesday #30 design, and I have to say her results are prettier and far more dynamic than my originals! Lucy tells me she uses a Kaleider software and sometimes FilterForge. Below are some of my faves, but you see them all together here.

It is well worth your time to browse Lucy's photostream. She doesn't just play with digital imagery toys, she is a wonderful photographer as well. You'll enjoy her macros, textiles, textures and a love of color that is truly inspirational. Thank you, Lucy, for sharing your creative world!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Again, I'm opting for the palette portion of the challenge. I hope the colors at least resemble those of the palette; the computer I had to use away from home may not have had the most reliable monitor. Above are the colors Sharon B generated and you can see the photograph she used for inspiration here.

In my last post I mentioned I had found DMC flosses and a few perles at a CA fabric store, along with some woven raw silk. This store also has two rooms of trims! I bought beads by the yard with a metallic finish in bright copper/burnt orange that just doesn't show true in my pix. None of the colors do, but I'll hold to blaming the cheesy monitor. On my sketch you'll see how I named the colors, but I really wasn't sure if the second one was brown or browny purply plum, so I used both! The pale lemon is all but lost on the ivory/cream background. First picture below is closest to actual color. Below that is the entire sampler. The bright, shiny bead strands simply don't "pop" as visually as they actually do, compensating for the lighter colors lost on the pale background.


Colors from the March palette reminded me of oriental rugs which made me think of the decorative grandeur of the Ottoman or Moghul Empires.

I allowed my Creative Inner Child to fantasize about magic carpets, sultans and Scheherezade. Then I made a crude sketch for a design of paisley motifs and scooped up some black burlap and all the threads, ribbons and yarns I had on hand I thought might match the palette. No time to search for beads, but there was a good LRS where I was headed in CA.

I cut a piece of burlap and backstitched the perimeter I wanted, allowing enough border to fringe. This seemed natural because the weave of the burlap was so loose. Once I started on the actual stitching, I quickly realized I was not conforming to the lines of my original sketch. I drew another more closely resembling the form and direction my stitches were indicating.

April was upon me before I could get to the bead store, so I started on this month's TIF, which went quickly given that I had no decisions to make regarding which stash to use. I made do with what I could eke out from what I had with me, supplemented with some flosses and perles found at a local fabric store ,where I also invested in some ivory colored, loose woven raw silk for the background.
I don't have too much left to do on March's TIF, just a little more stitching and beading. I'll post a finished presentation in a day or two.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Dear Readers,
My quickie two week visit to CA has been extended two more weeks. My 92 year old young father had hip replacement surgery to replace a replacement he had over 25 years ago, and I'm staying while he recovers. I'm pleased to report he is up and about and doing splendidly and should be able to return to independent living soon.
I popped into the local senior center today to check the TIF assignment for April, and I wanted to let everyone know that I have been spending my spare time finishing up my March TIF (I'll upload pix when I get home), working on an Ample Knitters' KAL sweater, the Oblique Cardigan from the Knitty archives, and dutifully writing three pages of "Morning" as part of the Artist's Way challenge with the cyber chapter of EGA. I'm looking forward to some free time to meet up with friends and do a little stash shopping -- after all, I have to buy materials for this month's TIF so I can start on it out here.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Given the choice of basing design on a memory (my earliest being when dirt was formed) or designated palette, I chose the latter:Hmm, is that gray or slate blue? What's that dark color? Indigo? Purply blue? Again I worked entirely from stash. The two pieces of ivory satin that resemble vanilla caramel swirl (yum!) are from a piece of white silk/poly blend that I rust dyed. The teeny, tiny rust colored silk at the bottom left is dupioni. Why isn't there more? I could fib and say I was conserving a favorite fabric, but the truth is I miscalculated with the stitch, flip, cut technique. The slate piece is a piece of ultrasuede, the dark blue (with a tinge of purple) is moire, the print is from a gentleman's tie. The remaining three portions are light blue charmeuse. Confused? The upper right is overlayed with a blue sheer that has been machine stitched to resemble punch needlework, and if you look closely you can see it is printed to look like hand painted , concentric curves. It's from a lot of embellished sheer sales samples I caught on eBay!

This a work in progress picture I took, cropped and printed out to give me a clearer idea of my borderlines and guide me toward envisualizing embellishment placement and scale. At this stage that center seam treatment is looking pretty gimongous and my other stitching too dainty -- and puny. I continued adding and subtracting until I think I have it where I want it, although I may yet do a little tweaking.


Here are a couple of scrumbles and some small motifs done in various pink yarns that will be sent on to Prudence Mapstone in Australia for Project Pink. Prudence will join them with others from around the world and create items for charity sale. The pic on top above was taken with flash and is closer to the actual colors. The pic below that is the same thing taken without flash and seems to better define the texture and dimension.

Monday, January 28, 2008


... perhaps I should have left it alone. There's not that much different; I just filled in a couple of gaps.

With the exception of a cotton thread or two and the yellow cord, flosses and perles are silk and hand painted by Victoria Clayton. The feather stitching is done in perle and the chain
stitches are the same colorway done in 2 strands of silk floss. I'm not sure of the name, but it was from Vicki's dragon series. The chenille is also hers, and most of the silk ribbon, too. I used a bead soup of assorted sizes to fill in some of the negative space between the feather stitches.
On the far right the little flowers are purple sequins with size 8 triangle beads, which stand up in the center. The two purple pailettes in the center top are dyed shell, rough sides up.

I really came to enjoy this palette challenge and was surprised that I was able to work entirely from my stash.


