Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Ornaments Revealed!

Now that the celebration has been completed and the gifts distributed, the ornaments (aka the gifts) can be revealed. Most of the designs are from 202 Little Log Cabin Blocks by Linda Causee.

The ornaments are all foundation pieced. I used copy paper for the foundation, and I ripped it away, assisted by tweezers, before I made the ornaments.

The large ornaments are 2.5 inches square.

This small ornament is 2 inches square.

The penguin is 4 inches tall.

If you haven't tried foundation piecing, I recommend it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Darth Vadar Shoes

I am now the proud owner of two pairs of Darth Vadar shoes.

You may wonder why anyone (other than Darth Vadar) would want Darth Vadar shoes. Sometimes I wonder, too.

However, faithful readers will remember my difficulties finding footwear (described here). The humiliation of being laughed out of every shoe store in town... I can't go on. It's too horrible.

So I've tried to get used to being a Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes. Except that they are running shoes not tennis shoes. And I'm not that old. I'm not!!!

Now a Little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes is a vulnerable person. People ask her if she needs help lifting her turkey out of the frozen food bin. I don't, thank you very much. I'm just looking for one larger than 20 pounds. People tell her not to worry and reassure her that they won't knock her over as they push ahead at the yogurt display. You bet your sweet life you won't knock me over. And what exactly are you going to do with those eight one-quart containers of Dannon Low Fat Vanilla yogurt? (Ok, so I didn't say that, but I thought it.)

Now nobody messes with Darth Vadar. Except Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, and they are in a galaxy far, far away.

So if I have Darth Vadar shoes, nobody will mess with me. Brilliant! Because I do have two pairs of Darth Vadar shoes, as shown above.

And these shoes will be good travel shoes. Although they're not exactly glamorous (or at all lovely, except perhaps to Darth Vadar's inamorata), from a distance they look a little less like sneakers than the mostly white-colored shoes. And with another four months to perfect my Spanish, no one, not a single person, in Madrid will know I'm a tourist when I'm wearing these shoes.

Note to shoe shoppers: I ordered these from Endless Shoes since nothing in the right size was available locally. They had the best online prices and free shipping and free returns. I mean free overnight shipping. They arrived less than 24 hours after I ordered them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Major Surgery!

First a heart transplant and then a complete facial reconstruction! Poor little doll! Thanks to all of you for your concern and good wishes. She's doing very well now and is making a quick recovery.

When we last spoke, I told you about the little doll I was making. You can refresh your memory of that conversation by looking the last part of my previous post.

As I continued to work on the doll, I realized that her heart was not in the right place. Her front looked like a back and her back looked like a front. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that a heart transplant was needed. So I removed the copper-colored heart from the back/front and placed it on the front/back. You can compare the photos in the previous post. Now I am confident she is anatomically correct.

This is the front:

And this is the back:

Last night there was a minor setback. Her face popped out! This required another trip to surgery for a complete facial reconstruction. Two more rows of 15/0 beads and she is good as new. Well, almost as good as new. She was left with a tiny scar on one eyebrow, but we all feel this gives her character. Now all she needs is a hair-do.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What I Have Been Doing When I Have Not Been Blogging

1. We went to Florida to visit my sister. These sandhill cranes wander around her neighborhood.

2. I went trick or treating with my great-nieces. I didn't get any candy.

3. I fed the giraffe at the zoo.

4. I'm trying to learn to juggle. It's going very slowly. The book said I could learn in 10 minutes. Whoa! I must be in some sort of alternate universe where time is measured differently. Ten minutes passed a long, long time ago, and I'm still using only two beanbags. (Note: Do not put sand-filled beanbags deep in your suitcase. The TSA will need to search through your undies to determine what they are.)

5. I'm trying to learn Spanish. I'm using two free computer programs, one through our public library an one through the BBC. I took two years of Spanish in high school, long ago during the previous millennium. I'm surprised at how fast it's coming back after not quite 50 years. I do tend to occasionally revert to French, which I took in both high school and college. We're planning a trip to Spain and Morocco in the spring.

6. I'm working on another beaded doll. This is her front. If you recall, I thought about making my birthstone doll in these colors. I didn't. So here she is. I planned to put a molded paperclay face on her, but the ones I made seem too large. So she is temporarily faceless and nameless, blah, blah, blah...

