Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Fibre Art - Red Sails in the Sunset

Linking up to Off the wall Fridays

Sometimes what you finish up with is not at all what you had in mind when you started!  And that can be a good thing!  My fibre arts group is having another colour challenge, this time - magenta (kind of a fuschia/magenta shade on the colour chip)  It was to be 12 and 12" and at least 20 % magenta I think.  My plan was for a sunset with silhouettes of trees in the foreground.   I machine stitched the sky with many small curvy bits of fabric, then stitched the water, then I was ready to add the trees.....but I couldn't do it.  I just loved the sunset as it was.  Also I had extended it to about 14" and found that it would look a lot better as an 11 x 14 than a 12 x 12".    I added tulle and cut it to size then music took over again (this happens a lot for me - as in Fields of Gold, Heard it Through the Grapevine etc).    The old song "Red Sails in the Sunset" kept going through my mind so I added tiny sailboats to the sun's pathway on the water.

Red Sails in the Sunset
So here it is - wrong size, no trees, great title - and I think the colour reads magenta:)   I will mount it on a painted stretched canvas.   However it will not do for my colour challenge so I need to start another one.  I think I might do a sunset with dark trees silhouetted in the foreground........?

I also hand stitched a little 3 x 5" piece from a photo I took at the Purdon Conservation centre where we went to see the lady slipper orchids in June.

Original Photo

Stitched piece
I am working on another one of this size with wildflowers and trees inspired by a photo I took recently on a hike in the Greenbelt near my home but it is not ready to post yet.

These two were done with lots of hand embroidery -  I posted one of them before but here they are together.  I was inspired by photos of fall flowers in my friend's garden.  I think the one on the left could do with a little more definition on the petals but it's too late now.

My Helper
 My next big project is a piece for our library show based on the year 1914.  My cat decided to help me audition fabrics for the background.   My piece will be about Nellie McClung and the fight for Votes for Women, specifically the Women's Mock Parliament held in Winnipeg in January 1914.   The women held a mock session where they debated the question - Should Men be allowed to Vote??  It was a tongue in cheek skit which gained a lot of support for women's right to vote.   I think it will be fun to do!

This week I posted more items in my  Etsy Shop   (note my new header).    I plan to work on more jewelry too - maybe try some new colours and shapes.

When I am feeling brave I will tackle my website.  It sadly needs updating.
This is my creative 'to do' list for now.

More photos from Purdon Conservation Centre.  These are the beautiful orchids.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stitches, Paper Flowers, and More Stitches

Interesting fungus on a tree in the Ottawa Experimental Farm

Several rather unique Irises

And beautiful Peonies
I went walking in the Ottawa Experimental farm a couple of weeks ago and the peonies and irises were in full!

A while back I stitched a few tiny embroideries with the plan of setting them into silver plated pendant trays.    Here they are  - not sure yet if I like them or not.

Each one is 1" x 1.5"

Close up of stitching

I haven't been feeling too inspired so I went through some older sketch books the other day and found this doodle of a mermaid.

I had been wanting to stitch this one on fabric for some time but forgot about it.   So I traced it on white kona cotton and started to stitch.  I have been at it for 4 evenings and here is my progress so far.  It will be 9" x 12" when finished.

I am using a larger hoop but wish I had a stand because it is awkward.  I may end up using my small hoop.

I hope my fingers hold out:)

I also started another smaller piece that I had painted onto fabric a while back (One thing that seems to work for me when I can't seem to get motivated to start from scratch, is to go back to old photos, sketches or UFOs and see if they move me to action).  This one will be 5" x 5"

Last Monday we had some fun at a paper making workshop with Out of the Box fibre artists.  Suzanne, from our group, taught us how to make paper flowers, envelopes and beads using magazines and fancy papers.  It was great to play and socialize.

Here are some envelopes we made - the polka dotted ones are mine

My flower and some beads I made from magazine pages - very cool!!

Suzanne's lovely beaded necklace and scary spider!

Lucy's striking flower and envelopes

Here is Suzanne holding up her spider
 Suzanne was very generous with her time and knowledge and we had a great day!

I'm linking up with  Off the Wall Friday    Check it out!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

If you don't like your artwork - turn it on its side or even upside down!

I am almost finished setting up a work space.  I moved my machine in this week but still have things scattered around waiting to be sorted.  It is certainly a full space (note to me - don't buy anything more - except an ergonomic chair) but I think it will work.  Here are some photos of the boxes of fabric lined up on my lightweight shelves, all nicely labelled, and another of the whole room.  I created file boxes for shows/exhibitions/past/present/future - promotion - tax info - organizations - suppliers - and a box labelled 'interesting venues to follow up with!

