Mar 20, 2022



From an article in , which I set aside to read later, quite a while ago. I don't know where the time goes but have finally opened this lovely article about how to use a sketchbook. Some great ideas if you think you need some inspiration for your work in sketchbooks. What I learned of great importance is that there is no right way ... just do it !

"The four textile artists featured in this article all have several sketchbooks on the go, using them for different situations and various types of content. They use their sketchbooks according to their individual needs, making them an important part of their toolkit. We’ve seen that it’s a good idea to use spiral-bound books, which provide some expansion space between pages to collect and store samples, objects and other items alongside your notes and sketches.

Sketchbooks don’t have to beautiful, they are just there for you to collate your resources, whether it is text snippets, sketches, designs, colour tests, samples, objects, collected items, photographs or anything else, as long as it gets you thinking.

These artists have shown that the key to success with sketchbooks is to use them in a way that suits you best. This might be to make a daily drawing, or to use them as a tool for gathering inspiration, or for developing projects.

Anything goes; you don’t have to sketch in a sketchbook, and you don’t have to use it every day!

So go ahead, choose a beautiful (spiral-bound!) sketchbook or two, and run your hands over the tactile, thick paper. Select your preferred mark-making implement; a fine-liner pen, a freshly-sharpened pencil or maybe some watercolour paints. Then sketch some ideas, write some notes, glue in some photos, collect objects, papers or fabric samples, make some plans, or test out colours and patterns. Take the pressure off, open that first page and see what accumulates.

Most importantly, make your sketchbook work for you."

This is a great share, I feel.

I must admit that I rarely used a sketchbook until about 20 yrs ago and then only periodically (aka lazy) because I couldn't wait to get at the project in my head. I do more writing in them re:new/proposed ideas for a show piece. I talk my own ear off ;)

A small workshop with a retired professor from OCAD, Richard Nevitt in 2012, changed my mind a bit. He would put something in his sketchbooks everyday !

The workshop was about Canada's iconic Group Of Seven.   

And, he stressed that one should always sign every sketch, NO MATTER HOW 'ROUGH' !  

He added some colour to a small sketch of my own ... AND signed what he'd added !!! So now I have this collaborated sketch with Richard Nevitt :) :) (above)

He also stressed to never let a lack of proper paper or pencils stop you from drawing ... which I took to heart. This sketch happened when I took a piece of the tissue paper that surrounds many glued-back sewing products and started to sketch a section of a painting by The Group Of Seven member, Edwin Holgate, 1933, "Interior" ... it is a favourite of mine. And very funny/fortunate/unfortunate that the iron symbol landed smack dab where it did ... and is pointed down ... not intended nor planned !

I very much enjoy leafing through my small quantity of sketchbooks and I fully intend to do better !
Time to move on .... blogger/google isn't letting me add or resize my photos so I will return another day to talk your ear off ;)  
Ooops, back ! 
My Mac is 12 yrs old now and they won't fix it anymore so she is slowly letting me know that her time is near :(

Mar 1, 2022

Blue Violet Flash

Occasionally I will do a little hand-stitching ... not often, but I do succumb once in a while when I need a break from the sewing machine.
That break came in the form of a newsletter from Joe & 
... an invitation to join a 'free', 5 day class in a stitching project called Stitch Camp. I was at a stand still with my drawing of Maggie so I joined in.
It involved paint & mark making, so I thought I would try. It involved 2 pieces of fabric  ... one more heavily marked than the other. Then cut it up and re-arrange it !
But the finished painted/marked fabric became to big and I am not one for cutting up and doing a 'series' of smaller works. It was too large to expect hand-stitching and, being me, I decided that free-motion machine embroidery would have to cover the over-lapping seams ... I wanted a seamless look to a piece that became 7"wide x48" long ! 

While mulling over that problem a friend mentioned that she was practising doing some ansemic writing ! What ? Where have I been ?? Research required ! basically an abstract writing without meaning. This would cover my seams ... lots of them. Zig zag engaged ! I painted a version first and really, really like the idea !

It's a start ... and I like this white rayon thread here, even though it tends to be cut easily, so don't slow down, Sharron ! I chose black acrylic paint (of course) and a bottle called 'blue violet flash', a Colour Shift paint by Folk Art ... blue with gold, and a white background.

Jan 19, 2022

 This portrait is done. 

I am afraid to add any more layers of graphite, because I 'see' something else I could do every time I sit down to do so ... I could very easily make a grave mistake at this point.  Learning to stop is a major victory.

Jan 13, 2022


Lousy photo of my drawing, but I will get a better final shot when I'm completely done. 

