a little R&D never hurts

Research and Development, or Refresh and Dive in πŸ™‚ We all have favourite things we’ve done, but i know *i* sometimes forget i’ve done them!

Can you believe it’s almost 2020? How did that happen? I remember dating a school book 1963 and suddenly it’s 2020??? Anyways, i’m starting to plan for this next phase in the studio, even though i don’t believe the flip of a calendar page is magic. The last week of each year however does bring a certain amount of introspection and wondering what’s next. Here’s my first mashup inspiration, with lots of colour and texture and a few techniques i’d like to meld. There’s an old “scroll/shine book” behind everything, lots of blingy beads, gorgeous silk velvets, bits of embroidery in unfinished projects, old drawings and lots of hope. Who knows what will result?

Because we recently packed up, and then unpacked (which somehow has taken much longer than we thought it would…….”what a drag it is getting old”, as the Olde English Poets sang..), i’ve been reminded of some of these things.

Above, scroll/shrine book from 2009,

below ecoprint bags with machine lace from 2013. (These were a FB FybreSpace give away a few years ago, so not in my mashup πŸ™‚ )

I’m out of practice too, so had to get in some “scribblin'” time with this old technique! EEEUUW, i need a LOT of practice again, won’t even show you what i did–Lalage has never been the best of machines, but but but!

The gorgeous silk velvets i’ve done the past year:

I still love hexes:

And the Suzani inspiration:

Looking at old drawings

I’ve promised myself this coming while too, to use more of my bead stash. There’s NO earthly reason why they can’t be combined with natural dyes and hand embroidery because after all, (while beads then were stone, bone, shell or metal) they were used historically as well. Sequins too!

Above, detail of work on Hoodoo Sky, 2009

Life has started going back to normal after our sudden big move, so it’s time to buckle down and get at it!

fool me once…….

HA! It took me TWELVE YEARS to figure out here was something wrong with this sketch. At the time, i was quite concerned that i get the valves and tubes all facing the right way, (there was an actual, real life cardiac surgeon on the QuiltArt list in those days, who helped a lot), but what about the hands???? Who holds a heart like that (pre-supposing one could, and not as part of some nasty ritual πŸ™‚ ) ?

It’s not the intended Next Big Thing, but a smaller part of the whole, perhaps a new “series”. Either that or a very intense sampling πŸ™‚ The hands are done on a potassium permanganate/rust/brazilwood cotton from a residency, with naturally dyed threads used for the embroidery.

I’ve done some dyeing now for this particular design, both “potperm’ and cochineal with iron (I want deep purple, not fuschia), and have some logwood dyed cotton as well for bits. I’m torn between using an indigo with potperm background, or just potperm–or something else entirely different!— and have to decide reasonably soon so i can commence the rest of the work.

no smartypants title

Because i thought i’d make a joke about hexes again, but can’t get the brain on that, without doing evil apparently……

I was doing some research (falling down the Rabbinet Hole, that is, truthfully) this morning, thinking i could find something smart, funny, deep or pertinent to the subject, but Nay. Evidently hexes are bad, unless you’re a quilter in love with them. πŸ™‚

I’m still in sampling mode as i work out what this large project needs. I want to introduce some stronger colours, and my eye espied the bag of indigo bits i have been hoarding.





*Just* enough contrast/colour/depth!!!!!!!!!! I don’t want to overwhelm the rest of it, but being a natural dye, it does work with all the others.

Winnowed down to three thread choices from 17, i ended up using (so far) just the Caron “Smoke” #022

neuron-threadsThis one’s gonna be a pleasure to work, and though i will finish the sample, am 99.9% sure that it will work on the actal project as well.

I guess that’s why this one result from the search felt right:



Subject matter sometimes determines approach. My usual method of applying elements for this work just wouldn’t suit, as that method is “heavier” and more solid, even with holes added πŸ™‚

Because of the scale of the projected piece, i didn’t want to just jump in this time, even though i have plenty of ideas and a reasonably firm vision of what’s going where and how. I spent yesterday doing more tests, and must say i really appreciate the virtue now of sampling first! The first run through always takes more time than you thought it would–and yet, less, which is always a good thing πŸ™‚

A single layer of cotton harem-cloth is a beautiful thing. It’s a little shifty, and takes a firm grip to keep it in line, especially when you don’t like using a hoop, but oh i do love the effect.

sample-figure-1d-cAin’t he the hunk?

