Friday, December 27, 2013

Providing Space For Possibility

(this is a simultaneous post on the "8 That Create" blog)

I've been thinking a lot about that lately, providing space for possibility.

Carol here, opening a discussion on how we can open up a space for possibility.

I am smack dab in the middle of a huge purge and reorganization of my home.

It started out innocently enough with me wanting to clean out my studio.
It was cluttered, packed with useless ("I might need that one day") items that are easily accessible.

Why keep all of these things in my studio when I can pick them up locally for a few coins when I need them?
I understand that I need some of them  in front of me for inspiration but I was/am sick to death of a packed, cluttered work space!
When I am in the middle of a project (or two), my work table is always cluttered - but with purpose.
And that type of clutter is easily dealt with after a project is completed.

It's the ever present clutter that haunts me.

I truly believe that it inhibits creativity and restricts inner vision.

In short, it cripples my ability to bring concrete form to my creative voice.

With all of that in mind, I began the arduous task of picking through decades of "precious" items.
Some of them were easy enough to part with. They no longer fit my idea of suitable art supplies (to me anyway), my color preferences changed or I was no longer interested in completing that particular project.

But what I did notice was that the longer I worked at cleaning out my space, the easier it got to toss the items to the "throw away" or "donate" pile.
And, when that happened, I felt that a weight had been lifted off of me. I could really feel my spirits lifting.

I believe that I was opening up space for something new, something fresh in my life.

I didn't want to allow the past, in the form of clutter, to hamper future possibilities.

The action of purging the studio fueled a passion to do the same thing throughout my home.

At the end of the day, the pain that I feel is an odd comfort.
It tells me that I am doing a good thing, that I am putting in the important work it takes to create not only a physical space that invites creativity and inspiration but I am also creating that same space within myself.

I did not plan on this being a New Year's resolution. It just happened to be this time of the year.

If I was one to make resolutions, I'd resolve to continue to simplify my life, my home and attitude.
For they have become much too cluttered.

I hope that you all continue to invite inspiration into your life.
A good place to start is to create a space for it - open yourself up to possibility.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to you all!

A card from my friend Denise.
I love this hand painted card.
Thank you again Denise.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fiber 5K to Fight Cancer

Cancer is a devastating disease that touches all of our lives – there is probably no one out there who hasn't been affected by it in one way or another, either suffering it in one’s own body or having it touch the life of a loved one. My own family has been touched several times by the damned thing.
My oldest sister died from renal cell carcinoma.
My grandmother had breast cancer.
My husband's mother died from breast cancer as well as his grandmother from the same disease.
I have several friends that have waged a ferocious war with cancer. And not all of them won.
Fiber5Kroute400As a fiber artist one of the causes I feel most called to support is Fiberart for a Cause, an initiative founded by fiber artist Virginia Spiegel. So today I would like to invite you all to mark your calendars for January 15, 2014 and join me as I run the Fiber 5K to Fight Cancer. OK, I won’t actually be jogging around a race course. But I will be joining the fun as Fiberart For A Cause’s virtual race kicks off with a goal of donating $5000 directly to the American Cancer Society.
Generous Prize Sponsors for drawings means there will be many winners at the 1K ($1000) mark, 2K ($2000) mark, etc., plus a Grand Prize drawing when we cross the Finish Line.
According to Race Director, Virginia Spiegel, “Fiberart For A Cause likes to have fun while raising money to fight cancer, so, of course, there are going to be more “race” details revealed as January 15 draws closer. 100% of donations are given directly to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause. Fiberart For A Cause has already donated more than $230,000 to the American Cancer Society thanks to the generosity of fiber artists and patrons.”
More information right here.

Friday, December 20, 2013


I've had a bit of a hiatus from the blog, from a busy life and from most anything else.

It all started with a studio/house cleanup/clean out.
I tend to pull everything out, go through it and put back what I am keeping (which was 50% of what I took out).
I also have piles (bags) for donating, boxes for selling and bags of trash.
Lots of paper trash...what in the hell was I going to do with all the paper I was hoarding I mean storing?

