Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FIBER JUNKIES 2015 OUTDOOR HOORAH

The best medicine to shake off a couple of really lousy days, is a fun filled one with my Fiber Junkie pals.  This was our last outdoor play date for the season.  We'll be moving our experiments indoor (or further south to a member's home in South Carolina) until next spring.
Each and every member of our group is unbelievably generous, thoughtful, gracious, inspiring, talented....need I say more?  But Val is a true saint.  She hosts us month after month from Spring to Fall....everything is perfectly organized when we arrive.  For instance, each of us always has her own padded table, padded floor covering....and look at this....6 premixed thickened dyes ready for each!

This was kinda a free for all day.  The weather didn't cooperate for our ice-dyeing session, so we switched to dye painting.  Here I placed some thick string on plastic....
And covered it with dry mercerized cotton that had been treated with soda ash.  The fabric was a second....note the hole....but I choose to think that will only force me to be more creative when the time comes to using it.
I had intended to recreate sky or water, hoping the string would help yield interesting texture. However, in my excitement I accidentally began with green dye. Thus a morning or evening mountain scene was born instead.
I never seem to have enough hand-dyed threads for embroidery.....so at home I soda ashed as many hunks of light colored threads that I uncovered in my stash.  There was no real plan as far as color distribution went....I simply dunked a foam brush in the thickened dyes and dabbed it on.  
To assure good penetration on the thicker threads, often the dye was thinned with a bit of water.
Over the last couple of months, most of the fabrics I created were quite busy....lots of layering using a variety of techniques.  But one does need some less intense fabrics as well.  Wetting fabric sections first in soda ash water, allowed the dyes to blend yet provide movement from the brush strokes.  This one was sprinkled with salt with the hopes of having the grains disperse the dyes in an interesting manner.
This was as fast and easy as painting stripes using several different colors of dyes.....which blended as they hit the wet fabric.  
And another......
Next a dry hunk of fabric was transformed using the rims of 3 varying sizes of plastic cups, dipped in thickened dye.
This is how I added the small dots!

I haven't washed or dried the fabrics yet......as my attention continued to be diverted with several annoying technical problems.  The first....my 13 year old sewing machine died.....and I mean D E A D!  The main circuit board failed and can't be repaired nor are replacements available......one of the reasons for arriving at Fiber Junkies in a very crabby mood.  

To top it off, I'm one of the Mac users who is tearing her hair out trying to work out the bugs left by the new software upgrade.  And I still haven't gotten all of the issues resolved after having to replace my desk top a couple of months ago. now there's all new ones!

It's ridiculous to have to admit just how stressful this new challenge has been.....even with a Mac genius at hand via phone.....the 'work arounds' to make some aspects work are not quite satisfactory.  Perhaps my age is showing.....I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.  I just barely got used to all the new junk they added with the last upgrade......

I sure hope my whining isn't annoying to you......perhaps you totally understand??  I'm seriously thinking I should host a pity party for myself.....but this too will pass.....grinning......



Sunday, September 27, 2015

SCOREBOARD KNIT A LONG

I'm currently not a knitter.....however, I did make a few sweaters 40+ years ago....but that was the extent of my knit and purl experience.  
My pal Lynn is in the process of knitting this cowl......following the guidelines on Scoreboard Knit A Long.  It's a great concept for football widows.....or football fans to embrace.

Here's Lynn's explanation.....obviously....she's another Green Bay Packer fan:  All Packers points are knit in green, opponents are yellow - one row for each point - and white indicates the end of a game.  So, from top down....... Packers vs. Bears, white end of game rows, Packers vs. Seahawks, end of game white rows.  I sure hope there's A LOT more green than yellow by the end of the season.  I'm all set for Monday night's game ---- I'll be knitting frantically every time someone scores.  Great fun!!!!!

So all you knitters......get out those needles and yarn in your teams colors and start knitting.  With only 2 (or possibly 3) games played.....you can catch up!  And thank you Lynn for sharing this novel way to marry football and fiber!

GO PACK GO......GO PACK GO.......GO PACK GO......GO PACK GO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 25, 2015

'THE COLOR OF FALL' - FINISHED NEW WOOL PIECE

This is the final layout I selected to marry the needle lace leaves with the wool that had been reworked numerous times!
THE COLOR OF FALL  -  12" x 9"
Available Here  (and to view a larger photo)
 Artist shibori printed, ice-microwave dyed, & mono-printed wool, machine needle lace embroidered leaves. Mounted on a canvas covered frame, fabric backed with hanging device.

