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  • Big Ideas In Small Art

    September has arrived and students are returning to school. What better time to showcase some of my small art in a library!

    Do people still go to the library to do schoolwork and research? Or is everything done on Google and Wikipedia these days? Well, the day I installed my little exhibit in the display case at the local library branch there were lots of patrons coming and going – it was quite busy.

    My display is meant to give people an idea of what can be made in fabric, using examples of small work like journal quilts and fabric postcards. There are a number of books included too, because it is a library after all!

    The display case is across from the circulation desk and all the patrons have to walk by it on their way in. I do hope that they’ll stop to have a look and I hope they’ll enjoy it and learn a little something too. It’s a colorful exhibit, so perhaps it will brighten the days of the librarians working there.



    This picture leaves a little to be desired, but it gives you an idea. The lights in the main room are reflected in the glass, and the back ‘wall’ of the showcase is glass also. I would have preferred to have some kind of backdrop behind the small quilts and shelf displays, but I think the librarians need to be able to see through to the other rooms behind the display case.

    So, for those who always ask "Can I see the back of the quilt?" ....... well, have at it!  (I say it's not about the back!, but somehow people always want to see the back)

    In any event, the showcase is up for the month of September. If you live or travel locally through NW New Jersey, I invite you to stop by my hometown library to have a look! It's at the Dorothy Henry branch of the Sussex County Library system, in Vernon NJ.

    Until next time –


  • Indoctrination

    I received a surprise package in the mail this week. My sister was sorting through stuff that came out of our parents' house and came upon these little treasures. She knows about my current apron work and obsession, so she sent them off to me. You can't even imagine how excited I was when I opened the gift wrapped package!


    On the left is my "big girl" apron - the one that I don't wear anymore because it hangs on my studio wall as inspiration. Also, I'm rebelling and I don't want to wear it anymore. On the right is a "little girl" apron - it would fit a four-year-old.

    Here's another one, covered with cute little lambs.


    Both of these have assorted stains on them - we were working these aprons!

    I was indoctrinated very young.

    Until next time -



  • The Envelope Please

    This time of year has many of us waiting for jury results envelopes to arrive in the mail. I received my envelope from the Schweinfurth Art Center the other day and was very happy to learn that my quilt "Little Peace In 2 4 U" was accepted into the Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit.


    I have been entering juries shows for about two years now and I've had some success and plenty of rejection. No matter how well one understands being "declined" it still has a sting. Many, many quilt images get submitted for a limited number of spaces. I know with each show that there are many wonderful art quilts that didn't make the show. Those same quilts often go on to be selected for other venues.

    I am particularly pleased to be exhibiting in Q=A=Q this year because I had a quilt there last year and it felt important to me to follow it up this year. Also because the Schweinfurth Art Center runs an excellent show. The building and gallery spaces are spacious and beautiful, they hang the show perfectly, they handle all the art work so carefully at every stage, and they treat the artists well. I live close enough to go see the show and last year I did go up for the opening. I plan to go up to the opening again this year. Such a thrill and an honor to see my work among all the other amazing art!

    So, yes, although I understand and can handle being 'declined', the occasional acceptance letter helps to ease the sting and keep my motivation up.

    Until next time -


  • Be Here Now


    "Be Here Now" - this is the phrase that is getting me through each day as I head down the home stretch toward the "Two Sides To Every Story" exhibit at TraillWorks Gallery. There is no two weeks away, there is only now. When the anxiety and panic attacks start I remind myself to remain in the "now". It's kind of working.

    There are a few other things going on too that I need to attend to. I'm teaching a workshop next week at my guild, WVQG - fabric postcards and other small art. I need to print out the class handout, but don't have a printer that functions with the new computer, so off I went last night to buy a printer (after my online research, of course!) Now I just need to get the thing set up, which involves moving other stuff and sorting wires and cables, etc., none of which is on the original agenda. BE HERE NOW...........

    I have a group of friends coming over tomorrow night, one of those monthly gatherings and September is my turn. I need to do at least a cursory cleaning, not that any of them mind too much. I thought I might bake a cake, but now I think I will buy a cake. I'll deal with all that tomorrow!

