Some inspiration from Penny

My good friend Barb and I took a day trip recently to Carnegie Center, just a two-hour drive from here, to see another one of Penny Sisto’s exhibits. I thought I’d share some inspiration from this talented artist.

This year’s exhibit is called Earth-Tones and all of the quilts have been dyed with coffee. She said that the whole dyeing with coffee came about because her husband spilled coffee on her ironing board! “As I ironed it dry I saw sheer beauty appear…the alchemy of coffee and heat across the fabric started this journey.”

Before I move on to the quilts, Penny uses recycled fabric in her quilts. Since she is known to use recycled materials she gets a lot of donated goods. However, she has been known to buy a t-shirt off someone’s back! Below are just a few of her pieces. What is amazing about Penny is that she has completed all of these this year!




Just to give you an idea of what she uses in her quilts, Langspil lists silk roving, fur, torn rags, antique lace, coasters, leggins, and Mexican blouse.

Her’s a closeup:

closeup of Langspil

Kudu Horn

Kudu Horn






Harp closeup

Harp closeup


Jaguar Rattle

Jaguar Rattle


Eagle Pipe

Eagle Pipe





First Day At Work

First Day At Work

The caption: “Hearing the hum of the factory, she stands timorous on the threshold. Child labor remains one of the darkest shadows on our planet.”




Closeup of Elders

Closeup of Elders


Fox Light

Fox Light

Irish Bride

Irish Bride


Crane Bride

Crane Bride


As I said these were just a few of her pieces in this exhibit. Most of them were already sold. Any of the quilts she doesn’t sell she will take home, take apart, and reuse for her next project. What an amazing woman!

If you live anywhere close to Louisville, Kentucky, take a couple hours and check out this lovely center and this exhibit. It will be hanging through January 10.

Posted in art, art exhibits, road trips | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

My Five Favorite Things

When I started thinking about this post I had a hard time coming up with just five of my favorite things. But the more I thought about it, I narrowed it down to those items that have really helped me to be creative. So let’s get started.

1. Silhouette Portrait

I absolutely love this machine. Evidently Ace does too!

Ace and PortraitThis machine is great for paper crafters. You can download lots of designs or make your own to use on cards or in scrapbooks. However, since I play mostly with fabric my reason for buying this machine was to make my own stencils. It has worked great, and if you have been reading my blog you have seen many of those stencils. Silhouette has been having a great sale on this machine  and the bigger Cameo, so if you are at all interested, now’s the time to get one. I bought the smaller one because I didn’t know if I’d really use it, and I also liked that it was smaller and could fit on my already crowded desk. However, If I had known I’d use it so much – there have been times when I’d like to have a 12 x 12 stencil -  I would have probably bought the Cameo instead. However, for the price it is worth every cent.

Not part of my count, but if you are making stencils on one of these cutters, I recommend buying precut freezer paper and slide and bind report covers.The precut freezer paper works great and you don’t have to fight with curling and freezer paper that doesn’t want to play right. The report covers are sturdy, but flexible.


2. Brother Label Maker

Dave decided to buy one of these machines recently. I thought it was a great idea for all of his gardening stuff and for the pantry. Then I got to thinking about all of my supplies. I have printed and hand written labels on boxes, but they peel off and I can hardly read most of them. I have to tell you – this machine is great. I am looking forward to being able to find stuff!


3. Panasonic Cordless Iron

I have been thinking about this ever since I saw someone using one of these irons. I love my old Rowenta, but I really liked the idea of cordless. I have so much trouble with the cord being in the way.

cordless ironThere is a bit of adjustment from a corded iron. It’s a bit lighter than the Rowenta, and it doesn’t stay hot for very long. I am terrible about plugging in my iron and then working on other stuff. I’ll come back to it and it will be cold. This cordless iron will shut off, but even with that, it doesn’t take long for it to heat up again. And you can look at the controls when it’s sitting in the dock and tell what’s going on. With my Rowenta I ended up touching it which wasn’t always a good idea. Another thing I love about it is the retractable cord. So far, I think it’s one of the best things to come along!

4. Padded Printing Board

I got this padded board when I took a class from my friend Kathy Sands. She made all of the class participants these wonderful boards. They are 24 x 24 plastic covered insulation board.

paddedsurfaceI have several pieces of fabric that become interchangeable covers to work on. I absolutely love this board and I like that I can carry it to my dye studio. Also, it doesn’t take up my whole workspace. When I am finished using it, it goes on the floor and my cutting surface is available again. I had no idea how much use I would get out of this board. Thank you Kathy!

