Planet Textile Threads

February 10, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Patience, etc

Coming upon this drawing by Richard Busk (Untitled, 2001, 60x84cm) in "Drawing Projects", I heard myself thinking "I just don't have the patience to do that" even as I registered my admiration for it ... and indeed, the desire to replicate it.

How many times have I heard the "patience" sentence from people looking at work at quilt shows, or even been told about their lack of patience when they're looking at my embroidery (which is not all that overwhelming).

A placatory rejoinder is along the lines of "you don't need patience when you're doing something you love" - and that came to mind as I contemplated the drawing - contemplation fuelled by "breakfast" at a local cafe -
In the book you read that a drawing is the history of its making - how was that drawing made? I looked for a starting point, clues to laying down and taking out, the sequence of actions - the clarity of the trees against the sky, the reflections; smudging elsewhere as the surface was built up, other marks overlaid.

What I thought was my impatience was something different. I would be quite happy to discover the structure of the scene, to collect up and put down its elements to flesh out that structure, to spend quite a lot of time doing that - if I knew what I was doing ... or knew what I was working toward. (Yet can there be a successful outcome without the danger of it going wrong?)

The problem was twofold, or perhaps manifold: what materials to use, what scene or subject to choose - and most of all, where (how?) to start. And how to keep going. And when to stop.

Patience - the capacity to tolerate problems. Not having patience implies a need to do only those activities that are free of problems. How realistic is that? How does anything (call it progress or call it learning) happen without some sort of problem that, identified and grappled with, moves things forward?

You're doing something you love - you don't need patience because you feel that, with a little attention and persistence, you can straighten out the current problem, be it the need to overcome boredom when making the same stitch another 120,000 times, or the difficulty of choosing just the right colour for that particular spot. What you need are strategies. You come to love what you're doing, imho, when you have "enough" strategies to deal with the problems and suffering that come with the task.

Well this is getting to sound like a diatribe, but it's just me at this moment - an impatient person - writing down something for my future (forgetful?) self to read and remember.

And speaking of remembering, the drawing from the book reminded me of those in a little book that turns up from among the books on my nearest shelf from time to time:

I wrote about it years ago (here) in relation to greenness, as it consists of drawings and photographs of gardens in Cornwall, based on Andrew Marvell's poem.
The text says that John Hubbard's charcoal drawings "might as easily point to the origins of mapping as to those of writing"; they "suggest a way through material, and thus carry about them indications of the way in which a wood or a river valley might function." Had I read that when first seeing the little book, record of an exhibition at the South Bank about 1990 (I don't recall actually reading the text, just looking at the pictures!), it would have been complete gibberish to me; the drawings themselves were incomprehensible
- what did they show? how can that be a garden? But I loved the poem, and the bookyness of the little book; it continues to give pleasure - and enlightenment.

"To 'see' a landscape is only the beginning" ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 10, 2016 08:26 AM

Neki Rivera

a small indulgence

a lap blanket in lovely colors from ezcaray

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 10, 2016 07:53 AM

Dijanne Cevaal


Today is my last day as a 50 year old something and tomorrow a new decade of 60's begins. I am no longer one of the young ones in my quilt group unlike when I started . When I first went to a quilt group I had two  young children, somewhere along the way a third daughter came along and she used to come to AQA meetings with me because I wasn't going to miss a meeting. In those days  around 1995 there was a stellar group of quilters at AQA and meetings literally buzzed. Ynez my youngest daughter would be in her carry basket under my chair, and once I got so carried away with some demos going on that I completely forgot she was under the chair- until I suddenly realised and called out in panic- the last time I went to an AQA meeting last year, several reminded me of that event- it had stayed in their minds and had caused much amusement. Irving Green , bless his soul, used to say I had such a beautiful quiet baby because I exposed her to the hubbub of quilterly noise, whilst  with his baby granddaughter he had to tip toe around for fear of waking the child. I don't know, but I have to say these things seem almost like yesterday.

I started quilting in 1989 and knew almost straight away I had found my passion. I had sewed and even embroidered as a teenager, I had also knitted and crocheted, making my own fairisle designs and  knitted motifs inspired by Jenny Kee- but when I made that first quilt, a grandmothers flower garden block variation from a Pauline Burbidge book, and even though I did not like the resulting quilt, as a result of the fabrics i chose - I had found what I  had wanted to do.

The passion stayed alive despite a few years ago when I really felt like bailing out and getting a full time job to pay the bills instead of the uncertainty of  income that quilting and teaching brings.I think my passion waned a bit because since 2008 I have been a single mum- and I found that the needs of teenage daughters and running a business was crazily hard- harder than when they were babies, teenagers do not have afternoon naps for a start, and I seemed to be in the car a lot of the time for one reason or another. It was a phase that all mothers go through and I have to say that despite the teenage years and their angst my girls have grown into beautiful, independent , talented young women, that I am incredibly proud of and who are following their own paths into the world . I could not ask for more.

And now I am house sitting the house of a friend in Le Triadou close to Montpellier. I spent time here in 2010 because in all reality I had struggled to find equilibrium after divorce. My friend Liwanag Sales ( also a quilter) had been through a similar thing, except she had more children , but together we talked and talked and talked away a lot of the bitterness that surrounds such events. It started me on another journey. The idea of creating a book that  talked about my creative process and how travel affected my creativity, because literally my suitcase is often my studio.I dilly dallied around with the idea when I returned to Australia, and the Sentinelle series intervened including a certificate course in desk top publishing which I loved. The Sentinelles somehow inspired people, though I never really exhibited the whole series in Australia- but people responded to their sense of spirituality and the opportunity to create a story in stitch. I never expected such a beautiful ethereal and  deeply moving exhibition would result.The work of  many other hands working with a linocut image I had made. It restarted me touring things again, which I had stopped doing in 2010.

Then my daughter studied Visual Communication and Design at RMIT and I have to say she pushed me to finally get the book made that I had been talking about. I had made pieces for it, I had kind of created a story, but I had not pulled it together in any coherent way. To create this book as a collaboration with my daughter Celeste  ( Celeste Galtry Creative)was a wonderful experience. She helped me with the Pozible fund raising campaign- which so many of you supported and made self publishing the book possible, and for which I am eternally grateful. She bossed me around, she kept my nose to the grindstone and she designed a beautiful book that sings of her aesthetic, but also showcases my work and the story I wanted to write. Then my good friend Moulin did the translation so the book could be bilingual. I am very proud of what we all achieved and it was a huge learning curve. and I am thinking of embarking on another journey like it in a year or two. It combined two things- my love of textile and my love of books and being able to do it with my daughter and a good friend was a special experience.

Part of a series of work in that book , the Chartres chapter is being exhibited in Chartres from 12 March 2016- 20 March 2016- and I have to say it's a thrill to be able to show the Chartres inspired pieces in the place that inspired them. And then  onto Quilts en Beaujolais in April- it's the fourth time I have been  guest artist at the event and I am very grateful  for the support of  Monique and Geoff , but it also means I have to make new work!. Then in June I will also be exhibiting as a guest artist  along with some other incredibly talented textile artists at Forca Fil in Provence. How can I not love this southern part of France?

So I want to thank all of you - my readers, my friends, and my family who have been so supportive since I first started on this journey. When I began I had no idea, the many friends I would make, the laughter and the fun and the sheer hard work that would ensue, but all of you have helped and nurtured the creative part of my soul, you have kept me going when things were tough and you have kept my buoyed during those times and you have embraced my work so thank you!

And then last but not least- my daughter designed some Moo cards for me- which arrived this morning. Whilst I have had business cards in the past I always printed them myself- this is the first time I have had ones printed by a professional company. There is always room for a new thing! And I love them.( the cards are much nicer in reality- not a very good photograph by me)

So if you leave a comment- I would like to send one lucky reader a gift as my birthday gift to you. Your names will all be put in a hat and I shall send the winner something. I will close the comments on Sunday evening- french time .

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at February 10, 2016 04:57 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Fireweed Along the Al-Can

 One of my most influential images from the trip is that of the Fireweed that we saw virtually everywhere we went.  It was along every roadside for 8000 miles!  So bright and colorful!  It really made the gray skies tolerable!

I took lots and lots of pictures of the fireweed with the idea that somehow it will be showing up in some of my future artwork!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 10, 2016 04:30 AM

February 09, 2016

Neki Rivera

on the front burner again

this  double weave sample project was on hold due to the knitting rush, but just came back to life again. warp is very fine botany wool in white and the other layer is grey 48/2 merino with a stainless steel/wool stripe in the middle. the wefts are white crepe wool 18txcm and stries and or blocks of grey merino and stainless / wool.

front and back after wet finishing.the stailess-wool yarn puffs nicely with more volume than the grey merino which tends to felt. the combination of both yarns is very effective.

the white crepe wool produces small kinks which i do not find unatractive.

your regular wiggly/ bumpy stripes.
the fewer weft passes the  wigglier.

re threading now to sample other possibilities in double weave. 

