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.


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.

Handpainted Note cards

October 14, 2010

I have been in note card mode once again. I have been painting cards  for 20 years  ever since I was in a IS mail art coop. We had members coast to coast which I have since lost contact with all of them. We mailed outlandish shaped cards and postcards to see what the postal service would deliver.  Back then they did very sculptural, sewed torn paper, wired, computer chips, heavily hotglued texture then painted. It was divine and I was hooked not only to make but receive hand painted cards not reproduced hand painted (way too hallmarkish). Now, I do water color painted paper cut into geometric shapes and compositions attached to backing stiff paper.  Pics will follow.


May 27, 2010

This week the weather is unbelievably sticky and miserable as the wet , saturated ground is relinquishing its moisture  into the air.  Our weather has made a giant leap forward into the heat of summer.  I am undecided if I will pack felting up for the summer and focus on painting or forge forward. working with hot water and wool just does not sound appealing. While I am deciding, I have taken on a project of painting seventeen solid oak chairs with various techniques and designs. The prep work is a bit daunting with gum removal,  slight reinforcement, sanding, and priming before I begin the  designs.  I have more ideas than chairs thus I have been sketching like a mad woman, using different color schemes, pop designs , animal prints, faux finishes, and even some classic impressionists designs.  Even though I am overwhelmed, it is with something I love doing: painting. The challenge is not a flat canvas but a variety of surfaces in a single design element or theme for each functional piece.  so I am off to the wood store for various products to complete the task.

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.

Painted Furniture

May 16, 2009

I was organizing my art folder and ran across these painted chairs that were part of a series containing all individual pieces(non-matching). I recall these were painted in 2004. Yes, these pieces falls into decorative arts but nonetheless they were fun to paint, the recipients adored them and very fun to sit in. This one is walnut wood with acrylic paint, and sealed with clear acrylic-matt finish. The Fabric seat cushion was painted with Createx textile paint, which is heat set that lends a nice hand, yet, durable to abrasion or spot washing. Part of the series was multiple toddler chairs that made exquisite gifts. Unfortunately, I was lax about documentation and the few I captured were taken before my photography studio was set up, so lighting is questionable, harsh and not balanced.

Wall of Paintings

March 9, 2009

Adjacent WAll

Adjacent WAll

Someone asked to see my studio, here are 2 walls.

Encroaching Darkness

March 9, 2009

Encroaching Darkness

Encroaching Darkness

In light of the global economy need there be any explanation?

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

Impasto Cosmos

February 10, 2009

I have been watching a series entitled “The Truth Project”, which sites Carl Sagan as a brilliant man, well respected and accomplished a great deal during his life on earth, after all who of us has not seen “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”. NASA, owes a great deal to Sagan, his public service was invaluable from inception all the way through the development of the space program. Our daily lives have been touched as a result of the space program, which developed myriads of products we use without thought to their origins. Sagan contributions have helped form the minds of millions of astronomy and astrophysics scholars as he was one of the first to promote searching for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Carl was a principal example of an extraordinary critical thinker and a man who sought diligently a complete knowledge of the universe. Anyway to get back to my painting, who can think about the Cosmos without thinking of Carl Sagan, yet there is a tiny issue concerning the origins of matter, umm wonder where and how it developed. I am interested in foundations, another whole discussion aside from my painting. I am still fascinated by spirals and not just their decorative function. Thus, I continue my personal attraction to this “image” until I discover its voice within me, a threefold individual of body, mind, and spirit.

Impasto Cosmos

Impasto Cosmos

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.

Spinning Gold

January 4, 2009

Spinning spirals is an older painting that I re- gold-leafed this past week.  There is such a fine line between working a piece to perfection, overworking it or not working enough.   When I taught art, I always told my students to turn their mistakes into master pieces.. not my original thought but it certainly is a gem.  On this piece I used layers of glazes and it dulled the bling of the gold leaf. I am anxiously waiting for better lighting instrument or to learn how to make light screens and I long for a digital body for my cannon rebel lens.

Spinning Spirals

Spinning Spirals

Bookend Papers and Recipe

January 18, 2008

Ancient End Papers used to cover books Plus Recipe

End paper recipe

3Tablespoon (T) Rice Flour

4T fine Wheat Flour preferably Wheat Starch

1 teaspoon (tps) tincture of green soap… clear

½ tps glycerin

3 Cups cold water.

  • Stir flours and add1 C water together in pan until smooth.
  • Add rest of water
  • Heat on medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Cook 5 minutes—until glossy, thickened and translucent.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in glycerin and green soap.
  • Cool.
  • Mix with acrylic paints until smooth and even.

· Clop dollops on high quality drawing paper. Smooth evenly then used fingers or soft instruments to create designs. Paper is rather sturdy but if overworked will begin to show signs of wear.

· Bling can be added using powdered metal flakes or powdered fabric glitter (Createx).

Paste may be stored in the refrigerator in air tight container…cover top of paste with wet paper towel so condensation will not drip on paste

. I used this recipe to make some decorative papers which I covered old books for accessories in a home setting–yes purely staging.  Originally the recipe was for end papers used by printers who could not afford the popular marbleized papers of the 1400’s. The recipe is from a secondary source, which I can not cite.

5 Red Spirals

December 30, 2007


I used a regular cotton canvas as the foundation, lightly coated in gesso then liberally applied plaster (mixed with a composite adhesive), once dried several more coats of gesso and the canvas was prepped for paint. I wanted to see my paintings beyond a visual texture and make the viewer want to touch it. As we all know from elementary school, touching paintings is definitely off-limits. Okay so I am a bit of a tease but not my primary goal.  I utilized the crimson acrylic paint without the interference of any implements by applying directly, then highlighting with dollops of gold dabbed with a sea sponge. It is extremely retro, reminiscent of 1960’s, and even though not poured but the direct application is a revisit of Jackson Pollack. It can be argued that Pollack’s brush was a bucket or a container.

Progression with my study on the power of red in a non-academic matter, even though I have not made any conclusion or not even developed theories on the influence, control, and the authority of red on the human psychic. Many studies have been conducted on color theory and I do not wish to replicate that information but maybe I need to investigate it more closely before I continue in this venue.  One reason I chose this lesson is I have an intense aversion to red, and the challenge to create beauty from something I despise is a remote result of Dianne Arbus study of the unbecoming and highlighting it’s beauty. On the other hand, why do I have an aversion to red?  When I was in school a fellow student asked the professor what colors did she like. So astutely the professor responded, “All colors, it just depends what scenario they are playing”. It was a personal challenge using an aggressive, raw, cadaverous associative color red and make it into something pleasing, beautiful and something I can even appreciate. This stretch canvas is 16″ x 20″.