I started out with a Lee Valley mechanical pen ... to just start a rough sketch. It may still be a rough sketch, but I don't want to stop now because it is turning out way better that I thought it would ! 
I plan to lay on a few more layers of graphite, but it is almost complete and I am quite happy with it ! Luckily this is on good paper, 11"x14". 

It's funny how a piece of art takes on a new perspective once its on a computer screen ! I realize that I have lifted her head a little ... all good !! And, subconsciously I have taken 10 years off her age ... all good as well !  Not drawing the cigaret in her right hand, held close to her face, has helped as well !
I hope her partner, Dee, is going to be pleased.

Must get better lighting for next photo ! ;)

Jan 10, 2022

Happy 2022 !

Merry Christmas ... and a Happier New Year for 2022 !!! 

I didn't mean to be away from my blog for so long, but life really does get in my way sometimes (honestly ? all the time !)

Still 'healthy' ... can't say much for 'wealthy and wise' !

This new year, I have eyes again !! ...
 Oh, maybe I didn't mention this before ... excuse me if I am repeating myself. 
When Covid hit in March 2020, my cataracts decided to 'bloom' ... my sight got so bad that I took myself off the road. I had barely driven my new Range Rover Eco for 2 weeks !! Needless to say I had bungled my way around for 18 mos. until Sept. 2021 when I had my 1st eye surgery. The other eye was done in Oct. 2021. Just before Christmas, I finally got a pair of progressive lenses that I am still trying to get used to. But boy ! How wonderful to finally be able to 'see' with such clarity !!!

In my last post I was posting about the 'work behind the scenes' of any piece of fibre work. The piece at the centre of the post has been delivered to the Bruce County Museum ... but ... because of current Covid conditions the opening has been postponed until a better time when the populace can once again visit and view art in person. A sad state of affairs in the whole world today.

But, it's a new year and it carries on without us ... so I have to get on board and get some work done. 
First, a commissioned portrait of a dear old lady who has alzhiemers now. I have known her and her partner for over 40 years ! They ran a little restaurant just on the edge of Killbear Provincial Park where I have camped for for 50+ years. Maggie was a hoot, a wise-cracking, hard smoking woman who ran the front of the restaurant and was always very positive. She is in her mid-eighties now.
I must say, I worried about my drawing skills after almost 2 years of not seeing well, but think I'll be ok.

Other projects and shows are coming up and it feels good to get to work in 2022 ... just feel it will be a good year and I love the look of just putting 2022 on a pce. of paper !!

Nov 7, 2021

The Life Of An Artist

I found a meme on Facebook last week and wanted to include it in this post detailing my 'hair wreath' project ...but realized that just because it's floating around Facebook does not mean I should use it. It was akin to seeing an iceberg (see; a piece of art) ... but what you see sticking out of the water is actually attached to a massive amount of ice (see; all the work involved in that piece of art) under the water.

Of course I knew this all along, but was very impressed by this little meme reminding me that maybe someone would be interested in the part under the water.

I think this is why I write a blog ... to document how much work is behind the scenes. Otherwise, my children/grandchildren really have no idea what I am up to all those hours in my 'room'. So, I am going to repeat a few photos ... from start to finish. Thank you in advance for bearing with me. This piece is done and a new fibre piece begins in a few days.

Hair Wreaths were a craze in the late 1800's, honouring passed loved ones and were made by gathering strands of hair and wrapping, weaving, embroidering around wire so that the petals can be manipulated to stand up in 2D. I had to revise a lot to accomplish a semblance of a Hair Wreath in fibre and threads.

The Sketch Book ... inspiration 

I happened to have a practise flower (free-motion machine embroidery on water-soluble) tucked in my sketch book, so a quick review had me inspired again with a long 'portrait mode' in my mind ... but there was a possibility that what I had in my head might be better suited to 'landscape mode' ... the finished piece would decide. Store everything in your sketch book !

1st layer: The Fabric ... a lucky accident of scrunching and dipping a 15"x42" length of unknown fibre content (cotton tho') into a tray of waste water (from a long ago forgotten acrylic paint event). 
Splotches of white did not absorb the paint !!!
A little black ink outlines those white splotches ... like faded, dying flowers ...goes with the reason for hair wreathes in the first place ... to remember loved ones that had passed.
2nd Layer: Foundation  ... This length of fabric was then basted to a cotton backing and seed stitches were applied to bind top fabric to backing fabric (cotton) ... took about 3 weeks, a few hrs most days. 

3rd Layer: The Stitching ... free-motion machine embroidery is my go-to technique.
So, pop some water-soluble into my hoop, tighten hoop untill water-soluble is drum-tight and commence sewing, free-motion. 
This time I decided to fill in the petals rather than leave them open as I had the idea of adding a 2D flower on top of each black flower motif. This also takes a few hrs. to bring to the point of 'enough' for the new piece I had in mind ... 18 motifs to sew  to my lovely grey background !

