news, news, news

I just updated my website, the first big redo since I first put it up. I've been working on it for a few weeks; the differences are subtle, but I like it better. Next project will be adding some new work to it. That can wait until after the holidays.

I've also been working on the temporary website of a newly formed group I am happy to be a member of, the Fiber Artists Coalition. We are all PAM's (Professional Artist Member) of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates), and are joining forces to market our work. We've just assembled our first joint show and submitted it to a potential venue. Right now the website is just links to all of our own websites, but those are worth checking out.

SAQA has a monthly online show featuring works of PAM's; I'm proud to have this piece (Unraveling) in the December show. Check that out, too.

In January, Ann Miller Titus and I have a joint show at the Keokuk Art Center in Keokuk, Iowa.

So even though I've been quiet on this blog, and I haven't gotten a lot of art made (ok, fiber art, I have been doing watercolors for the Great River Watercolor Society winter show), things have been happening.

And now they're slowing down for the holidays. But I'll be back at it come 2008. (yikes! 2008?)


study and scraps

Can you do a study AFTER a piece is done? I feel like that's what I have done, so I guess one can. It started with the scraps from the piece I've been showing in other blog entries like here, and was driven by ideas I had while making it. Like thinking what if I use this color of thread? What if I add more rust to it? So this is the result of my first 'after study':

November B

The piece is quite small compared to the big one--which by the way as been named November--but I needed something quick and easier to handle than the big one (it had been a while since I tried to force something that big under the needle). It measures 10.5" wide by 8.5" high, and features some of the same elements as November--the amorphic cheesecloth, the vertical 'tree trunks'.

But the primary stitching is done in a yellow green thread from Sulky. I had added some hand stitching to the original piece in these colors, but it only shows up when you get close to it. And from a distance, it's not real obvious on this piece. But it adds a liveliness to the piece that I like.

It was lacking focus, though. I had a kayak shaped piece of rust silk I auditioned on it (kayaks being one of my favorite go to shapes), but it was too large. I started by cutting it down with free hand rotary cutting, and the shape of the piece and the slice chopped off caught my eye--the negative space between them. So I cut the other side off, too, so that I would have three pieces, and was left with I think of as a 'deconstructed kayak.' I really like this shape; it will surely show up in future pieces.

So I guess the final answer to my question is yes, you can do studies after the fact. Working on a big piece always presents alternate paths that deserve to be explored, even if just in studies. Who knows where that path will lead? This is the joy of doing a series--the serendipity of discovery along the way.

By the way, this piece is for sale, directly from me, for $75. It is mainly silk with some cotton cheesecloth, and should be mounted on mat board for display.


New Etsy items

I added a few (ok, four) new pieces to my etsy shop. I haven't given up on it entirely, and had some extra things I wanted to put on there.

This piece, Winter Woods 2, is a small piece I made from scraps of hand painted fabric. I use a piece of mat board with a 4"x6" opening, move it around the scraps until something captures my eye. Then I added some details, often with free motion thread stitching like the tree here. In a way they are quickly made, except for the time spent making the fabric in the first place.

This piece seems appropriate for today in particular--the view outside my window of the park across the street looks just like this--gray, cold, dismal, and yet mysterious and alluring.


In honor of Kathryn

Today would have been my mother's 95th birthday. A few days ago we passed the 20th anniversary of her death.

She was a high school English teacher, a full time working mother in a time when that wasn't very common.

So in her honor, let me direct you to a site with a vocabulary game called Free Rice. As you play it, every word you get correct (no one knows if it's an educated guess) earns 10 grains of rice to be given to someone who needs it. The site is an off shoot of poverty.com, which an educational site about world hunger. The rice is paid for with the small ads that appear below the vocabulary words.

And who knows, you might learn a new word or two.

Warning, it can be addictive...


holiday gift buying

The prices of my art work will be going up the first of the year. So now would be a good time to do some holiday shopping on my website. As an added bonus, I will have free shipping in the US until the end of the year. Although I don't yet have a shopping cart set up on my website, you can pay through my paypal account. Just email me.


manipulation and inspiration

It's a gray, warm autumn day here. So it's kind of hard to take a detail picture, but then that's not really what I was after. I wanted to show some of the inspiration for the piece I've been talking about. This is shot looking west from my driveway.

