One Day…Two Posts!

It seems if one goes weeks without posting, one could (once in a while) compensate with two in one day?  So-o-o, since I have the time…AND some photos…here is how the patterns are wending out…








I really don’t have any rules.  Simply, put pen to paper.  Draw a shape…draw some more of the same…see where it goes.  Still fun.  Have a great day!




As Promised…the Snow-Dyes

Gave up waiting for a sunny day…these photos tell most of the story…

All of the shirts below are from thrift stores; they rarely cost more than a few dollars.  For me, that means that I can take some chances.  This shirt is one my sister added to the pile. What happened here is that the embroidered strings of dots are stitched with polyester threads…which don’t take the dye!  Gives a bit of pizzazz to the look, don’t you think?


A similar thing happened with my shirt below…one can pretty much count on this when using the Procion dyes.


Another thing I might search out is a shirt that has some texture in the weave of its fabric.


The shirt below is made of rayon.  I like the effects that happen when the dye hits its finer weave.  Often the “fracturing effects” of the dye are more detailed, as well.


The four scarves below were over-dyed (duds from a past dyeing session).  They were pretty dull going into the bucket.  The dark purple scarf in the back is rayon velvet devore. Always get interesting results with that fabric.  The three scarves in the foreground are silk of one kind or another.  I especially like working with silk charmeuse (center); the chiffon scarf on the right is nice and breezy-looking (the clear beads along its edge did not hold any dye, but still add sparkle)…and notice the scarf on the left.  See how its texture adds to the richness of the dye on its surface?


I also like to dye old (and damaged) damask tablecloths…see why?  (I cut or rip them into manageable pieces…and to get variety among a related set of fabric.)


And this time, I tried throwing in a set of linen napkins…they were originally a Pepto-Bismol pink…now, they are just fun…each one different, but still, a set.  They were in my linen drawer for years!  I have used (washed…and, ironed) them twice already!  Proper, but not too “prim”!


What else?

These are the “keepers”…




If you look closely, you can see that I dye over prints, textures…embroidery…whatever…

These are the rejects.  They will go back into the “to be dyed” pile and will get their chance to be lovely in another bucket…


The surprise bonus in the very bottom of the dye-pot…all these small silk samples…They just got randomly thrown into the buckets…some real potential here…maybe a chance to try some improvisational piecing?  There are hundreds!!! of them…


This was my first pass at snow-dyeing (versus ice-dyeing).  If I did it again, I would not put so many pieces into each bucket.  I WOULD put in a single layer of things to be dyed…with a HUGE pile of snow on top, rather than the layered version that I used this time.  The snow melts much faster than the ice.  In many cases, this resulted in colors that were too intense for my liking.  Most often, the dye did not have enough time to “fracture” as the snow melted, before it hit the fabric.  This was an experiment.  I learned quite a bit.  Fabrics get ever more interesting each time they are thrown into the dye-bath…so maybe, this is just Chapter One of my story.  And, THAT is why this process is so engaging.

A New Venture

IMG_5765I am not particularly one for new year’s resolutions.  I find failing at them beyond depressing.  So, I am not going to call my “new” intention a resolution, but rather more of an “effort”…of the on-going variety…How is that for some rationalization?

For a while now I have been reading of others’ “daily journaling” activities.  I have been especially interested in experiencing for myself the value of a daily practice.   My handwriting has deteriorated to nearly illegible.  And, whenever I attempt to sketch out a random idea, my head and my hand respond like totally independent entities.  To describe my drawing style as “loose” would be “kind”.    Plus, my designs always look the same…boring.