This is the back.

Notice that in the description of the previous activities, there was no vacuuming. Pero las ventanas están limpias.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Very Cool, Very Warm Mittens!

These are my new very cool, very warm mittens. They are made from a felted wool and angora sweater. The lining is fleece. And they are very, very warm.

These mittens were the latest project of the Renegade Militant Seamstresses. Wendy and Lorraine showed us how to make them. They were not really hard to make.

The former sweater was a soft and lovely cable-knit turtleneck. I wore it with a brown skirt. Then one summer there was an unfortunate incident with the skirt and I was unable to wear it to work any more. That incident involved my hips and a Tommy Turtle sundae. It's too horrible to think about.

So, inspired by my daughter, I machine washed and dried the sweater. It came out very small, about a foot in length and two feet in circumference, just barely big enough to make two mittens. Jan let me use some of her lightweight royal purple fleece for lining. The fleece I had was too thick.

I'm thinking about making some more mittens with this pattern. I have some windblock Polar Fleece in the basement, but not enough to make any sort of garment. That would make really warm mittens. I'd use the windblock fleece on the outside and some thinner fleece on the inside.

One of the Seamstresses mentioned that the mitten pattern would work for oven mitts. Hmmm... 100% wool would not conduct heat and is fire resistant. It sounds like another project. I guess I'll have to go thrift store shopping.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Paper Cloth, such as it is...

Here are a few samples of the paper cloth I made for the Stitch Alchemy book study described in the previous post.

This first one shows how opaque the Speedball Acrylic Ink is. I should have known. The label says "super pigmented." The paper cloth was made with blue and white tissue paper and a few scraps of paper towel previously painted blue. I sprayed blue ink and then dripped red ink. That was so dark that I stamped some stars with an iridescent red-gold ink. It's still dark.

This second piece was made with plain white tissue on the muslin. It was sprayed with some blue paint while the glue was still wet. After it dried, I applied pink, medium blue and very dark blue ink, rubbing the stamp pads lightly on the surface. This made the folds in the tissue show up better.

For the third piece, I layered both tissue paper and cheesecloth on the muslin. After it was dry, I sprayed it with the blue acrylic ink. After that was dry, I applied a wash of yellow Dye-na-Flow. Then I sponged on some blue Dye-na-flow.

So far, this has been great fun, and I'm learning a lot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stitch Alchemy--An Extra Credit Book Report

Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins is one of my new books. I'm taking part in an online book study of Stitch Alchemy through Mixed Media Art Friends, a yahoo group. Belinda Spiwak is organizing the book study.

I've been waiting for Stitch Alchemy to come out since it was first advertised last spring. And it's not just because Kelli Perkins is My Own Personal Reference Librarian. Kelli has had many articles published in Cloth, Paper, Scissors, and she has appeared on Quilting Arts TV. Her work is accessible, colorful, and imaginative, and her writing is wonderful. So the book was bound to be good.

I've had the book for a couple of weeks now, and I have enjoyed it very much. It shows us how to combine paper and cloth into a textile that can be embellished and used like both paper and cloth. And anyone willing to get her fingers sticky can make paper-cloth!

First, the book is visually beautiful. The samples draw you in at first, but then you look at the rest of the page. This is not a black-text-on-white-page book. Everything is colorful and shows texture. Yet it isn't jarring or overwhelming, and you can easily settle on the text. The entire book is eye candy that won't give you a stomach ache.

Second, it is loaded with techniques to color and pattern paper-cloth. I mean really loaded. A quick count identified more than 80 different techniques, from dripping ink to thread sketching. These techniques may not all be new, and the descriptions are brief. But it's a treat to have them all in one place, making Stitch Alchemy a very useful reference. I found myself thinking about how I could combine a number of the techniques and how I could adapt them to just paper or just cloth. Kelli writes about serendipity, and I found myself anticipating serendipity.

Third, Stitch Alchemy is written for (and by) a lover of language. Kelli's librarian side shows in the way the book is written. And I don't mean the Shhh! kind of librarian. Think purple-streak-in-the-blond-hair kind of librarian. Meander, saturated glory, divine, montage, akin, rustaholic, hand-rendered. Different--simpler--words could have been used, but the book is much more fun to read with these words.

