Posts filed under ‘latest projects’

Hot silk dyes, cool results

Experimenting with new processes in color makes for a really fun collection of spring scarves!


16 April 2010 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Teaching what you know

  If you be a lover of instruction, you will be well instructed.

When I insisted on attending art school instead of a traditional university, my mother balked.  She kept insisting that I at least study teaching art, so I’d have something to “fall back on.”  However well intentioned and practical her advice was, I determined never to be a teacher.  So — how odd to find myself teaching now that I’m in my 50s and have much less patience than when I was younger.  I tend to be less than organized, to be polite about it, and often can’t see the forest for the trees, but I’m learning.  It never dawned on me that a grown person wouldn’t know you had to rinse your brush periodically, until a student asked me why her entire painting was brown. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Instruction does not prevent waste of time or mistakes; and mistakes themselves are often the best teachers of all.
         — James Anthony Froude

I thought it was lip service when I heard teachers say they learned as much from their students as the students learned from them.  It’s true!  Preparing lessons forces one to really think through their process, and watching others come up with solutions for their ideas can lead you in all kinds of new directions.  Creating ways to teach what you do in a limited time frame is also a great exercise. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         I’ve been silk painting for over 20 years and was stumped when Jerry’s Artarama asked me to teach a two-hour class.  After wandering around the store with my hands in my pockets for a while, I came up with a short project idea that would whet students’ appetites.  It came off quite well and each student’s project was completely different from mine or anyone else’s. 

Sharing knowledge does not diminish one’s talent.
— Me

Which leads me to a point often brought up by artists and crafters:  why teach someone else to do the thing you’re trying to make your living at?  Aren’t they just out to steal your ideas?  Am I shooting myself in the foot by sharing my ideas?  No, no and no!  Teaching a person to read doesn’t mean they can write your story, does it?  Teaching someone a skill can often make them appreciate more fully what goes into the making of your art.  Altruism pays!          

+Isocrates the orator, not Socrates the philosopher, in case you were worried about that.

9 April 2010 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

It’s here! I’m published!


Well, my advance copy is here . . . although the book won’t be available until January.  It’s called Paper Cuts and it’s a beautiful how-to book with project photos, directions, and patterns for 35 paper cutting projects.  Four of them are mine!
Publisher: Lark
Published: January 2010
128 pages
ISBN: 1-60059-512-X
ISBN13: 9781600595127
$17.95 US, $23.50 Canadian

I’m really humbled to be in the company img662of these designers, ‘cause all of the projects are beautiful and some of them are just incredible.  My submissions are relatively simple.  Hopefully, they’ll help get beginners started!  Here’s a sample page from the book, showing one of the projects I submitted.



I’ve also got lots of Scherenschnitte decorations and ornaments in my Etsy shop if you’re not ready to make your own.

27 November 2009 at 8:15 am 4 comments

Kids’ Painted Mousepad Project

I was asked to teach a craft class at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh as part of a memorial gift in the name of my dear friend, Nancy Kevin.  Previous experience has illustrated that no one has any fun when I’m in charge of children,* but since this was for Nancy, I agreed to do it.  I took my camera to the class, but was too frazzled to get any pictures of the kids’ completed projects.   Here, though, are the directions in case some other intrepid soul is better suited to working with children.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I ordered some inexpensive blank mousepads from eBay and played around with different dyes and paints to see what would work on the mousepad surface.  I decided I liked Dye-na-Flo’s colors and the way it reacted with salt for this project.  It’s also fairly economical (unless you have an out-of-control nine-year-old boy in your class).   Note well:  Being a dye, it’s also a stain-maker, so if someone has sent their darling daughter to crafts class in her best summer sun dress and not sent a smock, be prepared for trouble.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1. Fold a square of freezer paper snowflake style and cut designs into it to make a stencil.  Don’t let the children’s designs get too complicated.  Use a little bit of glue from a glue stick to hold the stencil in place on the mousepad. 

2. Apply the color with a fairly dry sponge, being careful to hold the stencil in place.  If the sponge is too wet, the color will seep under the stencil. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Sprinkle kosher salt over the dye areas while still fairly wet.  Carefully lift off the stencil. 

4. Wait a few minutes to let the salt settle and do its magic.  Have big plastic bags available for children to take their projects home, because you certainly don’t want to wait around for their parents to remember to pick them up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see, even if the stencil isn’t held in place, the results are still satisfying.  Thank goodness.

