Sunday, December 26, 2010

Country French Trash

Country French doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? Well, I had a catalogue from Pottery Barn that I had been saving for a while. It was full of a line of Pierre Deux-inspired country french prints on towels, sheets, beach umbrellas and bedspreads. I am crazy about that particular style of fabric design, so I saved the catalogue.

When I was cleaning, I discovered the catalogue that I had squirreled away a few summers ago, and decided to take the prettiest items and cut them into strips. I glued the strips to heavy paper. [The whole collage process was verrrry therapuetic.] It looked boring, and not at all country french any more, so I printed one of my hand-carved stamps in black on it. Still boring, so I painted gold in the middle of the flower leaves. Not so boring any more, but I added touches of green, white and gold squeeze on dimensional paint for some extra zip.

Even though I always think I am more a mixed-media artist than an art quilter, the ATCs looked naked without some stitiching, so I added some simple criss-cross lines and machine blanket stitched the edges. They remind me of poinsettas a little, but maybe that's just because I finished them Christmas eve after all the presents were wrapped.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Cleverness

Feeling terribly clever tonight--I managed to make beach-inspired ornaments for my friend Jeanne who is having a mini-holiday gathering around her tree tomorrow night. She looooves the beach, so I bought some starfish from a Hamptons shop and managed to turn them into ornaments. I gently hammered a sewing machine needle through one of the five points, wiggled it around to enlarge the hole, and squished a gossamer silky wire-edged aqua ribbon through the wee hole. I tied it in a bow, nipped the ends, attached an ornament hanging gizmo, put some faux turquoise beads on the hanger, and viola, instant beach ornament. But then I had no box, no wrapping paper. I grabbed an old shoe box and covered the top of it with a sheet of heat-distressed painted tyvek. Funny, when I was a kid and throwing together homemade gifts, it was because I couldn't afford to buy them. Now handmade is in...lucky for me!

So, I don't have a photo of the ornaments and fancy box, but look what I did with the Bloomingdale's holiday catalogue I got in the mail: I cut hearts and Matisse inspired shapes out of old removable floppy disc labels, rubbed some NevrDull on the whole thing, peeled off the labels, and the look went from Christmas to Valentine's Day in a very short period of time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Goofing Off

I have been working nonstop lately, scarfing down a quick lunch while I work at my paying job, staying up late and working weekends for my husband for my non-paying job.

So, I finally have time to rest, maybe do some artwork, putter around. And how do I spend my time? Changing my facebook photo. I changed it 4 times...tried different self-portrats. And no, I am not going to use a real photo. They don't look any more like me than the self-portraits. Well, maybe a little more.

Anyway, I settled on this picture, a self portrait that I did from a photo at my niece's wedding a few years ago. I printed the photo [enlarged and kind of blurry] that my brother Kenny took and printed it on fabric, then overpainted it with water soluble oil pastels. I am wearing a black velvet coat that my mother made in the 1940s that has a really cool high collar [in the back] and my dangly old favorite fancy pearl earrings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's gift shop.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NevrDull Moment

I'm really never going to have a dull moment any more...I just discovered a new art technique (thank you, Karen Musgrave)! I took some random photos from a magazine, blocked off sections with removable floppy diskette labels [dating myself that I even have a stash of these ancient things] and rubbed them with a cleaning product called NevrDull. It removed much of the ink from the page and made it soft and magical. I peeled away the labels to reveal the untouched portions. Verrrry cool results!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Have I gone crazy? I spent about an hour tonight hand needlefelting the beginnings of a winter coat for my dog. Well, it was my daughter's idea. After all, I spend hours needlefelting pieces for ATCs and postcards and bracelets, so she thought, in the vernacular of my mother, that it would be keeno if I did a soft, wooly felting for the skinny, badly behaved but adorable four legged member of the family. Since he is so pretty and strangers think he is a girl, I did it in earth tones with a little indigo blue thrown in...hopefully it will say: "I am a macho boy dog, and I protect my family and home; I am the official Wyatt guard dog." Of course I don't have a working scanner handy or a digital camera nearby, so you have to wait to see a picture of it. With any luck, Coco will pose wearing it. But you can see my latest self portrait sketch, me at 55, looking crazy indeed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tradition, for a change

