Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Breathing Room

Well, a very merry Christmas was had by everyone, at least as far as I know. I made quilts for each of my (grown) kids, and I think they like them. My son got the blue-jean rag quilt (I LOVE the way this one frayed!).

My daughter got the pieced and machine-quilted quilt.

And I got a serger from my DP. I've always wanted a serger, but considered it an extravagance that I wasn't willing to shell out the money for. I love getting presents like this, since it's something I've really wanted but wouldn't buy for myself.

I took the rest of this week off, so I spent some time today learning to thread it and sewing some test seams. That can be really intimidating when you've never even seen a serger in real life, much less used one.

I also over-dyed the (previously dyed) turquoise fabric; I rubber-banded the fabric and used yellow Procion MX, and ended up with a green and blue tie-dyed effect.

I've had so many projects on the back burner for so long that now I can't decide what to work on this week; I'm afraid I'll waste all my time off just trying to figure out what to do next!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Babes in Toyland

Or, in this case, one babe in a very messy craft room. I bought a couple of books on doll-making a while back: Creative Cloth Doll Making, and Creative Cloth Doll Faces, both by Patti Medaris Culea.

One day I got a wild hair and decided to see if I could paint a doll's face, and when that worked, I felt obligated to make a body for her. I sewed and stuff and painted her body with textile paints and stamps. I'm still working on the hair; I rather like her without it, but we have some not-very-attractive stitches to cover in the back of her head. I think I may go with a turban.

At any rate, she's not ready for her debut quite yet, but I thought letting the world get a glimpse of her might spur me to finish her.

Brief Excursions

Every once in a while I buy a canvas for no particular reason. Then, of course, I spy it in my craft room, feel guilty about not using it, and decide to slap some paint or collage elements onto it.

A few months ago I did that with these two (very small!) pieces, and then played with them over the next few weeks, occasionally adding another layer of paint, glaze, or texture. I like the way they turned out; my DP insists that I buy a large canvas and do one that's big enough to see :-)

She stained the frames, btw, which turned out beautifully. She uses some sort of touch-up spray typically used for wood cabinets.

A closer view of the painting on the right side:

'Tis the Season . . .

for last-minute quilting. I've finished three quilts and have one in process that I haven't posted about here yet.

This is the first rag quilt I've ever made, and my DP, my dog, and I all fight over it. I'm obviously going to have to make another one after Christmas. It's made from flannel and we love it. It was super-easy and fast to put together--the hardest part, I think, was getting it washed at the laundrymat so the threads wouldn't destroy my machine.

The second quilt was from a kit that I bought last summer at a quilt show. It's an adorable Christmas quilt, and of course at the time I thought, "I have MONTHS to get this done." Ha. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I better get busy or we wouldn't be enjoying it until NEXT Christmas. Fortunately, it was very easy to piece. I machine-quilted it with an all-over stipple and invisible thread, which was much easier than I thought it would be. I had heard nightmares about invisible thread tangling and breaking, but I had no problems at all with it.
The third quilt is a gift, so I can't say anymore about it until after Christmas, except this: I HATE machine-quilting with polyester thread. Is it just my imagination, or does it make trying to get even stitches a nightmare?

The fourth quilt is also a gift, and I'm (fairly) confident I'll get it finished in time.

In between quilting, I took a break to try my hand at dyeing fabric. I've painted a lot of fabric, but never tried dyeing. The first attempt was with Procion MX red dye, and I was shocked at how it turned out; the more I looked at the fabric, though, the more I loved the tie-dye effect, so I tried to replicate it in turquoise. This was the result I had been expecting, but now I want to replicate the tie-dye look!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Home from the Fair

Getting back to our roots, we had a booth at the Georgetown Christmas Stroll last Saturday and sold fused glass Christmas ornaments, dishes, and jewelry. No pictures, of course; I really meant to take my camera and completely forgot it.

I was very happy with the turnout, considering the day started out drizzly and nasty. At least it was warm!

At any rate, now that I'm not busy firing glass as quickly as possible (and having to order and replace a set of kiln elements a few days before the show--EEK!), I can work on some fun things for me.

