This Shrikes my fancy!

I really can’t wait for The Book that Carol Soderlund and I have been working on to come into print! While I can’t go into specific detail about this, I can give broad overviews as to what you might expect to learn. So here goes.

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As artists, it is suggested that we find a subject matter we are passionate about and to apply ourselves and our artwork to this. We do this in order to work in series and to show continuity of subject matter. I have chosen birds and even more specifically, the Audubon list of Common Birds in Decline as my focus. (Unfortunately, Audubon has not updated their web site in such a way that all the links work properly, the above link shows the full list of birds, at least).

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Loggerhead Shrike is number 18 on this list. Delving deeply into acquiring knowledge of this bird began by drawing a Shrike from the pages of a birding magazine. From there I went on to inform myself about this bird, learning that it is a meat eating songbird who uses tools, like barb wire to kill it’s prey. This bird can sometimes be misidentified as a Northern Mockingbird, because of its color and size. It can also be mistaken for a hawk because its meat eating beak is sharply curved, to make it all the easier to eat its prey.

When bringing these facts to the design table, it is important to illustrate just the essentials. As you can see, when looking at the stamped image of the print, above, I chose to illustrate the curved beak and this birds propensity to use tools to kill it’s prey. These are two things that distinctly differentiate the Loggerhead Shrike from the Northern Mockingbird.

Note: A ‘strike off’ is a first printing of a stamp or tool.

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I love printing cloth to be used in quilts, so the Loggerhead Shrike print was paired with two differently sized feather prints and some commercial solids to help fill out the yardage necessary to make a quilt.

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And while, I have not illustrated how to make the tools for this particular design, the above quilt will be featured in our upcoming book with Crafting a Life, LLC. Directions on how to place your own most favored subject matter into repeat will be covered-in detail.

I know that I often choose some pretty detailed imagery to work with, so I followed Carol’s suggestion to teach the effective use of motif and repeat by using more simple and approachable motifs than Loggerhead Shrikes! That is what working with a coauthor and friend does!! I hope you are as excited to learn these techniques and ideas as we are in being able to share them with you!

McCall’s Quilting Magazine and a Meadowlark Giveaway-a guest post

I am hosting a guest post by Stephanie Forsyth, my quilt designer for Meadowlark. We are both really happy that her delicate, groovy, lush, and chic designs using Meadowlark, are going live! What follows are Stephanie’s words:


 

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Ladies and gentleman, I am in McCall’s Quilting Magazine! I still can’t quite believe it!

This is the closest I’ve gotten to being a “Covergirl” so far! As many of you know, I was working on some quilts that I wasn’t able to share (this was for Market this past spring!) Well, I was designing and making quilts using Melanie Testa’s fabric from her Meadowlark line put out by Windham Fabrics. I’ve been sitting on this news since this past spring – and now I can finally share it with you!

This was an exciting process, as I was able to see Melly creating the line, and then her excitement when Windham picked it up. It’s a special feeling to be one of the first people to ever cut into, and create with a designer’s first fabrics!

The Meadowlark line is Melly’s way of raising awareness about the plight of the 20 Common Birds in Decline listed by the Audobon Society. She has a post about it on her blog!

The original name of this quilt is “Lark Star” for the Eastern Meadowlark on the list. For publishing reasons, the piece goes by the name “Starling” in the magazine. They are offering a FREE alternate pattern of the quilt in king size! (You can also order a kit of the 60.5″60.5″ from them, that has the fabrics I used!)

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I wanted to really be able to showcase Melly’s fabrics, so I approached the design process asking myself “How can I show these fabrics as they are, and still cut them up and piece them?” The answer was “THINK BIG!” and I did. At 60.5″x60.5″, the blocks in this quilt are 15″ blocks! I might be biased (that’s not a pun, I swear!), but I am in love with this quilt!


 Stephanie has an AWESOME prize opportunity for a lucky reader! I have arranged for Stephanie to  give away a fat quarter of every fabric from Meadowlark! 

Leave a comment on STEPHANIE’S blog to win! She will close commenting on December 7 at 11:59 P.M. She will announce the give away on Monday, December 8.

I have closed commenting on this post, so click on over to Stephanie’s blog (<——click it) now!!

