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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Eco Dying/Printing

 My next obsession is eco dyeing/printing -- this is only a small area of a three-yard piece of silk chiffon  dyed using onion skins, rusty bits, rose petals and simmered in a euco bath.  A wonderful member of the eco dye list on FB sent me a variety of euco leaves from California - the type that leave orange prints - I'm itching to try this but alas work comes first (at least my paycheck does!) to make all this playing possible!  The lovely lines are from the string used to bundle the piece.  After simmering, I left it outside in the elements for about two weeks and it was a joy to behold when opening it.  I get the biggest kick out of treating silk in this fashion, as we used to think it was such a delicate fabric to be handled with such care!

Felt of Many Textures

 I seem to have found my felting niche -- getting lost in creating a large felt with lots of texture and incorporating various techniques.  There is something satisfying in working with these textures before cutting it up and putting it together again!  This may turn out to be a jacket but it the ideas are still in process; at the moment, I'm just enjoying gazing and touching :0)  Oh, I should mention that the inspiration piece of fabric was a very lightweight blue/brown and cream piece of viscose that felted beautifully!

Hunger or a Burst . . .

New/improved colorway
 My Mom often uses this terminology and how true it is in life with many things; regarding creativity for example, one day not being inspired at all to the next filled with so many ideas floating around that it is just about impossible to catch them all and so it goes with my Blog - sometimes nothing for weeks and then all of a sudden a rush of posts. It just seems that we are meant to "go with the flow." I'd rather spend the time creating something than spend it on the computer but then I realize that time has gotten away from me and that if I've made the decision to have a Blog, I'd better get to it! and it is true that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and it is up to us how we use it - isn't it a luxury to have such wonderful options? Anyway, this is what I've been up to for the past few weeks.

I came close to ruining the yellow coat/dress made in Charity's workshop this summer.  I decided that if it the colorway was more muted then I could wear it with a turleneck and boots so never one to leave well enough alone, I took the plunge and dyed it in my huge copper pot using euco and rusty bits - what a learning experience that was and one I've learned a lot from and one I'll never forget!!!  While the copper pot is great for most things, the coat turned an awful, awful draaaaaaaby hideous green, so then I did some research to find out how to remove some color; well it turns out that it isn't that easy because the copper/iron molecules do something to the wool so that wouldn't work.  The only option? (couldn't stand that shade green and I do normally adore green)  I dyed it again, this time in a heavy enamel coated cast iron pot using charcoal grey acid dye and now I'm quite "chuffed" as they say!  It is probably more bronze than the picture shows but I'm so please with the "shades of grey" of the various laces that were incorporated into it.  (Great BIG sigh of relief!)  I could have made three coats by now!

Original Coat/Dress

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


This is the wrap that was designed especially for the 2013 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival - it is a two-day workshop.   Learn how to create your own "fairy like" Blossom wrap and techniques that can be used for your other projects.  Space is limited and Embellishers will be provided so watch out for more details (date & time) to come.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Artistic Arts Fascinator Workshop

I've been absent for too long here and you have probably been wondering what I've been up to - well time has to be well spent and too much computer time takes away from designing time.   My Mom has also been suffering with a fractured vertebrae but she is home now and progressing nicely, and I'm so thankful for that.

What have I been designing? well, I've been invited to teach at the 2013 Maryland Sheep and Wool and so I've been creating a new project just for that; I loved the challenge and I'm so happy with the nuno Blossom wrap I just finished.  Some times it takes a lot of trial and error before I'm pleased with the outcome - that includes dyeing the fabric and coming up with the design . . . .  perhaps I see another book here!  In between, I've also taken some workshops in different venues.  I find it to be very stimulating being with other creative brains - and I have some amazing friends and I'm so grateful to be part of the Potomac Fiber Arts Guild and to be able to take advantage of their workshops.  The latest was with Sherrill Kahn and although I didn't bring home much in the way of finished projects, I now have some useful ideas tucked in the back of my brain for the future. 

On September 30, I'll be teaching my Fascinating Fascinator class at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia - they are called fascinating because truly some of the materials that I've found to use in conjunction with the wool are such so much fun to play with and so easy peasy!  You can match your personality with a very demure or way over the top fascinator - you will be the designer and have something to wear to fiber or other events or have just to admire!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Beginning of Bling . . . The Pink Poodle -- WOW

Susan McFarland, Susan's Fiber Shop, arranged with Beth Testa, owner of the Pink Poodle in Madison, Wisconsin, to host my Trunk Show.  Beth kindly transported everything and by the time I arrived, had artfully arranged everything in preparation.  Her husband, Joe, was the perfect host and dispenser of wine, but the real star of the show by far was Halle, their wonderful white pet poodle, complete with pink fascinator and painted nails :-)  I was truly in awe of Halle and their shop!  We crowded quite a few in their spacious quarters surrounded by upscale clothes, sparkling jewelry and interesting furnishings and I met more wonderful people (mostly felters) than I could possibly mention here.  One of them, Linsey, from North Dakota, was so fascinated by the Fascinators that she modeled a different one every day and she looked so adorable wearing them and loved every minute of it.  We named her "Tinker Bell" as she flitted around sprinkling happiness in every class every day!

