Sunday, January 31, 2016


The winter preschool programs started up again at the library and I'm working longer, busier hours, so I find I'm a little more worn out at the end of the day.  Still, I managed to complete this piece, which I may title "February Morning," for the Mahopac Library gallery show called "Lace."  The nine squares are all attached, although minimally.  I wanted to leave everything very unstructured so the focus would be on the bits and pieces of lace, not any sashing in between.

Here is a close-up:

This piece will be a challenge to hang, just as the "Bamboo Grove" was.  I will probably use the same method of making a hanging sleeve out of white netting and using a piece of clear acrylic as a slat.  I'll have to give everything a good pressing too (it seems very rumply in this photo), although I wanted the piece to bring to mind lace curtains as well as the morning sun shining through a frosted window, so if it hangs away from the wall a bit, I suppose it will seem more curtain-like.

Anyhoo, this was a fun exercise and it came together pretty quickly, but it distracted me from my Fiber Fall pieces.  Still trying to figure out a shortcut for those.  Maybe if I just dedicate myself to making one segment per day, in about 45 days, they'll be all done...  (Do I have that kind of discipline?  Not sure...  Keep you posted).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Progress in the Studio

In the past week, I've managed to spend some time in my studio, continuing with the clean up and also doing a little creative work.  Above you can see the fabric storage boxes all fronted with coordinating construction paper.  I'm amazed at how much neater the whole shelf looks and so sorry I lived with it looking messy for so long!

One of the issues I have in the studio is the works-in-progress that sometimes turn into UFOs.  I don't want to put them away because then I'll never finish them, so they end up sitting out, making the room look messy.  I've rearranged and repurposed some containers to corral them, so they're within easy reach but still look fairly neat.  Here are two examples, the basket on the right with journaling materials and the one on the left with my "summer blues" project, still unfinished!

A dear friend gave me this container, below, with a plant inside.  I love the colorful print, but couldn't find a way to use it.

I decided to turn it on it's side, insert cardboard crosspieces inside, and use it for marker storage!  I put the lid on top to serve as a catchall for all those little odds-n-ends that are always turning up.  The marker/pen/pencil storage was one of the eyesores in the studio, so this looks a lot better!

So here's a full shot of the wall you see when you walk into the studio area - much neater, right?  I bought several natural containers at Michael's last week (at 50% off!) and used those to corral the projects and unify the look.  I also moved my collection of back issues of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines here, because they also look neat and orderly (I think I'm almost ready to get rid of them entirely...).  The girls art materials are to the right of the tabletop and readily accessible if the creative mood ever strikes them.  The whole space looks much more inviting!

So in the course of organizing and going through bins, I came across this roll of burlap, which is
4 1/2" wide.  It thought it was the perfect size for making some squares for the "Fiber Fall" project, so I dug into my aqua scraps and stitched a couple.  It's really fun just arranging the scraps together to please myself, not worrying about the outcome, just enjoying the process and playing with the materials.  But again, if I keep making the shapes (which have to be 2-sided!) in this fashion, it will take me until May to complete the project.  Which is okay, but aren't there other things I'd like to do?

As a matter of fact, as I was working on the squares, I also had in the back of my mind a call for entries at the Mahopac Public Library for an art exhibit with the title "Lace."  At first, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone and make one of my Fiber Fall pieces out of lace, but then I realized that the projects are all due in April.  So I decided to play around with lace squares anyway, and have already made almost a complete nine patch.  Here are six of them, below.  Again, I'm enjoying just layering on all my white and lacy scraps to see what arrangement I like best, then stitching it all together.  It did occur to me as I was working that the nine squares together resemble a window, and then I got to thinking about how the windows in my home growing up used to frost over on very cold mornings when moisture got between the casements.  My window faced east and sometimes the winter sun would shine through it, refracting the light and creating dazzling designs.  So I decided to add some subtle color with sheer scraps in pale yellow, blue, and rose.  I'm moving through this project fairly quickly, but now the worktable is once again covered with scraps (notice I didn't share that in the studio photos!).  I've been putting in a little time down there in the mornings and evenings, and leaving everything out, although messy, allows me to pick it up even for just a few minutes.