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Gather Your Sew-plies Sew Along Part 2

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Hi! I am finally back at it. I edited this video early last week and have been wanting to write up a post about it ever since. I am editing The Next Book, creating projects that are on the super top secret side, and moving into our apartment. It has been great, and also somewhat crazy, in a roller coaster-ish sort of way. It feels good though. Everything is settling into place and the emotional undercurrents are settling into manageable proportion. Phew.

The next installment of the Gather your Sew-plies!! Sew Along video series will be the most exciting, in my opinion. That is where I will talk about finishing the purse, making spaghetti straps, using the release clasp notion, making a thimble pocket, covering earth magnets with fabric. I love finishing these little purses, it is the best part.

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This is a Gather your Sew-plies purse that I have been embroidering and hand stitching, on-the-go. I find the small format of the Gather you Sew-plies!! purse to be quite a good surface to hand stitch. It isn’t so large that it becomes difficult to complete. I can stuff it into my back pack, (along with a fully kitted out Gather your Sew-plies!! purse, I will talk about what I pack into a purse next week as well) and easily sew wherever I am. That is  my personal goal in making these purses. I want to sew back and forth on the subway, at coffee shops, wherever. So my projects need to be quickly packable. I love working this way.

Last fall I was sewing on the subway on a return trip from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was one of two people on the subway. A young Hispanic man and myself. He had to see what I was doing. When he caught my eye, he indicated he thought the stitchwork was neat. I told him I like to stitch graffiti. He gave me a thumbs up. It was a very interesting exchange. I love public acts of stitch education. Fiber art education.

Plus, wearing these purses reminds me of Athena, Goddess of the Hunt.

I hope you too might also sew on the go. Do your own form of fiber art, quilt art, fabric art awareness. I want young’uns to come into the creative fold. Sewing on the go is a good way to get the message out.


 

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King Fisher Child

12×12″ Pineboard

2013

I painted this series last year. This photograph does the painting no justice. My iPhone camera is broken, sorry. I will replace it soon. Anyway, apologies aside, This painting is a favorite. There is magic in the drawing and layering, acrylic paint is fun. It pleases me. 


 

I am planning a quilt top challenge using Meadowlak. Please stay tuned and know it is on the radar for a future post. Here is some eye candy in the meantime.

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Confessions of an alleged quilter

(Helen is a quest contributor to the Meadowlark Blog Hop giveaway. The art piece that Helen made using trapunto features one of the 6 Common Birds in Decline seen in the Meadowlark bird print, the Greater Scaup. She will tell you about the making of the quilt below. I can tell you, Helen is a treasure, I am quite happy to get to know her and to call her a friend.)

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Sometimes you just have to say yes.  When Melanie Testa put out a call for help getting projects sewn for her Meadowlark launch for Windham Fabrics I instinctively said I would help.  Well, that was my first reaction.  My second was “What am I thinking?  Why did I say yes?  Now have to show up, meet new people, talk to them, be creative…oh my, what have I gotten myself into???”

The day arrived.  I had mixed emotions approaching City Quilter, arriving at the same time as Melanie.  We introduced ourselves and I was relieved to discover that she was as sweet and approachable in person as she is online and in her books.  I met the others in this crew of talented quilters and was excited to see the work that had been done the previous week as well as projects that individuals had designed and sewn.  It was intimidating.  But I was there and I was going to help.  All I had to do was help sew blocks together and then rows for the gorgeous string quilt as well as assist sewing the beautiful bird quilt together.  It was fun and a relief to get lost in sewing and chatting and doing.  Not worrying about work or life or anything – just putting one stitch after another.  Nirvana.

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The day ended too quickly.  I volunteered to bind the string quilt and make a sleeve.  There were scraps of fabric left and I asked Melanie if she needed any small wall hangings.  She did.  Again, I said yes.  I would make a wall hanging.  I pulled some fabric, said goodbye, and was on my way.  And then realized that I had committed to completing these projects in just about three weeks.  Here’s the thing.  I am an “alleged quilter”.  I start projects. Some of them get completed; most get almost completed.  It took me two years to put the binding on a quilt my sister made.  I began my first quilt in 1981 when I was working summer stock and my cat Maggie was born.  I finished it in 1998, the year Maggie died.  And lately, I hadn’t even been sewing.  I was drawing and painting and playing around paper.  Well, ok then.  Oh, hell.  Why not?  I said yes.  Now I had to do it.  

