Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today I'm preparing to host Thanksgiving dinner. As I bake pies, make cranberry sauce, and generally organize how things will run in the kitchen tomorrow, I am also thinking about all the things for which I am so thankful.

Tomorrow I will feed others, while giving thanks for all the ways they "feed" me. It's the least I can do.

A wonderful day to stop, take note, and give thanks for the wonders of this life and the gifts we have in each other.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Snow

It snowed today and left some on the ground. Not much, just a trace. The flakes were big and wet, and beautiful. I'm really not ready for winter yet, but I just couldn't help enjoying nature's beauty. The little unexpected surprises that come our way, especially on a day where we really didn't need to leave the house.

It's not yet 5:00 pm and the light is mostly gone. The darkness grows longer and the temperatures colder. Nature settles in to rest, and wait for spring.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Progress with Dye Painting

I'm making progress on this piece of the coleus leaves. If you scroll back a few posts, you'll see this piece in process. I have finished the thread painting and have added some borders, a little fabric paint (not dye) to the background to enhance it some and am considering whether I want to put any quilting in the border or not. At this point I'm leaning toward not doing any.

I was asked if I had cut the leaves out and appliqued them onto another background because they come over the borders. The answer to that question is yes and no. I slit the fabric around the bottom of the leaves, put some fusible on the back of the tips and after I had sewn the borders and squared everything, I fused the tips down and stitched around the raw edges. The rest of the background is the same fabric as the leaves.

This is the dye painting of the first shark. I have been commissioned to do two fabric paintings of great white sharks for someone. They will be painted with dye, then with thread, then stretched on stretchers like a regular painting. I was practicing with the coleus leaves because I'd never painted with dye before. I think it's really fun. We'll see how well the sharks turn out.

Questions about the process are welcome. I feel as if I'm learning so much just by doing them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Acceptance and Rejection for Shows

My collage, Wings II, has been accepted to a show in my city, called Greater Des Moines Exhibited 15. This is not a fiber or quilt show, so I'm feeling pretty excited. I really didn't know what to expect, as this is the first time I've ever tried entering. I thought it might have a chance as this is a framed piece and not "quilty". I love quilty, but fine arts shows apparently, don't.

It will be fun to see the variety of art and meet other local artists who work in other mediums.

My work called Mother of Us All, however, has been rejected from a show in Pidgeon Ford because of its content. I had been invited to be part of the Special Exhibit of Sacred Threads at the Mountain Quilt Festival in March of 2009. I received a very nice email yesterday saying they were unable to accept this quilt because Pigeon Ford is a very conservative and family friendly town and they weren't sure how it would be received. I really do understand their concerns. It's also a little exciting to think my work is really that controversial.

More Painting with Dye

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the International Quilt Festival in Houston a couple of weeks ago. I took a class from Hollis Chatelain on painting with dyes. The only thing I was doing differently was that I was mixing my dye with water first, then adding it to the print paste solution. I learned I can simply add the dye powder to the print paste and mix well. Works beautifully. The print paste solution should be about the consistency of maple syrup. It's nice because it keeps for awhile so I don't need to keep mixing it every time. The dye's in the print paste will keep for a few days as well as long as there's no soda ash in them. I dip my fabric in the soda ash solution, hang it up to dry and press with a cool iron. Then I can draw my image on the fabric lightly and begin to paint.

Back to the studio!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fall Has Fallen

Fall has fallen and winter's here! We went from 75 degrees on Tuesday to 39 degrees on Friday with lots of wind and rain and yes, snow! It's difficult to get my blood thickened when it changes so rapidly! But I do like winter. It's time to "hibernate" and find time to sew, cook warming foods, and enjoy the surprises of the weather. Might as well enjoy those surprises, because they're going to happen anyway.

It does seem like it was only yesterday that I was chipping ice from the bottom of the driveway, for weeks on end. Where did summer go?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Painting With Dye

I've been experimenting with painting with dye on fabric. This is a piece that is in process. I had a beautiful coleus plant this summer and decided to play with images of the leaves.

I mixed my print paste solution and then my dye. It was a little too runny, but it wasn't bleeding on the fabric, so I continued. When I had painted three leaves, I let it "cure" for 24 hours and then rinsed out the extra dye and washed in synthrapol. I was surprised that so much of the color had disappeared. I did go back in and paint more and it seemed to hold more of the dye.

The leaf that is in the embroidery hoop has been stitched with free motion on my machine. I intend to add more thread to create more depth and pattern on it. It's rather fun. We'll see how this finishes. I want to try painting some great white sharks with this technique for a commission I have so I hope it comes out the way I want.

Waiting for Harvest

Stalks of corn drying in the field are mostly broken, and the ears bend toward the earth rather than look toward the sky. They stand, waiting for harvest. The end of the growing cycle in the midwest. Autumn has arrived with the expectation of winter to come.

For me, Autumn is a time to reflect on the growth that has occurred during the spring and summer. Not just in my garden, but in my studio as well. How did I grow and change as an artist? What new ideas grew to maturity by my hands? What seeds might have been planted through the harvest of this year's crop that fell to the ground and will live under the snow until Spring? What ideas have yet to be brought to maturity through the cold and dark of Winter to emerge in the Spring with new growth? This time of gathering and storing is only fuel for the fire. I can't wait to see what the next season brings.