Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Resolutions, Uncooperative Cats and Happy New Year

I've given up on New Years Resolutions - new diets - new exercise programs, it's just not gonna happen. But I'm always striving for more studio time and that is the 1 resolution I'm going to focus on. I also like to choose a book and  work through it during the year - trying new techniques. The last several years it's been on image transfers - something I'm passionate about and will probably explore further this year.  I've also loved working with sheers and layering - another technique I'll explore.  I buy sheers wherever I see them, often in a Home Decor department of a fabric store.  Printed sheers can be painted over with Set a Silk or Dye na Flow paint.  The paint has the consistency of water and is fairly transparent so the original design will show through. The sheer below would be a good candidate for painting on top of.
 The sheer on the left is the one I'm working with now, on the right is a piece of silk organza I painted with Dye na Flow paint.
 Below - the one on the left is purchased, on the right painted.
 I love the floral sheer although it may be too busy to incorporate into something.  I also stamp on sheers, like the one on the lower right.
 Here is a close-up of the sheer I'm working with, it's busy but there are lots of "calm" areas to work with.
 I started with a picture of a rock, transferred it to fabric using an acrylic medium and then silk screened a tree on top.
 I then silkscreened a tree (the mirror image of the first one) on top of the sheer (below).
 And laid the sheer on top of the first piece of fabric. This will be a small piece but I'm liking the effect.  The white fabric area beyond the original transfer is interesting with the sheer on top. I was going to cut it off but think it adds something to the piece. I have a few more pieces of fabric to add and then it will be finished - will keep you posted.
 On another note, I tried to dress Molly in a Happy New Year diaper and hat but she outright refused....but she does want to wish you a Happy New Year and hopes you find lots of catnip under your pillow!
I also want to wish you all a wonderful New Year - one that's filled with many blessings, the love of family, good creating time and plenty of time to "just smell the roses".  Thank you for hanging in there with me. I love and appreciate your comments and also knowing I have so many nice friends out there.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How Cute is This?

Back in October, I had the great fun of being an assistant to my good friend Sandy Bonsib - she was teaching her week long course on piecing. One of the students - Dina was a repeat student and always takes Sandy's class.  Her husband Joe comes along and takes something he likes.  He's real good with wood and so this year it was woodcarving. The woodcarving class was amazing; the things we saw these guys do were so clever and creative.  To my great surprise the other day, I got an interesting package in the mail - a gift from Joe and Dina.  Joe used an old spool, remember the wooden spools that thread used to come on?
To carve this - How wonderful is this, carved and hand painted. I think this will have to stay in my studio all year, where I keep my favorite things - usually hand made by friends I love.  This will be among my treasures!
Thank you Dina and Joe - I LOVE it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Greetings from Molly

Uuh ohh - Caught playing with the tree ornaments...was hoping I would not be seen.
 But they got me - Help, I'm caught inside this silly red thing and can't get out!
 Well, pretty cute if I do say so myself.
 The things I have to put up with to get a little Christmas Catnip!
Molly and all of us here at the Simmons household wish you the merriest of Christmas's!

Friday, December 16, 2011


A couple of weeks ago while getting ready for the holiday fair, I found myself up to my elbows in dye pots.  I was dyeing silk scarves using an acid dye.  I like to have a large variety of colors so I'll do 2 at a time and try to use as many colors as possible. There is some waste of dye, even though I do small batches, there should be more silk present to absorb all the dye.  I had an idea to use my silk scraps and do some Shibori in the dye pot at the same time.  It was very serendipitous, but thought I have nothing to lose so go for it!
 I did very easy wrapping, rubber bands, clamps, string etc.
 Years ago, my husband cut shapes out of plexiglass for me to use - 2 of each shape - one for the top and one for the bottom of the folded fabric.
 I wasn't fussy, just grabbed pieces of silk - some were solid and some were printed like you see below.
 This was a piece of silk charmeuse - a sample I had made and serged the edge.  Acid dyes will only work on silk fiber, the thread edge was not silk which is why it remained white.
 This scrap was leftover from a lining I made; it's also stamped.
 This next one is funny, I think it's very obvious what I used to create that shape (will reveal at the end of post)
 Can you guess what I used to resist the area to get this shape?
 Think Retro - something we all suffered through to look beautiful!