5. Thermofax Screens

I absolutely love thermofax screens. In addition to screen printing inks, I like to use them with water based resists and Color Magnet. They give me a sharp image. If you have never tried them, you are really missing some fun.

thermofax screensYou can buy lots of ready-made screens with a variety of images or you can email your artwork to artists who make them. The ones in the picture are all art that I sent in to have screens made. Lynn at Smudged Textile Studio makes screens and you also can buy some of her images. She’s having a 10% off now on screens and everything in her etsy shop. She also provides detailed directions on how to prepare the artwork so it can be made into a screen.

Those are my five favorite things, at least for the time being. What about you? What are your favorites?


Posted in art, gadgets, screen printing, stencils, surface design, thermofax screens | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Printed Fabric Bee/Giveaway: Sunflowers

November’s topic for The Printed Fabric Bee challenge was Sunflowers. Susan Purney Mark was the Queen Bee this past month and she requested in addition to sunflowers, a 6 x 24 piece of fabric in oranges, greens, and/or browns.

We are again giving away a collection of 6 x 6 pieces. Information on the giveaway is at the end of the post.

Here is my piece for Susan.

Sunflower bee pieceAnd the following is my process on the 6 x 6. I had this lovely piece of fabric I dyed awhile back.

orange fabricYou can see the patterning on Susan’s piece.

original orange fabricNext I searched the Internet for a sunflower. I found the one I liked and with some adjustments made it into a stencil. With that stencil I used clear DeColourant instead of paint.

Using DeColourantWhen it dried it looked like this.

DeColourant dried on fabricNext I ironed it and the sunflowers reappeared like magic. I love this stuff!!

ironed deColourantBut that wasn’t enough so I stenciled with brown Versatex screenprinting ink.

sunflower5But we’re still not done. I dug out a piece of my punchinella that I used to use a lot on paper, and using orange Versatex screen printing ink I stamped over open areas on the fabric. I wanted the design, but didn’t want it to really pop out that much.


And here’s the final piece for Susan again.

Sunflower bee pieceAnd a closeup.


Here is the 6 x 6 giveaway piece.

beesunflower6x6 Now about the giveaway.

Bee sunflower collection

If you’d love to win this collection, just visit The Printed Fabric Bee  or Susan’s website and leave a comment.  The deadline is December 15. Good Luck!


Posted in Giveaway, stencils, The Printed Fabric Bee | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Inspiration from books

Have you ever read a book you didn’t want to finish? I’m not talking about ones you hate. I’m talking about a book that is so wonderful you can only devour in small bites, savoring each page. I bought this book after our Art Girl Getaway back in February. My roommate Connie was reading A Fine Romance and I just had to have this book for myself.

fineromance1It’s a diary of her trip to England and it’s all handwritten with pictures and wonderful illustrations. It’s so cool. Here are just a couple of the pages. I read a few more pages today, getting closer to their return back home.


Another couple books that have been sources of inspiration for me this past year have been these from Natalie Chanin.

AlabamabooksAwhile back a Facebook friend emailed me wanting me to look at the Alabama Chanin website. He lives near the company and thought I might be interested. I had never heard of this company.

After looking at the website, I had to buy these two books. I spent days drooling over them. If you aren’t familiar with this company, all of their clothing is hand-sewn, hand-embellished, and made out of 100% organic cotton jersey.

I posted a review last week about the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book on the And Then We Set It On Fire blog. You can read it here. Here are a couple pages from that book.

Alabamacouching alabamaponcho2

The Alabama Stitch Book includes additional patterns and lots of information on their sewing techniques. Last week I decided to quit drooling and make this boa. It was made out of the bamboo jersey that was left over after Evi made our exhibit jackets.

boaThis last book, Tie-Dye: Die It, Wear It, Share It by Shabd Simon-Alexander, is another take on tie dyeing. And it’s definitely not 60s tie dye! I love her color combos.

Tie Dye



I especially liked this page where she showed the original t-shirt color and the resulting colors when over tie dyed.


All of the above books have yet to make it to my bookcase. They are still on the floor next to my recliner where from time-to-time I’ll grab one of them for some inspiration. What about you? Do you have a couple books that you refer for inspiration? I’d love to hear from you and maybe I’ll add them to my bookcase (or floor).

Besides reading, I’m working on a real special project. Here is the newly dyed fabric. I love Cerulean Blue!

stolefabricAnd a peak at the process. I’m getting excited!


I’ll be posting soon about the current The Printed Fabric Bee challenge and giveaway, but just yesterday I received my new issue of Quilting Arts. Lynn Krawczyk wrote a wonderful article on our group started over a year ago by Lynn and Lisa Chin. In addition to showing some of our fabric, we are quoted in the article. I hope that this article will inspire others to try a similar challenge. For me it has really helped me to stretch my artistic muscles.


Hope you are having a creative week.

