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!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

More Snow Dyeing

I still had plenty of snow over the weekend to do another set of napkins. This set, given to me by a friend, (thanks, Carolyn) had ten lovely cotton-damask dinner sized napkins. Now that the word is out, people are giving them to me. Yesterday I received some beautiful linen luncheon size. They had been starched and ironed and were so stiff they could stand up by themselves. They are now in the wash to get rid of all that starch. I'm not sure yet how I want to dye them.

For those of you who don't know about snow dyeing, this is how it works.
First you soak your fabrics in a strong solution of soda ash and salt.
Then you wring them out, put them in bundles in the bottom of a plastic dish pan.
Cover the fabric with snow right up to the top of the pan.
Sprinkle dye powders over the snow, trying to get them even, but not always possible.

Dye powders sprinkled on top of the snow.

After several hours, sitting on the kitchen floor.

I leave it until the snow melts and then take the fabric out. When I first saw them I thought they were horrible, mostly a very dark red. You can't tell the true colors until they are washed in Synthropol and hot water and then dried in the dryer.

Each one varies from the next. These are all folded and if they are opened they are different from one end to the other. The colors I used (all ProChem fiber reactive dyes) are Sun Yellow, Wedgewood Blue, Amethyst, Fuchsia, and Chartreuse. Here are just a few. If you click on a picture and then click again you can see some of the beautiful patterns in the damask.

These were photographed outside on my front porch, which is dark gray slate. The colors are true.

I threw some scraps of velveteen in just to see how they would take the dye. Wow! Did they ever! The colors are much more intense than they are on the napkins. I'm not sure how I want to use these, but  know I want to make some more.

This is the reverse side of the velvet. You can see that the color is more vivid on the plush side.
So the fun goes on! I will be linking up with Off the Wall Friday later in the week.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

More Shibori and Snow Dyeing

I was given a box of vintage linens by a friend who thought I could do something with them. There were quite a few crocheted things that didn't particularly interest me, but I did like the set of 6 plain white place mats. I thought they would look great with some of the shibori napkins I had made a little
while back.

I used what I call my "smooshy" method of Shibori for these, as I had done for some of the velvet pillows I made. I loosely accordion pleated them and then tied them very tightly with nylon string in four places. They are all basically the same and yet each one varies from the next, the nature of shibori.

We have had a prodigious amount of snow in the last week and it has been plenty cold enough for it to stick around. Let's do some snow dyeing! These next three pieces were done a year or so ago using just black dye. I was so delighted to see all those other colors come out. They are even more gorgeous in person. There are definite touches of aqua which don't show up in the photos. I really should plan a quilt around them.

Soooooo.....I thought I would snow-dye a set of napkins using just navy blue dye. I was hoping to get a lot of variation as I did with the black. Not so, just shades of blue.  Well, maybe slight touches of reddish blue. I was gifted this lovely set of 11 damask dinner sized napkins. Here they are right out of the dryer, no ironing and nice and soft. They would make great everyday napkins, but do I need eleven?

It is supposed to warm up this weekend, but if we have any snow left I will do some more napkins (people keep giving them to me now), but this time in multicolored strong pastels. At least that is what I will aim for.

I will be linking up with Off the Wall Friday on Friday.

Friday, February 10, 2017

More shibori pillows

I made four pillows for my family room couch using cotton velveteen, which was wonderful to work with except for the shrinking. I cut my squares for the pillows at 22 inches square for 20 inch pillow forms. They did not shrink selvage to selvage, but they shrank about 3 1/2 inches length wise. If I use the velveteen again I will preshrink it. It was really hard to stuff the form into the finished pillow, but I made it work.

The one on the left was made by accordion pleating the fabric, pressing each fold with the iron and then calmping with clothespins. The one on the right was made by loosely accordion pleating (no ironing) and tying with string. 

I used ProChem's Midnight Blue for the dye. It has a slight periwinkle hue which looks better with my couch than the Navy dye does. The quilt over the couch is one I made several years ago and I used the same Midnight Blue for that.

I made four pillows for my sister using Navy Blue, which look great on her white couch and love- seat in her living room.

I'm linking up with Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Birthday Surprise

This past Saturday was my birthday. I had my FiberWorks group at my house for a meeting on Friday morning, where I received many Happy Birthday wishes. I got a lot of lovely cards in the mail and soooo many FaceBook salutations. Friday night I went out to dinner with my usual Friday night group. We went to an upscale restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious meal and a great martini and had a candle on my dessert. I was planning on spending my actual birthday attending a surprise 80th birthday party for a friend and in my studio finishing up a project or two. 

My son lives in Portland, OR and always sends me flowers for my birthday. I was all bundled up and ready to go out for my morning walk when the door bell rang at 8:30. I thought that it was early for a flower delivery and when I opened the door there was my son holding a big bouquet of flowers. I couldn't have been more surprised. He had taken the red-eye to spend my birthday with me.

I had to go to the 80th surprise party and he needed a nap in the afternoon. We went out to dinner at a local restaurant that evening and Sunday we went into NYC for the day before he took another
 red-eye back home that evening. We had a great day in the city. We both like to walk, visit museums and eat good food and that's what we did. I had forgotten to charge my phone so all of these pictures were taken with his phone.

Here I am petting the Picasso goat in the sculpture garden at MOMA. I guess I should have known better, but the guard came rushing out to tell me not to touch it.

We started at the top floor of MOMA and worked our way down. This Jaguar XKE brought back some memories from the past. I always thought it was a gorgeous car and it still is.

We both read The New Yorker and decided to try this restaurant that had been reviewed there. I had the most expensive hamburger I ever had, although I must say it was scrumptious! Also had some wood roasted oysters and a nice glass of wine.

We watched the skaters at Rockefeller Plaza. It was not crowded at all, probably because it was Super Bowl Sunday.

The trumpeting angels that are on the Plaza for the holidays were replaced by this rotating snowman made of mirror balls.

My son and I share the same opinion of our new President and he could not resist taking this selfie. The barricades were up but there was hardy anyone there, partly due to it being the day of the big game and the fact that his royal highness was at his palace in Florida for the weekend. Guess he needed a vacation after making all those executive orders.

We popped into St. Patricks's Cathedral because he had not see the renovations. So beautiful.

I always like these mirrored buildings with their distorted view of the neighboring buildings. I once made a quilt called Houston Reflections, a favorite of mine. Click on this picture and then click again to get a really big view. You can see that it is reflecting a church.

That's it. It was a very special day and my best birthday surprise ever!