Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Am I Obsessed with Birds ??

Considering all of the photos that I have been snaping lately, I think that I might be.  But then it could be the fact that we have just washed the windows and taken the screens off of a couple, as we never open those windows.  Now I can get good clear shots of the birds thru the windows.  Or it could be my fabulous new birdfeeder created by S. at Liberty Town, not a single squirrel has even attempted to try it on for size.  I think that I will blame the birdfeeder and how fabulous all the birds look sitting and dining and chatting there.!!

I really do think that these two are having a deep discusion about the quality of the seed available at this feeder.  They really look like they are conversing with each other!!!

I was particularly taken with the purple finche's new plummage that was mirrored by the new maple leaf buds.  I love the soft colors of brand new budding foliage!!

He must have felt me staring because I distinctly hear him ask "What you lookin' at ?"
No doubt I will show you more bird photos in future posts, as I do think that I love my birds!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Old Becomes New !

For this month's additions to the Emporium in Fredericksburg, I finally got around to working on some old books that I have been stashing away for a long time. I have never met a Used Book Sale that I could pass by and often I get some wonderful finds as no one else wants the beleaugered volumes that I am looking for!! All of these books were collected because I liked the vintage covers and most were totally falling apart. I took the covers off and in some cases saved the innards and then went to work collaging the cover boards. Above you see the spines of the three journals that are now for sale at the Emporium at Liberty Town. I have decided to call them "Begun Again Books".

I will show you the books from left to right corresponding to the spine shot above. This Journal is created again with my hand dyed fabrics and a piece of embossed Fabric/Paper. I can see this Journal being used for gardening notes. Each journal has three to four signatures with each signature (group of pages) covered by a hand painted paper that I created using a gesso resist technique. Each signature is stitched into the book with waxed linen thread and embellished on the spine with glass seed beads.

I covered the interior of the book covers with vintage sheet music and here you can see an example of the signature wrap sheets. Each wrap sheet was done with differnt colors and patterns depending upon the style that the old covers told me that they wanted to adopt.

This is the middle journal from the top picture. I love this cover! These are not easy to find but I am sure that this was left behind because it was barely attached to the block of pages and the pages were so damp that they were shredding at the slightest touch. But I had a vision and I am thrilled with the results. Oddly enough, the title of this book was "The Life Of Napoleon" Not what I would have expected from the beautiful floral embossing!!
For this Journal I used some soft floral upholstery scraps for the spine, accented it with some crimson crushed velvet bias cut fabric and then framed a piece fo Fabric/Paper. I added a smidgen of vintage tucking and lace, topped off by a beautiful carved Mother Of Pearl button.

This Blue Journal was a wonderful old volume fromoa set of Encyclopedias. The spine was again pretty much detatched , but it had this wonderful gold embossed lettering and design on it. I saved the spine embellishment and had to include a small piece of it here as a collage element. (bottom right corner ) I used all of my own hand dyed fabrics to refurbish this journal and also added a piece of Fabric/Paper that included a stamping of my hand carved bird . This journal has a special surprise on the back.

This is a pocket from a pair of jeans. I always save the pockets from old jeans!!!! I collaged the pocket with my fabric/paper technique and added it to the back of the journal as a working pouch for journaling tools or ephemera, to be added to the journal at a later date. This is my "Begun Again Pocket Journal".

I have many more sets of covers in various stages of doneness and I am working on several to add to my new Etsy shop that I hope to be relaunching in May!!
If ever you come across wonderful old books with fabulous covers, don't pass them by. You can refurbish them and create something wonderfully unique that has a purpose. Or you can send the covers to me!! I always accept wonderful tattered donations!!!!!
Happy Spring Weekend to all!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Class with Her Majesty Margo!!!!

Last weekend I ahd the amazing opportunity to take a workshop with the delightful and ultra talented Margo Duke! She is affectionatly called Her Majesty Margo and this is, in fact ,the name of her business. The workshop was held at the Fabulous Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria Virginia.
Margo does some amazing work with her Embellishing Machine and hand dyed silks, wool , velvets, and other lovely textiles and fibers. With Margo's permission I was able to take some photos of the wonderufl items included in her delectable Trunk Show!!! Honestly, we could have all spent our entire day petting, stroking ,examining and exclaiming over all of the incredible creations included in her Trunk Show!!! These shots are mostly detail shots of her pieces that show her incredible color sense and combination of texture!!

The colors of this piece are simply stunning!!

This piece gives you a wonderful feel for Margo's remarkable and romantic color sense. She adds texture to her pieces with her own special free motion stitching techniques.