Visit these blogs to see what others have been up to this week.  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Sews.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

NEW WOOL WORK - PART 3

I expect most of you are familiar with the wonders of water soluble stabilizer....simply stitch on it.....cut the excess stabilizer away and dissolve the remaining in warm water.
The leaves are soaking in a sink that's filling with water.
With the stabilizer gone, the leaves are left to dry.
Though I made the leaves specifically following the design pattern I drew on the overlay.....it didn't translate into a pleasing piece.
I had a stack of leaves to work with so I began auditioning new placements.
Though I rejected this one layout, upon reflection, I rather like it now.  However I didn't then, so check back tomorrow and I'll show you what I did do!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NEW WOOL WORK - PART 2

….Continuing the saga of this new wool piece........
The colors and texture of the fabric gave the impression of fall.  So I set out to create leaves to enhance the design of the fabric.  A clear piece of plastic and a magic marker allowed me to preview the shape and placement.
Normally I use a dry erase marker when auditioning motifs, but because I wanted to transfer the design, a traditional marker worked better for this approach as it stays fairly wet.
I placed a piece of lightweight paper over the leaves drawn on the plastic to transfer their shapes.....they will now be my templates.  Sure they are rough shapes.....but for my purpose; to make needle lace leaves, that was fine.
I retraced the shapes onto a piece of water soluble stabilizer.
Okay, I know what you are thinking....Mary doesn't like to free motion stitch....and you'd be right.  But it had to be done.  So, the shapes were outlined and then filled in using rayon embroidery thread.
Well......that wasn't too bad.....I did it!  But, yikes.....it took a lot of time and I had how many more planned???

Come back tomorrow and see the progress........  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

NEW WEEK - NEW WOOL PROJECT

This post should probably be titled - The 7th Time May Be The Charm......
Normally, my preference is to show the process and conclusion of a project in one post, assuming that doesn't get overwhelming. But, because of all the steps involved, I'm breaking up this 'story' into several posts.
It all began with a piece of garment quality white wool.  I love working with felted wool, but as is often the case with dress goods, it wouldn't felt.  I had a lot of this fabric so I decided to work with it anyway.

The first step was to ice dye it.....but as seen in this photo......it's rather dull. So when two friends and I were playing with acrylic paint, I wrapped it onto a large pvc pipe. 
And painted the folds using a foam brush. (My buddy Judy Simmons can be seen in the background painting one of her pieces.)
......Hummmm.....it's still ugly!
Several months later the Fiber Junkies spent a day experimenting with microwave ice-dyeing....so I overdyed it.  Good grief....it's still homely.
Time passed and the Fiber Junkies met again for a mono-printing day.  I was doing a happy dance after transforming the fabric by applying numerous layers of thinned acrylic paint with the aid of several really interesting stencils a member shared.

Trust me....it's so much better in person.  The challenges are that it is far darker than it appears in the photo and has a VERY BUSY appearance.  

With that said......after picking it up a dozen times and replacing it, I now have a plan that hopefully will be successful.   Check back....won't you?




Monday, September 21, 2015

PACKERS!!!

VICTORY...... Packers 27 -  Seahawks 17!!!!!!!!

All smiles after Elliott's one-handed interception in the 4th quarter......

The 'countdown clock' for the Packer/Chief's game now reads:  
7 days - 12 hours - 27 mins. - 30 seconds.....  We fans aren't too anxious for the next game are we??? 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

WITH ONE EYE ON THE TV

It's been a full weekend so far with TWO long car races broad casted on TV from Texas yesterday.  It's the 2nd to the last race of the season and the teams are all getting spunky, vying for the coveted #1 spot which earns them an automatic entry into the prestigious 24 Hours of LeMans in France next June.

I realize I might be speaking French....as surely none of this is vaguely familiar or interesting to 99.99% of you. However.....it can't be escaped in this household, so I keep one eye on the TV and one on my sewing.

The real story will be told tonight when the Green Bay Packers meet the Seattle Seahawks.....a MUST WIN game.
This home opener would be a fabulous one to attend as they welcome back Super Bowl 1 Alumni (some pictured above) and Packers Hall of Famers.  What a thrill it must be to see all these greats in one location.  A pal of mine was flying to Wisconsin on Friday and snagged a photo of herself with Don Majkowski who was on the same plane.  Are you all rolling your eyes yet?!?


Okay, enuff!!!  Our boys are ready.....our Packer flags are flying here in the mountains of NC and our Packer gear is waiting to be doned. So obviously, I can't let the day go by without repeating over and over........GO PACK GO   GO PACK GO!!!!