(And thank goodness I know that Nancy has a sense of humor, watching me from above. )

* I once dragged a noisy child into the supply closet with me to have a private religious education class when my husband was trying to teach the rest of the class.  Don’t even ask about the shrieking Girl Scouts on the weekend camping trip.  “Of course there are bugs:  we’re in the woods, girls.”  

2 August 2009 at 11:50 pm 6 comments

Layering Colors and Patterns

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can add depth to fabric with layers of surface design techniques. For this pastel silk crepe scarf,  I made a dye paste by mixing professional procion silk dyes with alginate to make the dye a good consistency for silk screening. I cut some simple shapes from craft paper and silk screened them onto the fabric, decided that wasn’t enough, and started to play with stamps. I had some moldable foam (from that I heated and pressed against screen mesh and dried reeds to make the geometric shapes of the second layer.

blueleavesxOnce I steam set those colors into the silk, I painted the thickened dye paste onto some rubber stamps I’d made and scattered leaves across the background.  I added a few scattered dots from leaf to leaf with a pencil eraser and voila, a subtle pastel leaf scarf.

You can get more information and see different views of this scarf at my Etsy Shop.

24 July 2009 at 1:35 am 1 comment

Beating the Heck out of Silk

When I first started working with Marcia-the-Mentor, I was astonished at how much she’d do to a piece of silk before she called it finished.  Now she’s got me doing it.

warmcharm3 This started out as a pink scarf that I overdyed with purple.  I used soy wax and batiked leaf shapes over it, then dyed it a darker purple.

I hated it.

I gave it a warm bath in thiox and as the pink and purple were removed, the scarf became pale orange and beige. 

I cut some shapes out of clear contact paper and stuck these to a blank silk screen.  Using Procion MX dyes thickened with sodium alginate, I made a dye paste to use on the silkscreen and made three color passes over the entire scarf:  one yellow, one orange, one a very greyed-out purple.  I just listed this piece at my Etsy shop.

screen1 To the left is the screen I used.  I blocked off one side with paper and duct tape and used only half the screen at a time. 

I later used the larger shape on the left of the screen to use the same process on another silk scarf I wasn’t happy with, pictured below and listed at my shop on 1000Markets.

coolcharm3 This one was done in cooler shades, using the same greyed-out purple dye as well as a yellow-bronze color, and just a touch of pink.

Both of these scarves feel wonderful; I think the hand of the silk softened with each process, although it’s still as strong as ever.   As always, they’re colorfast so you can handwash them in the silk with a little Woolite, or by machine on the gentle cycle.  Drip dry, then touch up with an iron. 

4 June 2009 at 7:07 pm 2 comments

Using Silk Prints

I recently discovered the Etsy shop of The Whimsical Peacock, a supplier of fabrics and print panels who has had a lot of Etsy success with over 400 sales.  She’s mastered the process of printing full color pictures on silk habotai panels without changing the hand (or feel) of the silk.  I’ve purchased a few things from her and have used some of Boticelli2them on scarves. 

The compulsive art historian who lives within me needs to identify the artists, but hasn’t had luck with all of the prints, yet.  The beautiful face above is a detail from the Botticelli painting, Venus and the Three Graces, which hangs at the Louvre.   I fused this graceful image onto a scarf I made from complementary colors of buff and peach colored yardage.  It is for sale at The Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro, NC. 

The colorful silk charmeuse scarf at the left features Alphonse Mucha’s Study for the North Star.   Mucha was a very prolific Art Nouveau artist.  His distinctive women are frequently reproduced in ads, which is the purpose he originally painted them for.  This scarf is listed at my Etsy shop

You’ll have to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota to see the last two scarves in person, as they will be sent to the Dakota Nature and Art Gallery at the end of the month.  To the left is a toast-colored iridescent scarf featuring a print of Alphonse Mucha’s Moet Champagne label.  It’s also embellished with decorated with oil sticks and gutta.  The orientalized woman at right looks like a Thomas Dewing . . . or Hughes?  or Waterhouse?   Obviously, I haven’t identified her yet, but I think she looks quite at home set within the forest I painted behind her.   moet3  forest3

Any budding art historians out there will be eager to use the Smithsonian’s wonderful research tool on American Art.  Joan of Art  tried to identify the last image for me but, alas, she didn’t have any luck either. 

29 May 2009 at 12:26 am 3 comments

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