Saturday, August 01, 2015

Tuesday Drop-In Class

This is a linen bag that I am making. The hand embroidery is still in progress. It has been hand painted with my stencils, and it will be machine quilted after the embroidery is finished.
For the past few months I have been teaching a drop-in class at Eureka Fabrics in Eureka, CA. It is always interesting to see who will turn up, and it is never boring. I love having a roomful of people, but I also enjoy having just  a handful of people that I can give my undivided attention to.
Although the focus is on quilting and fiber art, we basically cover whatever it is people need help with.
Starting August 1, 2015, we are starting on hand embroidery where I will be teaching most of the basic embroidery stitches, and then we will move on to make a journal cover utilizing what we have learned. The class info is listed below, and you can sign up here: Eureka Fabrics.
For the first two weeks we will be working on a variety of hand embroidery stitches, and the third week we will be making a journal cover using some of the techniques and stitches you have learned. The journal covers will be simple projects you can finish in one afternoon.
·       Tuesday, August 4, 2015:: Hand Embroidery Basics, 1-4 pm
·       Tuesday, August 11, 2015: More Hand Embroidery, 1-4 pm
·       Tuesday, August 18, 2015: Journal Covers, 1-4 pm

For Hand Embroidery:
·       White or light-colored fabric, 4 10” squares
·       Embroidery needles in assorted sizes; my favorites are size 5/10.
·       Embroidery hoop, anywhere from 5”-7” will work best
·       Embroidery thread in 2 colors that contrast with your fabric

For the Journal Cover:
·       You will need to bring a journal or sketchbook with a cover that is not too flimsy.
·       Fabric large enough for the outside, and you will also need fabric for the inside of the cover.
·       A button for closure if desired.
·       Embroidery threads and other items for embellishment.
·       Batting if you wish to machine quilt the cover.
Note: The fabric needs to be large enough to cover the front and back of the book plus enough for seam allowance. It will be easier to embroider if the fabric is not cut to size yet.

When deciding which images to use for this bag, I wanted to use something I had not worked with before, so the moths were perfect. This particular species is known as the agrius cingulata (pink-spotted hawk moth). The actual moth is more pink than red, and I found it in the book Night Visions by Joseph Scheer.
This is the other side of the same bag. It will be embroidered differently from the front of the bag.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Paint and Stitch: the Little Bee Bag

     As I continue to attempt to simplify my life and determine what the true necessities are, at times I also carry that over into my work.
I am really terrible at packing for travel, but for my recent trip to Santa Fe for a workshop with Betty Busby, I was determined to try to tackle this issue. One of the things I did was to make this little bag that measures 5" wide by 6" high. It actually holds my cell phone, identification, credit cards, cash, lip balm, and a pack of kleenex: the bare necessities.
     The bag is made from a medium weight natural European linen that I have fallen in love with. There is something so incredible about the hand of this fabric that makes it especially lovely and wonderful to work with.
     First I painted the fabric with my Bee Stencil. The bag has the honey bee on the front and the bumble bee on the little back pocket. The stencil is made in two parts so you can paint the body first and then the details in a different color. I used Lumiere paint in copper and silver, let it dry overnight, and then heat set it for permanence.
     I had painted the linen pieces on a Saturday night, and the following morning I heat set the paint and began stitching. Even though it was a Sunday and I should have been doing household chores, I kept finding excuses to sneak back over to my studio to do just a couple more stitches on the bag. By the end of the day I had all the embroidery done.
     The really fun part for me was the hand embroidery. It is kind of odd, but doing the embroidery feels to me like learning a new language. It is still a bit awkward as I learn to compose artistically with this medium. At the same time it is very exciting as well as rewarding to see the end results. I love the interplay of the colors and the texture created by the stitching.

     I work in two pretty distinct ways: either very planned or intuitively. They both have their benefits, and some work, like my wholecloth pieces, does require more precise planning and composition decisions before beginning the actual piece. I really love to work intuitively though. It is always so exciting to begin with only a vague notion of where I want to go with a piece; then I proceed one step at a time until the next step is revealed to me. I think it only requires having faith that once you have that creative momentum it will continue until some inner sense tells you the piece is complete.

