Sunday, August 30, 2015


The quarterly challenge that was due at the end of June for my 12x12 group was 'Leaves'.  I was initially excited about it because I wanted to try a technique one of you members, Karrie, showed me.  You take an Oliver Twist "One Off" and make a tree out of it .  Here is a picture of a "One Off".  You lay it out in tree form and stitch.  (Side note- I also love, love, love the Oliver Twist thread shown in the photo.  It quilts wonderfully.)  Another note- I did not have a "One Off" in the color I needed, so I created my own from fibers in my stash. Last note, when I look back at Karrie's tree, I begin to see where I began to go off track; hers is free-flowing and artsy.

I got to this point and my work just did not speak to me (in fact it was yelling some bad stuff at me). At this point, I was already late on the challenge, so I decided to experiment.

Next I used Tombow markers and drew around the trunk and branches and spray it with water.
I made leaves out of used teabags and used a combo of Tombow markers and Dye-Na-Flow to color them.  Still not loving it yet....
Finally, I painted polka-dots on the leaves.  
This is now a piece I can live with- still not one of my favorites!

What do you do when your art is not going in the direction you would like?

Remnants: Quilt Stand
Mt husband and I were recently visiting the Northern Michigan and its fabulous wineries.  We stopped at a quilt shop (of course!) and hubby found this quilt stand for me to rotate my 12x12 quilts. Here is the website for it, it is called a table stand.

Enjoy! Kathy

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Last week I talked about an experimentation journal that I began.  One of my first experiment was from an article called "Teabag Trail" and the photo in the article looked like teabags sewn together. Well, I didn't read the article, just set it aside and began collecting teabags;  all winter long, when I drank a cup of tea I harvested the bag. The day I sat down to read the article, I realized it was about tea dyeing and not using the actual teabag. I was already invested in the teabags so I decided to play with the teabags and have not stopped; in fact, I ran out of teabags and went through my tea stash to create used teabags. Here is my monster load drying outside. 
I love giving a homemade card and I created many using the teabags.
Briefly, here are the steps I used to create my greeting cards:
  1. I have found that once you use the teabag, do not let it fully dry, take it apart when it is still slightly damp. 
  2. Iron the teabag before you begin marking on it.
  3. Draw on the teabag with a soft-leaded pencil.
    4.   Use a non-permanent fabric marker to draw around the edge of the design. I love Tombow markers.
    5. Using a wet paintbrush, paint along the inner edge of the fabric marker to let it bleed.
6.  Adhere the teabag to unbleached muslin using misty fuse. 
7.  Free motion sew around the edges
8.  Spray teabag shapes with a sealing spray
9.  Cut shapes out and adhere to your card

Below is my Teabag Card Gallery:
Do you make cards for family and friends' special occasions?

Remnants: 117,000,000 Girls Gone
I was reading one of my favorite magazines, Down Under Textiles, Issue 19, 2015, and it talked about Janice Appleton who was shocked when she read that the United Nations estimates there are 117,000,000 girls missing throughout the world with most of them from China and India.  Janice jumped into action and is collecting one million teabag tags to help visualize the enormity of the situation. She is going to create an art installation from these teabag tags to be displayed in 2016.

Here is Janice's Facebook page: 117,000,000 Girls Gone.

Have you ever been so disturbed by something that you jumped into action?

Next Week:  What to make when you are given these lovely vintage crocheted stars?  I will show you my take...
Enjoy your week!  Kathy

Sunday, August 9, 2015

EXPERIMENTATION: Keeping a Experimentation Journal

At work, both employees and students are encouraged to take Gallup's StrengthQuest  If you are unfamiliar with  StrengthQuest,  it is an on-line assessment , when completed you'll receive a customized report that lists your top five talent themes with suggestions how you can use your talents to achieve success. 

My top five strengths are Individualization, Activator, Positivity, Arranger, and Learner. People who have the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve.  In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

I am definitely that Learner; I am always looking to explore and experiment with new techniques and I have PILES of things I want to delve deeper into. Below is a stack of magazine articles that I have saved of techniques that I want to learn more about. The problem is that I am not always willing to experiment on a larger piece of art; my schedule doesn't allow a lot of time for do-overs when experiment fails. 

This summer I have found a way to go after my inspiration; I have made time to experiment and created an Experiment Journal.
When I am saving articles, I have a folder for my Experiment Journal. 
The most important change that I have made is that each Friday afternoon is my experiment and play day.  I play with small-scale pieces while making notes of trials and successes.  
If I want to keep the actual article from the publication, I tape the lower half of two pages together to create a pocket (the green tape above).
Now, I have a visual catalog of techniques that I can incorporate into my work. 

Do you like to experiment?  Where do you get your inspirations?

Going hand-in-hand with learning is my passion for creative magazines. Over the next few months, I will share some of my favorite magazines. One of my favorite magazines is In-fusion, an e-mag from Dale Rollerson who owns The Thread Studio in Perth, Australia. I have learned a great deal from Dale and her magazine is the same. It is a quarterly magazine; each quarter there is a theme that ties the articles together, this quarter's theme is "Liquorice Allsorts Edition(and it is yummy). 

You can subscribe to her magazine from her website, She has a taster on her website that you can check out: I encourage you to give it a try, it is well worth the money. Below are a few of my experiments inspired either by an article in In-fusion or an on-line class:

What is your favorite magazine?

