31 May 2010

31 happy things in may

The month of May is wrapping up on the 365 Happy Things Project. Its surprising to realize that we are almost halfway through the year!

I'm going to try something a little different for June. Its going to be an all yarn month because, let's face it, yarn makes me all kinds of happy and really deserves a month just to itself.

If you don't follow the project, I invite you to do so. It has its own blog found here.

30 May 2010

where i stand sunday

The summer solstice has not yet arrived but the sun beats down with a determination that smothers everything. It's a relentless crankiness that carries with it a fringe of irritation, nudging the days along at a sleepy pace.

Where I Stand
is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

28 May 2010

take a survey - get a chance to win a thermofax screen!

I've been a busy bee. My studio looks like a thermofax machine barfed all over it - there are screens everywhere.

I'm working to build up a good variety for the etsy store but really, I want to know what YOU want. After all, I can burn screens all day long but if none of them thrill you, what's the point?

To that end, I've created a survey asking a bunch of really nosy questions where all things thermofax screen related are concerned. They are multiple answer questions so click every answer that applies to each question. The link is below:

Click here to take survey

And because you are all sports and I know a bunch of you will take the survey, I'm also offering an incentive. Everyone who responds to the survey will get a chance to win a screen. And not just one person but three chances so there is a good chance that you could be one of them! But keep reading below because you need to do one other tiny thing to be included in the drawing.

However, you gotta do one thing for me because I don't think this survey company will give me your name or email address. So if you do the survey, leave a comment here to be entered in the drawing. This is going to work on the honor system (I trust all of you, you're all kinds of awesome) but I just want to be sure that I get everyone in the drawing.

The drawing will take place when the etsy store opens which will be sometime in June.

Thanks for participating!!!

27 May 2010

the definition of adorable

Mary posted this on her Facebook page and I must have played it twenty times already! Its sooooOOoooOOo adorable!

24 May 2010

golden heaven

Like a lot of artists, I dig Golden paint.

A lot.

But I fully admit that when faced with a wall of their products at the art store, I'd go kind of cross eyed and back away. A few weeks back I found out about their working artist program. Basically what it is is a working artist (duh, right?) that goes forth into the world wielding demo boards and jars and presents a free lecture telling you every single thing you could ever want to know about Golden - both their products and as a company.

I was excited to book the Michigan working artist, Valerie Allen, to speak for the fiber art group I belong to. It took place yesterday and I can't recommend these lectures enough. Seriously. The wealth of information is outstanding and you get free samples (including the hand painted color chart shown above) to take home with you.

Here's the group in rapt attention:

And I love this shot with Valerie looking all excited as she explains the wonders of clear tar gel (which is pretty cool stuff so its totally understandable):

We had the lecture at the Northville Art House, which is a great place to hold events. If you follow the link above to the working artist page you'll see a listing of all the artists that do these lectures. If there is one near you, try to get to see it, you won't regret it.

It was such a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Surrounded by a large group of giddy artists, learning about new ways to get messy in the studio and the rain finally stopped.

Good times.

23 May 2010

where i stand sunday

six sided floor tiles
laid in hypnotic patterns
haiku of the past

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

22 May 2010

who comes up with these things?

I took a class today at my new LYS on entrelac. I've wanted to learn how to do this for a while so when I found out they had a three hour one time class for learning just the technique (I'm all about technique classes as opposed to project classes), I jumped on it.

As with most things, its not so bad once you break it down step by step. Here are my efforts during class:

What I really want to know is under what circumstances did someone decide to knit wonky triangles and slanted rectangles to create this type of fabric? What possessed someone to figure this out? Not that I'm not grateful but sheesh, what a strange thing to invent. I imagine a few ladies sitting around knitting playing double-dog-dare-you to see who could come up with the weirdest knitting technique.

I love the yarn I'm using but not so much for entrelac. The variegation repeats are way too short and its not color blocking out the rectangles like I've seen with yarn that has longer color repeats. The teacher's sample shows that:

I'll have to dig around in the stash to see what I've got that might work for this. I do have some Noro and I bet that would work well. I've decided that I'm going to rip out what I made in class and start over with a different yarn. I was thinking this would make an awesome blanket but the back side is not so attractive so I'd probably have to line the back with a piece of fabric. I'll think on that some more. Most likely I'll start out with a scarf or pillow to begin with.

Sort of makes you wonder what some crazy knitter will come up with next...

21 May 2010

spoiled feet

The last time I ordered fabric from Dharma for dyeing, I decided to try out dyeing some socks as well. I'd never really dyed anything outside of fabric for artwork so I figured it would be fun.

Oh boy was it.

These are bamboo socks and they are so incredibly soft. I can't stop petting my feet. I didn't fuss much about how the dye was applied, I just wanted to play and have fun and not really get all bent out of shape about how it spread.

