Friday, March 30, 2007

Finished in Time

I finished another quilt yesterday. I was very relieved as I needed this piece to be part of my entry to three different shows. Two of these shows have an April 1 deadline. I still need to take some digital images, but, this morning, I got most of the pictures taken. I love the feeling you get when you've finished something on schedule. It makes me feel so organized. It's all an illusion, of course, but I'm OK with that. At least temporarily.I'm also posting a better image of the quilt I finished a couple of weeks ago. I had to move some furniture in my studio to get back far enough back to properly light this piece, but I'm happy with the photograph.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Porch Upstairs

We're lucky enough to have both a downstairs and an upstairs porch. At our old place, we had a porch(just one) and a terrific porch swing that we had painted purple. When we moved to our new house a couple of years ago, I thought it would be fun if we had a swing in the upstairs porch. My idea initially met with a little resistance, but, eventually, we bought a swing, painted it purple and hung a swing in the upstairs porch. It is magical to sit there on a weekend morning and look out to the street or just read the paper.
Yesterday, I decided to take pictures of some of the fabric I've been making lately and the upstairs porch seemed just the right spot to lay out my stuff.Here's Abi proving that the swing does actually work. The fabric on the table is some new batiked stuff that I'd just boiled out.We put this wonderfully weathered teak bench on the porch as well. That way, there's enough room for the whole family up there(though that rarely happens). I love the way the gray in the bench looks with these batiked and dyed fabrics.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


OK, here's a quick and dirty Tuesday update. I hopefully will have a couple other finished projects and some newly dyed fabric to share in the next few days. I didn't want, though, to miss this Tuesday's scheduled update.
I made this skirt for my youngest, Abi. She really loves it and is pictured here modeling it. My two elder girls must have liked Abi's skirt because they both asked me to make them one as well(in different fabric, of course). I copied a skirt that Abi had and, in fact, was a hand-me down from her elder sister. I really had a good time adapting the pattern. Here's a detail shot of the skirt.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Notes to Myself

I have been keeping journals/notebooks ever since I was in Art School. I'm happy to say that I have notebooks that span about twenty years. I really enjoy looking through old journals and still being able to recognize myself in them. In the past, my notebooks were entirely filled with drawings, but now they seem to be repositories for lists of projects that need to be done, design ideas, all manner of collected curio, and newspaper and magazine clippings. Every once in a while, I'll buy a design magazine and clip out anything and everything that catches my eye. I usually try to note why I collected this image. It's almost always connected to patterning or color. Those seem to be the design elements that speak to me the most.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two for Tuesday

Today, I'm posting two completed projects. One is a piece that I've posted about quite a bit and that I'm happy is finally finished. The other is something I made on a whim last Sunday afternoon.The photography here isn't great. I hate correcting for the light with Corel Draw because it always over brightens and the colors don't ring true. I also hate that it's yet another gray day here, so when I took this picture, I had to use my flash. I'll take other images of this quilt for show applications and, in that situation, I'll use my light set-up and bracketing. When I have those pictures, I'll post those as well. I just wanted to celebrate being done with this piece.
I'm really excited about this bag I made the other day. I combined several hand-dyed fabrics for the body, piping and lining and used some thrifted fabric for the handles and interior pocket.
Here's a close-up of my elephants. I have a wonderful copper stamp that I bought a couple years ago. I used it with wax resist to get a parade of elephants.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Moody Weather

I like excuses. Not the "dog ate my homework"type, but rather reasons that allow me to do what I wanted to do in the first place. Today's weather certainly feels like an excuse to stay inside and focus on unfinished projects and half-read books. It's not especially severe, but the sky is just the right shade of gray that curling up on the couch is more inviting than digging in the garden. The wind is furious enough to make the wind chimes sound loudly and this drives me inside. There they call sweetly, while on the porch they clang together. Some might call this day gloomy, but I think of it as protective. A misty, wet day beckons us to slow down, stay close to home, and gather around us those we love for a cup of tea. It calls us to cherish the moment, rather than explore the possibilities. I think we all need a few gray days in our lives.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vacation Day

We've been on Spring Break here for the past week. Though, frankly, I'm not exactly sure what that means when you're home schoolers. As far as I'm concerned, it means I don't have to remind anybody to do anything. The girls had a rather long list of things they wanted to do and places they wanted to go. And, of course, there's still swim team practice to go to, twice a day, every day. This was further complicated by the fact that all the other families in our carpool went out of town, skiing...together(hey, does that mean something?). All this adds up to not as much uninterrupted time to work as I had envisioned for Spring Break.
Today was different. My husband took the day off and took all three girls to Six Flags/ Fiesta Texas in San Antonio. So, this is what I did on my real vacation day.I took pictures of the scarf I recently completed. I probably worked on this baby off and on for six months. I finally pushed through to the end and finished it the other day. This being Texas and March at that, I probably won't need it until next winter, but I really enjoy all the texture in this pattern and the yarn is a super soft alpaca.
I then finished machine quilting this and began binding it. I had, stupidly assumed that sewing the binding on would be fairly quick. I didn't account for the fact that I didn't want the binding to contrast with the body of the quilt, so I had to construct it out of little strips that matched the edges of the quilt(that doesn't really make any sense, but I'm comfortable with that). Long, and uninteresting, story short, it took hours to sew the binding on and I'm still in the process of hand sewing it to the backside of the quilt.
It's a well known fact that you can only spend so many hours hand sewing binding, so I took a little break and made this:A pillow top with the leftovers from some of the commercial fabrics I've been discharging and over dyeing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Usually, when I make a new quilt top, I'm really married to the directionality of that quilt. That is, if I made it as a vertical piece, I almost never turn it into a horizontal piece and vice versa. This recent piece is making me wonder about whether I want to change the direction it finally hangs. This is the way I originally pieced this top.

