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Posts from the ‘Artwork’ Category

Trying Something New

About a decade or more ago, I tried making some hand-made books. I bought some of the tools, metal ruler, awl, bone folder and some pads of water-color paper. I attended a few classes at the Houston Quilt Festival but then put everything aside as I moved on to other things.

Digging through boxes of stuff accumulated in my work-room, I came across these supplies and thought I might give it another try. With social media availability, I found a site offering directions and support.

My first successful projects were these two accordion books with sewn in signatures. I don’t have book board but did have some small pieces of mat-board. These books are not quite playing card size so warping that might be a problem in larger books should not be a problem.

One cover is cut from a local map–for a friend who is moving back home to France and the other is a paper towel used to clean brushes for a friend—just because.

There are a lot of steps to making them including folding and letting things rest under weight—hard for my impatient nature–but definitely improved the finished product.


Here is what they look like opened up.


They are meant to be displayed standing up.


And then there was my first attempt. I pieced the fabric for the cover, applied fusible to the back to make it into book-cloth, tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to print the lyrics–ended up glue sticking printed out lyrics to folded pages. It won’t stand up but there is plenty of room for its recipient to add photos.


Here is the inside cover–from a brochure I picked up at Loretta Lynn’s Kitchen in Tennessee…a great place to stop for a nice meal..they will let you substitute fried okra for French fries and probably would have let me have just Fried Okra as my meal.



Most of us have been depending upon mail order/UPS/Fedex for supplies and to be blunt about it—presents for ourselves. Shopping on-line is a diversion and then there is the anticipation (like Christmas) of packages arriving on the doorstep–and was it something my husband ordered for himself (or sometimes for me!) or something I thought I needed.

Some of us have taken up new hobbies or discovered the tools of hobbies put aside in the busyness of life.

I had dabbled in making hand-made books, taken a few classes, made some fabric books, but thought that I might give making books another try.

Art supply/craft stores may or may not be essential businesses but mail order was possible.

I tried waxing the binding thread with beeswax ( I have plenty of that) but it isn’t easy and I did not have linen thread unless I unraveled some linen cloth and that didn’t seem too practical.

So I ordered some along with some paper. The paper arrived a couple of weeks later.

Still later, another box arrived. I expected waxed linen thread.

I discovered this!


And it is oil, not acrylic or water color.

When I called the company, the clerk was so apologetic. I suspect they are as frazzled as grocery store clerks trying to stock the toilet paper aisle.

My waxed linen thread is on the way once again. I can only wonder at their stocking system which puts oil paint next to linen thread—-but then maybe the picker was roaming the aisles with more than one open box in the cart to fill.

That tube of paint is happily on its way to a friend who has started cold wax painting.

Small things

Like a lot of people, I have been cleaning or rather tidying or sorting or to be honest just re-arranging things. Opening up boxes and bags, looking at them, and putting them in a different place, maybe putting some in the give-away pile.

I haven’t made masks in huge quantities  but I have made a few; some for grand-children, sons who must venture into the outside world as their jobs are deemed essential and packed up a small box with some of my mother’s quilting fabric to send to a niece who has taken on a Girl Scout project making masks.

And I have been sewing. Finishing up projects. Quilting all the tops that awaited finishing—they are all done! But now they all need bindings. While I have plenty of decorative threads and machine quilting threads in a variety of colors and black, I was down to my last spool of ivory colored thread.

I ordered thread and awaited its arrival.

I wondered if I had really ordered it.

I checked my emails and found the confirmation of the order.

I called the company to inquire.

Thread is now back-ordered for weeks.

who Knew thread would be in short supply?

Imagine my joy when I discovered this in a box I had used for a workshop a couple years ago!


Yes, that is Coats and Clark in a 500 yard spool size. It is poly and so there is very little lint collecting in my sewing machine. I have tried other brands but always return to this one as my go-to construction and bobbin thread.