So the year is starting off well, creatively!  Hope your January has also been enjoyable :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Ups & Downs

This was definitely a week of ups and downs!  In my last post, I mentioned that I had driven to JoAnn's Fabrics specifically for a certain variegated metallic thread, and ended up picking up a few other fun things while I was there.  Well, when I finally got the time to sit down and maybe do a little free-motion stitching on the Fiber Fall pieces, I COULDN'T FIND THAT THREAD!  It was listed on the receipt, I had all the other threads and things I bought, I looked in the car and all over the floor of the studio - no thread!  I finally called the store to see if anyone found it there behind the register or anything, and they said no, they hadn't but if I came in with the receipt, they would replace it for me.  That was very kind and generous of them, but it meant making another long drive back to JoAnn's which is about 35 minutes away.  AGHHH!  Anyone else feel like you go two steps forward and then one back?  

Luckily, I only worked Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I was able to nip on back over there today and pick up the thread - AGAIN!  Meanwhile, I also helped my oldest daughter register for classes at the local community college (a new experience for us both, as I didn't grow up around here and had never been to the campus before this week), and also received the art charms, above, in the mail, two bright spots in the week.  I participated in a swap through the Artcharms yahoo group I belong to (haven't done that in a long time but couldn't resist the theme of denim and crystal).  In December, I played around with some denim and crystals I already had at home and created the charms in the center of this picture, with the lace flowers with crystal centers.  I kept two of them to wear as earrings, and now I have a bunch I can put on a bracelet.

I also managed to get some parts of my studio cleaned up and looking neater, even without a snow day.  Below, you can see my improved fabric storage.  I already had the boxes and shelving, but never took the time to cover the ugly black grid label printed on the fronts.  I had thought about covering each box front with fabric to indicate the color stored in it, but was reluctant to use my nice fabrics for that purpose.  As I was cleaning, I came across some construction paper, and decided solids would probably look neater anyway, so I began gluing them on.  I've covered most of them and the overall appearance of the shelf is much neater, don't you agree?  I still have about 5 more to do.
 I did use fabric on the floral-covered box (I keep my multi-colored fabrics in there) and was kind of surprised how easy it was to cut and glue on using diluted gel medium. (Maybe I could add a strip of fabric along the bottom of each box face...?)

Anyway, while I was out today, I picked up a few new storage containers to neaten up some of my other shelves and I still have the whole weekend to get in there and get going.   What creative plans do you have for the weekend?

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Shopping Spree!

Thursday evening was FANE's monthly meeting and some members brought the pieces they've started for the Fiber Fall group exhibit.  Needless to say, they were suitably awesome and inspiring, so I went home and jazzed up the surface designs I'd started on my discarded placemats.  I fused on scraps of various sheers and prints, giving it a lot more interest and color.  I still need to stitch everything down, and I'm almost out of one of my favorite variegated metallic threads (it mixes pastel hues of blue and pink with a little gold) so today I took a trip down to JoAnn's Fabrics with all my coupons. 

I went straight to the thread section and picked up what I needed there, plus a few extra colors I might need (all at 50% off).  But I'm in fabric stores so infrequently, I had to wander around and see what they had!  For the most part, I repeated my mantra "Use what you have, use what you have," over and over again in my head, but I did make a few unplanned purchases.  Now that Christmas is over, the stores have already started to feature items with spring colors.  Sometimes I wander around the home decor sections of various stores, wishing I could trash everything I own and start all over with fresh new linens, pretty print canvas storage containers, and other tabletop items like these springy birdcages.

I also had fun looking at the display of miniature elf and fairy homes and yard furniture and accessories for them.  Even though winter hasn't even gotten warmed up yet, it's nice to begin thinking about spring!

On a hook nearby, I saw this cheerful floral print gardening apron.  I've been wanting something like this to carry my clippers, trowel, and other tools in - isn't it great?  It would probably make a nice Mother's Day gift, but rather than wait, I decided to go ahead and pick it up.  Can't wait to wear it!

 As you probably know by now, I love the texture of burlap and its rustic, country-garden appeal.  I came across this pretty printed burlap, below.  The subtle shades of mint green, cream, and yellow in the print are so refreshing!  I was trying to dream up a way I could put it to use in my studio - maybe as a curtain, or chair cover.  Even though I'm not sure what I'll do with it, I had to bring home a yard!

 I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, and look what was waiting for me on my way out!  This spectacular double rainbow stretched completely across the sky, with colors so vibrant, they just glowed!