Friday, June 19, 2015

It All Started When......

      When I was very young,I learned to do hand embroidery from my grandmother. I always loved doing the handwork, and I spent many enjoyable hours working side by side with my grandmother learning new stitches and embroidering things that have long since disappeared to who knows where.
      Many years ago, in fact so many that I can't remember, I bought this old kit in an antique store. Someone had purchased the kit, embroidered one teeny little flower, and shoved it right back in the envelope.
      Every once in a while, I would get the urge to do some handwork and pick the piece up again. I would do a few little stitches, and then put it aside and forget about it.
     A couple of months ago I once again picked up the piece and commenced to actually finish the embroidery.
      I can't explain what it was that happened, but I fell in love with the process as well as the fabric. That beautiful old linen was like butter in my hands. The embroidery thread was not quite so delightful; it was really old rayon that tangled incessantly and caused me a whole lot of grief. I persisted and finished all of the embroidery,and now only the edges need to be finished.
The main part of the fabric has the date stamped on it: 1927. I think this must be longest running UFO. When I work on something old like this, I always wonder who the person was that purchased the piece originally.

The interesting bit is that I could not wait to do more work with this incredible fabric. I procured more linen and better thread; now I am totally hooked and I can't seem to stop.
Here is an almost finished corner. The kit also came with 4 napkins that are supposed to be inserted in the top of the lantern. The lanterns were embroidered on the gold linen first and then sewn to the background using the needle turn appliqué technique.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Santa Fe!

I have been in Santa Fe since last Saturday. I came here to take a four day surface design workshop with one of my favorite artists: Betty Busby.
 I am learning to use my new camera, and here is a shot taken from our balcony at sunset out across the arroyo. The skies are just incredible here, and I am amazed at how quickly the weather changes.
Over the years, I have had the privilege to take workshops from some very talented people. But I have never encountered anyone like Betty before. She is one of the most talented, generous, inspirational, and genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of studying with. I will post photos and more information about what we learned next week when I return home.
This is Betty with Carol Larsen from Petaluma.They are downloading images for cutting on the Silhouette. The software is easier to use than I expected, but then I haven't done it on my own yet.
My sister Barbara is traveling with me, and she is enrolled in a very intensive workshop at the Nikon School of Photography titled The Art and Science of Landscape Photography. They spend mornings in the lab, and trek off to different locations each day. Barbara has been really busy, as the five day class runs for 12- 13 hours a day.
My workshop finished up yesterday, so my friend Kathryn Stotler, who flew in on Tuesday, and I are headed out for a day of photography and sketching. We are going to Bandalier, Los Alamos, Abiquiu, and then hopefully we will hike up Castle Rock at the Ghost Ranch. Living at sea level, it is surprising to me how much the change in altitude is affecting us all. 

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Eureka Fabrics: A Rewarding Experience

Eureka Fabrics is located in the historic Old Town section of Eureka, CA. The moment you open the door and step inside you become immersed in a world of color, texture, and inspiration. There are several aspects of Eureka Fabrics that make it unique: the knowledgeable staff, the selection of natural fiber and organic fabrics, the services offered, and the workshops available.

      Eureka Fabrics is the brainchild of Rima Greer, who opened the shop five years ago. After moving here from Santa Monica, Rima soon realized the quality and selection of fabrics she was accustomed to were not to be found in Humboldt County.  So, she opened her own store because she knew that other sewists were having the same issue.
     Rima is a dynamic super-talented clothing designer, costumer, and teacher whose passion for sewing and creating fill this shop to the brim. The two main employees, Shay and Leslie, are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful, and the three women form a formidable team who seem able to solve any sewing-related problem or track down the most elusive supplies and materials. You seldom encounter people who so genuinely want to be of help without being intrusive whatsoever, but this superb trio has mastered the skill.

