Recreating a Still Life Failure

I originally created this still life of a vase of flowers in 2016 for a quarterly challenge. The plan was to create dimensional flowers in a still life but I didn’t pay enough attention to the overall design/composition and the vase didn’t turn out very well.

Here’s the original. The vase was dead center and the surrounding negative space feels the same and uninteresting. The black vase is too stark. I did go ahead and frame the piece and try to sell it but no luck. The piece was really big at 24″ x 30″ so I had plenty of room to cut it down and recreate the piece.

What I did first was to create a different vase. I used some upholstery fabric that I had on hand and cut out a new shape that filled more of the space on the bottom. I then cropped it down with some paper croppers so that I could find the best composition. I had a canvas that I could use so I knew the size that I needed. The new canvas is 16″ x 20″.

I then decided that the vase would look better with some dimension added. So I stuffed it and hand stitched it to the surface. I had to be careful not too over stuff the bottom or left side since they would be stretched around the canvas.

I needed some shadowing on the bottom and left side of the vase. I originally thought I would use black tulle to create the shadows but it was way too dark and had too much contrast. I didn’t have any gray tulle so I decided to use a combination of purple and yellow tulle to give a lighter shadow which tended toward purple. I used matte medium to glue down the tulle to the vase. My original plan was to fuse it down to the vase but when I attempted to iron the upholstery fabric I found that it was some type of polyester and it melted. Oops. I cut out a second vase and used matte medium.

After I stretched the piece around the canvas and stapled it in place. I trimmed off the excess felt. I then decided the piece had “holes” that needed filling. I forgot to take a photo before I started adding other elements. I needed some darker values and luckily had some really dark maroon/purple felt that I was able to fashion into flowers. I hand stitched the flowers together and ended up adding a few more flower buds as well that aren’t shown in these photos. Then I wanted to add some more leaves. I tried some yellow green felt leaves (left photo) but I thought that it needed something darker. I didn’t have any darker green felt so I decided to use some green tulle. The torn tulle gave a different texture too. In the right photo, I was trying the tulle out and just pinned it in place in bunches. I felt the bunches were too over the top so I ended up tearing the tulle into “leaves” and then stitching them down in layers. I also added a few lighter green pieces of tulle under the dark tulle to give a bit more contrast.

I am much happier with the final result compared to the original. The negative spaces (background) are different sizes and give more interest. The center of interest is not right in the dead center of the piece. So the overall composition has definitely been improved.

And the piece has lots of fun texture and dimension. I plan on putting this piece into an exhibition in October. Hopefully, with these changes, it will find a new home. I think that I will just add a backing but not frame it. I like being able to see the colors go around the canvas and the flowers/greenery that reaches off the edge of the piece.

Have you recreated a piece that you weren’t happy with? We would love to hear your story about it over on the forum.


Posted in Design, Finishing/Framing, Made From Felt, Mixed Media | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Deconstructed Screen Printing

This is a guest post by Deb Stika, thanks Deb!

Hi, my name is Deb Stika and I’m a member of Ruth Lane’s art group. Our group meets monthly and once annually for a 2 day retreat on Bitteroot Lake in Montana. In preparation for doing deconstructed silk screening at the retreat, Ruth asked me to describe the process. We took a few photos to help you visualize what we are doing.

We set our stuff up on Ruth’s back deck so we would have plenty of room to spread out. We mixed the print paste in Ruth’s old blender.

Here’s Ruth mixing dye powder into the print paste, making sure there are no lumps! Since we have a bunch of screens, we mixed a variety of colors.

I’ve decided to use this Styrofoam packing material for my first patterned screen. (Ignore the purple color, that’s leftover paint from Ruth using it for printing on another project.) Our first deconstructed screen is orange. And a second bigger screen is created using the same packing material. We simply used the leftover print paste on the packing material and pressed it against’ the screen.

Here I am contemplating using misc. stencils on this bigger screen.

Other good textures: rubber bands, toothpicks, string, etc.

Drying screens.

Here are some of our dried screens ready for deconstructed silk

Our first pull using the string screen. And the reveal!

Another pull using the rubber band screen. And the reveal!

More reveals!

Thanks Deb for showing everyone the deconstructed screen printing process. We use these printed fabrics for backgrounds in our various fiber art. Screen printing is a fun process, give it a try. 

And to announce the winner of the drawing for First Time Felting, drum roll please…

The winner is Anna Ashton! Congratulations Anna, I will contact you to get your address so the publisher can send you your free copy of the book.



Posted in Guest Artists, Surface Design | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Part 3 Why does everything seem to take so much longer lately?

