Friday, July 30, 2010


As my event, "The Great Smoky Mountain Quilting Tour" approaches next Thursday......I thought I'd show you one of the loveliest sites you can see here in the example of some of the beauty this area has to offer.

We are early risers......better that 'the husband' can stand by the back door like a puppy dog waiting to be taken a way of urging me to get in gear for our daily morning 'forced march' up and down and back up and down our mountain roads!!

I'm not sure I'll ever get used to living in the Eastern Time stays dark too long in the morning for my liking. This photo was taken from our driveway, facing South about 6:45 AM. The mountains trap moisture......and when it's released......the appearance is not unlike smoke from a fire.

This is an Eastern view......we live in a mountain valley......where it just takes the sun longer to rise high enough to provide sunlight!

I wish you were all going to be joining this fun filled week long tour.......

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


After getting on countless airplanes for all of my bookings over the last 25+ years......I've recently had the opportunity to visit some local groups. taking off my shoes, squeezing in a seat that contains half the butt from a seat mate! It's just me in my car......6 maps, a gps, and my XM radio.....(but of course I will still get lost...which is perhaps the reason I've always accepted invitations that require air travel where someone picks me up at the airport and does the driving.)

So.....not long ago I visited the Threads of Time Quilt Guild in Lexington, SC. Wonderful Southern hospitality!!

Marie Jefferies sent me these photos.....saying she was 'practicing what she learned' in one of my beading technique workshops. I'd say she caught on fast!! Please enjoy.....and thank you Marie for sharing!!!

I might mention that using prints, such as this flower, is a good way to introduce beading into one's work. The design lines are already in place.....just follow them with the appropriate stitches!



After a morning of learning traditional screen printing techniques from Val.......we switched gears in the afternoon and were led through a number of other options by fellow Fiber Junkie and good pal, Judy Simmons.

Judy introduced us to improvisational screening......instead of burning a screen with an image, a design can be drawn onto the screen with water soluble products, such as these washable crayons.

....or watercolor pencils, charcoal drawing pencils........

As shown above

Judy drew images onto the screen using a variety of products before covering the screen with the dye.

Once the dye has been pulled through the screen......she showed how to achieve additional images by using rubber stamps to remove some of the dye. (Like stamping only in reverse!) Notice the red and orange irregular shapes....they were created by placing torn pieces of paper beneath the screen which blocked the dye.

I've been trying to find a good (and easy) way to add lettering to my work......this method opened a new path for me. Using a charcoal drawing pencil.....I wrote words on my screen.....then spread on a Glass Medium by Liquitex.....pushing it evenly as possibly through the screen onto the fern fabric beneath.

Obviously, the design of the fabric wasn't compatible.....and I realized I used too much medium.....which smeared the black charcoal lettering as it was transferred. I'm not's a start and I intend to experiment further.

The Liquitex changed the 'hand' of the fabric quite a too is water soluble so that could be a negative. However, I wet the fabric several days later and it seemed like the lettering remained stable.....I did not 'wash' it.....just wet it and let dry again.....

Martine House (an honorary member who we are urging to join the group more often) made this design. If I remember correctly, she printed it on a paper towel...the design was created using torn pieces of paper. Martine is so talented she could turn a paper plate into a piece of art!

We Fiber Junkies are VERY enthusiastic.....and tend to over plan our play dates.......therefore, we truly ran out of time in the afternoon to do justice to Judy's great ideas. So.......Judy will be leading us through another session soon which will also include a demo of her Thermofax....a piece of equipment she uses to make her silk screens.

I hope you enjoyed this peek into screen was a new world for me...... I'm counting my blessings to be among such talented and good friends.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Now we are ready for gratification.... Val is adding dye into a container of dye extender.....which allows the artist to tint the color for her specific purpose.

You can see how much work Val went to....we each had dye stations with various dye containers ready for our use. Her she's placed dye at the top of her screen (her fabric has been placed beneath it). To add more interest, she's chosen to use two colors. With the squeegee.....she firmly pulls the dye through the screen.....onto her fabric below.

TA -DA!!!!! Isn't this just the coolest?!?

Here's what Carol Sloan did......her large image was made using black construction paper & burned into her screen...then printed using 3 colors of dye. Next she used one of Val's screens....a handmade batik design to print a second layer which really added so much visual depth and interest.

Due to time constraints in burning so many screens, I elected to use one of Val's. The design was created by burning the images of ring binder 'dots' onto a screen. I've been trying to figure out a good way of incorporating a bigger variety of secondary designs into my woolfelt here I'm using a piece of National Nonwoven's 100% woolfelt for my fabric.

I used several different dyes but less successfully than Carol. Can you see how muddied they got when I pulled the dye through the screen? I should have done just ONE pull through each section.....not several......which is what mixed the dyes so much. Hey......that's what this was about....LEARNING!

AND, I didn't put enough pressure on it in some areas. Val also provided some really good insight.....I might have considered using just one color that was close to the color of my fabric, to achieve a 'background' design....more of what my goal was, rather than such stark motifs.

I was happier with this one......the fabric is actually a slate color.....fiber content a thick nubby silk/rayon.....dye was bright yellow....the screen was Val's.

I used another of Val's screens to apply black dye onto the slate blue fabric....not sure what I'll do with these images....but I do intend to use them.

Nancy Bruce brought a piece of her rusted fabric and screened inside the oval shape. Wow.....this is fun!!!

Believe it or not....we weren't finished. Talented Fiber Junkie member Judy Simmons led our group for the afternoon session on a different approach to screen printing......tomorrow I'll share what I learned......