    In the middle of all this we decided it was finally time to replace the flooring on much of the first floor. Great timing! They should be here to tear things up in another week or so. FUN!!

    It's a good thing that most of my bills are on auto pay, otherwise we might be evicted. The stack of papers and bills is overflowing my desk. I'll file in October......

    Speaking of October, on October 24 I'll be teaching a 'no sew' version of the small art class at TraillWorks in conjunction with the exhibit. It will be the first workshop offered at the new gallery location. You can check out the details and sign up here. There's a discount for signing up before September 30 - plus a complimentary lunch. Check it out! By the time of this workshop my show will be hung and my nerves should be calmed. In the meantime I will maintain a silent chant.... Be Here Now, Be Here Now.....

    Today, I will "BE" on the quilting machine.

    Until next time-


  • Painting In Progress

    I have another "Women's Work" painting in progress. I spent the better part of last week in my basement wet studio doing a rather larger painting in the apron series. It measures 80" high X 44" wide. That's about a 4' x 6' canvas. That's really big! As I worked several long days it occurred to me that I might have been a little over ambitious. This is the last big piece I will do for my upcoming show. I need to make some smaller quilts to accompany the larger ones, something a bit more realistic in scope! I do like the idea of working big, but with a deadline looming I need to scale it back right now. Here's a look at my process.

    I plan out many of my quilts on paper. I have a clear idea of what I hope to accomplish - my intention - and I work out the concepts and measurements in my sketchbook. In order to 'hang' all my little aprons on clotheslines I need to figure out how much space they take and work out the measurements from there. For example, I know I need about 4.5" between poles to 'hang' the aprons, and a good height for the poles is 6". I do some more math to account  for some space between each row, leaving plenty of extra at the top and the bottom. All these calculations let me know that I need a large piece of fabric - I'll need the full width of yardage, 44", and about 2+ yards in height. This is the point at which I really should have done some thinking about what I was getting myself into! But the idea has overtaken me and I skipped that part.



    Once the fabric is soaked in soda ash solution, dried, and pin-mounted on the foam board work surface, I mark out all the clothesline post locations. That is the meticulous part that needs to be kind of exact and lays the foundation of the composition. Once they are marked I paint in all the posts.


    After that the painting becomes a little freer. I know that I will be painting it as a landscape, but I really don't know all the details at this point. I start laying in some of the elements to get started. Because the thickened dyes are a water-based medium I need to work in my smaller details first. After some details are painted in I work toward some medium moves and progress to the larger moves at the end.


    At this point I'm really painting by gut. I have many greens mixed and need to reassess my color placement as I go. I also need to remember that the aprons are going to be sewn on afterward. See that row of pretty flowers between the posts? They'll be covered by aprons later - duh! Note to self - don't spend time painting details that will later be covered up. Once the thickened dyes are painted on the surface there is no going back, so each move has a little risk attached. I try not to get too worried over that. It is what it is.

    Laundry_Day_painting_progress Laundry_Day_final_painting

    The painting is landscape-y yet abstracted. The bands of color give it a strong horizontal feel that's counterbalanced by the vertical poles and also by the long vertical orientation of the 'canvas'. This large painting took me several long days to complete. I was getting a little frustrated by the amount of time it was taking (looming deadline and all), but things moved along more quickly once I got to the larger bands of color. There is still quite a bit of work to do now that the painting is complete. I need to rinse it and wash it for one thing. I'm always a little concerned about how the color saturation will hold up. Then it goes onto the quilt frame for stitching. Then - oh the fun! - sewing on 52 miniature aprons by hand! What have I gotten myself into?

    I'm pre-washing the backing fabric now and then I will do the rinse on this painted panel. Stay tuned for the finished product, and while you're at it - please wish me luck. Oh, by the way, this piece is titled, "Laundry Day".

    Until next time -



  • Labor Day's "Labor of Love"

    I've spent Labor Day weekend dyeing fabric just for the fun of it. It's a brief diversion from my apron making and show preparation. When I'm having so much fun it doesn't seem like work. Today - Labor Day - I will finish what's in progress by rinsing, washing, and ironing, so I can get back to "work" tomorrow.

