Archive for the ‘Visit my studio’Category

An organized studio for the New Year!


Every January I clean my studio down to the micro level.  I find amazing things!  It’s been great so far as I have finished or have in progress ten artworks.  I’m sure neither the neatness nor the pace will continue, but it’s great at the moment.


Of note:  You can’t have too much light in January in the Midwest, so I have overhead, string, and halogen lights.  And, yes, I turn them all on.  I always need a pot of paperwhites in January.  The giant paper snowflake was made by my sister and is perfect for filtering just enough sunlight.


Studio B next door now has the towers of fabric (not shown) that were in the closet (that didn’t work) in studio A and the ironing board moved over there also.  A table I had been using as a desk downstairs became another cutting board.   I would like to say I gave Studio B the same clean-out, but making art won the day instead 🙂


01 2015

Mounted Design Boards – At Last!


OK, after living in the same house for 10 years (a record!), I finally committed to mounting my design boards to the wall.  I decided to re-cover them at the same time. The whole thing is easy to do:

1.  I use those pink insulation boards (4×8 foot), but cut them down to to about 5.5′ tall.  There is no point in having tall boards (as I have had in the past) if you are right around 5′ tall.  Seriously, see how far you can reach and size your boards accordingly.  You can see that I’ve had the boards quite awhile (as tall leaners :)); the edges are dinged here and there – no worries IMHO.

Think about the placement of the boards:  I took into account an electrical outlet that I didn’t want to cover up and I decided I would rather have the board extend a bit behind the door rather than lose room for a storage unit in the corner.

2.  Cover with felt.  I use polyester felt; it comes 72″ wide.  I bought mine at OnlineFabricStore when they had a coupon.  I’ve tried various ways of securing the felt to the board over the years, but, really, duct tape does the trick.

Lay the felt down, then the board (being sure to have the side with lettering facing you) and not the felt.  Lettering WILL show through.

Trim the felt so you have about four inches to fold over on each side. Then fold the felt over one long side, put a piece of duct tape, middle, top and bottom before doing a whole long strip of duct tape to really secure the felt to that side. Then do the other long side, then the top and bottom.  As you can tell by looking at the boards, I did one by myself and Joe helped with the other.  Help is good to pull the felt nice and taut on the second and fourth sides before duct taping it down.

3.  I used 9 Command picture and frame hanging strips per board, 3 top, 3 middle, 3 bottom.  I’m not sure what size they are, but the package says they hold up to 12 lbs. Nine may be overkill, but the strips come 6 per pack and that didn’t seem to be enough per board.   Be sure to stick them on the board and NOT the felt and follow the directions for use.  I drew a faint pencil line using a level above the outlet and lined the board up on that when sticking them to the wall.  Definitely a two-person task.

The boards come tongue and groove on the edges, so make sure you have that lined up correctly.  I could have duct taped them together before covering so as not to have a seam, but I thought if I even wanted to change the felt it would be easier with two boards.




01 2015

In the Studio: Work v. Show


Way back in 2009, I wrote a blog post about Happiness is Good Fabric Storage after I added this Ikea unit to my studio.  How spiffy looking!


This is what a working studio looks like this week. I’ve blown through a lot of that fabric that I painted during my residency at Karey B’s Franch and now I store most of my fabric in the nice dark closet.

I’m working on a couple of things.  On the table: Collages for the Junk Mail Art Collective on Facebook.  I’m also working (when I’m not out in my landscape garden) on a textile artwork, perhaps just for myself, perhaps not, about my family’s Horseradish Day.  Here’s a tiny part made by layering commercial fabric and photo transfers on my own dyed fabric:


I haven’t used commercial fabric (except for screen printing on upholstery fabric) since I started making art quilts.  But my sister had lots of bold stripe and dot fabric from a quilt that she donated to my bunting project.  There were lots of leftover pieces from the bunting; it’s a fun palette to work with on an artwork that I am developing like a cartoon (think along the lines of Roz Chast).


05 2014

“Intentional Printing” and the Java Art Exchange


Let’s just cut to the chase.  If you don’t already have Intentional Printing:  Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art by Lynn Krawczyk, just go ahead right now and order it from the publisher, Interweave/F+W Media, here.  Four reasons why you will be glad you did:

1.  It is a great book for someone who has never tried printing.  Lynn really does share simple techniques that can result in very complex designs.  But for those familiar with printing, there are pages full of inspiration and encouragement to try something new.


Photo from Intentional Printing courtesy of Interweave/F+W Media.

