Clearwater Quilters – A day of Workshops

The local quilt guild that I belong to is presenting A Day of Workshops on Friday, June 20, here in Orofino, Idaho. The registration form and workshop brochure is available on the page.

We’re delighted that art quilter Lisa Curnutt has agreed to be our featured quilter and present a trunk show of her stunning quilts at lunch time.

I will be teaching Playing with Color, Value and Color Intensity for one class and Introduction to Folk Art Wool Embroidery for another. All instructors belong to our quilt guild. This event is in an alternative to our bi or tri-annual quilt show. We’re interested to see how things work out since we’re making it up as we go! We expect to get a lot of mileage out of “Well, this is our first time”! So far we’re getting an enthusiastic response.

Zentangle® Inspired Artist Trading Cards

I’ve recently completed my artist trading cards for the Certified Zentangle Teachers 52 Card Deck Swap. Artist Trading Cards (ATC) are 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches and are swapped or exchanged for the pure fun of sharing the artwork. For this swap, any type of media was allowed as long as it involved Zentangle®.

Warning – I love process and the figuring out of it. This could get long but I do have photographs!

I started my ATC’s by mapping out a 2.5” by 3.5” grid in pencil on an 18” by 24” 90 lb. cold press watercolor paper. I’m a creature of habit and one of my habits from my weaving background is to create samples before totally committing to a process. I laid in a colorful watercolor wash background and then began to draw. Two or three cards later I decided I wasn’t inspired to continue this way.

artist trading card sample

So what about free motion stitching tangles on a watercolor washed fabric? I thought I could do that. Time for another test. I pulled out some very pale, plain cotton cloth in assorted colors and used Setacolor Pebeo fabric paints in a thin watery wash. After heat setting two sample fabrics, I fused a different stabilizer to the back of each and mapped out the 2.5” by 3.5” grid lightly in pencil.

I used Superior Threads variegated thread to stitch this test and really liked the resulting color play. I decided to see if I could boost the color next to the stitching to enhance the tangles so I experimented with my Prismacolor pencils. This really helped bring the surface to life.

From this test, I learned that I tended to want to stitch inside the grid instead of ignoring it and it was slow going to think up every tangle as I went. I also re-learned (been here once before) that when you do a lot of stitching in a small area you shrink up the fabric. My pre-drawn grid had shrunk to less than 2.5” by 3.5” and I couldn’t erase the pencil. Watercolor pencil might be something to consider for the future.

free motion stitched fabric


free motion stitched fabric

I thought,  “I can do this”.

Next, how would I stiffen the cards so I could put information on the back? Use fusible web and watercolor paper. Yes, I decided to forgo the visibility of the stitching on the reverse so I could sign them and apply labels. Yes, I tested this too using 90 lb. watercolor paper and then cut my first samples out. More proof that I should always test things and firm up the process before I go too far.


Here’s what I learned. I preferred the slightly puffy fusible interfacing as it made the cards more quilt like and interesting.  I also found that I preferred to use the color pencils before fusing the interfacing. The little glue dots on the interfacing created a bit of a pattern on the fabric that I didn’t like and even extra heat didn’t make them melt away before adding color pencil.

Around this time, I came a cross an image of fabric on which someone had stamped and stitched. Hmmm… time for another experiment. I pulled out some small stamps created for a previous project. I applied the stamps in clusters, let the fabric dry, heat set it again, and stitched around the patterns with my variegated thread. I decided to add another layer of thin interfacing to the backside to enhance the stitch quality. Pretty enjoyable.

stitched fabric and artist trading card samples


stamped and stitched fabric test

Next, how do I make it more Zentangle like and pick up the pace? Well, maybe I could make a repeating string (Zentangle term) based pattern and stencils to stamp through. What? First, I decided on a string in a roughly 8 x 8 inch square, avoided the edges, and turned it into a repeating pattern. From that I created a stencil (5 layers) that I could stamp the tangles/patterns through.

pattern for stencil

After testing the stencil layers using the original small stamps, I realized it would be more than tedious to use the individual small stamps in each stencil opening. Why not carve stamps that covered each of the entire stencil openings? Using the original stamps and soft rubber carving material I created 10 large stamps. By now, “I know I can do this.”

