Saturday, January 31, 2009

Update: Finished Projects

I have gotten around to finishing my pink wool felted scarf that I first blogged about here. I added beads for some extra sparkle and took more photos in an attempt to catch the glimmer and sparkle that the Angelina fiber adds to the piece. I was not particularly happy with the length of the piece. It seems too short to me and it is a bit too wide. but I decided to wear it today as I was traveling into D.C for a lunch date and it was really cold. I pinned it around my neck with one of my favorite silver pins that was my grandmothers and it kept me sooo warm! I got lots of compliments from total strangers!! Love it when that happens.
In these next photos You can really see the glittery effect of the Angelina fibers that I trapped within the wool curls.
And here is the purple and red scarf at the stitching stage before washing off the soluble fabric.
I stitched heart shapes going every which way all over the wool with shiney purple thread. Once I had wet felted the piece and dried it, it looked like this:
I am really thrilled with how this one turned out and it is longer by about 18 inches and only 5 inches wide. I do think that I am going to add a sprinkling of red and purple beads in random spots because that really turns up the interest and the glitz. This scarf will be for sale at The Liberty Town Emporium at the end of this week.
I have also started and finished a very quick embellishing project that will be swapped on the Creative Threads Yahoo group. As I found that I was far too involved in too many swaps and I quit all of my groups, now I find that i really miss a little bit of swapping activity and the fun of getting amazing art pieces in the mail. So I joined this group and I am keeping a very restrained hand on my committments. This swap was for a padded heart ornament and is to be no larger than 6x6. I used the toy of choice and went to town with fabric collage. It took me about 30 minutes to do all of the embellishing work with the machine and then I spent about 2 hours adding beaded embellishments, backing the piece with velvet and stuffing it.
I hung a vintage chandelier crystal from the bottom- which you only see a part of here.
And a lovely blurry photo of the purple velvet back!
Some close ups of the beaded embellishments that I added by hand.

I plan on making 3 or 4 more of these , a bit smaller in size, to sell at Liberty Town and possibly in my Etsy shop If I can find the time!! Theya re alot of fun to make and I am sooo very pleased that I was able to purchase the Embellishing machine- no buyers remorse here!!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Circles and Curves!

As you can see the latest challenge for the GPP Street Team is to SHAPE IT UP! I have finally settled on a shape that will allow me to prepare samples for a class that I will be teaching to fourth graders on Friday and that will qualify for the Challenge. This is a level of organization that does not usually befall me and I must admit that I am quite pleased with myself!!
The shape that I will be using is a circle, actually many different circles. The medium will be Gelatin Monoprinting on both fabric and paper. The paper pieces will become background pages for my visual journal after being used as samples in the Gelatin Monoprinting class that I will be teaching to EIGHTY- that is 8-0 - fourth graders!! The fabric pieces will be used as samples as well ,as I am being advertized as a Fiber Arts Visiting Artist. After the class I will use these printed pieces in fiber collage mini quilts and they may even appear on my Etsy site.
So here is the set-up:

Regular, nothing fancy, acrylic paints, a brayer, and a tray full of extra hard solidified gelatin as my printing surface. The printing tools are a toilet paper tube, bottle caps, plastic thread spools, bubble wrap and a paint brush end.

Here you can see some circles of plastic canvas and a clutch of spools that I taped together to create a specific pattern. this is all about making your own tools and using what you ahve. When I teach children I really try to empahsize that specialized tools are not needed to create art. Using things found around the home, with a parents permission , can yield totally wonderful results!!

The paint is loaded onto the gelatin and then subtracted using various "tools".. The tools are then relieved of the paint that they picked up by stamping on either paper or fabric, in this case, paper.

Here you can see the imprint left by the circles of plastic canvas, the bottle caps and the spools.

Here is the gelatin palte loaded with paint and then I used the end of a skewer to remove swirls and circles of paint. Below you can see the resulting prints first on paper,

And then on fabric. This fabric was intially printed with tiny black circles.

Here are some more fabric and paper printings!!

Yellow paper with orange paint.

White fabric with swirls thru pink orange and yellow paint and then more paint removed with large bubble wrap.

White fabric with paint removed using the circles of plastic canvas . THe small cluster of circles in the top right is the result of a group of bubbles that formed when the gelatin was formed. MORE CIRCLES!!!!!
( This slab of gelatin was made using KNOX gelatin made in a 1:1 ratio of gelatin to water and has been stable in the fridge covered with sran wrap for three weeks between uses.) Youc an be sure to see some of these prints in upcoming projects and I hope that everyone might try this really amazing technique for creating one of a kind prints!!! I will also be featuring pictures and tales of my teaching experience of this coming Friday, here on my blog!!