And so, I have begun.  I found an old spiral bound book containing black card stock.  Choosing to “draw” with a white pen gave the idea some panache.  I decided to play with patterns…for two reasons.  One, I figured by forcing myself to repeat motifs I could re-train my hand and my head to work together.  And two, I like repeated shapes, and have often used them in my work.  Maybe the play could inform the work?  To keep myself honest, I have been writing the date on the page…

IMG_5766I am thinking that the most compelling reason why this has been working (so far) is that I have set aside a time to do it every day:  every morning, early, as I sit here by the fire with my coffee and my pen.  I have read that if one does something for three weeks, it becomes a habit.  Not sure if that will prove to be true.  But, I am totally enjoying the daily mind-stretch…and, as the pages accumulate, the sense of accomplishment is real.  Perhaps if I keep going, something fresh will show up in my work. Still, I am not going to jinx the thing by calling it a “resolution”…

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Making Lemonade…

IMG_5761The blizzard is gone.  The sun is out.

Yesterday it was a totally different story.  The wind howled and the snow fell… all night, all day…and then, all night once again! Keeping a long-held promise to myself, I hauled my bins of “things to dye” (stashed since the move) out of the basement.  I was thinking that this might be a prime time to try some snow-dyeing…and to (finally) sort through the random piles of “this and that”…to toss, to keep…to dye!   Such an industrious activity on a “stay-in-bed-and-read-a-book” kind of day…

But, actually, it was kind of fun.  I felt so virtuous…After about an hour of sorting, tossing and folding, I had three bins of neatly organized fabric ready for some future work…and four piles of stuff for my snow-dyeing venture.  I had vaguely assigned a “color” for each pile: pink, green, blue, and purple.  This morning BEFORE engaging in any other snow-related activity (like shoveling), I actually followed through!  I dumped my bag of soda ash (about three cups) into the washing machine and filled it about halfway with very hot water.  I tossed in pile number one–the blue pile and let it soak while I had my breakfast.

I kept it simple.  As I pulled each piece out of the washer, I twisted it as I wrung out the soda solution back into the washer tub (I was hoping to re-use it for each of the piles…SO efficient!!!), and put it in the awaiting bin.  When the washer was empty of fabric, I tossed in the “green” pile!  I carried the “blues” down into the basement (note, the door in the above photo…the mother lode of snow, right?)  I set up a bucket with an upside-down plastic bowl and a perforated plastic plate (they elevate the fabrics up out of the spent dye solution once the snow has melted).  Then I put in a layer of my twisted and scrunched stuff…it was pretty random…old linen napkins, a shirt or two, previously but unsuccessful dye experiments…found fabrics from the flea market.  And, then, I opened the door and shoveled enough snow into the bucket to cover it all completely (sure beats hauling bags of ice from the grocery store!).  I sprinkled a random selection of “blue” dyes…cobalt, navy, teal…over the ice.  Since I still had room in my bucket, I repeated the whole process…this time choosing several different blue dyes…And then just because I could, I topped it all off with another big fat pile of snow…goes to show, there is more than one way to shovel snow…some much more fun than others!

IMG_5759I repeated the process…until all my piles were gone…Look at those lovely buckets full of promise…tomorrow is going to be a very colorful day!  Can’t wait!


IMG_5744It has been one of the joys of unpacking…the re-discovery of a treasure (previously stashed so deep in my pile that it would have never seen the light of day, except for “the move”), and re-visiting that old idea with a fresh point of view…maybe, leading to a possible path to new work?    (These are also the very things that are currently creating a log-jam in the “studio”–the place where no work gets done.)  STILL.


I don’t have a straight-forward answer.  Most of the boxes are unpacked.  I have re-discovered so many treasures, each one fraught with inspiration never acted upon.  I sort and I stack…but I don’t “stash”…not yet, and maybe, never again.   At this point it IS very tempting to just put the stuff away…somewhere, anywhere to finally have a clear, flat space to work.

But, instead, I have found that it is far more engaging to just pick something off of the pile and “play” with it.  Hence…the envelopes!

IMG_5734I bought the template years and years ago.  Found the tattered, but oh! so charming children’s books over time.  Got the “ELLE Collection catalog for a quarter at the Goodwill. Took them to the beach a few weeks ago, after all the frenzy of the holidays.  Laid it all out on the table…and, played.  One has to admit, the envelopes could be useful…but really, it was all about the play.  Making them was just plain fun.


