Saturday, November 22, 2008


Today, after the Fibervision business meeting, member Rene Jennings led a fantasy faces workshop. She wanted to make this last workshop of 2008 easy and fun and she certainly succeeded. Rene brought all the supplies and gave us basic instructions, encouraging us to relax and just play with the prepared fabrics. Thanks, Rene, we had a great time. I think mine is going to need a neck and some shoulders though, right now it kind of looks like a skeletal floating pirate head (perhaps I am still under the influence of my earlier Halloween post).

Mary Norton gave me permission to post a photo of her face, too. Love those eyelashes!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Tea Fire

A week ago tonight a horrific wildfire broke out in the hills of Montecito, right above Santa Barbara. It was a night of wild winds that drove the fire from ridge to ridge and the reports of new areas breaking out in flames kept getting worse all night. When the winds died down on Friday morning, 239 homes had been lost, thirteen people had been injured and one elderly man in fragile health died while being evacuated. Jim and I were lucky to have only been in the evacuation warning area with plenty of time to pack and prepare even though we never actually had to leave, but I know four families who have lost their homes and several who's homes were spared but are surrounded by devastation.

Tonight this area of California is under high wind warning and fire alert again. Very unsettling.

I did go to the last watercolor class of the quarter on Tuesday because substitute teacher #1, Peggy Oki, called and asked me to come. She brought supplies for collage and this collage entitled "Tea Fire" practically made itself. Guess I had something to work out. Don't know yet if this will have another version in fabric or if paper is sufficient.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Knew We Could!

Woohoo! Looks like we, the people, get our country back! What an exciting opportunity after the last eight years of destruction of our civil liberties, our economy, and our place in the world. This is truely an historic event and a time to be optomistic about the future.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunflower Postcard

While going through some photos stored on my computer, I found this photo of the first fabric postcard I made for the first fundraising event that Virginia Spiegel held for FFAC. I remember both she and I were amazed that it sold within fifteen minutes of being posted on the sale website because it was at 2:00 a.m.! I also remember checking the website frequently during that sale since new things were coming in all the time and you had to act fast if you found something you wanted to buy.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween - No Art, All Chat

I was lucky enough to spend Halloween at Disneyland with my daughter and grandkidlets. My sister was there, too, but she didn't choose to pose with Pooh. I love Disneyland and love these people, so I was very happy yesterday. The boys were in costume earlier in the day:

Grandgirl couldn't decide if she wanted to dress up and what she wanted to wear if she did, so settled for a Nightmare Before Christmas tee-shirt.

Speaking of Nightmare, I loved the way the Haunted Mansion was decorated for the holiday:

Took the train home from Anaheim and was so glad I spent the extra money for a reserved business class seat. The rest of the cars were full (some folks were even standing), primarily with kids headed for UCSB/Isla Vista and the insanity of that Halloween celebration. It sounded like the party was in full swing before we even got out of Los Angeles - hope all those kids are safe and sound today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Fun Way to Support FFAC

Linda Matthews of Creative Textiles and Quilting Arts is making her ebook "Machine Wrapped Cording" available as a $5 download in support of the American Cancer Society. Linda is fellow participant in Fiberart for a Cause, donating funds raised in the sale of the book directly to ACS. Initially I couldn't think of what I would do with machine wrapped cording, but I purchased my copy (it was fast and easy to download), I've read through it and look forward to an opportunity to play with some of the techniques. Maybe the book will spark some creative ideas for you, too. If not, you've supported a good cause.

As Linda describes the book, "This multimedia ebook includes step-by-step instructions for making wrapped cording on your sewing machine, including video, sample photos, options and applications, tips and tricks, and resources. The ebook requires the current version of Adobe Reader which is free, and contains its own flash player so you can view the video on your desktop without the hassle of downloading any further software. It also contains a printable copy of the lessons which you can use to compile a workbook for your samples."

I'd love to see the results of your experiments if you buy the book and give the technique a try.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Learning Curve?

