the DillyDally coat

My muslin base, a heavier weight than i would have deliberately chosen, but since it came in this form and was scrounged for free, it is what it is:

Whomever had made this originally obviously got confused about seaming for right side/wrong side, but since it will all be covered, it doesn’t matter.


I’ve been “mapping out” what i need, as *i*am larger πŸ™‚ 😦 and the muslin base needs to *be* larger than it is. Wow, tried it on, it’s fine except that it needs some underarm gussets and a bit of sleeve widening so i can wear things under, and a 3″ extension on either front edge so i can wrap and tie. I’ve decided to keep the colourway in the terra cotta, red, orange, redder browns range with flashes of yellow, and indigo as an accent. Linen, a bit of velvet, some cotton certainly, i’m looking through what i have, and will also rev up the natural dye pots again–i adore the terra cotta resulting from madder over marigold (top of the photo above).

And pockets, gotta have pockets!

I want to try a few things i haven’t ever done, and a few that i haven’t done in awhile. Because OMGZ, i was so bored i dug through a box in the studio that i hadn’t seen in years (HOW did i miss that in the move??) and it was full of ideas, sketches, photos, instructions, patterns and ephemera from both my Cap College day in ’93 to ’95, but my first year in “Deadmanchuk”*** (’03) and WAHOO! I love lush surfaces, both visually and as tactile texture, so some bits that were previously done as “samples” (ie bits that never made it to finished work, or were aborted work!) may show up, along with new ones. (AND I FOUND MY YULE GHOUL PATTERN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)




***Deadmanchuk (also Deadmonton, Edmonchuk, The Chuck)–slang for Edmonton Alberta, usually used by people who hated living there…..

dillydallying as productive time

Not all of us will learn 6 new languages, make sourdough bread, write an opus for the ages, or invent a new way to weave gnat’s ass silk during these “lockdown” times, but it’s still a good and necessary thing to have SOME “busy time”.

My own busy-ness has been less than productive, because i’ve had too many busytime days instead of just relaxing and trying out things just for fun: 11tybajillion starts and 11tybajillion ideas don’t always mean actual finished (or pleasing!) work done–i have a lot of what i now realize are samples though! So whadda ya do with samples? You can stick them in a book, you can file them in boxes, you can sometimes incorporate them into future work————————

AHA! OR! I like Jude’s current project/teaching, kind of a “coating a coat” idea πŸ™‚Β  and i’m going to haphazardly go as it goes. I happen to have an old muslin coat base in the dyeables bin and also stumbled over this from 1983 (a photo of only, think i lost this actual piece in the 2013 Calgary flood).

Very Yvonne Porcella inspired as that was the first time i had seen that people actually did these wild and wonderful things with fabric!

The base muslin coat i have is too small but very unfinished as to edges and shape, so i’ll add, adjust and correct as needed. Today i’ll be digging through all my unfinished bits and samples and stuff, finding hopefully a common denominator, then start laying down some spackle πŸ™‚

why don’t we write long blog posts anymore?

I started blogging in 2003, intensely personal and set to completely private. I thought that was what blogging was for: an online journal, diary, lists of daily experiences, woe-is-me’s, and small joys. I don’t remember being able to add photos or links, it was literally just an online personal notebook. In 2004 i discovered there were PUBLIC blogs–and WHOA, there were artists, there were TEXTILE artists out there who like me, wanted to record their journeys, their tests, their revelations, how to’s and failures, and their art, for everyone to see.

I would spend hours every day clicking on links–in those days we shared that, shared the work of people we admired, with no thought of jealousy or snark, long lists of blogs we each visited, links to strange things we liked. One of my favourites was “Corpses for Sale“, an artist who yes, made life like (death like??) corpses from latex and hardware supplies. (That was part of my body fascination in art phase πŸ™‚ ) TheΒ  site is pretty slick now and i guess disturbed people enough that a warning was posted on it: “WARNING: Displaying a corpse in public may break some County laws.”Β  HA.