Part 3 Why does everything seem to take so much longer lately?

Continuing from Part 2 and Part 1


Life is still trying to keep me from accomplishing my goals by offering other options to the one I thought I was going to be doing.

Earlier this summer I was gifted with a fleece at the Guild demo at the wool growers Co-Op in Carlton place Ontario. It was a horrible day for weather and we retreated to the storage part of the sorting building. Just down the hallway from us was where the volunteer sheep were waiting to participate in sheering demonstrations throughout the day.

 1 Shearing Volunteers 1


Icelandic looking sheep “CCWG Mascot” from the Wool Growers Co-0p Demo. 2


  This is the producer of the fleece  after shot. 3-4

5They said the amount of fleece they have in stock at this point in the year was down from other years. 5

6 The demo team is across from all this wool! It had been raining very heavily with strong wind gusts so we moved inside the sorting building. 6

  The demo team 7-10

The co-op sorts all the eastern wool from Canada and sells it all over the world. A lot goes to china. But some gets set aside for hand spinners. Most of it is soft and crimpy but sometimes it’s lustrous and not quite as soft. The Icelandic-like one I want to work on is soft but the half fleece I got was one of the latter ones.

I wanted to work on the big Icelandic-like fleece next but it’s too big to skirt at home (I no longer skirt on the grass it’s too hard to get up from and it would be embarrassing to have to ask passing strangers to extract me from the little bit of front lawn I still have). So I went to the guild and put a sheet over 2 of their folding tables.  They are 5’ long table and once I had the fleece spread out it took most of the table space. Here are views first from the sheep side (inside) of the fleece. You can see a few second cuts on the whiter part. Then the view from the outside of the fleece.

1112 Inside side of the fleece (guild library in the background) 11-12

13Outside of the fleece 13

14 Close up of the tog 14

15 Colour variations within the fleece, outside of the fleece 15

  16 Skirted 16

17 The very large fleece skirted and wrapped in a sheet waiting for washing. 17


So one more practice washing fleece before the main event! So let’s do the little half fleece I bought from the wool growers co-op at Twist fibre festival.

The half fleece is not what you would call small so off to the dollar store to get more of those handy bucket and then on to Walmart to see if they had any of the really big buckets I saw last summer. Walmart has kept the price the same but made the bucket smaller… Drat. After 3 Dollaramas I found 5 more white or light beige strainer buckets. Back home to start the processe.

The process 18-20

I had forgotten I had the turquoise bucket. It was upside down underneath a large pot of raspberries. The grey one was also a Walmart bucket but I found it second hand this spring and the blue bucket is this year’s Walmart bucket (unfortunately smaller).

I divided the fleece, from cleanest to areas of less careful personal sheep hygiene. Starting with the cleanest and working my way to the less appealing but still-worth-trying bucket the fleece goes into the soapy water, then rinse and repeat. The First strainer only needed one rinse. (I gave up on the hot water idea and found out-of-the-hose is cleaning the fleece fine just as long as I soak it a bit longer.)

Hummm. There is more wool here than I thought. Another drying rack would help immensely! Off to Ikea to see if they still have the grey one I’m using now. Really this isn’t as silly as it sounds I did a quick check on the computer and Ikea is only at the other end of my street. (4 stop signs away!) They have a similar one which will work. It’s now called a “MULIG” Drying rack, indoor/outdoor, white $24.99 Canadian. I like the grey one a bit better but they are the same height and work well for fleece I better write a product review for that!

Ikea images of “MULIG” Drying rack, indoor/outdoor

My neighbour wandered by the fence and I explained what I was up to. He looked amused and a bit skeptical. (the water was pretty dirty) he also mentioned one of the extremely Rubenesque raccoons from the neighbour behind him had been frightened over the fence and climbed into our garage…. “GLENN!! We need to fix the garage door now!”  Our Garage is sinking. Some previous owner paved the inside of the garage and right over the sill plates, leaving the 2×4 uprights sticking out of the asphalt. So my sill plates are long gone to dirt and thus my garage is decoratively sinking with a lovely spinal twist since the rafters were not spaced correctly when originally built. Oh and the roof leaks so there is a big silver tarp to stop that happening. Really it’s on the list of things to do but our contractor hurt his back after I hurt mine so I can’t fix his so the garage is awaiting help.