Today I am having a new furnace and water heater installed and finally I have succumbed and am getting central AC.   It means that this warm little room will still be accessible in the heat of the summer.

So I am still not doing a lot of stitching but I managed to finish this little piece of hand embroidery on a hand painted background.  I wasn't sure about the orientation.  Originally the heavy flower was in  the top left corner but I think I like it the other way round (second photo).

  I am also working on stitching my felted piece which started out as a sunset sky but when I turned it sideways I saw shadowy shapes of women.  So here is my new piece.  Still a work in progress and trying to have some fun with it.

I'm linking this post to the Needle and Thread Network   See what some Canadian Fibre Artists are doing this week.
I'm also linked up to Off the Wall Fridays   More beautiful work to see!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wet Felting and Going to the Birds

Last week my fibre arts group - Out of the Box - had a playdate.   One of our members, Wendo Van Essen, taught us how to wet felt.   I always thought that wet felting was pretty messy but it really was not.   It was really fun to create first a 2 dimensional piece then a small vessel.   Afterwards, I brought them home and started stitching.  Here is my first piece - all stitched up.  I plan to add some beads for embellishment.   It started out to be a sky but I think you could call it an abstract....

I added a piece of organza to the back partway through the stitching

close up of stitching
There is a variety of threads, yarns and ribbons - some of Lorraine Stobie's lovely threads as well as heavier silk yarns from Canada Beading Supply.  And of course, some floss.   The bits of ribbon and organza were needle felted on to the piece. I haven't photographed the felted vessel yet because I plan to add beads to it first.  I am also working away at my hand stitched piece and the occasional order for jewelry.

That is about it for my creativity of late.   It is because I am spending my time cleaning out a room and setting it up for a studio.  I purchased inexpensive resin shelving and soft bins for fabric, an adjustable leg table that I can use for standing work (at Canadian Tire), lots of transparent boxes etc.  I had planned to use Ikea cubby shelving and table tops but I really wanted something I could carry and move around by myself and shelving can be so heavy.   I brought everything in myself and set it up with no problem.   I already have a heavier table in that room which I will use for my sewing machine and I plan to make a wall rack for my large spools of thread using pegboard.     I have a small computer table/stand which is not entirely perfect ergonomically but I plan to either purchase a laptop stand to give it more height or hook up a separate keyboard to my laptop (once I figure out how to do that).

I have gone through zillions of file boxes and discarded stuff that I really don't need.  Each new file box has a label indicating contents.    I am so tired of looking for things.  I just hope I am disciplined enough to put things where they belong (don't laugh:)  It is a small room and not perfect for my needs but at least it is a private space.  It's not pretty but it's mine!

I got a bit of a lift yesterday!   I made my first sale on Etsy!!  I was beginning to wonder if it was all worthwhile.   They do make it very simple to complete the transaction and today I shipped off the item (jewelry) to its new owner.

I also found out that my SAQA trunk show piece in Trunk C will be travelling in Connecticut through 2015.  It is neat how all those pieces of work will find themselves all around the world.

Maybe in my next post I will have photos of my new studio area to show you.  I love seeing posts with photos of people's work spaces even though I may feel a little envious but I realize that not everyone has a dream space to work in and it just needs to be functional.   That is my goal now.

Here are some photos I took recently at Mud Lake in Ottawa - birds, trees and turtle - oh my!

A pair of Canada Geese were out with their new goslings

Loved the way this mallard was screened by the colourful dogwood

Lots of orioles around too

A bit of display - for us or for the approaching mallard?

Black Crowned Night Heron

Peering into the water

I'm linking up to Off the Wall Friday   Check it out to see some interesting posts from other fibre artists.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy News!

I posted previously about how three of my pieces were accepted into the FFAA show in Edmonton.   The theme was 'Prairies' and the show opened on May 4.  I wasn't able to be there but last week I received an email informing me that I had won a second prize in the show!  The piece that won the prize is called 'Prairie Dawn' and was created last fall as part of a challenge to use the first line of a book as inspiration.  I chose the first line from “Who Has Seen the Wind” by W.O. Mitchell which reads:  “Here was the least common denominator of nature, the skeleton requirement simply, of land and sky – Saskatchewan Prairie.”   It really spoke to me of how I imagine the prairies from hearing prairie folk describe them - the vastness, the endless sky, the grasses and fields.    I am extra proud of this piece because the sky is my own painted fabric and the fields are machine stitched with some free motion stitching.   After 18 years of hand stitching and only 2 years of machine work I am thrilled by this!