I had my process, tools, fabrics and a plan. It was still slow going but I enjoyed barely blending the fabric paint colors on plates, using my carved stamps and watching the patterns develop.

frabric with very wet wash of colors
Fabric with very wet wash of colors.
large carved stamps
My carved stamps.

 One layer of the stencil is visible in the picture below.

clear stencil on top of fabric


stamped fabric


stamped fabric

Once the fabric was all stamped and heat set with an iron, I boosted the color in some places with my pencils, fused the interfacing to the back, and added another layer of thin, non-fusible interfacing to the backside. I used a variety of Superior Threads variegated threads to free-motion stitch with.

stamped fabric


stamped and stitched fabric


stamped and stitched fabric


backside of stitched fabric
backside of stitched fabric

With stitching completed, I used Heat ‘n Bond to fuse large pieces of 140 lb. watercolor paper to the quilted fabric. For each piece of fabric, I measured the stitched and stamped area and used an online site to calculate the most efficient ATC sized cutting layout for the fabric. (The site seems to have gone offline now but I found something similar for use on an iPad called Paper Layout). I drew the cutting layout lightly in pencil on the paper and fused it to the backside of the stitched fabric. Next, I cut the cards on the grid and pressed them with a hot iron a second time to be sure the fuse was complete.

How to finish the edges? I made several tests and quickly dismissed the idea of stitching. I did not like the perforations on the paper or the way the stitched edge looked.  Instead I decided to use the side of a small brush and craft paint to seal and finish the edges.

Final steps – create labels to include date, swap title, and contact information. The next to last step was to sign my cards. Finally, and this should have been done before finishing the edges, I checked them all to be sure they would fit in trading card sleeves. Of course, some did not so I trimmed and repainted them.

artist trading card


artist trading cards

With my cards complete and in the mail, I created a small quilted piece for myself. It meets the criteria for another challenge project involving quotes and artwork. After binding the roughly 10” x 10” quiltlet, I free motion stitched my favorite mantra on the binding.

I think I can.  I think I can.  I know I can.  I did it!

small quilt


Zentangle Class Success

Well, my first Zentangle® class went well. There were seven students and it was great fun to see how they embraced the method. Like student Marilyn said, they all received the same instructions yet each tile is unique to the artist.

Zentangle tile drawings
Student work Introduction to Zentangle

I’ve scheduled two more classes for next week. First a shout out and thank you for my friend Laura who put the word out to her large mailing list and to our local newspaper – The Clearwater Tribune.

Here’s what I’ve written for our local newspaper about the upcoming classes –

Due to the success of the first Zentangle® drawing class offered, artist Susan White, a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT), has scheduled two additional classes in November. Zentangle is a fun and easy to learn method for creating beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. It can be a technique for promoting a relaxed and focused state of mind whenever or wherever it is needed. Susan is one of only three CZTs in Idaho.

Two questions are commonly asked about the Zentangle method. The first is often “Isn’t that just doodling?” Susan explains that “doodling” is one of many approaches to drawing, the Zentangle method increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. Artwork completed through the Zentangle approach is often revered and shared while doodles are often lost or discarded. For certain, there is no shortage of opinion on the answer to this question.

The second question is often “Why should I take a class from a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT)?” Susan explains “A CZT has taken the training to learn the Zentangle method and approach. It’s true that there are books and information on the internet that people can go to. However, a book will never convey the same sense of approach and application that a trained instructor will. In many of the online videos, it’s clear that the non-CZT presenters have missed some of the core values of the Zentangle artform. Also, we often make more progress by setting aside the class time for ourselves.”

Introduction to Zentangle Part 1 class will be offered Tuesday, November 19 at The Wild Hare from 1:30-3:30 pm. Students will be introduced to the Zentangle drawing method and the steps for creating original Zentangle artworks at 3.5” by 3.5”. No artistic experience is necessary. Each student will produce unique artworks that develop as each new stroke is added.

Introduction to Zentangle Part 2 class will be held Tuesday, November 19 at the Wild Hare from 6:00-8:00 pm. Students will learn additional tangles and techniques for creating their artworks and should bring supplies from the first class with them.

The recommended age for attendees at these two classes is teen through adult. The number of students will be limited to 12. Supplies are included in the class fee. Students are provided with clear, simple instruction in a safe, judgement free environment.

Pre-registration is required for all classes. Please contact Susan for more information, to inquire about arranging classes in other settings, or to arrange for private lessons. Stop in at the The Wild Hare downtown Orofino to pre-register.