This was the piece that I could not bear to let go of!! Margo ahd knit up all sorts of scraps of yarms and felted and fulled and added felted motives and then crocheted the whole mix together with fabulous fibers . The piece was a wonderful shawl wrap that had wonderfully ripply edges finished off with fabulous crochet work. I am now more sure than ever that I will have to ask my talented neighbor Sherry to teach me to crochet ( a huge gap in my textile techniques repertoire!!!)

Here are the samples that we worked on during our working time. Margo taught us to create flowers in several wonderful techniques. She showed us how to use silk rods to create asters- the fluffy purple flower with the yellow center. She taught us to create multy petaled and dimensional flowers like the large deep pink pansey. She taught us all sorts of tips and tricks for creating interesting backgrounds with many different fibers and depth and lots of interest.In the bottom right corner she showed us how to create iris from hand dyed shibori silk. Then we went on to begin to create our own flower garden scene. I am working on creating a poppy garden with Queen Anne's Lace in the background. All of these pieces will be benefiting from more work, which I hope to get to this weekend. I will be sure to show them to you as I finish them off!!

In the meantime, if you ever have an opportunity to take a class with Margo, by all means, DO SO!!!! She will be at a huge Sewing Expo in Arlington Texas In May, so if you are lucky enought to go, be sure to look for her booth. She will be vending and will have many of her lucious hand dyed supplies to tempt you with!
Margo will also be teaching three days of classes at Quilting Adventures in Richmond VA, in May. I may just have to take advantage of this opportunity and spend another day in Margo's delightful company!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flour,Water, Color and a Skewer !

No,this is not any old piece of wax batik fabric!!! This was created using a paste of
FLOUR and WATER!!!! Is this not the coolest???????
I adore True batik fabric, the type that you see from Indonesia and Bali. Nothing can replace the beauty and mastery of techniques that comes with experience from the master craftsmen of that part of the world. However, I am a big fan of using simple everyday products from around the house to yield interesting and unique fabrics with ease and a good many "OH COOL" moments!!!!

So here you will find a stepped out tutorial so you can try this easy, slightly messy but oh so much fun technique!!!

(Full disclosure and giving credit where credit is due, I first saw a description of this in a recent Quilting Arts Magazine- at the time , I was not too interested. Then I saw the technqiue discussed a second time on the QUilting Arts newsletter by Pokey Bolton. She showed some really juicey green fabric` samples that she had created . Her pictures really pulled me in for a closer look. This is NOT my technique. I am simply providing pictures with discussion of my expereince witha few tips and some things that I learned along the way!! Thank you Pokey Bolton for sharing your wonderful fabric samples and for inspiring me to have a go!!!!)


1 cup of baking flour

1cup of room temp water (NOt HOT)

bowl and spoon for mixing

old credit card or other spreading tool

wooden skewer, bottle caps, grids for patterns

cotton fabric (I worked with pieces that were approximately 12x18 inches

old towel

safety pins

fabric paint or acrylic paint mixed with textile medium or thick dye

1 inch siff bristle paint brush

1). Mix flour and water with spoon till all lumps are gone.

2).Pin fabric to towel in the corners and once along the middle of each side. (as flour paste dries, it will draw the fabric in and you want it to stay as flat as possible)
3).Pour a small puddle of flour paste into the center of the pinned fabric and spread it around with the credit card till it is about 1/8th of an inch thick and covers the entire piece of fabric.

4). Allow the flour paste to settle on the fabric for about 5 minutes until you see the srface become glossy.

5). Now is the fun part!!! take your skewer and drag it throught he paste creating patterns and designs in the paste. wipe the flour paste off the tip of the skewer occassionaly to keep it clean. As the flour paste dries the lines will broaden so keep this in mind when you are creating your design.

Here you can see the glossiness that the paste takes on when it has settled. I have started to design my patterns with the skewer.

In this shot you can see that I have finished drawing on the top piece fo fabric and I am spreading more paste on the lower piece.

I used this plastic "grid thingy" that I found at GoodWill as a stamp to press into the smoothed paste. So I was removing paste from the areas that came in contact with the grid.

6). Allow the fabric with paste and pattern dry thoroughly. (I let mine dry overnight but on the next sunny day, it dried outside in the sun in about 3 hours)

Here you can see what it will look like when dry. you can see how much the dried paste draws the fabric up and why the pins are important!

7). Wad the dried fabric up in a ball and skrunch it around in your hands. This will crack the flour paste.

8). Smooth out the scrunched fabric and place on several sheets of newspaper to protect your work surface.

9). Spread your paint or thickened dye onto the paste covered fabric with a paintbrush and be sure that you cover all areas of white and spend a bit of time brushing the surface to work the dye/paint into all of the little cracks.
( I used full strength Setacolor paints on all of my samples)

10). Allow the painted paste fabric to dry thoroughly.

11). When dry you will see lots of tiny little cracks in the paste surface.

