Tuesday, December 28, 2010

January in San Antonio?

How about a 3 day retreat in sunny, warm San Antonio this January?  There are still a few spaces left in the Irresistible Texture workshop I am teaching at ArtCloth Studios on January 21-23.

Join us as we spend three days exploring water-based resists. This workshop is perfect for those who have been intrigued by the idea of resists, but weren't quite sure how to go about using them. Or maybe you have tried, with unsatisfactory results. You will have an opportunity to use resists made from everyday pantry items, as well as some commercially available resists. I'll also share 8 different techniques with which to apply them, so there is sure to be something for both the novice and the experienced. See the possibilities for yourself - from fresco-like texture to crisp, clear detailed images. Email me if you have any questions or would like to sign up.

Jacquard water based resist

Potato dextrin

Elmer's gel glue


Flour paste, soy wax

Flour paste

Soy wax

Flour paste, soy wax

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is It Just Me?

Does anyone else feel that December has slipped by?  I had such high hopes for the month.  I was finished with my workshops for the year and most of my major deadlines were behind me.  I was looking forward to a full, unencumbered month to concentrate on my latest project.  Now I find myself with a week and a half left, wondering where the month went.  Maybe my expectations were too high?  (Me?? Never!!)

It's hard to shake off my past - after so many years in the corporate world, the idea that doing is more important than being is hard to change. For all the time I spent working on my projects this month, I also spent a lot of time enjoying my family, admiring the new wildflower garden, watching the birds at our bird feeder, playing with the kitties, and making gifts for the holidays. I've been reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth each morning, and was struck this morning by the idea presented in the last chapter.  It is not as important what you do, but how you do it.  The simplest things take on meaning when done with full attention and awareness. Maybe I did "accomplish" a lot after all.  I managed to find balance in a month that can be stressful and full of anxiety.

Whatever you have in store this week, may you also find balance between being and doing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prayer Flags

photo by broken sphere

I've been fascinated by prayer flags from the moment I first learned of them. Typically associated with Tibet,  these flags are hung outside and carry prayers - for protection, health, good fortune, compassion.  Each flag is printed with a combination of text and symbols. The text may be a mantra, a sutra (excerpt from a sacred Buddhist text) or a prayer.

photo by babasteve 

photo by markus koljonen

The aspect that really intriques me is the idea that as the flag becomes weathered, small pieces of the flag are carried off by the wind, spreading the prayers throughout the world. The prayers are also thought to purify and cleanse the air that blows through them. People often hang multiple flags and it is common to see both new and old flags hanging side by side. What a wonderful representation of the cycles of life, young and old side by side.  An acceptance of the natural life cycle, that as something dies and decomposes, it is providing benefit and sustenance for another being.

I have created several prayer flags this year.  My interpretation is quite different from the traditional version. The first had no text, only symbols I created to represent my prayers for the world.  The second set has no symbols, only text.  They both carry prayers for peace, joy, love, compassion and health.

This flag was made from hand-dyed linen that was then brayer printed.  A small bit of metal leaf was added to each piece.

These flags are made from silk/cotton voile.  I used the technique from Vibrant Color, I added powdered dyes to soy wax and applied that to the fabric, then handpainted over it. The prayers are screened in metal leaf.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Grits are Great!

After I blogged about oatmeal a few months ago, Gay Ousley commented that grits made a great resist. Grits aren't something I keep in my pantry, after a disappointing experience eating them a number of years ago, so I filed that information away for "someday".  Then I saw a recipe in the newspaper a few weeks ago for cheesy jalapeno grits.  Hmmm - cheese, butter, jalapenos - how could that be bad?  So I decided to try them - for breakfast and as a resist.

Now I am a full blown grits convert. Not only was the breakfast casserole great, I loved the pattern they created on cloth. I had no idea what sort of water to grits ratio to use, so I tried two versions on one piece of cloth. The left side was 1 package instant grits to1/4 cup water.  The right side was 1 package instant grits to 3/4 cup water. I love them both. Thank you, Gay for the suggestion! So, I see I need to do some more experimenting with grits. Off to the store, because I finished the last of them for breakfast!

