Saturday, March 29, 2014


I've been back in southern Oregon now for a couple of weeks and I have to say I am just now getting adjusted to life back in the states and ALMOST over missing my friends and life in Mexico. I was happy to get reaquainted with my sewing machine and have been getting lots done. AND my machine that "blew up" in Mazatlan has now been fixed by that miracle worker was a short in a wire that he replaced. Thank you Jerry!
I ordered a few things to be waiting for me and I was excited to open up my packages:
1. Elizabeth Barton's book VISUAL GUIDE TO WORKING IN A SERIES;
2. Valerie Goodwin's book ART QUILT MAPS;
3. 100 copies of my book SIGNS OF LIFE for me to take on the road; and
4. One yard of fabric I had printed from Spoonflower from one of my images.
There is so much inspiration in these books. And the Spoonflower package needs some playing with...washing and dyeing of the white parts to see the results. More on that later.
I have wanted to do another series and Barton's book was just the impetus. BUT I am one of those people who have so many ideas and so little time, so I wanted to make it SIMPLE. So here it is:
One of our themes for this year's collection of quilt journals is NINE. I decided to make 9 framed nine patches to explore free motion patterns, to expand my practice with font work, and to play with design elements to make each piece unique and interesting. I probably spent 3 to 4 hours selecting the fabric, cutting, piecing, pressing and sandwiching with batting and backing. I have 9 little sandwiched pieces (about 10x10 inches) ready to go.

So far, I have finished 3, 6, and 9 and look forward to the others. They are fun, take some planning and forethought,  and end up with a nice result. And they push me out of my free motion comfort zone. I was NOT planning to incorporate bleach work but I find I just can't help myself.

Now another thing on my creative plate these days is the 2 day class I'm taking next week with my friend Christine from Jean Wells (originator of the Sisters Quilt Show). Now that should challenge me, but I know Christine will help pull me through!

So maybe I'm fooling myself into thinking that I'm over my Mexican nostalgia....I'm just making sure I keep myself super busy so I don't think about it too much.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


This is only amigas, rather than amigos, because I did not have any men in my classes this year . Maybe in 2015 I will find some men who like to dye! I think using a photo like that above might help when advertising. Or maybe a SPORTS figure with a tie-dyed shirt on!
But the women and girls who showed up at my studio had fun, created some amazing items, and helped to make my winter in Mexico extra special!
Rosemary was a faithful attendee every week. I would say that her dyeing is all about PLAY! She loves to explore and try anything NEW! Here she is printing a cheesecloth texture onto a rayon scarf.

Kathe also showed up once a week. She is the queen of fabric books for her grandchildren, and also the queen of bridge, belly dancing, fitness walking and everything fun! I wish you could get a good look at her work was a work of art in itself! She now has a huge stash of fabrics to work on her projects this summer. Yes summer! In Mazatlan that's when projects get's too hot and humid to do anything outside.
Emita, above, is standing next to the curtain that her mother, Emma just dyed and created for her Mazatlan boutique, YeYe. This was a huge project of spiraling 4 large pieces of manta and hoping they all meshed together. The result is beautiful and Emita is happy! Emma is the recipient of all my unused liquid dyes when I leave Maz. She doesn't have access to these dyes and wants to keep on going with the process. Go Emma!

Nancy brought her canvas lounge pads, all stained and worn. We doused them in soda-ash and then she brushed on every blue I had. They are now fresh and clean and lovely BLUE! Her partners that day were Mary and Mary. There were lots of Marys that day! One dyed solids and the other gave new life to old clothes! They visit my studio once a year and we had a great time dyeing and catching up!

Sharon was one of my early students and a newbie to dyeing. As a fellow Oregonian, we have so much in common. I hope to see her again next year!

My neighbor, Amanda, came on two occasions with her sister and niece to dye shirts...once for a team and the second time so her family could all have matching Carnaval shirts. They'll be back, along with other neighbors I believe.

Adios also to Barb and her sister Margot, visitors Vicki and Judy, Sharon F.. We know how to have a good time don't we. Thank you all!

Thursday, March 13, 2014


It's adios time for me here in Mazatlan...bittersweet moments of goodbyes and farewells to new and old friends alike. My original post was going to be about dye studio friends, but I found my final visit to the sewing ladies this past Monday to certainly be worthy of writing about. Bev, Toy and I met with them for the first time since the "Carnaval" break, and they "wow-ed" us (double wow!!!!) with the items they have been creating. I have been so warmed and rewarded to see them take off on raw-edge applique (birds, cats, butterflies) AND making amazing creations with the fabric they created in my studio.

Yes, I gave them a lesson on birds, but Paty has been exploring cats. We encouraged them to try more new patterns by looking in children's coloring books for simple designs, and also the obvious of using Pinterest and other programs on the internet, but only 3 of the 10 have a computer. Maybe those that do can share ideas with those that don't. Paty then suggested we have a Facebook page and we all were excited about that idea AND her initiative. She is our recent college graduate in the area of social work. How hard she works! (And notice her OWL tote at the top of the page!)

Dora is my tie dye queen. She has an amazing knack for getting the folds and swirls just right, and also for choosing the perfect sections to use in her creations. The purse above is an example of her amazing work.
Magui too brought in some lovely bags. Denim was a great choice for this one with the sweet bird on the pocket. If you look closely, you'll see a seam down the middle...she sewed two pant legs together for each side of the bag. Our ladies are always thinking! 
Grimy (greemy), our faithful Pro-Mexico volunteer, is modeling this apron made by Cecy, who dyed the pink and white striped fabric at my house. It must be some sort of cotton/poly blend as those stripes took the color just as you see it. Isn't it sweet with her little bird pocket?

And then Cecy blew us away with her seven little bird swatches that she has put together in the last two weeks. Aren't they precious? It was a morning of oohs and ahs and seeing the ladies feel so proud of themselves.
Bev brought us good news. Last week Linda from QUILTWORKS COLLABORATIVE in the Bay Area discovered our little shop and now wants to be involved. She is offering supplies and the possibility of using their online boutique for sales. The only hurdle we have, and its a big one, is to figure out the shipping and customs issues. We'll see where this all goes. For now, it's exciting for us to think about.
As we were chatting away, an enthusiastic woman approached and offered her volunteer services for next year. She loves to sew and is not a beach person (like me!). We love our volunteers, and we will follow up with her.
And then the sad part came...the goodbyes. How I hate that part! But I told them to work hard, think of new patterns and keep up with their quality creations. Until next November...

Thursday, March 6, 2014


My time in Mazatlan is soon to come to a close. Today was my last day of dyeing and I've been using every last little bit of my Dharma cotton to build up my stash for upcoming productive sewing days up north. Yesterday was all about solids and today was all about textures and patterns...except for that beet colored solid I produced at the end of today's session.

They are lovely and I can't wait to get back to Oregon where I have a machine, and DON'T have a dye studio that constantly calls my name: "Mary, Mary! Come visit me!"

Had a few moments of wonderful discovery and exploratory play today. It suddenly occurred to me, as I tapped a spoon (that had remnants of powdered dye on it) into the sink and realized I was looking at something that resembled fireworks. (My mind must be in fireworks mode as Carnaval just ended here in Maz.)

I decided to try the same idea on my large tray, flooding it first with a thin layer of water, then so very carefully tapping tiny amounts of powdered dye on it. It was so fun to play with this and also got out a small syringe to so very carefully apply drops of water to manipulate the scene. FUN!

When I placed a wet soda ashed piece over it all, the result was much like "water color" scenes I have produced in the past. I didn't capture the firework burst effect, but I will keep trying...I have a few ideas.

Thank goodness for ideas!!!