27 December 2010

new video tutorial - printing with thickened dyes

Yesterday the studio and I got along like old chums. We spent the whole day together, didn't get cranky with one another and just generally had a pleasant time. Since things were going swimmingly, I decided to drag out the video camera and do a new video tutorial.

One of the tutorials on my list involved showing how I like to make thickened dyes and then printing with them using thermofax screens. I touched on it briefly in my article in Quilting Arts but its really so much fun that I thought a video would be in order to show just how easy and addictive it is.

So I did.

I like to use a product called Superclear. It acts just like sodium alginate but comes already mixed and there's no fuss of blending it and praying it doesn't clump up. I add dye powder directly to it, and print away! (I like things easy.)

Since YouTube is such a crab and won't let me put up long videos, its split into two parts again. Apparently I can't ever shut up.

You can see all my video tutorials on my YouTube channel.

Enjoy it and I hope you will give it a shot!

26 December 2010

where i stand sunday

His little paws have followed my feet through another year.
Patient, prancing, playing, resting.
Now we are both caught in the hazy days trapped between Christmas and the New Year, those last few days when things blur into reflection and preparation for a new calendar. I can't help but look down at my feet and look for him as I move through the house, he's always there, always looking forward to what each new day will bring.

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.

22 December 2010

tasting christmas

I was talking to Cathy this morning, lamenting over the fact that my back has been horribly cranky these past few weeks and I didn't know if I could stand on my feet to do all the Christmas baking I usually do. (I love baking.)

She told me that she was doing some baking today because if certain things aren't made, it "just doesn't taste like Christmas without them."

It stuck in my head. I kept thinking about what she said. And eyeballing the Martha Stewart cookie magazine this year (there are several that caught my eye). I decided Cathy was right, there are certain traditions attached to Christmas and food is one of them.

I bought a few ingredients when I did grocery shopping but nothing major. I was worried that I would waste them if I couldn't get my back sorted. I knew which recipe was my number one choice for baking. If I made only one thing, it would have to be this:

I got the recipe for this cranberry bread in the third grade.

I've made it every year since.

Its pretty basic and I've recently changed from making a whole loaf to either mini loaves or square muffins. But one thing is for sure, I know its Christmas when I make these.

I thought I would share the recipe with you all. Its simple, extremely tasty and everything that holiday baking should be.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Holiday Cranberry Orange Bread
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 tablespoons crisco shortening
1 well beaten egg

1.5 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped (I use one bag of fresh cranberries.)

OPTIONAL: 0.5 chopped nuts or 0.5 cup raisins (I usually leave these out but would undoubtedly be tasty if you are inclined to add them.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Stir in orange juice, orange peel, shortening and egg.

Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries (also nuts and raisins if used.) Turn into greased loaf pan. Bake 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If you would prefer, you can also make mini loaves or muffins. Bake mini loaves or muffins for 10 minutes and then check every five minutes after until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on rack 15 minutes, remove from pan.

21 December 2010


My schedule this time of year is no different then anyone else's. I'm dodging the crazed people while trying to shop and running a mental checklist over and over again to make sure I didn't miss anything for the holiday at the end of the week.

Its a hectic ending to the year, always is. I bought a 2011 planner yesterday which means I'm already looking into the new year, jotting down things that need to be done for the many projects on my plate. I'm trying to work ahead so that I can keep developing new things, I want to keep the momentum going.

Yet with all the things spinning around, my mind keeps pulling back to my studio and the new piece laying on the print table. Its to the final stage, just need to do some stitching. I have two more waiting on the design board and the enthusiasm I feel for these new pieces has been...surprising, welcome, needed.

I'm no different then any other artist, I doubt where I'm going and why I do the things I do. I find myself hesitating at times and debating things. (I'm exceptionally good at arguing with myself.)

But then there are times like these, when I walk into the studio and just know.

I know that when my hand reaches for the threads to figure out what color is needed, they will reach for the right one.

I know that when I hide myself away in my studio for even a few minutes, that peace that is only mine will settle down over me and tell me I belong.

I know that without art, this life would be less bright.

I know that I am lucky to be one of the ones who knows.

19 December 2010

where i stand sunday

* * * * * * * *
t r a d i t i o n
* * * * * * * *

The end of the year is thick with tradition, ritual. Laying the past twelve months to rest in a long flurry of celebration is comforting and satisfying. The house is wrapped in a series of decoration and peacefulness, a quiet kind of reflection that will be punctuated by family and friends.

