Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have a project in the new issue of Totally Creative! You can see a tiny portion of the needle-felted purse in the lower left-hand corner of the cover below.

All the fibers in the purse (above) started out as plain white or "natural" and were dyed with Earth Safe Finishes Colorants + Fabric Magic. Kewl Stuff!

Totally Creative is a new online magazine from publisher Patti Ryan.

It is one of the few real crafting magazines still available! Those of us who love the art of craft AND the craft of art are excited about this magazine and hope you will be, too!

FYI: you can get a FREE excerpt from the current issue of Totally-Creative Magazine. Just signup for our email list at: Instantly download a Free Excerpt from the new issue of Totally-Creative Magazine!

You can pass this offer on to your crafty friends, as well. Enjoy!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Get a good look at this beautiful water tower in an old neighborhood of Minneapolis, because it may very well be the last photo you see from me for a while!

The camera was in the console of the rental car. I KNOW it came into the house—didn't it? It's missing in action. DH, Lori, and I have looked in all the usual places and many unusual places (Don't ask about the dust bunnies under the living room couch!), but it's nowhere to be found.

It was a faithful companion, a true workhorse. It's been with me for years. Lately, I've been dreaming of a 10 mega-pixel model but never dreaming Old Faithful would go missing and I'd actually have to consider replacing it.

Maybe it is in hiding. If you see it, please send it home!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Isn't this a fabulous bench? We passed it while browsing the Grand Ave. shopping district last Thursday.

OK, that's just a buffer for what I am compelled to say about the visit to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis last Friday. I've spent hours agonizing over this, trying to express what's heavy on my heart without being disrespectful to the artist. Here goes:

I learned something important about respect for artistic expression and vision—and myself during a visit to the Walker Art Center last week.

The center is an amazing venue for contemporary art and I was looking forward to a healthy dose of my current favorite, abstract expressionism.

Gallery after gallery fed my hunger, until my companion and I encountered a piece that totally baffled me. In the center of the room, carefully roped off, was a drain (set into the terazzo, I might add), a child's plastic chair, and a box of facial tissues. Try as I might, I couldn't find anything about the composition that spoke to me (other than the horror of cutting out the terazzo)

"Why is this art?" I asked. "Because it makes you think," replied my very wise companion Shay Sargenti.

After two days of pondering her remark, while we were sitting with our DHs in a wonderful jazz concert, it occurred to me why I had such trouble reconciling the little installation as art: There was no technique, no technical facility, no technical challenge.

It was not obvious that the artist has sweated a color combination, or drafted and redrafted the design to achieve a composition that expressed a thought, idea, or feeling. Watching the hands of the pianist in the jazz group magnified the difference between the two artists. She move skillfully, confidently, and with a practiced facility that expressed (in my opinion) the ability to think in music, sidestepping the need to think it out and then execute the thought—it merely flowed from her.

Apparently I cannot or choose not to separate the art from the craft of art. Does that make me an art snob? No, it makes me a person who recognizes limitation in my view of art. Now, I can change my definition of art to include that which requires no technical aspect, or admit my definition of art has boundaries.

I can respect the artist of the installation for his or her vision, even if I don't understand it or relate to it. However, my respect for artists with skills evident in the composition, such as the jazz pianist or any of a thousand painters and quilt artists are easier to define.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm having way too much fun in Minneapolis! My rusting buddy Janis and I visited the Farmer's Market. What an incredible place! I've never seen a Farmer's Market as large as this one.

Aisle after aisle of fresh vegetables, beautiful flowers, baskets, jewelry, clothing, cheeses, baked goods, hand-crafted soaps, organic herbs, meats—and the smell of roasting corn on the cob. Yum!

The ethnic diversity in Minneapolis certainly captured my imagination. Entire neighborhoods with restaurants, groceries, and specialty shops devoted to the heritage group. Janis and I visited a yarn shop in a Somali neighborhood. We definitely don't have that at home. It was fascinating!

Janis surprised me with a selection of her hand-crafted herbal soaps. What a treat! Thanks bunches Janis!

Tomorrow DH and I head home. It will be a long drive, but my head is swimming with ideas and "What if?" questions.

I'll be working on what I expect will be the next blog entry. It's about perspectives on art and respect for art. This has been turning around in my head for three days.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aren't these fabulous murals? The pair are hanging in a delightful restaurant in Minneapolis, near the Textile Center on University Ave. Café Biaggios was a wonderful respite during the busy day yesterday.

There was artwork hanging everywhere and the owner was on hand to make sure the experience was exceptional for every guest.

This is another view of the length of the restaurant with lots of artwork. The pieces were all paintings, but personally I could see some Threadography hanging on the walls! LOL!

(left to right) Nancy Hoerner (watch for her new art-doll book from CPI soon), Beth, and Ann Butler (fabulous designer in mixed media). This was taken before we were caught in the rain and my hair doubled in volume!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DH and I were on the road yesterday, traveling to Minneapolis for the annual meeting of the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors. He is president again this year and wanted me by his side. Fortunately, my schedule is flexible enough right now that I could do that.

I love taking photos of rusty signs, old buildings and dilapidated bridges. Not sure what will happen to them, but for now it's fun to watch for them and stop occasionally in my quest for the perfect tree.