We here in west central Illinois tend to have dreary autumns. It hasn't even rained much here lately (we're in a drought), but we have all these long, darkish, gray days. As the leaves fall off the trees, the only ones left are those are the oaks, which turn a rusty brown that in the height of autumn seems dull, but now that it is the only color left, it seems warm and cozy. So the spots of orange and brown pop out against the gray of the tree trunks and branches. That's what I'm trying to capture.

And I am quilting away on it, between the chores and errands and etc. of life. It's fairly densely quilted so far, that may change as I move across the piece. I just hope I have enough thread to do the whole thing, and avoid my usual problem of running out of a color 4/5 of the way through a piece. Planning ahead is not my strong suit in art.

And there are still bits of a dull acid green about, small trees that haven't given up for the year, the duckweed floating in a pond. So I may find a way to work bits of that color in, maybe some hand stitching. In any event, this is a major piece for me both in time it's taking, in size, and in what it's taught me about where I want to go next.


Form Not Function

This piece, Strata 2, has been accepted to the Form, Not Function show at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, New Albany, Indiana. The show will be open from January 11-March 8, 2008.

While I have entered this piece in a couple of shows, it's never been accepted before. Anther one rejected by this show was accepted by another. Things like that keep me from taking any acceptance or rejection too seriously--it's all in the eye of a particular judge putting together a specific show. It is out of my hands.


manipulation continued

I started quilting on the gray piece I blogged about a few days ago. The colors remind me of late autumn in my area, when most of the leaves are off the trees, the weather is gray and rainy, but there's a spot of bright color left here and there. So the quilting lines are mimicking tree bark of large trees, with small trees behind.

But now that the quilting is started, and after a walk past the golf course where I saw bald cypress trees turned rust colored reflected in gray water, I realized that I had been looking at the piece upside down.

It just looks right this way. The light spots become reflections of sky on water, the rust the leaves still on the trees. I know it's a very abstract version of what I see that no one else might be able to identify. But that's the way I work. I struggle to compose and design without an inspiration to guide me--I need that to guide me. Even if you don't see it in the final product, I do.

Maybe that's a result of my Midwestern, practical upbringing, that idea that art has to be about something. I am drawn to the abstract expressionists, and drawn to the idea that I want to make art about where I live. So I'm forming a new series, one called Hancock County. I realize that the last couple of pieces I've made are probably in the series. It's about what I see in my everyday life here, the view out the car window at 55 miles per hour. (It's easy to abstract that blurry view). I'll go back and put labels on the pieces I think belong. And when this one is done (I haven't quilted a piece this large in a while...wow), there'll be more coming.


bird artwork

I've been on Etsy for a little over four months now, with little action. So while I've relisted some pieces, I'm going to let the listing for the various bird sketches expire. I need to change the items I have at the Southern Illinois Artisan's Shop, and these seem like a good choice. Little stuff seems to sell better for me there.

So if you've been pining for one of them, you need to act fast. Not that I won't be making more of them, although I'm a little up in the air about putting them on etsy since I haven't done that well there. Another one of those business decisions that takes time and energy away from making art.

And I think there is a big piece of these birds to be made--I have this dyed linen tablecloth that I can see with these small birds drawn all over it, like a flock of sparrows in my backyard.


manipulation of the medium

I continue to exploit my materials for all they're worth. Once again I tried the soda ash/vinegar silk dyeing thing, this time using a black dye. Silk and Procion MX black dye don't work as planned--this version of black dye comes out as blue, grey, or orange. So I expected some variation from that. Doing strips of soda ash alternating with vinegar increased the variation--this time I can see the stripes formed, although they are subtle.

Just to mix things up, I put a piece of a silk curtain material I had picked up from a clearance bin underneath (and coated it with soda ash), the piece of silk, and then a layer of plain cotton cheesecloth on top (also treated with soda ash). All of this was on top of a garbage bag on my picnic table. Next I poured on a not very concentrated solution of the black dye. And rolled the whole thing up and left it sit for a day before washing it out.

