Sunday, February 18, 2018

Another busy week!

Above:  New work made while conducting my two-day HOT workshop.  From left to right: In Box Relic CC, a special gift to a new friend; In Box Relic XCIX ($60); Relic CCII ($100); and In Box Relic CCI ($60).

When I'm conducting a workshop, I think it is important that I present myself as a "working artist" who produces ART.  All my demonstrations really do get finished, framed, priced and hopefully sold.  I encourage participants to "make art" by example, not by "workshop samples" but through a series I call "relics".  Each finished piece is like an artifact from the time I spent sharing what I know and what I do.

This past week found me in St. Augustine, Florida.  It was wonderful!  I'm really too busy to snap pictures during most of the workshop but I try to have a "show-and-tell" during the last hour.  That's when I take a few pictures of all the wonderful pieces created during the two days.


While in Florida, I made new friends, including Cindi (who hosted me in her lovely home and planted this pretty flower) and Laura (who made all the arrangements, dinner reservations, and handled all the money!)  I can't thank you two enough!

Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the very, very generous lady who donated this amazing stash of yarn to my recycling efforts.  Not only will this bonanza be turned into fiber vessels, but some of it is perfect for wrapping more wooden thread spools!  THANK YOU!

I truly enjoy teaching HOT: Heat Activated Techniques for Contemporary Embroidery and will be conducting it as a two-day and a five-day experience at QSDS this summer in Columbus, Ohio.  (For the Quilt and Surface Design Symposium website, CLICK HERE.  I'm teaching from May 28th through June 3rd.)  I'm also thrilled to be on Mary McBride's faculty for Focus on Fibers, a retreat at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Florida!  If enrollment is sufficient, I'll be headed back to Florida to teach Second Life on April 7th and 8th!  (CLICK HERE for more information.)

Teaching workshops is important to me.  I always learn something too, generally about myself and my own artwork.  I learn where I'm at creatively.  I find balance in my every day life.  I also have time (especially when driving!) to consider directions for the future.  So ... thank you to everyone who has signed up and taken one of my workshops! It really means a lot!

(Above:  Nike's Advice VI.  45" x 60". Acrylic paint on unprimed canvas with free-motion machine embroidery and hand-stitched binding.)

Before leaving for Florida, I finished all the machine stitching on Nike's Advice VI.  I took the piece with me and managed more than half the blanket-stitched binding during an evening with Cindi.  Once home, it got done and I decided to photograph it on the driveway.

(Above:  Photographing Nike's Advice VI.)

The daylight was perfect, a bright but overcast day without any shadows.  Steve helped erect all three ladders and the wooden ramp we use to put our moped into the cargo van.  The tripod and camera were firmly put into a stable place.  I'm pleased with the resulting photos ....

... especially the detail shots! (I am linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts.)

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Busy Week!

 (Above:  A Baby Goat is Called a Kid, The Wall of Ancestors.)

I've been on the go ever since returning from two workshops in Alabama taught during the week in which my solo show, Anonymous Ancestors, closed at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope. It was a wonderful time even though I had to pack up the their installation.  I don't need more pieces for it but I can't help myself.  I keep making more.  After all, how can I resist adding the phrase "A Baby Goat is Called a Kid" to a picture like this!

 (Above:  Donation of old photos from Stephen Savage, board member at the Eastern Shore Art Center.)

The photo came from an amazing gift.  Stephen Savage is a professional photographer in the Mobile and Fairhope area of Alabama.  We gave me a big box full of old photos.  Some were unknown family members.  Others ... well ... simply anonymous and totally ripe for collaged phrases like ...

 (Above:  What Happens on the Buckskin Stays on the Buckskin, Wall of Ancestors.)

... this!  There are quite a few more than will soon be transformed for the installation.

 (Above:  No One Could Look Me in the Eyes and Not Tell the Truth. Wall of Ancestors.)

I got this old, anonymous image and frame from Bill Mishoe's auction.  It is BIG, measuring 31" x 27".  I particularly like big pieces for this installation.  They are generally the center or focal point for a vignette of pictures on a wall.

 (Above:  Relic XCVI.  Matted to 11 1/4" x 10".)