The sky was blue and almost cloudless when we left, but we encountered a rain storm in Wisconsin. We were fortunate; the Minneapolis area was hit with six tornadoes and severe storms. One touched down, damaging the convention center downtown. I don't think anyone was injured, but we were thankful to arrive at the hotel in the suburbs where the IAJRC meeting is being held and to see friends and associates had arrived safely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One of the treasures from the Fiber Festival last Saturday was something called FireStar. The label says it is hand-dyed nylon! I thought nylon could only be dyed while it was a liquid and before it is extruded (or however they make nylon threads).

However it's made, FireStar has luminous sparkles in it, almost like Angelina but very soft. There was no un-dyed FireStar, so I just HAD to settle for these luscious colors.

These are the wool "nebs" referred to in the previous post. Don't they have an interesting texture? I can see them felted as is into a landscape for snow or dyed and felted for sand, grass, or fields.

These are the un-dyed silk hankies. They are harvested from the silk worm's cocoon and add a very different texture than silk roving or yarn. They accept dyes beautifully and I can't wait to dye hankies to coordinate with the hand-dyed silk/rayon velvet.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yesterday (Saturday) was the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, Michigan. The weather was beautiful and four of us from the local art-party group drove 2 1/2 hours to the Festival. It was good to get away and see what others are doing with threads and fibers.

The festival was held at the Allegan County Fair Grounds, a lovely setting with trees, a charming restored village, and plenty of space for the animals, classes, vendors, and pariticpants.

This is one of the most fun booths in the entire show! The artist is Lynn Shuck, who obviously has a sense of humor—and does some of the most beautiful nuno felting I've ever seen. The way she combined sheer woven silk and roving created beautiful contrast between textures and colors.

There were more than 75 vendors with an incredible array of yarn, roving, books, and other goodies I'd never seen before.

Rug hooking was represented well by this treasure trove of woven wools, original patterns, tools and other supplies for hooking.

There were alpaca, such as this fellow with the sweet face, angora rabbits, sheep, sheep dogs, and llamas. The was much to learn about the fur and fleece from these creatures.

We brought great bags of roving in every imaginable fiber (including mulberry, silk, tensel, soy, various types of wool, alpaca, and more), silk tops, silk hankies, wool nebs (I'd never heard of them; they look like snarls from the sheep's fleece), ribbons, and some sparkly stuff called FireStar. More on those tomorrow.

After many happy hours at the festival, we drove to Pawpaw to visit a winery. It was in the old waterworks building that had been repurposed with restaurants, wine caves, a small covered bridge over the bubbling stream, and a shaded patio with lots of tables.

(left to right above) Christine, Beth, and Rosie enjoy the cool shade of the covered bridge. Below, Lori bypasses the smaller bottles in favor of the over-size magnum she WISHES was filled with chilled chardonnay.

Aah! A perfect ending to a delightful day: Home-baked pizza and peach wine coolers shared with fellow adventurers. We missed the rest of the art-party group. Hope you can join us next time!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some say I'm a woman of few words—until it comes to sharing art techniques and ideas! This is the cover of my new book!! Yahoo!

It is available on Amazon, although it won't be available until some time in October.

Isn't the color on the cover awesome? C&T Publications did an outstanding job on the cover art as well as the chapter openers and illustrations inside!

Keep watching this blog. I'll be announcing a give-away in the next few weeks, hopefully before it's available on Amazon!

There is a CD inside the back cover of this book, as there was in the first Altered Photo Artistry. This time, in addition to the trial version of Photoshop Elements, there are displacement maps, textures, and brushes Lori and I developed in our own studio! Very cool—no one else has them!

In my opinion displacement maps are a fabulous tool for altering that very few quilt artists know about. See if you agree with me!

Friday, August 7, 2009

This is the cover of my new book, which will be released in October. I'm so excited! The cover shows the before photo and the after piece printed on fabric and stitched with free-motion stitching.

The cover piece is mounted on a canvas and the design extends to the edges (and around the edges) with paint. I'm not a painter. I'm not kidding myself, but this is really a cool way to enhance the look of the stitched piece and make it larger without adding a lot of complex finishing.

I'll be giving a few copies away in September and October, so stay tuned!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

It WORKS! I'm so excited!

The black faded a little, but that was expected because the Colorant was in a shaving cream carrier. The shaving cream has to come out, but I actually like it with a little more subtlety in the black.

The Tackifier layer with the mica powder looks great. I turned the T-shirt inside out and washed it in cold water. It held beautifully.

I need to repeat the washings to see how long the Tackifier continues to hold the metallic powder...

More tomorrow! :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

These are called "Tattooed T-shirts," just one of many new techniques using Earth Safe Finishes. It began as a rust-dyed T-shirt and then I layered stenciled images on it with the top layer an experiment in applying metallic mica powder.

The detail gives a little better view of the gold powder on top of the opaque and translucent paints. After curing, it will be heat-set and then the washing tests can begin.

This isn't exactly thread related, but it will be when I start using it on art quilts with free-motion stitching on top!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

This has to be the ultimate in thread manipulation. This purse started as a piece of felt, two small scraps of velvet, several piles of roving, and miscellaneous fibers.

Needle-felting is so much fun! There is no measuring, no weighing, no timing, no bobbins to wind. Just free movement of the embellisher head with six barbed needles.

I couldn't find anything in cording saturated enough to go with the bright purple and orange, so I bought a skein of sari yarn at Quilt Festival last week and made my own!

This will be in an upcoming issue of Totally Creative, a new online magazine. The technique is also part of my Extreme Needle Felting workshop on