There is no picture of just the cloth, but here it is with the beginnings of a design:

What I can't quite figure out is how just one corner got to be mostly rust colored. Serendipity I guess. This piece is quite large for me--around 25" tall by something like 75" long. I like the horizontal format. I think it reminds me of the woods in November--lots of greys, with a touch of color here and there where the leaves are still on a tree.

The other pieces are here are the other two pieces I dyed at the same time--the strips are the curtain silk, which came out really cool. The amorphous piece is the cheesecloth, which I stretched and deformed by pulling it about:

That's where the piece is at the moment. I think it will be heavily quilted, but I'm not sure whether anything else will be added. It's quite serene at the moment, I like that.


recovery, redux

The recovered piece continues to evolve. It has been hanging on my design wall off and on for the past few days, and it just didn't feel right. Maybe it's the image of a human figure I keep imposing on it. Maybe it's the technical difficulty of putting the pieces together. Maybe it's the top piece that I don't like as much as the other pieces.

So today I tried simplifying it to this:

It would be my intent to sew the pieces together so there would be no gaps as show in this snapshot. It has an oriental feel to it, and is much simpler and calmer than the previous variation.

So do I wait another week to see if this the right way? So sew it together and move on with my art? I vacillate even as I type this. Maybe tomorrow I'll decide....or put it off...

And of course this leaves me with three other pieces to play with. I really like the thin long strips that formed the arms...could they be stand alone pieces? I could see them hanging on a narrow wall...art for problem spaces...


Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day. Bloggers around the world are taking one day to post on the same subject; this year it's 'environment.'

I was trained as a botanist. These days, the only real botany I do is as a volunteer for The Nature Conservancy at a preserve near my home (Kibbe Life Science Research Station, Warsaw, Illinois), helping to establish a small tall grass prairie and restoring oak woodlands (a globally endangered ecosystem).

But this environment impacts all of my work as an artist--it informs me, inspires me, and sometimes depresses me by the state it is in. I try to say something about the microcosm in which I live with every piece of art I make--for instance, Prairie Fire 2 was inspired by actual prescribed burns at Kibbe, the colorful fire on a cloudy day, the charred ground left behind the leaping flames.

So the word 'environment' is very close to my heart, and thus to my art. I can't make art without it, I need to do all I can to preserve it.


recovery or improvement?

The piece is almost done. Until a few hours ago, I wasn't sure if it was a series of seven pieces, or one piece with seven parts. Now that it's laid out this way, I'm pretty sure it's one piece.

Although each piece stands fairly well on its own, I like the connected-ness of them being put together in this figure-like shape. Does it make sense that they want to be together? That they're happier this way?

Forget the technical challenge of putting them together; there's just a synergy at work here that I can't ignore. So I'll figure out the technical parts, finish it up, and then move on.

I'm not the only fiber artist cutting things apart and putting them back together--check out Katherine Sand's blog post.
Great minds thinking alike and all that.

And I keep thinking back to the original piece, prediaster. There was a time when it was very cool, but incomplete. I took the wrong fork in the road trying to complete it, and there was no going back. But if I hadn't made that mistake, would the resultant piece be as good as this one? I guess there's no way to know...but I may dye another piece of silk and start all over....


Diaster and Recovery

I got carried away with paint today. It's fabric, I can make more, but still. I should have known better.

I started out yesterday with gold paint on the stalks I had quilted in. OK, but a little bright. How to tone it down...how about some transparent black paint? Toned them down, and then bled out into the rest of the piece in unattractive ways.

So I decided, with nothing to lose, to get out the rotary cutter and ruler and start whacking out the bad parts and making a bunch of little pieces.

Some of the shapes are rather cool--the long narrow ones especially. I see the pieces being finished into a series of related pieces. The worse parts can be covered with something, or else add more paint to cover up the problem...don't quite know yet, but it's kind of an exciting idea that I get to work on making decent art, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat...if I'm lucky.

The thought for the day is then, don't worry, be happy. And keep working.


more playing and playing

This is the kind of quilting I was trying to describe. A blend of geometric lines and organic shapes.

The piece shown is a piece of silk I dyed a couple of weeks ago after seeing Katherine Sands' blog about the difference in color between using soda ash and vinegar to fix fiber reactive dyes to silk. So I tried brushing stripes of each onto a piece of silk, then adding dye. The differences in color are hard to see, but I ended up with a nice piece of cloth anyway.

