Sunday, January 24, 2010


Terry's suggestion of "the secret world of insects" left me with a bit of a void, but once I set aside some time for research, I was taken in with all the interesting info and images out there in bugland. I initially was interested in representing the leaf-cutter ant as they are frequently seen here in Mazatlan flying their ficus leaf flags, carried behind them as they single-file bob along our crumpled sidewalks. These leaves are probably 20 times their size, and perhaps are more like sails than flags. Regardless, seeing this lineup of leafcutters is quite a site! My granddaughter took this picture when she visited two years ago. She and I sat and watched them with wonder.
I was pondering what fabric I was going to use. Nothing was jumping out at me, and I also was having trouble thinking about putting a lineup of ants on a small 8.5"x11" piece....then adding the leaves of green. It was too crowded and busy for my likes, so I got back on the internet for some more searching. That's when a simple image of a scarab beetle caught my attention. I thought about all that foil I had in my "transfer papers" stash and I knew I was on to something. I had never conquered foiling. There were two ways that I learned to apply it - with glue or with iron-on transfer (like Steam a Seam Lite or the like).  The iron-on transfer was hit and miss for me...I always held my breath when I pulled the paper off as I was doing good size suns and moons. For the most part, it worked out, but I didn't like the lack of control I felt. I wasn't very successful with the glue because I never squirted out enough to get past the watery part in the bottle. This time I did...I got into the pure white glue, then carefully painted it onto the body of the beetle, let it dry, then rubbed on the foil. It was perfect.
scarab beetle 004
The scarab beetle is also known as a dung beetle, collecting large amounts of dung and rolling them long distances into a hole, where they will lay their eggs. This dung ball then becomes the perfect incubator and feeding system for those baby beetles.  The Egyptians immortalized the scarab beetle, often times burying its image along with the dead, as it represented everlasting life and rebirth. It was also associated with the sun god, Ra, who was thought to roll the sun across the sky by day and bury it by night, just like the scarab.
So I "cybered" my quilted piece off to my fellow journalers and Barb wrote back with more interesting info: scarab beetles have been used LIVE as brooches - tiny jewels may be  glued to their backs, and they are tethered to  clothing with a tiny gold chain, creating a brooch that moves! Apparently adult beetles do not feed, and last quite a while as pet/jewellery. She found live beetle brooches on YouTube at the Merida, Mexico market. They refer to these as MAQUECH. ..and since we will be traveling in that area next week, I am certainly going to be on the lookout for them (but not to buy).
I love the idea of a lowly creature, pushing poop around all day, being immortalized forever!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


She is a true sun-lover, hanging out at the beach at Stone Island from sun-up to sundown. She only wears the finest beach wear and always looks HOT! Her necklace states her mantra: SPF 4 ever! I think if she had a head, she'd certainly be wearing a hat.
hospice sue
Sunscreen Sue is my creation out of the wooden heart I was recently given by the local Hospice group. She will be placed in the silent auction at their fundraiser next month. Hopefully she will be a sunscreen reminder for one of the sun lovers here in Mazatlan.
The body was a challenge. I was hoping for much more cleavage, but 3-d in fabric is not my specialty! I was considering some sort of traditional Mexican garb, but this bikini trial took hold and I went with it. The feet, legs and necklace were embellished with my bleach tip. I embellished the legs, then wash out the dried bleach residue before stuffing and attaching them to the heart body, but the necklace was done on the finished product. I was nervous about the brown background fabric losing color, but it didn't.
sunscreen sue 005
 For me, I am much happier in my studio than on the beach. I love swimming, beachcombing and sunset strolls, but I can't do what Sunscreen Sue does. My skin doesn't like it. I'll just live vicariously through her and ALWAYS remember to wear my sunscreen!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Linda's gift of 30 yards of white rayon has gone a long way. Three of us are making shirts (in process), and now a fourth has joined in to make chenille shawls, approximately 2' x 6'. There were 16 yards to divide among us and Karen showed up with black rayon to share with us for the backing. We all chose individual colors for dyeing each of the four layers (last week's step) and now we're on our own for prepping. Today was my day for this part of the process.
chenille prep 002
I carefully taped the black to my 6' table as that rayon slips and slides like crazy. I began laying the other pieces on top, one at a time, squaring to the black. Since I want to trim the sides with black, I cut the colored layers so they had 1" of black on each side. Then starting in the middle, I basted the 5 layers together for hopefully a little less slipping as I sew. After stitching and slicing, I'll be able to turn the black over and hand stitch. I haven't quite solved the issue of how to do the black fringe on the ends but I have a few ideas. Karen has experience with chenille (oh that beautiful vest!) and recommends stitching on the bias...that's my next step. Then I'll be slicing between the stitch lines, finishing with trim and fringe, and washing to get that lovely chenille effect.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Being a cruiseship day, which means an influx of possibly 10,000 tourists on one single day, we decided it would be wise to do our shopping early this morning. I noticed many large cake boxes in carts, at the register, being carried out, when finally it dawned on me: babycakes! The real name is Rosca de Reyes but I call them babycakes. Today is Dia de Tres Reyes (Three Kings Day), signifiying the gifts they brought to baby Jesus. It closes out the Christmas season here in Mexico and I would assume in other Hispanic countries too. These cakes (I believe typically without icing) are in a ring shape and imbedded deep inside are one or more tiny plastic baby Jesus dolls. If you find a baby Jesus in your slice of cake, then you are the one to supply the tamales at the party on February 2nd (my Catholic memories think this is called Candlemas Day). Babycakes.
keylie 003
Dia de Tres Reyes is traditionally a gift giving day in Mexico. Although some families give gifts on Navidad, others wait until today, and probably there are some that use both days for gift-giving. I believe the tradition even may vary by region. For me it's a second chance; if I can't get my act together the first time around, then here's another opportunity to make up for it - which is exactly what happened this year. There are two sweet little cousins on my street whose parents are our friends. While on the search for holiday gifts, I decided I wanted to make them shirts...but it was December 22nd and I wasn't into the Christmas rush thing! Fortunately here in Mexico, today is a second chance for gifts, and that's just what I did.I printed the names on the shirts, then hung them on a hanger, creased right across the name.  I carefully suspended them into a bucket of pink dye, then over time added more soda ash or water. I was so happy with the gradation result.
Stay tunes for a picture of these sweet little girls modeling their shirts! Babycakes!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