Update 1/10/11 - The link to the grits recipe is no longer valid, so by request, I have included the recipe below. 

Cheesy Jalapeno Grits (recipe from the San Antonio Express-News)

2 cups quick cooking grits
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
3 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
3 large eggs, well beaten
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped canned green chiles
Garlic, salt to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the grits according to package directions. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Stir well.  Pour into buttered 9 inch baking dish.  Bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly before serving.

I've omitted nutrition information.  You really don't want to know!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Another Thanksgiving Day. Rather than the typical dose of turkey, potatoes, stuffing and family, I usually spend Thanksgiving in the studio. For the past 6 years, my husband has had to work on Thanksgiving, so I have started my own tradition. It seems appropriate - what more to be thankful for than a day alone creating? I usually take a more relaxed pace on this day. Yes, I work in the studio, but I take a break to play with the kitties and read the paper. Today, I spent some time admiring our new wildflower garden. We planted it a few months ago and the weather has been so warm, the flowers are blooming!

Now don't feel sorry for me, we had our Thanksgiving feast yesterday. And boy it was delicious. So now, while my husband works, I get to have lots of leftovers. (Don't feel sorry for him, either. His employer treats him to a Thanksgiving meal at a very nice local restaurant.)

I'll take a pass on reciting a list of all that I am thankful for. Somehow it ends up sounding trite.  I'll just wish you all a happy Thanksgiving and a very enjoyable day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Layered Screenprinting

Last weekend I taught a class on screen printing at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio.  It's a fun class that covers some of my favorite techniques.  I know, I know, I say that about every class. I guess I just don't sign up to teach techniques that I don't enjoy doing.
Anyway, the class focused on multiple layers of screen printing with dye and the use of resists to block out white space. We also layered sheer fabrics on top of each other so the printing would penetrate both layers.  The great thing about working with thickened dyes is that the fabric stays soft, and it's fun to see how the colors blend and interact as they are printed one on top of another.

We used soy wax and gel glue as a resist directly on the fabric and on the silkscreen.  We also used masks, such as shredded paper, leaves, masking tape and freezer paper stencils to create a pattern on the fabric.

I'm doing another class in January by special request. If you are intrigued by the photos below and are interested in taking the workshop, let me know and I'll keep you informed of the dates.


Screen printing with soy wax on the silkscreen

Multiple layers of screen printing with soy wax on the fabric and on the screen

Screen printing with shredded paper under the screen

Multiple layers with freezer paper masks

Adding background color

Multiple layers of printing with gel glue resist and a sequin waste stencil

Adding a leaf to round out the design

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Just Have Fun

I'm back from a whirlwind trip to the Quilt Festival in Houston.  This was my first time teaching.  I had two demos and three classes, so it was pretty hectic. I spent the previous two weeks creating handouts, boxing up my supplies (all 14 boxes), making fabric samples and trying to stay sane. 

When I arrived for my first class on Thursday, I was a bit frazzled, having just driven the 3 hours from San Antonio, and unloaded everything into the teacher's room.  After I set up for class, I had some extra time, so I sat quietly to try to center myself.  As I did, a voice in my head said "just have fun."  I smiled and realized, "Yes!  I don't need to worry about anything - I love what I do and I'm here to share that with others and enjoy it!"   My perspective shifted in that instant.  And I did have fun.  It was exhausting, grueling and hard on my feet, but it was also exhilarating, inspiring, and a blast!

I met so many wonderful people, saw some amazing quilts and got a boost of creative inspiration. I'm going to stay on that high for today.  Unpacking all those boxes can wait until tomorrow!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Transforming Fabric

I've been creating some samples of brayer printed fabric for a demo I'm doing at the Quilt Festival in Houston this week.  I've always loved the patterns you can get, but I never before thought about using brayer printing to transform my fabric "duds".  It's amazing how different the fabrics look after brayer printing.

Before: Interesting patterning, but not my colors

After: Much more interesting surface and a more subdued palette!