A great discussion of the importance of line in fiber art is going on in the Art and Perception blog by Jane Underwood--she does a good job of describing what I'm doing (well, she's not really talking about me, but her, but it's kind of the same thing). Line that produces texture like this is one of the main reasons I quilt most of my pieces.

When I get done quilting this piece, I am thinking of adding some touches of paint to the organic shapes, just to highlight them. And adding some hand stitching to the spaces.

At the same time, I'm trying to figure out how to capture the beauty and simpleness of yet another buckeye--this time the fruit of a bottlebrush buckeye. They're very velvety and cool colors right now as they ripen.


playing around

I thought I would start this post with a picture of the guy who thinks he owns this place. I call him Dale, and I caught him surveying his kingdom from my back stoop. Since he eats lots of acorns and hasn't done any damage so far, I like having him around.

I've been playing around some with my art. I saw the work of Deborah Gwinn, and even though her work is on paper, she's using similar techniques to what I do with bleach on cloth. More complex, but it gave me an idea.

For one of the play dates we in RRFA do, I took a piece of black cotton and laid some stalks of northern sea oats on it. I then sprayed bleach over the surface unevenly, leaving a negative image of the grass. I liked the piece, but it had a flaw (note to self: iron out any creases before spraying bleach), and I wasn't sure where to take it.

Then I saw Deborah's work and thought, 'ah, positive against negative'. I took a bleach pen and drew sea oats over the surface of the piece. The bleach pen was a little old, and I didn't get any areas to go to the white that the original bleach had done. But I like the tan (and wish I had about 10 yards more of this black that doesn't discharge to rust), and may leave it. Here's the result:

I'm going to quilt it using an idea I'm stealing from a friend of mine, combining organic shapes with close geometric stitching. But first I have to decide whether or not to go back in with some fresh bleach and put in some white highlights. That's my excuse for not doing anything yet, and I'm sticking with it.


Art Quilts XII Acceptance

I got the happy news while away for the weekend that my piece Brown Eyes was accepted into Art Quilts XII in Chandler, Arizona.


Lake Cooper, finished

I think the piece that started with something I was afraid to cut into is finally done. I have contemplated it for several days, added a bit yesterday, and have decided it is time to stop.

The bit I added yesterday was the shadow circle at the bottom, made of dark (navy?) tulle. I think the piece reads like a diptych now, and I think--I admit I'm not sure--that it balances well. It's a case where the negative spaces may be more important to the design than the positive ones.

And I did a lot of hand stitching on this piece--not the quilting, but seed stitches and French knots here and there. Here's an example:

The first picture is a more accurate rendition of the color than this one; but here you can see the seed stitches. While I am striving toward the 'less is more' school of design, I think that adding texture that can only be appreciated when you approach the piece is a good thing.

I originally just overcast the edges on here, but I actually didn't like the frayed look for a change. I had enough of the acid green silk (which came from a hand dyeing accident--one of the few times I've had color transfer in the washer after dyeing) to use as a single layer binding. I thought about using black, but decided that was because my design wall is black, and not because of what looked right on the piece. I like the echoing of the greenish circle.

The piece is called Lake Cooper after the place I recognized in the original dyed tea towel--the lake formed above the dam on the Mississippi at Keokuk, where I have watched many sunsets on the calm still water, the best ones from my kayak.


more news

Yesterday I found out I got a piece in Fiber Focus 2007.

This piece is called Strata.

The show is in St. Louis, Missouri, at Art Saint Louis, 917 Locust Street, Suite 300, from September 10-October 18.

The opening is September 14. There are several fiber related events in St. Louis that weekend, and sometime this fall Quilt National is going to be nearby. So if you're in the area, check it out.


Balancing Act

For the first time in my fiber artist life, I got three pieces into a single show, a SAQA sponsored show called 'Balancing Act.' The show runs from August 28-September 28, 2007, at the Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale, MI. Here are the pieces that got in:

Now I have to get busy and put hanging sleeves on them...


inspiration and problem solving

Today is 'Hammock Appreciation Day' for some reason, so I thought I'd post a tribute to my hammock. It's where I do a lot of thinking and problem solving. Five minutes in it, watching the birds and the insects and enjoying the shade and the breeze, and I figure out how I want to solve a design problem.