One pair found its way into Cathy's hands so I came home with five pairs. Here are the other four:

Mom has already laid claim to the pair on the far left (are you surprised?). To be honest, when I made them I figured she'd be interested in those. As soon as I asked her if she wanted them she took them and scurried off with a smile so I guess I did a good job with them.

The second pair from the left is a lovely golden color (which the camera decided you didn't need to see), the purplish pair is a loner (the mate has already gone AWOL, I suspect the troll that lives in my dryer and eats nothing but socks has it - I plan to do battle with him later on to get it back) and the last is sort of halloween-ish (has yellow and green and splashes of blue and purple).

I'd like to dye some more. I grew weary of the boring colors I can buy in the store a long time ago. I know I can really wild ones if I'm willing to wear spandex and bizarre synthetics but I'm not so there's a lot of white in my sock drawer.

Next time I'll be more vigilant about making sure there are no undyed spots. But as this was an exercise to get some socks with color, I'm happy with how they came out.

Dooley found them entertaining as well:

Nosy little bugger.

He's been in a mild rain coma these past few weeks. When the weather turns exceptionally grey as it has been, his little self decides that the best way to pass the time is to nap. Here he is exhibiting his fine tuned skills in this area:

Mom estimates she crocheted that blanket back in 1974. It is beyond worn. Has holes. Is unraveled in certain areas. And he adores it. In fact, he has on more then one occasion set about rescuing it. Okay, I have to share a cute dog story with you. (If this annoys you, skip the rest of this post.)

We have a problem with a leaky fireplace (which will hopefully be resolved soon). There are several buckets strategically placed inside it but I still have to put towels in front of it because there is seepage. With all the rain we've been getting lately, its been quite the joy (said with heavy bitter sarcasm bordering on insane cackling). Dooley's normal napping area is right next to the fireplace.

A few days ago I removed all the towels to put them through the wash and came back to find him staring at the fireplace hearth. He proceeded to inspect the whole area, sniffing every millimeter. Then promptly turned around and began to push his crocheted blanket to the other side of the room. I watched with amused silence as he set about dragging it with one paw, walking to the other side of it so he could scrunch it up into a heap and then shoving another paw into the bundle to drag it a little farther. It was an awful lot of work.

I figure he decided that if there was going to be a mess, he was going to rescue his beloved blankie. He was a westie on a mission.

He ranks high on the entertainment scale.

19 May 2010

the grand tour

I am a bona fide city girl. Born and raised in Detroit. When I made the move out of the city several years ago, it was culture shock. The houses were farther apart (not separated by just a driveway) and there were no sidewalks or street lights.

The city girl in me still lives strong. But I've come to appreciate the quieter places where nature has been allowed to do its own thing. Cathy lives in a place like this. I had a good time going out and exploring the ten acres she lives on (and her neighbor's across the street where horses and chickens hang out).

And since I had such a good time, I thought I'd share it with you as well:

18 May 2010

embracing mud

If you own any dye books or have taken any classes, they all contain this particular statement: "Don't mix too many colors at one time or you could end up with mud."

But what if you like mud?

When Cathy and I planned a weekend to dye things, we put a lot on the menu. This was the original agenda:

1) Try out the dyes of pre-mixed colors (in a mud palette) that I've been collecting for a while

2) Try out indigo dyeing

3) Make screens and do deconstructed printing until we couldn't stand anymore

Turns out that I collected far more colors then I realized. 19 to be exact. Which didn't leave a whole lot of room for other things. We mixed all them up - plus a few extra colors in brights that Cathy had laying about which gave us 25 colors total - and just sort of stared at the incredible amount of dye that we needed to use:

We quickly revised the plans.

We tortured a bolt of unbleached muslin to get solids.

And rummaged through a couple of bins of lacy things lurking in Cathy's studio (which really made me happy because last summer Jackie dyed up some lace she had and I loved it so much I wanted to knock her down and run off with it) and tossed them into mixtures they probably never thought they would have to face:

I realize that they sort of look like they are sitting in a puddle of muck but what can I say? I like me some murky mud. Besides, it never washes out that dark.

Here are the results:

Many of the colors look worn, like something you found in an old trunk that had been shoved in the back corner of a basement for years.

Which is exactly what we were going for.

I can see a difference between the colors on the fabric and the lace, threads and cheesecloth. The fabric was unbleached so it has a muddier tone to it. Everything else was white. I have to say that I like the way both turned out.

Now I know which colors I'd like to use for deconstructed printing so the exercise of trying out all those colors really was an excellent one.

And Cathy is a real sport, the woman has no fear when it comes to the dyes. Actually, she doesn't seem to have much fear about anything (I have the goofy photos to prove it). She is a hundred different kinds of awesome.

