Friday, May 31, 2013


Can this get any worse??  Well, yes it can......

I continue to try to develop a 'nature' design with this 'shibori-style' painted felted wool.

I'm auditioning some thin wood wavers and squares of painted might be able to see them if you clicked the photo to enlarge.  However, I wouldn't waste my time if I were you......
 So, next I decided to go simple and add hand embroidery to create Western Hemlock trees...which had been in my head from the beginning.  The little sample I've shown here looks better than it did in person....maybe I should have stuck with it.
 Then I started dragging out other fibers.....nope.....not a winner either.
 Now I'm really peeved.....nothing is working.  I stitched and removed tall grass too (which I forgot to photograph). Finally, for the 2nd time, I decided to let the nature theme go.  

There is a LOT of mixed media art around our necks of the woods.....and I admire the skill and creativity of those who do that well. A friend (Nancy) gave me some old sheet music.  The paper was a lovely antique ivory color....and I'd been looking at it for well over a year.  What the heck.....I said to self.....let's see if I can incorporate it.
I'm already so sick of this piece!!! (I should have just put it away and come back to it later but being an A type personality....I don't give up easily.)

Little scraps of the sheet music have been torn and attached to the felt using an acrylic medium.  Hand embroidery further embellishes those pieces and serves to hold them in place if necessary.

So far I haven't improved upon the design at fact, I probably made it worse.  But now I'm committed....there's no way to remove the onward I'm going by adding what I think will be tons of hand embroidery.  Wish me luck.....

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


 I've been slowly working on the quilt top I made at our PTA retreat in March.  It's a simple scrappy lap quilt which is about all MY brain can handle at this overload of good food, friendship, giggling, sleep deprived annual event.

I've been putting off completing it because I had to piece the backing...which I hate to do, but am determined to use up some of my stash....soooo's what I've done.  I have miles of the bovine print fabric which works quite well for this quilt!  I'm one of the few people I know who actually likes to do binding.....but of course that's handwork so this preference makes sense.  So, it will be bound, labeled and then off to someone as a gift shortly. 

Monday, May 27, 2013


This is a day to thank and remember all those who are serving our country and those who gave the ultimate's very humbling!

Tradition has evolved too that this is the beginning of the summer season...where picnics and family gatherings are enjoyed.  AND...that calls for food.......

In my life before quilting, I ran a small cooking school in the Chicago area.....through this enterprise I was invited to write a children's cookbook....  My book, "I'll Eat Anything If I can Make It Myself!" was published in 1980.  It's long been out of print.....but you can find it here on fact when I saw the price.....I may just purchase what they have and use them as gifts......

I should also probably mention.....yes, that's me standing in the middle with pigtails....and our son, Chris is the toothless kid on the left.

In this household, dessert isn't dessert unless it contains along with some homemade pound cake, vanilla bean ice cream, and raspberries, there will be homemade hot fudge sauce.

This is one of the recipes in my book.  As you will's hand written and illustrated.  Each recipe contains an educational this case it's about the double boiler, other times it's a nutritional fact, or an explanation of a cooking term. You should be able to click on the recipe to enlarge it enough so you too can make your own fudge sauce!  

If you have a very heavy duty saucepan, it is possible to cook the sauce on the stove top at a low heat very careful not to burn it!!  

Full disclosure......It is NOT calorie free!!!  Enjoy....

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I've been lax in my blogging duties this know how it is....sometimes life just gets busy.

 However, I have been stitching away on this project (blogged about here).  I'll admit there isn't much difference now than when I began.....however I do think the lines have become more significant and interesting. I'm officially stuck.  This piece was originally going to be a forest scene but my first attempts at adding branches/foliage didn't work.  So I stalled by doing the outline hand embroidery.

I keep going back to a nature based theme as I'm really trying to create art quilts that will have appeal for the buyers in this area. I truly need to focus on selling my work now that my teaching schedule is winding down.

I'm having a solo show at the NC Arboretum in the fall where I believe a nature theme will be better received.  The problem is I can't find my way yet. Sometimes one can't force a project, so I need to be patient and perhaps do a bit more experimenting before I cry uncle and move to another direction for this design. 

