Monday, August 30, 2010


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self portrait 006

Here we go on another journal quilt. This was really fun.
I’m not sure what little bird of an idea flew into my head one night, but it all started with wanting to try a continuous line drawing of myself and then coloring it in. I also was encouraged by Shawna’s painting she did (her son flying over the ramp on his bike) and Dawn’s comment on the class she took where she stitched first, painted later.  Thanks ladies! (These are fellow journalers.)
I went to the bathroom mirror with paper and pencil and did a quick two step (line) drawing, first my face and then the hair. It was a bit congested around the nose, but other than that, I could live with it.
I prepared my sandwich of white cotton on both sides with batting in between, and proceeded to reproduce my self-portrait that I had previously done on paper. So far, so good! (I actually took pictures of all these steps but somehow lost them when I was messing around with my camera last night.) And I realized that this was now reversible.
The next step was to soak my sandwich in soda ash, dry it, and press it. I mixed my dyes and thickened them with alginate. I first started with the portrait of my coastal B.C. self in the cool colors, and then flipped it over to paint my southern, Mexican self in the warm colors. I loved being able to try two completely different palettes of color on the same drawing.
As far as how I am connected to these pictures, these facts are true: 1) I have been wearing the same blue, round earrings for the whole summer!, 2) although I don’t have red hair, I have a ton of it in my genes, 3) I do not have blue eyes, 4) my hair is multi-color these days – brown, gold, reddish, gray, white, and 5) I was surprised about all those lumps and bumps and folds and furrows in the neck, chin and forehead areas. Oh well!

Sunday, August 29, 2010


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Journaling has become an important part of my creative life. When I first began, two years ago, it was more of a sampler session, a way to try new things on a small scale. Since then it has evolved into that and more - sometimes an intimate connection with a part of my life that might otherwise go untold, or an opportunity to share a snippet of my experience in fabric. I love having the pallette of journal assignments (themes) before me, free floating in the back of my mind, and like a slot machine or the cosmic planets, the plans and ideas all line up one day and I begin on another.
I recently had a week with 5 themes on my plate...that was a lot of ruminating!...and I took the plunge and knocked off two. The first, seen above, was in response to the idea of "stripes". Hmmmmmm....I had always wanted to try simple stripes and then re-stripe with bleach to form somewhat of a plaid. What would that look like? And that's what happened. I love it and now the wheels are turning on how I can incorporate this into a larger piece. Here's what it looked like before the bleaching...what a transformation, yes?
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My next theme I attached myself to was "All Tied Up". Suggested by Linda about 3 months prior, it became a most difficult assignment for me. She hinted that it had to do with how busy women's lives are, how at times we are all tied up with a million or two responsibilities (or three?). After struggling with that connection for a month or so, I had to finally let it go and move on to other "ties". The brainstorming began.
I had a photo floating around that I had taken last summer from the Refuge Cove dock. I loved the composition of the fleet of kayaks tied up together and knew that I would put it to fabric someday. The shapes, the colors, the lines of the dock all added such interest for me. And yes, they were "all tied up"! So, round one came out like this:
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I was preparing for a discharging class I was scheduled to teach and thought I'd take it one extra step and apply the thickened bleach (Soft Scrub with bleach) within the spirals of the water. And we all know what happens when bleach is applied...there's no turning back!
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I think it's a totally different piece. It's hard to know what to focus on at first until you realize what the subject is. I think I like the simplicity of the first one better, but I always love to try the "what if...?.  What do you think?
Summer is soon to be over. I think I better get in my kayak and go exploring...

