Orange, Orange, and More Orange

After a few more attempts, I managed to get a photograph of the orange piece I’d planned to blog about last time:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made the piece to sew into a purse/wallet for my friend, but I was concerned some of the fabric wasn’t attached as well as I’d like for something which would get lots of handling, so I made another piece:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI even managed to get a closer pic of this one too:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is some of the synthetic embellishments I used:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInbetween the two large pieces, I made a medium sized piece with the same colour theme, I used less fabric on this piece and more embellishent fibres, especially silk throwster’s waste and silk hankies:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, today is the first bright, sunny day for ages, and I could probably get much better photos now!

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Colour Unboxed by Out of the Box

I went to an textile art show this last weekend called Colour Unboxed. It was the works of a group of fiber artists called Out of the Box. Her is a link to their site: It is a t a local Textile museum:  It was a large exhibit so I am going to show it to you in 2 parts. I think the pictures are big enough for you to see them quite well. After each picture is a chart showing which pieces belong to each artist. Each piece is 12 inches x 12 inches.  The group took 3 years to assemble all the colour blocks. If you click the pictures you can see them bigger.  The exhibition runs through Feb 25th 2017.

out-of-the-box-1 out-of-the-box-1a

out-of-the-box-2 out-of-the-box-2a

out-of-the-box-3 out-of-the-box-3a

out-of-the-box-3b This is a close up of part of one of the pieces.

out-of-the-box-4 out-of-the-box-4a

out-of-the-box-5 out-of-the-box-5a

out-of-the-box-6 out-of-the-box-6a

out-of-the-box-7 out-of-the-box-7a out-of-the-box-7b Another close up.

This is just one part of the exhibition, I will show you some more next time. If you are Near Ottawa, Ontario , Canada while it’s on It is well worth the drive out to Almonte.


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Composition and Design – Focal Point


Montana Wildflower Wall HangingWe’ve made it through all of the elements of design and today we start with the first principle of design, the focal point. How do you get someone’s attention with your work? Without an audience’s attention, any message or artistic value is lost. To attract the viewer’s eye, a center of interest or focal point is needed. This emphasized element can attract the eye and encourage the viewer to look further.

Ways to achieve emphasis:

form tree sketch

1. By contrast – one element in the design differs from the others – can be contrasting values, contrasting styles within the composition, contrasting shapes or sizes, contrast in color, hard edges vs. soft edges, the actual size of the work itself may draw the eye. This is called emphasis by contrast. The element that contrasts with, rather than continues, the prevailing design scheme becomes the focal point.


2. By isolation – one element by being alone, by itself, gets our attention. The contrast is achieved by placement of the focal point in an isolated manner.


3. By placement – If many elements in a design point to one item, our attention is directed there, and a focal point results.

Bird with Orange Card

4. By content – a human form or any living thing draws the eye, letters or words can give emphasis, the meaning or story behind your work may be the emphasis.

Value Sample 13

5. Absence of focal point – A focal point is not always necessary. You may wish to emphasize the entire surface over individual elements i.e. Andy Warhol or traditional quilts.

The focal Area is roughly 25% of a work of art and should overlap the center of the piece. The placement of this area should be one of the first things you think about when beginning your creation. The rule of thirds says that most designs can be made more interesting by visually dividing the page into thirds vertically and/or horizontally and placing our most important elements within those thirds. Take this concept a step further, especially in photographic composition, by dividing the page into thirds both vertically and horizontally and placing your most important elements at one or more of the four intersections of those lines.


Questions to get you started:

Finished Free Motion Stitched Seed Heads

1. How can I use each of the elements of design to create a focal point? Line? Shape? Form? Texture? Color? Value?

2. What happens if the focal point is in the center of the piece? Does this make the piece stronger or weaker? What happens if you crop the piece to move the focal point to a different area?


Free Motion Stitching on Felt - Berries

3. After you’ve put in your focal point, stand back and look to see if it catches your eye. Are there other contrasting elements that could enhance your focal point/area?

Fire Painting

4. Looking at other art, ask, where is my eye attracted? What draws it there? What elements did the artist use to develop the focal point?

Painted and Free Motion Stitched Poppy on Felt

5. Can you create a focal point in a composition by contrasting realistic and abstract elements?

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A Peek at Terri Simon’s Eco Printing Class with Nicola Brown

Thanks to Terri Simon aka Meterrilee on the forum for sharing her eco printing experience today.

Today, I would like to share my experience with eco-dyeing. Most, if not all, of our blog hosts and many followers have experience with eco-dyeing, but it was a first for me and I loved it! I decided to take an online class with Nicola Brown from Ireland. She is a wonderful teacher—very thorough in describing the process in an online format, including several videos to illustrate further. She was available daily for six weeks to comment, problem solve, and encourage us as we journeyed through that week’s lesson. Like other online classes, there are “chatroom” areas to post pictures and ask questions, and to comment on one another’s creations. The online environment is available for six months and all of the lessons were downloadable in PDF format. Additionally, Nicola created a Facebook page for us to continue communication. Thanks, Nicola, for a great online experience!

As a dyeing newbie, I had to assemble equipment. At a nearby thrift store, I found an aluminum fish cooker with all kinds of inserts for steaming, an iron stake, and a length of copper pipe which I cut into pieces to fit into the fish cooker. We had an outdoor fire source…a propane tank and hook-up for deep frying a turkey. It worked perfectly on my covered back porch (this is Southern Oregon’s rainy season). Here’s my equipment:


All for $20. Not bad!