It isn't all about the design wall for me; sometimes I have to get away from the stumbling block to see a way around it. And while I'm swaying back and forth, I see the birds strutting around that inspire my napkin sketches.

So if you're mulling a problem, find a place to relax and maybe the solution will come.


progress? movement, anyway

I had these strips of various silks left over from Dancing in the Moonlight. I hung them with pins on the design wall, and like their unevenness and the darker color. So I sewed them on (by hand! unusual for me these days), and even left one hanging past the edge.

I even tore off the holes on the right side, mainly to make a more rectangular piece. I also tore off the hemmed edges, because I intend to have a frayed edge as part of the finished piece.

But it needs something to balance the left side on the right side. It has to be something that allows the ripples to show through. I did a bunch of thumbnail sketches, and decided I liked a circle best.

The acid green pieces are just sitting there for now. I think I'll probably fuse them on and then do some stitching on them. Then quilt the piece and figure out where to go from there.

But I have overcome the hesitation and cut into that 'perfect piece'. If it works, great. If not, there's more fabric out there...like the two great linen tablecloths I got at a garage sale this morning...


another napkin

Here's one of the pieces I mentioned in my other post today:

It started as a napkin, hand dyed at the same time as some of the birds. But it had a sense of light in it (from the way it was folded in the dye bath).

The tree is drawn from the sumac I have in my garden--a tree which, in the wild, forms large clumps and is not remarkable, but which, as a single specimen, is quite cool. It's kind of like an umbrella, with bare branches almost all the way up to a canopy of graceful leaves. Very Oriental in feel, like a Japanese maple but much cheaper and easier to grow.

It was cut out of a piece of discharged black cotton. I'm becoming a big believer in keeping every little bit of leftovers (sorry, Ann), as the circle was in that pile. It wanted to be on the piece, and it wanted to be in front of the tree. I don't know what it represented except a design element. I stitched the leaves with a varigated embroidery thread. Then I quilted horizontal lines with invisible thread. And couched down the red thread.

The piece has no deep meaning. It's actually not quite as bright as you might think from the photo--this particular napkin is quite shiny. But I like it. A good use for a discarded napkin.

stuck again

Once again I have a piece that I've hand dyed that I can't bring myself to cut. It happened before, and I ended up framing the piece as is. I've never been happy with that solution, but I can't figure out what else to do with it.

This is the new piece:

One of the dye baths was shibori style--wrapped around a pole with string tying it off. The resulting cloth looks like ripples on water at sunset.

The fabric is an old tea towel. If you look closely, though, you'll see that there are small holes in the piece in the lower right hand corner. That's part of the problem, how to deal with that. I've tried applique shapes on it (realism kills the cloth for me), watercolor sketches (not working so far). I keep thinking I need to tear it into strips and put it on something. I had a piece of hand dyed silk that I think would go with it, but in a cleaning fit I misplaced it. Still looking.

But what make this piece special? I try to abide by the Doritos principle (use it, they'll make more), but then this comes along. It might be that it is so close to being perfect in my eyes on its own that I can't stand the possibility of ruining it--I paint watercolors, too, and many's the one that I ruined by not stopping soon enough. Or maybe even though it's 'pretty' as is, it's just not inspiring me. I've brought it out and hung it on my design wall two or three times in the last few months, and always end up putting it away for lack of motivation.

In the meantime, while it's been hanging there, I've done a couple of little sketch pieces (not done yet), thought about dyeing more napkins, cleaned the house, anything to avoid attacking this piece. Perhaps it is time to put it away again...


when series collide

I currently have three or four series going in my work. I jump from one to another as the mood strikes, or sometimes--like last week--everything I do is about one series. Over time, I've found that having established the series idea helps to concentrate my thinking, helps even in the design process. One piece informs the next. Even the pieces that don't work, that never make it out of the studio, help advance the concept in my head.

