Thursday, September 27, 2012


I have been away from blogging for the past two weeks because I have been enjoying time with my far-flung sons.  I have played with my granddaughter in Florida,

visited the oldest continually inhabited town in North America,

and helped my oldest son start preparing to move.  The last week, I have spent time in one of the most beautiful state parks I've ever visited (Ludington in northwest Michigan); they have miles of trails, which I hiked with my younger son and his fiance, enjoying every minutes of the beauty and solitude.

We saw a beautiful sunset over a windswept Lake Michigan.

I saw art created by an artist (Nellie Durand) I've gotten to know through the wonders of the web- what a pleasure to see it in person rather than on a computer screen!

 Today we visited the city- I'd forgotten what a huge, bustling city Chicago is.  

We topped off a day of walking around the city with a late lunch at Rick Bayless's Xoco restaurant- Mexican street food, unlike any I've had before.  It was delicious, and the authentic hot chocolate was superb.  It tasted of chocolate, not sugar!

Tomorrow night I fly home, back to the routines of work and home.  It has been a wonderful two weeks, some of which I hope to incorporate into my art.  And, I'll have many more pictures to share.  But there you have the quick and dirty scoop on what I've been up to!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Painting with Nana

What better way to spend a sultry, rainy Florida morning than introducing your granddaughter to the joys of creating color on fabric?  Michelle and I had a ball, and I now have six painted blocks to make a special quilt.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Flat Dyeing and Other Experiments

I got my flat dyes from last weekend washed out, and overall, I am happy with the results.  There are subtle variations and some fold lines from the plastic, especially on the lighter values- results that show the maker's hand.  That part I really like.  Here's the colors I did--

The piece off to the right is fabric I threw in the drip bucket under the table.  I had no idea what I would get, but I like the results.

I also did a half yard shibori wrapped on a piece of PVC pipe, and another flag fold.  This time I had triangle shaped pieces of plexiglass, which helped a lot.  Shibori wrapping is a pain, especially for arthritic hands.  

I used grape and black dye on the shibori piece- I will leave it up on the design wall to help decide if I want to overdye it.  The flag fold will get overdyed, I'm just not sure what color.  I love how the yellow glows, so I'm sort of leaning towards a less intense value of red.

And, I did a silk scarf in a square fold.  I left this one sitting in the dye overnight- I wanted to see how good the plexiglass was as resisting the dye.  It did better than I was expecting, and the black color I used really glows on the silk.  It's not black, but you have to look closely at it to see that.

No more dyeing for awhile- I leave Friday for two weeks, and then will have to work like a madwoman to get my TT challenge piece done.  Bits may be done on the trip, but not a lot.  I am really looking forward to seeing my sons that live so far away!

I won't have a quilt at Houston, but hopefully I will have at least one photo in the Eye of the Quilter exhibit.  I submitted two photos I took in Bodie, the ghost town in the eastern Sierras.  It's a juried exhibit, so now I wait for the acceptance or rejection.

Time to wash the dye out of my hair.  I hope your weekend was a creative one!

Monday, September 03, 2012

A Distinctive Voice?

I have been thinking a lot about my work lately.  Does it say 'me?'  Are there aspects of it that make it recognizable?  I have been trying to figure out if I've 'found my voice', as the saying goes, or if I am still all over the map- which is how I've felt in the past.

In an effort to answer this question, I constructed a photo mosaic of quilts I've made in the past five or so years.  It doesn't contain everything I've done- I eliminated some that I made as part of a group challenge where the theme or photo never spoke to me or evoked an emotional response.  Here's what I came up with--

What commonalities to I see?  I like strong colors- no pastels for me, thank you.  They're only useful for the good colors to play off! I also like how those strong colors play off black.  Even if the image is somewhat realistic, I prefer abstracted or simplified.  I like strong lines and simple shapes.  That is what jumps out at me- what do you see?

I think I am at a point where I want to simplify how I work, and explore a more cohesive or consistent way of expressing my images.  I don't want to be agonizing over how I will do something, I just want to figure out how to do it withing the constraints that I choose for myself.  I'm thinking that will feel freeing rather than constraining.

It also means that I will limit my fabric choices.  I've preferred using my hand dyes for several years now.  I have been slowly moving away from the heavily patterned low-water immersion dyes that I fell in love with initially, and more towards soft, very subtle patterning.  It reads as solid from a distance, but on closer inspection shows the influence of the dyer.  If I want patterning, I'd probably go with what I can get with soy wax batik, where I have more control over the amount and kind of patterning than I do with straight LWI dyeing.

I'm hoping this is a positive move for me.  I will be going through my stash, eliminating a lot of the commercial fabric I have that just doesn't get used much anymore.  Then I can go through the hand dyes, and make sure I have a good range of both colors and values.

With that in mind, I tried something new today.  I'd read about Robin Ferrier's method of dyeing, which she calls flat dyeing.  It certainly conserves water, and doesn't involve all the containers or stirring.  Here's what the wet studio looked like at 10:30 this morning, after I got about twelve half yard pieces dyed.

I do have a couple of shibori pieces in the containers and under the plastic shopping bag.  I also immersion dyed a piece of linen/cotton for a blouse.  All the rest is under the plastic, batching away.  I'll probably leave it until Wednesday night.  Oh yeah, I also threw a piece of soda soaked cotton into the drip pan under the table.  We'll see if that one turns out to be a dog or a gem!

I'm hoping that working within these self-imposed limits will turn out to be a good thing, and help move my work to the next level.  I'd love to know what you think. . .

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Announcing Fall

That is what it felt like today- fall.  I was awakened at 4 am by thunder and lightning, and the rain did not stop until after lunch.  I managed to go for a walk between the first set of storms and the second that was rolling in just as we headed home.  It has been noticeably cooler, and the sky has been gray and overcast most of the day.

I did manage to get a shot of a butterfly on our walk, something I've never been fast enough to do before.  This butterfly seemed to pose on the flower before he finally flew off.  I love the shot I got- with my point and shoot, no less!

I am having a hard time concentrating on anything- I'm planning for my upcoming trip in my head.  Mostly, I'm wondering how I'm going to fit enough clothes for two very different climates in one suitcase.  I got this tank done today, it will definitely get used in Florida.  

I am so happy to have a tank top that fits me, since Land's End (where I used to buy loads of tanks) has decided to not carry them anymore.  I had to tweak the fit, but it looks good.  I am especially happy that my bra straps don't show, since I do not share the younger generation's nonchalance about exposed underwear.  It drives me crazy to have my straps show, I can still hear my mother's voice on that one.  Now that I have a pattern, I will be making lots of hand-dyed tank tops!