Anyway, right in the middle of the project, I got sick.
Sinus infection, bronchitis, fever, aches, blah, blah, blah.
Snot a funny thing, I'll tell you.

I am managing to get a little done everyday, little by little.
And I am so excited by the results!
Simplify, simplify - that is what I looking to do.

In looking back over this year, I've been able to see what I've been doing.
It wasn't too obvious while I was doing it but now that I am looking back on it, I can see what was really going on.
Isn't life just that way?
The power of hindsight.

I have spent a lot of this year resting.
And trying to figure out what I want to do.

What do I mean by "what I want to do"?

I spent years at home, making things, creating art.
I didn't really read a lot of blogs or magazines.

I just did what called to me.

The past 2 or 3 years I've read blogs, magazines and took a couple of online workshops.
As I was cleaning out my studio, I could see that I had created several pieces of other peoples art.
Not mine.
Oh, my hand was in it but some of the images were not mine at all.
(in my own defense, I did not claim that it was my "original" art but inspired by someone else)

But that distressed me.
I do not want to lose my own voice and I feel that the past few months have been very good for me.

The resting, thinking and looking inward.
I think that I will be better equipped to raise my voice this coming year.

Now on to something that I'd like to share.

 I feel so blessed to have a piece of art in Lesley Riley's newest book "Quotes Illustrated"!

This is such a cool book, especially if you love quotes (and art work).
It's full of one of a kind art work that was created just for the quote that it illustrates.

My quote was by Karl Barth.

"Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace."

I used plaster embedded gauze, joint compound, acrylic paint and glazes to create a canvas with a niche. In the niche is a piece of driftwood shaped like a wing.

Seriously, it looks just like a wing. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of driftwood that I have ever found.

I'll explain why I created what I did in response to the above quote.

I felt that the layers of plaster and joint compound were representing the layers that our lives have- the many relationships, the heartaches, the trials that are required for grace to develop in our life.
I scratched marks into the plaster much as living our lives leaves marks on us.
The beauty (or horror) of each mark shows the layer below it.

The wing shaped driftwood could represent that promise of freedom that grace would offer us.

Grab a copy for yourself so you can see all of the creative artwork inside.
Maybe you will also find a quote that sparks your creativity as it did mine.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting To Work

It's no secret that I love rusting fabric, fibers, threads, paper, clothing and most anything that I can get my hands on.
I love the color, the texture and the serendipitous possibility of it all.

I've been selling rusted fabrics and fibers in my Etsy shop for several years now.
I have a stack of beautiful rusted papers that I need to add to the shop...just gotta do it.

I've had an idea for a book for a couple or three years now that involves a series of rusted elements that appear to flow through the pages.

(my friends will roll their eyes because they have heard this over and over)

I have all of the pages completed and in a nice little stack.
The cover materials are in the very same stack, waiting for the creation of a collage.

Just sitting there waiting on me,
the creator,
to create.

Staring at me, taunting me (in a challenging way) every time that I walk into my studio.

Why have I waited to start (or finish) this project that I (so obviously) want to create?

I think (part of) it could be that I fear my romanticized idea of the book will not match the book that I actually create.

The book is so beautiful in my mind but I may not be able to match it in reality.

Do you ever feel that way?

I think that a lot of artists do.

And I feel that the answer to that fear is to get into the studio and create.
And keep creating and making until I am satisfied with the end result.


With that in mind, I did begin the cover this past week.

Of course it is taking on a life of its own...
A lot of "what if I do this?" "Or what about that?"
or "Hey, wouldn't this be great!?"

Most importantly, I have started.

What do you have in your studio or your life that you want to create (or do) (or see)?

If there a project that pulls at you, then you need to focus your attention on it, allow it to come to fruition.

And I think that right now is a great time to do just that.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Inspiration is all around us.
This is a tiny slice of what I found outside of my home - on the patio railing.

Some of these look kind of like snowflakes!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my US friends, that is.

I am thankful for all of my family and friends.
For you readers.
And for everything good in my life.
Including the bad things too. I learn from those and continue to grow.
So - the bad can become the good, right?