Friday, September 18, 2015

POLKA DOT BABY QUILT

With three upcoming births in our family....I've been busy creating quilts. 
 Not having a specific theme or color suggestion for this one, a small stack of polka dot prints from my stash caught my eye.  My first thought was to limit the colors and make pink and blue 4 patch blocks. (The baby will be a girl.)  After realizing my prints wouldn't stretch that far I changed course.  Instead, I began piecing single 3" patches of every color in my collection.
 Naturally, then I realized there really weren't enough to finish AND not enough  to provide a pleasing distribution of color and pattern.  
I always appreciate belonging to several small fiber groups in the area.  Luckily, our PTA (group of 14) was scheduled to meet.....so with the stroke of a few computer keys.....my pals generously brought some from their stashes to share with me.

My goal was to make a manageable size quilt.....so I had intended to stop at this point.  However, it did seem a bit puny and I felt it needed a border to frame all that activity.......
This is the result.....of course you all know this is really only step one.......next a backing will be pieced....incorporating some more patches, then basting, then quilting, then binding, then label making....then mailing it off......

How lucky I am to have the time and studio space to do all these tasks......while watching/listening (often open mouth) some trashy reality shows!!

See what other creative folks have been up to this week:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Whoop, Whoop Friday, Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ANOTHER BABY QUILT

There's been several baby quilts coming out of my studio lately....in fact, I'm working on another one right now.....will share soon.

This one was presented to our son & DIL during my recent trip to CA......a bit premature but I wanted to give it to them in person.  The new 'little person', (a second baby boy) will arrive in 16 days....but whose counting??

I can't take credit for this design idea....I saw a similar one somewhere online.....and it stuck with me.  I'm sorry not to be able to credit the inspiration.....but this is what I remember of it.


2nd Stori
41.5" x 54"
Pieced and appliqued cottons, machine quilted.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

WHEN QUILTS FIND NEW HOMES

Yes.....it's a happy day when quilts find forever homes.  That might sound a bit overstated......we think of children and pets seeking 'forever homes'....not wall art!  

However, as an artist, who is now focusing on creating work to sell.....yes, it's a great feeling to know someone else appreciates your designs and wants to live with them!!!  I'm stepping a bit more gleefully today.



WILDFLOWER SILHOUETTE TRIO
Artist microwave ice-dyed and mono-printed
felted wool, hand embroidered, bead embellished.

If you are a collector or one who just appreciates being surrounded by new pieces as inspiration......perhaps you will find a piece that 'speaks' to you too....visit my gallery shop here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

PTA - SEPT. MEETING

Our PTA - Professional Textile Artists group meets once a month. We all eagerly await our gatherings which range from field trips, occasional projects, Show and Tell, lots of chatting, and food consumption.

Every member is incredibly supportive....always ready to jump in and help with tips/techniques/critiques/and fabric sharing.  As can be typical of a larger group, at times monthly planning can stall and last minute scurrying develops.  So at the beginning of this year, we tried a new approach.  Each of us took charge of planning the activities for a specific month.  It's working GREAT!!  
 Member Kate just returned from a trip to Sweden and lucky for us.....it was her turn this month.  She hosted us with a delicious, over-the-top feast, inspired by the foods she enjoyed during her travels.
 Not only were the open faced sandwiches incredibly tasty, featuring meats, herring, shrimp, and vegetables on marbled bread, they were picture perfect as well.
 We enjoyed a selection of olives.
 A Scandinavian salad.....
.....More sandwiches.....
 Homemade Cardamon cookies.....
 ......and many styles of liquorish.....brought back from Sweden.  
After we gorged ourselves.....we toured Kate's sewing spaces.  How would you like to have this organized stash?!? .....AND it's only a partial view of her collection.

Consider scheduling monthly gatherings with some of your fiber friends.......and build your own quilt memories.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Yup.....it's that time again......and surely this will be OUR year for the Packers to go all the way......and take back the Lombardi Trophy.
Our hero.....MR. RODGERS...... # 12
Packer fans are known for their elaborate tail gate parties. Creativity rules! Like this up-cycled ambulance.....Read here about the really, really clever features the owners incorporated. 
 Inside view.
 The transporter 'cot' has been turned into a table.  If you are at all interested in tail gating or picnicing, do follow the link provided above.....I sure got a kick out of the story.  So.....it goes without saying, but I must......  GO PACK GO!!!!!!!  A must win against 'da Bears'.

BTW - I'm not the only relocated Wisconsin extreme Packer fan...around here.....my dear friend Lynn has a 'to die for' Bernina and she's skilled at using it.  Look at these Packer backer dish towels she gifted me.....thank you Lynn....
So I repeat....GO PACK GO!!!!!