NEXT TIME: If you are wondering about the two techniques showcased above, stop by next week when I show you my teabag creations using Tombow markers

Have a great week! Kathy

Sunday, August 2, 2015

CHALLENGE: Collaboration Quilt (Part 2)

I talked last week about the collaboration quilt our art quilt group created of Bronson Park in Kalamazoo, MI.  I mainly focused on the quilt as a whole last week; this week I want to focus on behind the scene of my piece and things to consider when creating collaborative art.

I believe the 10 artists that created our collaboration are courageous, extraordinarily courageous.  I do not think I am alone when I say, I jumped in with both feet and soon was flooded with the complexity of the photo coupled with how to execute it while keeping my own voice.

Here is the photo that  I was working with:
I was fortunate that my sister could enlarge and print it to the size of the finished piece (15" wide by 30" high). I used my light-box to trace the major shapes onto tracing paper. I also taped the enlarged photo to a window, overlayed it with muslin and traced the major lines (sidewalk, pond, building outline).

A very large part of this photo is the sidewalk; I did not want it to look like the typical grey concrete.  It took two or three trials until I finally ended up with this look:
I used a course fabric, did three different layers of paint/speckles, and finally a pebble quilt stitch. In the end, I am pleased with the look.

An important part of my slice was "the guy"; other members shied away from him while I fell in love with him:
His hair is made up of many, many little French knots.  It was made as a separate wig and added to the man at the end.  Here are close-ups of the shoes, briefcase, and bag of cans:
His jeans are made from denim and his shoes and briefcase are made of leather. I think my favorite is the bag of cans; it is a 3-D object on the quilt.  Each can started with a small segment of a wooden dowel then I painted rectangles of fabric with different flavored cans of soda.  I glued and wrapped the fabric around the dowel and trimmed the top/bottom of each can with silver trim.

Further in the background is the man with his lawn chair heading to a concert in park.  I used wire for the frame and my quilt neighbor was fine that his chair lapped over to her slice.
I enjoy making landscape quilts, but by far I love, love the process of creating the details,

Lessons Learned Creating Collaborative Art:
  1. Selecting Your Photo:  We were fortunate that Carolyn, our fearless leader, auditioned our photo with some of the group. When looking at the photo, it is important to have one item that is going through all of the slices. For our quilt, it was the sidewalk that unified us. Also, think about each individual slice and make sure there is something interesting for each artist. 
  2. Selecting the Artists. Will it be open to anyone in your larger group or do you want to make it an invitational?  When considering artists to invite, think about their work. Do they complete things that they start? Or are they always adding to their UFO stack? Do you like what they make?  They do not have to match your style (actually a variety of styles is more fun), but you may want to consider their workmanship. How is their communication?  Are they good at answering emails?  And of course, can you get along with them (especially during stressful times). 
  3. Creating  a Smooth Collaboration. You may want to come up with an informal agreement how to handle things affiliated with the collaboration process. Things to think about: You may want to consider milestones for the completion of the quilt. Maybe planning during the first month, patterns made/fabric selected the second month and so on. Now the tough part, what are you going to do if someone is not meeting deadlines and/or stops communicating with the group?  When the quilt is completed, what will you do with it? Will it be for sale? Is everyone good with it being donated or put on permanent loan? What kind of liberties can members take?  Do you have to have everything that is in the picture on your quilt?  Can you add things (i.e., flag poles, street signs, people)?  And if you add things, do you have to let the group know?  What are the important match-up points for two slices next to each other? This informal agreement does not have to be a contract; I would recommend just getting together as group to come to a consensus how things will be handled.  Have one person put it into an email and everyone just needs to reply with an "Agreed".
  4. Making Your Quilt. We all make quilts and know the size of it, but in this case you must have an exact size for your quilt slice. Sounds easy, right?  It is tougher than it sounds. I would suggest as you make your slice, you extend your work at least 1/2 inch all around edges. When you quilt the quilt, it will shrink a bit; it is preferred to cut some finished work off than be short. When you are finishing your quilt slice, if you bind the quilt, you will probably extend the measurement each direction by 1/8 to 1/2 inch. Conversely, if you decide to turn your quilt, you could lose the same amount of inches on each side. 
Whew!  That is a lot to think about!  Better to think before than after!

Have I scared you away? Or do you think that you would be interested in taking part in a collaboration quilt?  Let me know if you enjoyed my description.  If you have a question about the process or would like to add your thoughts about a slice quilt, please add comments to this blog post.

I struggle with taking pictures for my blog; I am always lugging backdrops and lights throughout the house to get the get a good picture and none are ever great.  I came up with a crazy idea, my hubby thought it was good and agreed to help with it.  I purchased an old fashioned roller shade and mounted it above the storage closet in my studio room.  Here is my storage closet:
And here is the shade above the closet:
I roll a small table over in front of the closet to hold my art work:
Pull the shade down and place washers on it to keep it in place:
I am very pleased with the outcome!  I am no longing lugging backdrops around the house and if I am working in the studio, it takes less than a minute to set-up and the same to take down.

Do you have any secrets to taking good photos of your work?  Post your suggestions as a comment to this blog.

NEXT TIME: How do you handle all those magazine articles with things you want to try (but never seem to get around to it).

Have a great week! Kathy