I hope that everyone these words touch will have a peace filled day.


Monday, November 25, 2013

What's On Your Table?

Here's a sampling of what is on mine.

Outside -

Outside work table, full of rust that I use for dyeing
And inside -

I use a couple of types of sewing thread in my hand stitching.
Usually variegated.

I place mohair tendrils
(or "trimmings" if you want to leave the poetry out of the picture)
on the felted base, then stitch over them for this
lovely curly-cue shape.
No thinking involved (during the stitching process that is).

couching down naturally dyed crochet thread

silk /cotton thread that accepts eucalyptus dye beautifully
(available at Christine Mauersberger's shop )
(this is dyed with euca from one of the trees in my yard)

I cannot get enough of those French Knots!
Especially beautiful on top of rusted batting.

Can you see the Spanish Moss that I captured under the
netting? It is in the left hand side of the photo.
This is one way to preserve memories - add things
that you collected during trips.
This one came from Charleston SC on a kayaking trip.
I felted the moss, netting and scrim onto the wool base.

Well, another piece of the fiber collage has been stitched.
By hand, that is.
What lovely plant matter shall I machine stitch on top of this one?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dyed, Felted and Stitched

I think that I might use the smaller dyed, felted and stitched pieces for a larger collage piece.

As you all know, that plan may change as time goes by.
But for now, it looks like a good idea.

Here is one small piece that I have completed.

Click to enlarge and see the wonderful texture in this piece.

The base is a piece of wool from a repurposed skirt that I had previously felted some type of fibers onto.
I no longer like the colors (well I liked them but didn't want to work with them right now and I needed a good base). I just felted over what was already there.
I felted small scraps of rusted and naturally dyed fabrics & fibers onto the base with a machine felter.
I also added a small amount of Spanish Moss (under dyed scrim) and paper that was dyed with leaves and rust.
Then I spent a few hours over the weekend sweating over some hand stitching (read "stitching while watching a movie or two").

It was beautiful at that point but why stop there, right?

I decided to add machine embroidery too. (Or do you call it "thread sketching"?)
The sketch comes from a Dover publication about microscopic plant forms (although the above sketch does not look  like a microscopic view...).

I really like the color combination though.
I dyed (well I assisted Mother Nature with the dyeing) most of the items that I used in this small piece, which btw, measures apx. 5 x 6.5 inches (apx. 13 cm x 16.5 cm).
In this scan, the piece is damp from being rinsed the colors will lighten a little bit (but not a lot).

I have done a bit of machine stitching on the larger piece that I was working on (the grayish one in earlier posts).
I'll post photos when I get a chance to take one or two.

I hope that you're all doing well and flexing those creative muscles every day.
It truly is a matter of "if you don't use you, you lose it".
By flexing that muscle, you will begin to find inspiration and ideas at every turn.

Happy creating!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Felted Needle Case

I have another project I completed a while back that I have not posted photos of.

I helped my buddy, Liz Kettle, in one of her Art & Soul workshops last year.
It was a machine felting class.
I had never tried machine felting before (only needle felting) so I was excited to learn as I helped her.

I felted the base of the piece while in the classroom - a very quick, very basic machine felting.
Very quick and easy since I was (mostly) helping out.

I was undecided about what I was going to make out of the felted base until the very end. I considered creating a small book cover, a small clutch or something like that.
I really didn't want to make a fold-over book (with the signatures that are stitched into the book) since I knew that it would fill up quickly (or not at all).
And I didn't really need a small clutch that fancy (since I was beading it) so I let it  just sit there for a bit while I made my mind up.

One day I picked it up and went back to work on it (without a notion of what the end project would be) because I just loved the hand stitching so much.
While stitching, I misplaced (lost) one of my favorite needles and I found myself wishing that I had a needle case to put them in.

Heyyyyyy...a needle case.

So I decided right then to do just that - make a fancy needle case.
And I am so glad that I did!
All I have to do now is grab it and I am set for ANY type of hand stitching.