12). Place the fabric pieces with dried paint and paste into a large bucket of warm water and let it soak for several minutes. the flour paste comes off fairly easily with a bit of scrubbing.
13).Iron dry to set paint or dye.

Below you see my green sample that was dyed first with green on white fabric and then overdyed with a yellow green.

The picture below shows the first dye step, before the bright green over dye.

This piece was done with a mixture of blue, fushcia and purple paints on white fabric.

I did have problems with the piece that I dyed with yellow. I did not get a thick enough layer of paste on this piece and I used dye that was too thin. The paint spread under the thin layer of paste and the pattern was lost.

the result was a yellow piece of fabric. Not to be detered, I carried on and mixed up a new batch of paste and stamped it with the plastic "grid thingy" once again. This time I painted with undiluted orange Setacolor paint.

Here you see yellow fabric covered with a good 1/8 inch thick coating of paste and then stamped with the grid to remove paste form the patterned area. Left to dry.

Then painted with full strength Orange Setacolor. Cracking in the paste is clearly visible.

Here you can see the dried orange painted flour paste just before it went into the soak bucket.


This was a wonderfully enjoyable adventure in surface design! I would love to do this process with kids and would be very confident that I would not have to worry about burns from hot wax or warm soy wax. No special supplies are required except some paints or dye and fun will be had by all !
If you have any questions about this surface design technique just give me a holler- youc an either ask in a comment or e-mail me privately. Now go on out and create a wonderful day for yourself!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Begun, Undone, Redone et finis!!!!

Finally finished!!!

Once I got things reorganized and started again, this piece took on it's own wave action and led me thru the creation process. I left the large focal bead aside as it was making the entire piece fall to the inside of the wrist. A large focal bead looks nice when the bracelet is lying flat or on display , but for parctical wearing purposes , that same bead caused major design problems.
To take the place of a strong focal element I sprinkled many lustrous pearls throughout the waves of seed beads. Other very special elements include hand made recycled glass beads from Tanzania and several hand cut vintage crystals.

At the top of this picture you can see the pale purple seaglass cube that serves as one end of the toggle clasp. When closed it isnot obvious where one unhooks the bracelet. I like to integrate the closures into the design as much as possible as the clasp does not interrupt the flow of the waves.

(As always, you may click on any picture to see a larger image!)
This piece will now be combined with a set of earrings and a pendant necklace as a donation package for Liberty Town Patron's Show. The show opens in May and tickets will be on sale till one ticket per item donated has been sold. The raffle aspect, where ticket holders names are drawn to discover selection order , will take place at the end of May. This will be a very exciting event for patrons and artists alike as we watch the order of selection of our pieces!! No one wants to be chosen last!!!!
I am fairly sure that the Brier/Woodford Donation will be amoung the top tier of selections!!! (Keep your fingers crossed!!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Power of Complementary Colors

As we now wake to darkness and watch the sun rise and hear the dawn chorus begin, intense new color is begining to appear in the landscape.

In the clear light of Spring, I am always in awe of the power of complemetary colors. The pairings ones see's in the natural world are so very powerful and liberating!!

I miught just ahve to make some time to get out the watercolos and do a few quick studies of these crocus! Ariel (my awesome Watercolor instructor would be thrilled with the contrast of lights and darks that this photo has catptured!!

Have a glorious day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Begun and Undone........

Sometimes things don't go as planned.

It does not feel right, things don't flow.

Is it the color choices, the bead shapes or the developing form???

One thing that has been ingrained in me since I was very young, is to rip it out, rewind the yarn, start again , if mistakes were made or if the seam was not sewn correctly. This is a practice that has stood by me well. From this practice has grown an attention to detail and finishing, that in my opinion, can make any piece of creative expression either soar or fall flat.
This is the issue that I was struggling with over the weekend. The subject is a piece that will be donated and auctioned at the Liberty Town Patron's Show in May. I am working in partnership with my good friend Leslie Brier to put together a jewlery ensemble that will be a single unit for the sale. I am creating a free form Peyote stitched bracelet and leslie is putting together a pair of earrings and anecklace. We are coordinating our pieces so theyc an be worn as seperates or all together. WE have swapped beads from our various collections in a serious effort to cross pollinate our color choices and beads.

So after combing thru my collection and pulling all of the potential beads, adding in the ones that Leslie and I had chosen together, I set to work. When creating a free form piece, the first step involves creating the foundation band. The key is to vary colors and bead sizes within your color palete to add interest and movement. Once that part is done the fun begins. Except it very quickly became too regular and static. The focal bead that I thought that I would use looked heavy and clunky. This was meant to be an ocean inspired piece but the flow would not go!! How can one creat a piece aobut he frothy foaming flowing ocean that doea not reflect movement?? It was NOT WORKING and it felt forced.