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 09, 2016 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Science Museum

On the way to the gallery, I spotted the engine of a V2 rocket, visible "in the round" -
Since struggling to draw it at the Imperial War Museum a while back, and again at the weekend, I was interested to get a different view of the pipes - but rather than stopping to draw it, proceeded to the gallery as planned.

Only to find this -
To get the angle (and to fit it on my page), I sat on the floor - and did lots of measuring, until it actually did fit on the page, with a little space to spare at the top, fortuitously as it turned out. Meanwhile a tour came round and I learned that this V2 rocket had been built after the war, by the British. Elsewhere it says it was one of eight engines built as part of Operation Backfire in late 1945, and came to the museum via Cranfield University. It has been standing upright since 2000.

Getting up to stretch, I went round the back and saw the bit that didn't fit under the ceiling -
and added it to the drawing -
The shadows helped with seeing the details, as did having brightness from the sunshine -
 Using the camera helped with a better view, too -
As the tour guide said, if these bombs had been developed earlier in the war, there's not telling what would have happened - once launched, they were unstoppable. After the war, the V2s became the basis of the space race, their scientists and engineers relocating to the US and the factories being taken over by the Russians.

History aside, here are some of the day's drawings.
Blind drawing by Sue M - 1868 steam train - such energy!

Lighthouse light - left, by Michelle; right, by Sue M

Budding's patent lawnmower, by Sue S

Janet B's final drawing: Nasmyth reflecting telescope, 1852
Carol caught the metallic gleam of the Lockheed Electra airliner

Gallery overview

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 09, 2016 08:43 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Searching My Stash


I found some fabrics in my stash that should work with my color palette. I hope to get to the studio tomorrow to start mixing some dyes. It should be fun.

I had to rest my body today. I didn’t sleep well last night. I had to stop taking Aleve pm because it was doing a number on my tummy, but I think I will take one tonight with some Pepcid and hope for the best.

I am really getting cabin fever. We are having gorgeous weather and I wish I could go out and take a long walk.

by Gerrie at February 09, 2016 06:04 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Chicken, Alaska

 Chicken was our last stop in Alaska.  This place really is in the middle of nowhere.  It is an old gold mining area, but it is still active. 

People in this picture were learning how to pan for gold.  We met and visited with a guy from Helena, Montana here.  It was his second year visiting Chicken and he said he had already found several ounces of gold in just a week.  He was working for the gift shop to earn his camping spot - and he was panning during every spare moment.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 09, 2016 04:30 AM

Dijanne Cevaal

Workshop Program for Le Triadou

Workshop Program at Atelier Printemps Sacre- Le Triadou
I have been devising a program for workshops whilst I am at Atelier Printemps Sacre at Le Triadou. Le Triadou is approximately 20 km from Montpellier on the North side of Montpellier and is easily accessible.We have an atelier downstairs which can be utilised for working in and there is also a large undercover area where we can do wet work such as printing or dyeing.If you are coming from a long distance it may be possible to accommodate you for a small fee.

Commencement: All workshops are one day, commencing at 9.30 am until 16.00 in the afternoon and tea, infusions  and coffee will be provided . Workshops are limited to 5 participants so the space will be comfortable to work in. Workshops will proceed whether there are 1 or 5 participants. There will be a one hour lunch break. Bring some food to share.

ExperienceI have been teaching for more than 20 years and have a Masters in Visual Arts ( a higher degree). I believe in finding creativity within us all and I am well able to help you in overcoming creative blocks and stumbles. I like to encourage  participants to  follow their own ideas- but I am here to guide you and help you! I also teach skills and techniques to help you find your own voice. You can attend one  workshop  or follow the whole program to build your skills and creative voice.

12 February 2016 ( Friday) Dyeing fabric-

I teach you the basics of dyeing fabric with Procion dyes, plus some of the techniques i use in my own work. You will go home with a pallette of colours and some pieces with interesting shibori effects.We will also look at simple resist techniques to create interesting effects such as scrunching, tieing, and folding. We will discuss colour mixing, but there will not be any gradation dyeing.
The workshop can be adapted to dye specific colours for particular projects, e.g. sea colours,brights, and even lengths of cloth (though this may entail paying a little bit more for dye depending on the length of cloth). Participants can nominate specific colours they would like to dye.This workshop is suitable for all  interested in dyeing and you can dyed t-shirts or old sheets.

Cost 50€ plus 12€

You will need to bring:

6-8 metres of pure cotton fabric ( old cotton sheets can be utilised but will dye a bit differently)
rubber gloves
old clothes/and or apron
Synthetic wool for tie dye or elastics ( small)
plastic bags in which to take your fabric home in
6-10 containers  ( icecream containers are very good) to put your fabric in whilst dyeing
a wiping cloth

13 February 2016 ( Saturday) Printing Fabric

You can print the fabrics you dyed on Friday or bring some fabrics that are not too patterned and not too dark in colour.  This workshop is designed to show participants simple techniques to create individual fabric which can be made at home without great expense.
This is a good workshop in conjunction with the dyeing workshop as hand dyed fabrics lend themselves to being printed- however commercial fabrics can also be printed.
Methods include printing with foliage/leaves/seed pods, found objects or anything with a relief surface, linocuts, stamps, bubble wrap, doilies and stencils. I will demonstrate how to make , and a stencil with plastic contact paper.
I will have some of my linocuts available for you to use as well. We will build up layers of interesting shapes to add depth to the resulting printed cloth.We also  look at the African painting technique and create some cloth using the technique.
Cost is 50 € for a whole day plus a 15 €

You will need to bring

6-8 fat quarters of fabric ( you can bring larger pieces if wished or more)- fabric in  softer colours works best  and not patterned
paint brush ( medium size)
A dense foam roller- available from Bricolage  or larger Supermarkets
A plate ( plastic or meat tray from supermarket) for ink
plastic spoon(s)
foliage- not dried but with good structure
and any stamps or other objects with interesting surfaces
wiping cloth

20 February 2016 ( Saturday) Make your own Linocut and Print

I will take you through exercises to make your own linocuts. You will make a small sampler piece to try out the different gouges and the  lines and marks they make.This sampler can be used for background printing as well. You will then make a postcard sized ( or similar size) linocut for printing on fabric or  paper ( the techniques are slightly different and I will show you the difference).. You can even stitch your printed fabric! ( you willneed to bring some batting and fabric for the back)

A class designed to focus on the lino-cutting process and some experimenting with cuts and texture and the commencement of simple designs. It is not possible to cut complex designs in one day. We will discuss design balance and creating more complex designs, negative space  and how to use your computer in aiding design and refining We will make prints on cloth, different types of cloth, and look at how to use printed fabrics in projects.

Cost is 50€ plus 15€ material fee which included lino. I will also provide the tools

You will need to bring;
Images in black and white of designs you like- bring them in postcard size if possible. Bring several as some will be more suitable than others
pieces of fabric ( you can bring larger pieces if wished or more)- fabric in  softer colours works best  and not patterned
paper if you would like to print on paper
paint brush (medium size)
A dense foam roller- available from Bricolage  or larger Supermarkets
A plate ( plastic or meat tray from supermarket) for ink
plastic spoon(s)

wiping cloth

27 February 2016 ( Saturday) Transfer Printing and Stitching 

We will  explore transfer printing/sublimation dyeing for synthetic materials. We will be using Lutradur ( a polyester non-woven material) or you can bring some synthetic organza to also try. We will work with some motifs and even linocuts and then will explore the resulting prints by way of stitching in the afternoon.Transfer printing is a method of getting permanent colour  onto materials such as lutradur ( a polyester non-woven fibre), polyester fabrics such as polyester organza and satin. It is greta fun and you can be quite painterly or simply use linocuts to create backgrounds with prints. The process allows  you to get up to 3 prints, so that a series of work can be created. We also explore cutting back to reveal the material underneath and free machine stitching to embellish your printed fabric
Niveau débutant ou chevronné - 1 jour - broderie machine L’impression transfert est une méthode qui permet d’obtenir une couleur permanente et stable sur des matériaux comme le lutradur (un intissé en fibre de polyester), ou d’autres tissus en polyester (organza, satin). C’est une technique amusante, qui donne un effet pictural, sur lequel vous pouvez imprimer en linogravure, ou avec d’autres techniques d’impressions. Le procédé vous permet de réaliser jusqu’à 3 impressions, de sorte que vous pouvez créer des séries. Nous allons apprendre à utiliser les peintures à transfert, différentes techniques pour créer des effets et nous perfectionner en broderie libre à la machine. Nous explorerons aussi des techniques de coupe qui révèlent le matériau en dessous, et des techniques machine, pour embellir votre tissu imprimé. Pour cet atelier, prévoir un supplément de 15€/participant (à payer à l’animatrice), ce qui inclut le lutradur, l’utilisation des peintures, linogravures et des crayons à transfert.