I guess I should finish up all those Christmas presents I've started, since the date is only 3 weeks away and we don't want our tree looking like it had a visit from the Grinch in the middle of the night . . . come to think of it, though, if I don't finish, I wonder if my family would go for that story?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Seven Moons

This is a small wall quilt I created using one of the "bleeding-tissue" fabrics I created a while back.

I machine-quilted the piece, then fused the "moon" pieces on and embellished the edges of them with beads.

The piece isn't really crooked by the way, it's just the camera angle.

Winter Break

Well, I've finally finished with all my classes, which is a good thing since work is crazy again (still?). I wasn't particularly happy with any of the pieces from the Elements class from Quilt U, but I learned how to use a lot of those crazy supplies I've been collecting: angelina fibers & tintzl, foils, puff paint (I love it!) etc., and it was fun.

Here are the finished pieces (I say finished, but not really--none of the pieces are actually quilted, with one exception).

"Water" was the first piece; I thought I would lose my mind creating this piece.

"Fire" was the 2nd, and "Air" (or clouds, in this case) was the 3rd. I'm not happy with the air piece either.

The 4th piece should have been "Earth," but I hated it so much I cut the entire bottom section off and saved only the top. I'm going to use it to make a little journal. This is the only piece I had actually quilted. You can't see the amazing tree trunk that was made with puff paint, since it's in the bottom, discarded section, but believe me, puff paint makes great tree trunks.

Not only were these pieces hard to create, they are hard to photograph because of all the "shininess" in them.

More in a future post about the other class I've been taking (and the unsuccessful projects from it), wet felting.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Can I just say that people who live in California are nuts? I'm in San Jose on a business trip and had just returned to my hotel room and gotten undressed when it felt like a train hit the building. Apparently it was a 5. something earthquake. I'm happy I'm going home to Texas tomorrow. Give me a tornado anyday. . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Guided Tours Part Deux

I'm still in the middle of the Elements class from Quilt U, and I'm supposed to be creating an "air" piece. Unfortunately, I've been in training this week and haven't had time to work on anything. I did manage to get the base fabric for the piece painted early this morning before work, but it's been a foggy and overcast day, so it will take a while for the fabric to dry.

As if I didn't have enough to do, I remembered yesterday that I had also signed up for an online class at joggles. com. It was good timing to remember, because the class started yesterday. Apparently my yahoo email account has been digesting the emails from with no trace, so I couldn't log in to the class. I think I've worked the problem out with joggles, so I should be bemoaning the fact that I have no time to work on yet another class any day now.

This class, btw, is on wet felting. I recently ordered some osnaburg from JoAnn fabrics because I had a 50%-off deal and free shipping, so a bolt of it was too good a deal to pass up. At the same time, I ordered some felting supplies. I have no idea why. Felting and its supplies are not something I need, not something I need to get into, and not something I have time for.

Sigh. The shopper part of myself must get a kick out of torturing the crafter part.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guided Tours

The new Quilt U class I'm taking, Elements in Fabric, is kicking my butt. We're creating "element" pieces--so far, water & fire--using fabric and things like angelina fibers, tintzl, cellophane, and sheers. After sweating blood and throwing my scissors across the room (several times) I managed to finish both pieces, but they're both too ugly to post. This is a real exercise in patience for me, since I rarely try to work from a pre-conceived idea, sketches, AND photographs all at the same time and get something that looks both good and realistic without looking cheesy (it's a fine line with all that tintzl and angelina). I'm going to stick with it, though; it's a good learning exercise.

I took a little breather from the class work and painted more fabric. Several issues ago, Quilt Art had an article on using bleeding tissue paper over painted fabric. I tried regular tissue paper but it didn't work. I happened to see some bleeding tissue at Michael's a couple of weeks ago, and picked some up. The results aren't quite what I expected; some of the tissue colors (red & blue) bleed much better into the fabric than others. Some pieces simply acted as a sunblock on the sun prints. Here are the results. The first piece started with a blue background (I used Setacolor transparents mixed 50-50 with water on damp pfd fabric); as you can see, I got a little color from the blues, greens, and yellows, but the red is the most prominent.