This quarter I began taking a watercolor class at Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education. So far, not so good. The scheduled teacher was unable to teach and for the last three weeks we've had a substitute for the substitute. I haven't learned much about using watercolors except how to mix a cool or warm black.
Last Tuesday, the teacher brought hand-outs about using pen and ink along with watercolor wash. It is amusing that I'm now doing the same kind of things in this class that I do with fabric. I drew a little turtle, painted over it, then laid some plastic wrap over the wet paint to create this mottled, textured background. Maybe next week I'll learn to discharge and overdye watercolor paper! Or paint some fabric and lay plastic wrap over it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - Poverty

Today is blog action day, a day where participating bloggers write on the same subject in the hope of opening conversations and perhaps sparking new ideas on a given subject. The subject today is poverty. We all know of many places where we can give our time and money to assist those among us who are hungry, homeless, and suffering other ill effects of poverty, so I am not writing today with a list of organizations you can support. Instead, I would like to share some information about fundamental changes in attitude toward global abundance and wealth and in support of optimism despite the dire news we are currently bombarded with each day. I am recommending a book entitled Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet by Jeffrey D. Sachs.

Publishers Weekly sums it up much better than I can: "In this sobering but optimistic manifesto, development economist Sachs (The End of Poverty) argues that the crises facing humanity are daunting—but solutions to them are readily at hand. Sachs focuses on four challenges for the coming decades: heading off global warming and environmental destruction; stabilizing the world's population; ending extreme poverty; and breaking the political logjams that hinder global cooperation on these issues. The author analyses economic data, demographic trends and climate science to create a lucid, accessible and suitably grim exposition of looming problems, but his forte is elaborating concrete, pragmatic, low-cost remedies complete with benchmarks and budgets. Sachs's entire agenda would cost less than 3% of the world's annual income, and he notes that a mere two days' worth of Pentagon spending would fund a comprehensive antimalaria program for Africa, saving countless lives. Forthright government action is the key to avoiding catastrophe, the author contends, not the unilateral, militarized approach to international problems that he claims is pursued by the Bush administration. Combining trenchant analysis with a resounding call to arms, Sachs's book is an important contribution to the debate over the world's future. (Mar.)"

Today I am asking that you set aside the news headlines and think for awhile on poverty as a global problem that we can, indeed, remedy with determination and a compassionate, thoughtful approach that includes everyone on the planet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Making Changes

The art group I belong to, Fibervision, has a challenge this year. We brought tops or quilts that we were not satisfied with, traded them around and then took other people's rejects home to transform them into fabulous works of art. The piece I got was a completed top, layered with batting and a backing and partially quilted. Since I got ahold of it, it has been bleached, painted, had photos glued to it, been cut up, had fabric added to it and sewn back together. It was hard to slice into Mary Norton's nearly completed piece, but I screwed up my courage and did it.
Since we are not to reveal the results until December, I am only posting a detail here. I'm pretty satisfied so far, but there is still time to get carried away or get fabulous.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Promoting My Favorite Artists

The art quilt group I belong to, Fibervision, has a show coming up in October. I've got the top of one new piece finished, I'm certain I will have it done in time. Was hoping for more than one new piece, but time is getting short.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Promoting My Favorite Writer


855 Linden Ave.

Carpinteria, CA

Saturday, September 13th at 4:00 p.m.

Jim Alexander writes a humor column, "notes from downtown," for the Montecito Journal. His short story "Baby Grand" was recently published in Carpinteria Magazine. A short story from his collection of connected stories, Paint Chip Tales, was performed in 2008 at Speaking of Stories.

Marcy Luikart’s short stories have appeared in Bellowing Ark, The Iconoclast, Pagonlin Papers, QWF and Beginnings. In 2003 she won first place for fiction at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. She has just completed her first novel, Riverbraids.

Readings followed by OPEN MIC to share your poetry or 5 minute prose.
For info call 684-4716

Monday, September 1, 2008

More Fabric from Dye Day

Love these fabrics! I'll put up a few each day and hope my readers love them. It is very hard to not order dyes and supplies and make new fabric everyday.
There are several things wrong with having my own dyeing supplies: First, I live in a teeny house which is already filled to the brim with my art/quilt supplies and, second, I would never make another piece of art. I would simply make fabric, fabric, and more fabric until there would only be little trails through my house amidst the towering walls of fabric. I might never find Jim again, he'd be trapped back in the computer room, so absorbed in his writing that he wouldn't even notice that the door was completely blocked. Thank goodness for friends who share and save us from this fate.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dye Day Saturday

I don't own the supplies for hand-dyeing fabric. I'm usually content to paint fabric for the colors and textures that I want, but about two times a year I manage to wrangle an invitation to the workshop of one of my friends who do dye their own fabrics. Yesterday a group of us made a day of it at the home of Susan Italo, all 'round talented artist.