Perhaps during this long holiday weekend I'll find my way!

Monday, May 20, 2013


Like the rest of the country, spring took awhile to arrive, but as is often the case, we seem to be moving right into summer.  FINE BY ME!!

"The husband" has been down with a bad back for several weeks, and mine is pitiful too, especially when it comes to gardening that requires bending over.  I can stand and spray the hose....but crouching over to plant/weed/etc. is a killer.  

However, over the weekend, we decided that between the two of us we might have one good body with the ability to purchase outdoor flowers and get them potted.

I was anxious to plant this clever, thoughtful Mother's Day gift.   Hummm....candy infused with herbs perhaps??   
 Well....not quite.....and if one didn't read the fine might think it was for eating!
 The seeds are incorporated into clay/dirt for ease of planting....which I did today....I have high hopes I'll be harvesting delicious herbs in no time.
 Our property is quite large, with more bedding areas to maintain than I care to even think about.  Good thing 'the husband' enjoys that task!  Hopefully, his back will hold up.  It's mid-May and our Rhododendron bushes are just now blooming as are the azaleas and other blooming plants.
 We have a large collection of antique and reproduction crocks to display flowers.....both in the front of our home and......
........around the back.....despite the huge chore, I love the look!

The next interruption in my studio time will be cleaning the porch and porch furniture....that's another chore that always feels so good when it's completed!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Perhaps this post should be called 'how not to'??  I long as I'm wet felting....I might as well do some experimenting.  You see, our Fiber Junkies's May meeting will focus on sun printing.  And of course I'm thinking beyond just using 100% cotton for this task.

 So, I dug out a bag of Pellon's Legacy 100% wool batting.  This product is so readily available, so that for the longest time I've been wanting to see 'if' or 'how' it'd felt.
 Unfortunately, not very well.  You can see how little shrinkage there was compared to a piece of batting the same size that it's sitting on.  This was after more than enough time was spent working at it.  

I should have taken a photo of my next less than brilliant idea....but it was such a mess that my concentration went to cleaning it up, rather than documenting it.  So...what was this idea?  Oh...silly me decided to plunk some sections in the washing machine, on hot with a tad of soap using the gentle cycle.  Clearly these fibers differ from those that easily mesh as one.  Instead, clumps of fluff broke off all over the place, thus my mess. But, no might have worked and it did get cleaned up with no harm!
 So, back to my bowl of hot water, soap, and my aching arms.  As I continued slapping the darn thing around, folding it in half to make handling easier, I noticed the layers attaching themselves to one another.  Okay...this is good!  
Because I hadn't planned on that happening, you can see where the two layers don't meet....but again..that's okay. 

The moral to all this work:  (A) I have several moderately well felted pieces to play with for sun printing.  (B) I won't be using this product again for this purpose. (C) I still love Pellon's wool batting for hand quilting! 

I hope I've saved you some work in case this notion should ever come into your head!!

Friday, May 17, 2013


My current nuno felted project continues to evolve. In case you missed the here for part one and here for part 2. that you are all caught'll notice that I've cut my piece into 3 sections.  Each will be bead embellished as individual pieces of work.  Hopefully I will come up with a totally new approach/design for each when the time comes.
 What I wanted to share with you is a small problem that resulted from cutting the piece apart.  Remember, the wool roving has been wet felted onto a hand dyed silk scarf material.  The edges of the felted piece are nicely finished, encasing the scarf...but the new cut edge isn't.  One could leave it as is, but it wouldn't match the look or feel of the other edges.  So, I opted to get the soap/water/roving back out for one more treatment.
By adding some roving strands along that edge....and working them into the already felted piece, this side will now match the others, plus have a bit more strength than it otherwise would have.

Next step.....yippie.....begin some beading.....stay tuned.

This post is linked to Nina Marie's- Off The Wall Friday .....drop by for a visit.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Last month, our small group, the Fiber Junkies, spent a day Nuno felting.