     Eureka Fabrics offers a wonderful selection of natural- fiber fabrics including linen, hemp, silk, bamboo, cotton, and wool fabrics as well as materials for dancewear and quilting. They also offer a myriad of services such as sewing machine repair, private consultations, and digitally printed fabric. The workshops range from casual weekly Drop- In Classes to Intensive Workshops that focus on specific techniques or projects, and they are suitable for many different skill levels.
With a huge resurgence in the interest of sewing and high quality hand made goods, Eureka Fabrics is at the forefront of this creative movement to provide you with the knowledge, inspiration, and materials that you need for your next creation. What makes Eureka Fabrics especially unique is the incredible community of like-minded individuals who converge here to share their enthusiasm for sewing and creating. Whether you are a local or just passing through the area, this terrific shop is well worth a visit. You will leave with a smile on your face and a mind brimming  with new ideas.

Note: In my next post, I will give you an update on my exciting new collaborations with Rima and Eureka Fabrics.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lovely Hand Painted Work by Kate O'Donnell

     Kate O'Donnell is an incredibly talented textile artist who lives in Pacheco, CA. I met Kate several years ago when I became acquainted and involved with a group of textile artists in Sonoma County, CA. They called themselves the Guilded Lilies, and they were an amazing group of women who shared a love of art and all things textile related.
     Over the years, I fell out of touch with most of the group as I live several hours away and time constraints kept me from participating in their wonderful retreats in the Healdsburg area. But a year ago, I ran into Kate at a show and we rekindled our friendship. Kate is a very accomplished dyer and art quilter. She has a special knack with color that makes her work sing with energy and vibrancy. Here is some of her wonderful work.
Kate used Radiance for the main painted panel and her own hand-dyed fabrics for the borders. I machine quilted both of these pieces for her.

      Kate had a very special friend that she wanted to make a wedding gift for. After taking my Stenciling on Fabric class in Fort Bragg, CA, last summer, she decided to hand paint  some Radiance using my Textile Design Stencils, Neopaque, and Lumiere paints.
     She painted the piece on the top first, and she was not quite satisfied. So then she painted the second piece and added the Chinese characters to the border. I love both pieces, and it makes me so happy to see how effectively she has used the stencils.
     I am including some images of the quick trapunto process that I used for the characters on the left border. The problem was that the metallic paint was quite heavy, and I didn't want to stitch through it. In doing fairly dense quilting around the outside of the characters, it would have made the inside of those shapes look really pucker. The extra batting helped to fill out the shapes, and now they look almost like they are embossed metal.
 The first step was to pin a layer of Hobbs Tuscany wool batting to the back of the entire left border. I then free-motion stitched very close to the edge of the 
painting with a neutral colored thread.
I pull back the top fabric and carefully trim away the extra batting on the back side.

This is the finished trapunto from the back side. Now I just layer my backing, batting, and top piece and pin the layers together as usual.
Here is a close-up of the finished quilted border.
I know that Kate put a tremendous amount of thought and effort into creating this piece, and it really shows. The lovely couple that she made it for really loved and appreciated her lovely gift to them.

Thank you for stopping by, and please leave a comment if you have time. I know that Kate would appreciate it, and I will pass your comments on to her.

Friday, January 09, 2015

New Wholecloth

I just finished a new little wholecloth piece. I had made one of these a couple of months ago, but I was not happy with the end result. I decided to give it a second try. What I did differently the second time was to do the entire background in a light cream thread, and I only used two different quilting designs. This piece was made with cotton sateen, merino wool batting, and taupe and cream colored Mettler threads.
Tropical Leaves: 20" x 20" ( final piece)
On the first piece, the quilted section in the very center detracts from the whole piece. Although I had chosen a very light gray thread, it came out looking very dark on the piece. When I designed this piece, I paid special attention to the negative space. However, when it is over-emphasized, it becomes the focal point which was not my intention.

First attempt
To avoid duplicating what went wrong the first time, I took my original drawing, photographed it, and then created multiple small images on one piece of paper so that I could draw in my quilting lines with pencil first. This helped me to better visualize the effect I wanted to achieve. This is much easier than ripping out unwanted stitching.