 Cost 50 € plus 15 € Material cost ( including lutradur)

You will need to bring:

Paper ( that which you use for normal printing on your computer) at least 20 sheets
paint brushes- small medium, large
 4-6 small jars ( like yoghurt glass jars)
a wiping cloth
an apronYour sewing machine in good working order
Your darning foot( pique libre)
Different coloured threads
a selection of different coloured fabrics, and fabric for the backing
1-2 pieces the size of the paper you will be painting with
Fournitures :
  • rayon papier,
  • aiguilles machine taille 80/12
  • au

  • Machine  à coudre, pied piqué libre et mode d’emploi,
  • Papier sulfurisé (environ 25 x 40 cm),
  • matériel à coudre habituel + ciseaux pointus de broderie + fils machine,
  • c moins 20 feuilles de papier blanc (pour imprimante),
  • 2 pinceaux à peinture : 1 pinceau fin,  l’autre plus large,
  • 6 pots de yaourts en verre (plus stables) pour mixer les couleurs,
  • un fat quarter de tissu imprimé, que l’on découpe en deux parties formatA4,
  • 5/6 tissus en harmonie, mais contrastés avec le fat quarter (imprimé abstrait et batik possibles : à choisir sur place avec l’aide de Dijanne),
  • un tissu de dos en format A4,
  • fils machine pour broder qui contrastent avec les tissus,
  • molleton : 3 carrés de 25cm x25cm  pour rembourrer certains
  • endroits,

4 March 2016 ( Saturday) Trees,Trees, Trees

Using raw edge applique  you will design your own tree incorporating some of the ideas and stories about trees, such as Trees of Life.  You will also quilt your resulting applique. We will look at design considerations and colours to create your  very own tree piece! Tis is also a good exercise to practice your free motion skills whilst creating a unique piece. There are so many wonderful trees in this region- there is plenty of inspiration!
 Cost 50 € whole day

You will need to bring:
Your machine in good working order
Your darning foot( pique libre)
Machine stitching needles
a selection of different coloured threads for the embellishment
a selection of fat quarters in the colours you would like to work with
A piece of batting 50 cm x 50 cm
a piece of fabric for the back
a piece of Vliesofix 45 cm x 45 cm
a pencil and some drawing paper

if you would like to join a class please email me 

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at February 09, 2016 02:48 AM

February 08, 2016

Neki Rivera

of learning curves

heaps of yarns -broken and other sorts- about 3 of these.

the set up with instructions on the right. many times skipped steps caused the above.

the one that didn't make the cut. the ones which did will be shown after the jury's veredict.
fingers crossed hoping to get juried in.

wonderful to get my life back!

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 08, 2016 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Extended Drawing - module 7

To set the scene, Anne sent round some images before the class - three by Antony Gormley, one by Leonardo, and one of her own -




the room was set up...
In between demonstrations, we gridded up the paper lightly with charcoal, then added figures in a sort of see-through drawing and "3D" drawing, using circular motions to show the back as well as the front of the form -

In between we used paper towel to spread/diminish/blend the marks. And then we started adding vessels, from a selection that grew as people added more to the still-life and to their drawings -
 My view -
My drawing -
 Looking around at the end of the class to see what others had done -
Homework: look at Seurat's drawings, such as these -
or those here, an exhibition at MoMA.

In the second class we started by blocking out a sheet of paper in charcoal, and then it got serious. First a demonstration of using white chalk to put in - as much as possible with our fingers, taking it from a "reservoir" made on the paper (top right corner) - using it to put in the highlights, and to "feel" our way round the form. Trying to leave using the actual piece of chalk for as long as possible, for the very highest highlights. (The model is by Antony Gormley, and it's in the science museum.)
 Black conte also helps make the shape more definite -
The glasses were from the still life on the floor. Same technique.

And then we tried the "highlight method" with fabric as well as solid objects, and this is where the prepared charcoal was used.
Taking out the charcoal, with paper and later a rubber, on one sheet ... and adding it onto the other sheet. Developing the two drawings in tandem; negative/positive. I found this was a very congenial way to work, back and forth between the two, looking for highlights and looking for shadows and watching how they form a surface -
Another artist to look at - Morandi -
On the handouts - Giacometti, Seurat, Gormley -
 A room full of positive/negative results, a new way of looking at things, lots to think about -

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 08, 2016 08:53 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Fun With Color


The last week of my basic dyeing for quilters is a test, in a sense, of what we have learned about mixing dyes. We are to pick a photo that is a color inspiration for us and then determine what the colors are. I used Photoshop Elements to help with the process. I have always loved the colors in this photo that I took on a trip to Seattle. I love the colors of this outdoor furniture display.

Here are the colors that I pulled out.



Now, I have to go through my stash of hand-dyes to see what matches I have. Then, I will mix up some dyes and try to match the rest. I think this is going to be fun.

I had a busy few days and now I am paying for it. On Friday, my iPad died and then came back to life, but it has been working very slowly and has given me lots of problems. We went to the Apple store and I  bought a new one. Wow, what a difference. I love the retina display and of course it is very zippy.


On Friday night, we went to a fun Mardi Gras cabaret at Trinity which was a fund raiser for the choir’s trip to England and France next year. They did an array of fun show tunes.

Last night, we went to the symphony and I did too much walking and am paying for it today. I can barely move, again. I only had a slight meltdown and I enjoyed watching the superbowl and especially the half-time show. And, I am getting closer to the fix for my knee.


by Gerrie at February 08, 2016 04:03 AM

February 07, 2016

Sarah Ann Smith

Milkweed No. 2, Part 2

A few days ago, I shared with you the happy news that Milkweed No. 2 is heading to Australia and New Zealand to be a part of “A Matter of Time,” and exhibit curated by Brenda Gael Smith.  Brenda is blogging sneak peeks on the blog.

Milkweed pod, seeds and silks detail

Milkweed pod, seeds and silks detail

SASmith.MilkweedNo2.Detail2_DSC3256 I thought I’d share a few more bits of my process, especially because I will be demoing and teaching a class at Houston that incorporate these techniques.

In an effort to reduce the labor-intensive process of quilting the surface of my works at 1/8

In an effort to reduce the labor-intensive process of quilting the surface of my works at 1/8″ apart over nearly the entire surface, I’ve started adding some surface design.

A couple years ago, I designed some Thermofax screens and had them made by Jan and Kristen at Fiber on a Whim.  They asked if I would be interested in selling the designs, and I quickly said Yes!   Here are three of my favorites:

On the photo above, I have used textile paint and my

On the photo above, I have used textile paint and my “celery” screen to help blend the collaged batiks and hand-dyes.

My alphabet screen was used on some rather plain brown hand-dyed (by me) fabric then cut into bits to use in the quilt in addition to using batiks.

My alphabet screen was used on some rather plain brown hand-dyed (by me) fabric then cut into bits to use in the quilt in addition to using batiks.

I mixed up some transparent textile paints--I use both Jacquard and ProFab--to screen print over the already collaged/fused background pieces.

I mixed up some transparent textile paints–I use Versatex, Jacquard and ProFab–to screen print over the already collaged/fused background pieces.

Next came the second round of screen printing, using my Squiggles screen, putting a darker green over the yellow-green I used for the celery.

I simply adore this screen. Add this to the top of any fabric--a plain tone on tone, hand-dye or batik and you've got great texture that can be blend or contrasty as you need.

I simply adore this screen. Add this to the top of any fabric–a plain tone on tone, hand-dye or batik and you’ve got great texture that can be blend or contrasty as you need.

I’ll be teaching some of this process in the Saturday Sampler where I will demonstrate working on your own personalized cloth as well as in my “Nest” class (you can see a bit about that here).

I also did a bit of stenciling using freezer paper and two colors of white.

I also did a bit of stenciling using freezer paper and two colors of white.

If you’d like to order those screens, visit Fiber on a Whim! Better yet, if you can come play with me in my classes at Quilt Festival in Houston this coming autumn!


by Sarah Ann Smith at February 07, 2016 11:31 AM

Margaret Cooter

Details from the Ashmolean Museum

A treasure-chest of delights!
Dogs and deer from Uccello's Hunt in the Forest

From Piero di Cosimo's The Forest Fire; they hybrid beasts were "added at a late stage"
Sculpted buttonhole stitching -
Marble; bust of a pope

Terra cotta; model for Handel's statue in Westminster Abbey by Roubilliac
Birds -
Fleeing (?) from a scene of animal carnage on a tapestry

Decorous and contented, painted on china
 Fantastical scenes -
Unicorns in traction

The mouth of Hell (painted by Lelio Orsi, 1540s)
 Blue and white -
Musician on a chinese plate

"Ladies" on a wall-panel of tiles
Grand tapestries -
Embroidered, Spain, 1600

Woven, 17th century
A medieval alabaster, Adoration of the Magi -
(Another detail is here)

All seen too quickly;but consider another way of looking at things, which the Ashmolean offers as an Afternoon Tea Talk on 9 April:

Slow Art Day

"Discover the pleasures of taking your time to appreciate a work of art. Look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and discuss what you have seen over afternoon tea. ... Slow Art Day is an international event encouraging people to discover the joy of taking time to look at art."

