May 31, 2009

Feeling Gladly Blue

Ooh, it's done! Working with this color has been a treat.

I have enough coil to make at least two more rag baskets and feel as though I should choose the next colors carefully.

While reading Met Home, I saw this Kravat advertisement for Calvin Klein fabrics. It gave me the idea to display a quilt at my next show by tying it to one pole (instead of two). This would get the quilt off the table for a cleaner look, allow for easy showing to a potential buyer and omit the need to refold. I've always got 'display' on the brain.

May 30, 2009

Breathtaking Blue

Digging through silk ended with a gasp when I reached this rich blue.

This fabric wasn't conducive to tearing into strips as other silks are. The woven threads are thread-like, as opposed to flossy, and I didn't know how it would wrap. Had I just wasted a good length of fabric? I hesitated to tear the second piece. Now I see this weave is a pleasure to work with because it requires less tension. My fingers aren't sore from pulling and holding. Threads that loosen from raw edges are still pesky, but the color is a delight.

May 29, 2009

Growing Collection

My basket collection is growing! I have another piece of silk on the table for the next one, a peachy-orange, but I might dig into the stash to find a nice green.

The size of my baskets are limited by the amount of silk I have in one color. Usually it's two pieces, about 7" x 36" -- just enough to finish a good size basket before I get bored or go crazy.

The rubber-finger-thing that's been in the photographs is an old office supply. It's useful for gripping the needle and pulling it through. It's also for scale in place of the thimble I usually include.

The jar on the left filled with silk "cotton candy" floss are the loose pieces from the torn edges. Blog Reader Doreen suggested I keep them and I figured they'll be good for felted flowers to embellish the baskets.

May 28, 2009


I'm not sure where "Pumpkin" came from as a pet-name for my pet. The day we brought her home from the shelter, the word just kept coming to mind. Still, she had to have a formal name, Coppélia, because my Pumpkin isn't even orange.

Now this color is pumpkin!

May 27, 2009

Cotton Candy

I love the results of a kimono silk rag basket. The stuff that messes with my neat-freakness are the fine threads that come loose from the torn edges of the silk strips. This is just a small pile of it. They like to stick to my fingers and I'm like a little kid wiping dirty fingers on my pants or the table to get rid of it. Should I keep some to incorporate into a felting project? Argh, maybe that's taking the reduce, reuse, recycle idea too seriously!

May 26, 2009

Family Ties

Tien and I had such fun this weekend visiting my Mom's side of the family. We haven't seen most of them since our wedding and the visit was long overdue. Sharing stories from our past, revealing new tidbits, catching up to the present, and meeting the small children of my cousins... all in honor of little Meridith's first birthday -- I loved it! This picture was taken by cousin Wendy in her mom's beautiful garden. Ten other cousins (plus their SOs and kids) weren't able to join us.

This rose-colored silk rag basket is coming along nicely. My hand hurts, so a rest may be in order.

Two Chinese-Americans of note have passed. Him Mark Lai, who I am proud to call my teacher, was 83. Benjamin Chinn, a photographer who documented my beloved San Francisco, Chinatown in striking black and white, was 87.

May 24, 2009

For Cheryl

This is the finished project for my cousin Cheryl. I wanted to make something to hang on her wall. I hope she likes it! This is machine felted, hand-beaded and hand-embroidered. The brown stick is the only part I'm not satisfied with. There was supposed to be another element there, maybe a beautiful cord or beaded string for hanging, or a piece of driftwood instead. Something will come to me later and I'll send it to her.

7.5" x 4.5"

May 23, 2009

What Do I Know?

That's my foot in a pile of mauve/lavender roving. There's so much! I sat at my table wondering how to work it. Pulling it apart with fingers was getting tedious. It had to be done over the garbage bin because bits of dirt and straw were loosening.

It occurred to me that the wool needed to be carded. I have no idea how to work with what I've got here. I thought of the wire brush for our cats. The pile of fluff behind the brush and wool blob shows how cloud-like it becomes. I also think of my friend Sarah when she says she looks like a Q-tip after brushing her curly locks. She said it -- not me!

