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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finally Centered

After several trial runs, I found a combination of thread and stitches that gives the feel of those lush, fluffy, dusty stamens that surround the center of poppies.  The black yarn is a silk and angora blend.  The deep navy is DMC perle cotton.  I couldn't make French knots with the fuzzy yarn but filling them in between with the embroidery floss worked very well.  Next step: layering the whole piece with the batting and backing fabric and starting the machine stitching.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January Bloom

I started a new piece today that seems to be a response to the rain and gray of our January weather. What could be further from winter weather than the warm colors of a poppy flower's silken petals? I decided to use silks rather than the usual choice of cotton. The petals are silk dupionni, the black base of each petal is silk organza and the black center is silk noil. The only cotton used are the little bits under the black poppy center. Those two pieces are hand-dyed cotton that have a slight gold glitter to the surface of the fabric. I'm still mulling how to make the individual stamens that surround a poppy seed pod while it's still in the flowering stage. It may need an application of hand embroidery using black yarn. Does it need beads, too? Stay tuned.

One of the machine accessories that I own is a needle felting attachment, which is shown above. It holds 5 barbed needles that, as they pierce through two fabrics, cause the fibers of each to blend with the other. It works best with wool, but many other fibers can be used as well. Silk seems to take to this process almost as well as wool. I thought that the needle felting process might give a realistic look to the black spotting that occurs in the center of many poppies. I do like the effect now that it is started. So back to the machine to make more petals and keep myself warm looking at this yummy, hot color of summer.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twelveth Day

Well, it's the 12th Day of Christmas and it's time to take down the decorations. For some reason this year I enjoyed them more than usual and wasn't ready to put things away. The long New Year's weekend gave me an excuse, then it was that the 12 days weren't over yet. Today's the day, though, ready or not. There are other projects to tackle!

Here are two Santa ornaments that I have made the last couple of years. They originate from a vintage Martha Stewart show from what I call the "BP days". That would be "Before Prison" as opposed to the "AP shows" of today that are fun, but more along the lines of a talk show. In the "BP" shows, Martha had more detailed projects and this was one of them. They are meant to be reproductions of old German Dresden ornaments made with cotton batting. I have tried to find the instructions for this on the MSL web site so I could include the link, but I think they have been lost to history.

Sometimes I coffee or tea dye the batting to make it look older, but for the yellow one I actually used some leftover Procion fabric dye from a different project. (I try to never dump unused dye down the drain. Even if I just soak it up with, or brush it over, a blank piece of muslin, I always find a way to use it up.) These two ornaments also have glitter on them. One has vintage German glass glitter. The faces are scanned and printed from old Christmas cards. I am always charmed by the ones that look like Old World St. Nicholas or Father Christmas figures. I have also made some using German scrap paper with a gold metallic finish. You can find supplies for similar projects by searching for Geman scrap or Dresden on either of these two sites: or

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Beginnings

It's that time when we all look forward and backward at the same time. Most of us look forward to renewed energy for the things that we strive for every day but lose track of in the daily rush. I'm wishing for many things, both personally and globally, but mostly I want more time spent in my studio. I know, I know, it's up to me to accomplish that. There's no fairy godmother to wave a wand and make it happen.

Another wish is to add to this blog more often. While you won't know if I'm succeeding in my goal for more studio time, you will know if I don't blog more often. So, here we go on the first day of a new year with a new post. I'm off and running. Let's hope these cranes, symbols of good luck, among other things, will carry me on wings full of fresh air and new creative adventures.