Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sun #6

Remember me? I'm the one who used to blog at least once a week. Being out of the house and my studio for a week and then getting into gardening mode, I just haven't had anything to show. But I did finish this sun block where I had to "put objects in a grid".

I had fun with this one, even though I did a lot of ripping out and doing over. I used a fabric marker by Crayola on the upper left yellow sun and the two on the far right. They were the easiest to do.

For the other suns I used Pearl Ex Pigment Powers. I had purchased these several years ago and then never really know how to use them. For the center sun with the spiral I mixed the gold powder with yellow paint. I didn't think the metallic showed up very well, I mixed the other powers with textile medium and I was very pleased with those results.

This was Super Copper and it looks very metallic, especially against the dark blue.

This powder was Pink Gold. I also use Sparkling Gold for the sun at the bottom of the block.

And here they are all together. The next card that I drew was Positive/Negative. I hope to work on that this week. 

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pink Snow

We have a lot of flowering trees in my development and every year I am thrilled with these crabapples. As beautiful as they are in bloom on the trees, I love the way the fallen petals on the ground resemble pink snow.

I have started taking my phone with me on my morning walks, good for counting my steps and also for capturing any plant beauty that I see.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Finally....Sun # 5

Yep, I finally finished my hand embroidered sun a few days ago. I would have been done sooner, but I wasn't satisfied with the face. As my sister pointed out, she looked sad and I agreed, so I laboriously picked out all the stitching, using the tips of my very sharp Gingher embroidery scissors and a tweezer. I made a new face separately and buttonhole stitched around the edges. Again, as my sister said, this new one looks quite pleased with herself.

I only used a few stitches: running stitch variations, chain stitch, French knots, outline stitch, and button hole.

The little tendrils around the edges were an afterthought. I thought that it looked a little static with just the sharp points. Of course, that added to the time. I'm glad it's finished and I will definitely send this one into CBS.

The next card that I drew was "Put objects in a grid pattern" and I think I know exactly what I'm going to do. I will be out of my studio and my house for a few days. I am having all the floors on the first floor done over. I am taking out the hated tile in my kitchen and replacing it with hardwood and having all the rest of the hardwood floors refinished to match in a nice mellow color, a bit darker than what I have now. Fortunately my sister lives two doors down from me so I will move in with her and will be close enough to check in on the progress. Tomorrow the movers are coming to move all the furniture into the garage for the duration. It's been a LOT of work because I had to empty china closet, book cases, etc, etc, take down pictures, put away all accessories but I think I'm going to love it when it's done.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sun #4

The last card that I drew for the External Forces project was stitching, hand or machine. I decided to do hand embroidery and I'm still not finished. It is taking me forever as I stitch an hour or two almost every evening in front of the TV. So I decided to also make a machine stitched sun, which only took a few hours.

Everything was done by machine. The rays are free motion quilted just using a straight stitch back and forth with two different variegated threads.

I used Dupioni silk for the face and a free motion narrow satin stitch for the features.

I'm almost done with the hand stitched one and I'll show you that when it's done.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tortured Napkins

If there was an Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Vintage Napkins, I would be in big trouble, even though it all turned our OK in the end.

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it:

You may remember that I did some snow dyeing before I went to Florida and I was thrilled with the results. I dyed a dozen cotton damask napkins to go with a certain table cloth.

This purchased linen-like tablecloth is actually a large patchwork. The center, which covers most of the table top has this blue background. The other patches which are at the corners and edges are a soft pink and beige background. The napkins picked up all the colors. However I decided that I would like some luncheon size in the same colors.

I had been given some beautiful linen luncheon sized napkins and was looking forward to dyeing them when I got home from La La Land. I had saved the names of the colors and used the same dyes for this set of twelve. When I did the cotton damask ones I was quite distressed when I took them out of the dye. They were a very dark red. But it all washed out and I got the luscious pastels you see above. You can see more of them here.

So when I took the linen napkins out of the dye and they were a dark red, I didn't worry. I figured it would wash out like the first batch. Wrong! Apparently linen grabs the dye better than cotton.

Here are the two napkins side by side.

I took them to my FiberWorks meeting and they all liked them and said I  should keep them and perhaps use them in an art piece. But I wanted pastel napkins and here is where the "torture" begins.

I bought two packages of Rit color remover, all done in the washing machine on hot water with a 30 minute setting. I did this twice and go the results below.

Not too bad, but  a little too beige. I over dyed them with Rit dye, Petal Pink. I could have sworn that I took a picture of the results, but they are nowhere to be found. Trust me, they were the most bilious shade of pink. So back to the grocery store to get more boxes of color remover, two more times through the wash and I was back to where they were before the pink dyeing. Not too bad, but I wanted them lighter.

Soooooo, I put them in with a bunch of cleaning rags left by the cleaning girls and added a cup of bleach. Voila! Success!  They were a much better color.