Before: A soy wax experiment gone wrong

After: The squiggles are hardly noticeable, and the new patterning and color are a big improvement.

Before:  Nice colors, but the double mandala was not effective.

 After: How did I get one focal point out of that? Amazing.

If you are going to the Quilt Festival, maybe our paths will cross.  (Sure, among the many thousands who will be there, right?!)  The brayer printing demo is part of the Friday Morning Sampler, which is full, so if you can't stop by then, look for my article on brayer printing in the Dec/Jan issue of Quilting Arts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Back to Earth

It's been awhile since I last checked in.  Of course I have a great excuse - it's been a crazy few weeks.  This weekend I am co-teaching the Vibrant Color soy wax class with Jane Dunnewold.  Last week I worked on hanging the Fiber Artists of San Antonio (FASA) annual exhibition and the week before I spent 6 days in the fourth session of the Artcloth Mastery Program. And in between all that I have to get ready for the classes I am teaching at the Quilt Festival in Houston. I just have to remember to breathe!

A little plug for the FASA exhibition.  It has a wide variety of fiber art from artists throughout Texas.  The work represented runs the gamut from quirky to deeply moving, from beautiful to fun, from innovative to opulent.  Below are just a few of the pieces in the show. (Details about where, when, etc. are below the pics.)

Twenty- First Century American Sampler, Kate Martin

Fission, Laura Ann Beehler

Merge Algorithm, Jean Dahlgren and Ruthie Powers

Diversity-Tolerance, Lana Book

If you would like to see the exhibit, it is at the Gallery Nord, 2009 NW Military Highway, San Antonio, TX through November 5, 2010.  The gallery is open Wed-Sat from 12-5.

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Vertical Lines

Yesterday I received a package in the mail.  It was a piece of artcloth I created in 2007 for the Surface Design Association exhibition.  It's been on the road in a traveling exhibit since then.  I didn't take a photo of the piece before I sent it off, so I had forgotten what it looked like.  It was interesting to have this piece of my past suddenly enter my life. 

In some ways it seems so different from what I am doing now, yet I see some similarities, too. It is from my "screenprinting period".  For about 2-3 years I did no immersion, I only screenprinted with dye. I really enjoy that technique and created some of my favorite pieces during that period.

What I hadn't really noticed before were the vertical lines in the piece. The vertical lines are not as strong of a design element as in some of my current work, but I do see a vertical component.  That made me think that my current focus on vertical lines isn't really new - it's just more of a conscious effort.  And that thought leads to the whole idea of artistic style. I've given a lot of thought to that issue over the past two years.  What is it that defines an artist's work?  What is it that connects two works of art so we know they are created by the same artist?  How do we create a balance between creating fresh, exciting work, yet still maintaining a distinctive style?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This year I took two vacations, within two weeks of each other. And I'm here to tell you that vacations are an important part of keeping creative.

I can easily become obsessed with the projects I am working on.  I'll wake up at 3 in the morning, my mind racing with ideas.  Usually when that happens, I just get up and start working - I know I won't get any more sleep!  In my old career in the corporate world, I considered myself somewhat of a workaholic, but that's just who I was.  I figured it would be different once I gave up that lifestyle.  Imagine my surprise when I realized earlier this year that I am just as driven about my art. Hmmm, some things don't change.

I don't believe that type of drive is a bad thing in itself.  It represents a passion for what you do.  I think it becomes detrimental when it takes over your life. When you can't stop the chatter in your brain long enough to enjoy the fall breeze, or the migrating hummingbirds, it's time for a break. 

My vacations were both short - four days each - but I left my work behind.  No email, no deadlines, just enjoying myself with my family.  And I came back with lots of ideas to keep me awake at night!  A lot more ideas than I'll ever have time to act on. 

When was your last vacation?  Is it time for another?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Sacred Art of Altars

Time once again for the Seventh Annual One People, Many Paths: Sacred Art of Altars Exhibit sponsored by the Celebration Circle. The exhibit and silent auction features 55 altars by San Antonio artists. We each started with the same hand-built wooden altar and created our version of the sacred.