 Nope not this, these are switch plates - makes for great designs when used in Shibori.
 Remember these? I spent many sleepless nights with these in my hair - whoever thought I would find a much better use for them.
Til next time.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beware of Throw Pillows

I'm sure you've heard stories like this -  you're in a store and pass by some beautiful throw pillows, love them, can't live without them so you buy them and bring them home but now the couch conflicts with them so you need a new couch.  The new couch doesn't go with the rug and now the new rug doesn't go with the drapes and so on and so on.
On a much smaller scale this is my version and of course it involves fabric.  I bought this wonderful fabric which I thought would be perfect for Christmas napkins.  Can you see the sparkly background? I love sparkly things at Christmas.  
 So now I have these wonderful new Christmas napkins that actually go with my plates.
 But now I need some silver chargers to sparkle it up (and go with the sparkly napkins).
 But my centerpiece and table runner doesn't go, too much gold sooooo
 I get a new table runner (notice the sparkly beads)
 And make a new centerpiece using blue and silver and sparklies.
 And now I have a lot of flowers etc. left over, no need to let them go to waste so I make a small arrangement.
 Which then doesn't go with the gold candle so a white one will work
 Yes, now that's good.
So my advice for the day - next time you're shopping and see some gorgeous throw pillows or anything else you can't live without, Just CLOSE your eyes, TAKE a deep breath and WALK ON BY!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Holiday Sale at the Folk Art Center

The Holiday Sale at the Folk Art Center takes place this Saturday, December 3 from 10 - 4.  Members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild will have wonderful items at great prices for holiday shoppers. Most items are overstocks, seconds and discounted items, wonderful bargains to be had.  The sale is in the auditorium of the Folk Art Center. I've been getting ready - dyeing lots of silk scarves in chiffon, China and crepe de Chine silk.  My helper - Molly is supervising by sitting in my box of silk scraps from other projects. 
 So here is a small sampling of what I'll have. I managed to make 150 scarves !
Please join us if you're in the area - it's one of the best sales of the season!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trees and Trucks

The weekend after Thanksgiving is usually the time we make our annual trip to the Christmas tree farm in Pineola, NC around and hour and a half north of us.  It's a beautiful ride and lots of farms to choose from.  The prices are great and you know the tree is fresh.  We always hope for a wintery looking day that's not too cold but gives you the Christmas spirit.  This past Sunday was just that kind of day, gray skies but fairly mild and great to be outside. The Twin Pines is our favorite place, guess because we started here and have had good luck finding the "perfect" tree. They all look perfect in my estimation and it's hard to choose.
 It's just such fun walking through this beautiful forest of trees and right away we find one.  Last year we tagged trees we wanted to revisit with the orange streamer tape from home improvement stores. EVERYONE had the same idea, so this year we switched to red ribbon and seems like there were a lot of red ribbons when we got here - Another EVERYONE had the same idea moment.
 In every direction, you see trees.  So this is the one we picked, hope we wound up with one of "our red ribbon" trees. We'll love it anyway.
 So tied to the car and the sun roof open (glass closed) so we can watch on our trip home, we are ready set to go.
 And on the way home, an added bonus, I came upon this old rusty truck - how cool is this. I will add it to my rusty tractor, tires and other Americana photos. These trucks always appear to have "faces" and this has a great one - can't wait to print it on fabric.
A good day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving - I wish you all a wonderful day surrounded by good food and those you love and hold dear to your heart.

Monday, November 21, 2011


My friend Sandy has a darling grandson who is in love with airplanes, so her being a quilter - guess what he's getting for Christmas? You guessed it - an airplane quilt.  He can't get enough of them     and only 2 years old. I personally see airplanes in his future.  Sandy showed me this really cute fabric with airplanes on it
 with a patchwork of grays and neutrals.
 It's adorable I thought but it needed a BIG RED AIRPLANE.  Well, Sandy is a fabulous piecer but doesn't do applique. I don't piece but I can applique.  So I took the fabric home to see if we could add a big red plane.  And another thing - I don't draw, not one single bit, so first thing was to find an image of a plane.  The internet has lots of copyrite free images as well as the Dover coloring books. Here is one of the planes I found and thought would work.  I enlarged it quite a bit and placed it on the fabric to see the size and position. I wanted the plane to look like it was flying into the quilt.
 I had red fabric from Sandy which will also be used in the border.  The headlights are silver tissue lame backed with a fusible web for strength.
 I shaded the wings with Shiva oil sticks and stitching.
 And here it is finished - just needs the border and it will be done for Christmas.
I think little Maceo will like it!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Small Works - Trees I"

I've been working on some small pieces. I truly love doing them as they go fast and I get the chance to try out new techniques and USE UP FABRIC. Okay, I admit not a whole lot of fabric but a small step in the right direction. This is the finished piece.

I used some hand dyed fabric for the sides.
Added some deconstructive screenprinted fabric on the top
and bottom. I love using couching thread such as Candlelight by YLI to sew on top between the 2 fabrics. You can see the thin black line which is the couching thread. It gives it a little definition as well as a tiny bit of sparkle. Candlelight is metallic, very soft and easy to use. By soft, I mean it lays well on the surface and doesn't interfere with the way a fabric handles.
I used 2 layers of fabric here - the background fabric which was dyed and screened with an image of trees. Next I placed an overlay of silk organza with trees screened in black on top to give the feeling of distance in the piece.
And here's the finished piece once again.
It will be for sale in my online gallery. Click on the link on the right to take you to the gallery.