I used them for a FiberWorks meeting at my house with aforementioned table cloth and I thought they looked terrific. Should have taken a picture, but didn't. This whole ordeal is a testament to how very sturdy these napkins are. They are certainly none the worse for the wear.

Lesson learned: Linen and cotton take dye differently. I do have some more linen napkins, but I plan to dye them shibori style with dark blue dye. 

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Sun

I finished my Sunday Morning Sun using natural dyed fabrics for the External Forces project that my FiberWorks group is doing. You can read more about the project here. Although I had many disappointments in my dyeing experiments, I was pleased with my little sun. I used fabric dyed with turmeric for the face and fabric dyed with carrots, beets and blackberries for the rays. I enhanced the rays with indelible markers because the color was so pale. Everything was fused, no sewing involved. The background is my hand dyed fabric.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter at Lauren's

I know that some of you look forward to seeing what my niece has done this year. She has moved again to a much smaller house, but she managed to make it just a festive and delicious as aways.

Her table was so pretty, altho I missed the fabulous big white china bunnies she had used last year. Since she doesn't like to do the same thing two years in a row, I'll have to wait until next year to see them again. The flowers, of course, are all fresh.

I was happy to see the white china geese that I had given her on top of her corner cabinet. They had been in my former home for years, but I had no place to display them in my current home. 

The "flowers" on top on the tarte are actually rolled strips of veggies, mostly rainbow carrots, which come in many colors. It was very tasty. It was hard to photograph, the "flowers" were not this dark in person.

She always makes the best deviled eggs. These used cheddar cheese and bacon bits. Yummy!

She has a nice big backyard, perfect for the Easter egg hunt. We had five children participating, very organized this year with each child having their own color of for Millie, blue for Charlie, and so on.  Weather-wise it couldn't have been a better the low 80's with a nice breeze and no humidity.

I hope you all had a lovely Easter. I sure did!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dyeing Disappointments

One of the cards that I drew for the External Forces was Natural Dyeing. I looked forward to doing some experimenting, since I really like to dye. I went online and did a lot of research and most of what I read said that you should chop your produce, cover it with water and simmer for an hour. I had a choice of using vinegar or alum as a mordant and I tried both. Each mordant was mixed with water and then the fabric was added and simmered for an hour. With the alum I left it in the water overnight. then I added the mordant treated white fabric to the strained juice and simmered for another hour.

I will never do this again. I felt so guilty wasting all that produce, especially since most of them gave me very pale results. The only ones that were worthwhile were turmeric (the first two) and blackberry (the last).

If you look carefully at the bottom right of each fabric, you can see what I used and what mordant. Or click to see a bigger picture.

I was very pleased with this vibrant color. I had enough left in the pot to add a little extra water and do a second one shown below. It is slightly lighter, but still pretty.

Considering how beets will stain my cutting board and hands, this pale color was a disappointment.  The one done with alum (see below) was only slightly darker. They are both paler and less pink in person. I think I would have been happy if they really were this color.

I could have achieved this with any old tea.

Really!? I used a pound of grated carrots for this. Some bunny somewhere must be quite perturbed.

Again, I used a big box of spinach for a barely noticeable color. Popeye is crying. Fortunately I put some aside to sauté for dinner

I used a box of blackberries for this (sob), but bought an extra to eat. They are delicious and I was pleased with this color.

All of my future dyeing will be done with fiber reactive dyes. Correction, I am still going to try avocados skins and peels since my fiber group is saving them for me this week. I have some mordant treated fabric left.

I'm linking up with Off The Wall Friday this week. Go see what some talented artists are up to.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Back Home

You may have surmised that I haven't been home and you would be right. I spent the month of March in Naples, FL where we had perfect weather every day. It only rained once and that was at night when we were sleeping. They really need rain down there but it was fabulous for us. We also missed a horrible March here in CT. Lots of snow and frigid weather, the worst of the winter.

We did way too much shopping, eating, wine drinking and ice cream eating, but it was worth the three pound weight gain, which I am in the process of loosing. I was in a rented house with my sister and two other friends, my usual travel companions. We had a wonderful time, but now I am trying to get back in the groove.

Before we left I picked two cards for my Sunday Morning Son project. One card said "thread art" and I debated doing it by machine or by hand. I decided to do some hand embroidery and here is just the very beginning. I had missed having hand work to do when I finished my denim jacket, so this should keep me busy for quite awhile.

I may do a machine one, too, because I love to machine stitch.

The other card I drew was "natural dyeing" and I have been having fun doing some research and I plan on starting that today. I will post some pictures when I have something to show.

I'm also going to some ice dyeing on some vintage linen napkins given to me by a friend. I'll show you those, too, some please come back.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Friday, March 24, 2017

Orbs, Spheres, Balls

Whatever you call them they seem to have a universal appeal. I have a small collection which I will share wth you today

These blue and white balls were very popular several years ago. I keep this bowl of them on my table on the deck year round. In the winter they get covered with snow, but the china bowl and the balls don't seem to mind a bit. When it's time to get the deck ready for summer I put everything in the dishwasher. You can see how dirty the table is now.