 Here we are....three members made scarves, Kate (2nd row) and myself (front row) worked on a larger scale.  My intention was to make a piece to cut into smaller sections which I'd embellish....  (Like what else is new?)

After examining the section I brought home, I knew it required more felting to marry the fibers better, and to achieve better control of the composition.
 So, I wet my 'fabric' with hot water,  covered it with a sheer fabric, and began to work it with soap and a small scrunchy.
 It may not be apparent in these photos but the only piece of sheer fabric I had covered only half of the section.....which didn't have much of an impact for this first manipulation process, I just had shift it.  Normally, my next step to sufficiently bond the new fibers to the existing wool would be to layer it with bubble wrap and roll onto a swimming noodle.  It would then be rolled back and forth on a hard surface until all the fibers bonded.  

Well, I DID follow that process but got really tired of this step.  Gosh, it's so much more much fun when one is doing it while chatting with friends!
 So, I took the more drastic step and gathered the whole piece into a nice 'hunk' and started slapping it onto my work surface.  (Humm...that did get a tad messy as soap and water flew everywhere.  

 However, this aggressive treatment really shortened the felting time.  One MUST be careful with this approach as areas that you may not want to bond begin to felt together. (As show on the back side of my piece here.)
After some tugging, I was able to pull those pleats apart...and quite honestly, I love the look of the backside too.  Our felting foundations were provided by Judy Simmons; gorgeous hand-dyed silk (scarf like) material.

Here's my completed piece....which is now more than half the size of what I started with.  I wish I would have measured the original scarf material, then after the 1st felting, to the final result.  The shrinkage is understandable and quite stunning.

My next step will be to cut it into sections....refelt the edges so each one has a nice finish to it and finally.....embellish it.  

Years ago I taught at the famous Siever's School of Fiber Art on Washington Island, WI.  I got such a kick out of the weaver's.  They'd arrive on the island....go out and sheer sheep, clean (carding I think it's called), spin, dye, then prepare their looms and finally begin to weave. If I don't have this process in the correct order....I'm's out of my realm.  Anyway, I thought they were certifiable!  Now, I'm not too sure.....grinning...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Seriously, I've been feeling dumber than a rock these last few days.  Our son asked if I would make a cover to protect his pinball machine....shades of his father who also owned a pinball machine which 'decorated' several of the homes we lived in.  Well.....this project sure isn't easy or fun.

Look at this thing......all angles varying widths, heights....geesh....  AND it lives in San Francisco so the cut and fit approach, much like upholsters do, isn't possible.

During a trip to CA in Jan. I measured the monster....then had my son measure again since I couldn't understand some of my own notes!! I sent him this photo I found online, marking areas where I needed more info.  

I brought my 'mock' cover with me on my visit there two weeks ago. My sample wasn't too off but the whole creation process has now gotten far more complicated because he'd like one made out of thick material and in one piece.  YIKES!!!    It looks so simple in this photo above....however because the bottom of the scoreboard area is wider than the playing area, it's NOT!!!!!!!
 Really, and I probably shouldn't admit this....but it took over an hour TWICE for 'the husband' (an engineering type) to help me 'see' how to make it all fit together as he drew illustrations over and over.  For the life of me.....I was just looking at DID not make sense. There were moments when I just began to get a glimmer of understanding....then was gone and I was back to staring at a blank piece of paper.  

By now, those of you who have math, drawing, or engineering gifts.....your jaw has probably dropped and you are rolling your eyes.  'The husband' got VERY impatient because I truly could not see how 'making a hole' in the box shape for the scoreboard was going to make the bottom section fit correctly.  Even the engineer son mentioned this 'hole' approach to me within a nano second when we fitted my mock cover.  I'm probably not even explaining it right here because, makes NO sense!!!

So I'm venting at my inability to comprehend mysteries such these.  I'm VERY directionally challenged, can't do math, and often transpose letters and numbers especially if hand writing. I'm comfortable with 4 patch and 9 patch compositions....and have even made numerous quilts using gad!  Yet long ago, I knew those avenues of quiltmaking were not well suited for me.