Posted in art, craft book reviews, fabric, The Printed Fabric Bee | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Review: Fabric Printing at Home

Today I have the pleasure of reviewing a new book, Fabric Printing at Home: Quick and Easy Fabric Design Using Fresh Produce and Found Objects by Julie B. Booth.


Fabric Printing at Home

Here is the description from the Quarry Books, the publisher:

You don’t have to be a fashion designer to create your own amazing fabrics! Fabric Printing at Home will show you how to print your own custom fabrics using everyday items from the kitchen and around the house! With tons of color photos, step-by-step instructions, and helpful hints, you will be crafting your very own fabric designs in no time! Learn to make print blocks, rubbing plates, stencils, and fabric resists from a wide range of kitchen materials. See how your favorite
fruits and veggies create perfect shapes and texture patterns for your fabrics and how to upcycle simple materials for surface design. This family-friendly guide shows how to make fantastic, colorful fabric designs with accessible, non-toxic materials.

Here are the chapters:

  • Getting Started
  • Kitchen Textures and Found Object Printing
  • Beyond the Potato Print
  • Wrap It Up! – Wraps and Foils
  • Recycled and Repurposed
  • Fabric Resists Using Kitchen Ingredients
  • Contributing Artists

Julie starts you out on how to set up your work area, the basic tool kit, and even directions on making your own portable print surface.

One of my favorite chapters is Kitchen Textures where she uses veggies for printing.

Veggie printingI also like the Recycled and Repurpose chapter where she makes lots of interesting stamps out of cardboard.

cardboard printingAnd the chapter on resists – a couple I’ve never seen. I love how she gives not only the directions on how to use the resists, but completed pieces.

kitchen resists

And if all of the techniques weren’t enough, the Contributing Artists chapter provides the reader lots of inspiration from artist using techniques from the book.

You can get into fabric printing without spending a lot of money. Many of the objects used to print are in your kitchen or somewhere in your house. If you are new to printing on fabric, you will find all kinds of different techniques, with pictures and instructions. If you’re experienced with fabric printing, you might be surprised at what you didn’t know. I found several techniques I plan to try soon.

Fabric Printing at Home by Julie B. Booth, published by Quarry, contains 127 pages. It can be purchased on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions expressed here are 100% my own. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review and received no monetary compensation. Excerpts used/ photos used with permission from Quarry Books.

Posted in book review, craft book reviews, crafts, fabric, surface design | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Creating my own color palettes

I’ve been wanting to come up with my own color palettes made by mixing pure dyes. For those of you not familiar with pure dyes, they are single-hue dyes that are not made by mixing other colors. There are 14 or so pures to choose from. For this session I used Golden Yellow (aka Tangerine), Cerulean Blue (aka Intense Blue), and Fuchsia,  Black is not pure, but it’s helps to make shades and it makes great grays. I am using a black I’ve never used, Dharma’s New Black.


Of course,  you can buy lots of colors already mixed. Dharma Trading carries 130 colors! However, by using the pure dyes, I can make my own colors. For example, if I want a rust, I can mix it up and not have to wait for a shipment. Also, I have purchased mixed colors in the past that I ended up not liking or only using a little of them. Mixing colors from pures is more work, but it’s so much fun discovering colors I didn’t think I’d like or would ever want to use.

I do want to mention that I do love using the pre-mixed colors when ice dyeing because I love how the colors split. Here is a good example of how Dharma’s Brushed Steel looks like with immersion dyeing and then how it splits in ice or snow dyeing. If you use pure dyes when snow or ice dyeing they will not split since they are a single hue. However they will be different tints. For example in this post, the ice dyed over batik shows the variations in the red dye. But back to this post!

As I mentioned on my blog post here, I have taken a wonderful online dyeing class from Candy. In Dyeing 103 she talks about tints, shades, tones and more. Her goal for us after learning about dyeing is to come up with our own color palettes. That was my goal for this last dyeing session.

First I started with my New Black. To make tints in dyeing, you add more water to the dye. Here are my four pieces of gray made from the black. These will be referred to later on as Gray 1 – 4, with Gray 4 being the darkest.

Gray tintsThe next four pieces are rust made from combining Tangerine, Cerulean Blue, and Fuchsia in different combinations.

Rust tints

I also wanted some blue shades so I added black to Cerulean Blue. You can tell by the picture that the top two (Blue 1 and 2) have very little black added.

Blue tones

And some shades of Fuchsia. They almost all looked the same except the bottom two (Fuchsia 3 and 4) have more black in them making them more of a wine color.

fuchsia tones

Now it’s time to play with all of my newly-dyed fabric and come up with some color palettes I like. I placed the fabrics together in a variety of combinations. It was like working with puzzle pieces! The following are my favorites so far.

