Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Utilizing unusual embellishments can be quite the challenge.....
Back in late 2013 I stopped at a metal fabricator's shop (sadly closed now) looking for small pieces of metal to rust.  They didn't use thin metal....but the generous owner gave me two pieces of cut out 'waste' of a thicker steel which normally he sells for scrap.

'Iron Tree' (above) is the result of using one piece...I blogged about the process here.  I've picked up that other piece soooo many times since then, trying to come up with a plan to use it....
 I don't know if I have a plan.....but I'm moving forward anyway.  I got out this small piece of deconstructed screen printed wool.  Knowing the weight of the object would require the art to be mounted, I soon realized the print wasn't large enough.  

Look.....you can see the outline of the screen....and the margin where I repainted to cover the exposed white wool.  Wrapping a wood frame requires a much larger border than for instance museum wrapping or binding a wall quilt.  In the end, I'm hoping this 'fix it' attempt will prove successful.
The 2nd 'waste' motif was an entirely different shape..... I'm auditioning some steel beads to coordinate with it.....  Let's see where this goes.....

Monday, July 21, 2014


This is a bit off subject as it's not fiber related.....yet in a way it is.  Those of us who'd rather stitch 24-7....somewhere in the back of our minds realize all that sitting may not be good for our health!  

"The husband" took up daily walking about 14 years ago.....and after MUCH nagging....I began about 9 years ago.  Don't get me wrong....I still do not like it, but I do it.  Our mountain roads are steep....so we get a lot of cardiovascular activity since we make a 1,000 foot elevation change 4 times in our 70-85 minute walk.
 Summer is in full swing here and black berry bushes are taking over.  Actually, it's a bit worrisome since there's little if any traffic where we walk and parts are quite isolated.  So what?....... you might ask......Well.....because of the black bears who like these berries!
 This section is so rarely used that it's becoming overgrown....makes me wonder what's lurking on either side!
Our rescue black lab, like all labs is always hungry and will eat just about anything.  I've been giving her carrot slices as a treat, rather than dog biscuits....healthier and less calories.  Even dogs have to worry about calories! (or their owners do.)  

So...here's Sooty always trying to munch on the low hanging blackberries (or red...she doesn't care if they are ripe!) as we walk.  

Sometimes a walk is just the thing to give you time to reflect on your projects.......passive designing I call it.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I wish I could report that after 24 hours of reflection, my pieces now thrill me....NOT!  It was a fun day, but it's doubtful I'll be repeating this exercise.
In addition to the more traditional cottons, I enjoy testing what results can be achieved with wool. 
 Using a foam brush, small stencils, and Soft Scrub.....the process begins.
 Unfortunately this is the only photo that turned out.....just at the beginning of stenciling motifs.  NOW....if you refer to photo #1.....you can see the results after drying, pressing, and washing out the Soft Scrub.  NOTHING...zip, zero.....
 On a small piece of dark grey hand-dyed cotton, this beautiful motif (thank you Judy) was stenciled using DeColourant.  Once dried the image is fairly invisible....as one presses with steam....it comes to life.
I was so happy with the color...a lovely pale blue.  BUT WAIT.....after I brought it home, wash and dried it.....the leaves are now gold!  Sorry I should have included a photo of the new look....so much to do....so little time!
Apparently not all fabrics will discharge...and black is reported to be one of the more difficult colors to work with.  I was actually doing a bit of a happy dance with this one.  
 The crazy 'line' pattern was created using a cut foam brush.  I can't take credit for this idea.....and sadly can't remember where I saw it to give proper credit.  I found it during my research on the Internet.
Yet again....I was disappointed.  This is how the piece looked about 20 mins. after it was steam pressed.  Unbelievably, the images faded!

And here's how it looked after I washed and dried it at home.  This photo is actually very close in color to the real thing.  Boo hoo....
Pitiful isn't it??
Here's a peak at the only one that turned out.....the images were blue after steam pressing, but turned purple after I washed and dried it at home.  

Of course I realize really wonderful results can be achieved using these methods.  However, for me....it's not worth the effort or the need to work with chemicals I'd rather avoid.

We already have our subject for our Aug. Fiber Junkie's play date......  I'm confident it will be another fun and informative day......as this one was....whether or not I come home with piles of interesting fabric.  The novelty of the process is the reward.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


The focus of July's Fiber Junkie's meeting was discharge dyeing.  Which basically means, removing the dye color from fabric using bleach or other chemicals. As you might imagine.....beautiful patterns can result.  