21Everything has moved and the door is being inspected, measured and a first pass is made with the cutter 21

If we shorten the door the door will close and no more overweight under-wanted raccoons will consider my garage as a possible winter vacation spot. Our neighbour lent Glenn a grinder/cutter thing and we had to move everything out of the way (that would be the fleece washing I had been doing… plus the dogs litter boxes (the rest of us knew they were really flower boxes) and a couple rain barrels.) Oh well, Raccoon eviction takes priority over fleece. I guess it could have been worse.  It could have been the skunk that is somewhere around here wanting our garage.

22Glenn removing part of the garage door so it will close and keep the raccoon out 22

Well that is impressively disgusting looking water! 23-26

28Drying Fleece at the guild 27   

If you are a member of the Ottawa Valley weavers and spinners guild face book group page, you may have watch the video I made to show just how much more exciting it is to watch fleece dry rather than watching paint. (I had been working on the library for 2 full days in a row on a long weekend and I was getting a bit odd.  OK, odder then usually odd).  My fleece is assisted in its drying by listening to Rammstein and fan noise.

Today’s forecast is cloudy with showers. And if the last set of dark ominous clouds that rolled past are any suggestion of what might be coming I may not start the Icelandic today but leave it for tomorrow and hope to not get a second free rinsing. Although rain water is said to be very good for rinsing fleeces.

Update: i was able to get the Icelandic like fleece washed, i used all my plastic straining buckets and all the big bins to soak them in. i divided the fleece up into colour sections then i used the temperature of water from the hose and left it to soak longer than i had with the hot water fleeces.


unwrapping sheet that holds the giant fleece after skirting, then dividing the fleece up by colour.

earlier this summer while looking for good second hand baskets at a one of the thrift stores i spotted and pounced on an camping/RV hand washing machine. (think giant salad spinner for jeans) it has a switch on the bottom to ether hold wanter in while you wash or you can turn the switch and it will drain the water out a hose that is stored in a little door-ed area near the bottom of the spinner. it works much better on Fleece than it would on close im sure.

the Deluxe salad spinner that thot it was a hand washing machine, (i tracked it down on line its called a Laundry pod and costs about 100.00. mine said 9.99.)

washing and spin drying the fleece

part way through the fleece washing Glenn wandered out and started moving around blacksmithing equipment on the patio (adjacent to the fleece washing. he had a small project to finish and an eviction to make. the sulpherus smoke from starting up the forge helped knock out the squatters who were eventually knocked down and added to the forge at the end of his project. unfortunately some of my fleece now has that fresh black smith smell.

41the soon to be evicted  (there in the roof above Glenn’s forge, most did not survive the Coal start up smoke. the few remaining did not survive the forge.)

Final outcome: what started out looking defiantly like an Icelandic or Icelandic cross fleece Pre-Wash (we pulled at the long stringy bits that looked like tog and it separated just like tog and left shorter stuff ) Post-washing seems to have been a humongous Shetland fleece.  i must have washed out the Icelandic! Or maybe i over spun dried it?

OK change of plan, i now have the fiber to spin the warp for my blanket so i will keep collecting  more tog to make the tufts! but that will take a while so i will have to show you that Much latter!




Posted in Fiber Preparation, Uncategorized, Wool | 5 Comments

The Show is Over

The show is over. It was a really good show with lots of people. I was really pleased with how I did.  Now a day or two to recover and I have to start thinking of what to make for the next one.

This was my booth. Jan took the picture. I am hoping using the embed link from One drive will work.

I need more than a 10×10 booth but not 10 by 20, so I take two and My friend Bernadette takes half of one.

I sold one of my art pieces. My First Quarter Challenge piece. that made me very happy and sad at the same time.


So far I am failing at my third-quarter challenge. I hade a couple of ideas and then changed my mind then picked something else and even did a layout but nope, I am not feeling it.  It was another planet sort of thing. I have another idea but we will see.

This was the other planet one. The white domes are paper.


I wanted to remind people that World Wide Spin in Public Day is coming up, September 21, 2019. Are you Planning to spin with friends or by yourself? Or at a shop or other event? If you have been thinking about trying spinning this would be a great day to do it. I will be at the farmers market with my spindle. Here is a facebook group. There are lots of posts about places to participate.


Posted in Challenges, Shows, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

New Book, New Look

It was an honor to hear that my publisher Quarto Creates was reworking The Complete Photo Guide to Felting into a new book called First Time Felting.

This book is for beginners and concentrates on needle felting techniques but also shows the basics of wet felting and nuno felting. The book is available now.

I am happy to announce that Quarto Creates is providing one free copy of the book as a give away prize here. All you need to do is comment below and you will be entered into a drawing for the book. So please spread the word and share this post to get the word out about this new book.

Drawing now closed

And the new look? Did you notice that we changed up the look of our website a little? Thanks to Ann and Jan for the new header photo and we’ve changed the background to create a cleaner look. What do you think?

Don’t forget that registration is open now for my online classes. Please check out the online classes in the menu and register today!

Drawing now closed

Posted in Announcements, Giveaways, Online Classes | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Busy, Busy

Since my last post (which only seems like 10 days ago) I have not stopped. Over a hot drink I decided to evaluate the supporting evidence of said busy-ness. Firstly, and with a smile on my face, I have to admit that I have been to France for a week. Why? I have been on Grammie duties with our 13 month grandson (our youngest – by 2 weeks!). He was a delight but then I’m a proud grandparent. On arrival back home I then had one week to prepare for our group’s annual textile exhibition (held 26 Aug). This means not only finding the resulting artefacts from the group’s various workshops but also actually completing them.

I know I’m not alone with having UFOs. In my case I manage to carve out special time for workshops then with the day finished I set my incomplete project aside promising myself to finish it but life just gets in the way! So still weighing up the evidence of my busy-ness I realised that in the last 6 weeks I had attended two workshops. Decisions, decisions….which to complete for the exhibition? Oh I nearly forgot each year the group has a challenge, this year it was butons….so I was also busy creating those.

Here is the evidence (you’ll have to imagine my very cute, happy, smiley, cuddly grandson though)….

My first workshop with Ailish Henderson ( was titled ‘Stitched collage portraits’, with instructions to bring a photo of ourselves. I have never enjoyed being in front of the camera so that was the last thing I intended doing but instead took photos of our lovely 2.5yr old Raffles – a Cockerpoo, or as I like to say a Cockerpoopoo because his mum was a Cockerpoo and his dad a Poodle! But I digress.

It was suggested that we create a painting first then play with paper, fabric and other media to create a collage that we would then stitch to add the ‘character’.

Collage completed and stitching just commenced but sadly Raffles’ portrait remains a UFO.

Collectively there were some amazing pictures from our group.

My stitching buddy decided the portrait of Raffles was a good escape and decided to do her dog Izzy too. It is a great likeness….I’m sure Raffles recognised Izzy – his girlfriend!

I submitted both portraits anonymously as ‘Work in Progress’ to the exhibition….A visitor who knows our family later approached me and asked if that was Raffles in the exhibition….woohoo!

My second and latest workshop was with Justine Warner ( We were to create moorland layered landscapes, for which I had bought a card of a favourite local view just a few miles from home.

Justine clearly explained and demonstrated the process which was to use layers of recycled fabrics, yarns, scraps, threads etc to create our chosen landscape.

Justine is actually known as the ‘tie lady’ because she uses old ties in her pictures combined with many other fabrics (look closely and you can see the ties in her work above). Starting with a calico/cotton square approx 40 x 40 cm, strips (about 3cm) of torn or cut fabric are laid from the top down to replicate the furthest away layer – in most cases the sky.

In addition to anchoring my sky fabrics I had to stitch lots of lines using different colours.

Once the farthest layer is complete the idea is to continue forward tackling each layer in turn until the forground is reached. Each layer has multiples of fabrics and stitching, stitching and yet more stitching.

Rummaging through Justine’s huge stash of fabrics that were piled on the floor was certainly great fun.

With all the stitching and constant changing of threads I had only reached the base layer of the foreground by the end of the workshop. However having finally got the hang of the method I made a promise to myself to finish this piece.

But before then….sorting, packing, travelling and much cuddling was next on the agenda!

Home and back to my project (with only days to go) I continued stitching the sky and hills adding layer upon layer of different coloured lines.

This is the back of the piece (post completion and having added iron-on Vilene) you can just see all the stitching – whilst I changed the top thread colour continually I only changed the bottom once. The stitching makes for a very stiff piece of work which tends to buckle, so the Vilene and ironing flattened it.

I remembered that Justine had suggested every piece should have some ‘bling’, so using some glittery netting and sparkling fabric, that is just what I did to highlight the areas bathed in sunshine (not easy to photograph). I then used some felting wools to create the variegation in tree colours and machine embroidered over the top.

With the trees complete the barn was the next, but to make sure I got the perspective right I scanned the original card and increased the size to match my picture then traced the barn and overlayed it.

But this threw up a dilemma – it seemed too dominant….so do I ignore the literal and use artistic license? After a lot of humming and harring……YES. Following this decision I simply concentrated on creating the small stone barn by staining some grey/white textured fabric with tea (Yorkshire Tea of course!) and appliqueing it with glue (stitching would be too much) to the scene.

