Thursday, March 30, 2006

March's Lion

Looks like March is going to go out like a lion here, I wonder what that means for April? I used to know the anwser to that question.

It pays to go outside for five minutes each day. Today I discovered what crocus the rabbits did not eat are now in bloom. I'm hoping this pic will upload, there's a haze on it as I seem to have gotten my thumb on the lense again. I'd go outside and retake the pic but a storm is about to unleash here you can smell the rain in the air it's so heavy with moisture.

In a month I'll have lots of lovelies to photograph. The first blossoms of the year always make winter worth having! The birds are back, I can hear Robins and Cardinals calling, haven't seen any nest building activity yet though.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mark Making with Nature

Mark Making with Nature begins on April 12th. I'm really excited about my newest classes I'm going to be teaching. I love suface design, it's my passion and I finally get to teach what I love best!!! :-) The best part is the video that is accompanying the class, I have finally figured out how to tape what I'm doing so those taking the class can see what I'm talking about. Now to get the live stream from the studio figured out in the next few weeks.

I have to admit that having it all on paper leads to a dull class, video creates dialouge and interaction with my students, this is what I set out to do in the first place. Technology however, can be stubborn at times, we're so on the verge of the George Jetson world but yet so so far away!

For more information about classes I am teaching go to: The Prairie Fibers Company

Monday, March 27, 2006

Studio Clean Up

I started cleaning the wet studio again today, I have to clean an area so I can actually dye fabric. And there's nothing like being down for a couple of weeks to make you realize how bad the "stack and pile" can really get. I have stuff sitting everywhere! What really gripes me is the fact that I've lost a piece of fabric I dyed, lavender Silk Crepe de Chine with natural dyes. I've looked every where for it and still don't know where I put the stuff. It's for a new series that I'm now chomping at the bit to get underway.

I've had some time to think about life, the business, the state of my studio, school. I've come to the conclusion that I do want to finish my degree, so one I have if I need it someday, and two it just looks good on paper, and third I've come this far it'd be stupid to not finish them off at this point. Studio it is my love my passion, now to make it profitable in a way so that I'm not just another monkey grinding a cheap tune on my organ.

I've been watching cooking shows while I was down for the count, and I'm learning a lot! Like for instance it's really hard to smile, tell people what you are doing all while your doing a certain task. Maybe some people are born naturals in front of a camera, but I would appear to be coming across as hostile, when in fact I am not. We will see what my students think of this this week. It has been suggested that I do the taping without sound and then do a voice over later, I may have to do just that, taping involves too many things that I'm not up to at this point. Practice practice practice! That's what those old nuns used to drill into our heads. Practice leads to perfection.

Now to find that fabric.

Monday Monday

Well here's to another Monday of not getting a thing done! Between the phone and the doorbell ringing, and interrupting, I can't remember what it is I'm doing, let alone why I'm supposed to be doing it.

Time to re-evaluate life. More later, maybe with some pics of some new artwork.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Boomer Bag has all sorts of pockets and places to tuck things away. I also have a variety of back packs that would work wonderfully for field work as well.  Posted by Picasa

Boomer Bag from the 90's. Same thing as a messanger bag? Has a strap that goes over the shoulder. Mine has a broken buckle that needs to be restitched. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

Here's Trouble the neighborhood squirrel feeding on our bird feeder. It's a very cloudy dreary day so the lighting isn't all that great. He's cute and fuzzy, makes you wanna reach out and pet his tummy. You'd bettr count your fingers when your done though! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blue Dot 2005 I made this sometime before my mother passed away last year, which will be a year next week. It's watercolor on Strathmore Drawing paper 6 x 8 inches. The lighting could be better but I was in a hurry. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My lilacs are budding out, or at least they were trying to anyway! They will be fine I'm sure, they will probably go dormant again. Posted by Picasa

Give me the cheese please! Hubby gets a lot of unwanted attention during snack time. Posted by Picasa

A major improvement, grey felt under the shiny vinyl. I'd be really happy if they sold a clear matte vinyl that wasn't textured! Posted by Picasa

The coveted pen set my dear hubby gave me tonight. It's his from his cartography classes days. I have a single pen, now I have many! Posted by Picasa

screen printing table

You may be wondering why the shiny surface? It's clear vinyl. It serves a multitude of purposes but mainly when dye painting, printing or stamping with natural dyes it keeps them from penetrating the fabric surface below. I can wipe the vinyl down when I'm done, and if need be if I really need a cloth surface I can put the grey felt on top of the vinyl.