The last part of the book provides a number of projects to make with decorated paper-cloth. I'm not there yet. I'm still looking forward to the decorating. Now all I have to do is control my enthusiasm so I don't work way far ahead of the book study. Huh! I'm after the extra credit, so I'll start playing as fast as I want!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm Wearing a Tablecloth!

I'm wearing a tablecloth! A garage sale tablecloth. And I love it!

This jacket is made from an originally white, rayon damask tablecloth I bought at a garage sale last summer. The tablecloth spent the winter in a drawer mulling over its options. Finally it decided to become a blue jacket.

First, I washed and bleached the tablecloth with chlorine bleach. It had plenty of coffee or other spots, and most of them came out. Second, I decided where on the tablecloth I would place my pattern pieces to best utilize the damask pattern. Third, I cut up the tablecloth into manageable pieces and zigzagged the edges. The reason for that was to make it easier to stir the fabric in the dyepot for more even dyeing.

I dyed it using Procion MX dye--Midnight Blue, I think. This was my first home alone dyeing adventure. I was pleased with the way the tablecloth turned out. The damask pattern shows up very well.

There was only one problem. I couldn't remember which pattern pieces went on which fabric pieces. So when the dyed fabric was rinsed, washed and dried, I had to work with the pattern pieces and the fabric again. Only this time, the smaller fabric pieces limited where I could put the pattern pieces. I really should make notes of these experiments with alchemy.

I used Chinese ball buttons and corded loops as a fastening, and I usually button all of them. It is unlined and very comfortable. The jacket drapes well and (I think) looks better on me than the pictures show. I am not listing to the side. The camera holder is.

This is the back.

Now I have two more tablecloths and several smaller linens dyed. It is fun to use these pieces as fabric.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sheep Baa Loudly!

I didn't remember that. But sheep baa loudly. Very loudly. And they have different vocal ranges--bass, baritone, tenor. I didn't hear any altos or sopranos.

Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. We first took a leisurely stroll through the vendors, looking at the lovely yarn and roving, tools and gadgets, and sample projects. It was especially interesting to see the hand dyed fibers. The colors are gorgeous, and incite drool.

Throughout the stroll, each of us muttered to ourselves and each other, "I don't need any more projects." And, "I already have some of that."

Our muttering was successful. I only bought a bottle of Synthrapol. Although I do have some of that, I don't have enough for more projects.

My daughter bought two root beer floats. She drank one and I drank the other. The root beer floats were sold by the Future Farmers of America Alumni. A discussion about the vendors commenced. Are they farmers? Or former future farmers? Or both? Or some of each? We didn't ask them.

We also took the grand tour of the sheep barns. That's where we reminded about the sheep voices. Loud. Very loud. And rude, on occasion. My sources describe the actual sheep voices as "parodies of themselves." My sources are right.

This knowledge of loud sheep voices causes one to think about the idea of counting sheep to fall asleep. It wouldn't work. The baaing would keep one awake. It would keep one's neighbors awake. The neighbors banging on one's ceiling would keep one awake. The law enforcement official ringing one's doorbell would keep one awake. The siren of the firetruck called as reinforcement would keep one awake. The splashing of the water from the fire hose squirting the sheep would keep one awake. The barking of the sheepdogs brought by the animal control officer herding the sheep would keep one awake. Counting sheep wouldn't work.

Better to count goldfish.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fancy Feet!

Aren't they fabulous?

And they're mine, all mine!

In June at the Relay for Life, I won a certificate for a pedicure in the door prize drawing for survivors. Not an ordinary pedicure, but a Spa Pedicure!

This week I ventured out for the Spa Pedicure. I have never had a pedicure before. Or even a manicure. It was my chance to become glamorous!

One of the many reasons I've never had a Spa Pedicure (or even a regular one) before has to do with my everyday footwear:

And my dress-up footwear:

And my football footwear:

And my... Oh, no, these aren't my footwear, but they are my feet.