The second piece started with a yellow, buttercup, and red background. I like the playfulness of that one.

The piece on the left started out with a blue and red background. The colors didn't bleed as well onto the red as they did onto the blue.

This one is my favorite; I intended for it to look like translucent wildflowers, but I see trees instead. I think I'll use this for a small wholecloth quilt.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Back on the Path

Things have calmed down a little and I'm starting to get back into my routine. At the very least, I'm able to spend about an hour each morning "playing" before I start my job-work (as opposed to my fun-work :-)).

The "Painted Landscapes" class at Quilt University is over, and I was able to paint a couple of landscapes. I did want to get one quilted, though, before I moved on to the class I'm currently taking, "Elements in Fabric." I was able to finish it tonight.

This is not my design; it's taken directly from an example the instructor, Michele Scott, used in the class. She's great, by the way--her lessons were very clear and easy to follow, and she responded very quickly to questions and comments on the class discussion board. At any rate, I painted the fabric, then repainted it because I didn't like the way it turned out, then repainted it once more, adding a little more orange and purple. The border is also hand-painted fabric. Then I free-motion quilted it, and decided to add more paint in the ocean area. I also added some angelina fibers to the lightening flash and a few beads in the sun area for sparkle.

I think it turned out well, and I'm proud of it, even if it wasn't my original design. I've started on a piece of my own design for the Elements class, which is much more complicated and will require a lot of time and thought. It's nice to be immersed in projects again, though, and to feel myself flowing into that routine I've missed.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Atlanta Finds

Ok, I didn't really find these so much as listen to other people's advice. At any rate, I was in a conference in Atlanta over the last few days, and I was hoping to have a few minutes to slip away for "fun stuff."

That didn't exactly happen, but I did have a little extra time before heading back to the airport, so I went by Fiber on a Whim. What a great place! Jan was very nice and I wish I had visited before I ordered all the supplies for my upcoming class, Elements in Fabric at Quilt University. I bought some Golden quinacridone paints, which I've only read about and never actually SEEN in person, some ExtravOrganza that I've been wanting to play with, and a really great book about painting on fabric, Skydyes by Mickey Lawler. The book has a lot of information about fabric paints, how to mix and use them, and how to create beautiful painted skyscapes on fabric.

Afterwards, I headed over to Nicholas Kniel. Now, when people said I should visit a "ribbon" shop, it wasn't high on my priority list, but since it was next door to Beadazzles, I popped in. I was amazed. The shop itself is a work of art, and the ribbon, velvet birds and leaves, feathers, and glass glitter are stunning. Nicholas was fun to talk to, and is incredibly passionate about ribbons and embellishments. I bought some beautiful feathers and some German glass glitter.

Next door was Beadazzles. I don't buy a lot of beads, since I have tons and don't use them that often. I was, however, wondering what the best thread and needles were for sewing beads to quilts, so I asked. The shop owner or clerk (not sure which), asked a group of women who were working on beautiful beaded jewelry pieces what they advised. One very nice woman gave me her suggestions for both beading thread and needles; she seemed apologetic, as if she were being bossy, but I was thrilled to have her advice.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Where Did My Rut Go?

Some people hate getting into a rut. I actually like it. I prefer to think of it as a routine that keeps me grounded and centered. Alas, my rut seems to have smoothed out into an ice slick, and I'm skittering all over the place.

I did finish my fabric postcards for the swap. When I mail them today, I'll have fulfilled all my swap obligations and be ready to get back to my own work--specifically, the landscape quilting class I'm taking at Quilting University. It's a relatively short class--3 sessions over 4 weeks. We've covered lessons 1 & 2, which were about painting fabric, and then painting landscapes on fabric. Here are the landscapes I've had time to create:

Lesson 3 will be about quilting and embellishing the pieces, so I'm looking forward to that. I have another Quilting U class starting in a couple of weeks, so I've been busy ordering supplies for that.