    I had a few goals in mind when I started the marathon dyeing weekend on Friday. I know that I need some lighter tints of colors that are missing from my collection. I'm working on adding more value contrast to my quilts; I always seem to have dark and mid-range values, but not enough lights. I also was seeking to improve upon several yards I had dyed previously. The color just did not work out and wanted to overdye it by doing a wrapped shibori. I also did a little bit of discharging with bleach. Wow! Talk about being all over the place!

    Some of the things I discovered along the way:

    • Shibori_over_greenish_yucky
    • I love the wrapped shibori process and results! What an improvement to that nasty bright-ish yet muddy-ish, greenish, icky-ish fabric that would not have been used otherwise. There are a few more pieces of it that I'll re-do also.
    • I love color (well, I already knew that, but it's still true). The 'tints' I made are still a little too dark in value, so I will try another co-ordinating batch with an even lighter dye recipe. What I learned - and it is ongoing - is how the different dye recipes work, whether in value or various dye combinations. Still gorgeous though - I love the rainbow effect!
    • Fabric_Color_Rainbow
    • Of the new dye powders I ordered recently, I love the Midnight Blue. It's kind of a violet-blue - quite beautiful. Not so much the Sage green, which is rather dull looking to me. So dull in fact, that I'm going to try some shibori over one of those pieces. There are so many greens you can mix yourself it's not really worth it to buy green dye, IMO.
    • Dye 'parfaits' are kind of a crap shoot. You never know what will result from it - part of the fun, really. Sometimes you get really gorgeous colors and combinations and sometimes just a muddy mess. It's worth the gamble.
    • From now on I think I will only order and use Pimatex cotton, which has a tighter weave and smoother finish. I've been using Kona cotton up 'til now. It's nice, but the Pima is nicer.

    Later on Mark is going to help me finish constructing the foam board table top so I can start a new painted piece this week. (I'll be mixing many greens for this). Concurrently I'll be making some smaller companion pieces to the apron series.

    My mental clock is ticking - four weeks to go! Foot in mouth

    Until next time -



  • Multitasking

    I've got apron work in varying stages of progress. The 'vintage' piece came off the quilt frame a couple of days ago. The next step is to sew on all the little aprons. I'm thinking up a way to do it by machine because I think hand sewing them will take too long. Time is of the essence!

    I'm also setting up a workstation for painting another background for aprons. I confiscated the boys' hobby table, which hasn't been used for hobby-ing in years, but rather been accumulating basement detritus. So I'm claiming it - whoever moves all the crap gets to do what she wants! The fabric I plan to paint is fairly large - a full width of cotton, about 44" x approximately 72", or 2 yards. I'm constructing a surface to accommodate the size that I can lay over the work table surface, which isn't big enough. Mark and I were brainstorming it the other night and he came up with the great idea to use foam core insulation sheets. They are rigid enough to make a table top and to hold the fabric, which isn't heavy, and light enough for me to assemble and lift by myself. I went to Home Depot yesterday to buy the material; the next step is to assemble and cover it to be ready to paint (with thickened dyes, like last time). I will assemble it in such a way that it can be folded up smaller for storage when I'm not using it.

    Adding to the multitasking mix, I'm getting ready for a dyeing marathon tomorrow (and maybe extending into the long weekend) with Susan. I've been browsing through the "Fabric Dyer's Dictionary" by Linda Johansen, choosing colors I'd like to dye - both Susan and I are working with a plan this time. It's kind of a diversion from the apron work (which has a deadline, if you haven't been keeping up!), but the weather is good and I want to build a palette of colors to work with over the winter months. Yesterday, in my basement cleaning frenzy, I tidied up the wet studio for "company" - making enough space for two to work and play. Today I'll pre-wash yards and yards of cotton fabric and mix my dye concentrates, in addition to setting up my painting station. I'll try to get in some "apron time" as well.

    So much to do! So many ideas! I am loving it!

    Until next time -


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