Monday, July 26, 2010


........continued screen printing process

In the screen printing need an image ready to be burned into the sensitive emulsion on the screen..... Val showed us two ways. The first is to transfer images onto Transparency Film.

She did that by photocopying her drawings or other selected images directly onto the film.

Val suggests making TWO pieces.....then carefully layering them together. This achieves very black lines which will burn better.

Here's her custom light box, made by her very talented daughter.

It contains 6 - 250 watt light bulbs that generate enough heat to burn the screen. The light reacts to the emulsion..... burning away where black images are present. This box contains a fan to disperse the built up excess heat......

....and another smaller hole to allow it to escape.

The film or image is placed on the Plexiglas, then the screen, and covered with black felt. Val likes to add a book on top to weigh it down. If light comes through it will affect the process.

We were working on a very bright sunny day.......even though we were in a garage.....the first image did not burn well. Val said, perhaps the screen was exposed to too much light as she demonstrated or she wasn't able to wash off the emulsion quickly enough.

But.....never fear....the screen wasn't was washed in Ulano Stencil Remover Liquid #4. Once dry it, the screen can be reused.

Val also suggested that an image can be made from cutout black construction paper. Carol Sloan's screen looked like this after burning and washing away the excess emulsion.

Here's a look at the large private collection of screens Val has made. Note the one on the table has many wavy lines through it.....she explained that happened because the screen accidentally was exposed to too much light before or during the burning process..... It was a happy accident.....

Each screen is carefully labeled for easy access.....

She's very organized......and makes samples of her various screening processes which are stored in a ring binder as references. Val often screens images over other images to achieve wonderfully complex and interesting pieces.

Here's a stack of her screened handmade papers.......seriously this pile was at least 12 inches high........what inspiration!!

To be continued........

Sunday, July 25, 2010


The traditional screen printing techniques we learned during our morning session were far more complicated and involved than I expected. Sure, I knew it was complex, but the number of products, steps, and equipment involved gave me an even bigger appreciation of artists who work with this medium.

Fiber Junkie member Val McGaughey is a member of the highly respected Southern Highland Craft Guild. Her work is available for purchase at their various shops. We were so fortunate to learn from the can't imagine how much time she spent setting up individual work stations for each of us, providing detailed instructions and equipment info, plus sharing all her dyes, transparencies, and best of all the use of her personal screens, many of which held images she hand drew.

We worked on long tables in Val's excellent workspace with access to all the equipment, water, and no huge worries about making a mess.

Val's table set up begins with a 1" thick piece layer of fairly dense foam.

Then a vinyl, flannel backed material covers the foam.

And finally a piece of muslin or other fabric to absorb any excess dye.

Here Val is removing the plastic wrapping from a small ready-made silk screen. She purchases most of her products from the artist supply company; Dick Blick. Click here to be directed to their link for screen printing kits which may be a great way to get started.

Before the screen can be used it needs to be cleaned....Val is doing that in a utility sink with a soft brush and Bon Ami on both sides.

It's well rinsed and then placed in the sun to dry.

Once dry, she raised the frame onto two jars........a spatula and squeegee at hand.

Using the spatula Val transferred textile emulsion (Ulano TZ) evenly across the top of the screen.

The squeegee is run down and across the screen to evenly distribute the emulsion.

It's now placed in her 'darkroom' shelves. If the screen is over-exposed to light at this point, its ability to have an image burned into it will diminish or disappear entirely. Val recommended that the screen be used within a hour.

....Continued tomorrow......

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July - Fiber Junkies

I came home from our Fiber Junkie meeting on Thursday so enthralled with the possibilities of how screen printing can be incorporated into my work......but more so in awe of the talent in our wonderful small group.

We met at Val's home........which sits at about 3,000 ft. elevation, overlooking the North edge of Asheville. Having lunch on her deck was like being in a tree house....fabulous. Although I have to admit......her driveway was about as steep as a roller coaster. I drove down it gripping my steering wheel HARD......and Val had to back my car up and out onto the road at the end of our day. was in her best interest I'd have surely back it into her living room!! I'm not a good backer-upper.

This is just a portion of her studio in the lower level of her home.......large sliding glass doors offer another opportunity to enjoy their astonishing view. It must be difficult to keep focused on the work!
Carol Sloan's husband has been providing us tastings of his various wine labels.......the one Carol brought this month had been renamed Fiber Freaks......

Carol sees the beauty in the most unusual objects..... Nancy Bruce's husband found this (almost petrified) winged bug on a fence post during a hike......yes, we are all on the lookout now for 'Carol worthy' things.

She incorporates them into her mixed media art. This piece is displayed in a shadow box....which is a perfect solution for hanging her pieces. Carol will be having a booth in a Greenville, SC art festival soon.....check out her blog....she'll have the info posted for anyone local who wants to see her work in person....and perhaps take a piece home!

Here's a closeup view of another piece.....Carol painted the bird (finch??).....note the small feathers she's incorporated. One could spend a long time examining all the details she adds to her art.

Patsy Thompson brought a piece that she recently completed. At a previous meeting she was looking for input about finishing the top due to her concerned that the yellow was too overpowering....sadly my photo doesn't replicate the color correctly. The group consensus was for her to add yellow piping when she bound the was the answer!

Nancy Bruce again dazzled us with her hand dying experiments.....She brought about a dozen different pieces. This is such a good use of recycling those white on white fabrics that we may no longer have a need for. Both sides are interesting....though the back side seemed to be our favorite.

The back of this white on white was also voted the best.......though it doesn't show up well in my photo.

I promised to share what I learned about screen printing.....seriously, I had NO idea how much equipment and steps were involved. I took 94 step-by-step photos....obviously that's a book.....but tomorrow I'll begin to share some of them to give you an overview of the process.