I digress………

We posted samples of how we worked, we wrote actual tutorials, we traded art, we wrote long posts and added lots of pictures, bared our guts, and laughed at ourselves a lot. I remember being excited so often by what i saw, what people made, how they discovered things, how their artistic exploits evolved and expanded. We formed groups by dint of actual MAIL, real letters and packages, we created round robins and exchanges, we made art collaboratively and entered shows specifically for that, we solved problems for each other, we communicated almost every time we “visited”. Our best “communal platform” was Flickr, a Flickr that was a lot more user friendly in those days. We were interactive, wrote long “in response” posts of our own, did even more sharing of links and how to’s, and left thoughtful comments that were more than a “like” (or a troll response!).

So what happened? With few exceptions, most of us don’t do, act, think, or respond any more, do not inhabit our blogs the way we used to. (Guilty.) They’re drop shipping ports now: “Go to my Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, flavouroftheday platform”. (Guilty.) Or they are “monetized” now, supported by suppliers, links to quote affiliates unquote and advertising for spuriously related products. (By the way, any ads you see at the bottom of MY posts are completely out of my control, as i use WordPress’ free platform. They get put there automatically and i don’t even know what they are!)Β  Islands in the vast galactic sized ocean the net has become, with no other land in sight it feels. Some of us disappeared by choice, or sadly, died, some just faded away with no reaction or reason from themselves or their followers, some did abrupt turns and we left them behind because they no longer interested us. (Guilty.) Attention spans shortened drastically, “yeah but’s” appeared, “one up man ship” started distorting responses. (Guilty.)

So. Almost 17 years later (cause that calendar page is gonna flip again in 20 days and everything will be MAGIC again…), i want to go back to 2004 in a sense, and BE here. I may miss things, may not appeal, may flounder, flop and fail, but i’m going to try. Are you?




studio time finally, and a shop update

This past week i have said to hell with unpacking boxes, shuffling furniture around and organizing things in our new home. I finally got down into the studio and had fun!

Digging through the silk velvet scraps for the elf mentioned in a previous post, had me wondering what to do with all the dinky teeny itsy bits. If you love velvet and other luxe fabrics, you get that–no small left behind! πŸ™‚ And when they’re naturally dyed, they are even more precious!

And yes, they DO come as PAIRS πŸ™‚ Hmm, might be cute Christmas ornaments as well!

This weekend however, the two of us will be descending to the depths, and getting laundry appliances moved around, a laundry sink and water filter hooked up, tools settled into shelves, and the last of my studio stuff IN the studio, out of boxes, bags and piles. Once that is done, i plan on settingΒ  myself a schedule of sorts to get work done, the serious stuff (Samara, poor Samara!), and some more fun things as well.


elves? hell YEAH

My Mojo has been a Nogo for awhile. If you’re read previous posts lately, you’ll know why! I’ve diddled about with bits and pieces, but nothing really exciting, or terribly productive happened, small projects that will get done, but not honestly that i feel terribly interested in.

This morning i buckled down. I’ve wanted to do elves again for the last four years or so; i say “again” as they were a bread and butter item i made in the 90’s. All were very glitzy, and had green “skin”, so a late friend i miss still had dubbed them the “Yule Ghouls”. I made and sold probably 4 or 5 dozen of them, named Ruby, Amethyst, Sapphire, Emerald, etc etc etc all depending on the main shiny fabric i used (ha, i LOVED the glitz synthetics in those days) but alas along the way, i lost the original pattern. I have a few lousy photos of them, but they’re so lousy i won’t dig them out.

Of course, me being me, i thought i could immediately jump in and start pumping them out. No pattern though. Sooooooooooooo, brushing off basic skills again, i made a mockup in some cheap cotton, made some notes, adapted my pattern and started the first prototype.