This has been a month for travel, too. We were back in Galveston last weekend for our grandson's 8th birthday. We had been promising we would take him to the beach all summer, and finally fulfilled that promise. He had never been to the beach, and the look on his face when a wave washed over his feet and shifted the sand under them was priceless. He had a great time and has decided he wants to move to the beach. Our little dog Max loved the beach, too; now she's seen snow & surf, and it's hard to tell which she loved better; we had her on the leash but she SO wanted to chase the seagulls. She usually completely ignores birds, so there must be something about the beach that brings out the runner and chaser in her. We all (with the exception of Max) enjoyed Moody Gardens and the aquarium and rainforest, too. And of course, I was able to get more pictures.

I'm traveling to Atlanta on Sunday for a conference. I'm hoping to find a few minutes to sneak away to a fabric shop, or a gallery, or something soul-nourishing.

And once I get back home, I'm going to start working on carving that rut back into my path. It will take some time and involve quite a bit of coffee, journaling, and deep breathing, but I believe it can be done.

Monday, September 3, 2007


I love that textile & mixed media artists are really into swaps.

As I mentioned before, I'm participating in a fabric postcard swap.

I posted a pic of one of my postcards a few days ago, but these are better. I've finished 1/2 of mine--12 of 24. Only 12 more to go!

I'm also participating in a 3x3 collage swap in one of my Yahoo groups. I finished those yesterday and got them ready for mailing today. I've discovered that I'm not very good at collage, and I really don't like it that much. I like painting, though, so I guess it's not surprising that my mini-collages look more like little paintings than collages.

At any rate, they're done!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


As usual, I'm overextended. I think my ADHD side does this to me on purpose to watch me run around in a panic. It seems like the busier I am at work, the more I need to work on craft projects to offset it.

And of course, when it runs, it pours. The grandbaby started school again this week, and we've all been scrambling to get everything in order and get into our routine. And my son asked me to keep his little shih-tzu, Coco, for a couple of weeks, since he's in housing transition. I'm crazy about her, but she's on my heels every second of the day and keeps me awake at night.

With the triple tasks of the job, my work, and home, I'm just feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Here are a couple of things I've been working on this week:

I'm taking an online course at Quilt U on Landscape Quilts, so I painted these fabrics for practice:
Our instructor had an excellent tip for fabric painting: cover a board with contact paper, which I did. Typically, I try to paint on a plastic garbage bag, and the fabric ends up slipping and sliding. So then I have to iron the fabric onto freezer paper and all that mess. With this method, I covered a piece of foam core board with contact paper, and started out pinning the fabrics to the board. When I forgot to pin it and realized the fabric didn't slide, I was thrilled! After painting, I can carry the board outside and lay the fabric in the grass to dry. I used Setacolor for these (with a little Jacquard Dynaflo or Lumiere sprinkled on there and there). I was out of a couple of colors and didn't have to time to run out and buy more, so I worked here with what I had. I particularly like the salted piece (3rd from the left). The second lesson is available today, and while I'm anxious to learn how to use these fabrics to create quilted landscapes, I'm going to resist the urge to work on Lesson 2 until I've completed some other things.

The next project almost didn't happen. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled a fabric postcard out of the mailbox. It was beautiful, and I was excited because I've never received a fabric postcard before. But I was also puzzled; who sent this? Maybe it was the woman who so kindly offered to copy some polymer clay information from a book and mail it to me. In exchange, I sent her a little goodie bag with some fabric and paper snippets, a glass, copper-foiled pendant I had made, and some embellishments. I read the back of the postcard and realized that it wasn't the same woman. The message said something about looking forward to seeing my cards. I tried for a week to figure out what she was talking about; the only swap I had signed up for was a 3x3 collage swap that was due mid-September. I went through every email list I'm on, every Yahoo group, every notation on my calendar, and finally decided she was talking about the 3x3 swap.

In the meantime, I was doing some cleanup on my websites and Etsy store, and I thought I better double-check the email address I have listed with Etsy. I remembered that I had set up a new email address, which I hadn't checked in a long while (fortunately, I hadn't had any recent purchases at the Etsy store!). So I logged in, checked my email under that address, and saw pages and pages of messages about the fabric postcard group I had signed up for and completely forgotten about. DOH.

