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Posts from the ‘Artwork’ Category

Photo Session

One of my least favorite things to do is to photograph my work. I’ve discovered smaller pieces are much more manageable but then I have some pieces that are just larger because they want to be the size they become.

Sunday Dresses started out as a few pineapple blocks in a Quilt Festival workshop with Gyleen Fitzgerald. She is a real dynamo and the class was fun, her tool very helpful, and it didn’t hurt that I was there with a rowdy group of Holus Bolus. I came home with four or five pineapple blocks with three rounds each. I continued on with some black and white prints–all from my mother’s scrapbasket of leftovers from her Sunday Dresses. There were some everyday blouses and aprons and a few shirts for my brothers and so I sliced them all up with my handy dandy Accuquilt Studio cutter.

I set those blocks together and then decided to finish it off with several rounds of just straight strips set together end to end in a random pattern–just like my grandmother did with a special quilt she made just for me. That quilt was batted with a wool blanket–she lived through the Depression and World War II and was thrifty by necessity.

This quilt was quilted on my Gammill using a star motif in the centers of those pineapple blocks.

Every time I look at it I see my mother’s wardrobe made of plywood sitting in the corner of her bedroom, filled with those white-black print dresses, the bottom with a box of fabric scraps all carefully rolled up and pinned together either with a straight pin or tied with a piece of selvedge. That wardrobe was still there when we began remodeling the farmhouse–the dresses long gone but still so visible in my mind’s eye.


This is a small part of the completed piece. I tried to use her quilting stencils but quickly learned that hand quilting stencils do not work well with longarm machine quilting or probably any sort of machine quilting.

Portfolio Time

When I first joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) a portfolio of the juried artist members was produced intermittently–I asked–and was told when they had enough new work. Now it is an annual event and every year I try to find something that represents my work but hasn’t been submitted before. I like to do portraiture but there has recently been a wealth of portraits not done the way I do them but in a manner that many people seem to feel attractive. So I have gone back to abstract type or variations of traditional work.

Here is this year’s submission.

It is Floribunda. I started this in a Nancy Crow workshop and had bits and pieces of it to take home after an intense week there.—they are all intense! But great fun! Because I had started doing leader-enders and there are a lot of small seams to be made in this kind of work, I brought along a stack of roughly cut triangles from my grandmother–found in a box neatly labeled ‘material scraps’. I pieced those triangles together and those became part of the piece too.

I quilted it on my new Gamill longarm–named Vivian after my grandmother and so here it is.

Weir floribunda

and a detailWeir Floribunda detail

Skye Studios Adventures

img_5126-mA whirlwind of three days with much laughter and some sewing–and more cutting and sorting on my part has passed. Holus Bolus met for our spring retreat and as usual the time passed all too quickly.

I have been home now for three days and still cannot find my pins or my scissors. I remember putting them in my baskets/bags/boxes to return home but can I find them? I did find my knitting with a few dropped stitches–no problem there–the yarn is multicolored and those dropped stitches will fit right in with all the others.

We did manage to fit a lot of things in–a trip to the Piney Wood Quilt Guild show, a shopping trip to Atkinson Candy Factory Outlet, AND to the fabric lady who is available by appointment only, a passing off of our row quilts we had all worked so diligently on–lots of squeals of delight here—and then on to serious business. We traded fabrics to do a piece representing ourselves using Chagall as our inspiration.

I made spring rolls, the sisters cooked lovely meals, and Larry made steamers of shrimp, corn on the cob, and potatoes on the grill. Fritzi was excited to see us–and probably cried when we left–we all had to pet him.

Here are my photos from the event—



Last week’s assignment was hands.

I took a lot of photos at a gathering on Saturday, then worked hard on finishing up my final exam in Photoshop Elements. Somehow I had pressed a button and all the tools would implement themselves one by one as I tried to put letter in the text box. I have no idea what I did–tried closing and rebooting photoshop Elements—then I found the reset all tools buttons–did that and I was back in business.

This photo is therefore late but here it is.


it become the basis for a new art piece–but I have a few others in the lineup first.

BeesWax and Batik

Last summer I harvested honey from my one hive–such gentle bees and so productive. I got about two gallons from those industrious creatures. And I had cappings–wax!

I saved the cappings in the freezer for processing in cooler weather when it might be nice to be in a kitchen with the oven going. One pan was processed in the oven but then I still had another bag of cappings and the first batch of processed cappings.

Batik has always fascinated me–and I wanted to try it. So off to the store to find an electric fry pan with a temperature gauge. None to be found in the one store—but a cute little crock pot for less than ten dollars. Would it work?

Dumped the bag of frozen wax in there–and I thought we had gotten all of the honey out of it—Nope!

By the time we finished with both bags of cappings (two harvests) we had half a quart of honey. And we strained out a lot of bee legs and bits of leaves and so forth. The house smelled wonderful–like baking bread or simmering cinnamon sticks.

On to batik!

I used a vintage potato masher for one piece. The wax needs to be hot–and the masher (metal) needs to stay in the wax long enough to heat the metal–otherwise you end up with a wax coated masher and no wax on the fabric. The wax has to penetrate the fabric to be successful.