Trying my hand

One of the first art forms I learned was hand embroidery. I embroidered vegetables playing drums on the corners of dish towels, sorted through the many transfer patterns of cute little animals and flower baskets and so forth. Then I learned to crochet and then taught myself to knit by looking at a book—I made a baby bootee for what would have fit Paul Bunyan’s daughter.

Sewing was taught as a 4-H project by my mother and her best friend. We met in the church basement where we could lay our fabric out on the long dining tables used for church suppers and made first an apron…no pattern—and then a gathered skirt with a placket—no zipper–just a button on the waistband.

Machine work quickly became one of my favorite past-times only equaled by reading—who could resist travel in time and space from my little dormer room over-looking the cow pasture?

But now,we have the opportunity to revisit old past-times and maybe re-connect in different ways.

I signed up for a hand embroidery class featuring portraits. The class instructor was Sue Stone of the UK through and has proven to be challenging and fun. The first assignment featuring sewing through tissue paper and I quickly discovered I did not like this method and reverted back to my tried and true and well-practiced method of freezer paper on the back of the piece.

We were instructed to work with portraits of people we didn’t know—-but I chose otherwise. I don’t do mirrors and so the face that peers out at these old photos is indeed a stranger to me—distanced by years.

Here I am at age 20 sitting by the fireplace in the cabin we lived in when we were first married. The background is walnut dyed hemp—a wonderful fabric to work with; it is th only one I used the tissue paper technique.


Here is the admission clerk at a small hospital I worked in many years ago. I was taking a photography class at the time and printed up several 8 by 10 copies for her—as payment for her modeling stint.

img_3685-m I think I might mount this on stretcher bars and submit it for my SAQA benefit auction contribution—bu that would require a trip to the post office. I try to bunch up trips like this—but I have until June  to do so.

Next is a photo—a selfie taken by husband’s cousin as she heads off to work. She is an ICU nurse on the East coast (Philadelphia) and assigned to COVID 19 patients.


It will be mounted on canvas and sent to her sister in Delaware who so graciously invited my oldest son into their extended family for holidays and other gatherings while he worked in Delaware.

And here is another self-portrait—me at age 1. This was a formal portrait, the only formal portrait taken until those school photos with the oiled hair photographer offering a black comb and asking all people with glasses to look down.




There are some more lessons to cover—but I’ve been concentrating on finishing up some other projects and cleaning and sorting.


Stitching Away

As a person of exceptionally high risk, I’ve been very much confined to house; a few outdoor walks around the neighborhood, and some time at what my husband calls my playhouse—an old rice farmer’s house in the country that has not had other people inside for over two years—so I think I’m okay there. Most of my artwork is stored there along with some art supplies and my Gammill quilting machine. I’ve been working away at reducing the number of tops to be quilted…..basting was one of the hardest parts until that Gammill—now even small pieces are basted on that wonderful piece of machinery.

But I digress.

Evenings are spent watching some sort of movie (if the internet is down) or Netflix or Amazon prime. I usually do some handwork, putting on bindings and labels or prepping hexies (done with that for awhile) or hand-piecing. But this past month I’ve been working on some hand stitched portraits in a class with Sue Stone.

Here they are:

img_3684-mThis is on walnut dyed hemp. Husband took this photo of me perched on the side of the fireplace in the cabin where we lived when first married. One nice thing about doing these stitched portraits is that wrinkles disappear–not that I had any at 22.

img_3685-m She was the ward clerk in a small rural hospital

img_3686-m husband’s cousin, a nurse, working the virus; photo lifted from the internet

img_3687-mbaby picture of me at one year of age

I haven’t watched the videos for the next assignment; the other students in the class have been posting some quite spectacular stuff. Although hand-work is not my forte; this has stretched me—first in looking for suitable subjects and the backgrounds and then in the renderings. It has been a fun adventure. I’m planning to mount all of these on stretcher bars.