Then it was on to the foreground to try and create a sense of depth using colour (different fabrics are trapped under netting), machine stitching and finally hand stitching.

My interpretation of the Swaledale picture – I am pleased with the finished result but it took maaaannnny hours to complete. I think Justine might argue that I had been too literal and could afford to make it less precise, but that is the perfectionist in me!

Yes, it made it to the exhibition (just) complete with temporary hanging device….Pheu!….but our dining room had fabric scraps, threads, wools, yarns etc absolutely everywhere!!!! EPH (Ever Patient Husband) was definitely that, fortunately he’s artistic too, so understands!

My picture in it’s raw cut state 40x40cm awaiting framing. On the left photographed during a bright day indoors with artificial light, on the right actually outside in the daylight (on the same background! Can anyone guide me to a better colour rendition solution?), similarly below. Although the mount is totally the wrong size it shows how it enhances the picture.

So I have evidenced my ‘busy-ness’ to you all – what have you achieved recently?

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Why does everything seem to take so much longer lately? Continuing in Part 2

Why does everything seem to take so much longer lately? Continuing in Part 2

When last we chatted Glenn had just arrived home from a hard day of matching letters and number and not tripping. (don’t scoff this is not a job for me! unless you want your bills and fiber purchases lost to who knows where). i let him get comfortable at the computer for a couple minutes before asking him if he could drain the fleece for me. (He really is vary patent with my interesting hobby)

Fleece coming out of gray bucket with soapy water 36-37

The water is not as dirty as the last fleece! We filled a Dollerama bucket to just below the handles. The water from the hose was mildly warm from the sort of sun which is quickly becoming clouds. Glenn lifted and drained the fleece its container, tipping it to the side to let the water flow out. I may get another one and drill holes in the bottom, then gently placing it into the white bucket of clean water. I pick up and rotated the fleece holding container a couple times then left it to soak a bit more.

Draining the fleece from the wash bucket 38-41

Fleece going into the rinse bucket 42-43

During this delicate part of the fleece-washing operation we were interrupted by a hayness individual determined to steel birdseed! AH I had a weapon in hand so vanquished him in a torrent of bath water! Well I guess that was actually a shower from his criminal perspective. I ran him off twice and checked the lid on the feeder was tight. I’m sure he will break in and steel all the sunflower seeds but at least he will be vary clean when he does it. Evil rodent!!

Skwerl vanquishing!!! 44-47

After about 20ish minuets Glenn and I traipsed outside and I had him drain the fleece pulling the bucket from the rinse water.

Fleece has rinsed and is coming out 48-51

Onto the drying rack 52-54

Someday I should tell you about what my washing fleece inside set up looked like before I got the giant dirty Redo Arcott fleece. Maybe next time?

Its gaming night for Glenn, (no time for corn on the cob tonight so it’s been moved to tomorrow) and he is off to Kanata to play a game about saving sheep in the low country from levees and dikes that are about to brake. A vary noble endeavor! (I hope everyone including the sheep stay dry)


Sheep game 55

Now if the back neighbors raccoons don’t try to help I will have the first washed fleece dry by later tonight or maybe tomorrow morning. Then weather willing on to the next fleece tomorrow.

Update; the sun is defiantly gone after a brief valiant attempt at making it hard to see the computer screen. I may have to move the fleece drying under the dog shelter in a bit. I checked the weather forecast there may be unpleasant wetness later tonight. (That makes sense after all the watering earlier today.) So I will let the fleece drip a bit more before moving the rack.

I have gathered up the partly dry fleece and moved the drying rack. I went looking for a piece of sheers but found another fleece. Where did I get that one? It looks like it was poorly washed or was not washed I through it in the mostly clean soap water and added the rinse water. It can sit overnight and I will through it on the drying rack tomorrow. I put down a sheet since I couldn’t find the sheer for the Icelandic. Although the length is good the ends are vary thin on the tog end and quite thick ion the thule end. This will insure nothing falls through as it dries.


56The drying rack moved under partial cover in case of rain 56


P1570892Getting the last bit dry inside by the register.

I finished it off drying in its bucket in the bathroom (the register is rite behind the bucket and the air conditioning is on).  I took this into the guild social and Ann helped me separated some of the tog and thule.  i will sample spinning the two parts separately then do a sample together. Eventually i will have that Icelandic blanket i keep dreaming about. But that will be later since i have more fleeces to wash before the snow gets closer!

It is quite the feeling of accomplishment when you can start with raw wool strait off the sheep and process it into something to felt, spin or weave. This is just the start of lots more fun!

Posted in Fiber Preparation, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged | 11 Comments