Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses..

 like with this piece...which I really wanted to work. During my teaching career, one of the workshops I taught was "Bobbin Couching and Stumpwork" which involved working with heavy threads in the bobbin.This is a great technique when you want to use a heavy thread for texture but it's too heavy to fit through the eye of a needle. Winding it on the bobbin and working from the back so the heavy thread appears on the front is the way to go. Couching is the overall design you see in the center; the stumpwork is the heavy build-up of threads you see on the applique edges .The original sample looked a lot like this. When I finished teaching, the original was turned into a small wall hanging with an appliqu├ęd tree in the middle. It was part of an exhibit/sale at the NC Arboretum and did very well, especially since it embraced a nature theme which the arboretum encouraged.

The second piece (above) was the one I had set up to demo also appeared to be the beginnings of a nice piece or so I thought.
Instead of doing an applique of a tree, I thought to use a silkscreen. Now I should know better to always make a sample first, but I was in a hurry and took the shortcut which lead to poor results.
The paint I used is a fabric friendly paint which means it contains a special binder making it permanent on fabric. It's made by Speedball and very thick making it ideal for silk screening...You can see how dark, heavy and "globby" (new word) the image is. It has nothing to do with the paint itself...just the screen image was a poor choice.  I should have chosen something more delicate.....AND TESTED IT!

So here is my big mistake and I hope I learned a lesson to not be in such a hurry and do a little experimenting before diving into the final piece...So maybe I'll be able to get a few cards out of this...we'll see...
Have a great day and til next time.

Thursday, January 7, 2021


This is a new piece, very small that uses a wonderful technique created by Wen Redmond.

Basically, it uses 2 prints of the same photo - one on an opaque fabric and the other on a sheer fabric such as silk organza. The idea is to layer the 2 images with 3/4" of space between them....That is 
accomplished by using a pre-stretched canvas, cutting away the canvas part.  The outer wooden frame is covered with black felt or batting and the opaque print is attached to the back of the frame. But before it is attached, stitching or further embellishment can be done. I used a metallic thread which creates a pretty little sparkle underneath the top layer of organza. A staple gun was used to attach the opaque fabric to the back.
Next, the sheer fabric of the same print is applied to the front where the canvas was cut away. 
This is the tricky and perhaps most time consuming part. 4 strips of fabric are sewn around the edge of the sheer print, sewing in a little closer than the opening. Any fabric can be used for this; I used a black silk noil which has some body and a slight nubby texture. I used 1'2" seam allowance and treated the seams with Fray Check as organza frays easily.

The opening with the organza should be perfectly even when it is stretched over the top. The fabric frame should also be even all around from side to side and top to bottom. This part was tedious also as I used T-pins to hold the fabric in place and worked from top to bottom and side to side, alternating sides with each pin added. You can understand why working with a small frame is so advantageous. 

I also used safety pins as they didn't go as far down into the frame area but I had to find a way to lay this piece down (to flip it to the back) without disturbing the pins.
I found an empty bin I could lay the piece on top of, which imitated a flat surface and easy to maneuver around.

A tedious process....Once the fabric is wrapped round to the back and secured in place with an electric stapler, trim the edges of the frame fabric to within 1/2" of the staples. Cover the back (forgot to take a picture of this) with a pretty backing fabric

But the interesting..It almost has a blurred effect. This is because of the double image and being able to see through the sheer image to the opaque one. This is an 8x10" piece.
And here a view from the side in hopes of being able to see the layers. If you are interested in learning more about this Wen Redmond...she has a website, several books and probably some videos on You Tube...She's very talented and does a good job explaining how and showing the technique.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

I'm Calling It....

We weren't quite sure about a White many varying weather reports and living in the mountains makes it more unpredictable.....but we did have snow...not a tremendous amount but enough to call it a White Christmas. 
The mountain peaks are usually covered but not too much here...and along with the snow comes the cold...
and in this case, we were down into the teens....It's supposed to get warmer so we  can expect some melting which is good for the roads.
This is our vegetable garden (on right)...waiting patiently for some seedlings to pop through.
But it sure is pretty...
Hope you had a wonderful Christmas day...and however you chose to spend it.....I've heard a lot of unusual and creative ways for getting together.
We were alone but my daughter zoomed on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and afternoon so it helped a lot...but I really missed the hugs. I've heard that said over and over... missing the hugs...I guess we humans need that kind of fills our heart and soothes the medicine I know.
 As we approach the New Year, I wish you all peace, love and a new appreciation for what we have. May this be a good year for all of filled with many happy moments with people we care about and hugs....LOTS of hugs...Til next year....please be safe and healthy and 

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Moda Hearts and Feathers....DONE....FINALLY1

Those of you who have followed my blog, know I go on a retreat every year with my PTA fiber group...this is a project from years past. My friends Mary, Kate and I always do the same project so we can  swap fabric, compare notes and just have fun watching each other's progress. I might add, I ALWAYS finish last....Theirs have been done, hung or sold for years and after having had mine packed up and ready to quilt for SOOO many years, I ran out of excuses for finishing it. Not enough time, been out and about too much...just wasn't true so I dragged it out with semi-enthusiasm and got to work. 
 It's not that I dislike the quilt, I love the fabric...I just don't like working on large pieces...too hard for me to maneuver..I also love to do free motion work - especially feathers, but with a tremor in my hand, it does get jerky and my feathers can take on a pointed look...not very pretty.
But I was determined to have my way about this, pointy feathers or not. I used a very sheer non woven fabric (actually soil separator cloth from Home Depot) to draw the pattern onto, lay it over the quilt and with a blue marking pen, trace over the marked design which leaks through to the fabric. (More on this cloth later)
 I free motion quilt in a hoop, always worked the best for me and being able to hold onto the hoop gives my shaky hand some leverage.