Conclusion....I'm not sure I'd bother doing this again.  Why?? Mainly due to the wide variables of mostly disappointing results. (I know, I know....this process can be fun and rewarding so this report is just my take on MY results today.)  

The cost of supplies such as, Decolourant are fairly expensive and at least for where I live....not easily accessible.  Other less costly supplies (such as common household bleach or Soft Scrub with bleach) may work fine, but it's a good idea to use respirators when using these chemicals.  Working in a well ventilated room is a must.
 For the first time in years, we had a wash out on our Fiber Junkies meeting day. Yes of course, we get rain here, but mostly it rains, clears up and even rains again....all day rains are not common.  Fortunately, we were able to work in Val's garage, but dry times were definitely affected.
 As mentioned.....when working with some of these chemicals, it's a good idea to wear a respirator.  Denny models hers......
 I'm trying to be more purposeful about all these experiments we do.  So this time I worked with all black fabric in the hopes of achieving results that better coordinate with each other instead of creating random pieces that are great to look at, but difficult to use.

Here I pleated a hunk of fabric and coated the folds with Soft Scrub with bleach.  I waited, and I waited...
......and when nothing seemed to happen after about 20 mins. (when it should take about 5-10) I washed it out.  I ended up with 2 small steaks of very light grey and the rest was still black.  This photo is over exposed....making the black look grey and the grey look whiter than what it was.  Believe me...it DID NOT WORK.  We determined that perhaps the Soft Scrub I used was old.....apparently, the bleach in it becomes less effective as it ages....despite the fact that it really still smelled like bleach.
 However, others had better results.....  Here Denny tried 3 different products and the looks varied.  From left to right.....Discharge dye solution, DeColoruant, and Soft Scrub.  She pressed each solution through a shibori pattern thermofax screen that she made.
 Next I tried discharging using one of Judy's small thermofax designs.  She's SUPER organized and has been doing image transfer before most of us knew what it meant.  Each one is labeled and has it's own printed paper cover paper clipped to it to make it easy identify in the large stack she's created.
 Decoloruant was pressed through the small screen and dried with a heat gun. Then it was pressed using steam which released the dye, allowing the design to appear.
 When the dye is fully released.....the fabric looked like this.....One of my better results..... More to come......

Friday, July 18, 2014


This 'make do with the fabrics you have' project continues. Because I'm spending so much time hand quilting something for our local quilt guild show....this one had sort of been put on the back burner.  

In case you missed the past posts on this subject.....all these fabrics are results from various Fiber Junkies meetings. (A group of 6 who gather once a month to explore different techniques.)  It's loads of fun, but so often I'm left with such small samples that don't work together or are challenging to incorporate into other work.
 The fabric I liked the best made great tree trunks.  It had been dyed, over dyed, painted, and then stamped using oil pastels.....at 4 different meetings!! Talk about indecision! After cutting narrow strips, it's now been fused to the background and secured with machine applique.
A not so interesting deconstructed screen printed fabric was the base for some more stenciling using oil pastels....simple embroidery adds textures to these trees.
 And some French knots were added to just a few trees.
Okay.....I couldn't resist......yes I started beading along the quilted sun ray lines......  
And a rarity.....I sat most of two afternoons in my studio completing the beading.  I almost always reserve handwork for the evenings....but with my other evening project I was too anxious to wait on this one.  
FALL FOLIAGE  18.5" X 17"  © 2014
Artist dyed, overdyed, printed, painted, stamped 
cotton, embroidered, and bead embellished

I'm linking to Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday and Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Our Asheville Quilt Guild show will be held in September.....as a member I like to participate if I can.  Unfortunately, most of my work is not large enough, nor are they quilted through 3 layers as required.

My 2+ month long fit of organizing uncovered lots of goodies.  One is a hand appliqued and pieced holiday theme wall quilt top.  Very traditional and so unlike the style I work in lately. 
  As you may know...I whine when I get into a panic about not having any evening hand sewing to do.  So....I sandwiched the top and set about hand quilting it like mad.....I've kept this quiet since I didn't want the pressure of actually feeling as though I HAD to get it finished by the upcoming (very soon) deadline.
I may make it.....I have the outer borders to go....then of course the binding etc. and if I'm pleased I'll share it in the show. (Now I think I should add more background quilting in the applique area...sigh)  

 I love to hand quilt....though I admit I reserve it for only special projects these days.  It's impossible to sell a piece for a price that will compensate one for that much work.  Perhaps if it does end up hanging in the show, it may inspire others to take the time to do some hand quilting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


So...among the many reasons we go to our monthly quilt guild meetings is for the lunch we have afterwards.  We have a new favorite restaurant.....  I blogged about it once before.....but I'm so enamored with the decor (food is great too) that I wanted to share these clever ideas.