I've been carving out a little dyeing area in the garage for a while now. Recently the garage was completely cleaned out and I didn't waste any time dragging an old shelving unit into a corner and setting up an old table that will never be taken down again. Soon a laundry sink will be put in there and then I'll be able to do dyeing far more often.

Today I have a date with my sofa. And the westie. Time to recoup and then get back into the studio tomorrow.

16 May 2010

where i stand sunday

It's the kind of silence that thrives in between the cracks, this place where there exists a space that is small and unassuming - quiet and content to be forgotten. My own solitude reaches out toward it, appreciating the companion that walks strongly here. I am struck by the stength of it, the confidence that pulses over everything in an almost sacred rhythm.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

13 May 2010


My fabric dyeing habits are strange at best. Usually I end up going on a binge during the summer and then avoiding it for the rest of the year. Its a habit that I am hoping to break this year.

I want to become one with the dye.

Love the dye.

Bond with the dye.

Be all yoda with the dye.

So the best way to go about that is to spend a weekend with a master dyer. The car is packed with an extraordinary amount of fabric and we will be visiting Cathy shortly.

The weather isn't ideal right now (the thunderstorms are grumbling right now as I type this) but she assures me that this is no deterrent for her. (I suspect she would pull out the dye buckets during a hurricane if the mood struck her.)

One of the things we are doing is some indigo dyeing. Neither of us have done that before. I picked up a kit from Pro Chem during International Quilt Festival and it'll be fun to see what kind of a mess we can make with that. (I'm bringing an extra large box of gloves.)

So that heap of boring white and unbleached fabric should come back (hopefully) in a delicious range of my own personal earthy palette.

Most likely I will as well. More soon...

10 May 2010

finding my french fries

I've been saddled with a case of the "meh"s lately.

You know what I mean - the times when you want to do things but can't summon the energy or the inspiration. When things are available for you to work on but you just sort of sit and stare at it, wondering just how long you can let things go before your deadlines decide to come to life and smack you upside the head.

Don't know what it is. But I'm there and have been for a few weeks. Sort of feeling like I've lost my mojo. Its there, just not cooperating.

In the past I would fight these times, trying to force inspiration or making myself work on things thinking it would get me moving again. It never worked. In all honesty, it usually just ended up making me more frustrated. So I've learned to just leave them alone, let them brood and do their things and in time, they get bored with me and move on.

During one of my more restless moments I was cruising around on etsy and came across this print from Studio Mela:

It made me giggle out loud. The visual of just how happy a bird is with a french fry is pretty funny on its own and the idea of working to be happier then that seems like such a wonderful idea.

I plan to hang this print in my bedroom so that everyday as I'm getting ready to go on my way, I can see it and have a little smile. It needs a frame. I think it needs a hand decorated one, don't you? I'll have to track down a simple cheap one that I can paint and doodle on to compliment it. Its far too fun of a print to just put in a plain old generic frame.

In an effort to find my french fries, I've been indulging any little whim (within reason). Dooley and I have been walking every day. I love his shadow:

And I've been standing underneath the gigantic trees that line my street staring up into all the leaves that seem to have appeared overnight:

I also went ahead and scheduled myself for a couple of classes. I'm taking a class with Pamela Allen this friday and a knitting class to learn entrelac in a couple of weeks. Add to that three days of dyeing and printing planned with a friend for this weekend and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be able to give those happy birds a run for their money.

I hope you're finding plenty of french fries in your day too.

09 May 2010

where i stand sunday

The spring weather is here by means of the date on the calendar only. The view out the front window is clear and full of sunlight but the temperature threatens to damage all the delicate things that have been thriving from the spring rains. The front foyer has become a temporary sanctuary, offering protection from mother nature's mood swings.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)

06 May 2010

i don't know why

I'm on a little shawl knitting kick lately. I'm loving the ones that have super simple bodies and then a fancy edging.

is nearly complete. Only nine more rows to go:

I'm hoping to wrap (no pun intended) it up tonight because I already have my next pretty picked out and ready to go.

Next up is Andrea's Shawl from Through the Loops:

That's Shepherd's Wool, lovely Michigan made yarn. I'm literally chomping at the bit to start it. But I'm restraining myself. I need to finish the orange shawl first. I need to finish the orange shawl first. I need to finish to finish the orange shawl first. (Chant with me...)

I made a little deal with myself at the beginning of this year concerning my yarn stash. Its a healthy pile and I love it dearly and I'm not the sort to lament over having built it up. But I also admit that I have enough to knit and crochet from comfortably for quite some time.

So the deal I made was that I could buy patterns and books (truth be told I'm more of an individual pattern buyer, rarely does a book have enough patterns I want to make for me to buy the whole thing) if I fell madly in love with something BUT I had to perform an exhaustive search of the stash for the yarn to make it.

If, and only if, I could not locate a single thing in all that wooly goodness that would work well could I turn my attention to buying what was needed. There's only been one or two instances that I couldn't find something that worked.