The size of my feet makes it difficult to find footwear. I wear size 5AA. One of the first things I learned when we moved to West Michigan is that Dutch people are tall and have big feet. And they brought those feet to West Michigan. I've been laughed out of every shoe store in town. And it's getting harder to find shoes in my size online. Several manufacturers that used to make my size no longer do. New Balance, my previous favorite shoes, even changed their last to provide "a roomier toe box". I don't need that room, and the size I used to wear is now too wide.

is what is available in my size. After you eliminate all the Birkenstocks, which are too wide, all the tap dance shoes, all the ballet shoes, and all the shoes over $150, there's not much left. (If you have a good source of shoes in my size, please let me know.)

The Spa Pedicure itself was wonderful. I should have taken notes, because I can't remember even half the steps. The massaging chair, the foot soak, the exfoliating cream, the lotion, the feet in plastic bags wrapped in a hot towel, the foot and leg massage. And after both feet were done, it seemed the same steps were repeated except with different creams and lotions. My toenails were filed, my calluses and rough spots were treated, my cuticles were pushed back, and several coats of polish were applied to my toenails. I read Elle, Glamour, and three issues of People.

I left the salon with my well-moisturized feel sliding all over my sandals. When I got home, I sat for an hour with my fancy feet on the footstool so the polish could dry completely. And then I put my socks and shoes back on. My feet were freezing.

And now I'm glamorous. I'll definitely win a Spa Pedicure again.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Celebration! Finished On Time!

I finished my August Bead Journal Page on time! Today! Twenty minutes ago! 7:40 p.m. EDT.

Early in the month, I decided that my theme for August would be celebration. The celebration of completing a year's challenges, reflection and work. Again, early on, I chose purple with gold accents as the color of celebration. A royal color, for a celebration. And gold for a celebratory sparkle.

Technical Details:

As with the other pages, I used Lacy's Stiff Stuff. I painted it purple with Dye-na-Flow.

Most of the beads on this page are 11/0s. There are some Delicas, some 15/0s, some 8/0s and a few 6/0s. There are two kinds of 11/0 Toho triangles, some 8/0 Miyuki triangles and three cubes. A few bugle beads complete the design.

As I did throughout the year, I used the backstitch almost entirely.

The page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

This page was stitched with C-lon lilac thread.

What I Was Thinking:

When I conceived this Celebration! piece, I assumed it would be all about celebrating my completion of the BJP. Then I saw on the BJP blog how few of the 260 or so of the initial participants actually expected to make 12 pages. I was surprised at the low number.

This month I took a workshop with Anita Luvera Mayer at the Michigan League of Handweavers. As we introduced ourselves, we were to tell something that we liked about ourselves. And there it was, right in the front of my brain ready to be blurted out, "I take my obligations seriously." Well, that statement was far off to the left of what everyone else said. But I do take my obligations seriously, and I like that about myself.

Last summer I thought quite a while about whether I should join the BJP. I needed to be sure I could meet the expectations. If I committed to it, I would complete it. That's just the way I am.

Now I know that life happens. In fact, life has happened to me. Other people may not have thought that joining the BJP meant that completing the pages was an obligation. Or even a commitment. That's ok for them, but it wouldn't work for me.

So this page celebrates the completion of the project and honors my attitude toward my obligations and commitments.

Issues That Came Up:

I was majorly distracted by other activities--even commitments and obligations--during August. (See earlier posts.) I was determined to finish the page by the end of the month. In fact, my original idea was to finish exactly on August 31. I actually did not get started stitching until last week.

It was starting to get dark by the time I took the photo, and the purple looked blue. I doctored it up a little with the photo editor, but I'll take a new picture tomorrow.

Next on my list is to post all my photos to the BJP website. And I'm ready to sign up for next year's BJP.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

French Seams, Chinese Ball Buttons, Thread from Ikea and 16 Pounds of Money

I've been working on my jacket from the rayon tablecloth I dyed. So far, so good. It will be unlined and the rayon frays like crazy so I considered several ways to finish the seams. At first I planned on doing a Hong Kong seam, but I didn't have any amazing fabric to use as the binding. I wondered, too, if the added weight of the binding would be too much for the rayon fabric. I decided that I would do French seams. That's what you see above, on the inside of the jacket. To make French seams, stitch the pieces wrong side together with a 3/8 inch seam. Trim that seam to 1/8 inch. Then fold right sides together and stitch a 1/4 inch seam, enclosing the raw edges. Since the sleeve seams won't be seen, I just overcast them. I turned the raw edges of the facing and the sleeve hems in and stitched them down with a machine feather stitch.