But once in a while, the series collide. They seem to come together in a way that makes sense to me. This piece I'm working on is one such piece:

It might have begun as a 'Recharged' piece. I had a bunch of pieces of black fabric that has discharged to a rusty orange color, but none of them were very large. But the idea that came to me was a 'Stratification' piece formed by ripping crossgrain strips of the fabrics, layering them onto a background of fusible interfacing, and then sewing them down with some raw edges showing. I threw in three strips of a bright orange silk I had dyed. The piece was becoming something.

But it needed something more. It has actually hung on my design wall for several days, waiting for the bird fixation to ease, and waiting for an answer. An answer which I really knew almost from the start, but fought for a while. It wanted to be a part of the 'Dance of the Blue Slash' series, too. So I think I'm going to add the blue slashes permanently (they're just hanging there right now, stuck by friction). The contrast in both shape and color make the piece sing.

It needs to be quilted, and to keep it firmly rooted in the Stratification world (which was inspired by the layers of rock), I'm thinking of doing some fossils with the quilting. Especially in the bigger strips. Fossils of birds? Probably not.

So I guess the lesson is that series work in many ways--they teach the artist about design, they offer new possibilities that wouldn't have been thought of otherwise, they help to illustrate the artist's voice. Even though people have been telling me for a while that they recognize my work without seeing a label, I haven't always seen the voice that is mine. I'm starting to. And working in series has aided that.


more birds on linen

I may be obsessing about these birds. I've been sketching them in my journal for month, and now I can't stop sketching them on fabric. The color of the hand dyed napkins, when I put them through more than one dye bath, is mesmerizing.

I decided to just put some minimal quilting on the Gossip Time 7 piece to give it some structure:

I just listed this piece on my etsy store: click here to see.

So I went back to the original napkins I used in the Klee pieces. One of them I tried to do some bleach pen on, but I made the bird way too big. So I cut pieces off of it and made some more little birds:

Lonesome Bird 3

Singing Bird


Tete-a-tete 2

All of the above can be seen on my etsy site by clicking on the title.

With the rest of the napkin, I played with some rosy gold Luminere paint:

You can see part of the bleached bird in the background. It's starting to remind me of graffiti, paleolithic style. So it will probably get another layer of birds, maybe done with thread?

I'm not sure where this is leading me, but I'm letting it (my artistic vision? my muse? my subconscious?) take me where it will.


more birds and napkins

I dyed some more napkins, this time with yellow and two blues. I wanted to continue the bird drawing, and decided to try the same method I had used in September buckeye--a piece that recreates the idea of pen and ink with thread.

The first one I did on a whole napkin--three birds on the forest floor, pecking around.

This piece isn't finished yet; it needs some quilting. But I want to keep it subtle, so I'm thinking of using invisible thread. Haven't decided, so there it hangs on my design wall. But I did add a touch of shiva paintstick in red and rust.

I wanted to do some smaller pieces, so I cut the next napkin--not an easy thing to do, but they'll make more. Or sell more at garage sales.

It has more birds, less negative space so they feel closer in. It needs some finishing touches, too.

So I moved even smaller, to something I could decide how to finish.

This piece, Lonesome Bird, is available for sale on my etsy store as a matted, ready to frame piece of art. Note: this piece has now sold.

I'm ready to continue exploring this image. I'm not sure why it interests me so much these days, but it keeps showing up in my work. I have more napkins to dye.....

On a completely different note, I also have a new buckeye interest--this one is a bottlebrush buckeye, almost a shrub, blooming in my back yard. As the blooms were opening, they had this lovely ochre and white and cream combo that intrigues me...now it's in full bloom:

Don't know what will come of this, but stay tuned.....


more klee

I dyed a set of three napkins--at least they looked the same. They all measure slightly different for some reason.

So I continued with the theme. This is the second one:

Better. I like the variation in width of the quilting lines, and I kind of like the effect of the strips of fusing. But once again the fusing was shiny. I tried fixing it, and managed to tone it down some by applying some shiva paintstick lightly...as a series, they're working. But I thought I could do better, so this is the third one:

Finally, one I'm happy with. The quilting is minimal, the bird still shows, the mystery still remains.

I had another napkin dyed at the same time, but a different size. I tried drawing a bird with a bleach pen on it. It ended up with a halo effect on some of the lines, and the bird is out of proportion with the size of the piece. I tried overdyeing it with some yellow; it brightened up, but the halos are still show up. So for now I'm setting it aside for some thought.