I also must thank Michelle Ward for offering this Challenge at this time as it really got the gears (more circles) turning to create some interesting tools for this class!!

(Addendum posted 1/29)
After recieving some wonderful comments, I realized that some of you may think that this is a regular deal with the 80 kids!! Not so much!!! this is a one shot gig and it is at a private school so I am pretty sure that I will have lots of help. to do this on a regular basis would be more than I could handle but I am soooo very grateful that there are wonderful teachers out there who do it all the time!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Felted Scarf Update

I wanted to share more pictures of the scarf that was finished last night, now that it is dry and the sun is shining!
It is amazingly lightweight and soft and very fluid. It is not quite as long as I would like it- that is what I get for following the directions exactly!!!. ( I never follow recipes exactly either!!) A little voice was telling me to make it longer but I didn't listen!! It is hard to see in the pictures but a good deal of the lace texture of the core fabric shows through as I had hoped that it would. It does still need some beads however.!!
After I made bread today, I dragged out all of my fleece and started on another one- longer this time!! The pink one was 50 inches so I went with 65 inches this time. I am working with reds and hints of purple for Valentines Day-hopefully someone will want to buy it at the shop where I sell my things- perhaps I should post one to ETSY as well, hmmmmm.
Here are some pictures of the starting steps of the Valentine scarf.

Here you can see the red curly fleece and then hits of purple curls and some purple Tussah silk and some small pieces of red cheesecloth added for some texture. The sparkle comes from some ANgelina fibers that I tucked in under the purple curls.

I also decided to make this piece a bit more narrow- I wnet from 8 inches on the pink to 6 inches on the purple/red.

here is a shot of the sandwich once I flipped it over to add wool to the other side. You can see that this time I used a very open weave purple gauze fabric for the core.

Tomorrow I will needle felt it , do Free Motion Stitching on it and then wet felt and dry. More pictures will follow!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I have a NEW TOY!!!!

For several years now I hae been very interested and curious about the latest New Toy in the Fiber Arts end of mixed media. The Embellishing machine is a mechanical needle felter. It looks just like a sewing machine without any thread. It has a head with seven barbed felting needles attached. I first found out about it through one of my Yahoo art groups. Fortunately there was alot of interest and excitment about the machines so there were several good discussions about the pro's and con's of various models. I managed to resist for quite awhile!!! Several months ago I started asking friends to keep there eyes and ears open for a used machine. The latest models have 12 needles rather than 7 and I knew that there had to be folks out there who had jumped in and purchased and then might not have used the machines much. Well, my rare patience paid off and I have gotten a hold of a very gently used Baby Loc 7 needle machine for a VERY good price!! WHOOO HOOO!!!!
On Thursday I went up to Alexandria to Artistic Artifacts for a play day with my friend Judy Gula.

We pulled out all sorts of silk and wool and dyed fleece and silk velvet and ribbons and had a blast. Judy was there to help me chnage the inevitable broken needle or two and I got the feel of what the machine could do very quickly.
Here are some sampler type pieces that I put together.
I love working with the velvets and strips of satin ribbon as they give any piece such shimmer and dimension if you couch them down in random spots. I think that I will probably be adding some beads to these, as more is MORE and I LOVE add beads to everything!!!
Before leaving Judy's I started on a real project. In a wonderful book by MArgo DUke, I had found a technique for creating a scarf using needle felting, Free Motion Embroidery and wet felting. The pictures were just beautiful and the results were right to my liking in terms of style. You can see book that I am refering to, here.
I cut a 50 inch long by 8 inches wide piece of soft white polyester white lace (new). On top of the lace I put down thinned out pieces of red and pink dyed fleece, some pink wool curls, some orange fleece formed into loose circles, some sprinkles of pink angelina fibers and a long strand of fuzzy green yarn laid down in a vine-like fashion. The loose orange circles with yellow centers were laid down to give the appearance of flowers on the vine. Then I covered the wool with a 50" by 8" piece of Solvey brand water soluble fabric. I pinned this down with long flat headed quilting pins and flipped the whole thing over to expose the blank side of the lace piece. I repeated the covering process with the various bits of fleece. I then coverd that side with another sheet of Solvey. Then I needle felted the piece being careful not to over felt! Then I did Free Motion Stitching all over the piece. Once the needle felting was done I was able to remove the pins.

Here is a picture of the lace, wool, Solvey sandwich after the Free Motion Stitching. The next step was the wet felting. I plunged the piece into a sink full of very warm water to which I had added several drops of shampoo plus conditioner. I was amazed at how quickly the Solvey disappeared! It was almost instantaneous!!. I rubbed the whole piece gently and rinsed it several times in hot water and then spread it on a bath towel and rolled it up and squeezed to remove excess water.