It took 4 and a half hours from first pattern and the cotton test subject (right in photo below) to the first prototype (left). Still needs arms and legs, and the embellishments, but i’d say my Mojo is now a Gogo πŸ™‚

He’s a little shy at the moment. “Mockup says my ears are too big, my nose looks like a squashed potato, and how am i going to get anywhere with no arms or legs?” (Note: snarky Mockup has only one of each so he can only go in circles, i guess.)

“He’s just jealous ’cause Mom loves me better, even if he was here first.”

Arms, legs and facial features are coming up next, beading, hand embroidery etc–though i will keep it simple. The velvets, silk and lace i used are of course naturally dyed with quebracho rojo, madder and sandalwood. I was fortunate too that late MIL had bags and bags of stuffing, gawdz knows why though as she did nothing “crafty”. Finished size will be approximately 15″ head to toe.


I have so many velvet scraps in different colours that i’m quite excited to give some personality to them!

in praise of scraps

Tomorrow is the LAST day of this messy, chaotic, stressful move, the last bits and pieces of 10 years in an old house (and almost 16 years together of collecting..) that honestly made it easy to “accumulate” things. Funny though, the new place is bigger, has better storage and is more organized in layout, but we want less Stuff now… Another dump run, another donation run and the last bits and pieces from odd corners is by midnight’s goal……

The studio is slowly slowly taking shape, though one thing that is needed is MORE LIGHT. I discovered how bad it is down there when i realized the white thread i was using was actually a soft yellow……..

I’ve been itching to do *something* down there that doesn’t involve going through every bin and box, and then strewing things around because i get sidetracked. Found a bag of velvet scraps–they still got strewed πŸ™‚Β  —and spent some time digging through and fondlesorting, ending up with this gorgeous indigo piece. Close by also was the box of jewellry findings, so:

I made a Thing! A second Thing will join it, and maybe they will be worn at a company christmas party.

But oh to get back to the projects, especially Samara! And i need to find a new canvas for her—the one delegated disappeared on one of the truck runs……..

tears and tears, accepting the imperfect

Well, i admit i have never been able to sew or draw a perfectly straight line, but HOW THE HECK DO PEOPLE DO THIS ALL THE TIME????????

I will NEVER be a “Modern Quilter”.

This one sort of worked, except i didn’t cut enough pieces:

This was the plan:

(Never mind the lettering: i forgot the yellow on the first attempt, and then forgot the red on the second……..) Looks easy. Except when you are seaming. I kept flipping edges to see what it would look like. HA. i didn’t flip correctly on some. Then i just hit a point where i started stitching edges together.

There were angry tears. There were tears (rips πŸ™‚ ) when i pulled on seams to undo. I re-sewed three times. I ended up with an obvious rip, crooked lines, imperfect point matching and the pieces going the wrong way. I cut either too many pieces, or not enough. I blame the template i used πŸ™‚ I swear the marks for the cutting line were off *just* enough on two edges to **** up cutting and seaming. Maybe my blood sugar was low. Maybe i needed another coffee. Perhaps i have too much on my mind. And yes, i used a god-damn blue thread to stitch with because i don’t give a rat’s ass about matching.

Does this even REMOTELY look like the plan??????

Go ahead. Laugh. I can hear you from here.

**** it. I’m not taking it apart again to re-seam it. In fact, i just sewed the *almost” perfect red sample to the left edge of the above.

To hell with the pursuit of perfection. Let’s embrace the organic, the mistakes, the imperfect, the woogles and borgles and blips. Considering i’ve taken mistakes before and made something i’m proud of, i’m just going to let it be what it wants to be. Just wait and see: it WILL be if not “beautiful” when done, it will be defiantly/definitely my work.

Please also refrain from telling me how to do it correctly πŸ™‚





working up some courage

Natural dyes and silk velvet have an affinity for each other, like a love poem whispered into a breeze, like feather soft caresses, cool water on hot naked skin, sensual and earthy, sharing the privacy of deep emotion and quiet solitude.