Of course I did some stitching during the week, finishing up Relic XCVI.  Each "relic" started as a demonstration piece in a workshop.

 (Images from the Allatoona Quilt Guild.)

I am free-motion stitching on another, large canvas painted in public during an art event called Nike's Advice.  It isn't complete yet.  Why? Well, I've also spent time with the Allatoona Quilt Guild outside Atlanta, Georgia.  I presented a truck show but got to enjoy the guild's general meeting and fabulous "Show-and-Tell".  Some of the work is donated to charity.  Some is the completion of a piece bound for a special family member or friend.  One lady modeled her quilt, a great jacket.

 (Above:  Images from the Southern Pines Quilt Guild.)

I forgot to share these photos taken last month.  I went to the Southern Pines Quilt Guild in North Carolina and gave a trunk show there too.  Again, these ladies are so talented and very, very generous.

 (Above:  Mounting 19th century dictionary pages to fabric and collaging vintage and antique images to each one.)

Some days are spend doing prep work.  This week I fused fabric to the reverse of 30+ pages selected from Charles Richardson's English Language Dictionary, 1846 and added images cut from pre-1950s magazines and assorted 19th engravings.  Soon I'll be adding some free-motion embroidery and collaged letters.  They will become the next wave in my new Great Quotations series.

There's never a dull moment here.  Tomorrow my husband Steve and I go to Salisbury, North Carolina to pick up my recently finished solo show.  Next Tuesday will find me in St. Augustine conducting another two-day HOT workshop and giving a power point lecture.  I've got a grant due on the 15th and several juried shows to enter.  Between the "paperwork" of art, the promotion of art, and the actually making of art, I sometimes feel like I have three jobs.  Thankfully, I like to keep busy!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Nike's Advice III and other work

(Above:  Nike's Advice III, framed. 34" x 42". Assorted paint, oil pastels, and ink on unprimed canvas with self-guided, free-motion stitching.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

During the annual spring art crawl, Artista Vista 2016, I painted over hundred feet of canvas with the public.  My friends Barry Wheeler and John Allen created a video of the experience.  (CLICK HERE for the one-minute, time-lapse of the experience.  It is a blast!)  For over a year, I did nothing with the fabric.  Now, I'm really enjoying stitching some of it. 

 (Above:  Nike's Advice III, framed and hanging beside my mat cutter and small Seal dry-mount press at Mouse House, my business.)

The first two pieces had three layers:  the painted canvas (top), recycled industrial packaging felt (middle), and blank canvas (bottom ... more from the same, original bolt of fabric).  These first two were finished without a frame.  The edges were simply button-hole stitched. Yet, I wondered if I really needed the packaging felt.  There was only one way to find out ... TRY IT.

(Nike's Advice III, detail.)
Nike's Advice III is the result.  Although I have the next piece under my sewing machine and it has the felt layer, I'm now wondering about using a larger piece of the canvas on the back ... and stretching the finished work around wooden stretcher bars.  One thing always seems to lead to the next!
 (Nike's Advice III, detail.)

I'm very pleased with the finished work and hung it at Mouse House, the limited custom picture framing shop I own with my husband Steve.

 (Nike's Advice III, detail.)

Yet I wasn't pleased until making the decision to cut off approximately 6" from the right side and 3" off the bottom.  This fabric was painted without much thought to composition, color, or even having any edges.  The bolt was simply suspended from the ceiling.  It flowed down onto two folding tables.  As the fabric was covered, I pulled more fabric down and continued painting.  Even though I thought I cut a nice arrangement, it needed a little trimming.

 (Above:  Nike's Advice IV.  10 1/2" x 10 1/2". $40.)

I took the parts I trimmed away and made two little pieces.  It was fun to work with the scraps, cut them, and make a new arrangement.

 (Above:  Nike's Advice V.  9 1/4" x 15 1/4". $50.)

These two little pieces were shrink wrapped and thrown into a print bin. 

 (Above:  Relic XCV.  Unframed 6" x 5".  Framed: 11" x 12".  $100.)