Left to right: Susan Italo, Judy Rys, Linda Cassirer, and Mary Norton. All happily playing with dyes and fabrics.Now, here's a picture of "the hard part". After we had applied dye, we had to let it batch for four hours. It just sits there. We aren't supposed to poke it or pick it up to see what's happening. We just wait. We originally had a plan to work on some self-portraits while waiting for the dye to strike, but somehow that turned into eating too much wonderful food, drinking wine, and drowsing until we roused ourselves in order to have some espresso and chocolate trifle.

I'll post a couple of pieces of the fabric I created. Somehow several of us ended up with more white areas than we wanted, but in my case, have paints, will transform white into something else.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Having a Day?

If it's a good one, watching this video will affirm it and if it's a bad one, watching this video will help.

Click through:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Two Weeks???

The fabric with the Presist on it was driving me to distraction! How in the world could I wait two weeks for the paint to cure? Well, I couldn't. The instructions for the Presist say that it can withstand heat and steam so I decided to heat set the Setacolor this afternoon. It was pretty obvious to me that the still-tacky Presist might withstand being ironed, but my iron certainly couldn't withstand the Presist. I laid a paper towel over the fabric and here's what happened:

Little bits of paper towel everywhere, but my iron stayed clean. Next I popped the fabric into some lukewarm water and the Presist pretty much dissolved right away. There were a couple of places I had to rub a bit, but not much. I also noticed there was the slightest bit of blue tinge to the water, so perhaps it would have been wise to wait the full two weeks. Nahhh.

So, here's the fabric to this point, I'll be working with it more. Oh, I tried some discharge paste in one corner and it had no effect, so I'll be adding-on, not taking-away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And a Couple More Pieces of Fabric

This is the last piece of fabric that I worked on Saturday. I applied Presist with a syringe to a plain piece of PFD cotton. This weekend I will paint it red, then wait a couple weeks, remove the Presist and paint it again with yellow. I'm trying to get a piece of deep red orange fabric with yellow markings. I have been thinking about a piece inspired by Buddhist thangkas - not as much detail as many of them have, but my own version.
Now, this piece of fabric was created by Mary Norton. She doesn't like it, she was going to throw it away. I like it, I took it instead. It inspires several surface design ideas for me, most of them better applied once the piece is quilted. I'll try to get at least the quilting done this week.

Monday, August 18, 2008

More Fiddling Around with Fabric

Found some great black cotton sateen at Baron's Fabrics in Camarillo, California. And doesn't great black fabric just beg to have some discharge paste applied? The top photo was stamped with a little plastic lid (in a couple of places I stamped too enthusiastically and you can actually read the word "Dixie"), then I loaded a syringe with the discharge paste and scribbled and made dots. The second piece is a little journal of the day of surface design, again using the syringe loaded with the discharge paste. I found that as I wrote, little bits of fabric fuzz stuck to the tip of the applicator and made the writing blotchier as I went along. In this case, it didn't really matter because I will cut this fabric up when I use it, but it was a useful lesson.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This Is More Like It

Today, my friends, Linda Cassirer and Mary Norton, and I spent a day playing with various techniques and surface design products. We were each working on entirely different projects, but it was great fun to be experimenting in close proximity and be able to benefit from each other's opinions and suggestions as we pursued our own interests.

The first picture is a piece of fabric painted with Pebeo Setacolor to lay down a foundation for using a resist to create texture and depth in fabric painting:

And the next step, once the paint was dry, was to apply some Presist:

And once the Presist was dry, painting again with another color:The Presist is to be removed to let the original colors show through, but since it is removed with water, the paint will cure for two weeks before taking it off. I'll post that step when it happens.

It sure felt good to be flinging color around today!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Well, this is what happens when you lose your creative mojo. You make nothing for several months and then end up making perhaps the most colorless shirt on the planet! It's almost like an example of "use it or lose it" of the color-joy muscle. After Jim wears it in a wedding next week, I am going to go wild with the surface design. The worst that could result is that he'll never wear it again. In the meantime, I'd better make a committment to do some kind of art every day in order to keep all the color from running out of my life!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

More Painted Fabric

Yesterday at Fibervision we had a fabric painting workshop - these are the two pieces I created. I need to commit some time to making art from some of these wonderful fabrics. In real life the colors are not so close as they look in these photos. I really enjoy this technique, I can start with a vague idea of the colors I want and end up with something either close or nowhere near, but still interesting.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Back to the World

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend three days taking a workshop with artist Liz Berg at Sandy Turner's Out of Hands and Hearts retreat at Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria, California. The workshop focused on principles of design in order to create successful abstract art. I didn't think to take photos during the workshop, nor are the small pieces I created in the class worth posting, but the class was a great opportunity to hear how the creative process works for one of my favorite artists and provided me with inspiration and plenty to think about as I go about creating my own work in the future.