I’ve always had a secret love affair with velvet, coveting the “lavender panne velvet pant” described in a 1972 Vogue magazine ( i was all of 15 years old and it was certainly not either in my world of farm town, or in my 60cents an hour babysitting budget…) , but never really comfortable wearing any as i got older, feeling slightly fraudulent and as if i was demanding attention i didn’t deserve. But oh the slither of it, the voluptuous animalistic tactility, in the hand, on the back of the neck, under the legs…………

Ahem. Mystery and imagination, in deed, and in thought! Sometimes it’s sexy, too often it’s overblown and tawdry—what’s the expression? “Mutton dressed as lamb”?

Down to earth now. It’s also A BITCH to sew, by hand or by machine, so i’ve stayed far away from it, though once in awhile i pull out a chunk of rayon velvet i dyed some 25 years ago, when all i knew about was Rit. Odd bits of it have shown up in wearable art i made in the 90’s, some Hoodoo work when we first moved to Calgary and i was so enamoured of the spectacular rock formations in and near Drumheller, a few Christmas bits, but nothing really serious.

BUT, these from the last 4 days:

HOW could i not try again?

EDIT: Nov 21, i forgot to mention this is primarily using Quebracho Rojo extract (with the exception of the 2 greys/greygreens which are on osage), and are mordanted and modified with a few different processes. So all these colours from 2 dyes, and 5 mordants/modifiers!!!!!!!!

Now to dig through old sketchbooks.



I’ve spent the morning mining deeper and deeper into the archives of old work, old photos, old ideas.

You can’t duplicate things, at least i’ve never been able to. I have no desire to do copies, even of my own work. Series are one thing, adaptations are another, but/and churning out the same thing over and over is an entirely different mindset…… I tried it a couple of times, but other ideas creep in, so obviously that’s my way to go. I’ve bored myelf when i’ve done production work, no real artistic satisfaction in it. Even my “bread and butter” work is all different!

All i’ve done this year, really, is just that: helping putting food in the animal dishes, gas in the car and new underwear for the human residents at the Stately Barr Manor. Six months without a Day Job took a toll, especially psychically, emotionally, and so i am very happy to go back to alternating art for sale, and Art. (Yes, there is a Day Job again, but you’re not going to hear about it, as i’ve decided it’s not my focus anymore, just a way to build things.)

I’m eager to start actual work again on “Samara”. I know it will take time, and much thought, but once i get into the “zone” again, i also know it will be worth it. To that end, the digging has pulled up two three ideas i want to extrapolate from:

Detail of “Self Portrait: SAD”, 2011. The concentrated areas of stitch, and the looseness of the heart are the appeal here.

“Beautiful Bones”, 2009, i still love that heavy encrustation of sequins and beads on the ribcage, something i never did again anywhere, but am finding very “catchy”:


and a detail of “Birth of a Silence”, 2015, the dimension, the combination of flat and raised, of line and texture:

One of the wings will be coming off the board and we’ll see what happens, how things get combined, re-worked, adapted.

“Love is the Answer” project, part 1

March 5/18: (I decided not to publish any of these until i had a certain amount of work done on my part of the project , hence the date at the beginning of the post. You might have seen some of the drawings/work though in previous to this project posts πŸ™‚ )

I’ve been a long time follower/reader of Mo Orkizewski (Mo Crow) at her It’s Crow Time blog in Australia. I admire her spirit, her ethics, her art and her outlook on life. In June of 2017, she conceived a project, based on a line from her equally talented partner’s song “I Dream of a World”, that has become a hugely collaborative art installation, slated for display in 2019 at Artsite as part of a show entitled “Braille for the Soul”.

Now, long time readers will know that i “hold no truck” with arty proposed “solutions” to world evils, from folding paper cranes for Paris’s Charlie Hebdo tragedy, to prayer flags for whatever cause, or “craft for peace” days. It’s not that i think groundswell movements can’t change things (because alas, our sad world has so many problems), but that people use these as excuses to pay a moment of goodytwoshoes my piece about peace is more important than your considered opinion and actions about HOW to/that do actually make things better for SOMEONE.