I didn’t want him to be such a stark white however. First i tried coffee dyeing. Nope, too close to the white. Rinsed that out, dabbed on WEE WEE bits of Procion. Nope, too strong, and the colour was too red (that “rust brown” is definitely too red). Washed that out, or most of it, then got out the paint again. Good enough for sampling purposes, i’ll watch the dispersion and blending rate more consciously on the real deal, but am rather pleased.


I almost wish i hadn’t cut out centre portions, but only because the placement on the background didn’t take the dark areas underneath into consideration. Even so, i think it’s quite the look i want, but that fine fine grey thread i used was a pain in the Bazotski –i think i need new glasses again……………..

figure-sampling-1-cThe size of this is a standard “A4” page, and it scares me a bit to think of the shifting on a larger scale. I may have to dig out my largest hoop after all: the grain and weave of this fabric is so malleable, that i don’t want stitches skewing the angles. Because the larger pieces will have more interior space as well, that means more stitching inside, whether on the harem cloth itself, or in any voids. Best to get a handle on it right from the start!

Working this little trial also has the advantage of adding more ideas for other work. I think it will show up on this somehow:


Poor girl has been sighing and pouting in the stoodio since the beginning of September!



saddled up again

After much coin, and many many hours of patience on Greyman’s part, the computer has been completely replaced, and is humming along again. Whew. Fortunately i had managed between freezes to back up all my files!

I didn’t get as much stitching done as i’d wanted to–that pesky life interference thing: dishes, groceries, laundry, housecleaning, etc etc etc etc……………–but i’m happy that my idea will be able to be used on the background of the large piece i’m working on.

From this old sketch:

neuron-pattern-skecthto this little sample piece:


Halfway through the stitching, i kicked over the box of paints from previous weeks sketching, and grabbed the bronze Lumiere for some discrete application. Just enough shine, but singular enough to be a feature as well. (Actually it was pretty dried up, but a bit of distilled water, a shake and a stir,Β  and it was good to go again. Waste not, want not!)

I’d been looking at bits from Raggedy Black Heart, (also the current background for the blog) and really liked the idea of using the idea again.


My Valdani threads arrived, but alas, i don’t think any of them are going to work on this piece, as beautiful as they are!

valdani-threadsI had thought the second from the top one would work on the potassium permanganate sections of the background, but it’s too pale and has too much white. And the dark threads are too dark! One of the pitfalls of online shopping is unfortunately, incorrect colour on the monitor, and alas, most shops have photos too that are so dinky, you really can’t tell what you are seeing properly. Luckily, my 123 order threads *are* the right colours as i’m just replacing the ones i’ve used up. Still, they are a lovely addition to the stash πŸ™‚

I also managed to get a fair portion of the second seam done, though have to wait for the final run of threads down it, as i’m out of the Sticks and Stones colourway. One seam looks like another, so won’t show you that!

January has been extra cold and bleary, so it’s lovely to see my Tithonia in bloom!


And my Jalapeno and Chocolate Beauty peppers under the growlights have blossomed and fruited!

I’m going to stay as unplugged as i can for awhile, as tempting as it is to waste so much time. I tend to obsess over certain sites, or do too MUCH research and i need to concentrate more on being in the stoodio. It’s fine to be “inspired”, but if you never do any work, what’s the point? I don’t want to be just an idea stacker, but a doer.



dye painting tests

My Dharma order arrived 6 days after being ordered, but with the silly season upon us, those pesky spare five minutes’s available had to wait until after chripcrapmas………..

I ordered 4 colours (teal blue, rust brown, oxblood red and warm black), planning to augment the palette with what i already have (golden yellow, red, olive, violet and true blue), trusting i will be able to approximate the colours and blending shown on the acrylic painted paper mock-up (left in photo below). Didn’t use all of them though!