I was concerned that the jacket would lose its shape because the fabric is so drapey. I redrew the interfacing and facing so it would be similar to the interfacing that would be in a tailored jacket or coat. It goes all the way across the back and around the armseye in both front and back. This facing will enclose the sleeve to armseye seam.

I decided to make Chinese ball buttons for the closure. I think the jacket would look very cool with some kind of elaborate frog, but I think they would be too heavy. The ball buttons I made really are round. In the picture the shank pushes them off to the side. The next time I take a picture of something like this, I'm going to put the button on top of a spool of thread and push the shank down the hole in the spool. Then the button will stand up straight. Of course I didn't think of this idea until I started editing the photo of the thread below.

Who knew Ikea was the place to get thread? When my daughter and I were there a couple of years ago, this thread was on sale for fifty cents. So I bought some of this blue and some navy. Now I'm a thread connoisseur--or maybe just someone who has already done enough sewing with unsatisfactory thread. I thought it was pretty good when I bought it, but I was too chicken to try it out. Since the color matched and I didn't want to trek out the fabric store, I decided to use the Ikea thread. It's fabulous! Very smooth, no lint, no breakage, and I wish I had more.

In one of my periodic "There's no room for any more stuff" fits, I decided it was time to get rid of all the coins that have been collecting around here. I rolled 16 pounds of coins! I'm feeling rich!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Experiments In the Dyepot

It's a good thing I don't have particular expectations for these experiments. It's a good thing any result that includes color is fine with me. It's a good thing that I consider this a learning experience. Because I'm having fun seeing the usually unexpected results and learning from them. And I'm ready to play more with the dye.

I spent a good part of yesterday in the backyard playing with Procion MX dye again. Now a true scientist would follow precise directions, document procedures and analyze results. Me, I just plunged my rubber-gloved hands into the dyepot and let things happen. And I have learned a lot.

For instance, a really tall person like me (five feet and three-quarters inch tall) will find it easier to work with the dyepots on a table instead of on the ground. Two plastic sawhorses and a piece of plywood that had served as the base of a model of the Jamestown settlement twenty years ago can make a fabulous table. Oops! I neglected to cover the wood with plastic (step 1 in the dyeing directions) so the wood got quite wet.

The entire process went much faster this time. I had a better idea of how to arrange the equipment and materials for greater efficiency. And I had a brilliant idea of how to rinse out the large pieces of fabric. I hung them on the clothesline and sprayed them with the hose. Brilliant! Extremely brilliant!

I dyed a cotton damask tablecloth and a small linen napkin a golden yellow. I started with lemon yellow, but it was too greenish yellow for me. So I added some fuchsia. And a little more fuchsia. Hmmm... It looked somewhat orange, and I am not an orange person. I started to re-think the orange situation. Maybe I was an orange person after all. But after the fabric dried, it was more of a golden yellow edging toward appricot. I'll put that orange stuff aside for now. In my previous dyeing experiments, I cut the tablecloth into pieces so it would move more easily in the dyepot for more even color. This time I did not, and the tablecloth has more of a mottled, hand-dyed effect. I think it will make an interesting jacket. Note that the napkin is a slightly different color.

The other fabric I dyed was some cotton, mid-wale corduroy. I used lilac with a little midnight blue. I thought the lilac might be too light for me. Since there were two yards of this relatively thick fabric, I did cut this into four shorter lengths that would fit the pattern pieces of a jeans jacket. I think I should have used a larger container for a more even effect. One piece must of been stuck on the bottom of the pot. But the distressed look will be well suited to the pattern.

The piece that got stuck on the bottom of the dyepot has quite a few spots of undissolved dye. I don't know whether the magenta spots came from the lilac or the midnight blue. Next time I'll pour the dissolved dye through a coffee filter to reduce that effect. But, it is the distressed look.