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 07, 2016 08:33 AM

February 06, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Where's that "void" then?

Putting a charcoal-encrusted paper on my drawing board, I noticed that my shadow made a darker area; that fits well with my "secret story", or subtext, for the "on the edge" topic. This time the idea for the research drawing is to leave a dark "void" in the middle, and make the edges lighter.

The technique we recently used in Extended Drawing class, of using the wiped-away charcoal to make a companion drawing, seemed useful here. The "blank" paper was a bit of tracing paper with some rubbings on it, but never mind, those marks will add to the interest (or disappear) -
Those shadowy-person shapes are irresistible... and here's some energetic use of charcoal, just to get in the mood -
After a while the tracing paper was full of graphite and the charcoal was full of conte. And the marks were much the same everywhere...
 Adding some little squiggles in oil pastel, then wiping over with charcoal -
After a bit of effort the marks became more various - using the rubber, brush pen, felt pen on top of the graphite -

 using rubber in the borders of the charcoal paper -
Here's a right pair - not a "void" to be seen! -
What is it, a sugar loaf? a cone of yarn? -
No, it's turned into a giant thimble in the jungle! -
"Void" #2
At first I had, instead of dimples that sunk in, balls that stuck out - it's all in the amount of highlight. But now they definitely look like dimples, so I feel successful on that front, even though the shading on the larger form doesn't work. That's one of the dangers of working from what you think you know, rather than being able to check what you're seeing.

And ... it's hardly a "void", nor is the idea for the edges developing. Next time...

I'm pleased about coming up with some new-to-me marks with some of my not-much-used materials.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 06, 2016 05:36 PM

Starting on "the void"

It's high time to start my piece for the CQ challenge, "On The Edge" - April will soon be here! There's a sort of tradition in CQ not to talk about the challenge in the online group ... progress is shrouded in secrecy, perhaps through fear of not being selected for the exhibition. But blabbermouth here is about to break that taboo, and perhaps others of whom I know not are doing the same on their blogs.

Last week I received this card* (thank you, Helen!) and it clicked in to an idea that had been swirling round in my thoughts -
...hmm, not swirling: I had a very clear mental picture of what "On The Edge Of The Void" would look like ... the sort of "clear" mental picture that is actually very fuzzy, a concept not a picture. It would be the edge, with no middle. A void where fabric usually is. The quilt size is 60cm x 100cm and my thought was to have 10-20cm of fabric round the edges, a nice straight outer edge and either sticky-out-bits or maybe a cliff-like thing for the inner edges, shapes to be decided (or evolve). Both inside and outside edges would be crisply faced, and there would be adequate room at the top for the regulation 4" sleeve at the top (and maybe a pocket at the bottom for inserting a rod that would help the quilt to hang straighter). Maybe the Void would be represented by an extra layer of fabric (an extension of that wretched 4" sleeve, left to flap at the back?) or maybe there would be ... nothing.

Those are the practicalities. Now for the arty bit! I knew it would have to start with drawing, and here's the first one getting going - again, the coincidence of receiving something through the post played a part - the exciting unmatched socks (thanks, Erika!) were wrapped in a nice big sheet of newsprint.
Void#1 getting going
About drawing on newsprint ... flimsy, cheap, expendable - but it's there, at hand. I have other paper of various sorts, but cannot bring myself to use it! also, dread the task of having to find it. (yesyes, I know this means I have Too Much Stuff...)

So ... so what you can, where you are, with what you have. I taped the newsprint, smoothing it as much as possible, to my "easel" - a piece of hardboard on its way to somewhere else, eventually, as are the trestles, still in my room after shelves needed to be painted. They made a useful place to put the little dish of various crayons etc.

I simply started making marks, arm outstretched, and before long a charcoal-mark "nest" had developed. Or maybe a tunnel?
Charcoal rubbed off, graphite added.
Rubbings in charcoal and graphite

The smudgy marks are white oil pastel, dabbed with the paper
used to rub off the charcoal earlier; they hold the charcoal (no smudging!)
and feel soft and oily

On the left is the stick (under the paper) that was rubbed along
to make a nice straight mark

White conte over graphite and over those oil pastel/charcoal marks
 Adding some ink ... too much void, not enough edge!
And the size is wrong... but these are research drawings.

*The card is based on the work of Anne Wilson, as seen recently at the Whitworth, Manchester.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 06, 2016 05:29 PM

Olga Norris

Sea Lovers

I am very much enjoying Valerie Martin's collection of short stories Sea Lovers.  It is a strange and delightful world I step into every night at bedtime, with a section on metamorphoses - which immediately made me think about the works of Ana Maria Pacheco (the above image comes from here).
It was the review by Jane Smiley (just after I had completed reading her Last Hundred Years trilogy) that persuaded me to acquire the Martin book.

by Olga Norris ( at February 06, 2016 04:57 PM

Margaret Cooter

"Hurley, the irrepressible"

"...Hurley, the irrepressible ... perched like a dicky bird on the top sail
yard arm is taking a colour photo of ship and ice..."
If polar exploration is your thing - and even if it's not - the current exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society in South Kensington is a must-see.

It consists of the photos taken by Shackleton's expedition photographer, Frank Hurley, who had tough decisions to make when the expedition's ship, the Endurance, broke up in ice as they were forced to over-winter. Most of his plates (this was 1915) had to be left behind.

What happened next is well known: the men set up camp, hoping to hold out till the ice broke up; eventually some set off across 750 miles of sea in a small boat to get help, and did manage to rescue the others.

The story is told, and imaged, so vividly in the exhibition, at the heart of which are more than 90 of Hurley's images, newly digitised from the originals, which have been stored at the RGS for more than 80 years. It also includes "precious survivors", personal artefacts that returned with the men.

"As one of the first truly modern documentary photographers and film-makers, Australian born Hurley hoped to have his images seen at as large scale size as possible. 100 years later, this intention will be honoured with giant dimension prints, some over 2 metres in width and height, at the heart of the exhibition."

If you can't get to the RGS, the online exhibition is accessible here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 06, 2016 04:45 PM

Serendipity at Museum of London

A lunchtime lecture drew me to the Museum of London midweek - "The Formation of our Galaxy", one of Gresham College's free lectures (very well attended) - and afterward I wandered round looking for something to draw. Mike Hawthorne's 1987 drawing, based on his sketches in 1981, of the Brixton Riots

is impressive in its detail -
and my attempt to emulate his cross-hatching was instructive -
On hearing an announcement of a 45-minute tour of the highlights of the medieval gallery I went right along, and sketched while Jenny brilliantly explained living conditions, the evolution of armour, what people ate, diseases, and the transition from medieval to renaissance. An excellent tour, one of several that happen every day.
A typical house about 1100; it would have had quite a bit of space (mud!) around it

A chance to look more closely at Old St Pauls, which took more than 200 years to build

Cooking and eating around 1400-1500 - note the bone handled knife in the centre

More drawing, however hasty, and fewer notes

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 06, 2016 08:18 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Black Spruce Forest Fires

 We drove through many hundreds of miles of Black Spruce forests.  I grew very fond of the special shape of the Black Spruce.  This section of burned forest - I found especially interesting.  I took quite a few pictures with the idea that eventually some of these images might make it into some of my art.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 06, 2016 04:30 AM

Dijanne Cevaal

Life Tree Linocut

It's been beautiful sunshine most of this week and the dog and I have been doing the long walk. Sometimes I would prefer to do the shorter walk but when we get to the junction where we have to make that decision the dog has on it's face this look of "You are kidding aren't you- come on we are doing the long walk!" Or maybe she loves the Pic as much as I do. Each day it seems different and each day we encounter something different- the little changes of the season, the moodiness of the clouds, the clear blue sky, lately the birds have been twittering madly.The almond tree has sprung into full blossom almost overnight and everywhere spring is trying to burst.

I have been doing some hand stitching . Have to get some batting to do machine stitching ( am waiting on that from Victorian Textiles who so kindly sponsor me with batting- thank you) I have been stitching on some banksia's - what else, but I quite like how weird and quirky these are turning out- it's exactly what I had in mind for this banksia variation.

I have also been working on a big linocut of a tree. I like to think of it as a life tree/tree of life. It measures 40 cm x 50 cm and is by far the largest linocut I have made. It took ages to carve it out, but as it was wamr and sunny outside I could sit outside and do it.

Inking up the linocut ready for printing. I like to use a denser black textile printing ink these days- that is also on the ordered list awaiting for arrival. But I was really keen to see how it would look after all that work!
The background fabric is quite busy but I like the light shining through the middle of the tree and with stitching it will  bring it alive .

The blue background is more even. This print is for sale in case anyone is interested . The price is $40AUS ( it is twice the size of my previous largest print) plus postage. Email me if you would like a print!

There are still some spaces for the workshops in Le Traidou which begin next weekend. All workshops will go ahead You can look at the program here. There is a real opportunity to develop your work if you are so inclined as well as learn lots of techniques.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at February 06, 2016 02:57 AM

February 05, 2016

Sarah Ann Smith

The Rewards of Teaching


A student learning to Thread-Color the Garden  (class listed at Sarah Ann Smith Classes just scroll down)

It is so heartwarming to receive feedback such as this from your students:

“Sarah, Your class was really great and I learned a lot. You are an engaging teacher with down to earth instructions and entertaining anecdotes. Thank you so much for traveling all the way to Greenville! – Joanna”

and from Emily who organized the class, “I want to share that I’ve heard wonderful reviews of the technique along with praise for your teaching style from lots of the women.  “Very informative”, “Encouraging”, “Addictive,”  “Practical,” and “Approachable” are just a few of the accolades!  I personally want to thank you for making the journey north and sharing with all of us.”

Comments like these are the greatest reward of teaching!  Thank you Emily G., Joanna and all my students in Greenville!   I’d love to return–and as long as it isn’t sports season for Eli I’ll bring chocolate chip cookies for all (one of the benefits of teaching in driving distance from home–more quilts and food!).


Class in a church basement in Greenville (southern edge of Moosehead Lake in northern Maine)


A student ironing behind the “goodies” table


a Practice snippet before students worked on the main image for learning to thread color


Learning how to blend thread colors. Instead of worrying about messing up a quilt top, work on a printed photo!

by Sarah Ann Smith at February 05, 2016 04:54 PM

Margaret Cooter


Looks like the new traffic scheme on Exhibition Road is getting bumped about a bit.

Oh. Not so "new", this shared-space scheme: it's been going since 2012! At that point: "It [was] 20 years since towns and cities across Europe began redesigning their streets, moving from the traffic- circulating zones festooned with railings and traffic lights beloved of British town planners. Some 400 European towns have converted thoroughfares to spaces adapted for all to use, with redesigns that respect rather than abuse the buildings facing onto them."

In shared-space traffic "Walkers do not have to go via barriers and signalled crossings. Drivers do not have to wait, burning fuel at lights, with unoccupied road space ahead. Rather than drive at a stop-start rate of 12mph they can usually drive at a steady 15.

Everyone just gets on with it. In Germany, Denmark, Holland, France, where shared space is commonplace, traffic speeds have increased along with safety.
This is an intellectual as much as practical revolution. "

Sharing space outside the V&A, 2012 (via)

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 05, 2016 11:12 AM

Neki Rivera

confronting the canon

i wonder if it's soft and pliable.
have a great weekend.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 05, 2016 09:00 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Delta Junction Vist

 We left Denali early on account of the weather and spent a night camped just outside of Anchorage.  We drove early on a Monday morning to Delta Junction to visit Joe's school mate, Joyce.  She is the librarian at Delta Junction.  She served us a fabulous breakfast and gave us a tour of the library before we went on our way.
 Below, the pipeline crosses the river via its very own suspension bridge.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 05, 2016 04:30 AM

February 04, 2016

Sarah Ann Smith

Milkweed No. 2 is headed to Australia

I’m delighted to share that my most recent art quilt, Milkweed No. 2, has been selected to be in Brenda Gael Smith’s current exhibit, A Matter of Time, and is en route to Australia!  Brenda is giving us all sneak peeks at the artworks in her blogpost series called “Just a Moment”  here.

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I'm thrilled---just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!

Milkweed No. 2 has been juried into A Matter of Time and will be touring in Australia, New Zealand, and possibly points beyond in the coming two years. I’m thrilled—just wish I could fit inside the envelope and travel with it!  Click to view a little larger.

Apparently I mostly forgot to take in progress photos (!!!) while I was making Milkweed No. 2, so I will share one or two in progress shots from the making off Milkweed No. 1 (which I have not yet shared in public…stay tuned for that in a few weeks) in this and in a second post about my process.

As usual, I began with an idea (more like an obsession with milkweed pods) and dyeing fabric.  I had plenty of batiks and some of my own hand-dyes but needed more for the sky.  I decided to dye some cotton duck for the backing, as well.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

Backing and sky fabrics I dyed specifically for my two Milkweed quilts.

I use the cotton duck as a stabilizer.  It helps reduce shrinkage and the artwork hangs beautifully, although it isn’t as easy to handle under the needle as a lightweight fabric.  It is worth the trade-off!  I wrote an article about my process for Machine Quilting Unlimited and blogged about that here.

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

The top side of the cotton, is on the left. The right side shows where the dye pooled on the bottom (cloth was dyed flat on a surface).

Next, using Mistyfuse (by far the softest hand, easiest to use, never “ages out”) adhesive / fusible web, I prepare my fabrics for collaging.  My video workshop (here on my site and available as a download here from Interweave) shows this part of the process, plus a lot more.  Anyway, I use my “stash” of fused pieces, but always end up adding more bits for a given piece.

Sorry about the shadow on the left---here I've got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I've been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Sorry about the shadow on the left—here I’ve got fabrics out for fusing and am sorting them into colors using carry-out dish lids (that I’ve been using for at least the past 7 years! that restaurant has been out of business for eons)

Next, I start the fusing process.  In this shot, I’m working on the sky for Milkweed No. 1 (larger, landscape orientation), but I used exactly the same process on this piece.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.

Working on the sun-glow in the sky. This is totally a collage process. I tend to cut chunks to go into the various trays, then use as is or submit while collaging.  The drawing you see is a piece of paper underneath my non-stick ginormous press sheet with my sketch.  I ordered this one from Valerie Hearder in Canada, but Mistyfuse now sells the Holy Cow Goddess sheet which is 36×48 inches.   Really helps with my process–I just cover the entire “big board” and get to work.

I then did a bit of surface design including stenciling and screen-printing using thermofax screens (details in my next post).  Finally, I quilted my piece.  Aren’t the colors just glorious?  And yes, bright purple works in a seed pod!

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

Quilting on one of the milkweed pods, using variegated thread from Superior Threads.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky--I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

A second detail shot that shows some of the sky–I just love those days where there is a bright glowing spot in the sky where the sun is behind the clouds.

I’ll be back in a few days with more on the processes using paint!   Remember, visit A Matter of Time here and the “Just a Moment” previews blogposts about the various artists and artworks here.



by Sarah Ann Smith at February 04, 2016 03:12 PM

Olga Norris

Bookbinding workshop

Pewsey white horse, image from here
Yesterday I braved the commuter traffic to travel deep into white horse countryside for a workshop.  I have been worriting around vague ideas about making a book with my work - somehow, I know not how - and through a friend heard of Lori Sauer's workshops
Because I have nothing specific in mind yet, I did not want to spend several days at a workshop, but the one day Fin Book workshop looked a good starting point.  The examples shown looked attractive, and the binding looked open and accommodating (just in case that is what I might need).
It was a sunny day, and once I had got past the traffic I enjoyed the drive - even though I did lose my way a little towards the end.  However, I did get a view of the Pewsey white horse, which I should not have done - so a bonus!
This is my completed sample. 
I discovered after I had put the cover on that I had bound only six rather than seven sections, and that all the sections were not in the same orientation - so they go up and down somewhat, as can be seen at each end of the binding below. 
In mitigation I must say that the manipulations of the binding took much concentration from everyone, some cursing, and a touch of blood spilling!  There was tension not only in the binding threads!  Also I my knackered knees were protesting at having to stand still all day with only awkward (for me) high stools to perch on, so I was not as relaxed as I would have liked.  Despite this I did enjoy the day, and after all, this is a learning sample only.
I am not sure if this binding method is what I want, but as I hoped the process has made me take on a different perspective, and placed practical possibilities in front of me.  It certainly has not put me off the larger idea, rather has moved me a little further forward - I just have more things to mull.

by Olga Norris ( at February 04, 2016 01:16 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Homage to my Hips by Lucille Clifton


homage to my hips

these hips are big hips
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,   
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top!

Asked about the brevity of her poems, Lucille Clifton (1936-2010) said, "I have six children, and I can only keep about 20 lines in memory until the end of the day." Her first book, published in 1969, is centred around her family, and was cited by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. Her work emphasises endurance and strength through adversity, focusing particularly on African-American experience and family life.