Here's several (a lot) of photos cause I just love the close-ups of the tedious, I mean small and creative, stitching.

It's about 4 x 6 inches when folded up.

It looks like I used a piece of black wool or thick commercial
felt as the base for machine felting.

I backed the case with commercial felt (thin) and made
the "pages" from wool that I gathered from
an old skirt. It really made the pages
nice and thick.

I just noticed that I still have the wrap around cording
pinned in place. I did this when I was trying to decide
how long to make my cording.
I'll try to remember to fix that (lol).

I braided beautiful hand dyed gimp for the wrap around closure.

lots and lots of stitching

lots and lots of beading

The green thread to the left of the green yarn (on the right)
is sewing thread.  I used a lot of that in the stitching.
My friend Liz donated a lot of the other thread as I didn't have
a lot of embroidery thread (I am working to remedy that though).

Well, I am feeling pretty good about sharing not one but TWO completed projects on my blog recently!

I wish that there was a way for all of you to share yours with me.
Oh wait. 
There is!

You could leave a comment with a link to your projects or just email me with that info. I'd really love to see them.
Would you do that?
I'd love to see them!

I don't read as many blogs as I use to. Not many at all.
For a couple of reasons - it can suck up so much time and I don't really want to flavor my own work with everyone else's work.

And Pinterest - wow weeee. 
I can hardly go there without spending AT LEAST an hour or more looking around!
Lots of beautiful things there though.

Anyway, send me links to your projects!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Childhood Color Palettes

You all know how much I love natural items...leaves, flowers (live or dried), trees, bones and feathers.
Oh, and rocks.
And driftwood.

You could have a peek at my (inside) (or outside) studio and be able to see this, right?
Both of my large work tables (hell, every table) is littered with precious things.

I collected these same things as a child - funny, isn't it?
That we continue to love some things our entire life?

I always carried a brown paper bag, all soft and wrinkled from handling, when I was a young child.
It was chock full of broken bird eggs, pilfered fruit from  neighborhood trees, bones, feathers, rocks, pebbles and sticks.
And an occasional piece of interesting paper or discarded clothing (because of the beautiful pattern or interesting texture) (or perhaps to make my older sister angry).

What do I carry around in sewn, painted and upcycled bags now?
Same darn thing, just larger quantities.

I'm still (slowly, slowly) working on the hand stitched piece.
In my own defense, I have been doing other things too, not just working on that particular piece.
Not that much art work but other important things.
Like hiking in the woods with my husband.
Listening to the rhythm of the woods.
The flow of the water.
Watching the birds fluttering about, getting ready for cold weather.

Oh! Oh!
I saw a pair of fox squirrels in the woods!
Oh my gracious goodness, they were SO cute.
White nose, ears and feet with the rest of their bodies ranging from light grey to almost black.
I sat ever so quietly and watched them for almost an hour (Sarah and Denise - I saw your eyebrows fly up at me sitting still that long) (not doing anything!).
They walk differently than regular grey squirrels, which is what we mostly have here in upstate SC.
It's a slower, more intent walk. The grey squirrels always seem to be bolting every where they go, running and scurrying like mad men...I mean mad squirrels.

I just TOTALLY got off of the topic that I intended to talk about.
Imagine that?!

I was talking about how we like the same things we did as children (if that "thing" can hold your attention that long I guess).
I do anyway (except that cute boy in my 1st grade class).
Since I have been dabbling in natural dyeing and eco printing, I've noticed the colors that I get are similar to the natural items that I collect.
Maybe a picture can show you what I mean.

Rose hips from my mother-in-laws rose garden.

Some type of rodent skull we found while hiking,
maybe a beaver? 

I found this shed rhododendron flower in the river
when we were trout fishing. Yes, I was gathering
things from the bottom of the river... 

There you see it - one of my personal color palettes.

Dried, rotting, dead.

Well, that was (kinda) meant to be funny, but I think that there is a lot of truth in that statement.
These three things yield a fertile field for planting so perhaps they do the same for my mind.

What about you?
Can you identify one of your personal color palettes?