2.  You don’t need to invest in a lot of new “stuff.” For instance, you don’t need a pool noodle to do decay printing.  Use what you have is Lynn’s motto.  However Lynn does names names (one of my pet peeves in other books that do not) of products she likes and uses.

3. Her message is very positive.  Try this and see what YOU like, choose colors YOU like, don’t let other dictate what YOU think is beautiful.

4.  Most importantly, Lynn talks about the push-me, pull-me aspect of printing fabric which to me is crucial to printing interesting fabrics. By this I mean that she discusses how to create a layered printed design that is simple, yet evocative.  But she also shows you how to keep pushing – to really think about how to bring aspects of the printing to the fore or to push them back with different colors, images, or lines.

I have my own way of painting and printing fabric honed over more than a 1000 yards of white fabric, but I decided to try and print intentionally on small pieces of fabric (one of Lynn’s tips for success).

fabricdetail400A printed fabric to use as a background in three easy steps!


Then I made a screen from Lynn’s coffee cup graphic in Intentional Printing (enlarging it a bit since I wanted to mount it to a 10×8″ stretched canvas) even though my Thermofax (on its last legs) didn’t make a very good screen. I just filled  in the cup with paint, did a little hand stitching, followed her clever directions to MistyFuse the artwork to a canvas and voila, a new artwork for my coffee art wall.  I might still paint the edges of the stretched canvas per her directions, but I do like the stark white around the artwork. It’s shown on my work table, but now it’s on my coffee art wall.

I had so much fun with the coffee cup graphic that, with Lynn’s permission,
I brewed up the
***Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange***
All the details for you to participate are here.

Jamie Fingal’s blog
is the next stop today on the blog tour for Intentional Printing.  Check out the small art quilt she made using Lynn’s techniques.


04 2014

In the Studio: How To Stick with the Stitching


I’ve been sitting and handstitching on the same artwork, Shagbark, for a couple of months now.  By nature I’m not a person to sit in one spot and do one thing ad infinitum.  And now the weather is improving and the great outdoor calls.

But I have come to think of stitching as an activity similar to portaging.  If a portage is a boulevard, then you know the lake on the other side is bound to have a lot of people on it.  The slippery, rocky, semi-dangerous portages are the ones that lead to silence and beauty.  Sometimes it is just a matter of hanging in there and keeping your eye on the prize.

So here’s some tip to STICK WITH THE STITCHING:

1.  Make sure your chair and lighting are just right.  It’s worth experimenting to find a chair that won’t harm your body.  I love my WittFitt ball (no affiliation) and have moved my table so I have natural, overhead, and task lighting. Overkill?  Maybe, but too much light is better than too little.


2.  Take a break every hour.  I have my yoga mat standing by for a few downward dogs or I do some little part of the ever-thrilling domestic drudgery that never ends such as run downstairs and throw in a load of laundry, sweep a floor, clean a counter.  The only thing to watch out for is mistaking a break for quitting for the day.  That is why my taking a break does not include taking a walk (15 min. to gear up, 45 min. later I’m still outside :)), but you may be able to take a nice brisk walk and return safely.  In any case, I always leave all my lights on as a visual reminder that there is still stitching to be done.


3. Rejoice in the small triumphs.  Some days I literally only stitch a few square inches, but if they happen to be just right or particularly beautiful, I’m a happy camper.


4.  Give yourself some things to look at that are on a longer view to rest your eyes.  I purposely sit in this spot so a view of the shagbarks is before me.  Nothing like looking directly at the inspiration for the artwork.  You might wonder why I don’t transport the artwork elsewhere, but it has assumed sculptural proportions with layers of upholstery fabric, screenprinted paint, and stitching.  In short, it is HEAVY and it works best to wrestle with it on a table.


5.  Work the psych angle.  That sounds weird, but here are three things on or near the design board where “Shagbark” resides each evening that I can study for inspiration as I stitch.   First, I stitched together the colorful dyed piece of cloth so when Shagbark (in January colors) comes down, it’s Spring in my studio.  Second is a photo pinned to the left corner that isn’t of bark, but reminds me of bark. So something to think about for the future.  Lastly, in the shadow box is a handmade blouse of my Grandma’s.  It is amazing (not only because it is about a size 0), but also because of all the handwork.

6.  Bring the outside in.  These lovely hen and chicks reside in this old enamelware pan on my deck all summer.  But they have been happily multiplying this winter by the window.  I checked the ASPCA toxic list and they are cat-safe.

mugstitching4007.  When all else fails, go for the coffee and/or chocolate!  Seriously.


03 2014