Short Notice, First Zentangle® Class Offering

Short notice… My first Zentangle® class will be offered Thursday, November 7 at The Wild Hare from 6-8 pm. I will introduce participants to the Zentangle drawing method and the steps for creating original Zentangle artworks at 3.5” by 3.5”. No artistic experience is necessary. Each person will produce unique artworks that develop as each new stroke is added.

The recommended age for attendees at this class is teen through adult. It is a great way to get started and the number of students will be limited to 10. Supplies are included in the class fee.

Pre-registration is required. Please contact me for more information or to inquire about arranging classes in other settings. Stop in at the The Wild Hare downtown Orofino to pre-register.

Here is the rest of the story…. In September I flew to Berkeley, CA and took the train up to Sacramento to meet with textile artist Merle Axelrad. I had two special hours with her in her studio and plied her with questions about her work.

I traveled back to Berkeley, CA to work with Mona Brookes for 6 days of certification training in her EduArts teaching methods. Mona is the author of 3 books about drawing as an important learning tool. Her methods for teaching drawing were the basis for much of what I taught as a volunteer art teacher when our kids were in grade school and for everything since then.

In October I traveled to Providence, RI where I took the certification training for Zentangle® with Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. There are very similar parallels between both methods.

Mona’s emphasis is on drawing realistically while the Zentangle method focuses on relaxed and focused drawing using structured patterns. Either way – it’s all very teachable and learn-able in a safe, non-competitive and non-judgmental environment. I’ve taught kindergarteners through senior citizens and have yet to find someone who isn’t able to draw. It’s such an easy way to promote eye hand coordination and enhance the usual methods of education for kids. It’s also a powerful personal boost to learn that you really can draw!

Drop me a line or give me a call if you’re interested in setting up a class or series of classes. I’m currently working with Tina Harper at the Wild Hare to get a few sessions started.

Tapestry Workshop with Sarah Swett

I recently had the great pleasure of a four day tapestry workshop with Sarah Swett and 14 other wonderful weavers in Garden Valley, Idaho. Titled “The Value of Value” it was everything and more of what I hoped for. Sarah is a gem and a hoot for sure. She managed to get and keep us all on track while allowing for our individual approaches.

As promised, we learned how to warp our tensionable frame looms for a 4 selvedge tapestry. Our first assignment was to work thru a range of values with yarn colors of our choice. Our digital cameras, smart phones, or iPads with black and white image capability were a great aid in checking our values as we worked. I’m happy with my colors and value changes. I wish I had included more of the red at the bottom. It is 2” x 3”.

Our next tapestry assignment was to try to show a 3 dimensional form using one or two point perspective and value changes in 3″ x 3″. I started with sketches and some notes. It was hard to track all of the variations of yarn colors and values so I made a number line for value at the bottom from 10 (darkest) to 1 (lightest) with notes about yarns.It also helped to make and tape little swatches of the yarns.

I could have kept it simple but that would have been unlike me! While out for my regular morning walk, an idea for adding vegetation in the foreground came to me. Here it is on the loom in progress. The cartoon, barely visible, is sewn to the tapestry on the backside.

Here it is finished on the loom (left) and after I did a little extraneous needlework (right) to increase the contrast between the roof and sky. One thing I learned is to include the contrast as I weave.

Below is the final version compared to the black and white image of it. Now I can see the similar value of the greens in front and the brown front of the house, as well as the lightness of the window and the mid-ground grass. I still love it and I have more information for my next tapestry.

The assignment that I didn’t have time for included an attempt to demonstrate curved forms (ribbon or balls) using value. I also want to play with some lettering. Sarah brought some of her tapestries to show us. Amazing work and Sara is a great instructor.

I had a great time in Garden Valley and Crouch, Idaho. The facilities, new school and new public library, were as great as the people. Georgianna Goetsch was the organizer and did a terrific job. We ate our breakfasts and lunches at the school. Many thanks to the cook. I’m hoping there are more fiber events in the area in the future. I would return there in a heartbeat!

