Saturday, November 3, 2012

Silver Lake College Fiber Art Exhibit, Manitowoc, WI

 Colleen Ansbaugh photographs nature as a source of inspiration for creating her art cloths.

The first step in her process is a simple pencil sketch of the general shape.  The image is translated onto the cloth through hand dyeing or adding color with paint, often adding more surface design with silk screening, beading and stitching.  The colors of nature are reflected in the cloth often bold and bright with brush marks adding a painterly effect.
Course thread is hand stitched adding texture and visual interest.  It is an ongoing process where one piece leads to the next on her exploration of color and shape.
Also exhibiting are Ramona Gillaume, of Denmark, WI; and Anne Phillip, of Stevens Point, WI. Each woman’s individual body of work is linked to that of the other through a common love and exploration of fiber as a medium. The artist’s methods and creative manipulations of that material range from traditional to non-traditional mixed media. The exhibit, which brings together these three distinct artistic visions, will be in held in the Silver Lake College Hallway Gallery, located in the Fine Arts Department (accessed through the East Entrance), from October 15 through November 16, 2012. The exhibit is open to the public at no charge from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Colleen is a friend and fellow member of Studio Art Quilters Association.

The Sky if Falling, or is it just Nuts?

The nuts are falling from the trees, knocking me on the head, telling me its time to dye, its time to dye! I've done absolutely no regular dyeing and no rust dyeing this summer. I ordered silk scarves several weeks ago so I was prepared.  I gathered up some acorns, some pine needles, some leaves.   

 We had that really nice day in October where the temps reached 70+ degrees.  That was the day to dye.

I did some bundle dyeing like I did last year with Shelley Ryan, The Wisconsin Gardener at The Flying Pig Gallery and Garden in Algoma.   I used the nuts I gathered, some black walnuts, some black walnut soup (water + walnuts), assorted dry teas, turmeric, vinegars and some wire to wrap them up.  Placed them in zip lock bags and now I need to wait about a month and see what develops.  Hopefully something beautiful...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Farm to Plate at the Trout Museum

Field #4
Tomorrow night is the Reception for "Farm to Plate" at the Trout Museum in downtown Appleton from 6-9, free admission and open to the public.    I wish I could go but I've got a previous engagement.  Tomorrow night is also Cruize the Avenue with collector cars in mass quantities.  This Saturday is Octoberfest in downtown Appleton too.  Should be a great weekend downtown.

This exhibit, "Farm to Plate" is up until October 28 if you don't get to see it this weekend. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What I did on my Summer Vacation

This has been a relaxing summer for me, spending several full weeks at our cabin.  Early in the season I painted the livingroom, but since then haven't done any house-type work up here. 
I've been doing lots of sewing on the screen porch, the best of both worlds.  I can watch the birds, an occasional deer and too many of those dastardly squirrels in our bird feeders while sewing away. 
Its been fun watching Clyde, our golden doodle go from refusing to go into the lake to swimming and playing in the water.   Just a few more weeks to enjoy the summer like weather.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


I haven't posted since the end of May, summer time is flying by.  Things have been happening in my creative life even so.  Fiber Artists Coalition had an exhibit at Mosquito Hill in New London, WI.  Then there was the South Shore Art Center exhbit in Cohasset, MA and currently the Bloomingdale Park District Museum in Bloomingdale, IL. 
I was recently juried into the website available to all Wisconsin artists.  You may want to check it out, there is a ton of artwork in all mediums to peruse
As a professional artist member of SAQA, one of my artworks on the SAQA website was selected by curator and fellow SAQA and Fiber Artists Coalition member, Linda Witt-Henke for the August Virtual Galley titled 'Out On a Limb' that will be up now and throughout the month of August on the website.  There is some beautful work in this exhibit, I am very honored to be included. 
Hope your summer slows a bit in these 'dog days of summer' we should be experiencing right now.  Ahhh, summertime, and the livin is my dreams...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three of a Kind

Three of a Kind
Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA) of which I am a member has a benefit auction each year where members donate a 12 x 12 inch piece of art and these are auctioned off in September.  This is my contribution for 2012, I've done this for the past 4 years now.  'Three of a Kind' was pieced using silk, hand dyed, damask, and a variety of other fabrics.  I love the colors though they are brighter in person. 