Every time I conduct one of my "HOT" workshops, I finish the demonstration piece.  I figure that I'm hired not just for a "workshop" piece but as a working artist.  I ought to be making art.  So, that's what I do.  This is the piece from last week's workshop in Fairhope.  The one I stitched in Mobile never made it home.  It was sold to one of the participants!  That really makes me happy because it means that I am succeeding in my desire to "teach like an artist" not just as someone going over a lesson plan!

(Above:  Window CXLVII.  Framed: 15 1/2" x 12 1/2".)

Before I left for the two workshops in Alabama, a friend commissioned me to create a special piece for her mother's birthday.  She selected a design from one of my earlier Lancet Windows ... but just the top half.  Happily, she picked it up today.  Commissions are always very special too!

Friday, February 02, 2018

Using the Embellisher for Unique Background Fabric

 (Above:  The Key to All the World.  Inventory # 4217. 11 3/4" x 9 3/4". $70.)

Yesterday I uploaded all the photos of the recently finished, tagged keys.  They are fun to make and I wrote about my approach ... using frames made from leftover and scrap picture moulding and old keys salvaged from one of my earliest art-making attempts.   Because there are about fifty pieces, I didn't really need a longer blog post.  So, I promised to blog about how some of the backgrounds were made using my Babylock Embellisher, a dry felting machine.  This is that post.

 (Above:  The blond wood frame and a scrap of silk fabric rusted with antique nails.)

This is how I started!  I grabbed the blond wood frame and selected a tagged key.  I found a scrap of silk on which I'd rusted antique nails.  I did the rusting over a decade ago and blogged about it HERE.  At the time, I intended to use the fabric in an altered book called Nails in a Coffin.  I made the book. My younger son created a video. We posted the video on this blog but Blogger's system doesn't seem to support it any longer.  I just reposted it on You Tube ... HERE.  I more than enough pieces.  Later, several were used for a 2015 collaboration with poet Al Black for an exhibition called Art from the Ashes.   Amazingly, I still had one piece of rusted silk left.

I cut the silk into three jagged-edged pieces and overlapped them on a piece of white acrylic felt.

Over the top, I added ethereal wisps of wool rovings, scraps of off-white fabric from an antique blouse, and some tan netting.  I worked from both the front of these scraps and the back, punching the machine's barbed needles through all the layers.  The wool rovings became totally embedded in the lower layers, revealing the lacy detail of the blouse.  Finally, I added three mother-of-pearl leaf shaped buttons, beads, and the tagged key.

 (Above:  The Key to the Future. Inventory # 4194. 10" x 8". $60.)

This is The Key to the Future.  It started with ...

... a really old, stained piece of wool cross stitch which came out of  frame I bought at auction.  The frame was used for my Anonymous Ancestors installation.  I washed the cross stitch, half expecting it to dissolve but it didn't.  At first, the water was totally brown.  I kept washing.  Why?  Well, I loved the distressed look of this scrap and knew its open weave would be excellent under the dry felting machine.  Lots of the keys I recently finished have this antique material in their backgrounds.

I cut strips of the pulled thread divisions to create a loose border for the flower design.  A piece of red synthetic felt went under it.  A little bit of tan colored wool rovings went over the top.  This background took all of five minutes to make (if that long).  It is wonderful to see unique combinations of fibers come so quickly to life.  A few sequins and beads later, the tagged key was added.

Another piece in my stash of odd materials was this really early cross stitch.  I made it for my mother-in-law after I first started stitching in 1983.  Even then, I was making up my own patterns.  I got it back when she died over a decade ago.  It isn't very well done but it served to remind me just how far I'd come in stitching and creativity.  No one else would recognize anything of quality in this tiny embroidery ... unless I turned it into something else.

So ... I took my scissors to it!  I put it on a piece of yellow felt ...

... put some olive green wool rovings and a few other scraps of random material on top ... and a scrap of ocher-colored ultra suede underneath ... and ran over it from both sides using the dry felting machine.

  (Above:  The Key to Kindness.  Inventory # 4212. 8 1/4" x 5 3/4". $50.)

I added a few straight stitches using orange colored perle cotton thread.  It became the Key to Kindness.