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My “Sophie” Scarf, Version 1


My happy daughter, modeling her Christmas present…Version One of my “Sophie” scarf adventure.  (Notice the “danglies”…they were a real hit…definitely add to the “fun” factor!)  Version 2 (for me!) is actually not TOO far behind…maybe a month, or so?   I am still enjoying the process…and that is a VERY good thing…


ps:  Still frustrated by my camera…or my photo editing…these are NOT the colors…far too bright, and yet, I can’t seem to “find” the right ones…

Season’s Greetings

IMG_5691The sun finally came out…and, so…voila…maybe a reasonable(?) set of photos of this year’s ornaments!  I hope your holidays are full of family, friends, and fun.  I will be back in the New Year…the studios are ALMOST together…am truly looking forward to a fresh start and some new work.




IMG_5715ps:  My resolution for the New Year?   Finally try to learn how to use that camera!  I can probably even find my manual!



In the Mail!

IMG_5634My cards are done.  As always, there were many challenges along the way…some inherent in the process, itself…and then, those others which have to do with trying to live a creative life inside of my day-to-day one.

The brief seemed simple: create a paper angel who would carry a Christmas message to friends and family.  But then, I had to come up with an angel.  What would she wear?  How would she fly?  What message could she bring?  And, lastly (and believe me, avoided until the VERY END) how would I create her face?…the face of an angel?  Many artists do A LOT to avoid drawing faces.  Been there.  Done that.  Decided to rise to the challenge on this one.

And so, early on, my angels were heads attached to legs.  Then, they acquired stenciled dresses.  Each is different (essential, I think) and figuring out how to do that is an important part of what makes designing such a project engaging).  On first look, that might seem like a tedious process, but in truth a large sheet of sturdy rice paper was spray painted with various metallic colors over “stencils” (found and real) of lace-like patterns.  When the dress and sleeve templates were traced and cut out, every “dress” became unique.  The body pattern (head to toe) was traced onto an old piece of poster board; arms and wings, as well.  They were good, so they even have haloes!  All were glued together in a very straight-forward, step-by-step process…and angels gradually appeared!

Except, they had no faces.

Perhaps someone smarter or more practical would have drawn in faces before all the rest of the assembly.  Then there would have been room for error, to toss aside rejects, maybe even to change the design so that faces weren’t really needed…tempting, that last thing.  I KNEW that…danced around it, as a matter of fact.  But, since I HAD already invested so much effort, I was forced to truly engage with the challenge (I know myself well)…and, I made faces!  They are not perfect.  One angel in particular truly looks like she would rather be doing something else…but, each has a bit of personality.  And, each is unique: my goal from the very beginning.


I sent them out…they are in flight.  Merry Christmas!


Still Playing “Catch Up”

I am not sure when my life is going to seem “ordinary” again.  For lots of important reasons, it still is NOT.  So, in lieu of “thoughtful words and meaningful commentary” (my goal, anyhow), I am simply posting some photos of what I have been doing as I snatch moments from my days…


The “Sophie” scarf is progressing.  I am crocheting around the edges of the scarf… combining a lovely purple with a dark hunter green…attaching the dangles on the points, and outlining them in single crochet, as I go…more than half done…


Pieces and parts for my holiday cards are all over my dining room table (studio still under “renovation”)…soon I will have to come up with the faces…otherwise, think they might be kind of interesting in the end…


Definitely…face time…

ps:  This is the best I can do right now…more later…promise…

Working “on the Fly”

I spent the last two weeks being “the presence” in a courtroom as the trial for the man who killed my daughter’s husband wended out.  Incredibly, a jury of twelve managed to find him guilty simply of a misdemeanor…  No justice for Tai-Jin.  No justice for my daughter.  Somehow, we now have to move forward, but, for sure, it will be with an eroded trust in the system, and, I think, in people in general.


In the early mornings, I sat quietly at my daughter’s dining room table, sewing beads in orderly patterns around the edges of my hearts.  There is a lot one could construe from the comfort that activity gave me.  Maybe with time, some wisdom will come.  In the meantime, I continue to just pick up the work and add a few more stitches.  Maybe the palettes will be next…