I thought I was done, but I think I'll play some more. Meanwhile I want to share another Flickr pix that shares our January palette challenge. The photographer seemed intrigued that we actively seek inspiration for fiber art in nature. This picture struck me particularly because it seemed to portray strata of color and I had used a stripe for my foundation.
yellow and blue water reflections by Zombie37 Lake in blues & yellows - Acadia, by Zombie37

Sunday, January 13, 2008


First, if you haven't heard of the Take It Further Challenge, you should check the link. It is Sharon Boggan's 2008 challenge, and I have just started on January, along with 293 other registered participants. I'm going for the color palette:

As soon as I saw it I was reminded of a sweater I've admired for awhile. I've drooled over the picture and pattern so often, it looks like my copy of Knitter's Magazine, Spring, 2000, has been left in the rain. The colorway is not exactly the same, but similar with the play of greens and purples. What looks like grays & blues in the picture is really sage and teal . This is the Mitered Mozart, designed by Candace Eisner Strick, and believe me, I would have made it by now if only I could wear a short cropped garment. I searched the Ravelry site and found a beautiful example. I saw the sweater the summer of that year made up and displayed in a yarn store; the main color chosen was a royal blue, best I can remember.

Another thing familiar about Sharon's palette are the mint green and what I know as medium leaf or jungle green. The two almost seem at odds, the mint being cool and the leaf much warmer with yellow, and it bothered the heck out of me when we had our house painted a few years back (the trims were supposed to be medium and light leaf). In time I've either gotten used to the contrast or the sun has mellowed the mint to light leaf and now appears the identical color to the lichen on our trees. Such is my peripheral view out the window when seated at the computer.

To start the challenge, I gathered up my paint color cards and attempted to match the given palette. I have an abnormally large number of greens because I'm always questing that elusive silvery green of... Well, it wasn't long before I was waxing nostalgic and singing my college alma mater in my head:

"Where the Truckee's snow fed waters fall from mountain's crest,

Where the mountains meet the sagebrush by the sun caressed,

Cradled by the silver mountains neath the western blue..."

Oh, it got worse. I started searching for sagebrush on Flickr and found these wonderful pix.

I hope you'll take a minute or two and take a peek, especially if you're intrigued with the purple and green palette or just great photography:

Next I copied Sharon's palette into my Paint accessory and used the eye dropper tool to pick up the individual colors. I tried to play with a design, but best I could do was see how the colors could interact. Now if you'd like to see the real magic worked by someone savvy with a sophisticated application, Francoise's blog Creatilfun is pretty amazing.

Now for my favorite part of any project, picking through stash. Mind, I still had no clear picture of what I might make with the palette, but I found plenty in my CQ fabric pieces, thread assortments and beads to provide plenty of latitude. At last I opted to do a small, do-able CQ piece and wrestled with the ideas of using delinquent TAST stitches and even combining that with my even more backlogged BJP. Crazy quilting is the format; we'll just have to wait and see what develops beyond that.

Right off the bat I found my verifying fabric, that's the one that contains the entire palette so I know everything can work together. It was a small square of batik. In the interest of keeping the project simple and do-able within a couple of weeks, I did minimal piecing.
I began with the green dupioni and placed it right sides up together with the lavender satin (I think hand painted by Karen South) and cut a gentle curving line. Next I put right sides together and machine stitched matching hills & valleys. My plan was to repeat the procedure with the next pairing, the purple and yellow-green dupionis. Unfortunately I forgot to allow sufficient width to allow for a second seam. Waste not! I seamed what I had and left the curved edges raw and overlapping the outer edges of the starter pair. Not wanting to repeat the mistake I simply straight seamed the end colors, on the left a silk velvet, on the right a crinkle-textured irridescent that flashes yellow and lavender. Too bad you can't see the latter; it's a piece I received in a squishy and it has the most marvelous handpainted flower that I'm reserving for another use.
Once the strips were sewn I fused a medium light, nonwoven interfacing to the back.
I have started the seam treatments, dealing with the raw edged pieces first. My intention is to use embellishment for "curving" the straight seams.


A while back I posted about an auction offered by the International Freeform Crochet Guild based on the guild's 2007 challenge. Proceeds went to the Women for Women program which will be featured tonight on CBS's 60 Minutes in a segment called "War against Women".
Here is the press release email received by the guild and posted on IFCG's Yahoo Group:

Dear Friend,

CNN's Anderson Cooper will be highlighting the plight of the women inthe DR Congo on the venerable CBS news magazine, 60 Minutes. The showwill air at 7:00 pm on Sunday, January 13. Check your local listingsfor exact air times and please forward this to your friends to spreadthe word.As you know, every day in the Congo women are being traumatized;their suffering used as weapons of war. Anderson Cooper and 60Minutes visited our operations in the DR Congo and met the women weserve. The 60 Minutes piece, "War Against Women", will enlightenthousands more to the unspeakable violence these brave women faceevery day as well as the hope for the future that the Women for WomenInternational program brings.We invite you to watch the show or set your recorder. Check ourwebsite, www.womenforwomen.org/congo, for more information andcontinued updates on the show, to make a donation, or to learn moreabout the women of the DR Congo.We are grateful for your support and for the opportunity to share thestories of the women around the world with even more people.

On behalf of the women we serve,

Zainab Salbi
Women for Women International CEO and Founder

P.S. This is the perfect chance to spread the word about Women forWomen International! Invite friends and family to watch 60 Minuteswith you. Please forward this email to friends and family or takethis opportunity to write about us in your blog.>>>