Second Hand Fabrics

May 30, 2012

Oh, Nicola is now, speaking my language: second hand stores.  I openly admit as a true artist that I have rescued items with a bit of dumpster diving, which ended up being excessively valuable. When I first time visit a town I do not head for the tourist attractions but I scan the environment for junk stores.  I found a little fabric store many years ago, along the side of the road not unlike a fruit stand. It was near a quaint town population just under 200. The store was crammed pack with 100% natural fabrics that were end roll or bolt ends.  I found delicate cottons, silks alongside heavy-duty sailcloth. Oh, I had so much fun dying those fabrics and I still have a few left in my stash. Sadly, the store was torn down in lieu for a convenience store.


I read an article in the NY Times that  the cotton industry has discovered a way to  intermingled nano Millimeter ( I forget the actual weight but it was microscopic) of  synthetic  to reduce shrinkage, yet the amount is so small it  is still legally label it 100% cotton. This explains why newer items such as tee shirts and linens will not dye properly with procion dyes.  Yes, I have taught classes on beach towel dyeing using a kiddie swimming pool.  Have you ever wondered by some 100% cotton tee-shirt seems to be hot or slightly itchy? This small percentage of non-natural fiber keeps the fiber from “breathing”, or allowing the air to freely flow through the garment.


The only true test is doing a burn test, which I found this one of the most useful tools I learned at art school.   For a final test in this class, I was presented a pile of samples and required to identify the contents by burning them.   A small sliver is fibers, held of course with tweezers or tongs, set a flame with a match, various fibers will have a different burn rate, odor, and a distinctive ash or rubbish result. I have worked with textiles for over forty years and yet garments or unmarked fabrics have deceived me especially some with the distinct feel of silk, when tested will burn into a hard uncrushable black ball and smell foreign.  Silk will scent of burned hair and crush into ashes.   Plant fibers have the odor of paper burning while all animal protein: wool, silk, leather have the smell of when you get too close to an open flame and your eyelashes get  singed, the stench of burning hair.    It is a fascinating, to me after I wrote this, I discovered there are several web sites with the various  test results.


last night

March 3, 2012

My shoulder is still healing so all I can physically do is felting soaps.  These are felted wool covered hand made soap.  The covers are made of merino wool and is felted so it hold the handmade soap that tends to melt allover the place when moisture hits it. Some people like to just keep them as decorative items. the small are $5.oo USD large 10.00 USD plus shipping.

gift soaps

Customer colors available upon request. Mothers Day is not too far away and if your mom is like mine,  consumable items is about all her house can accommodate.

Felted Postcards

February 9, 2012

I adore postcards,  and have collected them for over 40 years, even though the internet can take us to exotic lands, postcards are a signal that some one thinks of you even while they are gone.  Over the years, I  have been in several multimedia post card exhibits and it is great fun.   I would like to see  a twist on the travel postcard event by  creating felting post-cards about HOME.

This challenge is called “Postcards from Home” and features small (4 inch by 6 inch) pictorials of scenes from you home environment: landscapes, perhaps a historical  point of interest.  Some suggestions to get you thinking about a pictorial postcard:  the natural environment, such as mountains, deserts or coastal scenery; native flora and fauna; images of agriculture such as farms, ranches and dairies; man-made scenes, such as towns and cities, bridges, monuments, museums, and theme parks; historical images from home past; and recreational settings.

Deadline:  August 15, 2012
Open to all
Size:  4 inches by 6 inches (traditional postcard size
Writing may be included
Make a label for the back of your postcard containing the following information:

Postcard from Home Challenge 2012
Your Name and Address
Title of Postcard
Location of scene

On a separate piece of paper, please include a short paragraph explaining the scene you felted and any additional information that you wish to share.  This information may be used in promotional materials and articles concerning this challenge.

Bring the finished postcards, or mail* the finished postcard to me.  I will document and photograph each postcard. I would like to take a display of these postcards to various exhibits. We have a Final Friday exhibit here in my hometown of Lawrence, KS. There is First Friday in Kansas City, MO. There is a large possibility of several national venues for a traveling exhibit but locations are undisclosed at this time.


Leave a response if you might be interested.  The pieces will be auctioned off for a charity fund raiser TBA later. So this is a mere feeler for a response.  I may extend it to fiberart postcards, since  my circle of acquaintances extend way into the fiber world: weaving, surface design, beading,  hand made papers,  fabric design, dying, indigo, baskets etc. i have yet to decide.  What a great way to get your work SEEN by a groups of people.

