Thursday, September 29, 2005


I have about 40 pairs of old scissors that I hang on a wall. I like the way they look. These are a few of my favorites.

I used to think that scissors were invented by Leonardo da Vinci, but apparently there is evidence that scissors were being used in Rome in the 1st century and maybe even earlier. Such a simple, elegant tool. And such a great graphic design.

I buy them at garage sales and junk stores. I find a lot of them at estate sales, sometimes with the sewing items, but just as often out in the garage in a bread pan or coffee can full of odd tools. These are the ones that probably got too dull for sewing and were relegated to cutting twine. Nobody thought to hang them on the wall. Well, I did.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shopping trip

Before I could experiment with printing, I needed a sheet of glass or plexiglas to work on. I have some favorite places to buy cheapo art supplies and equipment. I started with Wacky Willy's--or at least thought that was where I would start. I drove down to the usual location and it was gone! There was no sign of Wacky Willy's or any indication of what had become of it. Wacky Willys (henceforth known as WW's) was this place that was jam-packed full of the oddest array of wierd stuff I have ever seen. Lots of old assorted computer equipment, but also a whole area of medical stuff--plastic basins for barfing in, tubes and syringes (minus the needles) and pads and all manner of sort of disconcerting stuff. But I could always find very cheap plastic jars and lids that were great for paints and dyes and that sort of thing. (yes, they were intended for, errrrm, "specimens" but were clean and unused) I thought I had seen some old glass shelves that I figured could work for printing, but alas, no WW's.

So I headed across the river to City Liquidators. It is one of those places where you can buy almost anything that fell off a truck or came out of bankruptcy or God knows where. Furniture, dishes, toys, tools, etc. etc. Out front they had a stack of sheets of glass marked .50 each. I snagged two. One for me and one for my friend, Jeri, if she wants it. They are nice thick glass, with polished edges, measuring 20" x 17". Almost perfect and the price was right.

When I got home I looked up WW's on the web and found that they did not close (whew!) but are in the process of moving.

These are probably the two tackiest stores in Portland. I just love 'em.


I should be doing laundry, but I have been working too hard lately and haven't had enough creative time for sure, so I took a couple hours today to experiment with monoprinting on fabric. It is the big thing, it seems. Everyone is taking workshops and classes. I haven't taken a class. As is usual for me I just forge ahead and try a thing. I would probably save myself some money and aggravation if I took a class and learned the "tips and tricks" part at the very least.

I took my newly purchased sheet of glass out on the patio, along with some acrylic paints, medium, brush, water and some homemade tools (comb bits and such). I painted medium and paint all over my sheet of glass, drug my combs though and then lay the fabric on top. I used my trusty rubber brayer to roll the fabric smoothly and firmly into the paint, then lifted the fabric to see what kind of pattern I had. I tried sprinkling some salt on some of them--didn't do a thing.

I laid the fabric out on the grass to dry. It certainly isn't as dramatic as the pictures I see of people's brilliantly hand-dyed fabrics flapping in the breeze, but it is what I was after. I wanted some subtle pattern and tone that I can paint into later. I'm looking forward to fooling with them some more. But first, the laundry...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Fabric Art - flowers

For the past three years I have been exhibiting work at the Japanese Garden with the group, "High Fiber Diet". It is a beautiful venue and we always sell quite a few pieces. Since it is a garden setting I like to make at least one "flower" piece.
This year's flower piece was the foxglove at left. It was the image that was used on the postcard that advertised the show. The year before I made a hydrangea piece.

Since posting some of my small quilts, I have gotten some questions about how I get the black outlines in my work. You can see that these two flower pieces use the same technique. The "black" line is usually not really black, but a very dark blue, gray or brown. I fuse the fabrics for the main subjects onto my dark fabric first, letting some of it show through as "lines" between the pieces of fabric. I like the way these lines are varied in width and nearly disappear altogether in some places. It is the closest approximation to a hand-drawn line I have gotten with fabric. After all the pieces are fused onto the dark background, I cut around the whole thing, leaving a bit of dark line all the way around and then fuse the dark background fabric to the background. You may think all that fusing makes it all very stiff and hard to stitch through, but I am actually only fusing the edges of the fabrics and the details of how I do that is a story for another day...