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.

18 December 2010

creating order

This is my new coffee cup. About the only thing I love more then coffee is a good cup. Particularly white ones, something about the lovely contrast of drinking black coffee against a white cup that never stains gives me that little thrill. (Yes, I'm that easy to please.) I'm a coffee cup collector, its a little out of control but I can't help it. Particularly milk glass and vintage style ones - makes the coffee taste better (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

I've had about three cups this morning so far because last night I felt an impending sense of doom and chaos. I couldn't quite figure out what my problem was, I'm used to running at full tilt with tons of things on the burner at one time. I pondered the reason.

Maybe its because its the holiday season and there's so much extra to do.

Maybe its because there is a full moon (not sure on that one, didn't check a lunar calendar but its been a good excuse in the past).

Maybe I've got too many projects going at once. (This one made me laugh - there's no such thing!)

Then it finally hit me why - NO LIST.

I live my life solemnly by the rules of THE LIST. It creates order, it tells me what to do, it keeps me humming right along toward deadlines with no worry of stress or chaos.

Somehow I had not updated THE LIST lately and it was making things seems kind of dark and foreboding around the edges. It meant I could possibly forget something important or stray off track or wander off on some path that had nothing to do with anything I mean to accomplish.

I see THE LIST as a kind of leash that keeps me on track. I imagine people look at me and say, "She's got it together. Didn't you know? She has THE LIST." They won't mess with me, even Murphy's Law fears THE LIST (and we all know the great affection he has for me).

It is my super power.

I am indestructible when I have THE LIST.

Its important to distinguish the rules for creating THE LIST. Some people think they are list makers but they aren't, they don't know the rules, they just haphazardly flail around with a pen and a piece of paper and think that their lists are the bomb but they're mistaken. Its an art. Rules must be observed in order for THE LIST to do its job properly.

1. Have a pretty notepad or board (dry erase or chalkboard) on which to write THE LIST. Consider it a form of dating, creating a sort of special relationship. You wouldn't show up for a first date wearing your pajamas with extreme bedhead, would you? Wooooo THE LIST.

2. Items such as laundry, grocery shopping and paying bills do not belong on THE LIST. They are futile, never completed and will only taunt you because they are never really completed. If you add them, you will avoid looking at THE LIST and you will be conquered. Instead, segregate them off into daily errand lists, or as I like to refer to them, "I Hate You Because You Are Never Done" lists.

3. Cross off completed items, don't erase them. Leaving them there with a big old line drawn through them shows how awesome you are at completing tasks on THE LIST. Plus erasing them makes you think you don't have much to do and this is dangerous. It can lead to excessive internet surfing and knitting.

4. Be bold. And confident. THE LIST can smell fear and it will not hesitate to crush you. You must respect THE LIST.

5. Understand that THE LIST is here to help you. Don't give it dirty looks or threaten to run it through the washing machine with the laundry. Growling at THE LIST is also ineffective and will serve no other purpose then to put you behind schedule.

6. THE LIST has comrades that you will want to become familiar with. These range according to your personality type but can include: coffee, vodka, hysterical laughter and trash cans.

7. Some lists are portable and others are not. Portable lists are for the "I Hate You Because You Are Never Done" tasks (see point 2) and stationary lists (like the one in my studio) are attached to the wall so that when you realize the deadline is only two days away, you will have something to hang on to as you slide to the floor sobbing.

8. Get THE LIST a calendar. This is crucial. Not having a healthy sense of how many days away a deadline actually is is like setting your list on fire and laughing with glee while you do it. Also keep in mind that when you are creating things (particularly by hand), a deadline that is seven days away is equivalent to about fifteen minutes. Work ahead.

9. Update THE LIST regularly. (This is the most difficult and one that I struggle with regularly.) There comes a point when you just need to create a new list, with updated priorities and new goals. Don't fear this process, it is not the same as piling more work onto your schedule. THE LIST is your schedule. Don't fight it, it will only cause pain.

Now that I have an updated LIST in my studio, I feel like I can conquer anything. In fact, because I have the list, I am working on item #1 today (and no, its not blogging but it is blogging related so I feel that I am in the correct ballpark and will get to work on obliterating #1 from THE LIST as soon as I hit "publish" on this post).

Me and THE LIST. THE LIST and me.

There's no stopping me now! Muahahahahahah!