Of course, I returned to the office today, landing with a solid thud in the midst of daily life. I know my life is pretty darned good, but I certainly miss days filled with art, having my meals provided on a regular schedule, a room straightened and vacuumed daily by someone else, and happy hour with Cadillac Margaritas at half price while chatting and laughing with like-minded women. Now that I've spent some time with Jim, slept in my own bed a few nights and done some laundry, I'm ready to go back. Sigh.

The two top photos above were taken on the grounds at Cambria Pines Lodge. I love the sense of humor that came up with the "flower bed." The crow was at this fountain almost every time I walked by and seemed very comfortable with having people around. The third photo is some flotsam washed up on Moonstone Beach that caught my attention as a very appealing natural composition.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

California Spring

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I spent a day in the Santa Ynez Valley and were dazzled by the luscious green hills and the profusion of wild flowers everywhere. Poppies were even coming up through the cracks in the pavement. Gorgeous day and great fun with good friends. Sorry I don't have any photos to share.

I am participating in the postcard exchange for the Cyber Fyber Exhibition being sponsored by Susan Lenz and was inspired to create my own version of the green hills, the lupine, and the poppies for her. The card is made from commercial fabric stamped with gold metallic ink, stenciled with foil glue then foiled with silver, foil glue randomly applied and foiled with green, and embroidery.

All traded postcards will be displayed at CYBER FYBER, January 8 - 20, 2009 at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios in Columbia, SC. Check out Susan's blog for all the exchanges, I'm #139.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buddha Abides

I am pleased to report that my piece Opening to a Compassionate Heart - Lessons from the Bodhisattva Quan Yin was accepted in the 8th annual Buddha Abides contemporary art exhibition. This is a highly-regarded show in Santa Barbara and I am honored to be included for the third time. The show includes a dana with 20% of profits donated to Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Solutions and Tibetan Children's Village. The show is at The Frameworks Caruso-Woods Contemporary Arts Gallery at 813 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara. It runs from April 1 - 30, 2008 with the opening reception held Saturday, April 5, from 5-8pm. Hours at the gallery are Tuesday through Friday from 10-5 and Saturday from 11-3.

I saw a lot of great art at the ingathering today. This is one great show and I hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Coming back to bite me ......

Ya know the old saying about your words coming back to bite you? Well, I think I'm bit! Here is a photo of the piece I am working on to enter in the Buddha Abides show. I am pleased with it so far...... but ......
Sometime back, fellow fiber artist Judy Rys and I were discussing the quilting aspect of our work and I told her I felt pretty lucky because the quilting pattern usually came to me along with the vision of the work content. So, dear reader, you can probably guess that I haven't a clue what to do with this. I stare at it for awhile, close my eyes and try to visualize it quilted, picked the threads in the hope that would kick start me, but nooooo, still no inspiration. I decided to just forget about it for about a day and see if anything wafted into my head, but again, no. I came in this afternoon after attending the Santa Barbara Symphony and, I swear, it smirked at me. I don't think it is appropriate for a Buddhism-themed piece to be so argumentative. There's probably a lesson here, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Last month Fibervision invited Brecia Kralovic-Logan to speak to us about creativity and give a brief trunk show of her beautiful work. Brecia was a very inspirational speaker and left us with lots to think about and ideas to jump-start our creativity when we get stuck or discouraged. And envy of the beautiful garments she brought along.
We did several exercises and for the one shown above, we traced around our hand and decorated it as our heART's desired. While I was working on it, I got very inspired about a piece I would like to create for the Buddha Abides exhibit which will be juried later this month. Here is a picture of the hand I am starting with for this project:

Friday, February 15, 2008

Beading with Deana Hartman

Today I took a beading class taught by Deana Hartman and sponsored by Coastal Quilters Guild of Santa Barbara and Goleta. It was well attended and so much fun. I have a gazillion beads, picked up at various quilt shows and at bead shops I have visited under the influence of friends but, until now, I have scattered beads here and there on the occasional quilt, without understanding the true value of the little glass treasures. I'm a changed woman, now! Deana is a talented and organized teacher and taught many stitches, simple and advanced, but I was so fascinated with the effects of the bead collage that it was all I did. Here is a detail of the area I spend the majority of my time today:

Wolf Moon is a small quilt that I made several years ago when I was making a series of quilts based on names of the full moons from various folk or Native American traditions. I liked it before, but it is really turning into something special now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Great Day

Yesterday was such a great day! When I list things in my life to be grateful for, every factor of my day yesterday will be included. My two wonderful friends took me to Empress Pavillion in Los Angeles for dim sum brunch, followed by a trip to FIDM to see the exhibition of costumes from about a dozen movies made in 2007.