What will become of these circles, I don't know. Stay tuned.

May 22, 2009


Merriam-Webster uses the French word "voilà" to call attention, to express satisfaction or approval, or to suggest an appearance as if by magic.

The brilliant pink calls attention, and I'm satisfied with the job I've done, but making kimono silk rag baskets is not magical. It took roughly one day of pulling textile strips tightly to exert enough tension to make the desired shape. I used finger strength and forearm muscles. My pal Janice came over and noticed how stiff this basket is. I want the basket sides to stay firmly upright. Loose wraps make a sloppy and weak wall.

To give my finger and arm muscles a rest, I'll go back to felting for a day. I sorted my roving colors. Sitting on the floor surrounded by the dense fluff, I had an imaginative thought of green, lavender and orange sheep grazing on a hillside!

Magellan buried his nose in roving until I shooed him away. The kitties are so curious about odors of other animals. I used to repair horse blankets for a local equine service and, though blankets were freshly laundered, Coppélia loved the scent.

May 21, 2009

Bright Rose

I think this color is so pretty! It is silk lining from a kimono. The garment it came from must have been extraordinary.

May 20, 2009

Circles and Swirls

I'll be visiting my cousin Cheryl this weekend. I think she doesn't follow my blog and I feel safe she won't see this until then. We haven't seen each other in years and I've wanted to make something for her. Right now it's a collage of circles and swirls, with some layered on the surface. Honestly, I don't know how I got here, but I ended up with this after a couple of hours on my felting machine! I like surprises and am happy with the result. I'll share the completed piece next week.

May 19, 2009

A Finished Basket

It's been awhile since I've finished anything in this studio, and I'm pretty sure I know why.

I showed this basket to Tien and he asked, "Why are you still making those?" Sometimes it takes a person who knows me better than I know myself to speak my mind. Pretty funny thought, right?

Making rag baskets is no longer as satisfying as when I made the first series. What keeps me going is knowing I'll embellish them with tiny handmade silk and beaded flowers. I've been feeling the same about doll making: I prefer making and embellishing clothes, but not the bodies.

So there, it's decided -- this will be the last series of baskets. I have enough paper coil to make several more.

May 18, 2009

Great Eight

Not much is being produced in the sewing room, hence the lack of posts and pictures of creative work. I rearranged the sewing room and did my annual closet cleaning. Work on this rag basket recommenced and I will have a finished item to share in the next post.

These is my gang of San Diego friends, although two live out of state now. It is rare when we are together again and I cherish this time and our history. Standing are Tzotsy, Sheryl, Anita, Sarah, Christine with daughter Torrey, and Fong. In the front row are Yours Truly and Diane.

We used to have pedicure outings, but only time today for a foot photo. You can tell which foot belongs to the hostess.

May 15, 2009

Secretary as Gatekeeper

I'm going off topic to write about secretary-stuff. (I'm so old I still use the word "secretary"...) What got me started on this post was reading Eleanor Squillari's article in the current Vanity Fair. She was Bernie Madoff's secretary for 25 years and never saw him touch a computer or a Blackberry until the media's long lense showed him huddled with his laptop through his penthouse window. If you have not read her article, go read it. If you are a secretary, her devotion to her boss will resonate. (... and, I still use the word "boss.")

Afterwards, buy the jewelry Eleanor makes at her Etsy shop. Come on, the woman needs to earn a living.

* * * * * * * *
The point of this post was to list the various phone sales cliches I collected from checking voicemails left in my former employer's general mailbox. I had to put them somewhere! Any messages with introductions like these were deleted mid-sentence. As my friend Fong used to say, "If it's not free, we can't afford it."

... giving you a call because ... is a provider of ... we are a ... touch base with you ... wanted to see if ... person directly responsible for ... find out who functions as ... we are the leader in ... reaching out to you because ... provide you with ... following up on an invitation we sent ... reason why I'm calling ...