I have made a lot of samples of my own fabric designs and printed them through Spoonflower....the question is: what the heck should I do with them? Not enough to make something to wear, they don't work together for an art quilt. I matched them up to some solids and solidish batiks. My orange/pink/yellow paisley worked well with an orange batik, and also with a thermofax screenprint of a tulip, orange on yellow. Here are pix of my recent experiments. (color is a little off, thanks to my tempermental scanner and lack of finess in photoshop)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Typography, Calligraphy and Fonts

I chose the theme of Typography for my atc group exchange this month since I love fonts, calligraphy and graphic design. I used famous signatures/symbols (John Hancock, Ben Franklin, Gandhi and Vermeer) along with part of the font from Tazo Tea. I created an aged look with watercolor in shades of ochre and brown, then added gold paint and Pearlex Powder, with a gloss finish.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thermofax Prints and Marker Watercolor

My last few art days have been experimental: testing the colors and designs on my newly arrived thermofax screens (designed by me and made by FibraArtysta at Esty)Screens worked well, any problems were due to me being sloppy and rushing or being stingy with the paint.

I plan to try printing on gingham and maybe stripes...something more interesting than white broadcloth, but they came out pretty well for a first try.

My second experiment was with Sharpie Markers directly on cotton. I drew flowers and abstract shapes, then added alcohol and let it bleed. Kind of like doing watercolor, but the bleeding takes longer. Colors dried nice and bright though, unlike watercolor which usually dries softer. And thank you to Janice Paine-Dawes who introduced me to this technique!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Painted Peltex Experiments

This is a piece I have been puttering with...I finally got sick of it and decided to call it done. I painted directly on Peltex with water soluble oil pastels, a very wet and messy process that took forever to dry. I decided to enhance some of the lines with stitching, but my rotator cuff gave out, so I couldn't do the needlework I envisioned. It was drawn freehand, with no plan, just a random design that came out of my head. Pretty much typical of what I doodle, but bigger and in color. It is about 20" wide x 10" high.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

About to Thermofax!

I have been dying to try thermofax printing on fabric ever since I read about it a couple years ago. I bumbled onto a woman who makes and sells the screens, thanks to a facebook post by Patty VanHuis Cox. Through the Esty shops, FibraArtysta sells affordable screens and paints. I just sent a few of my designs, and can't wait to see how they print.

These are the black & white images that the screens will be created from. I ordered some bright, punchy colors to try them in.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Puttering

I have been puttering around, finishing little projects, using up scraps and basically goofing off. I made another scrappy bracelet, this time I tried a different closure...well, it was too short to use velcro, so I improvised with a colorful eyelet, a loop of round elastic thread and a vintage button. I also lined this one with purple satin. I discovered that mine itched a little, so this should cure that problem.

I have also become fascinated with manholes and utility markings in and around the city. On my block there is one that always catches my eye: a white cover with a black cross next to an orange cover. I am going to play with the design and see if I can come up with either a quilt pattern or a fabric design.

Oh, I also made some postcards out of leftover needlefelting. I put them together in a kind of Mondrian-inspired design.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Halloween ATCs

I seem to be becoming addicted to hand needlefelting. I drew a complete blank on the Halloween theme for my ATC group's October exchange, so I puttered with fall-colored roving (unspun wool) until the lightbulb of inspiration went off in my brain. After sewing over the felted piece with various colors and styles of stitch, I chopped it up into little 2.5" x3.5" pieces. I found a vintage illustration and made tiny reproductions of it, which I hand-sewed to the center.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Scrappy & Tyvek Bracelets

I love to putter with recycled elements. Two of my favorite therapies are making scrappy fabric from bits of leftover cloth, yarn and ribbon. Another favorite thing is making beads from old USPS and FedEx tyvek mailers. So, I put the two together for a recent art challenge and made bracelets for my Kokoma group.