Here are a couple of close-up shots of the machine stitching process. Whenever I have a somewhat large area to be filled with lots of stitching, I will stitch through the center of the open area to divide it into sections as I work. This helps to keep any of the fullness evenly divided: helps in avoiding puckers.
You might wonder why I have a photo of a bowl of orange peels included in this post. Well, I am a person who has a very rapid metabolism which means that I have to eat about every two hours. But, when I am engrossed with an art project, everything else fades into the background; including the need for food or other minor issues. The two little mandarin oranges of which you see the remains were my dinner on the evening that I was hell-bent on finishing this piece.
 I mounted the finished piece on a piece of archival foam core that I had covered with a beautiful piece of European linen. I have three of my larger original wholecloths posted here if you are interested:

Friday, December 05, 2014

Earthquake on Third Street

Our little fiber art group started this project several months ago. Someone came up with the idea of doing a sliced quilt; you know, where you take an image, dissect it, and each person does a section. We wanted for the final image to depict the area that we live in and be recognizable as Humboldt County.
There is a street in the Old Town section of Eureka, CA, that has a row of houses built in the late 19th century. All of the houses were relocated there by the state when a plan was enacted to reroute Highway 101 and bypass the city. These lovely old homes would have been demolished in the process, but thank goodness they were saved. They now house several small businesses.
I will give you a brief rundown of how this project materialized. First, Ruthanne Rocha and Nancy Branch photographed the houses individually. Then, Ruthanne used a filter in Photoshop to convert the photos to line drawings. Next, the images were pasted next to one another, and another effect was applied to disort the image and create the wavy curves.
We had the image enlarged to 70"wide x 36" high and then cut it into 5 sections. Each person got a section, and we began building our houses. None of us had ever done anything like this before, so it was quite challenging. I think one of the most difficult aspects was that with the distortion of the images, there was not a rational, relatable perspective.

My house while under construction, appx. 20"high x 12"wide.
So, for the most part we made the houses in sections on a stabilizer base using hand appliqué. We each strip pieced a background, quilted it, and appliqued our house on. Now we are sewing the sections together, and then Patty Demant will work her magic by adding embellishments in the form of flowers, shrubs, and trees to complete the piece and tie everything together.

I am always trying to zoom in to see the detail work, s here is a close-up for anyone else who is interested.
The trim on the house was made by cutting bias strips, pressing them over freezer paper, and then adding the detail with an Identipen.
Note: The name, Earthquake on Third Street, was prompted by the fact that we live in an area that is especially earthquake prone.

Friday, November 21, 2014


I have signed up for Jane Lafazio's online workshop Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style, and I just completed the first assignment. It is funny, but I have wanted to learn to do watercolor for a really long time. I have a sizable stack of books on watercolor techniques and botanical illustration by many wonderful artists, but they have sat there unused for years now.
This was my first assignment and my first watercolor as well. My shadow got way too dark, so I added the dark brown border to try to balance things out a bit. I know nothing about using water colors or pairing for that matter, and I am looking forward to learning more. This is really a lot of fun.

Pomegranate and Satsuma Mandarins.
Here is my second little painting. These paintings are quite small; they are only 5" x 7". It's so odd how I could never get up the gumption to simply do this on my own, yet now even at this crazy busy time of the year I am somehow managing to forge ahead.
I would love to be able to transfer some of my line drawings to fabric or paper so that I can either hand or machine embroider them, but I have not found a really suitable transfer technique as yet. For the marking for my machine quilting, I use a water-soluble fine-tipped blue pen on light fabric and for dark fabric I use the Staedler white water-soluble pencil. 
I have heard from knowledgeable people that the iron on heat transfer type pencils do not always come out. And Solvy won't work as I do not want to wash the project after stitching.
Any tips or suggestions on transfer methods from you readers would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Bolt, Cloverdale: Remarkable!

Bolt, a new quilting and home store, has opened in Cloverdale, CA, and owners Kate Barrett and Peter Rosson have paired their interests and talents to offer an eclectic blend of quilting and sewing fabrics combined with an excellent selection of housewares.
Bolt is located right in the center of downtown Cloverdale in a beautifully restored historic building. The interior space is beautiful with its high ceilings and light flooding in through the windows, and my first impulse was to sit down in one of their beautifully upholstered chairs and take it all in.