Smokey the Nutcracker

Smokey the Nutcracker was created as a retirement gift for my former supervisor, Cindy Lane. She has a collection of nutcrackers that she loves and Smokey just seemed to be a fit addition. He started with a wooden base created by John Bruce of Bruce’s Woodworks in Draper, Utah. John generously sent various pictures of wooden parts options and suggestions via email as we worked out what he could build me for a base. The wooden soon-to-be-Smokey image is courtesy of Bruce’s Woodworks.

Once Smokey arrived, I set about creating patterns for his jeans, head, body, feet, ears, and arms. I used fleece for body parts – cutting and sewing and trimming again and again to get the fit I wanted.

When it wasn’t too hot, I worked outside on the table top studio.

Smokey’s hat is wet felted – think top of a light bulb taped to a ring of plastic – using a tan wool pre-felt with merino wool roving on top of that. Once I had the general shape and size right, I let it dry then soaked it with fabric stiffener. I stalled the drying of the round part of the hat by covering it with plastic. Once the brim was dry, the hat came off of the form and I made the 4 dents in the top. When that was dry, I trimmed the rim edge, added a ribbon and cut red felt letters out of stiffened felt.

Smokey’s nose is needle felted using craft felt. I went to the internet to see how bear noses were patterned. I also found instructions for creating your own patterns for doll clothes. The belt is cut from a thrift store belt and the buckle is crafted from polymer clay. Smokey is holding a purchased and altered tree since his new owner was a Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest Vegetation Staff Officer (aka Timber Beast).

Smokey’s shovel was crafted by my dear husband and crafty enabler, Tam. Smokey is holding a shovel because, well, that’s what Smokey does! We discussed having Smokey hold a tree and an axe. However, like John Bruce said in one of his humorous emails,

If you axe me, he might not look right without his shovel!

Here is Cindy and Smokey the NutCracker.

Fishy Quilt Block Exchange

I’ve just finished participating in Mary Lou Weidman’s Hootchy Fish swap. All 36 participants used the same background fabric, shooting for bright Kool-aid colors in a 14” wide block. One of the style suggestions I liked was to use a strata technique – strips of various fabrics sewn together to create a new fabric.

Each person could design their fish or fishes to be any height. Each of 12 blocks could be the same or different. I started with graph paper, a sketch and a plan to make all of the fish the same way in order to optimize time. I used a variety of markers to colorize my sketch and that’s when my plan changed direction.

With limited time for swaps and projects in general, I love to use projects like this to take off in a direction that is new to me. So why not paint my own fabric instead of sewing the strata? And wouldn’t that be faster anyway?

I’m a firm believer in making samples when dealing with colors and techniques – which covers just about everything. I knew that straight paint would be thick and I wasn’t sure I had enough paint to cover the yardage I estimated. I wanted to thin it but not have it bleed and run all over so I mixed it with Pro-Thick SH. I sampled my colors and paint style ona fabric swatch. Perfect!

I started by flicking a mix of Pro-Thick SH with Setacolor paints – once with a water blue color and once with a cool magenta color – on prepared for dyeing (PFD) cotton fabric. Next I painted slim wavy thick and thin areas.

The following pictures show the progression as I painted the waves of each color.

After completing the painting, I heat set it with an iron, washed it, and decided it wasn’t bright enough. By now I had less paint and realized that my sample methods should have included testing and recording the ratio of Pro-Thick SH to paint. So… I sampled that.

I painted the same fabric again using a ratio of 1 part paint to 2.5 parts Pro-Thick SH mix. I also heat set it again and rewashed. Here you can see the difference between round 1 and round 2.

I also used 3 orange/reds to paint the lips/beaks fabric.

I am pretty happy with the fabric and my fish. I think even stronger color might match the commercial fabrics in the awesome fish blocks I received. And no, it wasn’t faster than sewing strata but it was very fun to experiment and construct the fish! The button eyes can be sewn on in the location of choice and the design of the block allows for them to face either direction.

Art Under the Elms

It’s time again already! Next weekend (April 24 – 26) will be my 4th appearance at the Art Under the Elms show and sale in Lewiston, Idaho. It’s part of the annual Dogwood Festival for Lewiston and Clarkston. I’ll be there with my new crop of lampwork glass beads.

I didn’t realize that I haven’t written here for most of a year! I’ll have to work on that. I think about posting quite often – but that’s as far as it gets. I really do like to write as well as show and tell what I’ve been up too.

Beads by request

Here are two beads made by special request to include math symbols. I had fun creating my own murrini canes.