*My* answer usually is go small, be small. Contra-indicative? Nope. Because i/you will never stop any of the depredations that man commits upon man, that man commits on the world, on Mother Nature, on women, on children (and by “man” that’s the generic human species, not specifically the male sex–though given the current climate in the US happening right now with the confirmation hearings, that’s a debate well in fury right now…..), by practicing origami, hanging rags on ropes in a breeze, or blessing fabric in the sea. Going and being small does not mean either that one is selfish–i mean go small, be small, as in sharing what you have with someone who truly needs, in your own part of the world. It is a small thing on a global or universal scale, but it helps someone/something immediately. Prayers don’t fill bellies, warm hands in -40 temps, or show any true kindness.Β  Be small when you volunteer, donate give ( i don’t like the word donate with all its connotations of old clothes that don’t fit, or that you had enough money to mis-spend and really don’t care, or a 20 dollar bill once a year in the Salvation Army kettles because you feel guilty and seasonally magnanimous at the same time…), help, compliment, show respect, share gloves and scarves, a sandwich and coffee, a five dollar bill to someone scraping for busfare or cans in the trash, hold a door, pick up someone who has fallen on the ice, because small is big for some. If you can make ONE day better for ONE person, doesn’t that say more for your humanity and soul AND theirs, than all the frickin’ paper cranes in the world???????? And maybe THAT person is the one who DOES change the WHOLE world.

Off the soapbox. So WHY then would i contribute gladly to a project like this? Because to me, this one does say something–it’s the joining of a lot of viewpoints from around the world, expressed eloquently, calmly, lovingly and full of hope and concern, with intent, expression and heart that goes beyond slapping some felt letters on a scrap or finding the prettiest paper at great expense to torture into a symbolic shape.

So within the context of the show, what does “Love is the answer” mean? Love, true love***, whether platonic, romantic, pantheistic, or spiritual is, on a broader truer scale, about respect. It does not use apologies as manipulation, is inclusive, does not contrive, never obligates, does not keep a ledger. Love guides and supports, connects and strengthens, complements, enhances and shares. Love is moral, thoughtful, questioning but not aggressive, does not judge, is constant and patient. Love is not guile or a weapon. I re-iterate: Love is Respect.

So, anyways, off the box again πŸ™‚ Mo sent me one of the “pennants” to do with as i wish. (The fabric is from a very old wedding dress.) I took it apart first, as the layers can be re-assembled when the work is done.

I did an alum pre-mordant, assuming the cloth was silk, but there was no madder dye uptake, then realized it was a synthetic after a burn test spattered some on one of my fingers! Then i spent two weeks dithering about what i was going to do next, staring at it, shuffling bits on and off it, having multiple “Eureka” moments that withered very very very fast, and thinking i was going to completely ruin it —–and Mo was going to politely say “oh that’s interesting” while privately wondering why the hell she had sent the original to me at all…….

This will be a layered process, something i have done before, but not a lot lately. Building dimension and story this way means the elements won’t be fighting each other. This is the “first” layer, though in the end, it’ll be the background, and not all visible. I deliberately stitched some areas so that they looked as if they were fading, rubbed out. (Unfinished at time of photography.) Not only is negative space important, but it will be more effective once the next layers go on.

Greyman thought i was embroidering him a wide tie πŸ™‚ , but *his* choice of words would have been quite different!

July: A mock up for part of the front, still being worked:

August: and good progress on the back, as of the middle of August:

Stay tuned for “part 2” and maybe one more: one post would be waaaaaay too long!!! And of course, an “Artist Statement” πŸ™‚

“Love, true love”*** does momentarily give me a giggle as i remember a particular scene from “The Princess Bride”…..