4th Layer: Product
'Enough' now.... my 2D flower isn't human hair of course, but I did find a roll of twisted newspaper yarn that was made in India... and which I have hoarded for at least 10 yrs ! It would make a great stand-in as it naturally had enough firmness (without wire) to hold up to the job I had in mind. I wrapped a length of it in blanket stitch with a variegated embroidery floss ... grey, blue,mauve and beige (yum) ... that blended beautifully with the bits of colour in the twisted newspaper and the grey background.

5th Layer: Decisions ...  how, what, why and where ?? 
Hours of more fun ! This way ? That way ? Do I have enough ? Do I need more ?
Oh, well,  s**t or get off the pot, they say !! I was able to machine stitch all the 'flats' to the background by machine without a bit of puckering, and when all were stitched in place I rinsed the whole shebang and hung it to dry. While waiting I was able to get a much firmer picture of where I was going with this. 
OK, the decision was made ... portrait mode !

pinned in place finally

here you can see the seed stitching ... every 1/4 inch  

6th Layer: Wrapping 
This is a practise I have not done in years but a necessity if putting fibre art into a frame to make sure there are no puckers or wrinkles in the finished piece. More hours of fun ... not ! But a beautiful technique. 
Once the fabric was decently dry I ironed from the back and all was smooth once more and I could commence the 'wrapping'. Some prefer to staple but the best look is with the older method of using a needle and thread from one edge of the fabric, over the fibre board to the opposite edge and gently tightening as much as the fabric, and the thread, would allow ... every 1/2" across the sides and then the ends. Mitre the corners and you have a nice smooth, tight piece to slip into a frame.

7th Layer: applying the 2D florals.
Now that the placement was decided and everything stitched down, it was time to add 5 stand-up petals ... no turning back now ;) This was not an easy chore as I had to make sure that the weight of the 2D's wouldn't drag and pull at the background. So, problem solved ! Stitch right through the fabric & board !! 
Firm as can be ! Just make sure that the stitch holes aren't too close together when you tie of the threads on the back ;)

8th Layer: Beads 
Yup, more stuff from my stash of beautiful 'will use one of these days' things. I don't use many beads in my work but these were perfect to indicate the centre of a flower. Wonky, chunky, steel black beads from a daughters bracelet, and pretty  glass orbs that only suggests a beige colour and reflects light and the other colours already in the piece. These, as well, I stitched right through the fibre board and tied off at the back. These knots will all be covered by the cardboard backing piece of my frame.

9th Layer: The Framing 
I am satisfied with the final look, now to get it framed. Normally this accounts for many more hours heading to the nearest framing place ... 45 min. away for me now. Choosing the right frame ... wood ? metal ? colour ? cost ? quite a few more hours to tack onto this project !
Lucky me, again !!! 
I had a framed piece that I was recycling and it was just the right size for my 2nd fibre piece inspired by the 'hair'wreath'.

While writing this post, a name for my piece kept popping up ... Passage ... appropriately tying, I think, this piece to the original concept of a 'hair wreath'. But, if you are reading this and can come up with a great title I'd be grateful ... sometimes this is the hardest part of any art practise.
Sorry about the blurriness of this photo which I enlarged as big as I could go .... which brings me to one of the final layers; finding a photographer that specializes in the photography of fibre. I am sure that I could have added a few more layers to the process  ... and then many more layers before this is actually in a show and then getting it to a venue !!

So, it's not that I would change anything about my particular 'art' ! 
Not at all !
I just feel, as the diagram depicts, that viewers are sometimes unaware of the hours that are lovingly put into a beautiful fibre piece that could soon grace their own wall.

Oct 25, 2021

Hello Fall !

 It's all over for this year ... yes, my Killbear Provincial Park camping trip ... well, really, 'glamping' trip ! .. a 28' trailer with AC, heat, Microwave 😆 Lots of hot days and a week of rain with a tornado warning and some tree damage in the park ... and 24 hrs. without power (glamping). Too many other glampers but still a lovely holiday.

But, Here's my journey for the last few months.

I had my 1st cataract surgery Sept 1 and left for Killbear on the 11th.  After 3 weeks in Killbear, hubby and I headed towards North Bay, leaving the trailer at #1 daughter's for the winter, then off to youngest daughters for a week encompassing Thanksgiving. I gathered all 5 grands on a Friday night and we had a sleep-over in the trailer. The kids ate junk and all played on devices of some sort. Their parents had the opportunity to go out for dinner, but not before they had gotten in all the shopping they could do before the stores closed !! I'd forgotten how hard it is to get any shopping done with kids in tow !