Other important info gathered during the dyeing process:
1. If one wears jeans, one does not get varicose vein-like dye drips on one's legs.
2. Mosquito repellent does not keep the bees away.
3. A real ayrtiste would sacrifice a Rubbermaid tote to serve as a dyepot.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hand Dyed Fabric

I spent most of Saturday dyeing fabric in the backyard. I used Jacquard MX Teal and Midnight Blue dyes. I was delighted with the results, except that the next time I'm going to use a table to hold the dyepots. I'm way too tall to stir the dyepots on the ground for over an hour.

The adventure started with a trip to four local thrift shops. I was looking for buckets, pitchers, stirring implements, measuring cups and measuring spoons. I didn't find everything I was looking for, but I did find a few treasures. Who wouldn't want to dye fabric in a pumpkin? A perfect container.

I also found a white cotton damask tablecloth. Although it looked grungy in the store, all the spots came out in the washing machine. Now I'm not sure if I will use it as a tablecloth or dye it. The only drawback to using it as a tablecloth is that it would be ironing heck. I also found a set of four napkins and an interesting damask towel with a monogram.

The top photo shows the dyeing in progress. The four napkins, the towel and a piece of silk dupioni are on the left. They were dyed teal. On the right are a rayon damask tablecloth (garage sale) and a piece of cotton muslin in the midnight blue dye. The tablecloth has been cut into pieces so I could move them around in the dyepot. I hope to make a jacket out of it.

Here's the clothesline with the rinsed fabric.

One of the most interesting things was what happened in the teal dye. All three of these pieces were dyed in the same pot for the same amount of time. The green piece is the silk dupioni. Then on the right are two of the napkins. It turns out that they were a set, but not a matched set. The darker one in the middle is heavier fabric that the other three. I think that may be why it is darker.

This is a picture of the design on the rayon tablecloth. As far as I can tell, all the coffee stains were covered up by the dye.

And this is the towel. I'm not positive what the monogram is. Suggestions are welcome.

All went well. I do not have purple hands. They have a bluish tinge, as if I needed more oxygen in my system. And no, I did not have a sudden attack of varicose veins, although it might take a doctor to tell for sure. They're just dye drips down my legs. Maybe another shower will take care of them.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Have Purple Hands


It's a good thing I hadn't planned to have tea with the Queen. Her Majesty hasn't invited me. Actually, none of the other Majesties have invited me either. That's a good thing, too, since I don't have a thing to wear.

Nothing that will go with purple.

Today's purple hands are compliments of Creative Synchronicity with Silks and Dye, a class at the Michigan Fiber Festival taught by Rita Petteys. A way fun class!

Last week's purple hands were compliments of Mudpies for Adults, a class taught by Anita Luvera Mayer at the Michigan League of Handweavers Conference. Another way fun class!

This is what I've been wondering... When I wash my hair tonight will it turn purple from my hands? Will I look like Kelli Perkins? Will I be able to do art like Kelli Perkins? I wish!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Joy of Joy: July BJP

July is warm summer, relaxation, vacation. It's marigolds and tomatoes, blueberries and corn. It's the All Together Week. It's a joyful time. My July BJP is The Joy of Joy.

Technical Details:

July is beaded on Lacy's Stiff Stuff (as are all the others) painted with a fabric paint, but I can't remember which one.

The beads are 6/0s, 8/0s, 11/0s, 15/0s, and some bugles and hexes. I stumbled on the teardrop shaped beads in a sale bin.

Most of the piece was done in the backstitch. There is one ruffle made with bugle beads and one made with 11/0 beads. There are some stacks of 11/0s that increase in height toward the middle of the square. There is a twisted chain, a stitch that must have another name in English, since the name in Japanese was not clear to me.

The page is 2.75 inches by 2.75 inches.

I used yellow C-lon thread.

What I Was Thinking:

I was thinking about what joy meant to me. It's not loud or raucous. It's not flashy or hilarious. To me, the best kind of joy is bright and serene. It is internal. That's the difference between fun and joy. Family and friends are the best kind of joy, although they are usually fun, too.

I choose yellow beads to be sunny and cheerful. But I choose a more subdued yellow with golden tones and several pale yellows. This is a serene, internal joy, and I wanted the piece to glow.

