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?