Reading about Lucille Clifton (here) I lost count of how many books she had published (plus she wrote books for children). This one particularly interested me - it seems to be structured much like a quilt itself is structured:

"Quilting: Poems 1987-1990 (1991)also won widespread critical acclaim. Using a quilt as a poetic metaphor for life, each poem is a story, bound together through history and figuratively sewn with the thread of experience. Each section of the book is divided by a conventional quilt design name—"Eight-pointed Star" and "Tree of Life"—which provides a framework for Clifton’s poetic quilt."

As for the image at the top of the post - this is "Grateful Dance" (2010) by Ranell Hansen, who says: "I created it in commemoration of my two hip replacements and in gratitude that I have mobility again."

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 04, 2016 08:05 AM

Rayna Gillman

B is for...

Book review -- as promised

This is the most beautifully written book I have read in eons. It is a vivid picture of wartime London from 1939 on, of the battlefield, and the interpersonal relationships -- on both a deeply personal and cultural/historical level. Best of all, the characters are so strong and well developed that I really cared about them. Poignant, heartbreaking, and wryly funny at points. Couldn't put it down: read it in two nights. This is a can't miss book and I highly recommend it.

Full disclosure: this was a review copy and it will be released May 3, 2016. I have read a lot of pre-release review copies -- many of them, uncorrected galleys, over the last couple of years. Some were so badly written or inane that I couldn't even finish them. Others were quite good. But this is by far, the most outstanding on every level.

On a more banal note - I spent the morning paying bills and the afternoon trying to book a flight. Don't ask! Right now, I have it on hold for three days and am breathing a sigh of relief. I also cleaned off my kitchen island, except for the cutting mat.

Tomorrow, I expect to actually SEW. How exciting! 

by (Rayna) at February 04, 2016 05:43 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Mama Griz with Triplet Cubs

 This was our single decent wildlife sighting on the bus trip through Denali National Park.  There was a mama griz feeding near the road while her three cubs napped in the bushes.  We did not get any very good views / photos.  We were sitting in the back of the bus and the bus driver parked so he could watch, never taking into consideration that people in the back could not see as well.  We had to keep quiet, so did not ask him to move forward to give us a chance at a good shot.  I never did really see the three cubs, but am taking it on faith they were there.  I realize this is a rare sighting.  I am just disappointed our view was so poor.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 04, 2016 04:30 AM

February 03, 2016

Margaret Cooter

Seba's snakes

Having found out about Albertus Seba's cabinet of natural curiosities in a drawing class, I was delighted to be given a copy of the book and especially love the way the snakes writhe across the page. They are found both only with other snakes and also in plates with other animals -
Many of the plates can be seen online; if it's just the snakes you're after, click here.

The book has inspired this funky cabinet -
Each volume is a drawer.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 03, 2016 04:15 PM


"Volcano: Nature and Culture" by James Hamilton is an offshoot of a 2010 exhibition at Compton Verney, Volcano: Turner to Warhol. The book considers artists' and writers' perception of volcanoes and its change over time.

I've been curious about Krakatoa since reading Twenty-One Balloons (William Pene du Bois, 1947) as a child, in which the protagonists escape the eruption in a hot-air balloon raft. Yes, science fictional fantastic, and the illustrations are very old-fashioned; for the reality of the event, Simon Winchester has written an excellent account. "Volcano" has Krakatoa, and rather a lot of Vesuvius, and Etna, and lots of other volcanoes, as seen and recorded by artists - and these are set in the context of scientific thought.

Three things I was particularly drawn to in this book:

1. "Kilimanjaro Southern Glaciers 1898" by Georgia Papageorge (2010), incorporates poured ash from the mountain and represents the oldest known photograph of the mountain -
She is "among the first artists to begin the task of creating an iconography for the dormant volcano in Tanzania. Her palette consists of paint and canvas, photographs, charcoal, tree bark, red and white chevron barrier cloth and the fertile product of the volcano's own interior, lava dust. [The photograph] is enlarged by her and streaked with trails of liquid lava, and articulated by a red zigzag line representing temperature fluctuations and glacier melt on the volcano over the twentieth century."

2. Ilana Halperin's visit, aged 30, to Eldfell, the Icelandic volcano born in the same year she was. The result was an exhibition, Nomadic Landmass, in Edinburgh in 2005, and some of the work was shown in "The Library" at the National Museums of Scotland in 2013. I saw it there and would have liked to spend more time with it. This drawing wasn't part of "The Library" -
Ilana Halperin, Nomadic Landmass
"Nomadic Landmass" says James Hamilton, "included photographic images taken from the aie over Eldfell, and geological specimens and drawings taken from photographs of the destruction caused by the birth of the mountain. ... Halperin has taken the extreme detachment of volcanic activity as her subject, and has personalized it, drawn it to herself, and invited it to become intertwined with her own life. The mountain's pulse, and hers, become one."

3. In 1665 Mundus Subterraneus, by the German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher, was published, with many illustrations (see some here); in 1669 it was translated from Latin into English.
"Kircher was driven by the admixture of extraordinary genius and religious obligation to become the most learned and active savant of his age. While he may not, as traditionally claimed, have been the last man to know everything, he did hold the world's knowledge in his hands and cherished it all, publishing on every subject under the sun. [He] led a charmed life that spanned the Thirty Years War and the Counter-Reformation. He had not only the intellectual capacity but also the organizing genius to prospect a route through knowledge and its accumulation, to its expression and distribution.

"Volcanology was only one of the topics covered in Mundus Subterraneus, along with the working of the tides, the weather, fossils and early man [but] it is Kircher's understanding of volcanoes and the illustrations of them that particularly caught the imagination of the fellow scholars and the narrow band of literate Europeans in his day.

"Kircher's worldview was maintained in the English version, which was liberally extended from the original by other accounts and amendments. [It] goes on to describe many other volcanoes all over the world... Kircher's central task for his readers was to try to demonstrate with engravings and text how volcanoes work.

"As a courageous example of extreme information-gathering, Kircher had himself lowered into the heaving red crater of Vesuvius at night in 1638, during one of its actively threatening periods. His report is graphic in the extreme:
Methoughts I beheld the habitation of Hell ... An unexpressible stink ... and made me in like manner, ever and anon, belch, and as it were vomit back again at it."

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 03, 2016 08:26 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Shady Neutrals


This week we have left the world of bright happy colors and have gone to the dark side. I am loving these complex colors. The above colors are achieved by mixing complementary colors.


These shades of colors are achieved by adding varying amounts of black to the basic colors. The turquoise on the bottom has the most black added.

I still have to wash out an experiment I did with adding dye of another color to already dyed fabric.

I also got a better blue mixed up. The other one I had was not a primary color, it seemed to have some green in it.


I had a busy, busy week-end. On Saturday, I had a guild new member mingle in the morning and then out for dinner at friends that evening. On Sunday, we hosted a bit of house tour for some new people who have moved into a unit like ours and wanted to see how we had decorated. Then I had a Surface Design meeting in the afternoon.

I did something to my other knee and so I have been really hobbling around. I have a problem taking pain meds because they are upsetting my stomach and to tell you the truth, I am miserable most of the time. I am just glad I have something productive to do to take my mind off my misery, at least temporarily. I have a call in to the Dr., but I think today was his day off. As Mr C likes to say, every day, I am a day closer to getting my new knee.

by Gerrie at February 03, 2016 04:51 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Eilson Visitor Center in Denali National Park

 They tried to console us by saying that less than 10% of Denali Park visitors actually see Denali Peak.  It is somewhere in the distance at Eilson Visitor Center, but I have never seen it from here.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 03, 2016 04:30 AM

February 02, 2016

Sarah Ann Smith

Teaching at IQF Houston 2016!

As you might guess by the deafening silence here on the blog, I’ve been rather busy but I have various bits of good news to share, and I’ll start with the most recent:  I will once again be on the Faculty for International Quilt Festival in Houston in October/November 2016!   And, drum roll, I’ll be teaching a few new things….yippeee!   Here’s my schedule, which stretches from the Monday of Quilt Market (a closed trade show for industry professionals) through Saturday of Quilt Festival.   On Sunday I get to PLAY—provided I can put one foot in front of the other and still see!   For details about each of the classes, please visit my Classes page which has descriptions of all the classes, class supply lists and, when available, hotlines to blogposts from previous versions of these classes so you can get a feel for what to bring.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my mini-Whimsy class at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2014.

Learn to make the painted fabrics in this project in my new class The Nest–Surface Design Exploration for Beginners at IQF-International Quilt Festival Fall 2016.