Beeswax does not crack as much as paraffin does–but I did get a few cracks. I think if I had put it in the freezer and then scrumched the fabric, I might have gotten more. Next up is a dried corn cob.



here is the wax melting in the little crock pot.


and here is my first waxing. I dyed the fabric after this waxing and then re-waxed in opposite direction and dyed again.  Tomorrow I’ll show the finished piece.


Tree and Trees

A few minutes ago I updated my Collectors Page to include two pieces that will be shipped off later this week to their respective new homes.

The first piece is a postcard for Sacred Threads, an exhibit held on alternate years somewhere around the Washington DC area. I have had several pieces in the exhibit in past years and have always enjoyed working with the original show creator Vickie Pignatelli. I am not clear on what they plan to do with these postcards but perhaps they will be on sale at some point.


And then SAQA  (Studio Art Quilt Association) is holding a convention in Lincoln Nebraska the last week of April 2017 during which small pieces of art are sold. The rancor amongst those of the group on the Yahoo forum has made me rethink my wish to attend the convention or be associated with the group. This pieces is 6 by 8


Both of these pieces were constructed from the trimming of edges from Falling in Colors. The base fabric is silk, the tree trunks are black rayon free hand cut and then there is a lot of embroidery on the trunks and the backgrounds to finish the pieces. Each piec is bound and backed and labeled. And I have another piece that will grace the front of one of my notebooks–that I am keeping for myself.

Falling in Colors

Several months ago I accepted an invitation to produce a themed piece based on working outside usual methods. This exhibit would be shown at several Mancuso shows around the US.

I decided to work with silk (not my usual fabric) and to dye it using a variation of ice-snow dyeing. The dye powder was mixed with play sand and put in shaker containers–Parmesan cheese containers worked great. The fabric was first soaked in a washing soda/water mixture, then spread out on the ground and sprinkled with the dye/sand. The sand had enough moisture in it to bind the dye powder and not let it fly around as dust–and then it would strike as it fell on the wet fabric.

My dear friends and I did yards and yards of fabric like this at one of our retreats—and because there was a washing machine and dryer in the cabin–the fabric was washed and dried before we returned home.

I cut off a length of this fabric to use as my base for this piece.


The yellow blotches you see there are printed leaves collected from the sugar gum trees in front of the George R Brown Convention Center in Houston where the annual International Quilt Festival is held. The smaller leaves were maple leaves from my farm.

I then used those leaves as patterns to cut out leaves from felt and silk–they were surprisingly flexible even after using them as printing stamps.—and I used an old printer’s bottle ink mixed with fabric medium to print.


I quilted the background first before putting these leaves down–lots of straight lines in various angles.

The piece was then trimmed, bound, sleeve and label applied—and shipped off to join the others in the exhibit.

It was a fun piece to make–fun to experiement, fun to try something new in a small enough piece to not worry about waste but not so large as to make it laborious.

Here is the final piece:;Falling%20Colors%202017-M.jpg

Blue and Gray



I made this piece several years ago when this country seemed to be in turmoil with opinions flying both pro and con—once again–or did we ever get to a place where we were all united?

This is an image of two former classmates at West Point, George Armstrong Custer and James Washington. Before the Civil War broke out they might have participated in ‘war games’ and sat just like this–who can tell who the prisoner is and who is the captor? Their life (on the left) was orderly and predictable.

Then life became chaotic and now they are enemies—but exactly what is the difference between captor and prisoner?


Self Portrait

Once a year –actually the past two years-==I’ve had to do a self portrait as the assignment for the photography class I’m taking with Ricky Tims and a huge crew of very talented photographers. I do not like self portraits–and I discovered that most of the others didn’t either. So—

I set up the tripod in our bedroom. To be sure I had it aimed correctly I asked my husband to sit on the couch. He obliged with one of his intellectual poses.


So now it was all ready. All I had to do was push the timer and rush to be seated. But he decided I needed some props–the coffee cup was already there–and Dora was on the floor next to his computer. Dora laid down on his pillow behind me and sniffed at my neck.


it is very tickly as you might imagine. Perhaps Toby might be convinced to pose.


nope–too much clutter in the background. Time to move the angle of the camera.


a bit of cropping and this is what I submitted. I am still in my nightgown and that is my second cup of coffee.

Tomorrow–the self portrait I did in fiber.

Bits and Pieces


One of the fun things I like to do when I’m not really in the mood to start a real art project—and also–I admit to clean up some of the bits and pieces and starts and stops and experiments and samples–is to turn them into notebook covers.  My middle son used Marble notebooks to draw his designs, make notes on things he was doing with his motorcycle, adaptations to his unicycle and so forth. The notebooks are the perfect size to carry around, large enough to allow drawings and notes. I use them for my morning pages and journaling, each one lasting about six months or so.

These particular covers were experiments by a friend who was pulling out some things to look at and wondered what she could do with them—and another one said—well, Sylvia can make them into notebook covers for you.

And so they went home with me–and here are the results.

I typically use a background piece that is long enough and tall enough to wrap completely around the notebook and the inside flap. In this case it was red corduroy. Sometimes there is a lot of stitching to hold things together–sometimes not. Some are woven strips, some are just patched together pieces, and a few are like a fiber postcard sewn carefully onto the notebook cover—not so easy but certainly possible.

in the near future some of my notebooks will be on sale at the Quilt Museum in LaGrange Texas. Or you could ask me to make you a notebook cover from some of your bits and pieces.

Here is a sneak peak at some of those notebooks