I am thrilled that you can see some of the texture of the lace peaking out from underneath the wool. The picture does not show off the sparkling bits of pink angelina fiber that I added but perhaps when it is all dry and I have done some beadwork on the blossoms, we will be able to see that part better! Yes beads, of course I am going to add some beads!!! I am going to make some more of these with different fabric cores. The next one will probably be more Ocean colors and then I think a purple and green one will be in order!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Creating and Crying!!

Well, today my face hurts and we are down a whole box of Klennex!! This OBAMA MAMA spent the entire day watching the Inauguration, the luncheon (thank god Ted Kennedy is ok- he used to be my senator) the parade and the Bushies leaving!!! HURRAY! HURRAY it is a brand new day in America!!!!! In preparation for the day I had laid out a whole bunch of projects to be working on as I watched. I did not get much done- it was way too momentous and I was far too emotional to do anything but absorb the wonder of it all!! Have you ever seen so many teeth??? My face hurts from smiling and laughing!! The Obama family has got to be one of the most handsome group of people I have ever seen and to have the more crucial characteristic of being brilliant, what joy!! We have certainly been in the DESERT on that score!! OH HAPPY DAY!!
I did manage to finish off one little project that has been nagging at me for a long time. Last summer I "met " a new blogging friend from Down Under. Tazmania to be exact. Her name is Belinda and she makes wonderful art dolls and has two beautiful little girls to chase around. She is a sweetie and you can visit her blog here. She loves meeting new folks! She and I had spoken of an art doll exchnage way back when. Well, after several delays and hold-ups, I have finished the project and I am ready to pop it in the mail for it's long trip!
I made the fabric for the doll over ayear ago when I ws first playing around with Setacolor dyes. On this particular piece I added some rocksalt for added texture. I love the salt effect!
I also made the faces from polymer clay and got so far as to encircle the larger face with a peyote stitched bezel. htne the project got put aside- this was long beofre Belinda and I had hatched our little plan for our trade.
The Mermaid is only about 7 inches long.
I enjoyed working on the beading and I did not feel that it was necessary to totally encrust her with beads. It is nice to leave a spot for the eyes to rest , as one does in a good painting.
I also did not want to hide my cool fabric texture and color!
I tried several different beaded solutions for the tail but none of them were pleasing till I hit upon this one. I think that the tail is my favorite part!!
I am planning on making another mermaid for my self someday- I will have to make sure that I still have some of these neat leaves on hand!!

Monday, January 19, 2009


Here I am on Martin Luther King Day, January 19, 2009 waiting for the day that I thought would never come. Tomorrow George Bush will finally not have any more power to eviscerate the Constitution of the United States or to torture prisoners or to kidnap innocent people to foregin prisons for interrrogation. Our country will have survived the abuse of power that Bush put upon all of us. Now all we have to do is set about to repair all of the damage that he left behind!! We shall overcome, YES WE CAN!!!!!
It is also Inauguration Eve of Barack Obama's Presidency and I have been smiling all day long!!! I spent the morning cooking and serving lunch to residents at a Homeless Shelter in Fredericksburg and I received sooo very much for my meager efforts. It was a wonderful experience and I find that my life is continually enriched by those that I reach out to. It really does not have to be much, everything form a cheery Good Morning to asking to help a little old lady get down a cartoon of orange juice from the top shelf at the local grocery. THere is so very much that we can all do to make such a huge difference in this world!! There is so much to be done,, especially after the massive mess left us by the last Admisnistration. We need all hands on deck and we, as Americans and as members of the human race cna move mountains, if we only try. YES WE CAN!!

Here are two pictures that I have been saving just for this post.
This picture was taken in September of this year. This is my brother Peter and his 17 year old daughter Mali. They are at the Summit of Mt Killimajro. Mali had climbed the mountain with a group of classmates but she had not made it to the top as she came down with severe altiutde sickness. Peter saw this as his oportunity to take the 'Old Farts Trail" complete with sherpas, with Mali to the summit. he did not want to forgo an opportunity to get his butt to the top!!!! The photo was taken by some german who had made the climb with them. The Germans were just as excited about Obama as Peter and Mali were. There is such hope for our world now that Obama will be our president. Whether you voted for him or not, he will be YOUR president and if he Succeeds WE ALL SUCCEED!!
They hiked to the summit at midnight and were met with this amazing sunrise!! Sunrise from the TOP OF THE WORLD.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Baby, It's COOOOOOLD Outside!!