A few photos of a gorgeous place, Killbear Provincial Park, in the Near North of Ontario Canada.

 It is mid Oct. now and have just had my 2nd cataract surgery !! Soon I will venture out in my newish little Land Rover that I haven't driven since Covid struck and my cataracts bloomed ! Can't wait.

While camping I was able to cover a piece of work with seed stitches. I had found a lovely piece of 'waste-paint-water ' that had been in my stash for a few years and was perfect for my 2nd 'Hair Wreath' project. After basting, I used a seed stitch to hold my surface fabric tightly to the background fabric. The finished size will be 9"x 34". It will be my new, revised version of a hair wreath.

This lovely fabric of unknown content left pure white, un-dye-able 'flowers, which I talked about in my last post ... some of which I outlined in ink.
It literally covers my extra wide ironing board but the finished size will be 9"x34".
A gathering of flowers & bits to attach later.

I am happy with the placement of the flowers ... now to stitch down... by machine
A close-up of what I will be stitching down ... the black flowers will be stitched down first ... the the 2-D beige ones will be applied on top pf the black

The beige flowers are made of twisted paper yarn and I am treating them to some blanket stitch ... just as the original 'victorian hair wreath' flowers were treated ... 23 or strands of real hair were embroidered and then twisted into petals !!! The twisted paper yarn is standing in for the real hair.
Last Christmas I was given a box of gorgeous embroidery thread (again, of unknown genetics) and this skein had just the right colours of brown, beige, light to denim blue and grey ... love, love, love this colour combo !
Two flowers done ... wow, not being a 'hand-stitcher', I am surprised how long it takes to cover a stand of paper that is 40" long !!
So, now I begin the attachment of these 2-D flowers to my base .... which is washed of all water-soluble and hangs waiting my next move ... stay tuned 😁 

Aug 27, 2021


 On Tuesday last, I opened my email to a very lovely surprise ... an invitation to send my self portrait, 'The Way I See Myself', to The Knitting and Stitching Show in the UK !!

Being invited is pure gold to me and of course I will send it. Wow !

So a new hanging device, a proper signature on the front, filling out the paper work and packing her up was on the agenda for today.

Last year, 2020, I had sent this same portrait to the Online Knitting & Stitching Self Portrait Competition. Hundreds entered and it was fun and easy to do ... what could be easier than sending a jpeg ?

Now they want toes & show the actual pieces in Alexandra Palace (7-10 Oct) and at Harrogate (18-21 Nov). 

A lot of money for 6 days total ... but hey, when will I ever have this opportunity to show a new audience a piece of my work ?? 

Sooo worth it in my eyes !

piece and some packing materials on the board

I hate packing tape ! ... she's on her way !

Aug 17, 2021

So, Just Thinking Before I Leap

 This beautiful piece of waste-water painted cotton ... no history, no genetics, no brand ... has bothered me some. The longer I looked at it the more it spoke to me. Would it be a candidate for printed textiles ? Should I not cover up the focus with other stuff ? I had half the piece basted before I took the bull by the horns and phoned a local print company. At the very least I thought it might make great printed canvases for gifts ! ''Old Money Bags' that I am ... NOT !

A lovely young lady thought that If she could scan the piece of fabric, she might be able to get a good print from it. So, off I went, I unbasted the section that I wanted scanned and I ordered a canvas print ... just one, as a canvas 12"x16" costs $85 before taxes. It came back to me within the week. I wasn't struck in disbelieve at it's amazing beauty ... rather, I was amazed at how much lighter it was... more faded than the original piece of fabric ! 

I wondered if I had emailed my own photo, enhanced even, if it would have pleased me more ? When do you stop experimenting considering the cost. I'll know better next time !! 

I couldn't help myself !!! I picked up my art pen and started re-out-lining the flowery parts in black ink ... I am happy ! Subtle yet strong. It'll look great on my walls !

One good 'art' canvas from it was worth it, looking back ... the kids will have to vie for it when I'm gone.

Now I could get back to business ! This piece of acrylic waste-water 'dyed' fabric, 14"x42", is completely basted and ready for whatever I do next. I'm gong to start with a simple seed stitch, to hold top to backing fabric, that will not over-whelm the machine embroidery work that will be applied later.

Not a lot of colour here, but that's what I love most ... black & white and all shades of grey ... from paint to ink to clothing to the paint on my walls ... wonder what that says about me 😄😃😅😉😉.

I just remembered ... I have a sister piece in blue !!

In my tiny studio,/sewing room/office/spare bedroom, this extra wide ironing board makes a handy work space !