I work better if I don’t think too much so I took a bird square and centered it on a muslin backing.  Then I cut 2-1/2” strips of the other fabrics and started building out from the bird.  Once the muslin was completely covered machine stitched around all the elements in the bird patch, then I embellished the fabric around the center square with orange, purple, and aqua rayon thread to help marry the birds to the surrounding fabric.  This, of course led to the center not laying flat because, well, all of the stitching caused distortion.  The fix?  Trapunto.  I’d never tried this padded and raised quilt design before but thought it was worth a shot.  Why not cut the muslin and stuff all the elements in the bird square?  It might take care of the distortion and would make the birds really pop.  So I did. And it worked.  And I was excited.  I didn’t have enough scraps to make a border so I stitched it like a pillow cover.  And then pressed like crazy and added a sleeve.  Lastly, I made the pieced binding as well as the sleeve for the string quilt.  In less than three weeks.  All because I said yes.

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Melly’s Meadowlark fabric is a joy to work with.  The design, the color, the feel and quality of the fabric – everything about this line is exceptional.  And I got to play a small part in the launch.  I also met and worked with one of my design icons and other really talented women.  All because I said yes.  I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks Melly for letting me be a part of this adventure!

Please let me know what you think.  Just leave a comment for a chance to win a Fat Stack of 10” squares of all 26 fabrics in the Meadowlark line.  Melly’s also giving away 3 copies of her wonderful book “Dreaming From the Journal Page”.  If you missed any of the other posts in this hop just head over to the links below.  And don’t forget to leave your comments there, too. 

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting on Melly’s blog!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting on Melly’s blog!

for the birds

The small quilt sandwich seen above is an accomplishment of conversational prints! It is a pun, do you get it? 

Armchair Birder. 

Total geeky cackle over here, this is great birding humor! 🙂 I got into textile design because I fell in love with conversational prints. So, I particularly like this combination of fabrics.  But I am also an armchair birder. My bird magazines come and it really is all about the pictures!

I mean. 

Just sayin’.  😉 

Years ago, I found the Audobon’s list of 20 Common Birds in Decline during an internet search. I sat reading the article, tears rolling down my face. But just as strongly as the tears themselves was the belief  that I could do something to raise awareness for these birds. I felt resolved. I don’t know how this occurred, just that it did. 

I began scouring the net for information about the birds’ habitats and the needs of that habitat (and it’s inhabitants) to maintain symbiosis with these 20 birds. I decided to make artwork for each of the twenty birds on the list. Meadowlark’s bird fabric contains six of the twenty birds on Audubon’s list. I have tried to contact their corporate office to inform them of my project, but they don’t answer the call.I wish they would because I don’t want to unintentionally misinform, but, oh well. I will do my best.

Cancer treatment really made me a different person. It is a big deal to go through. But it has also served to motivate me. It gave me time to think about what I wanted and to daydream about how I might achieve it. It showed me how little time I have and that I want to make a difference.  As I lay in bed during treatment, I watched David Attenborough’s Life of Birds. I watched it over and over, except for the burrowing parrots. (Those birds are mean little birds. I didn’t watch that segment hardly at all.) But I lay there watching and wondering how I could do to help the birds that I so adore. I drifted off to sleep, came back, watched more. It was dreamy. But in viewing the show and thinking about what is important to me, I kept coming back to the list of Common Birds in Decline that affected me so deeply.

I have been exploring the imagery of The 20 birds in all media, paper, cloth printings combined with hand embroidery. So when it came time to start designing fabrics for release in my line, of course, I decided to feature some of the birds on the Audubon list. I hope to be able to create a fabric for each of the birds on the list, we will see. 

I will be blogging about these new works and the birds themselves in the next few months.

I hope you enjoy my ramblings on the topic of birds. 

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The Eastern Meadowlark is on the List, unfortunately.  It’s numbers have decreased by 73% in forty years.  Here is a good place to start learning about Eastern Meadowlark and what you can do to help this bird. 

And remember, I’m hosting a blog hop giveaway of Fat Stacks of the Meadowlark line, here is the list of participants (leave a comment on each posts related to the hop). Today is Leslie Tucker Jenison’s day to post and I must say, I love the ingenuity of her design! The quilt is more like a throw, it has a great ‘hand’, please go check out her post

Melly – June 2 
Vivien Zepf – June 2 
Chrissie D – June 3 
Sue Bleiweiss – June 4  
Leslie Tucker Jenison  June 5 
Jamie Fingal – June 6 
Lyric Kinard – June 7 
Jen Eskridge – June 8 
Jacqui Holmes Calhoun – June 8  <——-Jacqui will be guest posting here!
Stephanie Forsyth – June 9 
Victoria Findlay Wolfe – June 10 
Teri Lucas – June 11 
Scott Hansen June 12
Helen Eckard – June 12 <——-Helen will be guest posting here!