Getting Started Again

I’m trying to get started again but I wasn’t kidding when I called this web log “irregular ramblings”. It’s so easy to shrug off and go on to the next item on “the list”.

I came across this writing in the introduction of Julia Andrus’s book, Paper Transformed. “Such is the power of art. It is about relationships. What begins as an act of self-expression becomes a revealing connection when shared with others. Art truly is a universal language and there are countless methods and mediums through which we can communicate.” Great quote and great book.

Last Septmber I wrote about the two murals I completed. The river floaters were painted for a parade float. The county fair mural greets fair goers in the exhibit building. It as great fun to hear that several groups of people had their pictures taken at the mural. I’ve since decided that I have some value enhancements I’d like to make.

Painting Mission Accomplished

No pictures today but I’m happy to say that I accomplished a huge painting mission I set myself up for. One large 6×6 foot canvas to hang on a parade float and another yet larger painting 8×8 feet to greet fairgoers the the Clearwater County Fair. They were both well received.

I haven’t done a lot of painting previously although I did create one last year for the same parade float entry. I know that pictures here are all important but I’m doing a little stress over all of the other projects I need to be working on. I’m currently viewing the world around me as additional paintings, much smaller no doubt, but I need to turn that off and focus on getting ready for Art and Soul Retreat in Portland in 2 weeks. I still need to make trades, 50 plus charms for swapping, order supplies, and get my bead supply ready for vendor night – not to mention take son to college in Seattle, take on new tasks at work and get ready for a retirement party before Art and Soul!

I would also like to catch up on what I’ve been up to between June and September. Wish me luck!

From Fish to Quilt and Glass

Graduation was fun with a houseful of family and beautiful weather. The fish were a big hit, especially with the moms at the senior party! Some have migrated to my office and to other cubbies in the building!

Now I need to get my son’s graduation gift quilt finished for the Clearwater Quilters biannual quilt show next weekend. I also need to get my postcards finished up to participate in the ISGB (International Society of Glassbeadmakers) postcard project. I worked on the torch for a couple of hours today testing some new glass – until the oxygen tank ran out.
It’s fun to move from one project to the next with no downtime – really it is, I think.
Check out the final fish pictures below. I saved all the pieces – I have a plan to recycle them into ATC cards – later after the postcard and quilt!

Five fish close up.

Treasure chest at the bottom of the fish tank!

The whole “tank” – rocks, anenomes, seaweed, treasure and fish!

The 69 Fish Project

I survived and thrived at the Art Under the Elms and have been getting ready for our youngest’s graduation this weekend. I always offer to help with my senior’s party decorations. The party planners had an idea related to fish and I said I would make them. So here’s how they started.

I like to use paper grocery sacks as my paper base and I have a random assortment of house paint to work with…

Next step was to cut out my fish pattern leaving a hinge on the top fin. It’s really 72 fish but hey…

Time for the eyes and body art…

Next step was to feed the fish. The Party planners needed numbers on the fish for the random drawing of prizes. I could have made these one-sided critters and put the number on the back, but why go simple when you can make it fun. So we (as in my mom) attached the numbered tag to a plastic frog or centipede or who knows what, and stuffed each fish.

In this last picture, the stuffed fish are awaiting final closure.

Next step – create habitat. Stay Tuned…

Virginia Fatbook

I recently participated in a fatbook exchange related to the Virginia Art and Soul Retreat. Each contributor made 55 pages – 4×4 inches. These pages were sorted out into 55 sets and bound into a spiral book form. The theme was childhood memories of artistic beginnings.

It’s a fun challenge to figure out, to make efficient yet fun, and to complete on time.

Here are a few pictures – the lampwork glass flower heads I made, my 55 pages ready to mail, and a close up of the front of my page.

Web Change – more progress

More progress with developing my website. I’m gradually getting the hang of css with the help of a great book – Build Your Own Web Site the Right Way Using HTML & CSS by IAN LLoyd. Today I have managed to move the blog off of my main page (created last week) to it’s own webblog page.

For my next trick, I need to add the page links to the blog site. For now I need to get back to the lampwork glass bead business. Art Under the Elms is fast approaching.

This will be my second showing at Art Under the Elms. Booth 39 next to Talkington Hall. It’s fun to meet and greet and I have some great booth help for the show. It’s very well run. Off to the torch now…