16 December 2010

let's screen print t-shirts with thermofax screens!

A few weeks ago, Cathy Arnett, spent a weekend at my house and I convinced her that it would be fun to do a video on screen printing t-shirts with thermofax screens. The two of us working together on a major project is usually a source of entertainment. We spent much time debating how we should do this, and that and then this.

We took over the print table in my studio and what ensued was silliness and the filming of a three part video tutorial on the subject. It came out quite well, if I do say so myself.

Here she is wearing the shirt that was printed during the video tutorial:

(Yes, it is autumn in that picture, already a vague memory here in Michigan.)

Cathy has hand dyed several t-shirts and they are waiting for some photography - once that happens, they'll be available in the shop. But I get asked constantly how to print t-shirts with thermofax screens so I decided that the tutorials simply couldn't wait any longer.

The tutorials is split into three parts because of the time limit that YouTube places on video uploads. (That means the total tutorial is nearly 30 minutes long. It will answer allllll your questions.)

It took me a day and a half to get all three videos up on you tube (it was being incredibly stubborn yesterday and bailed on three uploads when they were nearly complete) but luckily I am far more stubborn then that site so they are all there.

I do hope that you find them helpful and informative - go forth and screen print t-shirts!

Don't forget, I have several other video tutorials on thermofax screen printing on my YouTube channel so check it out!

13 December 2010

getting the ball rolling

For the past week I've been fighting the urge to push every single thing off my work table so I could start on Behemoth.

Starting my little business has put a serious dent in my art making time. I'm not complaining but holy cow, it can really get under your skin after a while.

Today I decided enough was enough. I braved the post office today to send out a whack of boxes and decided that after that trauma, I deserved a little selfish me time in the studio. I wandered up there, looked that giant hunk of felt that has been hanging on my design board for the better part of a month straight in the eye and mumbled, "You. Are. Mine."

I ended up reducing the size slightly because its what fit on my print table. Its now about 33" wide x 27" high. Which I'm sure doesn't sound huge to many fiber artists but for me? That's pretty big.

I dumped out my pitifully small basket of printed fabric (I really must learn to create a reserve instead of printing as I need it) and half an hour later, had this:

Its the base layer. I'm happy with the colors and movement in it. I've got a long way to go yet and still have not figured out how I will hand stitch this (my fingers cramp up just thinking about it) but I see no way around it. I won't be happy with it any other way.

The best part is that its sucking up my whole work table. Preventing me from wandering off and working on other things. Oh what a burden...(are you buying that?)

I would have preferred to stay in the studio all day today and continue to work since we got over half a foot of snow dropped on us last night. But I had things to do so I braved it.

I really shouldn't complain because I least I don't have to do this:

The temps went below zero today and it looks like its not going to let up for a while. Weather like this makes me supremely happy about two things: (1) that my bathroom facilities are located indoors and (2) my ability to hoard a large amount of wool yarn means that I will not freeze to death should electricity cease to exist.

12 December 2010

where i stand sunday

p a t t e r n * t i l e * c o p y * structure * r e p e a t * p a t t e r n

Life seems to be built upon patterns. Schedules. Something familiar to rest my feet on. I look steadily and cautiously at the structure I'm attempting to build, remembering where it took me before, the comfort it offered, the satisfaction. I've changed, has it?

p a t t e r n * t i l e * c o p y * structure * r e p e a t * p a t t e r n

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.

10 December 2010

spontaneous crafting

Sort of like spontaneous combustion but without all the smoke and mess. (And definitely more fun...)

I admit that I am weak in the face of new crafty things. Even if they've been around for ages and I've admired them from afar but just haven't gotten around to trying them out yet.

I recently discovered Craft Sanity. Its an outstanding craft blog by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, a fellow Michigander.

I am apparently very late to the party, she's been around for a long while now doing wonderful crafty things. She has over 100 podcast episodes and just issued her first print issue of Craft Sanity magazine (you can also get it as a PDF but I love the feel of a magazine in my hand so I went that route):

I was happy to get it yesterday because I'm currently nursing a cranky back and it leaves me looking for entertainment (reading and word search puzzles are usually my addictions of choice).

Jennifer wrote an article on making an apron using English paper piecing:

I'm not so much about aprons (as evidenced by the paint spattered condition of my poor clothing) but those little hexagons are entrancing. I've long wanted to try English paper piecing, it seems like just the right amount of tedious and cool mixed into one.

