April 27, 2009

500th Post Giveaway

LAST CHANCE! I'm picking a winner at 6p PDT -- Friday evening.

Gosh, I'm still here. Let's have the de rigeur GIVEAWAY to celebrate my 500th post. Leave a comment on this post only and I'll pick a winner on Friday. The winner will receive a fragrant lavender pillow made from vintage Chinese silk brocade and a pendant from the previous post. Good luck!

April 26, 2009


I have a process to share.

When collaging for the purpose of making tiny pendants, it almost doesn't matter where I start -- cutting them to 1" x 3" makes layout virtually unimportant. Papers were adhered and painted with matte gel medium on a base of an old French novel. I used colored tissue, rubber stamped images on thin paper, German and Olde English printed text, bits from a map, postage stamps, Chinese red envelope, paper remaining from Terri Brush's class...

Pastel chalks and oil sticks were rubbed onto edges, then blended with a Kleenex. Some shimmery gold paint was randomly painted/rubbed in too.

This irridescent lavender fabric paint is really old. I bought it 10+ years ago to paint tees for my cousin's kids. The kids are in college now! I watered it down and used the surface of a button to paint a few dots. I also smeared the paint over the chalk layer. The lavender shimmer is pretty and everything under it shows through.

The pages dried and have been cut to fit under microscope slide glass. Right now they are ready for focal points.

Some of these will be To/From gift cards for my family's Christmas presents. More later!

April 25, 2009

Tackling Creativity Fears

One of the tricks to facing fears and the associated negative voices is to take a class. Works for me, anyway. By having to keep up with (1) the lesson and (2) the other students, the demons don't have time to say, "You can't do that" or "You won't like the way it comes out" or "Don't you have chores to do?" Instead, I'm forced to dive in.

Janice and I spent the day with Terri Brush and 10 other students. We collaged in the morning, were served lunch, then learned to solder in the afternoon. When we arrived, Terri and her two assistants had already set the table with supplies and tools, paper ephemeria, trays of paint, rinse water, pastels, soldering irons, class samples and a gift for each of us. They made sure we were well fed with snacks, a nice lunch and coffee/wine. Terri gave excellent demonstrations and instruction, plus she hovered about to make sure we understood what to. Throughout the day, the ladies offered refreshments and guidance.

The pendants are double-sided. One of these pendants is for my Mom -- it's the one with the bird's head and "gardener."

This is the gift from Terri. Why, yes, she made it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed Terri will be back sometime to teach her papier mache technique. Bummer, she lives in Washington state. Check out Terri's website and her blog.

April 24, 2009

Clip Art

If you're reading this during the day, next-door neighbor Janice and I will be in class. We'll be clipping our artwork into little 1" bits to make into pendants, magnets, charms... and we'll see what else! Show you in the next post, so stay tuned.

April 22, 2009

Didn't Get Far

Is it hot where you live? No "April Showers" here in San Diego, but we are grateful for our air conditioning unit.

This basket might turn out larger than the other two because a lot of silk remains. I'm happiest when stitching.

By the way, this is Post 497. Can you guess what'll happen at Post 500? Yup, giveaway!

April 21, 2009

Purple Silks

I'm back to solid silk because I only had one print. The solids are rich and vivid -- what a treat for my eyes.

My sense of shape is a bit off, but it'll improve with continued work. Now I remember why I like shallow bowls and plate shapes. It is because I can keep the lines clean and even, and they provide clear frames for later embellishments.

April 20, 2009

Here I Am!

I feel so much better. This head cold made me wonder, is my creativity dead? Has it all come to an end? Will I spend the rest of my life playing games on my iPod? It was difficult to sit still and let my body go through the process of being sick.

Silk strips from kimono linings have been hanging for a year. I love making silk rag baskets, but they are slow to sell. One basket remains in inventory and I can replenish. The first series were made in solid colors so I was excited to try a print.

I ran out of the blue/black/rose/white print and finished it in black rinzu. Ah, it feels great to say I finished something!

I've started another. Some time ago I dyed this silk during a beginning shibori class. Though not shibori-dyed, it does have varying color throughout.

April 18, 2009

One Art Show This Season

I am doing one art show this Mother's Day season, Bernardo Winery.

The colds Tien and I have are keeping us down. Just when I thought I was getting better (see previous post about machine quilting!), I discovered I was wrong.

April 16, 2009

Free Motion Quilting

No meander-quilting for me on my Bernina 1130S sewing machine. After several attempts over the years, I'm giving it up (again).

Circles seem to come a lot easier. I started by quilting kimono silks. That was a bad idea because of the different densities of weaving which caused bobbin thread breakage. However, this silk kimono lining came out decently. I used an 80/12 needle and 100% cotton thread.

I switched to 100% cotton quilting fabric and a larger needle (100/16). I also used a high-contrast thread color in order to see my stitches. The quilting would look better if I couldn't see the crossed-over stitching. My skills will improve and then I'll stop crying about it (wah!).

Dearest Sarah, happy birthday to you, Honey, and see you in a month!

April 13, 2009

Give Me A Break

I've been feeling bored and uninspired. It rarely happens, and it's probably because of this head cold and forcing myself to work. When I was younger, a cold lasted only a few days. It's not like that anymore.