If you are a quilter who makes wall hangings I had a revelation when I was making the hanging sleeve.  If I can explain this, I first make two sleeves so that you can put a hanger on the slat that goes through the sleeves in the center if you want.   I sewed the top of the sleeve at the same time I attached the facing to the quilt.  Before I did that, I sewed the sleeves together 3/4 of an inch from this seam to help prevent the slat from showing at the top of the quilt.  Then the sleeve was hand sewn at the bottom.  That is probably clear as mud, if you don't get it, let me know and I will better explain. 
Closeup of back side.

All of these donations need a label on the back so I thought I'd do something a little different, so I cut out a leaf shaped piece of fabric that had Wonder Under fused to it.  Kind of cute, I thought.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Clyde, our new golden doodle.

Clyde 'before'

This is Clyde "after" he's been to a three hour beauty appointment
Clyde is our new golden doodle puppy, he's 3 1/2 months old.  We are in the process of housetraining and kennel training.  Our first night wasn't horrible and he's getting the hang of the kennel.  His first day with us was really excellent, I think because he was so 'pooped' from his long car ride and 3 hour beauty appointment.  The night went pretty well, he didn't get up until 3am to go out and then went back to sleep for a couple hours. 

Today we had several potty accidents in the house, but we went for two walks around the block and he's taken a couple of good naps.  Whoever said this was like having a new baby  absolutely right!  Wish us luck.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Door County Retreat - The Best Of

Spending time with youngest daughter who is now a modern quilter with a great color sense.

Being with my friends laughing our heads off, note the pointy head ornaments?  These are heavenly head massage implements.  Ahhhhh!  Thanks Jacqi.

Tablemate Rhonda asked us all to dress/create a clothespin to represent ourselves (to be used as Christmas tree ornaments) so she could be surrounded by her friends at Christmas.   This one is by Ellen Dior Polenske, not quite the finished product, AGAIN the Overachiever! 

Some of my favorite projects:  A Cuties tangering zipper pouch made from a Cuties label, Cheetohs bag turned into a reusable zipper pouch, another velco snack bag,

A Spools free bird pattern I found through Pinterest,

Scrap quilt I made for husband from flannel scraps and lined with hand dyed IKEA black and white fabric with writing of numbers on it. 

Marty the Martian baby quilt and Put n Take blocks ( courtesy of Amy at a previous retreat) turned into a small quilt, freshly washed and out of the dryer. 

What a great long weekend spent with friends and women who share the same interest in beautiful fabrics and making 'stuff'.  Good food, good laughs, good people!   Thank you Jacqi, from Keep Me In Stitches and Amy, The Fabricologist for organizing these events! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eco Colour by India Flint

Part of this weekend up north at the cottage was spent reading this book that I bought for myself after not getting it for Christmas.  I am very interested in dyeing using natural plant dyes.  Many summer weekends at the cottage have included time spent rust dyeing.  I have an old rusty wheelbarrow that gives me great rust dyed fabric results.

This past summer I went to The Flying Pig in Algoma for a class given by Shelley Ryan from PBS.  The class was on dyeing silk scarves using flowers, mulch, tea, coffee, etc.  You can check out my post dated July 23, 2011.  I think the results were fabulous.

  I also did some dyeing with Black Walnut hulls, post dated October 2, 2011.  Not being fully satisfied with the results I needed to know MORE. Anyway I was very interested in continuing my dyeing experiments.