(And here's where the title of this post comes from). A mosey around etsy looking at patterns brought me to this seller (who I highly recommend) which led to these books landing in my mailbox today:

The one on the left is, yes, crocheted seat cushions. Mom gave me a look that let me very clearly know she felt I'd gone to some kind of strange happy place and that's why I was so excited about it.

But before you go agreeing with her, let me tell you: this book is c-o-o-l.

No, I don't speak or read Japanese. But I have several tatting books in Japanese. They do a stellar job of diagramming things and photographing each step so you don't need words. Its all visual. Granted, you have to be willing to learn how to read charted patterns but its totally worth it. I'm convinced they could take belly button lint and make fine art out of it.

I'm particularly intrigued by this pattern:

It looks super cushy. And the directions are pretty clear (which doesn't mean I won't screw it up anyway but I think I've got a fighting chance at getting it right):

Just a quick shot of a couple more patterns:

I'm completely smitten. And I don't know why. I'm so intrigued by these things that I just want to carry the book around with me everywhere and force people to admire it.

I've already scoped out the house and was a little bit disappointed to see that there are only four chairs that could benefit from these. Perhaps they would work well as front and/or back panels for bags? Or if I use finer yarn maybe they could be little coasters? Or I could just make them and randomly stick them to the walls as funky decoration...or I could make Dooley a little cushion so he could sit on it in the middle of the room like a little prince...or...or...

Crocheted seat cushions for everyone!!!!

Okay, I'm better now. I'm a bit yarn drunk right now...

I got an email the other day asking why I don't post many pictures of Dooley love on the blog anymore. I guess I didn't realize I hadn't been so here's a view of what he looks like when I come home from running errands and he is in greeting mode:

His ritual involves grabbing a toy (his lamb was closest apparently today) and then pacing back and forth in front of you and wagging his tail in haphazard circles. It doesn't matter if you've been gone twenty minutes or five hours, he is as equally thrilled to have you back either way.

Not a bad way to return home, huh?

05 May 2010

Call for entries: Blurred Boundaries Mixed Media Exhibit

I love curating exhibits.

There is nothing more exciting then getting to work with artists and hanging their work so others can enjoy it. I meet so many people this way and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

If I had it my way, I would spend 100% of my time curating exhibits and putting things together (I would love to be a juror on an exhibit too, perhaps sometime in the future) but as it is, I have to pick and choose what I have time to do.

One exhibit that is on the books for this year is Blurred Boundaries. It runs alongside the Fabrications Retreat for a week. Its open to both the public and retreat attendees and was very well received last year.

This year seeks work that features surface design. Which is a pretty broad topic. It includes things like dyeing, stamping, screen printing, discharging, painting and about a million other things that I couldn't possibly list all of them here.

We are very lucky to have Jeanne Williamson as the juror this year. She is an outstanding artist that pushes the boundaries of fiber art all the time. Please take a moment to check out her website.

The prospectus and entry form for this year's exhibit can be found on the front page of the Fabrications Retreat website. The entry deadline is July 12, 2010 so there is still plenty of time to submit work.

This year we are offering cash prizes for first, second and third prizes (winners chosen by Jeanne). There is also the opportunity to sell your work. Several pieces sold from last year's exhibit.

One thing I hear often from artists who are just beginning to show is that they are scared of the juried exhibits. I'm here to say that there is absolutely no need to be scared off by it. There is no panel of people sitting in a dark room dissecting your work and berating you. There is no magical formula that is a secret that you must know to get your work accepted into the show.

Exhibiting your work is thrilling. There is a never a guarantee that your work will be accepted but the most important thing to remember is this: you definitely wont' show if you never try. (Sort of like my plan to win the lotto with the power of my mind. Buying tickets would probably work out much better.)

So give it a shot. Its a wonderful exhibit. Hope to see you there.

03 May 2010

rainy days

The weather has been drippy here lately. Very spring like rain, sometimes delicate and other times accompanied by thunder that makes the window vibrate.

I took Dooley love for a walk today in between the showers and just love the way everything looks when the growing season starts. Several of the flowering trees are loosing their petals to the thunderstorms.

There are piles of them everywhere. Pretty, aren't they?

02 May 2010

where i stand sunday

The spring thunderstorm growled firmly through the night. My sleep drunk mind vaguely touched on the tents of the fair waiting for me the next morning, wondering how they could possibly be strong enough to withstand the winds slapping against everything. Two steps out of the alley the following morning found a victim. Scattered flowers clung to the wet pavement and I paused, wondering at the transformation that can occur in the blink of a storm.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell. (The project is now in Year Three. Year Three will feature artwork inspired by that week's Where I Stand photo as well as the photo that inspired it. Year One and Year Two can be found here.)


Original photo: