Planet Textile Threads

March 30, 2015

Neki Rivera

on mixed blessings

those of you who've been with me for a while know of the long due renos in the madrid flat. i am happy to inform that they are about to commence, prior to  going through  stuff, discarding, selling and  packing. signing off for a while, but i may pop in to post photos.

the sampler belongs to my gracious neighbor's mother. she stitched it when she was 10 years old and it is incredibly charming. so is my neighbor who is going to take care of my plants.
be well and until soon.

“one of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened to anyone before"
joan didion

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 30, 2015 08:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Fresh Fish - Sea of Cortez

The Sonoran desert in Mexico (where Puerto Penasco is located) is quite a productive area.  Local fishermen catch fresh fish every day, and a variety of fish can be purchased at the port for daily consumption.  To the west, at the top of the Baja Penninsula, is a vast farming area, where many fresh vegetables are produced.  In Puerto Penasco, vendors stand at street corners selling fruits and vegetables and that is where I got this fresh asparagus!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 30, 2015 04:00 AM

March 29, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Quilting the Garden–NEW Workshops! Photo to Flower Collage

I am SO excited to share with you the first of two new workshops that will debut with the Charlotte (NC) Quilters Guild next week!   The first workshop, From Photo to Flower Collage, can be a one or two-day workshop.  This time, it will be two-days (click here for more information, there are just a couple spots left).  The second workshop, ThreadColoring the Flower (click here) is booked this time as a one-day class.

Orange Daylily collage in batik, part of the Photo to Flower Collage / Quilting the Garden workshop

Orange Daylily collage in batik, part of the Photo to Flower Collage / Quilting the Garden workshop

I designed these workshops so that a guild can book what will work for their guild:  a single day or a two-day  workshop for either of the two.  With a little added content, the workshop can be expanded to a full five days allowing students to really work in depth, with one-on-one assistance, to create their own collaged and thread-colored art quilt.  I’ll post in detail about the ThreadColoring workshop in two days.

The students learn how to see value (light and dark) and how to translate the imagery in a  photo into their own working pattern.  I provide two photos, the day lily (taken by the roadside near my home) and the water lily (taken by me at the Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor) for the Day 1 class project, which will finish about  9 x 12 inches:

The water lily photo for the workshop. Photo (c) SarahAnnSmith

The water lily photo for the workshop. Photo (c) SarahAnnSmith

The Close up of the wild Day Lily, also used in the workshop. (c) Sarah Ann Smith.  PS:  Sorry about all the watermarking and copyright notices--after the incident where someone created derivative copies of my work, I'm being even more  diligent about marking stuff.  So sad to have to do this!

The Close up of the wild Day Lily, also used in the workshop. (c) Sarah Ann Smith. PS: Sorry about all the watermarking and copyright notices–after the incident where someone created derivative copies of my work, I’m being even more diligent about marking stuff. So sad to have to do this!

When I created the class sample, I wanted to do one in fabrics students can get, such as the batiks in the example above.  However, I also wanted to try the image using only hand-dyes.  This next sample is just that.  I used one of my thermofax screens, Squiggles (available here at Fiber on a Whim) and textile paint to create the green on green background on my own hand-dyed fabric.

Another verion of the daylily, made exclusively with my own hand-dyes and thermofax screened hand-dye.

Another verion of the day lily, made exclusively with my own hand-dyes and thermofax screened hand-dye.

And no, I don’t know which one I like most!

Here is the water lily, made from both commercial batiks and my own hand-dyes:

Pink Water Lily (c) SarahAnnSmith

Pink Water Lily (c) SarahAnnSmith

The second day in this workshop, students will bring their own photos (or use my second photo), select one, and create their own larger art quilt.  I’m so excited to be able to teach my collage process and help folks learn to see and create their own artwork by understanding some of the basic elements and principles of design with strong composition, lighting, and fabric selection.



by Sarah Ann Smith at March 29, 2015 08:52 PM

Margaret Cooter

Getting back into garment sewing

Since seeing the asymmetrical top on the last episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, I've wanted to make it. The pattern is in a book, and this involves tracing it off from the sheet -
 Not my favourite task, but while I was at it I traced the pattern for the top with big pockets, shown on the cover. The vintage tracing wheel that came to me via Sally Douglass (thanks, Sally!) got good use, as did the weight that came with some ancient scales at one point and has proved SO useful since -
Much paper was pieced to make sheets big enough.

Nor was there table space big enough for laying out the fabric.
Ah, the fabric - I was attracted by the "dazzle" pattern and the fluidity of the fabric ... which will be causing me problems, as it shifts all over the place. Trying out sewing threads, I'm not having much luck with what's on hand, and don't seem to have nylon or polyester in navy blue. 

The serger is threaded up with black thread, which might do - but when I tried it out, one of the threads promptly snapped. Which will involve finding the manual and re-learning the threading. Or sticking with the ordinary machine ... either way, some research is needed.

At the moment I feel that this will be another trying-to-sew-knit-fabric disaster ... the jersey dress I made in 2007 is still unhemmed, gathering dust on Esmerelda the dress form, in a corner of the hall outside the weekend studio.

Several hours later
After cleaning and rethreading the serger, and a visit to the local [how lucky to have one] fabric shop to get ballpoint needles and polyester thread, and some fiddling around with stitches and tension on the other machine, I worked through the instructions in the book ... and cursed my choice of fabric. Then, once the neck was done, I cursed myself for not following my instincts - to staystitch the neckline, for a start: the fabric stretched, and the strip for facing will be much shorter next time!

The fabric feels lovely to wear, or would if it was warm enough to wear this yet. Even in summer, thanks to the stretched neck (and floppy facing) it will have to be layered over a teeshirt -
The next version will be made in cotton jersey, something irresistible from the local shop.

Lots of lessons learned. I don't have much experience of sewing with knits or with stretchy fabrics ... more research needed, for a start - and two garments are waiting to be made in cotton jersey.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 29, 2015 09:04 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Sea of Cortez Big Waves

Usually, the Sea of Cortez at Puerto Penasco is quite calm and placid.  It is a small body of water, and fairly shallow.  Occasionally, the wind kicks up, and the waves do too. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 29, 2015 04:00 AM

March 28, 2015

Terry Grant

Terry's Technicolor Dream Shoes

This is kind of a rant. About shoes. I have reached the point in my life where shoes are constantly on my mind. Not so much because I am such a shoe fashionista, but because my feet hurt and I want comfortable shoes, especially to travel and walk in. And I kind of want them to look good. I have spent way too much money in this quest. I have bought expensive shoes and cheap shoes and lots inbetween.

Last fall when we were going to Spain I read a friend's post on Facebook about the shoes she had worn to Paris and how she wore them everyday and how wonderful and comfortable they were, so I messaged her to find out what they were. Skechers Go Walk shoes. I went out and bought a pair and they were all she claimed and not even really expensive. I took several pairs of shoes to Spain, but these were the shoes I wore.

Here they are walking on beautiful tiles at the Alhambra.

They really are the most comfortable shoes I have worn in recent memory, including some very highly regarded fancy expensive shoes. I loved these shoes. They are squishy, yet supportive. I could walk all day on cobblestones and up crumbling stairs. They are lightweight and actually pretty washable. They held up well and I continue to wear them. Summer is coming and we are planning another trip and I think I want another pair. Something a little more exciting than gray would be nice, but I go here to look at them and what do I find? Gray. More gray. Black. More black. Then, icky pastel-y 5-year-old colors--turquoise, hot pink and lavender. These are not my colors. These, I guess. are old lady shoes. I'll own that. But I am insulted by what, I guess, are supposed to be old lady colors.  These, I suppose, are keyed to go with floral polyester blouses and polyester pull-on pants. Have shoe designers ever really looked at what women of a certain age are wearing outside the nursing home???

I have some suggestions for the designers at Skechers. If you made some good colors I would buy your shoes in multiples. I came up with some ideas. What do you think?

How hard could that be?

by Terry Grant ( at March 28, 2015 01:42 PM

Margaret Cooter

Light, and time, today

London from space -- all lit up -- but this evening, between 8.30 and 9.30, is Earth Hour, aiming for all non-essential lights to be turned off ... imaging that brightness at the centre somewhat diminished as the floodlit buildings are quelled for a few moments...

And a few hours later, at 1am, the clocks spring forward.

(photo; more info on Earth Hour in London at

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 28, 2015 09:30 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Piecing Progress


Here is the result of several days of frustration. A few days ago, I finished piecing the skinny lines.


Then, I made the decision to piece it all together and then quilt rather than qulting each piece and then putting it together. You piecers out there probably know that when you take a piece of fabric and start slashing and inserting lines, you get a very wonky thing when you are done. Some of the pieces were way off in shape and size and I had to add some fabric and lines and do some fudging to get them to work. I am working on the bias in some of the pieces, too. So now, it is ready to be quilted into submission. I need to go get some thread, first.

I am also working on the next Printed Fabric Bee piece which is due in a couple of days. The theme is Mola. Here is what I used to make thermofax screens.



Reveal will be in a couple of days.

Wednesday, we were able to pick up our ceramic objects that had been glazed and fired. Love my zombie foot and hand!


I got a bit carried away with the metallic wash on the plate, but all in all, I am happy with my first attempt at something like this. Those are delicious black currant macarons on the plate, a gift from my friend who makes these in many flavors and colors.


And this is the reason that I am moving and feeling like a slug right now. POLLEN!! I have a mean sinus headache and vertigo, my seasonal malady.


by Gerrie at March 28, 2015 01:21 AM

March 27, 2015

Olga Norris

Metal attraction

Flattened vases, 2006 (from here)
The other day I bought the current issue of one of my favourite magazines: Craft Arts International.  It is an Australian magazine which covers ceramics, glass, wood, prints, textiles,... many top quality studio crafts, and makers from all over the world.  I find the quality of the articles to be just as high as the work they describe, and it is a publication the arrival of which I greatly anticipate.  There are also reviews of international exhibitions. I read it from cover to cover. 
In this issue I saw what I thought were ceramics which attracted me, and I was surprised to find that the work is enamel.  This is not a material/technique which I've really thought about in the field of art/studio craft.  And it is unfortunate that through the photographs I cannot fully appreciate the material itself.
Vases: After Rain/After Snow, 2013, silver, copper, enamel, aluminium foil, silver powder, taller 45cm (from here)
Hiroki Iwata is the artist, - and I found that for the first time in many years I once more covet body adornments.
Four Brooches, 2013, silver, enamel, aluminium foil, silver powder, each 8 x 8 x 4cm.
Three Brooches, 2013,silver, enamel, aluminium foil, silver powder, ht. 8.5cm (brooch images from here)
Here, and here, and here are links to information.  How I would love to explore how these pieces feel, and look for real.

by Olga Norris ( at March 27, 2015 09:51 PM

Neki Rivera

rant alert

 everyone believes anyone can teach, but explaining things well is an art and not everyone is up to par. ಠ ಠ  that is why teaching colleges exist.
 never assume that the reader knows what you're talking about and can read between lines  because that creates information gaps. ಠ ಠ 
there are numerous instructions on line about setting up a ribber. there is even an instruction manual that comes with the ribber. however there are a couple of instruction lines missing from all of them.  ಠ ಠ
how to couple both beds is covered, but how on earth  does a beginner install the brackets to couple the ribber to the main bed?
after countless hours on line watching and reading incomplete info i found this jewel that teaches how to install the &%** brackets. save it, you may need it in the future.

feels better after venting.
have a joyous first spring weekend.
and happy birthday to me (*^▽^*) (*^▽^*)

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 27, 2015 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Ceramics - last class

Not quite the "end" - but the last class of the course saw a flurry of activity as I rushed to get what I could in the kiln. These will be available after 20 April ... which seems a long time away, given that some of them were started several weeks ago. Never mind, ceramics is a slow process, even when you use only one firing!
Some of these had dried out over the past week, others were fresh-dipped
They started out like this -

A final view of my drip-drying paraphernalia-improvisation - a weight in the bowl keeps the sticks in place -
The hairdryer is subsequently applied to each, to help dry out the bottoms and keep the sand from sticking - though that doesn't always work. No time for extra drying this week...

I had made some little paper-clay and metallic-organza pots at home -
On the left - to go into the kiln; on the right, what came out
The metal has a greenish tinge when paper clay is used, but with dipped porcelain, it turns black no matter what colour the fabric was -
Sampling different colours of metallic organza
And finally, more of what came out of the kiln (and had to be carefully taken home) -

The blue is glass from a few melted beads

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 27, 2015 09:16 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

This Year's Books Read in Mexico

As I mentioned before, our time in Mexico is a real vacation.  No Internet, no TV, no phone, and of course, the language barrier.  We spent a lot of time reading.  This is the stack of books I brought along and I read all the novels plus most of the non-fiction books.  It is amazing to have so much time to just indulge in a series of good books!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 27, 2015 04:00 AM

March 26, 2015

Margaret Cooter

A little nothing

A mini-JQ, trying out a new method of putting it together. Would it work at a size of 6"x 12"? This example is 6" x 3 1/4" -
It's a quickly-made paper collage, with stamping (the yellow spots, the blue lines), a bit of fabric (the flower/sun), and quite a bit of couching (orange and yellow threads). I prefer the back, which shows the (neon) threads holding the three layers together -
Three layers - between the paper front and the fabric back is a layer of stiff, non-woven interfacing, which works at the small size to give the piece a "good handle" - it doesn't flop about - it's that non-floppy property that I think would get lost in scaling up this construction method.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 26, 2015 10:29 PM

Poetry Thursday - New Gravity by Robin Robertson

New Gravity by Robin Robertson

Treading through the half-light of ivy
and headstone, I see you in the distance
as I'm telling our daughter
about this place, this whole business: 
a sister about to be born, how a life's new gravity suspends in water. 
Under the oak, the fallen leaves
are pieces of the tree's jigsaw; 
by your father's grave you are pressing acorns
into the shadows to seed.

(from A Painted Field, Picador £6.99 - found here)

Robin Robertson (b. 1955) "is a poet of austere and meticulous diction, tempered by a sensuous music". He was brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland but has spent much of his professional life in London. His debut collection A Painted Field appeared in 1997 - and won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize, the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award and the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. In 2004 Swithering won the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection. "An astute editor, Robertson also compiled Mortification: Writers' Stories of their Public Shame"; a short interview is here, in which he says "I simply follow lines of enquiry" [see below!] and continues, "Poetry seems to me, initially, an act of curiosity".

Now to the image, which stems from words in the poem but doesn't capture its feeling, quite the opposite. The stone captures the transience of living oak (and all that it represents), bringing it out of a durable material; the poem's moment is captured too, in words, making a surface just as the stonecarver made the surface of this carving in Lincoln Cathedral (found here, with no further information given).

Beyond the poem: 
In the same way that I like to know about the lives of the poets (especially, events in their childhoods that have a bearing on their later lives), it's an interesting exercise to find an image to go with the poem. The most mundane search words can bring up intriguing images and lead one through all sorts of interesting byways. This one sent me into another world, that of cathedral conservation and restoration work - of stonework, sculpture, glazing, and the roofs. Restoration of sculpture in the west front was finished in 2008 - just look at the difference -

To replace an area of stonework: "Templates are taken from the original stones and full size drawings are made. Full size block measurements are sent to our quarry north of Lincoln and sawn on six sides from the rough quarry block. The stone is worked using the templates from the original stones. Archstone, stringcourse, capitals, columns and many other types of stone are worked by hand to an accuracy of 1mm."

Another byway: the history of Lincoln Cathedral. Until 1549 it was the tallest building in the world - then the spire of the central tower (built 1307-11) blew down! Sic transit and all that...

Then, master stonecarvers themselves - it's chance that sends you to certain sites, in this case to the website of Nicholas Fairplay, who shows examples of drawings that are presented to clients, which I find very informative for approaching drawing of stone -
But I digress! If you've read this far, go back and re-read the poem...

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 26, 2015 10:21 AM

Neki Rivera

who was i kidding?

spending all day debbuging instead of fun and games? NAAH.
a ps brush resized and applied it black on white. then indexed the file to 2 colors 100% difussion.
sent it to the knitting machine et voila! thank you Alice Schlein! as a weaver i've done the homework and do not face the problems m kitters do.
i am experimenting with some optic brushed i downloaded, combining them in layers and then flattening and indexing the files. fun is going to happen, trust i only have to gather courage set up the ribber and learn the basics.that means more colors!
(excuse the light dots in the image, its a knitted piece)

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 26, 2015 09:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Colorful Mexican Pottery!

 We love shopping for colorful glass, pottery and rugs in Mexico (above).  This year, I decided to bring back a variety of small plates (7" diameter) in every pattern I could find.  I found nine different designs, shown here (below), but I purchased a dozen, so there are some duplicates.  I think they will be fun to use for appetizers or for desserts.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 26, 2015 04:00 AM

March 25, 2015

Terry Grant

The Love of Fabric

It's a funny thing, what our passions turn out to be. I know most people don't get as excited about fabric and pattern, and most of all the combination of those two things, the way I do. There are other things that do it for them. Science. Politics. Music. Or...

It is an appetite. That is the best way I can describe it. My eyes crave pattern like my tongue craves certain flavors and textures. And the act of visually "consuming" a particularly rich and diverse selection of textile pattern and color is as satisfying as a wonderful meal.

Last week Paula Benjaminson brought some of her collection of African textiles to show at our SAQA meeting. If you have an appetite for such things it was a feast.

The "crackle" lines in this batiked piece made me crazy in love with it...

Mud. This pattern, color, warm loveliness was created with mud.

Then she brought out her collection of African printing blocks. My heart raced.

I could look at that lizard up there all day.

It was a good day.

Today I have been getting work ready for a show. Labeling, writing up an inventory sheet, rolling, wrapping, packaging, wondering what, if anything, people will like. I never know. Sorting through inventory, I came upon this little piece, made 5 years ago, along with a group of similar pieces.

It was my favorite of the bunch, yet the only one that never sold. So today I carried it back from the studio and hung it next to the closet door just after you walk into the house. Looks like it was meant to be there all along.

It must have been meant for me. I suppose that's why no one else wanted it, though last year at my open studio a woman, who was not buying anything, picked it up, waggled it under my nose and said, " this is the best one..."


by Terry Grant ( at March 25, 2015 05:29 PM

Olga Norris

Spring greens

This morning saw our first visit this year to a nearby favourite garden: West Green.  We were fortunate with the weather, and were able to have our lunch outside in their walled garden.  At this time of year I love to see the greens and all the potential growth - and I also enjoy seeing the bones of the garden: the topiary and the structure of the trees.
I was intrigued by this delicate iris. 
Even the office and the toilets are delightfully decorated.

by Olga Norris ( at March 25, 2015 03:34 PM

Neki Rivera


finally!however don't ask me why i ended up with half a warp chain and no space in the already full reed. the back is quite a sight with those threads and the broken ones while beaming.sigh.those are counted in amounts not in numbers!
as much as i dislike leaving a threaded loom when i go away there's no way i am going to be able to finish this warp before monday.there's always a first time oi?

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 25, 2015 08:51 AM

March 24, 2015

Neki Rivera

back in business

need to be blocked, but hey i'm back in business! it's taken a while yet i'm grateful for all i've learned in the process.
and proving that murphy's law exists i had to stop and change the needle retainer bar  ಠ ಠ. have to wait 24 hours for the glue to dry.

squint your eyes for a better view.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 24, 2015 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Tuesday is drawing day - at the Wallace Collection

Amid the gilt of the furniture and the dark colours of so many of the paintings, the light and freshness of these two caught my eye -
but I wanted to tackle something a bit "different". French furniture isn't really an interest of mine - though after you've spent a chunk of time paying attention to something, it gets more interesting!

The marquetry on a Louis XVI secretaire caught my eye- 
as did those lovely leaves... The eye-slits on the helmet of the "helmeted cuirass" on the left were the deciding factor - I'd start with those.

It was interesting to see the details in the goldwork (gilt bronze) - the veins on the leaves, the ornamentation of dangling fringes, the arrows in the quiver, the groups of berries - and with the reflections off the gold itself, and the darker areas of wear, it was quite hard to figure out what was happening where, tonally ... but it certainly made you look!

And then I got to that lion - who is rather 3D, and at rather an angle, something I didn't pick up on at first -
At that point I was totally frustrated and rubbed him out. And had another go, not much more successfully (scroll down and you'll see) ... something to revisit after a bit more drawing practice?
Some of the marquetry made it into the background of my drawing, and very exquisite it all is. The gilt motif is outlined in a dark wood - which has the finest outline, less than a millimetre, too small to draw! - in a light wood. Amazing. The label reads: "Oak, veneered with panels of pictorial marquetry in holly, box, stained sycamore, pear wood, walnut, sycamore, tulipwood, gilt bronze, Carrara marble, box, amaranth and satiné". 24 details can be seen in the Images section here.

What I also enjoyed was the signature of the furniture maker - Foulet.  The maker is Pierre-Antoine Foulet (or Foullet). The Metropolitan Museum of Art has another piece by Foulet, and so does the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (here); in fact there are quite a lot of chests of drawers by Foulet scattered round the collections, including this one and that one...

And finally what I'm looking for - some biographical info on Foullet, in addition to "master 1765" or "d.1775", which refers to his father, Antoine; also, the patterns on the secretaire are based on those in a book that was published in 1776-7, hence its attribution to c.1777. Pierre-Antoine's dates, says the catalogue of the Robert Lehman collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are 1746-1809; he's an ebenist, and in the late 1760s worked in collaboration with Leonard Boudin, who made the body of the furniture and gave it to Foulet to apply the marquetry. 

In 2014 the Wallace Collection exhibited the Foulet secretaire alongside a 19th-century reproduction - "The initial impression that one piece is a literal copy of the other is soon dispelled: the marquetry, despite degradations on the magnificent and aristocratic Foullet example, is far less detailed and beautifully executed on the nineteenth-century version.  The construction of the drawer linings is not the same, nor the construction of the backboards, nor the use and type of screws, and so on." This video compares the two superb pieces of furniture.

A detail of Foulet's marquetry -
Our finished drawings -
Sue drew an enormous ceremonial sword - too long to fit on the page, so she did it in halves; aren't those gilded spheres glorious? It's an elaborate version of this -

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 24, 2015 09:59 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Peacefully Piecing

skinnyline piecing

I am doing it. I am piecing these skinny lines. I went round and round with input from EB about what fabric to use for the background of this. I just couldn’t make myself comfortable with the commercial fabric. Just not me. EB felt the gray had-dye had too much texture which would fight with the lines. So, after STASH meeting on Thursday, I stopped at the studio and picked up some PFD cotton and ecru and a black procion dye. I carefully mixed dye and tried to get as even a coverage as I could in large plastic bags in my utility room.

The ecru was the winner. The gray which I tried with diluted black was too lavender. I have been able to complete 4 pieces of the puzzle. I sometimes have to unsew and try again, expecially where I have the crossed lines. EB has suggested that I quilt each piece separately and then put them together. I think that is a great idea. This will end up being 24 by 42 so that I can enter it in the High Fiber Diet neutral show, which has specific sizes.

Last Wednesday was our local SAQA meeting. We had a presentation by Paula Benjaminson, a SAQA member who spent many years in Africa. She showed some of her fabrics and quilts made from African fabrics. I loved this dress.


Fabric detail:


Here is lovely piece of mudcloth.


And this printed fabric.


I have been busy with meetings and other things. My knee is getting better.

Oh, the best news is that Jayme got her first choice for her pediatric residency – Stanford Children’s hospital. This means they will stay in the Bay area. Mark can keep his job, but they will move out of San Francisco and closer to Palo Alto so that Jayme will not have as much of a commute.

Paige’s 3rd birthday party is coming up. She had a party this past week-end. We had to miss it, but her other Grandma sent me some photos. Here she is chomping on a cupcake!

2015-03-23 21.43.54

by Gerrie at March 24, 2015 04:52 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Tamale Vendors on the Beach

On weekends, the tamale vendors come around on the beach with their wares to sell.  My favorite is the two grannys who come with tamales and burritos, piping hot in a cooler.  Yum!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 24, 2015 04:00 AM

March 23, 2015

Margaret Cooter

New art from Africa and Latin America

The Pangea II exhibition had many large works exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery's large rooms, but the one I remember best had been in the previous Pangea show ... the "ants" by Colombian artist Rafael Gomezbarros. This time some of them were in a small room, and to step into the room, its walls crawling with these creatures, was to have all the hairs on your legs stand on end - quite a different effect from them being "safely" spread on the walls of a very large room -

Also extremely impressive was the work of Ethiopian artist Ephrem Solomon - cut lino with collage and paint, with limited colours and signature elements of chairs and slippers -

Ibrahim Mahama lined an entire room with coal sacks in the first Pangea exhibition - this time he showed several smaller works -
Armand Boua's medium is tar and acrylic on cardboard -
The collections of hats, sewn onto canvas, are part of Alexandre da Cunha's "Nudes" series -

And now for something completely different - in a small room upstairs is prizewinning work by children of various ages from one school - the "cubist faces" are by 10-11 year olds -
What a brilliant rendition of "The Chomondley Sisters"!

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 23, 2015 03:07 PM


... blue plastic bags in this installation at the Pangea II show at Saatchi Gallery (till 6 Sept) -
Jean-François Boclé
Everything Must Go
Does it make you think of melting icebergs?

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 23, 2015 02:28 PM

Neki Rivera

grateful for cochineal

no fuss dyeing,no temperature issues, always nice can even add the mordant to the dye bath  thus cutting steps and time.i wonder why japanese wrinkle their noses at the sole mention of cochineal. perhaps because it's so far removed from their dyeing culture?

first dip, sakura pink rich.a way of 
reminiscing last year's sakura fever.
the piece will be overdyed in logwood 
so i need to keep that in mind. 

to whet sakura saudade here's this year's forecast

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at March 23, 2015 09:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Sunset at Puerto Penasco

I will try not to bore you with sunset photos......I took a lot of them.  We walked the beach every evening at sunset in order to photograph the drama.  I have hundreds of photos from those walks.  The colors change so quickly at sunset on the beach!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 23, 2015 04:00 AM

March 22, 2015

Margaret Cooter

New directions?

In combining textiles and ceramics - or, turning textiles into porcelain - I'm making some flat pieces that will fit into box frames and hang on someone's wall, maybe. They are gathered and steamed and dipped and fired ... but none have come out of the kiln yet ... so I don't really know what to do next ...

The simplest is a rectangle about 10cm high; this one has metallic threads stitched across the gathers -

This is a sampler of the different metallic organzas, to see if they make different colours after firing -
After gathering and steaming, it looks like this -
It'll be interesting to compare the photo to the dipped and fired version ... but too late to develop anything based on the knowledge gained. Ah well, "next time"...

"Four Fields" before dipping, indeed before the sections were sewn together -
 ... and afterwards -
Aha, it's not the same "four fields" - unfortunately I forgot to take a "before" photo of this version. The "after" photo ... that's anyone's guess at this point! 

I like the format and have had all sorts of ideas about developing it, incorporating the metallic (colouring) elements in various ways, as fabric and as stitching. As there won't be time on the ceramics course to fire more, I'm thinking about developing them as textiles. Here's another in various stages of gathering -
 This is an idea involving layering of sheer fabrics -
Nice mindless stitching for television evenings or tube journeys!

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 22, 2015 09:27 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Pelican Parade in the Sky

 At sunset, as the tide was starting to go out, the pelicans would begin migrating east to the nearby estuary, where they would find easy fishing. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 22, 2015 04:00 AM

Dijanne Cevaal

Medieval Project is Starting to Take Shape

I have arrived in France ( brrr it's too cold!) to find some of the  gorgeous pieces that have been made for the Medieval Project which will be shown at  Pour l'Amour du Fil in the end of April, where I shall also be teaching. I can't tell you how exciting it is to open each package and find what new heights of inventiveness the makers have climbed to ( I feel almost ashamed of my ordinary paltry efforts) . I just love how stitch and colour transforms these pieces and that somehow they become the makers own  with a distinct expressiveness that seems to radiate from each piece.

 This queen has been embroidered and embellished by Libby Williams- and she may indeed have been these colours at Chartres Cathedral because it is now known that the gothic statues that adorn the Royal Portal were once coloured from traces of colour that have been found.I just love the sparkle and richness created in the dress.

The medieval rabbit has been stitched and reverse appliqued and some humour added by Emanda Fretwell- the detail in this is gorgeous and it so has that feel of the medieval!

And finally a king joins the ladies made by Denise Fordyce- the embroidery on this is subtle but rich with a bit of sparkle, just the right sort of feel for a medieval king!

I hope I shall see more  queens and kings and bunnies and dragons arrive- for what will hopefully be like a rich medieval tapestry.I hope they will glow and warm and inspire! The ones I already have here certainly exude that kind of feeling. They will tour in Australia after Nantes and premiere at the Berry Patchwork Shop Retreat at the end of August 2015.

And on Tuesday, 24 March 2015 I will be teaching lino-cutting and printing at Au Fil d'Emma in Orleans. there are still some places available. I will teach you the techniques I use to create my  own linocuts and how I print with them, and after the  wonderful encounter with Indian woodblocks, I think I may have a few new ideas!

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at March 22, 2015 01:01 AM

March 21, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Hooking a face

Started in January, my rag-rug revision of Jawlensky's painting is growing slowly. The rug-hooking group meets today; I plan to add lots of yellow - daffodil-yellow and primrose-yellow - welcome, spring!

On yellow - "According to surveys in Europe and the United States, yellow is the color people most often associate with amusement, optimism, gentleness, and spontaneity, but also with duplicity, envy, jealousy and avarice. It plays an important role in Asian culture, particularly in China, where it is seen as the color of happiness, glory, wisdom, harmony and culture."

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 21, 2015 12:39 PM

Art I like - Doris Bank

"folded bowls"
Not only does Doris Bank press, fold, and overlap porcelain, she makes various other ceramic tableware and objects -
glazed interiors

"Black structure" from the "Sepia" series

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 21, 2015 09:57 AM

Ceramics, penultimate week

Trying out different swatches of metallic organza -
The trial piece ready to be gathered, and some other bits for dipping
The "flouncy" pieces have been steamed to set the folds, then the folds picked out by stitching metal threads - the dipping (and firing) process will transform them utterly, but will the metallic lines still relate to the folds? -

Distortion could result from the weight of the clay - they are dipped "upside down", then left to drip and the porcelain to touch-dry. The threads, being fine, disappear from view, so there will be a surprise when they come out of the kiln -
A flat (gathered) piece is drying too
These are going into the kiln -
Rolled from paper clay, with snippets of metallic fabric incorporated
These were left to dry, and will be fired after the next (last) class -
It's rather frustrating to have not just one week, but two, in between making the "pot" and seeing how it came out - it's hard to move forward on the basis of the results of the previous experiment. But the drying is important -- if the base isn't dry, the sand will stick. (Because these have metal in them, which could stick to the kiln shelf, they have to be fired in a sand tray.)

These two came out of the kiln -
Both are very fragile, and on the large side - about 15cm diameter. I wrapped them up and brought them carefully (I hope!) home, but haven't dared unwrap them yet.

Once the classes are finished, I'll use the 4 hours a week of class time "saved" to get on with documenting the pieces, and deciding which to keep and which experiments to pursue at the next opportunity. As for the several hours a week used to prepare the textiles ... that chunk of time is earmarked for a related project - clay and kilns are not involved, but fabric is.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 21, 2015 09:49 AM

March 20, 2015

Olga Norris

Diverse input, but sparse blog output

At present I am pursuing two FutureLearn courses (this one, and that one), each of which is occupying lively thought while I carry out more mechanical digital collaging tasks, or hand stitching.  I also have the Indian Wells tennis tournament as input in the evenings, not to mention my reading: the current issue of the excellent Printmaking Today arrived yesterday to add to my ongoing books. 
Somewhere in the thickets of my mind I am also working out design ideas on the computer - and usually while listening to the radio.  Here are two which are in development - the latter is for a linocut idea:
Otherwise my output is currently minimal and has not been worth putting into a post - other than to say that I really recommend FutureLearn - I have found the courses to be worth a great deal, even tho' they are free and can be accessed online from all over the world.

by Olga Norris ( at March 20, 2015 05:19 PM

Margaret Cooter

Solar eclipse

It's going to be 97%, they say ... and sure enough, it's gloomier, darker than usual, even on a gloomy overcast day in London.

Here's the real thing -

Remember the 1999 eclipse? I was working flextime and able to go to Hampstead Heath - watching it in a crowd definitely enhanced the experience, and the unnatural darkness was memorable.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 20, 2015 10:45 AM

Dollhouses within dollhouses

Seen in the Small Stories exhibition at the Museum of Childhood, Bethnal Green -
1870, renovated 1970


1980s, memories of 1940

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 20, 2015 10:21 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Sunset View From the Margarita Deck

My sister's beach house has 4 decks.  The margarita deck is on the roof and the view is spectacular!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 20, 2015 04:00 AM

March 19, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Collect the set?

Seen on Marylebone High Street, in Anthropologie. Much as I love the idea, I can't imagine having my breakfast toast on these plates ... and egg-on-toast would be a transgression.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 19, 2015 09:03 PM

Avian delights

This year's Folio Diary is on the theme of birds, starting with the cover -
and extending to a page a week, including this charming whimsy -
La Cage, by the versatile illustrator Jean Emile Laboureur, 1928.

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 19, 2015 11:22 AM

Poetry Thursday - Pavlov's Cranes by Hasegawa Ryusei

On second glance - it's a heron, not a crane...
Having found this photograph of a "japanese" jar (it's in the V&A somewhere), I went looking for a poem about cranes - and discovered Hasegawa Ryusei (b.1928), whose first book of poems was published in 1957. He is often associated with the Retto (Archipelago) Group of Social Realist poets, which was formed in 1952. After spending years working as a day labourer, he went on to write poems full of intellectual tension suggesting barely suppressed violence, says the Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature.

Four more of his poems are here.

Pavlov’s Cranes
Beating sturdy feathers,
exerting the power of flight,
in unison severing, repelling
the fog in space,
their oars, wings, a single motion,
thousands of shorebirds’ vibrations
begin to resound in the depths of my ear.
Japanese cranes perhaps, demoiselle cranes or storks,
hard to distinguish,
Pavlov’s odd wing-beats,
in the sky of the quiet cerebrum, of the night,
like the splashes of water by the pectoral fins
of flashing fish in flight,
across my skin, consecutively,
echo, come closer.
From the marshes of despair
they’ve flown up and away,
and betting on the night
or heading toward daybreak,
Pavlov’s strange cranes,
one hundred or so in each group,
have begun their energetic move.
Each, green beak tilted upward,
weight resting
on the tip of the tail of the crane before it,
balancing power,
gliding on the air current,
strung together in a line,
they fly.
The one heading the group
is a lump of resistance and exhaustion.
But one after another,
they replace the leading one,
the leading ones, one after another,
in good order, fall back to the end of the flock;
constructing a balance,
drawing a small half-circle
in a line of space,
they fly splendidly.
Have you not seen it:
it is always touched, and induced
at the surface of the reflex-bow.
Night’s cerebrum. It’s on the sea of the occipital cerebral cortex.
Betting on nihilism perhaps
or heading toward daybreak,
thousands of Pavlov’s cranes,
one hundred or so in each group,
migrate as if challenging.
All the hundred birds, beaks tilted upward,
weight resting on the tips of the tails before them,
strung in a line, in silence,
never cease.

-Hasegawa Ryusei (via), translated by J Thomas Rimer

by Margaret Cooter ( at March 19, 2015 10:14 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Bougainvillea in Puerto Penasco

Bougainvillea were blooming in many of the yards in Puerto Penasco.  Such a glorious sight for us in late winter!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 19, 2015 04:00 AM

March 18, 2015

Natalya Aikens

new work!

I recently finished new art! I'm so excited about it because it feels like it's been a while since I've finished a larger piece. I shared it on Monday with my newsletter subscribers and today I share it with you.

This piece has a long journey. It started with a challenge for my local fiber arts group, and immediately as I got it back from that exhibit, I cut it up. The first large portion of it became this, three small pieces of it became this, this and this. And now the final large portion of it has become Iron Spine 2.

I love making long stitch lines
using negative space to suggest shape

Iron Spine 2 © Natalya Aikens 2015
And now back to stitching Spruce Street and preparing for Hudson River Valley Fiber Art workshop!

by Natalya Aikens ( at March 18, 2015 11:49 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Puerto Penasco Shrimp

Puerto Penasco is a small fishing village at the top curve of the Sea of Cortez.  One of the main things they fish for is SHRIMP, and they catch them BIG!  We went down to the port market every day to shop for the evening's meal of fresh caught fish or shrimp.  This day, I did not buy the largest shrimp I could find - but these are still very nice.  I sauteed them in butter, olive oil, and garlic.  So yummy!  (note my hand on the left side of the plate for size comparison).

by Cynthia St Charles ( at March 18, 2015 04:00 AM