The show is on display throughout September inside the lobby of the Bijou Theatre at Crossroads Mall.  The exhibit will end on September 30, with the reception and final bidding from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. You can view the altars and place a bid anytime during normal business hours, 11:00am - 10:00pm.

The altars this year are absolutely fabulous!  If you can't make it to the show, or if you want a sneak preview, look at photos of the altars on flickr.  I used some batiked paper for my altar this year.  I've been experimenting with using soy wax mixed with fiber reactive dyes on paper.  Very interesting results!

For more information about Celebration Circle or the event, visit their website.

Featured Artists Include:

Jane Appleby, M.D., Zet Baer, Michelle Belto, Ana Maria Berry, Laurel Bodinus, Momo Brown, Pam Bryant, David Caris, Massie Center, Hebron Chism, Suchil Coffman, Dinah Coakley, Sue Cooke, Jamie Damon, Susan Damon, David Elizondo, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Dana Fossett, Joan Frederick, Dimitri Garcia, Laurel Gibson, Sam Gonzalez, Kat Gustafson, Rudi Harst, Dale Jenssen, Zach Jewell, Deborah Keller-Rihn, Lisa Kerpoe, Mark Kohnitz, Charmaine LaBold & Keith Creel, Tim Lapping, Sharon Legg, Naomi Leissner, Jaime Martinez, Nancy McGalliard, Jai Medina, Beverly Meyer, Kathleen Messina, Susie Monday, Cindy Palmer, Ray Palmer, Cynthia Phelps, Rachel Rainwater, Thom Ricks, Mark Rue, Regina Sanders, Randy Schwartz, Sharon Shelton-Colangelo, Tirso Sigg, Jodi Stauffer, Daniel Stoneham, Rebecca Coffey, Julie Troilo

I hope to see you at the reception on September 30th!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fat Quarter Studies, Part 2

I've been working on the rest of the fat quarter studies as part of my artcloth mastery class assignment.  These are a series of 8 pieces in which I am using a similar composition, trying different techniques to decide what I want to do for a series of larger pieces. All of the pieces incorporate the use of resists and handpainting.  All of these need a bit more work - some just a little touch of metal leaf, some a lot more!   But, it's time to put them aside for now and start on the larger pieces.

Below are photos of the remaining five pieces in the series.  I posted photos of the
first three a few weeks ago.   

This is my favorite of this batch.  I used a potato dextrin resist on silk/soy fabric, along with handpainting and discharge. I'm planning to add a little metal leaf as well.

This piece started with a sugar resist on silk/soy, painted while wet, followed by a flour resist. To create additional depth in the background,  I added a few layers of handpainting with thickened dye.

This is silk broadcloth, with potato dextrin brushed through a plastic grid, then handpainted.

This is another silk/soy with a sugar resist.

This started with soy wax resist, then several layers of handpainting. This still needs a bit more. I have some ideas, just not enough time!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vibrant Color is Finally Here!

We had a few production delays, but the new DVD I'm doing with Jane Dunnewold has finally arrived. In it, Jane and I demonstrate three processes for adding MX fiber reactive dyes to soy wax.  It all started a couple of years ago when Jane began to experiment with creating soy wax dye crayons.  I helped her out with the testing, and then we started talking about adding dye to hot wax.  And things just took off from there.

For more info about the DVD or to order, visit the store at artclothstudios.com.

The dye crayons are great for drawing or writing directly on the cloth.  They also work well for rubbings to create unique pattern and texture. 

The hot wax application is one of my favorites.  You get the benefit of the color in the dye and the resist properties of the wax.  After applying the hot wax/dye mixture, it will act as a resist when the cloth is overdyed or handpainted. 

The wax paste is a creamy texture that works perfectly for stenciling or brushing directly on the fabric. The nice thing about the paste is that you can achieve the exact amount of coverage you want.  You can apply it so that it is a solid, opaque image, or you can let some of the underlying fabric show through.  It is also easy to blend multiple colors.

If you've seen the DVD or have experimented with some of the techniques, I'd love to hear about your experiences.

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