India Flint, the author of Eco Colour has been dyeing for many years and wrote several books on the subject.  Although she lives in Australia, her methods, philosophy and sense of ecological responsibility transfer to anywhere in the world.  I am very excited to try some of her methods. 

She talks about assessing the choices you make with regard to how those choices impact the earth.  She also stresses that the possibilities for colors are infinite depending on so many factors.  I love that she is a 'wing it' kind of gal that likes to experiment without being terribly specific, though safety is always number one. 

If you're looking for a different, unpredictable, cheap way to dye your own original fabrics I highly recommend this book and give it an A+ rating.  For a professional review of her books, go to

Along with reading the book, I also went for my usual Saturday trek around the block which entails about a 2 mile walk along wooded and swampy areas, a visit to the frozen creek, and a view of Lake Noquebay where its not unusual to see deer, birds, the occasional ferret, grouse, turkeys and other northern Wisconsin critters.  I usually take my camera, my cell phone (in case I meet up with a bear) and this time I brought a bag to carry any plant materials I planned to gather along the way in hopes of doing some eco dyeing at home this week. 

Well I think I was successful.  I gathered three types of red berries, not sure why the birds hadn't found these yet.  Also some little tiny pine cones, some medium size pine cones, some fern fronds, tree bark, lichen, oak leaves and other non-identied leaves.  When gathering plant materials its important to pick things off the ground and not rip bark off of trees.  The object is to use sustainable plant materials, not to overuse or abuse the environment. 

From India's book I also learned about the purpose of mordants, which assist the dye in attaching to the fibers.  Some mordants that are suggested are iron, copper, brass.  Since my husband has a small target practice area on our property I was able to scavenge lots of brass casings.  I also saved my coffee grounds from the weekend, and the onion peels from Saturday's dinner.  I think I'm ready to give this another try. 

If you have done any natural dyeing, please comment or write to me to tell me what your successes and failures have been.  Thanks for reading.  See ya.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Duffy's Dad

Duffy's Dad

Duffy's Dad was finished in January.  This was taken from a black and white photograph from 1944.  Whenever I start a piece with subject matter that I am unfamiliar with, I do a lot of research for similar images.  In this case I looked for aircraft from the era, with the help of my husband who is a WWII army buff.  From the photograph which wasn't very clear he gave me some options for what he thought the plane was.  From there I did internet searchs to get a better picture of the plane.  Then I went on to the uniform and tried to get better idea of the color, details, the cap, etc. 
Inspiration photo
This is the photograph I started with, just the center portion.  I increased the size by about 4 times and then added the wingspan of the plane to fill out the composition.  You can see my pencil drawing on the left and right of the photo.

Strips of fabric

First the background gets laid down.  Fall colors were used for the background.  You can see the sky strips laid down at the top of the composition.

The most difficult area

When you get to the details of the face you don't want to put something there that you aren't sure of.  So, I tend to be more vague in order to let the viewer suggest the details as they see them.  The face was done with inks and then overlaid with sheer fabric. 

Fused but without detail stitching

This is how it looked before adding the stitching.  rough and flat, it doesn't have a lot of deptha at this pont.  The finished piece is the one at the beginning of this post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cedar Swamp photo by Mary Kay Baum

This is the inspiration photo for my Cedar Swamp series.  I love this photo taken by my cousin, Mary Kay Baum.  She is a very talented photographer.  See my previous post to a link to see more of her photographs.  

Mary Kay lives outside of Madison, WI and takes a lot of nature photos.  I'm so fortunate she lets me use them.  Thanks Mary Kay!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cedar Swamp photo by Mary Kay Baum

Cedar Swamp #1 (7" mounted on 10" wood block)

Mary Kay Baum is my cousin who takes beautiful nature photography in her spare time.  She has led and is leading an interesting full life.  Click on her name to see some of her photos and to see what her real passion is along with her two younger sisters.