Issues that Came Up:

As I worked on this page, I was surprised to discover what joy meant to me. And it was the beads that showed me. I expected joy to be more of a very bright yellow. Like "Whoopee, yahoo, and yay!" But it wasn't. The Joy of Joy is warm and serene and comfortable inside me. A softer golden yellow. Calmer and longer lasting.

I like this page.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MX Dyeing Day

Last Friday we had another dyeing day at Jennifer Gould's. This time it was with MX dye on cellulose fiber. It was a small group, just Jennifer, Margie and me. None of us had done much dyeing recently. My most recent dyeing experience was in a previous century. Think back (if you're old enough) to the period when Harvest Gold was in fashion. Think Rit. Think retro. Think not recent.

We worked from three books, Color By Accident and Color By Design by Ann Johnston and The Surface Designer's Handbook by Holly Brackmann. Each book, of course, had different directions. And as far as we could tell, the directions in each book were not always internally consistent.

In preparation for the event, I had checked out a couple of other books about dyeing from the library. Each of these had still different directions.

Soda ash, Synthrapol, urea, water softener, salt, dye powder. water. Other stuff with unpronounceable names. How much do you add and when? Or is it even needed? Soda ash, dye powder and water? Yes. Others? Maybe or maybe not.

I think that each dye artist (or ayrt alchemist) has come up with his or her favorite method, much as a baker comes up with a bread recipe. You can vary the ingredients and still have a pretty good bread. Even excellent bread, but it might not taste exactly the same.

Back to the process. We had to prepare for the event by scouring our fabric--washing it in Synthrapol and soda ash. This is my fabric the day before:

After we arrived at Jennifer's, we fortified ourselves for the event. Two coffeecakes and brownies are just what the dye artist needs. Then we read and discussed the directions. And read and discussed the directions again. And again. There was a certain amount of off-topic chatter. Then we looked at the directions and plunged ahead.

A dye artist must be careful not to inhale any of the MX dye powder. Apparently it is non-toxic, but one can become sensitized to it. So we had to call in special helpers to mix the dye powder with water. Darth Vadar and his other friend Darth Vader showed up, and we put them to work.

Here is Darth.

Here is his other friend Darth Vadar mixing the dye in the hermetically sealed dye mixing chamber.

And here is our dye all ready to go.

After a brief intermission to eat lunch--more coffeecake and brownies--we started dyeing. As far as I was concerned, it was all experimental. I just wanted to see what happened. And here is my result.

How did I end up with four orange pieces? I am not an orange kind of person.

Ahh, blue. That's more like it.

I'm going to dye some more fabric. I bought a rayon damask tablecloth at a garage sale, and I want to dye it so I can make a jacket. And I'm not sure how I'm going to do it. I got five additional books about dyeing from the library, and there are five new sets of instructions. Whoopee!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The All Together Week Box

Another Crackpot Project of the All Together Week was making fabric origami boxes. Nancy had a new book, Fun with Folded Fabric Boxes, and making some origami boxes seemed like a great project. The boxes are made with stiffened fabric, so our first stop was to Michael's to get some fabric stiffener with our 40% off coupons.

One by one, we painted the stiffener on the fabric and hung it outside to dry. We debated the chemical composition of the fabric stiffener. Watered-down Elmer's Glue was one thought. The two certainly look and smell the same. We considered whether to try some watered-down Elmer's on the fabric. Having none at any of the Cute Little Houses and with other items on the agenda (see below), that did not happen.

In the meantime, we practiced making the boxes with paper. Everyone else had done a fair amount of origami before. I am still at the mountain fold means up; valley fold means down stage. It's a little like having to mutter, "Hay foot, straw foot," as I march off to meet the Redcoats.

And this is my box. It's 6 inches by 6 inches by 3 inches. I chose this tie dye fabric for the top because I couldn't imagine what else I could do with it.

There were two agenda items that prevented us from conducting the Elmer's Glue experiment. First, magnificent structures needed to be constructed at the sandbox of the Cute Little Houses. Note that there are three people working on one tunnel through the sand mountain. It could get crowded in there.

And we had to visit the Captain. Yum! Yum! It's an annual event.