Monday, September 29, 2008


Perhaps my friends are being too polite to tell me I've gone off the deep end on this discharge dyeing, but it certainly has grabbed my attention enough that I'm not listening if they are. The ideas are literally hatching with each new experiment. The latest hitch has been with borders.
My works/projects tend to fall into two camps, the planned and the evolved. I'm trying to push myself into more of the planning, but in all honesty, I'm more of an evolving kind of gal. Flighty? Perhaps. Flexible, yes. (My husband might disagree.) With this, I am trying to push myself into more planned pieces, which are challenging, but happening.

My first border project has been one of those evolving pieces. I dyed up a palette of dark-brights in a guild class I facilitated last month, and with them I needed to do some piecing for the next step - closed figure free motion quilting to later be discharged. I also wanted to include some brights that hadn't been darkened - just a smattering of them. In rainbow order, I sewed 1" strips of the brights, cut them into a trapezoid shape, then surrounded them with the darks. I also included another small amount of the brights around the outside border. Now for the planning of the quilting pattern.

I used one of my platters to get the perfect oval shape which I traced onto freezer paper. I took the outside of this shape (the negative) and positioned it over the trapezoid shape, pressing it to hold it down. I wanted the effect of a sunrise so I then placed a small circle over the top of the trapezoid. Then I began what I've come to call "spoking" as the sewing is much like following the ins and outs of the spokes on a wheel. The long stretches at the bottom were too long for me to keep track of and got a bit wobbly, but I kept on going. Next time I will be sure to use some sort of washable marker that will keep me more on track. After I pulled my papers away, I went ahead and discharged to see what it looked like.

Next I was ready to assemble materials for the borders. This time I used 1/4" masking tape (for painting trim), a circle shape for the outside and a small circle hub. I cut my small "hubs" from masking tape strips placed over a folded piece of parchment paper. This way, after I cut out the small circle shape, I was able to easily peel them off, much like peeling off the backing of a band-aid. (This is now part of my handy dandy bag of tricks.) I didn't use freezer paper for the outside circles this time because I didn't want to iron over the thin masking tape line; instead I used computer paper and pins. I had my materials and was now ready to attach them to the pieced fabric.

First I placed the hubs in each corner and along each line, measuring to make sure they were equally spaced and balanced around the border. Then I carefully placed my 1/4" masking tape in a rectangular shape where I wanted my border to be. This would be the line that joined the sunbursts around the perimeter of the piece. Finally, I pinned a larger circle around each hub. Now I was ready to sew.

Free motion quilting in this manner is to first do the outside, and then the inside (or vice versa if you choose). To get from one burst to the next along the masking tape line, I needed to slice into the large circle and gently fold it back to get my presser foot to the inside. I proceeded with "spoking" until I came to the masking tape again, cut an escape route through the computer paper, and proceeded onto the line and into the next burst. I finished the outside by doubling over the beginning of my stitching, then proceeded to the inside. I stripped away my tape and paper and was ready for the discharging. The results were great, even with the wobbly sun rays on the centerpiece.

My next border attempt was approached a bit differently. (For one thing, it was PLANNED.) This was more about shape than spoking. I saw a great bumper sticker last year that's been mulling around in my brain: "wag more, bark less". Good, huh? I knew these words would find their way to fabric someday. This seemed to be as good an opportunity as any.

I used an earth palette of colors, with both lights and darks. A light circle with a scrappy little dog in the middle was surrounded by the key words, written with the bleach product. Some simple piecing with darks on the outside finished off the cloth. Now for the border preparation.

I wanted to keep with the doggy theme so thought little dog bones around the perimeter would look good. This time I used the thin masking tape to define the border, then added masking tape bones and little circles for the corners. I used the parchment method for making these pieces which worked great.

After placing all the pieces in place, I once again stitched the outside of the border, then the inside. I stripped away the tape and discharged inside the little dog bones. Beautiful colors emerged.

Now I will finish off my two discharged pieces and hopefully display them in my First Friday webwalk, THIS FRIDAY. Yikes, I better get busy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Once in a while I just need to whine.