And I'm dyeing a new set of napkins; ready to continue the series in another color...


linens and Klee

For some time I have been buying old napkins and tablecloths at yard sales. I think it started because I had some I had inherited, but I couldn't bring myself to do anything with them...my philosophy usually is 'use it, they'll make more', but something stopped me from using those exact ones. So I bought other people's discards.

I love the feel of them, the texture, the way the patterns are subtle but still distinctive. I've even done some compost dyeing with some of the tablecloths.

But recently I started playing with dyeing them. I'm not sure of their fiber content, but I think they're linen. If they're not, they're cotton. Either way, they take Procion Mx dyes wonderfully. I do multiple dye baths to get a range of color in them (which I plan to exploit with a bleach pen soon).

At the same time, I was drawn back to a bird I keep drawing. I had started him from a petroglyph I saw online somewhere, but thanks to an article about Morris Graves on the Ragged Cloth blog, I was reminded of the ones that the abstract expressionists made. Including one of my favorites, Paul Klee.

So when I saw the color and depth of one batch of the napkins, I wanted to recreate that feeling, the low key value system, the texture, the mystery. Here is the result of the first one:

The bird was sketched with Shiva paint sticks. He looks off the edge of the piece, almost sadly. I then machine quilted it heavily, but the piece seemed a little too bright. So I fused on some black Misty Fuse, torn into abstract shapes. Better. But they are a little too shiny.

So I've started yet another series...this piece is named 'After Klee'.


etsy and me

I've decided to set up an etsy shop to sell some of my smaller pieces. I'm hearing good things about it, so I'm giving it a try. As of today, you can find it here.
It includes some watercolor pieces, too. And soon I will add other things, including pieces I've shown on this blog. Many of those pieces are for sale, if you're interested, come to my website and hit the 'contact the artist' button.

Here's a sample of something I just listed: (click here to see)

The marketplace for art, at least here in the Midwest, seems to be in flux, so I'm trying what I can. I'm not doing any art fairs this year, I'm trying to get into more galleries, keeping my website current, and now this. All I know for sure is that the work won't sell sitting in my closet.


website update

I've been busy updating my website, adding more work to it. Some of it is new, like this:

But most of it is older stuff that I just hadn't gotten around to adding--the slow part is getting them photographed.

But now that most of the pieces I want to have are on there, I can start doing the detail stuff, like adding 'next' and 'previous' so you can page through the gallery...check it out by clicking here.


lazertran continued

Well, I got up my nerve and started working with the 'good' image transfers. I put them on a nice, heavy silk. They came out a little less bright, but that was okay. I picked out three that seemed to go together--closeups of hedge apples that I had played with in Photoshop Elements. I put fusing on the back, decided they would make a nice set of pieces, and started to think about backgrounds. Microwave silk dyeing came to the rescue, I used dark brown and then an acid green to produce a mottled background.

Recently I found some square gallery wrapped artist canvases at WalMart on clearance. At this point, I had pretty much decided to go for a triptych, with each third mounted on a canvas whose edges I had painted to coordinate.

So I cut a piece of the background to size, and started playing. I quickly realized that I wanted to cut into the transfers, a scary moment. But I can always make more. I cut out the hedge apple, then cut some freehand shapes from the remaining part of the picture. Here is the result of the first one:

In some ways I liked it better without the quilting, but it needed the structure to hang correctly. The edges are heat singed to prevent raveling.

The next one continues the theme, but changes it some:

I'm working with the notion of earth being the only planet we've got, that all life that we know about springs from it, and that the hedge apple is a metaphor for that whole idea. So here, the stringy things are either going into the sphere or coming out, depending on my frame of mind.

The third part of the triptych continues the theme, with another variation:

The sphere is farther away, and there is more negative space.

Now the payoff, the three of them together:

I like the way this piece is coming together. The strings become more organized as you look up, the apple is bigger. Now all I have to do is paint the canvases and mount the pieces to them. And post them to my website. And maybe enter them in some shows...

So lazertran does have its uses. I still probably won't buy more right now, because of the difficulty of borrowing a laser printer...but they do have an inkjet version now...