I sewed a little piece of velcro onto them for the closure, edged them with a contrasting blanket stitch, and decorated with tyvek beads. The four pieces are scattered around the globe: NY (me), Greece (Jo), Hawaii (Sonja) and Texas (Kate).

A group called Threads of Sanity spun out of Art for Mail 17, then we lost members and four of us formed Kokoma. [Kokoma stands for keep on keeping on making art...after the old 60s expression keep on keeping on]. The three other Kokoma women taught me much of what I know and helped me grow tremendously as a fiber artist, and the bracelets are my way of saying thank you.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tyvek Beaded Necklaces

Last week I took a 'stay-cation' and stayed home to putter with my art supplies, sleep late and go to the beach. I finished 4 artquilts that I had started before I started my no longer 'new' job, almost two years ago.

I also finished up some jewelry I had half done. I tried to use up my abundance of tyvek beads (see my tutorial on if you don't know how to make tyvek beads) and my odd assortment of semi-precious gem chips and mismatched silver findings.

I also discovered that I could make some really delicate necklaces with silk cord and little husband got my daughter Amanda a gorgeous necklace for her recent birthday. (I loved it and was tempted to keep it for myself.)After inspecting it, I discovered that it was not gemstones floating on a delicate silver chain, but grey silk cording with the gems, along with tiny glass beads. So, I have been puttering and tying tiny knot after tiny knot. I think I have finally gotten the hang of it. I inherited a bunch of crystal beads from my sister in law, Carol (thanks Carol!)and didn't quite know what to do with them, but I do now.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eye of Panic

I have been working on this piece, Eye of Panic, for months, and finally finished it.

There was a steep learning curve on this one: the concept was good, and I did all the should have been all square and level and even. However, fabric wiggles and moves, and rotary cutters slip, and I guess I am not as precise as I would like to be.

I had trouble getting the grommets even, and although I measured the chain link, it just didn't hang right. So...I had to put clear vinyl in between the pieces to make it hang better, which was less than a joy to sew through. And the sleeve was a challenge; I pieced fabric and vinyl for that also.

The border is made of two panic designs: the yellow one was scribbled during a big attack and I printed it on fabric later. The other was a big piece of pellon that I drew on with crayon during an attack, which, sadly, ruined my rotator cuff.

The center eye is my own eye, done from a photo and overpainted and stitched.

Tiny Dancer Fractured Photo

A few years ago, I took part in a fractured photo fiber art project. My old group, Threads of Sanity (which has since disbanded) exchanged black and white pieces of photos. No one knew what each other was working on, we only got a little snippet of a photo and had to translate it into fiber any way we wanted, and add color.

I chose a photo of my daughter Amanda (who is now 22) when she, at age 3, was in a production the Nutcracker at the local Y.

I finally put the pieces together and finished the piece.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Your Work is to Discover Your Work

My ATC group recently had a theme of favorite quotes. It was hard to choose my favorite quote, but finally I settled on a Buddha quote. Not that I am a Buddhist...but it spoke to me and my new-agey hippie-wannabe leanings. And it speaks of the fact that I have always loved art, but other people and things kept detouring me from that path because it wasn't a practical choice. Art is indeed the thing that makes me happiest and what I run to whenever I have a free minute, what I lie in bed thinking about at night--planning designs in my head, visualizing colors and textures and remembering the intoxicating smell of art supplies.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

August: Rediscovering Journaling

Somehow I got really busy and forgot about journaling...when some of my friends started talking about the journal project, where you get a moleskin journal, pick a theme, and then send the finished journal off to be part of a traveling show, it sparked my interest. No, not to be part of the project--I just couldn't part with my work, museum show or not. But I did make some new journals. Okay, I didn't really make them, I just cover the front with scrappy fabric to make them my own.