Thursday, August 19, 2010


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Summer's bounty is still with us.  And that theme, "summer's bounty", was a quilt journal theme from way back in the early days of our that I never quite got around to, until now. It must be my current focus on harvesting and the amazing abundance that I am surrounded with that brought me back  to this theme.
For me, quilt journaling starts with this long rumination, a tossing and a turning, of thoughts and ideas and what ifs and maybes. Some blips on the brain frame immediately are tossed out because the project, even though 8.5"x11", is way more complicated than I want to commit to. In this case, it started with a list of some of my favorite summer bounties...beets, shrimp, peas on the vine, flowers, carrots, berries...and nothing quite grabbed me. I delved a little deeper...zucchini, nasturtiums, garlic...still no hits. Then I moved into jars and the pickling/canning process, and there I had it - kelp pickles! And with it a story of a person in my life connected to teaching me about making kelp pickles.
How to do it? (My piece, not the pickles!) This is really where the complicated tasks get canned. I had just finished an applique piece and had a brief moment of wanting to create a kelp bulb and frond in applique, but knew that would be WAY too much for my skills and patience. I could free motion, then discharge, but the kelp would be white/pink and I wanted it to be green. Soooooo....add another step, that being paint over the discharged part with green thickened dye, and I had it!
My ex-mother-in-law, Dorothy DeBoer, taught me how to make kelp pickles. We lived in the southeast Alaska community of Gustavus, and we spent a lot of time on the water – fishing, crabbing, traveling to Center Island for deer hunting, etc. In the summer, we’d come upon huge kelp beds, and if I had a 5 gallon bucket along, I would cut a bucket full of healthy looking 2 foot stalks and bring them back home. Dorothy was proficient at both pickles (rings) and relish, but I didn’t have a food processor so just made the rings (which are most delicious with a tuna sandwich!). She showed me how to soak them for 2 days to get the slime off prior to pickling. She also would make sure she had extra spices to share with me.
Dorothy was born and raised in Gustavus, and lived there with her 8 siblings, parents, and numerous relatives. As an adult, she became a teacher, and both she and her husband taught in the Juneau school system. She was Juneau’s first female principal, only after the school board’s request that she complete a doctorate.  After retiring, she spent much time doing world-wide ministry work for her church. She was an amazing woman.
But most of all, she was a good friend. Despite the fact that I divorced her son (yes, instigated by me), she remained connected, supportive and the best grandmother my son could ever ask for. He spent every summer with Dorothy and her husband, Charles, until they were unable to return to Gustavus. As a testimony to the power of these wonderful people, my son Ben has the most amazing tattoo of his grandfather on his arm. Maybe Dorothy will be portrayed on the other arm someday.
For me, I’ll just remember Dorothy every time I see this piece. And also be reminded of summer's bounty!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


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Here in coastal B.C., every waterway is  DOORWAY. It may be a doorway to distant lands, new adventure, or even a place for the imagination to activate. Its everywhere, inviting one to explore, to stretch, to grow. Whether traveling by sail, power, kayak or canoe, you can swim, fish, dig clams or beachcomb. Be it north, south, east or west, there are doorways at every turn.
August's theme for our Cyber Fibres group is DOORWAYS. My first thought was to replicate another piece I had already done called "Mazatlan's Doors", but I wanted to try something new, so put my thinking cap back on. I had tried a few raw-edged landscapes this summer and wanted to try more, so I pushed it to my next step of turned-edge applique using freezer paper like I have seen so many doing at my guild and elsewhere. I learned a few things on this piece: 1) this process takes a long time, 2) I could use a few lessons on better technique, 3) color value work isn't easy, and 4) that my camera's photo program has some neat features for enhancing your shot. Here I super-textured everything. Interesting effct isn't it?
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And I didn't use one speck of bleach!
I'd also like to take note of an amazing landscape project by the Rogue Art Quilters ( My friend Christine is a participant in this collective view of the Rogue River all created in art quilts. It is an amazing creation...well done Christine and group!

Monday, August 2, 2010


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I have a few "foodie" friends, but I myself don't quite fall into that category. Don't get me wrong ... I love to cook!  To me the term foodie indicates, among other things, that someone is using some hard to find ingredients and my lifestyle just doesn't go there. I've always lived in quirky places, be it Gustavus, Alaska, Mazatlan, or here at Refuge Cove, and I haven't exactly had shopping options at my fingertips. I'm a complete ignoramus regarding trendy food items and I'm not a food channel nut (sorry, no tv!). But I like good food. And that last post I wrote about my mom's pie crust just really got my food juices going.
Here at the Cove, I do one or two MAJOR shopping trips for our 5 months here. I hit on all the staples, then throw in a few extras which sets me up for about 50% of our summer grub. The rest is all local, split between the garden (mine or others), eggs from friends' chickens, honey from the local beekeeper, prawns, salmon, and cod from the sea, and our tiny store for everything else. There is one restaurant here in our community and they only serve burgers. Not that we don't like a good burger, but the food at home is WAY better, so why look elsewhere? Believe me, when I'm anywhere else, I'm the first to suggest going out so I don't have to cook, but here I'm in my glory. Home cooking, good home cooking.
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Kieran, one of the local teens, caught a 19 pound Chinook salmon last week, and last night we had a most amazing potluck. His grandpa Rick cooked it "wickininish" style - cold smoked all day(placed in a wooden box with the smoke vented from detached alder coals). It is my absolute favorite...incredibly moist and so full of those omega 3's! We all brought our favorite side dish and bottle of wine, and yes, there was a "joint effort" blueberry pie (I made the crust!, Barb picked the berries and made the pie) as the featured dessert. Here, Cathy is carrying the salmon from its cooking box to the table.
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Speaking of boxes AND Cathy, she just finished painting Rick's wickininish box, and this was its christening. You should have seen it with the smoke rolling out of it!
As for me, my awareness has truly been on food lately. (Maybe Thanksgiving should be celebrated in summer!) So much so, that I've got a thing going with aprons. All hand-dyed, one-of-a-kinds for sale down at Sandy's shop. Maybe a foodie or two will buy one. 
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