  • Monday, October 31:  Decorative Stitch Appliqué, in the Janome classroom, All-Day class
  • Tuesday:  a day off–I’ll probably be IN a class!
  • Wednesday, November 2:  Fine Finishes–An Album of Techniques (bindings and more), in the Janome Classroom, All-Day class
  • Thursday, November 3, morning:  Machine Quilting Forum–Fun and Fancy Thread, 9-Noon
  • Thursday, November 3, afternoon:  The Nest–Surface Design Exploration for Beginners, 2-5, kit fee
  • Friday, November 4:  Tame Fussy, Fiddly Threads for Machine Quilting, in the Janome Classroom, All-day, kit fee for a range of threads etc
  • Saturday, November 5, morning:  Saturday Sampler–Screen-Paint the Perfect Fabric, 10-Noon
  • Saturday, November 5, afternoon:  Easy-Peasy Inside-Out Bag, 2-5, in the Janome Classroom
  • Sunday:  PLAYTIME–to see the exhibits and shop and collapse, in that order!

I’m totally good with having stayed home this past year as it was our younger son’s senior year in high school, but I so missed seeing folks.  I’m thrilled to be back in Houston and on the faculty. Thank you IQF and students!


by Sarah Ann Smith at February 02, 2016 07:24 PM

Martha Marques

Tuesday in the Studio

This is a photo of the studio this morning, with the intense northern light blasting in through the 1910 glass windows.  I just wanted to show you all the love gifts that randomly show up in my day.

The yellow couch and the glass top coffee table are gifts from my sister Peg. 

The green leaf pillow on the couch and the knitted lace curtains reflected in the glass top were both made in Hawaii over 15 years ago.  The lace curtains were knit to go in the windows of that Hawaiian house that we were planning on building, but we only built it in our minds.  When we moved into this New England home they fit perfectly in that evidently I actually made them for this house. 

The white lace blanket on the couch was made by me from Harrisville yarn well over 30 years ago.  It is a single ply undyed wool that Harrisville no longer carries, but if you click through you'll find the closest thing they have right now.  I remember wrapping my son Blake in it to take him out to see the moon.  He is now 31 and has a baby boy of his own.

The beautiful vase is a gift from my friends when they came by last spring for a Soup Day with the R&R Spinners.  The tulips are a gift from my friend Ollie Groves who came by the house last Saturday for dinner with her husband, Joe's cousin Karl.  The green coffee mug is a gift from my son Joshua and his Patti.  It has become a regular morning feature since I received this Christmas. The half mitts are knit up from Peacefleece wool and the pattern is available.  The white nubby blanket that you can see through the glass is a baby blanket that my Great-Grandmother made for my brother Mike (who is now 57ish years old).  And the project in the middle of it all is the one I am currently working on....a pair of Christmas socks for my sister Peg which she will receive as soon as they are done.  I'm pretty flexible about the Christmas gifts.  You might get a Christmas gift at any time.

I have had friends ask me how I manage to stay so happy and hopeful despite some pretty rough chapters in my life.  This is it.....all the love.  I am grateful for all the love.

February 02, 2016 03:29 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Wellcome Collection

Some of us were in the Reading Room, some in the Tibet exhibition, and some elsewhere.

Fresh from "3D drawing" the previous evening, I drew the forms of these bottles
 with the loopy "3D drawing" technique we'd been using ... but not with nice smeary charcoal: with ivory black watersoluble colour pencil. Using a brushpen on the bottles turned them into lumpy, bumpy things, rather than smooth glass -
Also in the Alchemy section of the Reading Room was this artwork -
John Newling,"Token Hammers", 2002
 It plays on the idea, says the label, of hammering out coins from slugs of metal, thus achieving the alchemical dream: transforming a base metal into something of value.

It's possible these were shown in Newling's 2003 exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Currency and Belief. I will try to track down a library copy of the book of the show.

The hammers are in a mirrored box, lit from a ceiling spotlight, which throws shadows both onto the mirrored floor of the box and - magically by reflection? - onto its ceiling, which would otherwise be dark -
 The hammers have two heads, for the two sides of the coins -
This time I used charcoal and again made the wrong choice - finer lines were needed -
Never mind, it's about discovering through looking. Love those lathe-turned ash handles.

The faint lines on the right-hand page are a quick drawing of two lions from the facsimile of the Ripley Scroll that was laid out on the table. 
The description of the scroll on the British Library website writes out the text that I couldn't quite decipher: " and a further inscription ('Heere is the Somme the evch is called the mouth of the Collorick').- a burst of flame and on either side a lion salient before a wall, and two scrolls ('The mouth of the Collorick beware' and 'Heare is the last of the red stone and the beginning to put away the dead the elixir vita')."
My faint lines were laid down very quickly, starting at the end of the tail of the red "lion salient" and progressing to the tail of the other, miraculously fitting into the space available. Quite possibly it helped to be drawing at a 90 degree angle - the scroll was laid along the table, and I was sitting on one side, with the book turned and the drawing appearing "sideways". The furry bits were awkward to do (must practise) - and I couldn't figure out what the "wig" in the middle was - it's a flame, of course.

Watercolour added later (must practise)

We had lunch under the canopy of lights of changing colours in the cafe, so the photos of the work may be tinged with purple or red, or in shadow - cafe lighting can be a challenge!

Joyce tackled the straightjacket, with its folds and shadows -
 When you lift it off its hook on the way, there's a notice telling how to put it on, suggesting that another person should assist, and warning about possible emotional effects.

Janet B couldn't resist the chair (and filled many other pages as well) -
 Among Mike's closer views was this larger view of the gallery itself -
Sue S first drew a complex mask in the Tibet exhibition, then started with the overlapping shadows of another, finally adding the mask itself -
 Michelle found the glass sculptures of micro-organisms and focussed in on a bit of MRSA  -
From micro to macro, in Jo's drawing: the enormous sculpture, by John Isaacs, is called "I Can't Help the Way I Feel" and captures the lived experience of illness (read about it here)
 (When it was first installed in 2007, it was so big it couldn’t fit through the gallery doors, and had to be winched up through the space by the spiral staircase. "Cleverly sculpted from polystyrene and painted wax, it is so terrifyingly realistic that many visitors mistakenly believe it is a representation of a real-life person, or a very serious genetic disorder. Anything but – it represents plain and simple obesity. ...  It is a literal embodiment of obesity in a highly idealised, abstract form. It represents the feelings of those who live with and confront obesity, and how these feelings are defined in response to social ideals and expectations." (via))

Meanwhile, in the Tibet exhibition, Sue M was engaging with a peacock-feather headdress -
Coincidence of the week - both Mike and Janet were drawn to the old dentist's chair -
Wax crayons in an interesting box brought by Jo, which she's had for ages -

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 02, 2016 08:56 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Denali Bus Ride - Wet, wet, wet.

 There is only one road into Denali National Park.  Visitors cannot drive (except to Teklanika Campground).  One must ride these school buses into the park to see wildlife or mountains, etc.  This was my third time doing this trip.  It was by far the WORST experience I have ever had riding one of these buses!  It was a steady drizzle all day long.  There was not much visibility outside the windows.  We would stop occasionally for restroom breaks.  Everyone piled off and got wet, and when they came back in the windows would get all steamy.  Totally fogged in, and they stayed that way.  School buses do not have a way of defogging passenger windows.  No way to see anything.  The road is rough.  The bus is uncomfortable and crowded with steamy people.  We saw a little wildlife.  But not much.  I would have to say that this was by far the worst part of our trip.  Trapped for an entire day inside a foggy bus on a rough road with a bunch of strangers and an obnoxious bus driver.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at February 02, 2016 04:30 AM

Rayna Gillman

Never say "never!"

Ok, I take it back. I said I would never teach online, but there are so many people who have emailed me to ask whether I gave online classes that I began to think about it. And then I stopped thinking about it --until The Fiber Art Connection  approached me with their teaching model.  

I found it so exciting that I said "yes."  It's not cookie-cutter (if you know me, you understand I don't follow rules very happily - LOL).  There are eight different fiber artists, all teaching something different -- each of us in our own style.  So you get to take eight classes for ten weeks, and along the way, discoveries, interactive sessions, community, connections, and personal interactions.  It'll be the closest thing to being in the classroom and we are all very pumped about this different way of teaching! 

 Once you enroll, you'll be notified when each teacher's class begins and the classrooms are open  to you indefinitely. If you don't have time just then, you can take the classes when it's convenient -- and go back as many times as you want to.  All the class materials - handouts, recordings, videos -- stay there so you can always access them.  

So...I've been sewing, making videos, taking pictures, and generally making as much of an embarrassing mess here in the Fla apt as I do at home. I was going to do a video tour, but decided to take pictures instead.