 

 

Frittering my time, and enjoying every second.

It is that time of year again… Time to Gather your Sew-plies!! It is warming up. Time to sew on the go.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Nothing is black and white

Earlier this week Angelina Jolie wrote her op-ed piece about her decision to have bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction due to a positive test for the BRCA1 gene. I admire Angelina for her bravery and honesty in being open about her choice. I am sorry she needed to make it, of course. But happy that she has offered her talent and power to the cause. If you want to inform yourself about gene mutation, Force is a good place to start. The facility where Angelina had her tests and operation has written a recap of her treatment, which can be helpful as well, I was surprised to see some of the protocol that Angelina received.

I wish that non-reconstruction was acknowledged as an option and I think it is high time that us ‘Flatties’ had an advocate, but I understand that Angelina is doing the best she possibly can and I am ever so grateful that she is as courageous as she is. Here is a decent discussion of the types of reconstruction spurred by Angelina’s decision.

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My work with Carol Soderlund continues, I am so glad to have initiated the work. Carol has been opening my mind and perspective on using dye. She has opened up a new approach to applying dye, and has been cleaning up some bad habits that I have accrued over the years. I took Color Mixing 1 from Carol through ProChem years ago. Carol has since begun calling this class The New Color Mixing for Dyers. What I am learning from Carol now uses the book we made together in Color Mixing 1 and expands upon it, and she call this class her Color Mixing for Dyers Part 2. So, I am learning to use the book from Color Mixing 1 to apply the colors I would like to see in my work, and all of the information has begun to ‘click’. Learning is hard work and for a week or so there, I was Ms. Grumpy Pants. Carol’s teaching skills and patience is commendable.

I don’t know why the blog went centered, sorry about the formatting.
Yesterday I took a walk, bought a breakfast sandwich and a cookie (for later in the day) and then went out for press pot coffee at my favorite local dive. I have not yet gone there for a beer and sandwich, so far this is a favorite morning coffee joint, but they have great beer and I would like to try it out. Problem is, my Man doesn’t like beer! So, I will look for a gal pal who needs a night out.
I really like this piece of street art. I will have to check it out again, I think she is carrying a music mixer. When I see this type street art, art applied with wheat paste, I always want to go back on a rainy day and peel it off and take it home. I find it interesting to have found two wheat pasted pieces of street art within such close proximity. I wonder if there is an insurgence of applied street art right now. I also wish I could find out who the artists are.
I would like to create a multicolor print of birds that is stylized, like this dress, photographed through the window of a local boutique, The store isn’t my kinda thing but they do have some great prints right now and I love me some prints. I struggle to get myself to loosen up to the level of this print. It seems my comfort level is realistic looking. But I will push myself past this and try my best to loosen up and get playful. This weekend I plan to make multicolor print patterns during every free moment.  This may be a challenge as it is a long weekend and David’s birthday weekend to boot! However it goes, we will have fun this weekend, it will start with a meet up at Moma in about 2 hours.
I continue to read and research ideas related to gender and found this interesting article called Who Owns Gender, which I think is quite interesting. If you have the time or interest in reading it, I would like to hear your thoughts.
Deborah Boschert brought this article to my attention and I love it.
I am going to respond and communicate through the comments in the blog. I enjoy this, so check back if you want! Now I am off to let the fun begin.

working out the kinks

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I am working hard behind the scenes here, at Studio Melly.

A few months back, I was printing some birds from The 20 only to find that my wash out rate was too high while printing with Procion MX dyes on cloth. I wasn’t getting the intensity of color, or the bold, bright colors I had come to expect. All printing with MX dyes came to a halt as I looked for help. 

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I contacted Carol  Soderlund, telling her of my frustrations. I have been a student of Carol’s, I took her Color Mixing 1 course and have and use her book of 1000 repeatable colors. I use the nine colors she uses so that I can mix and use colors from her book if I choose to. Beside which, I understand the usefullness of working in a limited palette and the 9 colors Carol gathered together and uses in her classes have equivilents in the other media I use, so, she did the work of gathering the colors and I use them! I am a good student that way!