May 14, 2009

Maybe It's Time to Go

No, not me... but the suit-weight woolens collected over the years from Britex. I used to be a cold weather girl who loved sewing edgy clothes to wear to the office. My fashion sense was ego-driven and I stitched many outfits. Since moving to San Diego, I haven't sewn anything from two cartons that came with me. Gosh, I love these fabrics, but I'm not needy anymore for the attention my clothes got me. Now it's strictly wash and wear, 100% cotton, comfy, sometimes wrinkly, and mostly I'm content just to be covered up.

Sometimes Tien and I dream about buying a new home, one with a dedicated sewing room and a dedicated guest room, instead of the combo we have now. A dedicated sewing room would mean more space to work without having to clear for the next project, to spread out, to hoard more supplies... He showed me a house with a generous bonus room -- he knew I'd be excited.

The reality is I can only do one thing at a time. These creative projects mean giving heart and soul to cloth via needle and thread. My skipping around only produces incompletion.

We'll see about those yards of handsome woolens... In the meantime, I've gotta get down to work and finish a few things around here.

May 11, 2009

Post Art/Craft Fair

Our booth was open on two sides and suited us perfectly. Nancy and I had quilts to show off to traffic in both directions. Two items that got a lot of attention were my green/pink/yellow quilt and the garland hanging alongside the green/red Amish bars quilt. I sold several catnip quilts (with pocket for catnip!) and only a few lavender pillows.

ALL of Nancy's brilliant quilts received a lot of attention. We were surprised by the number of (straight) men attracted to them.

A couple of stories to share...

A quilt Nancy sold went home with a retired woman who was divorced just two months ago. The woman said she moved back in with her elderly parents. Her mother (with the cutest West Virginia accent) bought the quilt for her newly single daughter on Mother's Day as the first item for her new home. It was such a sweet gesture.

Sitting in my booth, I watched an older woman walk directly to my green/pink/yellow quilt to inspect the back. "Tsk tsk tsk," she said quite loudly to no one in particular, "It's machine quilted." Assuming her comment was meant for me to hear, I inquired, "You disapprove?" Still with her back to me and refusing to make eye contact, she stated, "I only do HAND quilting," and she walked away. Teeheehee, her arrogance was entertaining!

Regular readers of this blog might recall the challenges I face with solder work. Two vendors shared their knowledge and generously offered advice. Though we barely know each other, they are immediately like sisters. Visit Susan and Kimberly at their websites.

We met a woman whose golf buddy owns two cats named Chipper and Putter.

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

To my beautiful Momma -- I love you so very much. To my dear Mum -- it's my privilege to be your daughter-in-law. To all mothers who read this, a very happy day to you!

May 8, 2009

Join Us This Weekend

Bernardo Winery Art & Craft Fair
13330 Paseo Del Verano Norte (map)
San Diego, California
May 9-10, 2009 * * * 10a to 4p

Admission is free

Look for us in the Zinfandel Parking Lot, Space 21 (center aisle, 4th from the back). Nancy Tyrell and I will have quilts, earrings, lavender pillows, Tooth Fairies, and a smattering of textile treats. We can accept cash and checks.

May 7, 2009

Textiles, I Know

While making small bows for the tops of the slide glass art, I saved thread and yarn clippings. Here are those clippings layered with royal blue roving.

Oh yes, it felt great to do something I am proficient at. Though I was not necessarily challenged, it certainly raised my spirits.

The long pieces of yarn that normally go into the garbage became a heart, and was made brighter with the addition of red roving.

The centerpiece is a glass pendant I made in Terri Brush's class. A tuft of pale blue yarn decorates the top (you know, the bit that comes wound on a tag when you buy a sweater) and is tied in place with hand-dyed silk ribbon. I added French knots and stitched seed beeds into a few.

Doreen K. wrote after she saw me working on slide glass pendants and, because she is changing gears in her workroom, generously offered her remaining supplies. How wonderful! My heart is warmed by her gift. Thank you Doreen!

May 6, 2009

I Give Up (for now)

The lack of soldering skills is killing me. The copper tape is lifting from the glass, plus I don't have enough solder on it. Okay, I peeled it back with my fingernail for the photo, but it shouldn't be coming up at all! Really very extremely super-duper monstrously frustrating. These won't be for sale this weekend as I hoped. By the time I figure this out, they will be ready for Mother's Day 2010, boohoo. But that's okay -- I can't be great at everything right away. Would be nice though.