 Everywhere one looks....interesting displays can be found.
Detail of spoon and fork sculpture.
 Charming light fixture.
 Full size bed springs can be found on walls, ceiling and smaller units tucked here and there.  Here's another jug light fixture.....I just love this....
 Numerous areas feature chunky steel rods, decorated with colorful bottles.
 Oh ya....and then there's the food.  Greek salad and a piece of delicious Greek pizza......yummmmm.
Janice's meal was almost as big as she is......she stays so slim because she only ate the meatballs from this sandwich....and left the bread.....will power!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014


A dear friend broke her foot....cleaning!!!  It's exactly how I broke mine years ago...down to blaming it on cob webs!!  I sent her a little get well package with numerous goodies.  Among them were some note cards decorated with paper fabric.

I've blogged about this a couple of times so I won't go into details except to say for newcomers here....it's created by attaching torn paper (tissue/newpaper/advertising/old book pages) to a piece of fabric with thinned white glue.  Once dried it can be cut up and used in a variety of manners.
 In my organizing frenzy of late I found a stack of paper and other decorated fabrics that I'd put away.  So...with my current project still stalled as I continue to work out design issues, I pulled them out.
 Gathered my blank cards and envelopes....
 And started cutting pieces to be stitched to the card stock by machine.
This one isn't paper fabric...rather it's fabric that was stamped using transparent modeling paste......it's actually quite cool in person.  The machine stitching was challenging.  The stencil was large, round, without much unaltered fabric to stitch on.  Click on the image....perhaps you can get a better idea of the interesting fabric.  

 Here's another that's not paper fabric.  It's made by trapping silk threads, roving etc. to a colorful sheer using matte medium.

All in all I made 28 cards.....which is all the card stock I had.  Now I have a stack of cards to use myself or as gifts.  What a nice day!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


.....so as I was saying in my last post......I'm determined to use some of the fabrics I toiled over for so long!  Normally, I prefer sharing these process shots in a post featuring the finished quilt....but this one isn't coming together very quickly. So for lack of anything else to share......here's what has happened since we chatted last.
 The background has been cobbled together and machine quilted.....of course you can't 'see' the quilting against the fabric's textures. Actually...the sun is fairly visible because I used yellow rayon thread, but the rays (not wanting to overpower the smallish piece) were stitched with green cotton thread.
 Okay, okay....so it took me another hour or so to quilt it again using the yellow thread!  Now I'm struggling to stretch out the pitiful amount of yellow/orange fabric I dyed/stenciled. This rick rack design was such a tiny piece...and nothing else wants to play well with it.  But, I'm LOVIN' the tree trunks!
After far more time than I care to admit......a design is finally coming together....naturally, already there are thoughts about where to put some beading......NOT every piece calls for beads, even though I wish they did!  Let's see what happens now.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


After getting my hand-dyed and otherwise printed fabrics better organized (I blogged about it here), it became very apparent that all I seemed to do was fondle them while remaining very indecisive about how to utilize them.
 These three all started out as an ugly yellow/white print...with an almost calico flavor.  First I dyed it.....but can not identify what method I used....was it a failed deconstructed screen printing, tray dyeing, ice dyeing....who knows?

One thing I do know is that I brought that hunk of fabric to Fiber Junkie Denny's house the day we experimented with stenciling and otherwise playing with crayons, chalk, oil pastels.  The top two designs are what came of that day...with still a piece of uninspiring dyed fabric leftover.
 The problem with all these experiments is that generally they yield small pieces....so if you like it.....it's still somewhat difficult to find a way to use it.  Patchworking them together is one way to make them work. 

Nature themed quilts that allows folks to bring a bit of the Blue Ridge Mountain experience home with them seem to sell the most quickly.  Okay....so my designs have now evolved with that focus in mind.  Despite really wanting to use it, the bright colored dyed cotton batting was too strong.
 Next I decided to paper cut some wonky tree shapes....maybe that's the direction I should be heading....
.....this way I can use some of the other small pieces of these dyed/printed fabrics.  The brown piece on the left is another one that was a failure after dyeing, then fabric paint was applied at another gathering (trying to save it), and finally, again at Denny's I used a pressing plate rubbed with who knows what and stenciled the squares and lines.  Yeah....I was happy with this piece...but it's small!

All the rest of the fabric with the exception of the top horizontal piece and the 1st yellow from the left have been dyed, sun printed, deconstructed screen printed, or stenciled......Let's see what I can do with these little bits and pieces....