The rest of the cross stitch became the background for The Key to The Best ... in a genuine burl veneered frame.  (I just love burl picture frame moulding!  It really is "the best" in wood!)

I used a lot of olive green wool rovings on the reverse ... punching from the back ... allowing some of the green fibers to mingle onto the front.

This is how it looked under the machine's dozen barbed needles.

Next, I punched rusty-brown dyed scrim/gauze onto the back. A few loops of the gauze worked their way to the surface adding texture.  I trimmed the gauze nearly to the jagged edges but allowing the color to peek out around the perimeter.

To alter the front and obscure the strong linear design, I applied two patches of antique wool paisley.

This is how the scrap looked before I added the tagged key and a few star-shaped sequins and beads.

 (Above:  The Key to The Best II.  Inventory # 4208. 10 3/4" x 8 3/4". $70.)

This is how the finished piece looks ... the best!  I've very happy that an early piece was transformed into something someone can appreciate.  Using the dry felting machine is so much fun.  All the keys can be seen HERE and are available for purchase.  Just email me at

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Tagged and framed KEYS!

 (Above:  The Key to The Best I. Inventory # 4186. 9 1/2" x 9". $60.  Click on any image in this blog post for an enlargement.)

December is the end of the fiscal year here at Mouse House.  It is a time when my husband and I do things like INVENTORY.  We count full sheets of mat board and foam-centered board, panes of glass, all sorts of other items, and picture framing moulding.  It is also a time to look at small sticks of moulding, especially styles and finishes that have been discontinued or profiles we will never order again.  Thus, it becomes a time when Steve makes all sorts of little frames.  It also becomes a perfect time for me to tag and frame a bunch of keys!  I love doing this!

 (Above:  A really, really, really OLD piece ... made back in 2001 during my very first year as an artist!  Bargellos stitching with metallic threads on needlepoint canvas with found keys.)

I'd almost forgotten about this early piece.  I made it back in 2001, the year I finally declared that I wanted to be an artist "when I grew up".  I was forty-two at the time and had absolutely no formal background in art.  Yet, I naturally gravitated toward small found objects ... including keys which later became quite an obsession.  I guess I've always loved keys. 

 (Above:  Keys removed from the original artwork.)

It was high time to dismantle the earlier piece and use the fifty+ keys in another way!  Right now, I have no plans for the stitched background ... but some day I might.

 (Above:  Fifty+ keys tagged with words like: Happiness, Kindness, Romance, Tradition, Peace, Money, Love, Knowledge, etc.)

First, I made tags for all the keys.  The tags are made from watercolor paper carefully ripped into strips.  Occasionally, I've used an old, amateurish watercolor taken from a dilapidated frame bought at auction ... some anonymous person's attempt to paint.  The letters and words came from pre-1945 magazines and books.  I store the letters alphabetically in a container meant for nuts and bolts. I machine zigzag the cording from old skeins of acrylic yarn.

Next, I moved all the assorted little frames into my studio ...

... and pull out my Babylock embellisher, a dry felting machine.  The studio is quickly a disaster area of scraps, wool rovings, lace, felt, dyed scrim, nylon scarves, tulle, netting, and silk fragments.  All this "junk" becomes a background for each key.

Each background and key is created specifically for the style, color, and size of the little frame.  From here, the projects went into my living room.  I beaded and embellished each one while watching television on January evenings.  Finally, the works went downstairs to the frame shop where a mat was selected, photos snapped, and labels for the back were created.  Each piece is now in my inventory book.  (I've also cleaned up the studio!)  Making these little gems is always such a pleasure and an excellent way to begin a new year.  I think about all the qualities associated with the keys ... peace, success, beauty, affection, family, music, luck, positive thinking, etc.  Below are the finished pieces.  Each one is for sale between $50 - $70 and can be purchased by sending me an email.  Most pieces fit into a flat rate USPS box for either $7.20 or $13.65. or

 (Above:  A Key to A Good Day, Inventory # 4169. 10 1/2" x 8 1/2". $60.)

I took a few "in progress" photos of two or three of the keys.  I'll blog them later.  This post already has enough images! LOL!  I also had to make more cording and will blog that progress later too.