shooting range 022
I clearly remember the event that shifted my perception of time with regard to my fiber art. I had invited 2 friends from my Quadra Island guild over for some dyeing fun, we finally had finished our outdoor projects and escaped the 100 degree heat, and lo and behold another quilter shows up at my door. "A fellow on the dock told me to come up here to the quilting session." And so she wandered up my trail and joined our group. She was from LaConner, Washington, and was obviously an accomplished quilter as she was wearing a tiny silk pieced (centimeter sized pieces) bag around her neck that held her sewing tools. It was a work of art. With our icy lemonades in the cool of my living room, the conversation took on the personality of a crazy quilt: sharing experiences, shifting topics, laughter and fun. But when this visitor told us of the quilter who decided to dye all of her FINISHED quilts BLACK, I was taken aback. "NO WAY!", I exclaimed. And from then on I have shifted how I approach the process.
fiber art 037
I had recently finished a queen-size quilt that had 13 specialty dyed strips to which I free-motioned  an ocean scene: over 40 rockfish, 6 crab, 3 large jellyfish and rocks at the bottom. I finished it off with swirly spirals as the ocean's currents. It was a ton of work and I loved it, but had to admit that the free-motion objects were totally lost in the busy-ness of the fabric. So, the fact that someone else had taken their finished quilts and dyed them black, gave me the liberty to continue on with my ocean quilt. My supposedly finished quilt now was work in progress, and I began bleach painting the objects to finally get them to pop out. And now this sequence flip of discharging the fabric AFTER the piecing and the quilting are completed seems as natural as breathing.
shooting range 026
And so it is: dye, piece, sandwich, quilt with CLOSED shapes that can later be discharged( bleached) or painted, then fill in with spirals or other filler pattern, discharge, wash and finish as desired. I'm enchanted with the process.
And so, as I enter the new year and toss around resolution ideas, I keep coming back to time. I always seem to struggle with it, want more, get cranky when I'm time's a no-win situation. But with mindfulness to how I shifted my creative process, I'm trying to be more mindful of shifting my life process. Linear time (schedules and time blocks) only cause me angst, and I believe I can reframe this. Not sure how, but the mindfulness is my key. My friend Glen has a mantra that she embraces: I have all the time I need to do what I have to do. I believe I'll get there too.
So, if you want to try your hand at discharging, you can try a sample patch with any of the gel cleansers with bleach. I apply it with either a paint brush or from a small metal-tipped bottle. I work with lots of ventilation and in short spurts, not longer than 30 minutes.
shooting range 029

And by the way, Happy Hew Year. 2010 is going to be amazing!