Now you may wonder WHY I am doing this? Well I don't want the natural dyes seeping into the canvas and foam surface below. Natural dyes need heat and mordants to be set, if they bleed into the surface below they will continue to bleed color onto any wet fabric or fibers that is used on the table there on. Hence the vinyl barrier.

Now why would I use vinyl instead of regular heavy plastic? It's easier to get creases and wrinkles out of vinyl than out of heavy plastic. I can use a hair dryer to gently coax wrinkles and the like out of the vinyl, not so with heavy plastic.

Of ice and women

I fell on my keister tonight, coming in the back door. While I like having the snow I really don't enjoy falling face first on the concrete!

I finally got the webcam moved to my wet studio, my friend Brenda - yes I actually have friends - helped me through the fine tuning, she was at home viewing the studio. I went out and bought grey felt, hence the reason I fell on the ice, so that the glare would be reduced. Eventhough I tried painting the white canvas on my screen printing table, with a wash, it was still too bright. You couldn't see the white fabric that was laying on the white canvas.

Normally I could care less about this, but from a video taping perspective this was a major problem. So now the problem has been solved. Or I should say challenge not problem.

Got Snow?

We do! The weather forcast was for an inch to three inches, we have six so far and it's still snowing!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cigar box as storage

If you purchase a cigar box that is less than pretty I suggest gluing some pretty papers onto the box. Paint will cure a lot of woes as well. I didn't paint my box, I liked to color of the wood, I did however, tear out the cigar brand label and then proceeded to glue pieces of nice inexpensive papers. I have old vinatge buttons and ric rac I plan to glue to my box. My water color crayons will live in this box, I have a couple of brands, Caran d' Ache being my favorites.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Critique This Again

Actually the fact that my use of lines and that the dots seem to drop off the piece bother you works for me. I have to ask "why" does it bother you?

The fact that is bothers people got me thinking and jogged my memory on where I was going. Perception, memory and perception. I'm working on a series of 2D and 3D pieces for a body of work. Memory of land, memory of the women who came before me, the sacredness and solitude of barren places. Memory and perception of memories, how do we percieve the past? Things we've seen, places we've been, events that have happened, all personal here. How do they get distorted by time and distance?

The lichen encrusted fence posts were topped with cowboy boots of a teenager that died, he was the farmers only child, killed on about his 18th birthday but still in high school. The boots were this kids favorite possession, btw it was one of those weird vehicular accidents where a semi fell off a bridge onto the interstate below. The parents, the mother actually, dealt with her grief by putting the son's boots on the fence posts of the land he would have soon inherited, as they are nearing retirement now. The boots now have lichens growiing on them, many of the feet are gone, but the shaft part is still attached to the post, bound to the post with bindweed and morning glories. Hmmmmmm ok another idea. A life cut short? New life - lichens - memory, or the perception there of.

Indigo Vats and Studio Sinks

Ok so my sink really isn't supposed to be blue, I just get lazy sometimes and I dye a lot of fabric with indigo so it has a tendency towards the blue range.

The salad spinner is sitting on the instant indigo vat. The bucket to the far right is the fermentation indigo vat, which the tank heater is plugged in on the wall up behind the stove.

I'll try to get a better picture of my set up later the digital camera needs charging, I really need another set of batteries for this creature. But I have racks above the sink for storing stuff, and yes it's a mess.

Silk Crepe de Chine, crinkle fabric, dyed in an fermentation indigo vat. Posted by Picasa

Indigo - Fermentation Vat, Silk Crinkle Crepe de Chine fabric. It didn't look like much, the color should have been greener, but yet I was greatly suprised by a beautiful pale bright blue. Posted by Picasa

Indigo Dyed Fabrics, the paler pieces are from my fermentation vat, the darker piece is from the instant Indigo vat. Posted by Picasa

This is what my sink IS supposed to look like. I have a couple of stubborn areas that need extra scrubbing. FYI I removed the crud with good ole baking soda. It makes quick work of indigo, which is why the sink was blue. The salad spinner is for spinning moisture out of fleece, ribbons, and yarns. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Critquem This

Ok Critique: Click on the word "critique" above and you will be taken to the enlarged image of the quilts below. They are shown side by side, before and after shots, the before shot is on the right hand side.