I'd never been to a restaurant that specializes in dim sum like the Empress Pavillion and was it an adventure. Bear with me if you already know the drill - huge room, at least one hundred tables, servers and bus boys dashing everywhere, and, best of all, the dim sum women and their carts trundling around, dispensing the goodies. It took us a bit to get the hang of it, but we soon discovered that if we wanted the attention of the cart-bearer, we had best raise our hands and wave for all we were worth, because she who hesitates is lost in obtaining the best dim sum. We learned our favorites of the day and, personally, I feel ready to return soon to get the best again, and try some new dish.

Then we inched our way throught the traffic for the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rat parade for a very long time to get a few blocks over to FIDM for the costumes. We stopped for coffee and since it was warm and gorgeous in Los Angeles, we sat out in the little park at FIDM while I opened my birthday gifts. My friends are women of amazing generosity and taste, so I received wonderful things from Linda including earrings and special soap from Kauai and this:

Doesn't everybody need a peeler with a monkey handle?


Handmade by Mary.

Am I not one of the luckiest people in the world?

The costumes at FIDM were fascinating, though we agreed, not quite as intriguing as in years past. One again, the favorites included the things that had the most texture, a couple of pieces from The Golden Compass, the wicked queen costume from Enchanted, and an amazing and understated black dress from La Vie En Rose. There was a dress from 3:10 To Yuma that could be overlooked due to the dull and faded colors, but it was a masterpiece of detail.

All in all, a beautiful winter day in Southern California, good food, and good friends. I have so much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yes We Can

In this new year, I do believe we can.....

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Symbolism in Chinese Textiles at SBMA

This afternoon, my friend, fiber artist Mary Norton, and I went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to see Everyday Luxury: Chinese Silks of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). We also attended a lecture entitled Hidden Meanings in Chinese Costumes and Textiles by Terese Tse Bartholomew, recently retired Curator of Chinese Decorative Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

The textiles are rich and intriguing on their own (I was especially fascinated with the silk gauze robes), but to then learn of the symbolism encompassed in the decorations was to add another dimension to the appreciation of these complex and beautiful garments. Of course, the symbolism was so many-layered and extensive that keeping track of it all was impossible, but much of it related to prosperity, longevity, and especially the hopes and wishes for a happy marriage in order to produce many male children, wishes for the male child to go far in life and reflect well on the the parents, and to have his own male children. There was not one symbol for women except as a marriage partner to provide male children. While the women's robes in the exhibit were beautiful, the lecture really drove home, to me, how little value was placed on women during the Qing Dynasty in China.

My favorite symbols were the wish-granting clouds, wish-granting mushrooms and wish-granting sticks. I would very much like to get my hands on some of those!

The exhibit runs through February 17, 2008. I encourage my local readers to make a point of seeing it before it closes, it is well worth a winter's afternoon.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Completed Piece!

I finally finished this piece that has been featured in various stages in previous posts. It is called November 2007 and will, hopefully, be included in a Fibervision show at the Architectural Foundation here in Santa Barbara. It feels good to have completed a quilt after such a long dry spell and I am feeling inspired and ready to get to work on some other ideas that are floating around in my head. Jurying for the Buddha Abides show will be coming up pretty soon and I want to be ready for that.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Visual Journal

Recently I began a class at Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education (commonly referred to around here as Adult Ed) called Creativity and the Imagination: Visual Journaling, with Deborah Wroblewski. We will be creating journals using more than words to capture our experiences. This is a photo of the first page of my journal. The assignment was to create our name page - something to describe ourselves as introduction to our journals. I chose to do a watercolor wash as a background, then used a Sharpie to write about who I am, what I feel, and what I aspire to. I then printed some photos of my quilt "Everyday Quan Yin" - which is about bringing compassion and mercy to daily life - glued them on to the page and then began playing with some materials I am familiar with from surface design on fabric. The silvery splotches are Shiva Artist's Paintstiks and the spirals are glue and foil. They certainly act differently on paper than they do on fabric. This is definitely going to be fun!