This time each year I consistently go into my whining phase about POWER so I might as well get it out publicly.

We live, as we termed it in Alaska, in the BUSH. Rural, limited access, the boonies, off the grid, however you want to say it. Here we are unplugged from the luxuries of the civilized world (malls and freeways and coffee shops...luxuries????) and left to our own devices, EXCEPT we do have the luxury of electricity from our small summer store from June through mid-September. For a marginal cost of $240!!!!! for 24-7 electricity, I can sew and iron to my heart's content whenever I feel like it. We do have our own generator, and we do have a battery bank, but they are for limited uses of power, especially with the price of fuel so high these days.

Need I tell you what recently happened? Yes, we've been cut off. Now I have to get my mental watts calculator out and add up power uses as to what I'm able to do. It's that iron, with its 1700 watts of megapower sucking up the generator's capacity that is my main problem.Never again (this fall) can I sew and press all in the same sitting (except when OUR generator is running...maybe every other day), so I have to rethink the whole process. Sewing sessions are for when our battery bank is on, and that system can only handle so much and lights on at the same time while I'm quilting? Not's one or the other. I do my planning and cutting and design work and handwork during "dead" times, and save up other projects for energy times. The piles are waiting. And dyeing???? Its the perfect activity on a no-power day, but then there may be a wait for the washing machine and dryer.
So I have to rethink my patterns of work during this time of the year and also when we return in April. That's where the whining comes in. Thankfully it doesn't last long as I realize the whining itself only takes away from doing what I most love to do...CREATE! And, on the positive side, I guess I'm now approaching quilting with an effort to reduce my carbon footprint on the planet, so that's a good thing too!


Is it quilt journaling or journal quilting? I'm not really sure but I know I like it. I have a full plate as it is, but this was a delectable opportunity dangling in front of me (thanks to Barb's great examples at the last guild meeting) so I just couldn't resist. Each month we have a theme and a fun assignment to put together an 8.5 x 11" piece that reflects that theme. September's theme is "ending and beginning to start" which supposedly is a lyric from a Jim Croce song. I looked up his songs but was overwhelmed with the multitude of music he produced... I gave up after looking at Time in a Bottle and Big Bad Leroy Brown! ...I just did my own thing with it.

Of course the teacher in me thought of the summer's ending, school's beginning thing but that's just an old knee jerk reflex from day's past...(I try to squelch those first day back at school dreams -nightmares?- where I'm standing in front of the class with no clothes on!)
Other cycles came to mind...the moon, the tides, our lives, the shape of a circle... I let my fabrics guide me and this is what I produced. Off I sent it to my new journal quilting friends across North America and I await the arrival of their little master pieces to continue the cycles of friendship and inspiration.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Yesterday I had a lovely visit from my friend Cathy who spends each summer with her husband on their boat, traveling northward to primitive coastal settings. Cathy is a natural born artist and dabbles in just about everything. I guess dabble isn't the right word because she really produces some amazing pieces, be it photography, watercolors, weaving, etc. She lives her art! They have many friends here in Refuge Cove so also spend much time here, on the before and after sides of their northern travels. They certainly are part of the "local" scene.

Back in May, Cathy and I had a wonderful few days painting silk scarves together. Hers was a fabulous representation of the chakras. Her freedom of expression is always contagious.
During that time she told me she wanted to explore some of the petroglyph sites up north and possibly do some rubbings of them. She wondered if I had any sheets or extra cotton I could give her. Of course!...I am always happy to go into my unused stash of fabric and eliminate a piece or two. I bestowed her with an old cotton sheet and a few remnants and wished her good fortune in her quest.
Three months pass.
So yesterday she shows up with amazing rubbings she made of petroglyphs from coastal rocks far north of here (near Forward Harbor she says) done by First Nations people MANY years ago. The one seen at the top is a deer and is my new treasure. Isn't it fabulous?
She has 6 or 7 others. This one is supposedly a fertility figure, showing a woman with her womb as the circle inside. (Cathy uses a well respected book by Beth Hill as her guide for interpretation.)

This rubbing depicts a figure with a whale or fish on the lower lright side.