The kitchen island

dining room floor
 dining room table (yes, this is another sewing machine)
 living room chair
 living room floor

And we haven't gotten to the guest room yet!  But that's for another day.  Now I am going to sit down and read more of the most wonderful book I have read in eons.  More about that another day, too. bb

by (Rayna) at February 02, 2016 02:43 AM

February 01, 2016

Neki Rivera


stack of false starts. the smaller ones have been ditched. anyone interested in dish cloths?those of you who still do dishes by hand.
100% cotton.up for grabs. leave a comment.

neki desu
Creative Commons License

by (neki desu) at February 01, 2016 09:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

What's IN a book...

Consider this book work, by Lisa Kokin (from

One woman said she wanted to cut it open, to see what's inside. People have said that of my "memory balls" - how will they know what's inside if it can't be cut open? Ah, but that's something they have to take on faith, I say, as they contribute to making one themselves, winding in whatever's at hand.

The contents are locked in forever. Is the speculation about them - or, taking them on faith - "enough"?

Alisa Golden writes of the woman who wanted to cut open the "rock" -

 I believe, instead, what she really wanted to do was to get at the mystery of the creative process, which is an unsolvable mystery. Artists don't really know where the first spark comes from or just how the work evolves. The creative process is mysterious, which is part of the thrill of creating and of viewing a thing created. I can think of two results of dissecting, halving, or dissolving the work: 1) the woman could lose interest in the art once she lost all desire to excavate it or 2) she could reconstitute it and create yet another form (discarded book to papier mache rock to ??) which might ultimately contribute to, as Dean Young writes in The Art of Recklessness, "an endless procession of quote marks" (31-32).

I don't think we can examine art too deeply without removing its charge. Over-analyzing something tends to kill its liveliness. "Desire vanishes at the point of capture…" (21) writes Young. Mystery laid bare is not mysterious anymore. What was curious is no longer a curiosity. It deflates. "Anything fully known offers us no site of entry, no site of escape, no site of desire" (85). It seems to me that my friend's piece was successful. Although it may not have been in the manner that she had intended, by embracing that mystery of creative process and making the work, she stirred a longing in the heart and mind of another human being.

by Margaret Cooter ( at February 01, 2016 08:53 AM

January 31, 2016

Terry Grant

I made another book

After posting about the book I made with Diane's help, Joanne asked if I could make a tutorial. Well...........I am a rank amateur, making my second book—hardly qualified to present a very knowledgeable tutorial, but I decided I would photograph my process, problems and successes of my second effort. We are going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua in a month and I decided I would make a little sketchbook/journal to take along. After several trips to the art and craft supply stores in my area I got most of the tools and supplies I needed, but came up short on some. I had to make some substitutions. The first was the cover. I did not find book board, so I used some mat board that I had on hand. I decided to cover it with fabric, instead of paper. I found a tutorial on YouTube showing how to make fabric suitable for covering books by fusing tissue paper to one side so glue doesn't seep through the fabric. It looked pretty fussy. I've glued fabric to lots of things and decided I could safely skip this step.

I cut the fabric about an inch wider on all sides, than the board and used Mod Podge for paper to glue the fabric to each cover piece. It worked great. I trimmed the fabric at an angle, leaving about 1/8th inch extending beyond the corners, then wrapped and glued that excess around each side, tucking that little excess at the corners to cover the corners of the board. Then I glued a piece of ribbon to use as a tie, to each inside cover before gluing down a sheet of paper to the inside cover. Nice and neat.

Then while all that was drying, I cut paper for the inside of the book. I used a pad of tan drawing paper. The paper is cut into a sheet that will be folded to make two pages. The folded size will be smaller than the cover size. The cover should extend about 1/8th to 1/4th inch on 3 sides, but not on the edge that will be bound. I figured out how many pages I wanted and cut all the paper, then used a bone folder and folded each, separately, in half, then organized the folded paper into signatures, by nesting three folded sheets together. I ended up with 6 signatures.

Now I was ready to bind all the parts together. I would be using the Coptic binding that Diane taught me. Before binding I needed to decide where to create holes to sew the binding through and make those holes, using an awl made for this purpose. I liked the looks of a book I saw online that was bound using a group of three, evenly-spaced holes on each end of the bound edge, with a wider space in the middle. I measured and marked a pattern on a piece of paper the same width as the signatures, then used it to poke the holes through each signature, using a handy little "cradle" that Diane made and gave to me.

The signatures almost matched!

Then the same pattern of holes needed to be made in the cover pieces, but approximately a half inch in from the edge.


After the first cover piece's holes were made I laid it on top of the other cover piece and worked the awl through the existing holes into the piece below, so they lined up perfectly.

Now I was ready to start sewing the book together, by sewing the first signature to the cover, then the next signature to the first and so on. The recommended thread to use is waxed linen, which I was unable to find, so I had to substitute. I settled on hemp cord, which I waxed by running it, several times, over a small beeswax candle. (Then I ordered some real waxed linen from Amazon—it hasn't arrived yet...)

I'm not going to try to explain or show the stitching steps. I found it a little difficult to wrap my head around and I made some mistakes. I think it will take more practice. There are some good directions for Coptic binding online. I liked these two.

Here is my bound edge finished.


I did a couple of things I have seen in other books. I added a couple of little, short pages, just to make the binding a little thicker so that if I want to glue some things into the book, the binding will accommodate the extra thickness. I also made the last page with a folded pocket at the bottom for other additions and souvenirs. I like how this binding method makes a book that lies flat.

Here's how the finished book came out.

Overall, I'm happy with it. The binding seems a little loose. That part was the most difficult. I made one big goof and ruined a signature by pulling the thread tight and tearing through the fold. I made a new one and learned not to do that again!

I think I'm hooked. My next book will be better!


by Terry Grant ( at January 31, 2016 04:14 PM

Margaret Cooter

Journal quilts - starting 2016

This year's journal quilts for CQ need to be 8"x10", portrait format, and have a little bit of fabric of a specified colour - at least 1/2" square, and purple for Jan-April, green for May-Aug, orange for Sept-Dec.

So I decided to use at least one 1/2" square bit of each colour each month.

And to stitch on paper - using cloth for the other layers. I like the resistance of paper, and the care needed in order not to get inadvertent folds or holes. And the variety of papers available.

In the "reusable paper" pile near the printer were some sheets of photocopied old sewing tools and notions - cards of buttons, fancy packets of needles. I used one of these for the January JQ, which took a couple of hours to make ... once the idea was there, and the backing fabric cut to size [for the entire year], and a selections of purples, oranges, and greens to hand.

My personal challenge is to post the month's JQ to the CQ yahoogroup files during the month - that is, not waiting till the April, August, and December deadlines. As it was the last day of the first month, the camera decided to play up - I couldn't download its photos to the computer. This definitely is going to be challenging!

Enter the ipad - hard to hold it steady to get a sharp photo, and then my white paper came out so blue when photographed in daylight, I had to move to a gloomy corner of the room, which wasn't ideal either! These four attempts have been colour corrected as much as possible; which would you choose -
The stitching, in my favourite "springy" thread, is backstitch, and there's a real pin in one area. Because the stitches loop above the paper, the direction of the light was important in order to be able to "read" the picture ... hence the various versions.
It might be interesting to scan in some more sewing things and get a series of these backgrounds. Except they're actually foregrounds, as the fabric peeks out through the holes cut in the paper.

While stitching I listened to some of the programmes in BBC radio 4's listen-again collection on painters and painting, The Aesthetic Brush (here).

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 31, 2016 03:36 PM

What the hell's going on here?

Man and fish? Hard to tell what's going on ... here's the snippet in context -
After-dinner entertainment? That "fish" looks rather like the mouth of hell (as encountered recently in this 9th century ivory, and fabricated (in 2009) here) ... is the fellow being pushed in, or about to be rescued?

It's an example of what the Getty museum offers up weekly as a caption competition. Compare your own witty caption with others at The full story is there, too, amusingly told. (If you're on tumblr, or even if you're not, the site for past and future caption competitions is

"#ThyCaptionBe is a celebration of modern interpretations of medieval aesthetics. You guess what the heck is going on, then we myth-bust." says the site. Good, old-fashioned fun!

by Margaret Cooter ( at January 31, 2016 08:12 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Teklanika River in Denali National Park

I made a reservation for us to camp at Teklanika Campground, located 28 miles inside of Denali National Park.  Camping here allowed us to save an hour each way on the daily bus ride into the interior of the park.  Most people park somewhere on the edge of the park and catch the bus into the park interior from the outside edge.  We were able to drive our vehicle into the park and camp.  We were booked onto the first bus to Wonder Lake - the furthest point inside the park accessible to park visitors.
The sun came out of the clouds a couple of times during our first day at Denali.  This day we hung out at the campground.  We could drive no further than the campground and our first bus reservation was for the next day.  It was super windy.  Hard to sit outside and read (although we tried).  Hard to cook.  Hard to eat.....  We envied people with RVs. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at January 31, 2016 04:30 AM