The postcards aren't due until November, but they've already started rolling in, and I figured it was best to get them done before my Quilt U class starts, which is much more intensive and time consuming. I had a small art quilt that just wasn't working, and so I had cut it up into pieces. One of the pieces became the design inspiration for my fabric postcards. Here is a completed card; 7 down, only 17 more to go!

The other project I may try to tackle this weekend is the 3x3 collage swap. Collage is not my strong suit, and I'm not sure why I signed up for this swap, unless it was to push myself (or punish myself!). The design process has been weighing on my mind. I'm not a design-in-advance person; I need to get started on the work, and the design comes out of the process. I know the pieces will take shape when I sit down to do them, but in the meantime they're nagging at me and I'd just as soon send them packing.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Loose Ends

This has been a weekend to finish some of the projects I had underway. I've been working on a fabric book for a while now--bits and pieces here and there, and it's finally finished. Most of it looks like hell, but I liked this project because early on I picked the theme of October, my favorite month. It actually took much more time and work than I expected, but it was fun. I don't think I'll be making any more of these, but you never know. Scroll down to the "From the Pasture" post on this page for more information about these fabric books.
The other project I've been working on for a while is this assemblage piece, called House of My Muse:


Yes, it's true, I did allow myself to be dragged (with only minimal kicking and screaming) to Galveston for a brief vacation with our wonderful friends, Denise & Mac. And, as always, I was very happy to get away once I remembered how to relax.

Of course, I realized the night before we left that I didn't have an appropriate tote bag to carry along all my art supplies, so I whipped one up. Fortunately, I had already created the block for the front of the bag, and it was just waiting to be put to use.

I hate the beach & water at Galveston; it's on a sandbar, so the water is brown and sea-weedy and the beaches are ugly. But I felt an incredible pull to the town itself; I love the houses, the feel of the island, the proximity to the water. And Moody Gardens was fabulous. I now have tons of sea-life photos from the aquarium to play with and turn into . . . quilts? glass projects? mixed media works? Who knows?

Anyway, I've posted more pics on Flickr--just a few. I have to find time to go through the digital images and resize and clean them up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From the Pasture

moooooooo . . .

My Moo cards have arrived from across the pond! They're every bit as wonderful as people say. I love the quality, the texture, the crispness of the text on the back, and the fact that I chose the pictures--pictures I had taken of my own work. I can't wait to start passing them out, and I seriously doubt that this will be my last order!

And no, I don't know why they're called Moo cards. But I do where you can get a set of your own:, of course.

On the work front, my job is still eating my brain, but I've decided I can't let that stop me anymore from working on my projects. I've fallen off my routine of devoting an hour every morning to arts and crafts, and it shows in my stress level (not to mention my crankiness level). Once that decision was made, though, I was having trouble with an even harder one: what to work on. So, I decided to weed out some of my recorded craft shows, instead.

The bad thing about a DVR is that it's really easy to record stuff. Lots of stuff. More stuff than I'll ever have time to watch. Even when I do have time to watch the hundreds of craft shows I record every day (ok, really only about 5 a day, but it might as well be 100 if I don't have time to watch them), I can't bring myself to erase anything because I MIGHT want to actually MAKE that project someday, even if it does require a blow torch, 20 tons of steel, and a hydraulic press.

Occasionally, though, I'm forced to "clean up" when we try to record something really, really important, like So You Think You Can Dance or Big Love, and then on playback realize that we've run out of recordable space and only have half of the show recorded and will never ever know why Lauren got voted off or Margene isn't speaking to Barb. As if that weren't bad enough, I then get "the look" from DP as she scrolls through the 60-hour list of recorded craft shows.

The fun part about "cleaning up" is that I get to watch all the shows again (some for the 4th, 5th, or 6th time). Plus, when DP asks whether I'm going to clean the kitchen tonight, I can always sigh and point to the screen and say, "but Honey, I have to get our DVR cleaned up or we'll never be able to record anything again."