As for the fabrics, you will find an eclectic collection of goods including many organics from Cloud 9 and Clothworks along with linen blends and gorgeous prints. The shop boasts a sewing area in the back that will accommodate 8 people for workshops. Many more classes will be added to the roster after the holidays, so please check on the schedule on their website.
Peter's keen eye for quality and style is immediately apparent in his selection of home décor and housewares that grace the shop. Bolt offers a lovely selection of linen toweling, flatware, and powder coat serving ware along with a great deal more. I was awed by the collection of goods, the well-presented displays, and the overall ambience of the shop.
Cloverdale is only 90 miles north of San Francisco, and you might also want to check out Plank Coffee next door for a great experience. I did, and I will certainly go back again.  I wish both Kate and Peter continued success in their new venture, and am looking forward to seeing this business thrive. You can read more about Bolt and check out their workshop schedule here on their website.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Indigo Shibori: A Great Success

I finally have some photos together of our Indigo Shibori workshop at the Natural Fiber Fair in Arcata, CA, in September. Linda Hartshorn and I co-taught this class. We usually offer it as a  3 day class, but this was condensed down to 1 day, so the students really had to work hard!
One of the things I love the most about teaching the Indigo Shibori class is that pretty well everyone is assured of instant success. It is always the factor of the unknown results that I find so appealing.
I taught the Shibori segment in the morning, and I was amazed at how much everyone was able to get done. In fact, everybody was so enthusiastic that most worked right through lunch until Linda was ready to start with the indigo outdoors.
This is a quilt top from Afghanistan that Rabia  O'Loren procured for a fundraiser for her non-profit organization that raises money. The organization is the Roshni Centre for Women. The piece was made with a reverse hand applique technique with the colored fabric underneath. The white fabric was placed on top of the colored fabric, cut away, and then hand stitched with the edges turned under. I think each block was about 20" square.
I machine quilted it for them, pro bono, which was quite a task. I used thread matching the background and outline stitched around each shape. It took a very long time, but at least now it can be used as a quilt.
Rabia set up a lovely display in the foyer of the building and sold lots of raffle tickets for the quilt over the weekend.
Here I am doing a demonstration of my painting techniques with the stencils in our booth. I always kick myself afterwards for not taking more photos of the booth. My friend Patty Demant and I shared a big booth, so it was a really fun weekend. Patty is doing eco-dyeing on silk, cashmere, and wool clothing and it is gorgeous. She is dyeing a cashmere sweater for me right now, and I can't wait to see it.
 I love doing this event each year. The people are great, the food is wonderful, the teachers are incredibly talented, and the vendors are exceptional. And, it is only 45 minutes from my home. I am indeed very fortunate.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Baby Quilt: Great Galloping Grasshoppers!

Just over a year ago, my niece Stacy gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. She had a very difficult time getting pregnant, but she finally succeeded after numerous fertility treatments. I don't think that any child was wanted more than her son Kolsen was nor loved more once he finally arrived.
He turned one recently, and I was happy to be included in the celebration for his first birthday.
I am a bit slow, but I finally made a quilt for Kolsen and gave it to him at his party. I used my Grasshopper Stencil, scanned the stencil, and enlarged the image from 5" to 16" wide ( a little over 300%).
Although Kolsen looks pretty angelic, I think he is really contemplating who to throw cake at next.

My Grasshopper Stencil
Here are a few detail shots of the quilt in progress.
The grasshoppers are machine appliqued on, and I am choosing the fabrics for the other shapes.
The shapes are all stitched on and the borders are ready to be added. I could hardly wait to start on the machine quilting.
Detail of Applique
TA DAAAA!!!! Finished at last.
I have some pretty fond memories of grasshoppers. We had a summer place in the mountains when I was growing up, and there were always loads of grasshoppers everywhere during the warm summer months.

Also, when I lived in Canada with my husband, the grasshoppers were so thick sometimes that the farmers would use a fine screen in front of their radiators so that that it wouldn't plug up and overheat their engine when they were driving through a swarm of the lovely critters. I used to go out and dig up fresh potatoes for dinner sometimes, and they would dive bomb me as the air was filled with a deafening clicking sound from the whir of the wings around my head. Those are very fond memories indeed!