 Now maybe I can use some of my color and home-decor inspiration to spruce up (and clean up!) my workspace a bit!  It's definitely time for a clear-out and overhaul.  It would be great if we'd get a snow day soon.  I'd stay in and get it all done in one day!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Playtime Progress

My friend Vivien has a point, with her comment on my last post:  if I keep working with the level of detail I used in the first two components, it will take me until May to get the whole thing finished!  So in the interest of time (as well as recycling and experimentation), I decided to try another approach.  When I've made multiple small pieces before, as for swaps, I've made a large piece (painted, stamped, stitched, whatever) and then cut it up into smaller pieces.  I thought I might have to do most of these components in that way, then do some with more detail and individuality, the way I did with the first two.  

So I dug around in my box of white fabric and found these 12"x18" jacquard placemats I put in there several years ago when I was cleaning out table linens I didn't really use.  I like the floral texture that's woven into the fabric and thought it might be nice altered in some way.  I used Dy-na-flow acrylic paints by Jacquard (which are concentrated and act a lot like inks) to add bits of color here and there, then stamped with a swirl stamp I made from craft foam.  I like the results so far, but may fuse some bits of fabric onto it before I layer it, stitch it, and cut it up.  I have 6 or 8 placemats, so I'll do something similar for the back of this section.

Over the weekend, I played with some more weaving of fabric strips, this time in shades of brown.  This might possibly be a component in one of my Fiberfall strings, if I stick with the Earth, Air, and Water themes.

Even though these seem like small steps and hardly worth blogging about, at least I've been getting down into my creative space for a short time almost daily for the last week, to putter around, doodle, clean up, do some mending, or work on something like the above.  It's only the first week of the year, but so far, so good!  How has your first week of 2016 been?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

I thought I'd start off the year on a positive note and write an entry for my poor, neglected blog!  This fall, I was feeling like I needed to put fewer demands on myself and do less rather than more, hence the two-month hiatus.  Of course, things got busy here between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas, and now that all the baking, shopping, decorating, hosting, eating, and celebrating are done, it's a good time to take a few moments to catch up.

Above is the piece I was working on in the fall, which I finished sometime in November.  I decided the woven painted pieces had a watery feel to them, what with all the ripples and circles, so I appliqued some solid waterlily shapes on top.  They look like they're floating, so I think that's what I'll call it.   I enjoyed this technique of slicing up painted, stamped or dyed fabrics and weaving them together.  It makes for a very unique background.  I'd like to try using it more.   Here's a close up:

And now on to the next project!  The FANE has been planning ahead for our group exhibit at the NSQG's annual show in May.  We wanted to do another 3-D kind of display and after much discussion, came up with the idea of stringing together some small shapes to make an 8-foot-long piece.  Each member is to make three of these, made up of basic shapes between 3 and 5" square (but they can also be circles or diamonds) connected by a short (2" or less) piece of yarn or ribbon.  We chose the name "FiberFall" for the exhibit.  I like the sound of that!

This is the ideal project to be done as a daily exercise, or at least, in small blocks of time.  I decided to get a head start on it the other day and made my first shape, below.  I still had a bunch of blue fabrics out from my "Summer Blues" WIP so I grabbed some of them and came up with this:

As usual, it took longer than you would think, mostly because the metallic thread I used kept breaking and I had to try several things (change the needle, adjust the tension, rethread the machine, rethread the bobbin) before everything went smoothly.  Then I hand stitched on the wire spiral in the center.  These pieces have to be seen from both sides, so the back looks just like the front.  It's a start!  I'm thinking I may create pieces to fit into the themes of Earth, Air, and Water (I always like to have a theme!).  And since I'm starting off the new year with ambition and gusto (cough, cough) I made another one this morning!  I think I'll hang these on the diagonal for greater movement and interest.

Even though I haven't done much blogging, I have been reading.   As a matter of fact, I am the new facilitator of one of the adult fiction book clubs at the library, so now it's my job to read!  This past fall we read The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland, North River by Pete Hamill, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (one of my favorites).  This month we will be discussing The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (I read this last summer and loved it).  I also picked up Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love).  We can all use a little creative inspiration for the new year, and this book has gotten very good reviews.  But it's already overdue on my library card so I'd better get cracking!

How have you started off your new year?