3 degrees F at 8 am here in Northern Virginia this morning to be exact!!!! Ridiculous!!!!!It is supposed to moderate for the big Events coming in just THREE DAYS!!! WHOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
Anyway, last week my good friend Trina and I gathered for some much anticipated Snowman construction time. We had want ed to do this before Christams but things got way too hectic so we put it off and I am SURE that we had much more fun doing it post holiday because there was sno pressure on us. We had been inspired by the cover article in the Dec. Issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. the article was about creating snowmen out of old jars that were filled with odd bits of white beads old buttons sequins whatever. The heads are made of Air Dry Model Magic Clay by Crayola and then we embellished with all sorts of bits. The hats are made from Cookie press tips and whaatever we could fashion. iused everything from typewriter parts to hardware bits to a porcelain faucet part!
We just had more fun and giggles and it fits in beautifully with our lovely weather! BRRRRRR!!

This little gal is one of the first ones that Trina got almost finished. Doesn't she have a darling little figure??
We really used all sorts of bottles and jars for these figures. the smallest little one int he middle is an old salt shaker and the square one next to it is a vintage botttle. the snow man to the far right(half in the picture) is amde from a molasses jar from the recycling bin. you cna pick up very interesting clear glass containers at any Thrift shop or yard sale for pennies!!
These are three of my favorites. I got texture on the outside by rolling the heads in Diamond Dust glitter after painting the moist clay with matte medium and then a dabbed gesso on the glass and added some glitter there as well. "SNOW" in the middle is made form a clear vanilla extract bottle and "Flurry" on the left is made form an old salt shaker. The two on the right are filled with pearls from broken costume pearl necklaces and old white buttons.
Here is a shot of the various unusual hats that I came up with!!

This would be a fabulous project ot do with kids!! In fact a good friend of mine, Martha Brown, is a teacher and she did this project with her Kindergarten class in Toronto! If you clink on Her name you can see the amazing results of her efforts with her students!! Aren't they fabulous!!???

I wish you all Warmth and comfort and a year filled to the Brim with HOPE and Happiness and Hard Work!! We can All make a huge difference in our world if we all just try!!!! YES WE CAN!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wading into the world of Beaded Embroidery!!

I have finally done it!! I have been wanting to jump in for a very long time!! I finally took the plunge after seeing some amazing cuff bracelets created by my dear friend Jean!! She has been doing bead work for years and does beautiful work! I would share a link to her work with you but she does not have a web presence!! BO HOO!!
I have long been following the INCREDIBLE WORK of bead artist Robin Atkins. She has a wonderfu web site and runs an amazing annual project called the Bead Journal Project.
When you have a chance, if you do not know Robin, you must follow these links to see all of her amazing bead work. I have been so inspired by Robin, her work and her philosophy of beading and artwork, that I decided that it was high time that I tried some bead embroidery.

Here is the result of my first venture.

Here is the piece before attaching it to the cuff form. I was not quite sure of the best way to get an accurate edge outline so the beads would rest right along the outer edge of the metal piece. I used purple felt backed with fusible interfacing so my stitches and thread would not pull through the felt. I stitched the beads on after placing and stitching the metal zippers. I was going to try to stick to a color scheme, but I remembered Robin's words " When you first start, pick beads that speak to you- a reason is not necessary, just use what you love!!" (That is a bit of a paraphrase but it IS her basic philosophy of beadwork.)

I found this wonderful read zipper on a wool jacket that I felted for other creative endeavors. I was about to cut the zipper just before the toggle and then decided that I really liled the design of the pull and the patina on the metal so I kept it for an added design element. I am so glad that I did!!!

In some cases I went a bit beyond the marked edge and I know that I need some guidance on my edging stitching!!! I really sort of winged that part!! I managed to cobble it together and I am thrilled with it. I am all ready to start on my next cuff. This one will have a theme- Beach!! I am going to use shades of white and cream and blue and then add pieces of wampum shell that I have been collecting over the years. I have started to focus on finding those pieces that already have wonderful holes and texture drilled into them by other sea creatures holes , so they are perfect for beadwork!! When I was younger and walking the beach, these were the pieces that I always discarde because they had "Yucky Worm Holes" in them that marred their surface!!! One really really can't keep everything!!!!

So stay tuned for more bead work!!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Joy Of The Hunt

Today I am off to join three of my best local art pals for a THrift Store Tour and lunch!! We will also be celebrating Trina's birthday which falls on Jan 1. I made a pincushion for the Birthday Girl as she is starting to integrate sewing more and more into her artwork. I love Functional art!!!
I felted a wonderful Fair Isle sweater that I found at Goodwill, for the front and used a pink sweater for the back. I edged the piece with vintage costume jewelry pearls and tiny raspberry pink beads. In the center is a lovely carved mother of pearl button! I hope that she likes it!!!

Before luch wea re descending on our favorite huge Thrift Store center, hopefully to discover some new treasures!! Hope that everyone has a great day!!


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