June 30, 2009

A Bit of Time

I'd better crank out these flowers while I can. There are still two more to do in this color. They are the narrow pieces of folded fabric. Creases serve as stitching marks for five-petal flowers.

June 29, 2009

Time is Precious

I know I won't get to stitch much this week, so every spare moment in the studio will be valuable. These tiny flowers are the start of embellishments on rag baskets. What fun this is!

June 28, 2009


Magellan fell into my recycled-paper bin. He was so stunned and shocked that he froze and I snapped this photo. He looks quite cross!

It's his own fault for rubbing off the scab over his eye. If not for that, the cone would be unnecessary. He kept trying to back up from the cone and, since it was around his neck, the cone just followed him. Magellan backed up to a pillow. The pillow fell on the floor. Magellan fell backwards into the garbage can. If I hadn't lifted him out, he would still be there, flattened ears and all.

My boss has been traveling and that's how I had time to finish rag baskets. He's back this week, so I won't be able to embellish my baskets yet.

June 26, 2009

At Last

It's hard to gauge the hours I spend making a rag basket because of stops/starts during the process. My fingers become tired from continuous pressure on silk strips, so there are plenty of stretches in between. I can tell you I started at 8a and finished this at 6p.

The next step will be even more fun. Baskets will be embellished with beads, yarn, embroidery, felt and silk flowers.

June 25, 2009

Next To Last

Really and finally, after this red rag basket, there's only enough paper coil for one more.

June 24, 2009

All It Takes is Time

This rag basket is made with silk that aged to a lovely yellow-gold. When I spend an entire day in the studio, results like this are easy to achieve.

June 23, 2009

In My Estimation

A few weeks ago I underestimated the amount of cording I had left, because I've made 11 rag baskets and there is still enough for two more. How can that be?

June 22, 2009

Silk Snob and Fleas

Silk fabric has been made for thousands of years. Production was a guarded secret. It was reserved for Chinese emperors and their families and, over time, it became a form of currency. Millennia later, we still think highly of it.

But, really, it's a bitch to work with. When torn into strips, those fine wisps that loosen from edges are the biggest annoyance. Why do I buy into its snob-appeal? I finished the last black basket and, argh, those wisps!

This turquoise kimono lining is synthetic. The tears are clean and threads from raw edges are minimal. This makes it a dream to work with. Progress on this basket is swift!

Aren't these sparkly baubles fun? When I saw them at the flea market, I imagined them embellishing a doll's bodice or her hair. How I could I say no to $1.50 for all five pieces?

These children's books were published in the early 1960s. I was a child then, so no surprise I was drawn to them. I've lost my touch (courage) at bargaining and paid $10 for 13 books.

June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

To my beautiful Daddy, I love you so very much. To my brother Michael, you are doing a wonderful job with your children. To my father-in-law, it is my honor to be your daughter too. To fathers everywhere, a happy day to you.

My Dad has always posed beautifully for photographs -- isn't he the cutest?!

The second black rag basket is progressing slowly.

Neighbor/pal Janice and I are going to the flea market. I hope to pick up some really good fleas. All kidding aside, there's a vendor (I'm told) that makes tiered displays for artists. I hope he'll be out there. If not, I'm also on the hunt for a silver spoon to keep in my lunch bag. I'd rather lose a silver spoon bought on its own than one from the matched stainless steel set in my household.

June 20, 2009

Black Silk Again

I said I wasn't going to make rag baskets anymore, but they come out so nicely. The end of the coiling cord spool is near and, already I'm thinking, should I get another spool? We'll see. I'm getting ahead of myself.

This second rag basket will be smaller and taller than the previous one.

June 19, 2009

Handbag Hooks on Etsy

The last five handbag hooks are now available on my Etsy page. Take your pick!

June 18, 2009

Stitched History

By the time I get the kimono silks I usually work with, they often have the original stitches remaining. This is history to me, the shadow of a seamstress who worked the fabric before me. I like to leave it in place, to show that the textile had a previous life.

This might become a rag basket. So far I haven't the heart to tear it into strips. I'm too sentimental.

June 17, 2009

Thought I'd Never Get This Done

Finally, this rag basket is finished! The sides are shallow compared to the others. That's Coppélia's tail. Take a close look -- the very tip was broken before we adopted her.

Wanna know what's keeping me from working? The latest work of historical fiction by Lisa See. She'll be speaking in San Diego in a couple of weeks at Warwick's. I intend to be there with two novels for her to sign.

June 15, 2009

Catching Up

Last week's lovely visitors were cause to ignore everyday obligations, such as my office job (see sidebar). Now I'm playing catch-up and, unfortunately, still ignoring creative work. The black rag basket is still unfinished, although I worked on it a little tonight. I'll have more time this week.

I've registered for the my next event. There's a lot of stitching to be done!

Talmadge Art Show - North County
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Encinitas Library - Community Room
540 Cornish Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

June 12, 2009

Happiness is... My Family!

After five days with us in San Diego, my "baby" brother and his family left for home this afternoon. I'm grateful that Mike and Erika spend their vacations with Tien and me, and that my three Munchkins enjoy time with us too. We explored sea life in tide pools, collected shells and sea glass, watched DVDs, laid around and talked, went out to eat, cooked at home, discussed animals, and mostly just hung out. They also visited Wild Animal Park.

Ryan and Natty made running stitches on a tote bag and a tee shirt. Ryan learned to crochet - he wants to stitch amigurumi. Natty learned to use my iPod. Ryan taught me to create animations on Aniboom. Tulip (aka Megan) has been sick and mostly felt miserable, poor thing, so we didn't see any of her funny antics. Erika and Mike slept late, relaxed, took naps (well, maybe just Erika), and allowed me to spoil them when there was time.