Maybe when my package arrives from Robin with the smaller soldering tip, things will improve.

My artwork is salvageable. I really like the collages.

May 5, 2009

Cinco de Mayo!

Hard glass and metal with soft yarn -- the balance is nice. I hope my customers think so too when I sell these pins at the Bernardo Winery Art & Craft Fair this weekend. Will you be there?

My skills are not where I want them to be in the soldering department, but my coaches, Terri "Solder Teacher" Brush and "robinann41" on eBay, are only an email away. Both have been providing much needed guidance on this new-to-me craft.

The copper tape lifted from the heat of the soldering iron. In desperate attempts to press them back down, I've got a sore left thumb nail. I also have a bruised spirit from trying so hard and not doing as good a job as I'd like. It'll come; it'll come...

I felt better after making bows from yarn and sewing them to the jump rings soldered on top. Working with yarn -- now that's something I can do!

I keep telling myself to stay with what I know (textiles), but there's so much to learn! At least with collage work the learning curve was not as steep.

May 4, 2009

Cranking Away

I love my knitting mill. It takes specific yarns (firmly wound, small gauge) and churns out beautiful cord.

May 3, 2009

Soldering Challenge

If you are in San Diego and reading this in the morning, take the time to visit the Talmadge Art Show. For a change, Nancy and I will be there as customers instead of vendors!

After preparing my slide glass art for soldering, I opened the package of my brand new 100w soldering iron, took a deep breath, and got to work, but not after putting off this task for as long as possible first. First steps are usually tentative, esp when going it alone! (Terri "Solder Teacher" Brush, where are you??)

My soldering results are not smooth yet. I was too conscious of (a) overheating the glass and cracking it and (b) overheating the copper tape and causing it to lift. There are bumps and valleys, and I've convinced myself that I actually like the variations -- it looks handmade.

This cracked glass is the result of the overheated glass OR overzealous squeezing of the pliers, yikes. Funnily enough, only the backside glass cracked -- what are the odds of that happening?

My neighbor/buddy Janice was cleaning her garage. Visiting Janice is like going into an antique store filled with really good quality items, well, all the kinds of stuff that I like: textile samples, vintage garments, mannequins, books, sewing notions, serving pieces, Chinese art, new-old stock, patterns, gloves and stockings, ribbon, handmade clothing, dolls, ooh I could go on. She was packing up for a sale and gave me a couple of goodies: a wooden letter box with MOP inlay, a ball of warm brown mohair yarn, a new-old stock shoelace with a beautiful label and a child's hanky. She also had a pair of handmade Chinese dolls, probably from the 1940s and, if Janice's sister doesn't want them, Janice will donate them to my Chinese doll collection.

May 2, 2009

Lucky 13!

The winner is "Snowy" whose 13th comment was chosen here. Snowy, please email me your address and I'll send the package to you this week. Congratulations!

Thanks to all who read my blog. Thanks esp to those of you who leave comments -- feedback is always nice! Honestly, I'd be here even if you didn't visit. I've kept a journal since I was a little girl. You know the one, shiny pink with a lock on it and a simple key to hide the secrets. Going back over my blog entries reminds me how productive one can be.

Over the past few days I went crazy making pins to sell next Mother's Day weekend at the Bernardo Winery Show. With great appreciation to Terri Brush, my teacher, I'm addicted to the process she taught me!

Finally, a use for the chop with my Chinese name: signing my paper art. Although a beautiful and feminine name was given at birth, this one below is special because my Granduncle Robert gave it to me as an adult. Translated, "to effect success," this name gives deeper meaning to the effort I put into everything I do. I think Mom would say it means I'm bossy. Yup, that too!

Shopping at the local library always nets interesting tomes. Not only did I find $0.25 books to tear for collage, I also found great stuff to read (Vanity Fair and Mishima), all this for $5!

You've seen the pictures of Anita's kittens, Ridley and Mochi. Here they are sleeping together. I swear these kitties are not posing. Downright cute!