I bought this orb several years ago on a trip to China. It all carved out of one piece of jade. There are four spheres nestled inside each other. Amazing workmanship.

This collection was acquired bit by bit over the years. Starting with the large ball at the top and going clockwise. The blue ginkgo ball was purchased at the fabulous Japanese Gardens in Portland, Or. It is a phenomenal place to visit, as good as any I had seen in Japan. I have a fondness for ginkgoes and blue so it had to come home with me. The dark blue ball is a signed, dated piece made by a local artist and gifted to me. The white china openwork was purchased recently at TJ Maxx. The blue ball with the star was given to me by my son. It is a Temari ball, made from string and yarn. The turquoise paper weight was bought for my late Mom, who loved the color turquoise, and now it's mine. And the last one was also a bargain from TJ Maxx.  These all sit at one end of my mantle.

So there you have it. Do any of you collect orbs?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Healthy Lunch

Avocado toast has been on the trendy healthy list for the last year or so and I must say that it is delicious. I usually put about a half of an avocado onto two pieces of toasted multigrain bread. Yummy with some freshly ground pepper and sea salt. 

BUT, I recently tried it without the s & p and instead topping it with fresh raspberries cut in half. Oh, my, so yummy. Good for breakfast or lunch. I do love raspberries, but would often get discouraged when they would get moldy the next day after purchase. I don't know where I saw this trick, but it works. When you get your berries home, put them in a solution of white vinegar (just a little in the bottom of the bowl) and water. Swish them around so they all get wet, then drain and put on paper towels on the counter. Blot dry with more towels and let them sit for an hour or so until they dry. Pop them back into their container and refrigerate. They will stay fresh for at least a week and no, you cannot taste the vinegar. I have been buying double boxes at Costco and have never had to throw one berry away. Try it, if you love raspberries like I do.


Thursday, March 9, 2017


A few years ago FANE, one of the fiber groups of which I am a member, had an exhibit in which we were to make kimono inspired pieces to be displayed on T-shaped stands. You can see the exhibit here. I used my shibori in mine and after they were in another exhibit mine got rolled up and put in a closet with many other projects.

I recently bought a new dining room table and chairs for my smallish dining room. My old set came from my former much bigger house and I had been talking for years about replacing it. I found something I liked and it is a much better scale for the room.

I don't know what prompted me to think to get out that kimono piece, but I did and I do like the way it looks as a runner on this table.

I didn't want to use a centerpiece, as I usually do, because I didn't want to hide the center and opted for these hurricane globes with red candles.

 The two pieces that made up the "sleeves" of the kimono are at either end of the table. The circles were made using the stitched method of shibori and the big stitched circles were done by hand.

Two different pole wrapped shibori pieces were used here and the center is stitched shibori again.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

External Forces

My FiberWorks group has embarked on a new project called "External Forces" that we plan to do once a month. Each member was challenged to come up with a theme or motif for the year and each month we will apply some technique or idea to that theme. Each member put 3 techniques or ideas into a bag and everyone drew one for the first month.

My theme is "Suns". One of my favorite shows on TV is Sunday Morning on CBS. It has been on for over thirty years, each week from 9-10:30 AM. It is a magazine of sorts with segments on the news, art, entertainment, etc. The current host is Jane Pauley, who recently took over from Charles Osgood who retired after many years. He was preceded by Charles Karault.

 There is their official logo sun, which is on at the beginning of the show.

Between each segment is a different sun, often in the same theme as the segment. If you go to their website and scroll all the way down, you will see more info about the suns. I often wondered where they came from. Did they have a staff that was so incredibly talented? Well, I'm sure they do, but a lot of them are sent in by viewers. You can send in a photo and if they like it, you will get a letter saying that they may use it at some time. They don't say when and you don't get credit. Most of the suns have faces.

The card that I picked was "fussy cutting", apparently put in by one of our more traditional quilters. It means cutting out some section of a fabric for the ideal shape you are looking for. You might cut a little tree out of a landscape print, or you might want the exact same design in each section of a nine-patch. You get the drift.

I almost always now use my hand-dyed and/or surface design fabric in my work so  I had to go through my many piles of commercial prints to find circles, which I wanted for the center of my sun face and found these two batiks in my stash.

And here are my suns. The pieces were fused on and then edged in machine buttonhole stitch. I machine stitched the faces on, using free motion satin stitch on the first and free motion straight stitch on the other.

Our pieces are all to be 8 inches square. I plan to use blues from my six gradations of this bright blue for all my backgrounds. If I like them all when finished I will put them together into a small wall quilt called, of course, Sunday Morning. Who knows, maybe I'll send in some pictures and be on TV!!