Before I began keeping this blog, I made wired doll bodies and wrapped them in strips of batting. Now they have an outside-wrap of silk strips taken from kimono linings.

Synthetic kimono lining is great for cutting into narrow ribbons and making into florettes. The edges have been seared over a flame to stop fraying.

What a surprise to find wool/acrylic embroidery thread on a spool!

I'll be back when I feel "up" again. I'm never away too long.

April 10, 2009

Oh Good, It's Friday

See, I told you the previous one would come apart. I started again.

When one has a stuffy head cold, there's nothing better than hot tea and movies made from Jane Austen books, or with Miss Austen in mind anyway. Yesterday it was Becoming Jane and Jane Austen Book Club. Today it was Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Happy Friday to you.

April 9, 2009

Shawl/Scarf 2

I've started another one, but I still might take it apart. I love learning new things and this isn't challenging enough.

This size 8mm needle is more appropriate than the 6mm I used on the previous project.

April 8, 2009

Goody Toe Shoes

It's done and I'm happy. The final touches are subtle: additional metallic gold to overlap new decoupage layers and embellish the butterfly, titanium white on "Focus" letters at the bottom, and, at M2's suggestion, I added "Focus" to the upper right.

Off Topic: I love pineapple. As a child, I had food allergies and this caused lots of problems. Now I only get mouth sores and a sore throat. A craving for the flavor of fresh fruit made me ask, "Is it worth it?" Oh, just this once! And then while suffering, "What was I thinking?" I've had a sore throat for three days. I thought it was an allergic reaction, but it's actually a cold. The upside is maybe I don't have a food allergy!

April 7, 2009

Finding the Good in Blah

My emotions during the day were low-spirited and humdrum. Can "blah" be used to describe a feeling? Though I experienced seeming unproductivity due to frustration with the decoupaged picture frame, later I realized I had new skills. Tien taught me how to download fonts, extract the zip files and add the fonts to my fonts list. The nickle dropped on gel medium transfers too (check out Paul Fujita's how-to). I also learned to create a colored background in PhotoShop and to horizontally flip my text. A very good day after all!

Here's how the frame looks now. The word focus describes what a ballerina does in class in order to improve her skills. It is also the subject of my current lesson. I think I'll have one more play-date on this project.

I finished reading Taking Flight and I highly recommend it. It has wonderful creative techniques, excellent suggestions for the creative mind and great art work that inspired me.

April 6, 2009

Not So Fast!

The scarf is slow to knit, but enjoyable just the same. While knitting it, my thoughts are already on the next one: use larger needles and work in stockinette stitch.

I took another look at the decoupaged picture frame of the previous post. Hmm, I don't think it's quite done yet.

You see, I found a book I didn't know I had (as in "Where'd this come from?" -- a sign of too many possessions) and have been reading it this weekend. It's a really lovely book which includes guest artists Laurie Mika, who I know from Carmel Valley Artists and Talmadge Art Show, and Judy Wise, an artist and blogger who I follow. The author, Kelly Rae Roberts, is telling me to pay attention to the whispers. The whispers are getting louder and louder, and the acrylic art inks have come out of the cabinet. What's next?!

The frame is calling for another layer or two.

April 4, 2009

I Finished Something

The decoupaged picture frame is done. I added layers of colored tissue and torn pages from a French novel.

Can you see the kitty to the left of the frame? That's Coppélia.

I wonder what Degas's dancers were rehearsing? Could it have been a ballet about a dollmaker and his doll?

April 3, 2009

Scattered Brains

I haven't been able to concentrate lately (maybe you've noticed?) and, creatively, I'm all over the place. Nothing is getting finished, but quite a few things have been started. That might be a positive thing, right? Better than lagging, I think!

When sis-in-law Erika and I took her daughter Natty to ballet class, I picked up a small poster with the image of The Dance Class, by Edgar Degas. I tore the poster into small pieces and decoupaged them to a picture frame. It needs some fine tuning, like bits of colored tissue for texture.

April 2, 2009

Same Yarn, Different Shawl

I didn't like the strong angle of yesterday's shawl in stockinette stitch, so I took it apart and started another one in garter stitch:

Cast on 3, knit
Cast on 3, knit (6 stitches)
Cast on 3, knit (9 stitches)
...and so on...

Today's angle is too gentle for the shawl I have in mind, but I'm going to finish it as a scarf. I can see purple seed beads sewn to the edge -- ooh!

The yarns are Bernat Soft Bouclé in a color called "Crazy Shades" and a thin red bouclé that I picked up at the flea market.

Also, I'm cleaning the studio. If they don't sell on eBay and you want them, write to me -- you can have them if you'll pay for media mail postage.

April 1, 2009

No Fooling

Some time ago I started a shawl but didn't like the lacy holes made from "yarn over" (yo) increases. I took it apart. As a test, I'm trying another increase called "knit front back" (kfb or k1f&b or "bar increase") -- I like it a lot because it doesn't make the holes. Visit here to see videos of how to knit this stitch. This site is helpful to rookie knitters like me.

Have you played a joke on anyone today? ;-)