I ordered a bunch of silk, silk/wool blend, and 100% wool scarves from Dharma Trading, which had a good selection and reasonable prices. I also made pieces of felt to experiment with. For vegetation, I used rose leaves, loose tea, red and brown onion skins, strawberry and blackberry leaves, Japanese cut leaf maple and eucalyptus, donated to me by a friend who has several trees. The rest came from my garden (and kitchen.) There are lots of different “brews” for obtaining the prints. Some involve rust water, others vinegar water and other things thrown into the cooking pot (different metals, plants…). And of course, there are multiple ways to prepare the fabric for dyeing, none of which use harsh chemicals (the harshest chemical used is vinegar). I really like this aspect of eco dyeing…it’s all very natural. I am amazed that the beauty of a leaf can be imprinted substantively on fabric, right down to the intricate veining.



Here are some photos of my experiments.pic-2

This turned out sort of dark and muddy. These are Japanese maple leaves. The scarf actually looks good with the right outfit, but the prints are very subtle and not what you want when you are just starting out (at least not what I wanted!).

These are pieces of handmade felt, with eucalyptus (the skinny and bright orange leaves) and strawberry leaves. The purplish looking circles are cut from red onion skins.


Next is a blend of wool and silk. You can really see the details of the onion skins on this fabric.


The scarf below is 100% silk. The print is much softer looking. I like the tie lines produced when wrapping the bundle.



Finally, I made some felt placemats and while they are interesting, I am not a fan of the muddy yellowish background. I found out it was operator error for not keeping the heat up high enough for a long enough time. I had to go out for a bit and turned off the flame under the pot, letting the placemats sit for about an hour until I got home to untie them. My mistake! Had I kept the heat up for the full five hours, I would have produced a much clearer print, such as the example pieces I have included in this picture. But, they are still pretty in a muted way.


I highly recommend Nicola’s classes. She is an excellent teacher, very thorough and organized and she has a delightful wit as well.  You can find more information on Nicola and her classes here:



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Exploring Fauvism

Apologies for the late post, I planned to post about a new piece of felt but only 1 of the photos wasn’t blurry, so I thought I’d post about Ruth’s Fauvism Challenge. To try and understand Fauvism, I thought I would try to alter some photos in the style of it. Lyn posted on the forum that she’d written these words to help her with the challenge: “Fauvist paintings have a simplified drawing and an exaggerated use of colour”
It summed up what I had been trying to achieve with the edited photos. The first one I tried had some of the bright colours, and the water ripples gave the ‘texurey’ look of the Fauvist style brush strokes, but I felt like I need to try a different photo. This is the one I started with:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd after some tweaks on Photoshop:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI tried it again with a different photo. This is the original:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI increased the brightness and saturation:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen I simplified the colours and shapes:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis muted the colours a lot so I increased the saturation again:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then added a few tiny lines around the boat and some colour to the water:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then added outlines:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI feel like this last one is the starting point, rather than the finished picture. It has the simple shapes and the colour is exagerated, but more in saturation than anything. And though at first the Fauvism style seems very bright, when you really look at the paintings, they aren’t so much bright as bold. I think I will play around with some other photos, try to get ones which start simpler, but have more in the way of colour variation. One thing I did learn today, was how to pronounce ‘Fauvism’ 🙂

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Finally Finished the Last Quarter Challenge.

I finally managed to finished Zeds 4th quarter challenge form 2016. Only 3 days late.

A friend of mine, Shirley, taught a dyeing class at the guild. After the yarns are dyed they cut the knots off to share them around the class. She saved me the knots.

knotts knotts-close

The next thing I did was create a neutral background.  I think the colour is called  antique


Next I had fun picking the knots to use an lay them out in a spiral

knotts-overhead-shot knots-angle-shot

I was quite pleased with the layout until I took a picture to show someone else. Then I thought that’s really boring. I went home and added some yarn and lots of little bits of throwsters waste.  Throwsters waste is a by-product of reeling silk.

Here it is all wet down.


During the felting process one of the knots came undone. There was no way to tie it up again so I untied all the knots.


I really don’t like that. All the pattern is gone and you can’t see the background very well. Nothing ventured nothing gained so I decided to trim all the knots  short. It still need ironing to block it out to 12×12 but I like it much better. Friends say it looks like a pond with flowers.



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Surface Design Techniques on Felt

I have been experimenting with a variety of surface design techniques on felt for a long while. I have developed a series of online classes about these techniques. There is a screen printing on felt class running now and I am currently finishing up the last in the series Free Motion Stitching on Felt. This course will give specific free motion stitching techniques that I have developed that can be combined with felting either during the felting process or after the piece is felted. I am planning on offering the course in the spring. I will make an announcement here when the class is posted and open for registration.

Free Motion Machine Stitched Poppy on Felt

In preparation for the class, I have been making samples for the PDF and videos for the course. This is a poppy that I stitched on to a piece of felt that was already screen printed with a deconstructed screen printing technique. I liked the poppy but it just seemed to fade away into the background and I really didn’t want to add in color with thread. So I decided to paint the poppy color in.

Painting on felt isn’t the easiest thing and it’s hard to get fine details because the surface of the felt doesn’t really take paint very well. I used Dye-na-Flo paint to paint in all the color on the petals and stem. Then I added highlights and shadows with liquid acrylic paint.

Painted and Free Motion Stitched Poppy on Felt

You can definitely see the poppy now. It is also a little hard to get a good photo with reds and oranges and this is a little redder than the original. But you get the idea. If you are interested in taking any of my surface design classes, just fill out the contact us form with your information and  which class is of interest. I will put you on the email list to contact when the class registration opens.

Fish 1

Also, there are two spots left in Galina Titova’s Felting Fantasy Fish class that begins January 12, 2017. You can register here. It’s a really fun class and very popular, so don’t miss out!


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