Soooooooo, out came the scissors and the sorting tray. Snip, Snip, Sort, Reselect and start again!!!!

I am so glad that I did take it all apart and start again. It took me only a few hours to get back on track and come up with a much more organic and free flowing form.

I am sure that you can see the difference in the design and the general flow of the piece. I am not going to use the large focal bead but have opted instead for several smaller sea glass type beads (hand made from recycled glass in Africa). I will also be adding quite a few pearls in various colors- cream, violet and olive .
This photo is a bit bright and washes out many of the white crystals. I am planning on getting this piece completed by the end of the week, so I will post a complete set of detailed shots later.
Last year, in a magazine, I think, I saw a tip for storage of beads during the construction process. The tip suggested using deviled egg plates. I am not a big fan of deviled Eggs, but I was very sure that I could see the utility of the plates for beading. Above you will see that I have used a plastic version, and I must say it works great! I came upon two of these plates at our local Goodwill store, so with Easter soon upon us, keep your eyes open at thrift stores and yard sales.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

White on White- February Bead Journal Project.

Well, here it is the middle of March and I am just getting my February Bead Journal page done!!! Better late than never!! I was inspired to work all in white for this months page, partly to commemorate our snowey month of February and partly because I just finished an all white piece for a fabric page swap that I am participating in. To find out more about the book page swap, you can go here. To see the Shades Of White Page that I created for that swap, go here.
(To see close ups of any of the work just click on the picture.)
There is something about working all in white that I really enjoy. There are so very many shades of white and it is so prevalent in all things old and dear. I love vintage linens and laces in all shades of white and cream and ecru. I collage a vintage Damask linen dinner napkin (actually a very small portion) with a variety fo laces and trims and then I created a puffed heart from a reclaimed silk scarf in a "barely there" shade of pinky white. The heart was very nessesary as February is the month of valentines and the heart shape is one that I use very often.

To look at this bit of silk that I used for the heart, all by itself, one might say that it had a slightly pink tinge, but next to the pure white of the other components, one can see the color pop from the collage.

Here you can see some of my favorite bits of tatting tucked in around the heart. Of course some wonderfully creamy and tiny vintage buttons had to be nestled into the corner as well! I am determined to use some of my most treasured bits and pieces in these Journal pages as I will be able to enjoy them and share them rather than hiding their beauty away in some forgotten box or drawer.

I used some of this wonderful heavy leaf and blossom trim to embellish the top right corner of the page and edged the top with these wonderful white center drilled disks.

I outlined the leaves with tiny white glass pearl beads and tucked in some real fresh water pearls and more tiny buttons.

Here you can see the bottom left corner of the page with more of the intricate tatting and the drop bead fringe that I created to finish off the bottom edge.

I thoroughly enjoyed working on this page and I am now ready to get rolling on my March version. I am going to try to incorporate new techniques into each work from now on. After reading the blog posts of the other artists participating in this project, I ahve been inspired to push myself a bit more to learn something new. Thanks girls, for spreadiung the BEAD LOVE!!!!

I am thinking that I want to celebrate the appearance of the little green shoots and leaves in my garden. We actually hit 60 degree temps the other day and with the rain that we are getting now, Spring will be rolling in at break neck speed. With all of this in mind, I really want to learn to create Russian Beaded Leaves. If anyone has an idea where I might get some instuctions I would really appreciate the heads up and any input that you would be willing to share! I do know that Susan, over at Plays With Needles has some wonderful pictures on her blog. If you ahve not visited Susan's blog, it is not to be missed. I could sit and absorb it for hours at a time!

Happy Beading all and have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Collage for a Friend

Lately I have really been enjoying working with painted canvas and stitch. This is another collage similar to several that I have made in the past. I have personalized this piece for a good friend who is a potter and fiber artist At Liberty Town Artists Studios. Anna has been so incredibly supportive of my art and we are now working together as workshop co-chairs for the Fiber Arts Guild. Anna has just started to blog and you can find her here. When you visit, be sure to scroll down and see some of her wonderful pottery items and glorious hand woven and hand spun cloth!

Anna has commented several times that she loves the phrase "Scatter Joy" and the bright and bold colors of these pieces. She uses an oak leaf/acorn motif in her work, hence the stamped acorn motif in metallic green and copper in this collage.

Once I ahve finished painting anf stamping all of the elements I really relish the stitching! Gathering my brightest embroidery threads and a couple fo needles , I can be very content to create french knots and chicken scratch stitches (the yellow stitches on the blue swirl in the upper right of the picture above) wherever I can squeeze them in!
The handwork adds extra layers of texture and depth to the piece and I find the whole process so satisfying and therapeutic! Needless to say I will be creating more of these pieces to share!!!


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