Archive for April, 2009

Experiments in dyeing

dye experiments #1Awhile ago I ordered some RIT dyes afer reading Judy Coates Perez‘s article in Quilting Arts magazine (Dec/Jan 2009 issue, page 60).  I’ve wanted to try dyeing for some time but been wary of the toxic nature of the fiber reactive dyes.  RIT dyes are non-toxic and seem safer so I decided to give it a go.  All I needed to proceed was some PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabric.  While I was in Chicago, I bought some from the ProChem people – 5 glorious yards.  dye experiments dark oliveI promptly tore it into fat quarters and mixed up 3 different colors: Terra cotta, periwinkle, and dark olive.

This is a low immersion technique using a microwave to speed up the process.  I mixed up the dyes according to Judy’s recipes.  The terra cotta and periwinkle came out very nicely.  The dark olive was way more yellow than I had hoped.  periwinkle and terra cottaIn each bath, I successively dyed three pieces of fabric, yielding a lighter shade each time.  With the dark olive however, I kept adding more of the  green and black hoping to aim to a more green shade.  And I dyed more than 3 pieces.

Over all I’m pleased with what I’ve gotten and look forward to more experiments and more colors.  This was so easy and fun.  I love the beautiful mottled effect achieved by wadding up the fabric and stuffing it into the dye bath.


IQF Chicago – Make it U

Make It UniversityOne of the really fun things at the show was Make It University put on by Cloth Paper Scissors and Quilting Arts magazines.  Throughout each day there was a series of mini one hour classes managed by Pokey Bolton and her able assistant Barbara featuring outstanding teachers.  Some were technique oriented and some project oriented but all were very creative and fun.  The classroom was located right in the midst of the vendors section and the participants were chosen by lottery 15 minutes before the class started.  Somehow, I managed to get into 5 of them and they all involved painting.

canvas keepsake bookThe first class was with Pokey Bolton.  She showed us a canvas memory book she had made and we were able to get started on the background of pages for a book of our own.  She exposed us to various techniques on each page using paint washes, stenciling, resist using a doily and we have a few blank pages to try things on our own.  Then we can collage on top of the backgrounds for our memory keepsake.

puffy heart plaqueThe next class was a puffy heart plaque.  We used paint, text papers, lace paper for texture, stamps, gel pens, adhesive backed canvas, trims and batting.  This class was taught by Belinda Spiwak, a sixth grade teacher in real  life.  She was very fun, lots of energy and you could tell she was good with her sixth graders.

With Melanie Testa we learned to use freezer paper as a resist.  We cut the paper into various shapes and ironed it on fabric.  Then we daubed paints onto the fabric.  When we pulled the freezer paper off, we were left with interesting patterns on the painted fabric that we can use later in an art project.  Sorry, no decent photos.

bristle ATC'sAfter that was another class with Belinda Spiwak.  This time it was making ATC’s (artist trading cards) that are the size of baseball cards.  These were called bristle ATC’s because they feature those little bristle things you use to clean between you teeth – no kidding!  First we painted the card front and back, added words and dyed cheese cloth, painted and stamped the little pocket part, painted the bristles, and added stamped imaged.  The final touches were added with gel pens.  These are meant to be traded so after we signed them, I traded with my firend Colleen.

And finally, the last class was with Judy Coates Perez.  This workshop featured sewing on metal.  sewing on metalOur kit included grunge board which we painted, a “Judy original” painting transfered to canvas which we sewed to the thin aluminum with embroidery floss, a metal embossing tool and fancy scissors to sculpt and cut the metal, and a piece of trim to hang the finished project with.  The sewing in this class was done by hand with a sturdy embroidery needle but it is also possible to sew the metals with a sewing machine.  They are thin enough that it won’t ruin the needle.

It was great to be able to try new techniques and ideas that I might not have tried by myself at home.  Everything you need is supplied and the cleanup is minimal.  And they are all great fun.

International Quilt Festival Chicago – Textures

Last weekend was such a treat: I had the opportunity to attend IQF Chicago. Lynne, Sharon, Colleen My friend Colleen and I used to live in the same area but we have both since moved away. Since then we’ve made it an almost yearly habit to meet in Chicago to take in the show and catch up on life. This year was no exception and we were even able to include another friend who now lives near Chicago.
Detroit Airport Express TramIn an effort to save a few dollars, I took the long way to Chicago – through Detroit. When I arrived in Detroit, I needed to change concourses for the connecting flight. For those who don’t want to walk, the airport supplies this cool Express Tram to take you where you want to go. It was very quiet and seemed to be efficient. I didn’t try it out – I had a long layover and I needed the exercise. I actually found my gate and then took off down to the end of concourse A and back – a good brisk 15 minute walk.
A quilt show is a lot of things: quilts, vendors, classes, food, hotel, friends new and old.  I took lots of photographs and the ones I’m going to post today are all about texture and architectural details.  There is inspiration everywhere: curtains, rugs, ceilings, balconies, windows, fibers, silk strips, beads.  Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

curtainsrugceilingbalconieswindowsfiberssilk stripsbeadsmore beads


I was away over the weekend at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago (more about that later). Usually there isn’t too much happening up on our hill. But Friday we had some sensational visitors in our yard. And I missed them! I have to be content with the pictures my husband took. Monte spotted them and sounded the alarm. They were amazingly close to the house and stood still enough for quite a few pictures before heading across the driveway and up into the woods.
moose 1
moose 2

A Happy Ending

dsc_0002This little white-breasted nuthatch flew into the kitchen window this evening. I went out to see if he was ok and he sat there blinking at me so I figured he would recover, given a few minutes to gather himself. True enough he was gone in an hour, minus a few feathers left on the window.
I love these little birds. They are called upside down birds because they hop up and down the tree trunks head first. They make a low grunting sound and frequent the suet feeders and the sunflower seed. They make me smile. I’m glad this one lived to fly another day.

Easter Blessings

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Wishing you a blessed Easter.

Misc Stuff

cut off treesThis is a common sight these days around town. During the winter, the electric company hires tree cutters to keep the wires free from branches and trees that might blow down and cause a power outage. They were especially zealous this year and these sawed off tree stubs seem to be everywhere. It’s hard to take the trees down to ground level when they are buried in several feet of snow that’s been plowed to the roadside. They are an eyesore and I do hope the tree people are going to come back to clean up. I’m not holding my breath.

And for those of you who are trying to lose weight, here’s a little tidbit of valuable information from the most recent AARP magazine: You can burn 50 calories by chewing gum. You only need to chew for 4 1/2 hours and working your jaw muscles this way can raise your metabolic rate by 20%. Better make sure it’s sugar free gum.

Okemo mountain April 10, 2009And finally, here’s what Okemo mountain looked like yesterday. It was a beautiful early spring day and the clear blue sky was reflected perfectly in the little pond. The trails are slowly but surely losing their snow cover.


Art Every Day Month



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April 2009
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