Here it is rotated to the right.

And to the left.
I would love some feedback on which direction works best or if it even matters.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


So, I know that I said that I would post finished items on Tuesday, but.... Actually, I could post about something finished, but I'm really excited about a work in progress. Also, I put together a mini-tutorial on how I did some of the patterning for this particular piece.I had written previously that I was experimenting with discharging and over dyeing commercial fabrics. I've been using a variety of store bought fabrics and even some of my own hand-dyes and either clamping, discharging, and then over dyeing them or just clamping and over dyeing. The clamping technique is a shibori process called itajime. I thought it would be interesting to document parts of the process:For some strange reason, I feel the need to include a picture of the unaltered piece of fabric.I folded the fabric into fourths and placed circle forms on both pieces of fabric. It's important to note that I have a matching shape on the underside of the pieces of fabric. In other words, I sandwiched the fabric in between two matching shapes. I used c-clamps to hold the shapes in place. I tightened the clamps as much as possible while the fabric was dry. Then I wet the fabric and tightened a little more. This creates a good seal around the edge of the shape and aids in getting a crisp image. Almost all the shapes I clamp are made out of 1/4 inch plexiglass. I've tried thinner plexi, but the shapes eventually broke under the pressure of the clamps. Originally, I commissioned a plastics fabricator to make my shapes out of scrap plexi. Now, I'm lucky enough to have a friend who works in a shop where she has access to plexi cutting tools. So, I have an ever growing collection of plexiglass shapes.
The next step is to fill two washtubs with water. I added about 1 cup of beach to one of the washtubs and a little more than a cup of vinegar to the other tub. I put the fabric first into the bleach solution, let it sit for a while and then moved it to the vinegar bath. I went back and forth between the two baths until the shapes was as clear as I wanted it to be. I always finish in the vinegar solution, rinse out my fabric and wash it in the washing machine before I cut or sew it. It's also important to note that fabrics vary in how long they take to discharge. My experience has been that most fabrics, commercial or otherwise, can be discharged.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


Laughter is powerful stuff and having the type of personality that elicits giggles is a unique gift. My daughter, Rachel, has that rare ability to make people laugh. She brings on chuckles in a variety of ways. Sometimes she uses her intelligence to craft jokes or point out interesting ironies. Other times, Rachel employs less sophisticated means to bring on the smiles. Rachel is not above relying on bathroom humor or bodily functions to get people laughing. Anything that does the job appears to be fair game for her. I used to call her, "My Laughing Hyena". I chose that name not because she had an odd laugh, but because she was always laughing. I'm happy to say that her love of giggling and her passion for making others do the same has not diminished as she's gotten older. Rachel is a truly a funny and fun individual.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Morning Walk

Abi and I went on a little stroll this morning. Actually, I walked and she rode her bike alongside me. That's not to say that I walk incredibly fast or that she rides particularly slow. We each adjusted our pace so that we could motor in our chosen way and enjoy each other's company. We took some pictures along the way, manipulated them on the computer and are sharing them here.This neighbor seeded his yard with winter rye and now has the most gorgeous shade of green blanketing his front yard.

After looking at the pictures and the way we altered them, I realized that both Abi and I had created self-portraits. Hers is so true to who she is. She's always collecting things she finds no matter how humble the object. For a while she would collect nuts and bolts she found in the yard or on the street. Today's discovery is a little more appealing; a plastic butterfly.
I had originally planned to focus on photographing anything red, but maybe its too early in March to expect a lot of blooms(even in Texas) and there just aren't a lot of other things painted or stained red. There was, however, this somewhat decrepit house one street over with these wonderfully pealing windows. The house has a lot of character, but has fallen into disrepair and neglect. Thankfully, I noticed that there was a construction dumpster out front which hopefully means good times ahead for this sweet,little place.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007


I'm on schedule this Tuesday.A while back, someone wrote me and said they really enjoyed all my log cabin inspired pieces. Interestingly, though, I never thought about my pieces as having been influenced by the traditional log cabin pattern. After this comment, I realized just how blind I can be to the obvious. That really reinforced for me why it's so great to have fresh eyes looking at your work. They see things that you miss, even blatant things.
I combined a lot of my hand-dyed and batiked fabric with commercial fabric and my usual "I've lost my ruler" approach to piecing to make this pillow. I used Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market
fabric for the back and to make piping along the edges. I love these fabrics and am playing around with overdying them with shibori resists. I make all my pillows so that the insert can be removed and the pillow can be washed. I worry less about actually using them if I know they can be cleaned and, once the form gets a flat, I simply remove it and buy a
new one. I also used some vintage
buttons on this pillow. I think they
look beautiful with this fabric. And, now that I've used them, I guess I'll
have to go out in search of more.

Monday, March 5, 2007


I was roaming around my house, both inside and out, shooting seemingly random pictures, when I noticed a connection among many of them. Color. At my very core, I am moved by color.
Last summer, over the course of one week, my daughters and I painted each of our rooms. Every morning of that week I headed out to the paint store and returned with the color de jour. Abi's room was the first to be transformed. We taped, covered, prepared surfaces and finally coated her walls with a beautiful blue. The following day, Rachel's room morphed from white to adobe orange. Sarah wanted more than one color on her walls, so we painted one wall peach and the other walls turquoise. Finally, it was my turn and I selected two different shades of green. I really like green.
Especially chartreuse.This green's called "Temptation".