It doesn't help that so much time has elapsed since I started this piece, and that I am continously interrupted, so much so that I forgot what I was saying. The sad part is I journal about every piece I make, either before, during, or after, and this one I failed to do so! I may have some odd notes about it someplace. As ususal it's a Prairie piece, and I think I was looking at old lichen covered fence posts when I started the work.

The piece that is about 12" wide by 49 inches long.

The fabrics and the embellishments have all been dyed with natural dyes. The bottom coppery fabric has been compost dyed. It's all machine stitched and the red peices are tied on, using waxed cotton thread, by hand.

There are sew puckers/pleats in the fabric and this is
intentional. I did the sewn puckering before I added batting and
backing fabrics.

The piece has started to nag me, it's bothering me in my sleep,
therefore I think it's time to finish it and move on to the next pieces

Here's a before and after comparison, the before shot on the right. It looks better but needs more work now. I need to carry the blue into the bottom portion, and the red into the top portion some how. Posted by Picasa

My other bead collection. I went to the local bead shop, risking smelling like pachulie for the rest of the day, so I could get some findings for my turquoise necklace, the piece at the top. The leather has become worn and brittle, needing replacement. While there I had the owner fix the head pin on the stone to the left. I tried three times last night, and broke three head pins in a row. I finally concluded that I don't do this enough to know what I'm doing! She, the shop owner, created the loop on the headpin for free, it helped that I was buying findings. Needless to say I had to wipe the drool off of my stones when she was done fondling them. Posted by Picasa

Glass Beads. If I were to admit one thing about my self it is this, I am a thrift store junkie! I bought these glass and wood beads today, I thought it was a bracelet actually, for a whole $1.06!!! I have plans to make them into a bracelet. I like to colors of the glass beads the best. I can only wonder what they were hanging from before. Posted by Picasa

Drought and Garden

While I should be resting I decided to go work in the yard this afternoon. It is dry here, really really dry. Seems that everyone to the north and west of us are getting rain and or snow but not us! So hubby and I raked up all of the dead and dry stuff from around the house, we have about half the job done.

We live on a very busy street, on the way to the grocery store, and people like to toss their cigerrette butts out their windows, I know this because I find lots of them, of all brands and sizes, in my front yard. And I really don't want my house burning down because some jerk doesn't have the decency to use the ashtray that came with their vehicle!

The up side to having done this is I can see that my flowers are coming up, and I have lots of them. We need to get our fences up to keep the rabbits from eating all of the Iris, Tulips, Hyacinths, and Jonquils. My Coral Bells survived the winter, as did my Black Hollyhocks. I am not sure what happened to my Hens and Chicks, but I'm thinking they may need thinning and transplating. I'm hoping, later in April or May, to transplant my Hosta's from the backyard to the frontyard. Then we can fence in the backyard for the sheltie, giving her some room to run, and she needs it.

Next weekend, if the weather is nice like today, I will have dh repair the grape arbor, which is a glorified 1 x 6 nailed to 4 x 4 posts. One of the posts has rotted off at grass level and needs to be replaced. I trimmed the grapevines back, and hard, way back in January or so. And we will tackle the blackberry bushes, that I"m now starting to regret having bought and planted. I wish I would have bought more grapevines instead. I may be feeling like this about the Jerusalem Artichoke I planted last year as well.

Aunt Sondra

Hey Sondra, as I know you'll read my blog I got the message last night.

My aunt lives in Springfield Illinois, where the tornado hit last Sunday, she went several days without power and wasn't ever really able to get out of her little cul de sac due to all of the trees and big power poles that were down. She's now staying with her daughter, which is good we won't have to worry about her freezing to death now!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Life Columns I in progress still, I know why I waited to put the rest of the red dots on, they were quite difficult to tie. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The bottom of Life Columns I. Now I know why I have been putting off putting the rest of the red pieces onto the quilt. The hand tyeing takes forever!!! Posted by Picasa

Old Works New Ideas

I'm a thinker. When it comes to my work I'm very process oriented, I have about 85% of the work done in my head before I ever touch a piece of fabric. Also I find that it I work best, on a piece, if I think about it while working on other pieces, less I overwork the piece I'm currently working on. Hence I tend to have 5 or more pieces going at once.