However, I can look at a pile of beads, embellishments, and fabric and within a short period of time, 'see' a plan (even if it's just fuzzy) and know how to execute it.  Sure sometimes there are hurtles along the way, but I rarely, rarely, rarely not finish something I started because I truly do 'see' it in my brain.  

The same thing is true for a countertop or refrigerator filled with food options.  I always know what to do, no recipe is problem.  But this.....well....I'm more than humbled I can tell you.
If this photo makes no sense to you.....then you can only slightly know how I've been feeling.  It probably didn't make life easier for me by using some of my vast stash of 'bovine print' fabrics to make the mock cover.  The scoreboard portion (top) is made using the right side, and the lower playing area the reverse.  Of course for the photo I had nothing to fit it I'm only holding it up.....but perhaps some of you will understand.

How all this can be done in one piece - using thick fabric - well....I'm not promising successful results.  For now this new mock up is winging its way to CA for another fitting.  Perhaps our son will decide to do without one....and I can quit feeling so bad about myself!   grinning......  

Monday, May 13, 2013


As an instructor, it's always so heartwarming to hear back from someone who took your class and went on to embrace the methods taught!

And embrace so successfully she did.  This piece was constructed on wool....bead appliqued using what looks like hand dyed silks. I LOVE how she incorporated an agate slice into her design.  Learning to attach this type of stone was the subject of a workshop I taught at Hampton Roads in February.

Thank you Laura for sharing!!!

Made by Laura Gilmartin

Sunday, May 12, 2013



 As we spend the day paying tribute to Mom's.....I also want to mention another celebration that took place yesterday.

One of my dearest colleagues, Pat Campbell passed away on March 13, 2013. I blogged about it at the time as did others here and more here.
 Yesterday, John, the love of her life hosted a celebration at their home of Pat's contributions. For many quilters, Pat was such an inspiration so I hope you'll indulge me as I share these photos.  I'll never forget the kindness she showed me when I was a newbie on the quilting circuit, not to mention how deep our friendship grew.
 Her home was decorated with her quilts, books she wrote, patterns she created, fabric she designed and most of all....friends that she made were there to remember her.  A collection of Pat's most important quilts has been donated to the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.  AQS will also be exhibiting them at two upcoming shows, hopefully sometime in 2013.
Pat loved flowers and featured them in her work almost exclusively.  Her patio garden was in full bloom and her home filled with her favorite flower....tulips.... sure to tell the Mom in your life how much she means to you....and take a moment one day in the coming week to do the same for the special girlfriends in your world.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


It was so relaxing to have my needle in hand again.....yet I felt unnecessarily pushed to make quick progress.  NOT a good idea! 

 After treating the designs as if they were tree trunks by adding some hand embroidered branches, I ended up ripping them all out.  In fact, I was so annoyed at myself for not doing a better job with my 'mental designing' that I did the un-stitching in haste....and never documented my foolishness.

 So, I began again...this time with a better idea of the direction I plan to take.
With numerous thread choices and some wonderful black walnut slices that my friend Lynn gave me.....I see many evenings of happy stitching ahead.  I'll keep you posted.

Does this happen to you too??  Enthusiasm takes over too quickly??

Friday, May 10, 2013


After a week of quality family fingers are itchin' for some stitchin'.

...So, out came some hand-dyed and felted wool.
...Then, inspired by a shibori article by Holly McLean in Quilting Arts in April/May 2013, I wondered if this dyeing/painting method could translate to felted wool.

Due to the thickness of the wool, I decided to pleat the material, securing with string. Textile paint was applied to the folds, allowed to dry and the process was repeated twice more altering some of the paint color.
Here's what that process to do next??  Well, I have some ideas....stay tuned.

I'm posting this to Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


....Here's a final look at the Bay Kids Museum......oh...everything there was enticing for both kid and parent!'s the birthday boy and his Mom Kelly.......
After seeing his photo yesterday, someone emailed me that he looked like he must be at least two.  Nope, only ONE....he had a good head start, weighing in at nearly 9 pounds when he was born!

Now that my reporting is over, I'll get busy stitching so I have fiber related posts to share real soon.  Thanks for hanging in here with me....