 (Above:  The Key to Achievement.  Inventory # 4180.  9 7/8" x 6 7/8". $60.)

(Above:  Key to Affection. Inventory # 4188. 11 1/4" x 9 1/4". $70.)

(Above:  The Key to Beauty II. Inventory # 4203. 13 3/8" x 11 3/8". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Beauty I. Inventory # 4190. 12" x 9 3/4". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Charm. Inventory # 4193. 9 3/4" x 6 3/4". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to Experience.  Inventory # 4197. 11 1/4" x 9 3/4". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Faith. Inventory # 4174. 9 1/4" x 7 1/2". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Family. Inventory # 4196. 9 3/4" x 9". $60.)

 (Above:  Key to Happiness.  Inventory # 4164.  10 1/4" x 8 1/4". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Healing.  Inventory # 4205. 9 3/4" x 7 3/4". $60.)

 (Above:  Key to Life at Its Best. Inventory # 4163. 11" x 9". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Living.  Inventory # 4199. 9 3/4" x 8". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Love II. Inventory # 4202. 7 1/8" x 5 3/4". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to Love I. Inventory # 4175. 9 1/4" x 7 1/2". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Luck. Inventory # 4176. 8" x 6". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Money.  Inventory # 4191. 11 1/4" x 10". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Music.  Inventory # 4218. 9 1/2" x 7 1/4". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Peace. Inventory # 4181 10" x 7" $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Perfection.  Inventory # 4201. 12" x 9 1/2". $60.)

 (Above:  Key to Positive Thinking.  Inventory # 4166. 11 1/4" x 9 1/4". $70.)

 (Above:  Key to Power.  Inventory # 4198. 9 3/8" x 7 3/8". $60.)

 (Above:  Key to Protection.  Inventory # 4168. 9 3/4" x 7 3/4". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Romance II.  Inventory # 4206. 8 1/2" x 7 1/2". $60.)

(Above:  The Key to Romance I.  Inventory # 4171. 10 1/4" x 8 1/4". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Secrets. Inventory # 4184. 8 1/2" x 6". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Service ... which was a special gift to Creative Sewing ... the people who keep my sewing machines running!)

 (Above:  The Key to Success II.  Inventory # 4200. 10 3.4" x 8 1/2". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Surprise! Inventory # 4182 7 5/8" x 5 5/8". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to the Future. Inventory # 4194. 10" x 8". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to the Ideal. Inventory # 4207. 8 1/4" x 6 3/4". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to the Old Fashioned.  Inventory # 4170. 12 1/4" x 9 3/4". $70.)

(Above:  The Key to Knowledge. Inventory # 4167. 10 1/2' x 8 1/2". $70.)

(Above:  The Key to The Finest.  Inventory # 4185. 10" x 8". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Tradition.  Inventory # 4189. 13" x 11". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Virtue. Inventory # 4178. 8 3/8" x 6 3/8". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to a Great Future.  Inventory # 4210. 11" x 8 1/4". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Adventure.  Inventory # 4165.  10" x 8". Already sold!!!)

 (Above:  The Key to All the World.  Inventory # 4217. 11 3/4" x 9 3/4". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Energy.  Inventory # 4216. 9 1/2" x 9". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Honesty.  Inventory # 4209. 11 1/2" x 9 1/2". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Hope.  Inventory # 4179. 7 7/8" x 5 7/8". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to Intimacy.  Inventory # 4214. 10 1/4" x 8 1/2". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to Kindness.  Inventory # 4212. 8 1/4" x 5 3/4". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to Reward.  Inventory # 4215. 12" x 20". $60.)

 (Above:  The Key to Success I.  Inventory # 4183. 9 1/2" x 7 1/2". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to Tenderness.  Inventory # 4187. 8 1/4" x 6 1/4". $50.)

 (Above:  The Key to The Best II.  Inventory # 4208. 10 3/4" x 8 3/4". $70.)

 (Above:  The Key to the Best of All.  Inventory # 4213. 8 1/4" x 6 3/4". $50.)

(Above:  The Key to Delight.  Inventory # 4192. 7 7/8" x 6 1/2". $60.)