I connect with Carol as my teacher, and happier still, as a friend.

I reached out to Carol, seeking help in identifying and applying solutions to my lapses in Procion MX dye use.  

And, OMG. Thank goodness I did!

Carol is tutoring me through most of  Color Mixing 2 class ( which she will be teaching at ProChem this October, and, even though I am being tutored, I want to sign up and take!!!).

What a resource!

Carol is leading me through ‘Procion MX bootcamp’ (I made that up, I am reading too many fitness blogs!). It is fantastic. I am now getting the results I expect to see. And it wasn’t that I didn’t know all of these things before, I got lackadaisical. Not a good idea, Procion MX dye requires our full attention when we use it. 

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It seems I need Tune Ups all over the place: One of the things about cancer or living with the effects of treatment, is facing the need for acceptance. Self acceptance. I accept I had cancer. I accept my energy levels, intentions, focus, abilities have changed as a result of cancer treatment.

I have never had to manage energy before! And as a result, accepting these changes as I experience them is interesting to say the least.  Contemplating these changes can be a burden, and sometimes even a joy, I suppose it is down to the moment and whatever emotions are present at that time. But even still, I now have discussions with myself about my abilities and limitations. (and yes, I understand my output is above average, so I am mourning the loss of a small percentage of ability but this does not mean that I don’t continue to hold myself up to previous standards). I am able! Thank my lucky stars. I am just changed. 

My cognitive function is just, well, different. I hope that mental function in those realms will increase, open, expand and think that working with multicolor printing from start to finish is great mental food. Creating these images is like mental candy, they are very stimulating to make. I love figuring out what needs to be white, how I might add shading, what needs to stay and what needs to go. And it does not escape me that I am building little puzzles. Little intricate puzzles, I am thinking from the back, forward. I am mentally stretching.

In fact, this is intentional, I want more and better brain function! And I figure, if I can nudge the process along while having some good visual fun, why not?

So, not only am I learning proper printing technique with Carol, I am hoping to expand my brain box at the same time! Not too shabby.

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Continued Story.

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 It seems Peach has done another awesome thing. She found David and I, specifically. 

Last week I had several conversations with the veterinarian who ‘spayed’ Peach. It turns out, the spay was incomplete and uterine tissue was left inside her body. This tissue is producing estrogen. Peach needs to go into heat again, so that a specialist might be able to find the tissue and remove it. There is no guarantee that Peach will make enough estrogen in order to go into heat, but as this is the best case scenario, we hope that she does. If she does not, we need to regularly screen Peach for mammary carcinoma, in other words, breast cancer. Sigh.

I know that there are no guarantees in life, we have, just this moment, to live as fully as we are able. I love this little being and honestly hope she goes into heat again, that the surgeon can find the tissue, that we are able to lower or obliterate her odds of getting breast cancer. I am happy that she found us, that I can advocate for her. I am happy to love her. I wish that breast cancer could take a lesser seat of prominence in my life, but I accept what life has given me and us.

The veterinary office that helped Peach through her Trap and Rescue ordeal is shrugging off monetary responsibility for this portion of Peach’s care, though the vet who did the work, has said that she will pay for Peach’s re-spay out of her own pocket. I am glad that the doctor has taken an ethical stand, I am considering how to let the veterinary office know of my dissatisfaction. Speaking out is a new path for me and is directly related to my cancer experience. I have less tolerance for bad behavior now, and I want the world to be a better place, so speaking out is called for. There are many gifts related to the cancer experience and I bet part of the reason Peach found her way into our hearts, apartment and life.

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As I make more and more multicolor stamps, I am finding new and interesting ways to build images. Previously, I would draw the image, cut it out of a single piece of fun foam, mount and print the image. Now I am doing more of a call and response, I might cut a simple drawing in two colors, then cut additional layers to darken or shade an area of the image. Next I will work on incorporating textures into the background.

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 Creative flow is interesting. I work away at an idea as if a hound on a mission. Then I run up against a learning curve, as I did while working on The 20. This is when I switch gears, trying to access the intuitive thoughts that might solve the original creative conundrum. This post has two cogs in that wheel.

