Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Hi, it's Kristin this time. In my previous life as a graphic designer, working in a series was something of a foreign concept. With each client came a new set of parameters and goals. When I took up quilting, a series was far from my mind as well. Unless you count baby quilts for friends as a series (which one totally could if one wanted). But as my work became less practical and more conceptual (and after many years of learning various techniques and themes), I began to work in series. Once you realize that you have ideas that can't be fully explored in one piece, it's pretty much inevitable. At first it was vague -- just a tendency towards landscapes. Then I had an idea for a war quilt (War Sucks). That quickly spawned more ideas, which then became The Army Wife series.


 Some people look for strict rules about working in a series, but for me it's just about continuity. That continuity could be size, color, technique, or just a theme or story line. It's about exploring an idea. When there's no more interest in that exploration, then the artist moves on. I've been working on the Army Wife for about four years, and I have a few more pieces I'd like to make. But...

 I had an idea last week. Security Blankets. I'm intrigued. I'm making lists of places to go with this. Lots of ideas to explore. This will be my new series. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't go back to a previous series if I want to. And the new series may or may not have legs. But, my brain has just jumped tracks, so off we must go.

 Do you work in a series, and if so, when do you know a new line of exploration has begun?

By the way, three aprons in The Army Wife series are traveling in SAQA's Beyond Comfort show and are currently at their last stop, Texas A&M University, until August 18th, 2013. Absence II, another in the series is part of an SDA regional show at Craddock Terry Gallery in Lynchburg, VA until June 16th, 2013.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nature's Colors

Hi everyone!
Carol Sloan here.

I am a real nature lover.
I love to hike out in the woods, sit by a rushing river (or a quiet river), kayak, ride my bike down a country road...anything related to getting outside catches my attention.
I also have been a lifelong leaf, rock and bark collector (dead bugs and dried bones but we won't go there right now).
I have tried a few experiments with natural dyeing over the years but never had much luck until last year - when I got really serious about figuring it out.
I purchased India Flint's book, "Eco Colour", and checked out every book at the local library that I could find on the subject.
I did Google searches and read blog entry after blog entry (and there are a lot of natural dyeing blogs out there), all the while taking copious notes.
I experimented for several months, getting little to no results but I kept on trying.
After months of trying all sorts of things, I finally hit pay dirt!

I live in South Carolina (USA) and in my corner of the state, we can grow eucalyptus trees. Sometimes if it gets too cold, they will get a little burned but they usually do pretty good.
These are a few of the results that I got with dyeing silk, cotton and paper with leaves from a local tree.

This is linen fabric. I know that it is much more
difficult to get color on anything other than silk.

Finally! Spectacular color after many, many tries!
Eucalyptus on silk

Different colors from eucalyptus on silk.

Yet one more color from eucalyptus on silk. I love the small fern in the
upper right hand corner of the piece.

I didn't look at my notes but I think that this eucalyptus
has a little walnut color on it (or onion skin).
I did get some nice prints on cotton fabric as well. The leaves created beautiful colors, shapes and prints.

Black Walnut leaves left a gorgeous print on this cotton sheeting.

A variety of leaves were used on this cotton.

The next two prints are pieces of cotton fabric that were facing each other with leaves sandwiched in between them. I love the different looks that I got!

What I really loved was the color and prints that I got from leaves on watercolor & vellum bristol papers.
I gathered a ton of leaves, all kinds of varieties (both plant and tree) and spent several days experimenting with them.
I am totally in love with the results & completely in love with the imprinted memory of those glorious leaves
on the paper.
And I can't wait to do more of it this year!
I am using the papers to make beautiful books full of memories of the forests that the leaves came from.

300 pound watercolor paper
I just noticed the face in the lower left hand corner.
I am not sure what kind of glasses she has on...

300 pound watercolor paper

The prints looked a little different on the vellum bristol paper versus the watercolor paper but I like them equally.

This is a close-up of one area of the paper.
I love the bright green color!

The full page from the above close-up

The green color on the left side is from a
huge dandelion plant!
Can you believe that? 
As you can tell from the dandelion comment above, I truly picked leaves all over my yard.
I tried free fall leaves (litter from the ground), fresh leaves from the trees as well as weeds and leaves from the garden.
(Addendum - some of the tree leaves are from a local farm that my husband and I hike at).

Here is a miniature book that has the pages made from scraps of this paper.
I painted a small piece of some other paper to use for the cover.
It's just a little bigger than a quarter.
This is the kind of thing that I do when I want to do something creative but I can't figure out what, when I am trying to get out of working on a deadline project and/or there is housework to be done...

I hope that you all are finding small ways to avoid housework, I mean exercise your creativity on a daily basis.
I certainly am!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

eye candy

Natalya here. I am not one to go crazy decorating for each season or holiday. I put out a few pumpkins for Thanksgiving, decorate the tree and the mantel for Christmas. That's about it for the year...except for Easter. I just love the traditional crafts for Russian Orthodox Easter. Did you think Easter was over with? Nope, not by the Julian calendar that the Eastern Orthodox churches follow. Sometimes it falls at the same time as western Easter, but usually it's on a different date and this year it was really late - Cinco de Mayo was our Easter. So I thought that I would treat you to the the bevy of Easter decorations that I have collected and created over the years. I really enjoy unwrapping them every year, finding new ways to arrange them and enjoying them for all the 50 days we celebrate Easter.

Above you see traditional blown out eggs, wooden, glass and ceramic eggs. Some are traditionally decorated and others are more avantgard. I have them hanging from a branch and laid out in decorative dishes. All are enjoyed thoroughly!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Surface design

Beryl here.

It's play time again for me. Never quite sure what to do with Lutradur until I tried placing a stencil over it and with a spatular scraping dimensional paint through it, easier said than done ! I lay it on a metal tray and heated it with a heat gun, great effect, the design became raised and the Lutradur disappeared so you are left with a strong lace type effect . I sprayed with inks and rubber stamped text over the top. Very interesting effect.

I've collected used color run sheets and did a similar technique using modeling paste through a stencil then painting the areas with out modeling paste and getting some really interesting looks.

My daughter is over from the UK for a week so we are off to the city to see some exhibitions at the Met and MOMA so should be able to post some interesting.