 Oh and....The cloth I use for transferring is a "fabric like material" I happened onto in Home Depot. It's called soil separator cloth and used to line large pipes to prevent soil from seeping into the inside of the pipe.  It resembles pattern duplicating material but @ 1/10th the price. It's very sheer, non-woven and when you write on it with a blue marker, the markings seep through to the quilt underneath. 

So.... I am pleased that I stayed with it .....and finished it....and got my feathers ......and luckily, not too many pointy a happy ending.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Deck the Halls......

With so much time on my hands this year and not going anywhere, ... I decided to redo some things for the holidays....granted no one will be here except my hubby and son....but I do like to decorate and after 14 years in this house, the old look was dated and shabby....I was ready.  

I wasn't sure what I wanted but liked the idea of being in a forest with pinecones, snow covered berries etc...and that is what I wound up working with. The garland only came in 6 foot lengths and somewhat stiff so it was a challenge to get it on the bannister...lots of wiring....I also added the bows, pinecones, twigs etc with to repeat it next year...don't know how I'll do it but I'll worry bout that later. I was happy with the results and put it up early so we have a long time to enjoy it.
Leftovers went here....

and the mantel....
I have a frosted pencil tree which is my Santa tree....every Santa is different and originally did it for my granddaughter who is 8 and loves it. Unfortunately she won't get to see it this year....

I have a tree in my studio....
some Charlie Brown trees
and a Woodland tree (my favorite)....
which my cat Fraggle loves as he feels he's King of the Forest amongst all the critters.
It was a lot of work but putting them up early was a plus and we've been enjoying them....don't even want to think about packing up all this stuff ugh!.....but in the meantime....Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Christmas Magic

I made a quick little piece to put in my Woolworth gallery space...should have been there weeks ago...but just didn't happen...
It's a smaller piece 17"W x 21.5"H so will fit most anywhere. The "comma strokes remind me of my old tole painting days. The appliques are all buttonhole or blanket stitched with a rayon decorative thread, machine quilted and has a binding (as opposed to a facing.)

Go check out the pretty decorations in downtown Asheville where you'll be outside and socially distancing and then pop into Woolworth on Hayworth Street to see all the magic created by the many wonderful artists who have work in that gallery.


Sunday, December 6, 2020

My Clever Sister in Law

My sister in law - Mary is a very talented sewer, quilter and has also mastered the embroidery machine. She crochets beautifully and even does Karaoke with me (after some wine).
I got a wonderful surprise the other day when I opened a huge envelope to find this - such a clever idea...which of course she embroidered on a towel....and I'm the lucky recipient.
She knows me too well...

Thanks Mary Simmons Neill (on right)'re the best. And now,  not only will I enjoy looking at this but also practicing the art of using a cork screw!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all a Happy and healthy Thanksgiving ...

 This year will will be one for the history books, but no matter what it looks like, or how you choose to celebrate....may it be filled with love....Stay safe...!

Saturday, November 21, 2020


As creative people, I think we all wonder about odd things that others may not give a second thought those little cups that come with laundry detergent and dryer sheets and oh yes....big candy bags that are empty. Surely there must be a good way to recycle them into something useful and cute.
Our pal Kate Weston from our PTA group headed up the annual retreat the last 2 years and came up with prizes for everyone....Well they were all wonderful, but secretly I know that mine was really the best. Kate took an empty Twizzler bag, laminated it with a laminate appropriate for fabric and made it into a pouch for carrying thread, scissors etc. 
It even had a zipper.....
and was quilted....and the cute! How clever is this....I could even see these as a cute bag for a younger person....just put a long strap on it.....
And the best HAVE to eat all the candy before you use the bag!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Craggy Trees & a Great Tip!

We are in my favorite "tree season". As much as I love the fall and the beautiful color of trees, I truly love "naked" trees for the wonderful configurations you see.

I especially love the craggy trees. There is a place on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC called Craggy Gardens. They have a wonderful hiking trail and lots of these trees with all the lichen and moss and stubby branches. They are so interesting. They are great subject matter for someone who does machine or hand embroidery ....what a field day they would have....

Maybe one of these days I will attempt to duplicate this...I especially like the upper right and left views as they are close in and you can get a lot of detail with thread, paint etc. There are also some beautiful color variations you can see in these very subtle pictures.

So here is a cool little tip which I've published in years past....I have used this so many times. Often a photograph is hard to break down into specific colors....especially those involving nature. The website CSS Drive Image to Colors Palette Generator will do that for you. Above you see my photo (below left) which has been uploaded to their click on a button and within seconds, they break your photo down for you AND in different cool is that. The official site is  Give it a try.

I think I would start with a digital image as a base and go from there...perhaps several of the same image printed on very different fabrics and layer them on top of each other, cutting away different parts on each layer. This is a technique I learned from the very gifted fiber artist Pat Mink.

Might be a cool way to start the New Year - 2021 which I think I can vouch for every person reading this....We Are So Ready For!!