As I try to workout the Procion MX dye wash out troubles, I began making multicolor stamp portraits (the image of David in the middle of this post, and also this self portrait). Now, needing a break from the portraits, I have decided to carve a set of alphabet stamps. It is at times like this when I need to complete a project or two so that I can get back to what is really bothering me! This week will be geared toward finishing up my side projects and solving my Procion MX whoas.

 

American Bittern, thought differently.

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 A few years back Pat Gaignat taught the Journal Study Gals her Faux Screen Printing technique. I remember feeling overwhelmed and not quite knowing what to do with myself or how to use it. Then I went home and started thinking about it and the technique just bloomed and became something quite interesting and useable. I have been working steadily with The 20 series, and have for the most part, used Pat’s technique step by step. But then, I started wondering how else I might use and expand upon the idea. 

And Oh-My-Goodness, I think I have come up with something very interesting. The American Bittern image, above, can be printed using any of 13 different stamps, and I still have a stamp or two that I want to make for the set. I really look forward to trying the stamps out, and will have time later this week.

And the interesting thing about this is, I can use any of the 13, some of the 13, or all of them. It is as if I can build each  image separately of the last. The image here uses 7 stamps to complete the image, so I have 6 more stamps to add shadow here, a compositional element there. I have to say, this is quite interesting.

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 Peach is settling into apartment living quite well. She did go into heat last week, which was interesting. The vet says they spayed her but that it must have failed. I don’t want her to have to have surgery again, but she does need to be spayed. She will go to the vet tomorrow. 

 

Working away

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 I have just 6 more birds from the list of 20 Common Birds in Decline to do. Today I printed 3 of 4 recently cut and mounted stamps, before I was stopped in my tracks for the lack of soda ash soaked cloth. And, while looking over the recent images, I think I should reprint two out of the last 4 anyway. I am at a stand still until the fabric hanging in the bathroom drips drip.

I love this project. I have never done anything quite like it before. Each image measures 2.5×3.5″. So they are tiny. I have not measured how big the cloth I am printing on measures, I just randomly chose a size and cut a bunch of squares. I left enough white so that when I begin to embroider them, they can have a border of white around them. I do fret about how they will wash up, so I am printing several of each image so that I have plenty of test pieces.

Yes, I am going to embroider, or stitch additional details on each piece. After the Deep Clean last month, I unearthed several of these stamps and dreamed up this project, so that I can utilize the embroidery floss I had been dyeing two months previously. I am happy to say that I am also restocking my studio supplies and I will be dyeing more threads, both DMC 6 strand and some silk embroidery thread I found off eBay, coming directly from China. I will let you know how it goes.

I have not forgotten that I am going to do a giveaway of Fuglies, and I do have a free class in the works, but my timeframe is much slower than it has ever been before. Please stayed tuned and enjoy.

Two Years

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Two years ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. What a roller coaster this has been. Diagnosed, book contract, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, making art, writing about it, Switzerland, Dreaming from the Journal Page, getting used to being a flat chested woman. Oh, did I mention the love and care that I was showered with while doing all of this? No. Well, I was, and am, really. I often think that cancer teaches me that I am loved beyond my ability to grasp or comprehend. There is grace in cancer and this is the gift it gave me.

Today, this month, I am focusing on settling, releasing, accepting who and what I am now. These last few months have been filled with anxiety and depression, neither of which I handle very well. None of us do. So instead of focusing on what I cannot change, or even the things I can change, I choose to immerse myself in making. I am focused on The 20 Common Birds in Decline, because I love birds, they calm and center me, I have a physical memory of drawing their heads, wings, evaluating where light hits their eyes. Making helps me to relax and relaxing is what I seek. 

It takes a fair amount of time to let go of the intensity of medical need, appointments, follow up visits, managing side effects and I am not out of the woods yet, I still receive monthly shots, infusions once every six months (next week will be the 3rd out of a total of 4), and I experience the effects of medically induced menopause. Ugh.

So I am making a concerted effort of focus on immersing myself in what makes me happy, content, able to look beyond this difficulty and to balance the crap with the fantastic. It is time to reset my outlook. Cancer sucks, but life, life does not and that is what I have now. Thank goodness.

Thank you for your love, care, appreciation and support. It has not gone unnoticed. I tend to keep the cancer narrative to myself, but I find I start feeling quite alienated by doing so. So there you have it. These last few months have been tough and I am ready to let it go.

 Phew. 