Well, there was also a giftie included with the magazine - a package of small hexagons from Paper Pieces with pre-cut fabric. I found the large warning on the front of the directions to be humorous:

I keep my little owl sewing box next to the sofa so I dug around and found a needle and thread and figured, "Why not? I'll give it a go."

Fifteen minutes later...I had this:



I want to make it friends.

It was ridiculously easy. And incredibly cute. And I can see so many different ways to alter them and projects to make and...


I really didn't need one more thing to fall for...

After I got the whole thing stitched together, I got to worrying that I wouldn't be able to pull the paper pieces out. (I am a firm stitcher. When I sew something together, its for life. Which is probably not an admirable skill when doing this kind of craft.)

I snipped the basting stitches on the center one since all its sides are securely attached to neighbors and the paper piece came out like a champ:

I need to give the rest of it a good press and then I'll yank the other paper pieces out.

Here's another view:

Isn't it cute? And easy. Did I mention easy?

I can see this on pincushions and tote bags and scarves and christmas tree ornaments and...and...just wait until I can get up off the sofa - I'm going to make an army of them!!!

09 December 2010

the age old question

While decorating the Christmas tree, does one decorate the sides that no one sees (the ones facing walls) or just the ones everyone looks at?

Tonight, dear readers, that was my dilemma. I've asked many people this question and the answers are split nearly 50/50. Of course, there may have been a note of hysteria when I asked it, which often leads people to agree with me whether they actually do or not, so perhaps my sampling isn't all that accurate.

I am of the opinion that you only need to decorate those sides that you see. Here is my reasoning:

1) For nearly my whole life, my Christmas trees have always been placed in a corner or against a wall. This to me says right there, "I don't want you to decorate me all the way around." It just sets the stage from the get go and who am I to argue with the mighty Christmas tree?

2) I weigh more then fifty pounds and am wider then a sheet of paper. This makes cramming myself between the tree and wall an impossibility.

3) Trees have a built in defense system. Scraping up my hands and arms as I attempt to insert myself between the wall and the tree for the express purpose of putting an ornament in that space that no one will see seems like something you need medication for.

4) Yes, lights go all the way around. No, ornaments are not the same thing. Its a class system. Ornaments are more important. Its a cruel reality, sorry to be the one to break it to you.

5) It is a yearly tradition: bickering about whether or not the wall needs to view decorations as well. Why mess with tradition?

Since I am the one decorating the tree this year, I am drunk with the power of putting ornaments only on the visible sides of the tree. Its a small thing but I have embraced the duty with seriousness. I even purchased new ornaments and have strewn them about the living room in strategic piles so that they can be distributed on all visible sides of the tree.

The westie isn't sure what all my enthusiasm is about. He is mostly interested in stealing the fat chubby stuffed santas and making me chase after him screeching like a lunatic "Don't eat Santa! Don't eat Santa!"

That too is tradition.

I like to take my time with the tree, do a little bit each day. I'm late getting it up this year but I'm also one of those people that leave the tree up until the end of January. So there's still plenty of time to enjoy it and feel smug about the fact that the backside is naked as a...well...backside.

It is the little things I cherish....hee hee hee hee hee

07 December 2010

making nice with an old foe

One of the projects I'm working on mandated that I send in a head shot. (Which in a way sounds brutal, but I knew it meant they wanted a photo of my head.)

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you can probably count on one hand how many times you've actually seen my face amongst the posted photos.

It comes from a combination of being shy and...well, that's basically it. I've been working on getting over it, although I find it to be a somewhat mean process. I knew I needed a head shot, I knew it would become unavoidable at some point. So when the formal request for one came in, I sat down and gave it a little think.

Most of the head shots I've seen of other people are fairly formal. People dressed proper and pretty and smiling widely into the camera. They all look lovely. But in reality, the idea of it just didn't sit right with me.

I'm a casual gal. I couldn't see myself posing in a photo studio, looking all demure and frozen in a smile. I decided that if I was going to be comfortable with this whole taking pictures of myself thing, I was going to have to do it my own way.

In my studio.

Surrounded by printed fabric.

Dressed how I normally am.

So yesterday morning I worked at clearing off my design board (no easy feat, if you saw the state of that poor board, it borders on abuse) and digging through my fabric stash. Since I tend to print as I need things, it wasn't the easiest thing to dig out pieces big enough.

I set the camera on the tripod, figured out how to use the timer, and set about the task.