We had wonderful weather for Mothers Day - warm and sunny - and I had a lovely day with my son, his partner, and her daughter.    I visited with them, my son took us out to lunch, then a long walk along the canal......all that and flowers too!  Very nice!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Postcards, Jewelry, Retreats, and Shows...

Here is another lengthy post coming up - a month's worth of activity (or non-activity in some cases) 

We had a very successful Fibre Fling 3 at the beginning of April.  I sold two of my exhibition pieces and most of the items that I brought for the sales section of the show.   And I had lots of interesting feedback about my work which was very encouraging. 

Then I was off to a quilt retreat at a place called Inspired Getaways in Waba Ontario near Arnprior.  It was a quilter's heaven with everything you would need to have a great quilting weekend.   I wish my house was set up like this with cutting board tables, lots of great ironing boards and irons, a cupboard stocked with things you might forget to bring, several measuring tools, tables with ergonomic chairs, and comfortable beds.    Unfortunately for me, I started getting sick again while I was there.   This long winter played havoc with my immune system.   Three weeks later and I am just starting to feel better.   Nevertheless, we had a good four days there.

For the first evening meal, we all brought appetizers - Yum!!

Look at this great cutting table (with a wine fridge underneath:)

Each of us had our own table space
 Some of the quilters asked me to teach them how to make postcards so I gave a little tutorial.  I was pleased that there was so much interest and it was good for me to think about my process.

This is Miyo's with the gorgeous background mountains

Here is Iris with her Postcard

Close up - I really like the movement in the foreground

Alison created waves by adding white bits to the water then machine stitched the grasses on the edge of the beach
We had others but I only got photos of these three.   Aren't they fabulous?

Here is a photo of Maggie's beautiful raven banner in progress.

I haven't done much while I was sick but I have started a couple of embroideries this week because I got some new hand dyed embroidery threads from Colour Complements.   This is enough to get the creative juices flowing.

There are perle cotton, rayon and silk.   How I love variegated threads and these are gorgeous!!   Check out Lorraine Stobie's site Here

 Lorraine was also kind enough to feature some of my work with her threads on her blog on
April 7

So I painted some flowers on fabric using derwent colour sticks after drawing the flower with a fine permanent black pen.   The flowers are from photos I took in my friend's garden in the early fall. 

Then I started to hand embroider the bloom.  This was the result of one evening's stitching.

See how those variegated threads just bring out the paint colours!  I will add thinner floss to each petal to add veins.

I am planning to add some new pieces to my Etsy Shop.  I should have done this in April since it is almost too late for Mother's day but I didn't think it was wise to handle my art when I was sick and I needed to take some photos.   My friends have purchased lots of my jewelry both at the Fibre Fling, at my choir and at the retreat.   Most of the pendants were landscapes which I made from fused fabric and covered in glass but I had made a few rather abstract landscapes that were machine stitched and set in the trays without glass.   While some customers were a bit nervous about having the fabric exposed to the elements,  my fibre art friends liked to see and feel the textures created by the stitching and encouraged me to make more. 

I start by layering fabric on a stabilizer about 6" long and 1.5 inches high.   I vary it as I go along. Then I stitch across the fabrics with narrow zigzag and tiny straight stitching.  It looks pretty neat when it is done - like I should make tiny wall hangings.   Nevertheless I cut them into 1 x 1.5 inch or 1 x 1 inch pieces, back them with felt and glue them into the trays.   These are fun to stitch but a little more difficult to set into the trays.   At least I don't have to worry about gluing the glass which sometimes fails leaving tiny air pockets to glitter on the piece. I plan to add some of these to my Etsy shop.

I am still taking orders for the glass covered landscape pendants and would like to find a shop that would carry them.   My choir members have done a great job in promoting them and I am so happy to have found something that can be sold at a modest price.  I'll add some of these to my Etsy shop as well.  Although I must say that so far I have not made any sales on Etsy.  I'm not sure how to get more traffic to my shop but perhaps it is because I don't have very much up there yet.  On the other hand I have certainly bought a lot of things there.....

I had an order for green ones so I made these up this week

I also made a few more postcards which I will add to my shop as well.

A reminder that the Focus on Fibre Art Association will be having the opening of their show "Prairies" on Sunday May 4 at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension Gallery, Enterprise Square in Edmonton.   The show will move to various locations throughout the summer and fall.  More details can be found at   Prairies

I have three pieces in the show and so wish I could be there to see how other fibre artists interpret the prairies.

The length of this post has got to be a new record even for me......I'm linking this marathon post to

Off the Wall Friday     Check it out!