Beth truly made me feel like the "Queen" picking me up in her BMW converible with the top town and whizzing me (and my friend Pat Smith one evening) off to dinner and to a private opening of her shop a few nights.  Beth thinks that she and I were twins separated at birth since we both love fancy things - but I must say she outweighs me by far in the "bling" department; she has such style and access to what seemed zillions of jewels, silk, satin and furs - and knows just what to do with them ooooh, the fun!  With Beth's help, I'm making progress with the "bling" as I came hope with quite a few treasures and tips on how to wear them.I'm hoping that I'll have access to more pictures as students post them.

MFS: Special Times; Special Friends

I had such a busy time sharing Embellisher techniques with my students at the MFS that I forgot to take many pictures!  Very naughty; I have to do better next time and I will!  These happy pictures were taken one evening after a (another) full day relaxing afterward with Pamela MacGregor, Suzanne Higgs and Anna Gunnarsdittir (hope I spelled your name correctly Anna).  Actually there were a couple more but the lady in the booth behind us probably had more wine that we did and took a few pictures of the ceiling vents instead of us!   Every evening was enjoyable but I don't need pictures to remember the really fun night with Pam de Groot and Regina Doseth at the Jamaican restaurant recommended by Pam.  To be surrounded by such talent is daunting and I how I wish I could have taken the eco dyeing/felting with Pam de Groot or the nuno dress class with Regina - their work was so gorgeous.  I was fortunate enough to be able to take Suzanne's really fun dyeing class and had already taken Pam MacGregor's memorable felt vessel class (her tiny teapots are amazing).    Suzanne provided me with one of her nuno tops to embellish - so watch for more to come on that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Speaking of Being Busy . . . MFS Coming UP!

My darling husband is going to set up a photo studio for me - but in the meantime these pics will have to do - a small sampling of what YOU can learn at the Midwest Felting Symposium - Embellishers will be provided!

A Busy (Felting) Life is a Happy Life!

A whirlwind in June - our family vacation with all of the grandchildren and my soon to be 89-year-old Mom enjoying life at a private beach in Virginia - then home a couple of days before a fabulous workshop with Charity from the Netherlands.  I've been a long-time admirer of hers and we'd made a connection on-line but I never dreamt that I'd be fortunate enough to meet her in person, nevermind being able to take one of her classes - what an inspiration and delight she is!

Some of my friends belong to an exclusive felting group that meet during the week - well I work during the week but besides that, they have no room for another person so when I found out that they were having Charity come I practically begged to be part of it - luckily for me, one of them was unable to make it so I got to take her place (happy dance!). 

Since I found out about it, I'd been collecting fabric, wool and embellishments - I always love to stretch myself and do something really different for me when given the opportunity.  My inspiration fabric was a lovely yellow chiffon with aqua blue flowers - I had also taken an aqua sari as well as a deeper saffron sari (been collecting them for a while) and a selection of lovely fine laces, silk ribbon trims and a great find at a thrift shop - a saffron top comprised of netting and beading which I promptly cut up to use - mainly on the center back of the coat which gives it just the right touch of glimmer.  I love, love, love, working with tone on tone and then adding touches in another colorway.  My original intention was to have it aqua on one side and the yellow/aqua on the other but the aqual sari was not quite wide enough so the creative spirit took over and the coat became yellow - before I added the deeper aqua touches, I was a little worried that I'd end up looking like a canary!

We had an opportunity to try on Charity's samples and when I tried on her white wool and cashmere winter coat - I simply swooned!  . . .  and guess what?  It is all mine to fondle and enjoy- she let me purchase it from her!  what a treasure and elegant work of art!!!   Thank you Charity for sharing your talent with us - I don't think I've ever learned so much from one person.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Failure and Success

Over the past couple of months I've been relentlessy collecting colorful flower heads - garden (not too many), local florist (a few) and of all places, Safeway, (very kindly letting me sift through their discards) -- and freezing them to make ice flower prints (thank you Patricia!).  I had some leftover fabric already mordanted with alum from a fabulous Elin Noble marbelizing class just waiting for a project like this.  Since I work full time, things must get done in stages, so last weekend I created all sorts of bundles with the flowers in layers, put them in warm water and left them for a few days.  When I unwrapped them they were gorgeous but I didn't have time to do anything other than shake out the decomposing dead flowers and rinse before putting the fabrics in a large bowl to wait for this weekend - couldn't leave them out to dry since it rained quite heavily.  When I went to check this weekend I was in for a huge disappointment.  Note to self:  do NOT leave wet flower prints all bunched up or the color will dissolve and meld away.  All the lovely prints were gone and I was left with not what I had strived for but nevertheless attractive meld of greenish soft gold but not close to the beauties that they once had been.

Not wanting to ruin my silks - a medley of organza, habotai, etc., I thought this would be a good time to try an experiment that I've had in mind since seeing the silk tie prints on Easter eggs.  I layered the smaller pieces of damp silks with cut up silk ties in between the layers and tied them all up in a tight bundle before simmering in water with a splash of vinegar (used my dye pot, not a cooking pot).  What a lovely surprises when unwrapped!  I also thought I'd bundle a piece of vibrant torquoise blue sari silk with the larger piece of soft gold organza and the results are a quite lovely mottled blue/soft gold.  Now that I've seen the results, some of the prints are quite surprising with the reds staying quite vibrant, and I learned that the deeper colors turnout best.  Here are some pictures so you can see for yourself.