I actually work better this way. My work is of higher quality, and I produce more of it if I'm not fixated on it at the time of execution. Usually when someone interrupts me and starts asking me questions I start to overthink the situation and that's when the grand mistakes begin. My husband noticed this about two weeks ago when I was painting some images of buffalo. He started talking to me and I started screwing up. Now he stays out of the studio if I have brush or needle in hand. Need I say that the piece I ruined was a personal favorite of his so now he really understands.

I'm journaling again, I have found that coloring the pages has an interesting affect on me, if it's colored I can't write anything bad on the page. An interesting phenomenon to say the least. I've also started glueing things into my journal, some things obviously won't work as they are 3-D but I can draw their likeness and put that on the journal pages instead.

Well I'm off, though I'm still suppsed to be on bedrest, with my feet elevated no less, I have tons of work to get done that won't wait for the fat lady to sing.

Detail of the last piece, the lighting is bad in my studio today and I did not feel like putting up the lights. It needs more embellishment. I have an idea for something more to be added to this piece, I just haven't resolved the execution yet.  Posted by Picasa

Again, months later I'm still staring at this piece as well. I know what it needs but yet can't seem to bring myself to drag out all of the beads and such and continue stitching.  Posted by Picasa

Still staring at it. I need to add more of the red at the bottom of the piece, and then it needs more, but it's not finished however, once the red is added. It needs more depth, the likes of which I don't have time to give. Hence I keep staring at this piece, months later. Who knows maybe I'll get a whisp of inspiration and finish it in the dark of the night.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Anyone know what the shelf life of watercolor paints are? I have a
bunch left over from my undergraduate years, they are about 12 years
old now. The tubes are still soft and the color would appear to be
able to come out of the tube. I they are Windsor and Newton Cotman
Watercolors, which may be student grade.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

We went to see the buffalo a few Fridays ago, I needed out of the house and rather badly. It's really quite out there, the buffalo were grazing heavily making the most wonderful chewing noises. It smells like spring out on the prairie. Posted by Picasa

Storage and Monoprinting

Check out the book I posted a pic of, the author wrote another book called Where Women Create, I can't wait to see this book as well. I'm one of those people who are very affected by their surroundings. Junk, clutter, and a lot of noise are quite distracting to my creating process. I also thrive in an asthetically pleasing enviroment, read pretty into this equation.

I'm still having a hard time transforming my wet studio, in the basement, into an beautiful enviroment. It still looks like a basement no matter what I do. Plus all of the storage necessary for the studio looks really institutional as well. And that's because my hubby got it from the University for something like a dollar a running foot. Not bad for cabinetry. But it still looks institutional. Painting, later this spring, will cure a lot of those woes.


I bought vinyl for my screenprinting table today, at wally world. I no sooner walked out of walmart and the stuff was brick hard. Gross temperature change. We brought it home and immediately put it onto the table but alas there were creases already set in the vinyl from it being folded by the helpful staff at wally world.

But not to worry we came up with a way to get the creases out! Hair Dryer on the hottest setting works miracles on what would seem to be a hopeless piece of vinyl!

The vinyl is for my table for printing with the natural dyes. I can wipe up the surface when I'm done. Not so with a canvas table top. I know it has been suggested to use felt but here's a little truth about natural dyes and screen printing. While you can print with them, and while they can be made to be permanant, once they are imbedded in the table there's no way to heat set the color. I may put felt over the vinyl, I will experiment and get back with this. In the past I did this straight onto plastic, but plastic doesn't behave like vinyl does and just lived with the creases that were printed into the fabrics.

Here's a book to run out and buy! I have tons of things that need storing, and live in a house with no closets! So this book is a blessing as it gives you a lot of storage ideas, especially for items stored out in the open, that cost very little money.  Posted by Picasa

And yet another storage idea, hate those little tins everything comes in? Cigar boxes baby! I was going to alter this one hence it's wood. I still may do so, in another life time maybe. You can pick up the board boxes for really cheap, paint and deco them to make them look nicer, and less like a cigar box. I'm smitten with covering them with finely printed papers that I've manipulated in Photoshop. Posted by Picasa