I do love bold, in your face color as well but today I am all about the calmer, neutral color palette that I show above.
I hear a lot of fiber artists (or any artist ftm) say that white, cream or any similar color is NOT a color.
But I say that when you use these colors you really have to put more thought into the details or they will be lost.
A neutral palette can be a great backdrop for wonderful design.
I think I heard that on Project Runway.

Do you agree?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kindle Cover

I just remembered that I never posted the completed Kindle cover.
Silly, forgetful me, right?

I finished all of the stitching (and there is a ton of it there) and let it sit for a week or two.
Good question.
My answer is this - I guess I was afraid that I would "mess it up". The work that I had done and the purchased cover.
My husband reminded me that we paid less than $20 for the cover, why worry when it could be replaced in an easy enough manner.
True, true.

So, results be damned (in a way), I grabbed the items I needed to put the whole thing together.
Heavy adhesive (Golden Regular Gel), binder clips (I use those a lot)

(is "alot" a word or not? My spell check highlights it and it's not in the "real" dictionary but everyone writes it that way).
OMG! I just went to to check spelling and that very thing was one the topics of the day there.
(FYI it is "a lot" not "alot")
(but wth does it really matter on this blog?)

Where was I...?
Oh, yes, grabbed the stuff that I needed to finally finish the cover.
Then glued it in place.
I put clips on it to hold it in place until the gel dried and placed weights on top of it.
And waited...

If you read my blog or know me, you are well aware of my penchant for creating things "by the seat of my pants". Better known as making things without an end plan or directions or a lot of fore thought.
One of those "hey, I've got an idea!" kinda things.

I make some cool stuff but I screw up a lot of stuff too...
This project worked out pretty good but I did learn a couple of things that I would do differently.

I would not use the binder clips next time. They did a fantastic job holding things in place but a couple of them did leave small indentation on one corner. It's not a big deal and really, it's barely noticeable to anyone but me. And I barely notice it anymore (lol).
But all the seam, I'd try to figure out some other way. something that would hole it in place but not have so much pressure on it. I used the clips around the edges, trying to keep things in place since they can shirt.

Oh, and one good thing I did I did was this -
do not put glue on the spine of the cover.
It allows a little "wiggle" room for the cover.
Plus it makes it easier to attach the two.

So - here you go.
Here's the beautiful cover that I love. That makes my Kindle MY Kindle.

You should totally make one too!

I've read that you should never post a photo that you have to apologize for.
I just won't apologize then!
I wanted to post the finished project and did not have the time (or inclination) to set up a photo booth to get better shots.

There you have it - weeks of work (albeit sporadic), a handful of supplies and a new passion for felting base surfaces.

Have you made anything for yourself lately?
I am usually working on samples, things to sell or things for other people.
When I go to a class or something like that, I rarely have anything to show that I made for myself.
I decided that I am going to change that!
So far I have made a needle case, a travel bag for paints/pens and such, a Kindle cover and a travel sketchbook bag (an altered sports bag).

What have you made for yourself?
Show me!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Etsy Shop Update & Upcoming Sale

I have added a lot of images for Thermofax screens into my Etsy shop.
Here's a sampling.

Some of them are hand drawn and some of them are copyright free images.
I can create a screen for you from almost any copyright free image - so keep that in mind.
Email me if you're interested in that or if you have any questions.

I will be adding more and more images as the days go by. I have a HUGE folder full of great images just waiting to be added to the shop.

I am going to have a sale on (gently) used screens soon. I will offer them to my newsletter list first so sign up if you're interested.
I always make a screen from a new image just to make sure that the screen will print well, especially the vintage images since they tend to be a little blurry.
I usually use the screen once, maybe twice and then put it aside...I have wayyyy too many of these screens that are not being used. It's time to share them with you all.
So - make sure that you sign up for my newsletter list. I'll try to get everything ready in the next couple of weeks.

Are you creating something everyday?
You gotta flex those creative muscles before they will grow!
If you're reading this, I am guessing that you are an avid maker.
Go make something.