One of her photos inspired me to do a series of artworks.  I had this photograph in my studio for awhile, not knowing what to do with it.   In October 2011 I took a class with Sue Benner, a well known, highly respected mixed meda artist.  In this class we brought photos that inspired us, that we wanted to do something with.  I chose the Cedar Swamp photo by Mary Kay.  In Sue's class I learned more on creating  abstracts from nature.  I have taken other classes in the past from other talented women on abstraction (Yvonne Porcella and Cynthia Corbin), but sometimes you get stuck and need a refresher. 

There are four small studies, of which I only show 2 here, the other 2 are unworthy of completion (in my opinion).  #1 is shown above. 

Starting out small I made 4 small abstract versions about 7 inches square.  Some of my favorite fabrics are the rust dyed and in silk dyed with black walnuts.  When I dyed this silk fabric it really didn't take the walnut coloring, but sitting in the dye pot for about a week it developed mold on the fabric .  Luckily for me I loved the look of the mold blotches and it stayed in the fabric when I washed it.  This is used in the sky and the foreground. 

Cedar Swamp #2 (7" mounted on 10" wood block)

Cedar Swamp #2 is similar to #1, duh.  That was obvious.  You can see the tree in the mid-ground and the foreground are also rust dyed with tannin which gives it the beautiful greys.  Both of these pieces are heavily quilted, which you can't see in these photos.

Cedar Swamp #3 11"w x 14" h (unmounted)
Cedar Swamp #3 was fragmented and reassembled.  Although it hardly looks like the others, I like it and I think that's all that matters.  This one has some velveteen that has discharge markings as well as more of the rust-dyed fabric and other miscellany.
Then, on to #4 which is the largest to date.  This piece contains more of the same fabrics.  You can see in the first view the process used for all of the series was to fuse the fabric pieces down to the batting until I was satisfied with the composition.  
It doesn't look like much at this point, other than the dark of the sky at the very top and the rock type shapes at the bottom as the foreground.  In the mid-range I imagined the horizon.  I worked on the tabletop surface, pressing to fuse at this point. 
This is the overlay of trees using several discharge dyed fabrics along with some of the rust dyed.

Cedar Swam #4. Finished size is 22"w x 31"h, unmounted.
  All pieces are heavily stitched and bound with a facing.  This is #4 completed.   Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

See 'Nevermore' at the Waukesha Civic Theatre

Nevermore by Pat Bishop, part of the exhibit, "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird"
 "13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird", an exhibit by the Fiber Artists Coalition is now on display at the Waukesha Civic Theatre in Waukesha's historic downtown.  This exhibit is up through February 22, 2012.

The Fiber Artists Coalition is a group of fiber artists from the midwest, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan.  For more information and to see more of the art quilts on display click on the link on the left sidebar of this blog, the fourth one down is the Fiber Artists Coaltion blog for a peak at more of the quilts on display. 

To learn more about all the artists who are members of the Fiber Artists Coalition check out our website.

For information on the Waukesha Civic Theatre click here for directions and to see what else is happening at the theatre.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's happening in the studio?

The week after Christmas was spent partially in my studio, cleaning out non-related 'stuff' like yarn, paring down the books, tearing down all the notes stuck to the window frame, clearing off the work table, putting away non-essentials.  From this photo it doesn't look that clean, but it really is  a major improvement.  It cleared my head and helped me focus on what I needed to concentrate on. 
After cleaning up I made some last minute Christmas gifts - eight snack bags.  Yes, I know, these were made 'after' Christmas, but they were Christmas presents. These turned out great, really cute and I need to make some more.  They were quite simple, quick and non-irritating.  I started work on a commission that is just about finished as of today.  I'm anxious to get back to finishing my Cedar Swamp large piece.  I really love how its turning out and its almost done.  See?  This is the fourth in my Cedar Swamp series, and the largest.  My cousin, Mary Kay Baum took a photo of Cedar Swamp, which was owned by my grandparents and is now owned by my cousins.  The photo was so inspiring, though this representation, looks nothing like it.