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Yesterday I showed you some of the weavings I have gotten in Ecuador, specifically at the market in Otavalo. Today I am showing you some pictures taken at the market itself.
The people of Otavalo have formed cooperatives for selling their goods all over the world and are the most affluent indigenous group in Ecuador because of both their beautiful work and probably, more importantly, their marketing skills. The outdoor market in Otavalo is the largest of its kind in South America. While they sell other goods such as jewelry and pottery and basketry, it is the weaving that is so spectacular.

Clearly most of the goods are marketed to tourists and we have seen the styles change over the past six years, but I am always knocked out by the richness of the color and the graphic quality of the designs. The last time we were there (this past May) I saw the wonderful masks and did not buy one, but had to have a photo. Aren't they fabulous?

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Our daughter lives in Ecuador, so we have been there a number of times. I love the folk art and textiles you find there, and can't resist the wonderful markets, especially the one in Otavalo. The Otavalenos are especially famed for their weaving. While it is similar to weaving from Mexico or Guatamala, I find the quality much better. The piece in the photo is about 5 feet long and is all wool. It hangs in the stairwell of our house and makes me happy everytime I look at it.

Here are some other woven wool items I purchased in Otavalo. The smaller pieces are pillow covers--I need to buy some pillow forms to go into them--and I love my shoulder bag with wonderful soft leather trim so much I am almost afraid to use it.

The colors in these weavings make me warm and nostalgic for Ecuador and the Andes. Sigh----aren't they beautiful?

Cougar update

This morning's paper had a small item about the cougar sighting. Turns out it was a very large housecat. Looks like the dachshunds are safe.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Yesterday was the first day of Fall and sure enough, on my morning walk with my friend Beth, we noticed that some of the leaves are beginning to turn. This morning I took my camera along to record this glorious sight along the trail where the brilliant pinky-red maple is seen with wonderful purple shrubbery behind it. The purple stuff is, I believe, Red Osier Dogwood and has snowy white berries, which are quite beautiful, but probably not edible. I think I learned in Girl Scouts that purple berries are usually edible, red berries sometimes and white berries almost never. Anyway, they are beautiful against the purple foliage.

When I was a child our autumn-themed art projects in school usually involved the use of orange, brown and yellow construction paper. For years those were the colors I associated with fall--pumpkins, corn and yellow mums and brown leaves. But that cliche autumnal color scheme isn't reflected in nature, which has much more exciting ideas about what fall should look like. The colors in the photo inspire me and make me want to start pulling out fabrics in purples and reds and acid-y greens.

We walk most mornings on a portion of the Fanno Creek Greenway Trail and have watched the seasons change for nearly three years now. It's a great way to start the day. This morning Beth told me that a cougar had been spotted near where we walk. (Mind you, this trail is within the Portland city limits.) We speculated that a cougar would probably find us less appealing than the large numbers of dogs we see daily being walked on the trail. We giggled, evilly, about what nice cougar snacks the herd of miniature dachshunds we see regularly would make.

Don't flame me--I like the little dogs--really, I do.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Several months ago I was given a small bag of scraps of a new material called ETAL, which is described as "real metal on a textured, flexible substrate". These samples were handed out at a guild meeting with the invitation to experiment with the material

I made the three small hangings using the ETAL for the leaves and dragonfly motifs. You can probably see that the material comes in different colors--silver, gold, copper, green gold, etc.

Interesting stuff to work with. It cuts like a card stock, but is stronger than paper--rather like non-woven interfacing with a metallic surface. It cuts easily and can be sewn through easily. When I ran out of the scraps I was given I was able to find a couple of sheets of it at a scrapbooking store. There is also a web site:

I made the three pieces specifically for a show at the Portland Japanese Garden that was held in July. I sold all three.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fabric Art - Still Life

This is another of the small pieces I have been working on. It's about 10" x 12". I like the effect of using commercially printed fabrics and then laying mostly transparent color onto them.

After yesterday's post I got several questions about whether I was painting, what kind of fabrics I started with, etc. First, the fabrics are all commercial prints. I pick through my stash for what will work and choose them for the color, remembering that most of the color I am adding is transparent more or less.

For these small pieces I used pastel pencils. Not oil pastel--plain old chalk-y pastel. For larger pieces I usually use Seta color transparent fabric paints. I really like these paints, especially for large pieces, but since they are wet, they darken the fabric as you are working and it is a guessing game as to what it will look like when it dries, so when it's practical I like to use the pastel pencils.