We laid them out and began snapping photos. The images even popped out more in photographs. A blurred fish image became easy to see.
My gift of simple cotton came back to me 10-fold. What will I do with my deer print?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Hello! I am excited for the 2009 winter season ahead of me in Mazatlan. Here are the classes/events to be held this winter:

Embrace the Artist Within Retreat - On Tuesday, November 25th, I will be facilitating a class to paint silk scarves as a part of this retreat coordinated by local yoga teacher, Maureen Geraghty. Check the blogsite for more information on this half-week of fun and creative sessions.

Old Mazatlan Art Walk - On the first Friday of each month, you are invited to take a self guided tour through galleries located in the historic district. I will be participating December-April. Please stop by and see what new and interesting things I’ve been working on!

Basic Fabric Dyeing - This one day class will allow you to experience dyeing cotton with Procion dyes. We will work with color theory, explore different techniques, and even try some painting and stamping. All materials are provided. $750 pesos/$75 US. 9AM-3PM. Three students maximum. December 9th, January 6th, February 10th, March 10th.

“Make A Scene” - (That’s what some of us were taught NOT to do… “for goodness sake, DON’T make a scene!“) Call it fabric collage or photos on fabric (but NOT using photocopy machines or transfer papers), this 3 day class will center on replicating a scene or photo or picture of your choice with fiber. Focus will be on design, custom dyeing your fabrics, and constructing a piece that you will then take home to finish with your sewing machine or by hand. Basic fabric dyeing class or proven experience is required. All materials provided. $2000 pesos/$200 US. 9AM - 3PM. Three students maximum. December 10,11,12, January 7,8,9, February 11,12,13, March 11,12,13.

Tie Dye Magic - I’ve had many requests to teach plain and simple tie-dye, so here’s your chance to have some fun with this magical craft. You provide the items to dye: tee-shirts, baby clothes, a favorite stained shirt, underwear, socks, etc. etc. I’ll provide the instructions and dyes. $350 pesos/$35 US. 10 AM-3PM. Four students maximum. January 13th, February 17th, March 7th.
Free Motion Quilting - For those of you with a sewing machine, join me for a full day of instruction and practice on drawing with your needle. This is one of my favorite parts of the work I do and I feel I have much to share. 10AM-3PM. $350 pesos/$35 US. Five students maximum. Sewing machine with feed dogs that drop or can be covered is required. January 20th, March 24th.

Open Studio Time - I offer open studio time to students who have taken my basic dyeing class for independent work on their own projects. 9AM-3PM. $150 pesos/$15 US. Two students per day by reservation. December 17th , 18th January 14th, 15th, 21st, 22nd, February 18th, 19th, March 18th, 19th, 25th, 26th.

Last but not least: Trip to Oaxaca (????) - I’ve always heard this is an area in Mexico known for its textiles. Is anyone interested in a fiber focused trip? Contact me to continue the discussion. Tentative dates: February 22-27.

I hope to see you this winter !

Friday, September 5, 2008


Here we are again. The light is fading, temps mellowing, I'm wearing a few more layers, and Mexico is filtering through my spirit, calling me as it always does this time of the year. But there won't be any response on our end until November, when we'll depart via jet. Just like a migrating bird, yes?

Until then, I button up the garden, dream up more designs, dabble with my dyes, take care of the daily chores, and trek through my forest for signs of mushrooms. Mmmmmm!
Today I feature my six summer creations from my Cactus Garden Series. All hand-dyed, they have a background that is a blend of a gradation and a painted sky. The colors that I dyed originated in theory from a paint swatch of a rusty burgundy that my clients sent me as the color to work from. I also incorporated a tiny bit of discharging (with one of my favorite products, the Clorox bleach pen) in some of the fabrics which adds a brightener. I added texture by free-motion quilting each piece and then washing them to get a bit of shrinkage happening.

I have already sent three of the pieces (those immediately above) away to live in their new home in Alberta. The remaining three will be featured in my Mazatlan studio.
And I can't help but mention that sweet dog of mine, Spike, who turned 9 this week. She does not have Mexico on her mind. She's happy right where she is!
Happy September to all!