Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

It was a great week on Washington Island with my Local Color students! It was a special treat to have Carolyn Foss of Sievers photograph the class working in the studio and posting our progress through the week — Day 1, Day 2, and Days 3 and 4. We concentrated on photographing the island, altering images, eating out, and making fiber art.

We found a special treat this year on our first shoot. The Ridges at Jackson Harbor was carpeted with bladderwort.

I’d never before seen these small, spurred yellow flowers, which turns out to be carnivorous.

I used an image I shot at The Ridges that day for a demo piece.

The image was printed without alteration on inkjet silk. I used pastel dye sticks to abstract the figure, add definition to some of the line elements, and darken the verge. Then I cropped the fabric.

My demo piece used dyed fabric from the pile I took for students to use, but after the first day or so most of my students were painting their own background and accent fabrics. I got a couple rows of stitching done to secure layers so I could demonstrate a rough version of reverse applique, which reveals the inkjet silk and a small inkjet heat transfer cropped to show the bladderwort close up.

My students did a great job of sampling — better than I did. If I’d had time to sample, I’d have added a bit more clear extender to the blue Inkodye I used to print the sumac leaf. The color is darker than I intended, so I may use a lighter color thread for the stitching to shift it.

As usual, I get wrapped up in teaching and forget to take photos of what goes on in the studio. It’s nice to see Carolyn’s posts and pictures. For the rest, you’ll have to use your imagination.

The frozen Siberian iris blossoms I took didn’t do much for the simmered silk bundles. I think in my haste to get the pot going I used more water than needed for the amount of fabric. And I suspect they would print better on something heavier than the 5mm habotai we used. I’m not ready to give up on them yet, but it will be next summer before I have blossoms and can try again. I’ll have to be patient.

We didn’t have to be patient with our plastic bag bundles. After sitting on the deck for four hot, sunny days, we opened them on Thursday afternoon. The copper-wrapped bundles could have gone longer, but what was wrapped with steel wire was just right.

The weather was also perfect for heliographic printing with Setacolor and Dye-na-Flow. Everyone sampled the technique, and several students printed elements for pieces they’ll complete on their own. I can’t wait to see their finished pieces!

I’ll chip away at my own UFOs this week, but also have other dyeing to do. So much plant material is ready to use now or dry for later. Summer is short. UFOs will keep.

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Holiday Hurry & Hurrah

Surely mine is not the only family that tucks away gifts then forgets to untuck them? I found something we intended to give as a birthday present months ago but forgot, so that’s going under the tree. And weeks ago I intended to show you a couple of ghost-of-Christmas-past gifts, but they just surfaced.

The first is the advent calendar I made for my parents. Since they have limited storage space now, I got their ornament collection. So I took pictures of the ornaments and made an advent calendar using those images and a photo of my sister and me on a visit to Santa Claus, Indiana.

On the flip side of the numbers I fused images of the holly candy cart, the olive wood wise men and camels, the ceramic Santa boot, and other family Christmas treasures that I printed to inkjet fabric. This way my parents can revisit those memories, but the memories roll up and store flat in very little space.

I also meant to show what I made my folks for Christmas last year. In an homage to all the pencil containers I crafted in grade school, I took a plastic office organizer and created a crazy quilt sheath of pictures printed on inkjet fabric. Both of my parents were farm kids who dreamed of visiting faraway places, so I chose snapshots from some of their travels.

That’s my dad with a koala cub on their trip to Australia.

That’s my mom petting a sled dog in Alaska.

Moving on to the spirit of Christmas Present, I have two gifts still to make and a few things to wrap. Most of our wrapping is recycled fabric held together with a few stitches and craft ribbon from the huge tub of ribbons I inherited from my mother-in-law.

Here’s one of the perks of living in a sparsely populated area: When you go to the post office with two bags of packages to mail on the Monday before Christmas, you can walk right up to the window. That leaves time to get a pasty (meat pie — yum!) and go cut a tree.

Our gifts are on their way hither and yon and should arrive before Christmas Eve. If you’re still puzzling over what to make for a last-minute gift, here’s an ornament tutorial from last year that might give you some ideas.

And if you’re all done with making, shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking and all the other holiday hurry, just enjoy the hurrah!

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The Museum Of Mom & Dad

Spoiler Alert: Mom and Dad, do not open this post until Christmas.

The Museum of Mom & Dad will get a new acquisition on December 25. In a few years when I’m more skilled in the techniques used in the piece, I might wish to withdraw it from the collection. Fat chance. There are curators who won’t be swayed by any argument from an artist whose diapers they changed.

As for me, I’m the curator of the Aw Honey Collection. “Aw, honey,” is what my dad says when you open a gift he made (these are always wrapped in newspaper with duct tape): He points out any flaw, however slight. I’m proud to display work he might wish to withdraw, so turnabout is fair play.

The important lesson I learned from my dad is to give those gifts despite their imperfections, and go make more.

So they’ll be unwrapping a quilted table runner on Christmas. Yes, I did more simple piecing — a time line border made from inkjet fabric I printed with satellite images of places my parents have lived.

I used free-motion quilting on this piece to echo the contours of the terrain on the farm pieces. I’d never done free-motion stitching, so before starting this project I practiced on another one — a quilted bottle carrier for my husband’s homebrew.

 The stitching on the runner is far from perfect, as you can clearly see on the back side.

Perfection is a worthy goal, but not a realistic one for this piece. For this piece, the goal was to make my dad put on his glasses to see where there are now grain bins on the farms, and for my mom to show her friends what their current home looks like from space.

Don’t you suppose that people whose work is technically perfect, artistically brilliant, coveted by collectors and collected by museums start out in the Museum of Mom & Dad? Wouldn’t you love to see an exhibition of Stuff They Wish Their Folks Wouldn’t Drag The Neighbors In To See?

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Holiday Mail For Heroes

A few days ago, I saw on Facebook a post about sending cards to “A Recovering American Soldier” care of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. I thought I would make up a few fiber postcards over the weekend, and wanted to check the address. A quick search came up with a post from Snopes.com that I want to pass along. In short:

Christmas cards addressed to “A Recovering American Soldier” or “Any Wounded Soldier” care of Walter Reed will not reach their intended recipient.


Christmas cards sent to soldiers through the Red Cross-sponsored Holiday Mail For Heroes program will reach their intended recipient.

You’ll find the Red Cross guidelines for this program here. There’s more information here. The correct mailing address is:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

Because of the screening process, Holiday Mail for Heroes must be postmarked by Friday, December 10. That doesn’t leave much time, so here’s how I’m cutting corners: I did a quick design to print on inkjet fabric. I’ll fuse it to stiffener and some wintery-looking fabric for the flip side, sign it, and have it ready to go out on Friday.

You are welcome to use this JPG image if it helps you. To fill out the 8-1/2″ x 11″ page, I included some stocking border elements you might use on the flip side. Click on the image to open it at full size. Right-click the image to save it to your computer. Before you print to inkjet fabric, resize if necessary so the black boxes do not exceed 6″ x 4-1/4″, and are no smaller than 5″ x 3-1/2″. Those are the Post Office’s maximum and minimum dimensions. Affix extra postage and ask for hand-canceling.

The stocking borders, by the way, are from a photograph of a plastic canvas stocking my late mother-in-law stitched shortly after Bill and I were married. If she were still with us, she’d have an assembly line set up and be cranking out holiday mail for heroes at a pace that would make your head spin!

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