On cotton, right, previously soaked in soda ash, though i also added the soda ash *to* the Procion. These fabrics won’t be washed, but i still worry about fading or exposure to any elements in the air. I’ve never had any luck in removing all the alginate before (think icky snail trails…), so bypassedΒ  thickening and directly “painted” on the cloth. I do know however, that though usually one wants super saturation with the dyes, this one is too dark, and MUCH too red! I still like it and will continue to work on the idea.

sketch-and-fabric-sampleI also did another piece:

neurons-dye-paint-1-bThe Procion “Rust Brown” has a LOT of red in it, shall have to tone it down. It was based on this, and in a larger scale, may become the background for something.


Mood/story board in the stoodio:




I also did a little ice dyeing, tshirts for the Son below and the Greyman (still batching).


Somehow fitting that i end the year with how i started the year!

Speaking of ice, my camera captured this, a trick of the light and of the time.

Dec 26 icicles in Inglewood


And then i remembered, fortunately in plenty of time, that i also need to dye some threads as well! The quantities i’m going to need precludes buying “ready made’ though i’m sure some will come by mail πŸ™‚ Some i’ll do the same way as the cloth, painting bits on , and some will just be immersion dyed.


And the FybreSpace shop is now gone.

textile supply woes

I need to “paint” some fabric like this.


Unfortunately, paint itself is not an option at present. The ones i have are too stiff on the chosen fabric to get a needle through, and bleeding fingers are not on my list of Happy Things. They also dry too fast to do the blending i want! I had thought of roughly “piecing” together scraps instead, but that meant too many layers. I could have done this on soluble, but noooooooooooo, Lalage is being a bitch these days and breaking threads left right and centre. (I HATE this model, worst machine i’ve EVER had. Miss my old White that went for 20some years. KenmoreΒ  used to be a good value as workhorse machine and i had a different one for 16 years, but alas, with the current workroom one, not so much anymore.) So, dye it is, good ol’ Procion, hand painted on to satisfy the desire to if not duplicate then to simulate the above.


ARGH. I’m disturbed however, that i have to order from the US for my dyes, because not only is it on sale there, but the shipping cost is the same, and even with the currency conversion, it’s still cheaper……………and the jars are bigger! Sorry Maiwa, as much as i love love love you, i have to thank you Dharma (sigh). Even the ACAD shop has an abysmal assortment, though i suppose that’s due to the number of students who get there first!

I also have to order most of my threads from the States—local stores don’t carry enough–indeed some carry NONE, or haven’t the assortment, or the weights, or the prices….Calgary is severely lacking in places to get decent amounts of anything textile related! The only exception to this is Valdani in Edmonton, though unfortunately whenever i want to order, they are out of what i want!

Ya soldier on.

the persistence of memory

Some memories are fixed, unrelenting. Others morph, bend and change inside to outside, nightmare to dream, dream to delusion. There are memories of memories, given, borrowed, stolen from others.



Sometimes we compartmentalize our memories, or lock them away. Sometimes they fade, are forgotten, deliberately or not.

Who doesn’t want to remember, forget, remember and forget? Free but still bound.


Still just peering over the edge of the rabbit hole, but on the way up now. It was a long fall.

paintPaint on paper above, painted cotton below.



machine-on-paint-1FM on painted cotton above, hand embroidery below.



As i’m writing, i realize this exercise made me think of this:

beading-hoodoo-sky-2009(Hoodoo Sky, 2009, in progress)

Tests for possible work, i still have 2 other techniques to try with the remaining painted fabric.



There’s nothing more satisfying than bringing a cloth to life. I could easily stretch and frame these beginnings on their own, but that needle and thread thing is so addicting, and really, the translation from flat image to textured story is what turns my crank.

“A Birth of Silence”, 2015, base cloth to finished translation

While i “designed” the base cloth for the one above, because it is an abstract, i had no idea when i made it what i would do with it, story wise. Sometimes narratives just happen. Stockpiling cloth like this is like prepping a bunch of canvases, or journal pages, no dreading that blank space!

Admittedly, the deliberate shape and design of a face means the face is the story, but things still can become what they are as they want.

ot translation

“Original Truths”, 2016, from deliberately designed base cloth to completion.

The story will continue.