Four more for The 20

The20Group

I am plugging away at the images for The 20 Common Birds in Decline, in fact, I have 10 more images to go-I am half way there. But they are small, measuring 2.5×3.5″, so it won’t take very long. I am making them in groups of 4 and printing them onto cloth in one session. It is fun, in a very obsessive, compulsive way. I find a photograph that I like, I draw the image, scan and resize it, cut it out of Fun Foam, print it on watercolor paper, then using the printed card as inspiration, I print using procion MX dye on cloth. All while taking notes in my inspiration journal. 

Today I printed (from left to right), Little Blue Heron, Rufous Hummingbird, Common Tern, and American Bittern.

A.BitternMTesta

This is an American Bittern, a private bird of marshy areas. Its coloring and mannerism can make it fade right into the landscape, making this a challenging bird to experience in the wild. I printed at least 4 of this image and I could probably print it again, to get it just right, the color is not fully realized. 

It feels good to work with images of birds again. I love birds and want to affect change in the way people think about them. This list was put together using citizen science by the Audubon Society. Chances are, you will recognize many of the birds on this list, if you are interested in helping them secure viable habitat, check this page out. Or maybe you have a bird feeder and would like to contribute to a citizen science project, check out Project Feeder Watch by Cornell or the Great Backyard Bird Count by Audubon (which happens in April and February respectively). 

Many of the 10 images that are in my future are tough birds to make images of, the like Whip-Poor-Will, a bird most often heard, but not seen, at night. And the Whip-Poor-Will is a primal looking bird too! So finding an image that will say, “Whip-Poor-Will” is a challenge. There are four Sparrows on this list, and I look forward to learning about and identifying them. Making art, exploring imagery that is interesting to me is a way of learning, I love taking out books, reading, searching the web and helping the data settle into my knowledge base. I have worked with so many images of birds, I now recognize them as I read my favorite birding magazines, because I am, for the most part, an armchair birder who longs for a feeder (and backyard) of her very own. 

American Bittern

I have begun making my Deep Cleaning interview, but got distracted by The 20, so please-stay tuned, the interview/fugly giveaway will occur this week.

In the meantime, let me introduce the American Bittern. This bird is a marsh wader, from the Heron family of birds. This is a secretive bird, confident in its ability to camouflage itself by stretching its neck upward in a reed like fashion, the stripes on this birds body really help make it look reed-like. I am in knowledge expansion mode, and am keeping notes, drawing, perfecting the images I draw and documenting my process.  In effect, I am making a map, creating a learning journey for myself. Exciting stuff.

 You can also see that I am cutting a multicolor stamp (page 58-59 of Dreaming From the Journal Page). This is an ATC sized image 2.25×3.25″, as are each of the printed bird images seen in the last post. I love working small, so this too excites me. 

This American Bittern image is #7 out of the 20 Birds in Decline. I have 13 more birds to go. I really look forward to seeing all 20 images together.

More to come. I am going to be meeting with a friend today and need to workout, shower and get out of the house!

Be prepared!

My studio reorganization is now complete. I went through every single box, prison  8-O, drawer, everything. Wow. I am impressed with myself! Over the weekend I am going to film an ‘interview’ of myself and my space and reveal all I have done. This upcoming post will have a giveaway of some Fuglies (defined as a Swear word+ Ugly, and used, in this case, to describe some cloth I no longer want but did dye, stamp, resist and otherwise embellish). The stack is about a foot tall. That post will also talk about a 4 week free class that I will be conducting next month. I would love for each and every one of you to join along in this, so please stay tuned.

On Wednesday when I tackled my fabric bins, I was nervous. I tried to tackle this last month and got totally overwhelmed and put all the bins back in their place. Somehow, in my mind, this part of the studio was a huge mess. It was not.

I like to make cloth per project, I purchase per project, I don’t maintain a stash by any definition that we could both agree upon and if we were to exchange stash, you would probably be bummed out. Me? I would be jazzed! I definately think I would be getting the better end of the deal. But still, I went through every bin and reorganized them according to color and type of cloth contained within the box. The great thing about this project is that I washed cloth that had been printed, worked and created. I found some real gems!

I will do a posts about the pieces I unearthed.

In the meantime, I took out a project I was working on prior to signing the contract for Dreaming From the Journal Page, The 20. If you would like to browse some posts about this project, click here. I will be using these pieces in addition to some of the cloth I unearthed in the upcoming free class.