I'll be honest, there was cussing involved. I took photos of the top of my head, my neck, my chin. At one point the westie wandered into the studio and bumped the tripod so there is even one of me flying toward the camera as I attempt to stop it from falling into a pile of gook on my print table.

Its not as easy as I thought it would be. In the end, I came away with several that I thought came out okay:

See? I do exist.

I ended up going with the one on the far left of the bottom row. I still think I look goofy but less goofy then I normally think so that's probably a step in the right direction.

The camera and I are starting to play nice together. Which is a good thing because one of my major goals for 2011 is to set up online classes. I'm exploring a big website redesign (again, I swear it never ends) and that's a part I'd really like to add to it. I bought a flip camera, its a neat little thing. Packs a big punch for such a little object.

Maybe the camera and I can be friends after all...

05 December 2010

on the subject of change

1. door 212, 2. The Green Door, 3. An ill door, 4. An old door 2, 5. door to nowhere, 6. Colorful House Door- Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo, 7. Door III, 8. the yellow door, 9. Weathered Door - Bodie ca

I'm sure you've noticed that posting on the blog has been sporadic. Its because life has been full.

Full of change.

Full of excitement.

Full of big decisions.

Today I was searching through flickr, indulging my love of fine photography and my subject of choice was doors (you can see some of my favorites in the mosaic above). I love images of doors nearly as much as I love skulls - that gives you an idea of my affection for them. It occurred to me that they are a strong symbol of change.

Doors are decisions. You choose which side you stand on and that helps push you toward (or away) from certain goals.

I'm a fairly private person. I believe that many things don't belong on public blogs. I think some people don't keep that in mind, that everyone is reading so while I'm not going to spill my guts, I wanted to acknowledge that my scattered nature these days is because I'm working on stirring things up again. Much of it can be shared and will be when the time is right, but when I sit back and look at all that is up in the air, its amazing and exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time.

Which tells me I'm on the right track.

For the most part they are good things. Not every single thing is something I want to do, there's a few have to's tossed in there for good measure but those choices were driven by a desire to do what's right for me.

So I'll be missing my regular Sunday post again this week. I apologize, I'm taking the day to chill and relax and recharge.

Instead I wanted to take a second to say that change is a-coming again and I hope you'll all stick around for the ride...

The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
- Flora Whittmore

03 December 2010

all the trimmings holiday show - come see me!

I'm going to be here tomorrow:

I'll be selling art quilts, assemblages, felted items, thermofax screens (need more addicts to join me), screen printed items and much more.

Its going to be a great show so if you are in the area and are inclined, come on by and see us! :)

01 December 2010

12 Connected reveal day - icon challenge

Say It
Lynn Krawczyk

Today is reveal day for the 12 Connected group. The word issued to us for this challenge was Icon. I'm posting my quilt here (and there as well) but be sure to bop on over and take a look at the other work in the group, its always interesting what everyone is doing.

I had to give this one a little think. Its got a huge connotation to it, could go in so many different directions. I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do a person, a woman. An artist? A poet? A musician?

How about all three?

I chose Ani Difranco. She is a singer, song writer, activist, loud mouth, unabashed, tell-it-like-it-is, political woman. She says what she thinks and makes no apologies. I have been fascinated with her music for years now and often find myself playing her albums when I am in the studio, looking for the zone to sink into so I can get some serious work done.

She is the kind of brave that I hope to be someday.

You may not agree with her politics or what she has to say, but you have to admire that she stands up and says it without apology. She is an icon of the music industry.

I knew that I wanted to use a photo of Ani in the quilt but I didn't want it to be just plunked down and glaring. I wanted something that was scuffed up looking, rough around the edges - a prominent part of the composition but not bold all at the same time.

I found this photo on flickr and asked the photographer if I could make a thermofax screen out of it. I received a yes and was off and running.

I pulled brown fabric from the stash that was discharged in a folded pattern and some vibrant orange hand dyed cotton. Ani is not quiet with her lyrics and music and I didn't want to do a low volume piece.

I did three layers of thermofax screen printing. First up is a scuff print of the photo:

The second layer of printing was an all over text and then the third is an abstract coffee cup stain design.

I hand stitched the piece in a neon yellow perle cotton thread in bold graffiti like stitches.

I like the contrast, the push and pull of the colors against each other.

It was fun to explore a piece that expressed what I feel when I listen to Ani's music. I'm happy I got to honor her in this challenge.