Bunnies and ducks and a bear

One of the things my mother did well was embroider. She spent many hours in the backyard of her girlhood home embroidering with her best friend from next door. Somehow I ended up with these embroidered little creatures. I scanned the embroideries, resized and printed on some cardstock to send to my grandchildren.

The  cards were definitely not perfectly printed but then this is an experiment and a learning curve for me.

Those embroidered creatures were in an old enveloped marked Mautz paint; Dad was a painter and used their paints preferentially for his work in painting houses and barns. He far preferred barns and one year he painted the fairground buildings and the Catholic church; he didn’t like houses because ladies always had their pretty flowers planted around the sides and he was supposed to move his ladders so as to not disturb the plantings.

Here are the three embroideries I chose for Easter cards for my grands.





I did learn a few things with this project; rotate the pieces before uploading; smugmug has a nice editor but photoshop elements is far more robust. I also learned I needed to change to print size to much large to keep all the image on the print-out. The cards are printed; waiting for me to write a little note to each grand=child and then to pop them in our mailbox to send on their way.


Cherries and a Pear

Two months ago (seems like a lifetime ago) I did some monoprinting with paint to make several small pieces of cherries and pears. I embellished these pieces with embroidery and applique. They are now all mounted, photographed, and ready for purchase. I was thrilled to sell one of the pears at the recent quilt show.

So here they are. If you are interested–these are in a 10 by 12 mat in a cellophane sleeve. (I took them out of the sleeve to avoid glare)

It was a fun project and a technique I’d like to re-visit.


Off to see the Wizard

When I was five, I begged my cousin to teach me how to read. No-one could ever satisfy me with enough reading out loud; she told me would teach me to tie my own shoes instead. That did not seem nearly as important or as useful as reading as the shoes worked just fine without the laces being tied in a neat bow.

When invited to participate in the book illustration challenge of the local quilt guild, I was pleased to participate. Every other year, a book is chosen; the last book was Jules Verne’s story about the underseas adventures of Captain Nemo and his submarine. I chose the part of the beautiful colors of ice as they were stuck under the Antartic Ice Cap.

This year’s selection was The Wizard of Oz.  The movie and the book are very different, but I chose to illustrate with a rendering of a California Poppy. I took several photos of California poppies, sorted through a stack of possible background fabrics; stitched away and put it on stretcher bars.

The local symphony played the music from the film while the film was shown on a large screen behind and above the orchestra. This piece went home with someone.



vision20202020full20size-mI’m always up for a challenge and the year 2020 is just too easy to envision several challenges regarding vision, or sight. This is my challenge piece 20 by 20 inches for the Vision 2020 to be shown in Australia…..if it is selected. If not, it was a fun piece.

In third grade, the state mandated vision testing for all grade school children. The chart arrived and was hung in the hallway, One by one we were called out while the rest of us waiting anxiously in the classroom whispering among ourselves worried this would be the harbinger of some terrible news or required action. I remember nearly standing on my head trying to show the direction of the legs of that E…..we were supposed to use our hand to point in the direction of the E’s legs.

The background fabric for the piece is a decorator fabric with graphic images of eye lashes, eyes and tick marks. I cut out and appliqued the rayon E’s…rayon not being a good choice of fabric type but it was the densest black I had, then hand embroidered around each letter to give a bit of color that would only be obvious up close, and then machine stitched it with a variegated black and white thread in straight lines to suggest the lines in the chart.

Designing one or two things

My mother, like many quilters, had a lot of unfinished projects, starts of projects, sample blocks, partially cut out quilts. I have been working diligently to complete some of these projects, to make something out of those samples and bits and pieces.

This is one of the–four small tulip blocks along with some half square triangles.


then there is a challenge (that I created) in the local fiber art group

This one is inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s use of abstraction to display her emotions


and a new project—bees on flowers. I used beeswax to batik a grunge green; I’ve made the bees—free embroidered on wash-away and a light green sheer; now to do the flowers.


here are the bees in process


and a closeup of the finished bee