Sometimes I write, sometimes I sketch, sometimes I paint, sometimes I design. and not every day. It is a place with no rules, no pressure, no perfection.

Here's what I have been up to lately...A is for Amanda, a tribute to my daughter Amanda and her 22nd (!) birthday; D is for darvocet, which I took for really bad bursitis in my hip and got a nasty allergic reaction to; some of my latest fabric designs and the sketche I made the paisley from; pink eyes and rainbow lips, a two piece face I did one night with some leftover children's watercolors and cheap brush and a snippet of a quote idea for an ATC trade [I ended up using another quote, but I do love this one "The mind is like a drunken monkey, reeling from place to place with no rhyme or reason." Isn't that the truth?

I am having a 'stay-cation' this week, so I hope to spend the week sunning myself and doing art, possibly at the same time.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I finally finished the reiki healing quilt. Took me a while to get around to edging it. I used a commercial batik that seemed to go with the fabric, and patches of my own purple soy batik in the corners. I have been using it when I meditate (well, I don't meditate often enough of course, but having the quilt on my bed inspires me to take more quiet time for myself) and used it when I gave my daughter a reiki treatment recently. I am thinking of putting a sleeve on it so it can hang on a wall, but I like being able to use it as a mini blanket, so I can't decide.

My next plan is to make a healing quilt using my own fabrics. Oh, and I have also designed some reiki healing fabric using the 12 symbols of the world's major religions. It is enroute from spoonflower, the company that prints custom fabric. I made it in purple and white, and tried to get the shade to match my posters of the reiki healing symbol.

July Fabrics

Here's a couple of new fabric designs I have been working on. I am not entirely happy with the purple ones...the pansy layout looks kind of stiff and is smaller than I planned, and the purple batik came out really dark...but one of my SAQA Visioning Project cohorts looooves pansies and wants to [maybe] buy some, so I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

I redid the batik...lightened the color and made the repeat larger...just ordered new samples from, so I'll see how it turns out.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Red ATCs

These little ATCs bring out the country girl in me. Yes, occasionally I DO do cute...kind of therapeutic to work on these...tearing the reddish cotton fabrics into strips, lining them up light to dark. It was soothing and tactile to work with soft cottons, fuzzy felt and sew on little seed beads. Kind of cliche with the red heart, but hey, you can't be avant garde every minute, can you? too exhausting. sometimes you just need fiber therapy, and need to return to your roots.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reiki & Scrappy Quilt

This quilt is almost done, just needs some kind of edging. I took apart the design that is in a previous post and put in blocks of "scrappy" fabric, which I make by plopping a pile of very small leftover fabric pieces, yarn and thread onto clear, watersoluble stabilizer, making a sandwich of it, and stitching over it every which way. You wash out the stabilizer in cold water, and usually something attractive results. The quilt is made from commercial fabrics, combined with my own soy batiks, as well as the scrappy. It has the reiki healing symbol...I haven't decided if I should use it on a wall or as a small blanket or giant pillow during a reiki session. And yes, I know it is a little lopsided and my stitiching is seriously in need of help, but it is my first time trying this design...maybe I need to collaborate with someone with techincal expertise and a longarm quilting machine...and more patience than me. Any takers?

Reiki-Inspired ArtQuilts

I often try to incorporate reiki healing images into my work. These pieces are unfinished. I will post the finished photos eventually. I worked with two reiki images--the Antahkarana, which is the purple cube-like symbol, which is the symbol of healing. The shade of purple is the color of healing.

The gold star shaped design is the North Pole Grid. I painted gold acrylic over a photo of the actual piece, which was placed at the North Pole by William Lee Rand. (you can read more about it at

The words around the gold star are the reiki prayer, that I try to start every morning and end every day with. The purple fabric is my own soy batik.