Back in Drivers Seat

January 13, 2010

Sparing you all the sorted details of my recent illness, I can say with all confidence that I am back on my feet. Today, I not only accomplished many neglected household chores, I had a long lingering lunch with girl friends then completed the day by felting three new items. The luncheon was a birthday celebration (another Jack Benny year) which was casual and liberally laced with laughter, amongst some sobering moments and followed with a nice cup of coffee and talk of a new book club readings from turn of the century.  The birthday lady received a felted “date clutch” in shades of red.  I am calling my little clutch purses—date clutch as they comfortably  hold lip gloss, ID, credit card, a hanky and house keys secured with a magnetic closure.  It was such a hit with everyone that I was commissioned to make three new ones for out of town daughters.  My photography studio which is a separate room from my art studio has three stations, one is a postal  center with all the necessary supplies for sending parcels, another section is for gift wrapping, ribbons, boxes, and the other is (was) set up for photographing. Naturally, with the holidays, this room got abundant use and I needed the black backdrop for a project, the lights became caddywhompus and completely disassembled one-step after another, consequently, I would not expect photos from me anytime soon.

Back to my saga of my 2.5 week of sickness while in bed recuperating, I made use of a new gift , artist markers. I spent many days sketching  new ideas, filling pages with doodles, researching material ideas for new projects,  exploring possible revenue avenues with potential  trips  for teaching.

Several afternoons last week I thought my ills was gone so I spent several days processing, dyeing and carding alpaca. I over-dyed some natural gray alpaca wool with shades of cerulean, algae green and midnight blues resulting in deep and nice jewel tones. I, also, had natural brown alpaca which is very soft but is definitely courser than the other alpaca that has amber-bronze undertones that I over dyed in shades of nutmeg, cinnamon, cordovan and cherry wood and a burnt umber and a few hanks of burnt sienna. It is exciting to discover that I quickly understand the slight variances in the wool. The courser fiber does not felt easily and seems feeling tacky (I acquired this wool over the internet) Even though I have rinsed it, thinking it was not dyed properly.  I am beginning to wonder if these wools have been dyed with something other than professional acid dyes.  Sadly, I am no longer interested in wool that I have not touched; I suppose this is one of the curses of knowledge. I am certain there are excellent suppliers out there but I have been burned once too often to bother with buying unseen/ untouched. One source sent yarn that had been card after it was spun and made it into roving. In theory, this seems like an acceptable idea but it tends to over work the wool , weakening the fibers into short pieces, it is not acceptable for felting at a professional level.

Group Pose

October 13, 2009

The gang

The gang

A quick corporate snap shot of the group to date.  Yes, I used Procion dyes with an acid fixer.

Love-Long-GoneW Pure pigments mixed in various sections with gesso or createx binder. Sea grass created with acrylic paint.  the backing still needs to be attached.  70″ x 70″. When one looks carefully  the shibori dyeing on the body of the fish is very visible. I did a series of fish with kissy type lips and this is a remnant of that series, which I never completed.  I am attempting to tie up the numerous projects I have begun but not finished. I still have a glass top table which I am doing in tandem with the new  fire felted piece.

This is hanging in my bathroom beside a huge glass block window, which is burning out some of the color in this piece–not in reality just in the photograph.  I will get it to the studio for a controled lighting photo shoot however the time frame is unpredictable.

Shibori Spirals

March 3, 2009

Since I have been working with the spiral motif for countless years, thought I would resurrect some vintage fabric. This is a bit of reclaimed fabric (purchased at a second hand store) that I have discharged dyed using an ancient Japanese technique called Shibori. The fabric is wrapped round a 15 inch PVC pipe with cotton binding and then scrunched together; the discharged is applied to the exposed crunched portion. There are numerous patterns achieved by the way the fabric is laid on the pipe and of course the diameter of the pipe. I have seen 55 gallon drums used for this procedure or pipes as tiny as 1 inch. I prefer size as it is easily manageable for this method and it lends a sweeping diagonal motion to the otherwise static design. Again the sheen to the fabric is impossible to capture effectively even with hand-made light filters.


Love Long Gone

February 13, 2009

This is the under-painting of a piece 54″ x 57″  The weave is a twill in stripes. I will attempt to get a detail pic.  The ground was dyed with Procion. The grasses and fish are createx fabric medium and colors are mixed by using pure pigments.   Details will be added,such as the dark blue area the and a touch up to the Dorsal fins. The pelvic, anal and pectoral fins were painted but are all hiding behind the grasses with only the soft dorsal fully exposed. Once the painting is completed. The piece will be attached to a backing with a border then quilted in selected areas with copper wire.  The quilting is emphasized with the wire, as when love-ones  leaves us, we are raw, ripped and scared.Love-Long-Gone

Previous Post

February 3, 2009

This morning as I am surfing,  looking at former coleagues art work  I ran upon an artist Lynn Griffiths and a piece called Rust and Woad II. The felted work is simple and lovely, it has a quality of a  tree  standing prouldly yet alone in the snow. Never hearing of Woad, I HAD to look it up , as I thought it was a typo, to my delight I find it is a natural dye and found this link: Anyway, as I continued to browse the Surface Design website, I miss my membership  and the highly creative work people produce.  Since it appears my 15 years in corporate America have seen their demise and I am slowly returning to what turns me on: the evidence of the visual creative process.  Off to the studio, I go.