Anyway, I'm whipping through the craft shows and reluctantly erasing those that require a blowtorch (even though you just never know what someone might give you for Christmas) when I run across Jan Bode Smiley making a fabric book. I know that I already have this show recorded and saved; in fact, I have Jan's book, The Art of Fabric Books. I've never made anything out of it, but I've spent many dreamy hours perusing it and admiring the pictures.

But suddenly it strikes me that I need to make a fabric book. RIGHT NOW. So I do. Actually, I started the book, and I'm still working on embellishing it. I'm not posting any pics yet because I want to surprise my DP. But I need to finish it before Friday because we're going to the coast for the weekend, and it will drive me nuts to be pulled away from a project after going so long without really being engaged in one.

Of course, I absolutely plan on taking a couple of things to the coast with us. Just my journal, some gel pens, and a pencil. We'll be busy playing in the sun and sand. Maybe some colored pencils. Oh, and my pen and ink. That's really all I'll have time for--a couple of quick sketches and some ink drawings. A glue stick. My moo cards, of course. My camera. And I suppose I could slip my fabric journal into a bag, along with some beads and buttons and other embellishments, some embroidery floss, some ribbon and . . . my gosh, who has time for a vacation? I have work to do!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Whirlwind Tours Continued

I'm still flitting from one project to another. I think it's because my job is consuming most of my time but all of my mental energy. Even when I find myself with a few spare minutes to play, I'm thinking about work and so can't really settle into or commit to a project. At any rate, here are some of the things I've been working on over the last week:

ATC backgrounds. I haven't made any cards in forever, but this was dyed paper-towel paper (from Traci Bautista's book, Collage Unleashed) so it was simply a matter of cutting and gluing. I'm not sure where to take them from here, of course.

Polymer clay: AAARRGGGHH. I've said for years that even though polymer clay intrigued me, I did NOT want to get into it, because the last thing I needed was another medium to work with (or to spend money on). Alas, my DP, who occasionally ventures brilliantly--if briefly--into the art world, decided she needed to play with polymer clay. Fortunately, it was on sale at Jo Ann's. Unfortunately, "on sale" is crafter's code for "have to buy tons of it while it's 1/2 price." DP made her lovely project, returned to her favorite past-time (watching movies) and hasn't touched the clay since, so of course, it's up to me to use it up. I have no idea what I'm doing, but that can be a good thing, I think, since there are no "rules." This is a small piece that was striated, and looked like a little ghostly landscape. I used some oil pastels to "paint it." I don't even know if there's any way to seal it now; I would add a polymer frame, but I don't know that I can bake it without ruining the oils.

Another poly clay WIP; I saw a woman on That's Clever (or was it Crafter's C-to-C?) make a large polymer angel over a copper mesh. I have copper mesh, I have polymer clay. Lots of it. So I made a little angel, then decided she needed a box to live in. I'm not happy with the box yet, but I'm not sure where to take it, so I'm setting it aside for the moment. I need to add arms to my angel, and I think I'll make a miniature art quilt for her to hold.

And finally . . . my first ever fabric postcard! I made the background using a technique posted by Wendy in the Cloth Paper Studio group; it's a great technique because I can use up all those little fabric scraps I can't bring myself to throw away. I'm mailing it today to my sweet Mom.

Wildlife update: the bunnies are on their own. We built a make-shift pen around them to keep the dogs away, then opened it up every night so that the mom could get to them and feed them. One morning, we happened to notice one sitting out in the yard; fortunately, we found them before the dogs did. We hunted and finally found a second one. After a lot of debate, we decided that they either needed to go back into the pen, or that it was time to leave. When I reached down to touch one, it zipped across the yard and under the fence to the greenbelt behind us. The second one didn't move, but when I picked it up it jumped and ran out of the same hole. We couldn't find the third one, so we were hoping it had already ventured out into the world. At first we covered the hole under the fence with rocks, but then decided that if they came back through another opening, they would need that hole as an emergency escape route if the dogs found them, so we uncovered it again. At any rate, the dogs are finally back outside, we've swept and vacuumed and dusted most of the hair out of the house, and life seems a little calmer now. The thing in the picture is my grandson's transformer action figure, which is bigger than the baby.