I was sad to see them go, although I know our kitties wanted their universe back to normal.

It's time to get back to rag baskets. I'm itchin' to stitch.

June 8, 2009

They're HERE!

My niece called on Sunday morning, "I'm coming to your house!!" My brother, sis-in-law and three kids arrived that evening. WOW, what a wonderful surprise. They are here now and taking up all my time, and I'm relishing every moment.

We embroidered tee shirts and a tote bag with colorful yarn. I will post finished art work later.

Gotta go. I get to put them to bed!

June 7, 2009

For Sale By Owner

Going through my stash of dressmaking fabrics brought back memories. Some still have original Britex remnant tags. Britex was the standard I grew up with -- to this day, no other California fabric store compares for me. Other woolens came from Paron Fabrics in NYC, where much of their stock was bolt ends from fashion designers -- I'm keeping those. I was encouraged to buy more when the last remaining yard was offered at half price. I left the store with two shopping bags and without $300.

I reduced my supply by one-third. Now I must find homes for them. First choice to you, dear Blog Readers, any piece for $10 plus postage (actual) via PayPal. Please leave a comment to lay claim (indicate item number too). Most are from Britex, unless marked otherwise. Please email for more information. They'll be available until Saturday, then they'll be on Etsy or eBay.

1. Alençon lace yardage and pieces
2. Cotton batik, purple/fuchsia, 3-1/3 yards, 39" (can't recall where this is from)
3. Striped silk, off-white with stripes green/yellow and red/yellow w/jacquard pattern, 1-1/2 yards, 54"
4. Pink ribbed knit (unknown fiber), 2-way stretch, 3 yards, 36"
5. Four woolens: fuchsia 3/4 yard, 58"; off-white, 1/2 yard, 58"; plaid 2/3 yard, 58"; pale pink 3/4 yard, 60"
6. Off-white slubby (unknown fiber), 4 yards, 60"
7. Off-White smooth (unknown fiber, probably wool or wool-blend), 2 yards, 56"
8. Rose wool, 2-3/8 yards, 56"
9. Pink check wool, 2 yards, 58", "AS IS" (I could never find the problem)
10. Orchid synthetic knit, 2-1/3 yards, 60"
11. Hawaiian bark cloth: blue background, 1 yard, 38"; red background, 1-1/2 yard, 40" (from Kapaia Stitchery, Kauai)
12. Red wool, 2 yards, 60" (from Yardage Town)

I had a feeling I'd like using this silk for a basket!

June 6, 2009

Bummed All Around

Poor Tulip, she started a fever last night, which means my brother and his family stayed home instead of boarding a plane for San Diego. I'm not surprised -- Tulip's sister Natty ran a fever earlier in the week. They and we are disappointed, and we hope for a quickly rescheduled visit.

With an entirely free day, I got busy trying my new egg cooker and putting my sewing room back together.

I also started the arduous chore of going through dressmaker fabrics. Finally, it's time for them to go. Look at this silk. It'll make a gorgeous rag basket! I have no idea how much I paid for it and, I'm glad, otherwise I'd never consider tearing it into strips.

Mom de-stashed these vintage prints to me. Aren't they cool?! I keep thinking they'll make great cheong sam or fitted shifts. I also found cuttings from my 1977 prom dress and bits from my first wedding in 1988.

I think most seamstresses will appreciate this 1989 video by Jean Paul Gaultier!

June 5, 2009

Gathering Materials

My munchkins (and their parents) will be arriving this afternoon and I've been transforming the sewing room to a guest room. Munchkin-hands get into everything and I'm putting stuff away. The last visitors we had were spooked by dolls on the wall, so I'll hang a silk curtain over them.

I gathered materials for crafts with my nephew and nieces, with intentions to sew, teach crocheting and stitch colorful yarn on tee-shirts. Once again, Danny Mansmith provides inspiration -- maybe we'll do yarn and thread-wrapped dolls too. Pictures to come!

We had crazy weather two days ago. The biggest chunks of hail I'd ever seen in San Diego pounded down around us. Thunder boomed over our house, frightening the kitties and setting off car alarms. It surprised us all.

June 2, 2009

So What is it About Fabric?

Just when I decided to stop making rag baskets after this series, the itch to gather additional supplies returned. To be honest, the name of the itch is Acquire More Fabric. Then, I'll be prepared to make baskets in case I change my mind. You see, I found myself online searching for more (yes, going to the computer and Googling textiles can be an unconscious act). Somehow I held back -- I decided to shop my stash first. I have yards and yards of vintage silk in varying shades of white (even after sharing a chunk of it with M2), all of which is perfect for dying. One of these days I'll gather the courage to dye fabric. My cousin Cheryl keeps telling me how easy it is.

Okay, so I've done some dye work before. Granted, it was at Doshi's house at a shibori workshop. After class, Doshi let me toss a piece of plain silk into the pink pot. I made this tiny 3" x 1" basket from leftovers from another basket.

My munchkins and their parents will be staying with us for five days, so I've got to clear the studio to make room for the Murphy bed. I know the kids will want to make stuff.

June 1, 2009

Bridal White

It's already June -- I can't believe it! We've gone from having May Grey weather to June Gloom. I love the moisture in the air. We get so little of it in San Diego.

I didn't think this warm-white basket would be finished so quickly. It never occurred to me to make a white basket and I like the way it turned out. Mom, it's the same shade as your wedding gown. Too bad it was so hard to reproduce the color here.