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! (for Mixed Media)  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!