This detail may give you a better idea of what is happening. The body of the bird started out as a light blue fabric with little black dots (it is actually the same fabric that is the binding on the New Orleans piece) and was colored with pastels. I think you can see clearly that the bowl was a pretty ordinary red and white calico-type print.

When I need to lighten an area sometimes white or light pastels will work (the light reflection on the inside of the bowl is done with white pastel pencil). Little white areas, like the reflection in the bird's eye, can be done using a bit of white fabric paint. The powdered sugar on the beignets in the New Orleans piece is white fabric paint which I applied with a toothbrush for the texture.

When I am finished with the pastels I set them by brushing very diluted acrylic matte medium over the area. That's a trick I learned from Maxine Farkas on Quiltart! You might expect this to make the fabric stiff. It doesn't. It changes the hand ever so slightly, but it is still easy to stitch through and has the look and feel of fabric, not oilcloth!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fabric Art - New Orleans

Some great people on the Quiltart list came up with an idea to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They quickly put up a web site and solicited fabric artists around the world to donate small pieces that could be sold at a reasonable price ($100 max). Buyers make their checks payable to the American Red Cross. I was happy to donate 5 small pieces, 4 of which have sold, thus far, for $100 each, which just makes me feel great. This has given me a place to put my feelings of frustration and sadness in a way that really helps people.

In addition to the web sale, there will be a sale of small quilts at the huge International Quilt Festival in Houson in October. I have made another small piece that I am donating to that sale.

This piece expresses my wishes for the people of New Orleans--a bright new day that starts with chickory coffee au lait and beignet at the Cafe du Monde.

My experience of New Orleans has been as a tourist only, but it is a place that stays with you. Among all the cities of the world, it is unique, beautiful, eccentric--a treasure. And of course, has the best soundtrack of any city anywhere!

As I was making this piece I wondered if anyone would "get" it. Looks like a cup of coffee and a plate of, uhhhh, something. I took it to show to my small art quilt group last night and immediately two of them said, "ahhh--beignet and coffee!" in that wistful, nostalgic way that told me that it struck a cord. Of course another said, " Coffee and--what?" So, I guess those that will get it will get it and maybe one of them will buy it.

Click on the "art doing good" logo and it will take you to the online sale.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fabric Art - faces

I have been making quilts for a long time. I have made a few bed sized quilts, but mostly I make quilts to hang on the wall. In the beginning I made pretty traditional looking quilts, but little by little they have become more like real art!

Lately, I have been experimenting with some new ideas, so it seemed like a good idea to do some small pieces. (these are all in the range of 12" x 12") I wanted to try rendering some faces in fabric. I wanted to try using commercially printed fabrics and then painting on them. I wanted to experiment with unconventional colors on faces.
The lady with the green face was my first experiment. Then I decided to try a self portrait. My purple face portrait isn't very flattering, I guess. The purple face seems more harsh than the green face--I don't know why. When I told my husband it was a self portrait he said "no, that isn't your face, those aren't your eyes. But I think I recognize the bird!"

My dissatisfaction with the purple face led me to try a more natural color scheme for my next portrait. "Patron Saint" started out as a woman wielding scissors, but her beautific look made me think of icons and old paintings of saints, so she became a saint herself.
I really like that red fabric with the lighter red stars on it!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Graphic Design

I used to work for the National Psoriasis Foundation. I created all their newsletters and mailers and graphics. Now I work for myself and have a nice variety of clients.

Here are a few of the logos I have designed:

The Scottish Rite Clinics work with children with speech problems.

Barnard Painting specializes in using environmentally friendly paint and products. We had the logo printed on nice craft brown recycled paper--very earthy vibe!

This is a sewing machine and fabric shop.

Into The Garden is a small garden accessory business. I'll tell you more about it sometime...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

And sew it begins...

Me--a blog? I can't imagine that I can keep this thing up. I am the person who said I wasn't all that interested in reading the details of other people's lives. Yet, here I am. Maybe I will post some pictures and show you what I have been working on. Maybe I'll tell you something funny or something sad, or something interesting. Honestly, somebody just shoot me if I start talking about aches and pains, diets, religion or politics! (especially the aches and pains thing---booooooring)

So, the thing I really hate when I look up someone's blog is when it is all words that just go on and on and on, and there are NO PICTURES! Really, I'm just there for the pictures. So this is it for now. Next time--pictures.

P.S. Here's a picture of me.