The first pallet – Rust 1 and 4 and Gray 2 and 4.

rust and gray

Here is Fuchsia 4 and Gray 2 and 4. I would have liked another fuchsia, but 3 was too dark and close to this color, and the other two were too bright. I’ll have to try another session getting some lighter wine colors.

Fuchsia and gray

Here is Blue 3 and 4 and Gray 2 and 4.

Blue and Gray

I’ve always loved fuchsia and blue. Adding gray makes me happy. So this one is Gray 2 and 4 and Blue 4 and Fuchsia 1.

Fuchsia, blue and gray

And the last pallet: Rust 4, Blue 4 and Gray 3. An interesting combination I would not have put together had I not dyed all of this fabric. I think it might work!

Rust, Blue and Gray

This was fun creating new colors and then putting them together. Of course there were other combinations, but these were my favorites. Now back to the dyeing studio to dye with these new pallets. Neat.

Do you have a favorite of these? What about the least favorite? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks.

Posted in art, Color palettes, crafts, dyeing, fabric, fiber reactive dyes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Off to the Open House

Last week I took some of my scarves, napkins, and hankies over to Sherry Wilkerson’s Studio 4905 in Henderson, Kentucky.

Scarves to sherry's

And here is how they look at Studio 4905.

Scarves at Studio 4905

In addition to my fabric art, Sherry has lots of pottery, wall art, jewelry, and more. This is just one of the walls in this wonderful house. I have my eye on a beautiful bracelet!

If you’re in the area, the Open House Saturday runs from 1 pm to 5 pm. Purple Toad Winery will be having a wine tasting during the event and will also be selling their wines. For easy driving directions call 270-869-4469.

On a side note, Dave and I drove to Louisville last week to see Paul McCartney in concert.

Out There Tour

This was one of the best, if not the best, concerts I’ve seen in my life. He opened the concert with Eight Days of The Week and I could swear I was transported back to an eight grader sitting on the floor in front of the TV watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show.

But one of my favorites from the show was the third song, All My Loving. Here is a clip from this tour in Japan. Well, looks like I can’t show it to you. The file now is invalid. Anyway, you can google Paul McCartney All My Loving and you can listen to this fabulous song.

Another bucket item crossed off.

The other day I played with my dyes, trying to get those perfect colors. Here are my fuchsia pieces soaking before being tossed into the washing machine.


More on them and my search for the perfect colors later. Have a creative day.



Posted in art, dyeing, fabric, silk, surface design | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Printed Fabric Bee: Science Giveaway

Well, this starts a new year for The Printed Fabric Bee Challenge. Jackie Lams was the October queen. Her theme was Science and she requested no pastels. Here is my final piece for her.

Printed bee science

I thought long and hard about this. What came to mind when I thought about science was DNA. After finding some pictures of DNA, I drew and then cut stencils out with my Portrait. I chose a piece I had dyed earlier.  It was originally white cotton fabric, scrunched and dyed with Lemon Yellow, Tangerine, and Cerulean Blue fiber reactive dyes.

After cutting my stencils, I place them on the fabric. I decided to cut them out of freezer paper so I could iron them to the fabric. That way nothing would get under the stencils when I added some color.

stencils on fabric

Then I grabbed some fabric markers and a couple of Sharpies. I really like the FabricMate Dye Markers.

Fabric markersI started outlining the stencils with the blue Fabricmate.

Outlining stencil

Then I came back on the right sides of the stencil and covered the blue with the tan Fabricmate to make a shadow effect.

Adding shadow

Here is what the fabric looked like when I removed the stencils.

sciencebee5It looked okay, but still needed something. To give more depth and interest I added blue and orange to the DNA strands.

Adding orange

And now how the piece looked.

beescience7I liked how it looked, but I felt it still needed something. How about some little dots of silver and gold? I added them with the Sharpies.

Adding silver and gold dotsAnd once again, the finished piece.

Printed bee scienceAnd a closeup.

Bee science closeup

Now for the giveaway. Here is my piece that’s part of the giveaway collection.


And here’s the collection.

Printed Fabric Bee giveaway

If you’d love to win this collection, just visit The Printed Fabric Bee  and leave a comment.  The deadline is November 17. Good Luck!


Posted in fiber reactive dyes, Giveaway, stencils, The Printed Fabric Bee, tutorials | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Sunday Colors: October 26

What lovely weather we’ve had the past couple of days. I really love this time of the year and all of the color.

I worked out in one of the shade area yesterday mulching and getting it ready for the winter. I have found out that if I mulch it in the winter, my work in the Spring is so much easier.

Shade area

The ferns are still so beautiful.


I’ve cut back most of the hostas. That didn’t take long since the deer had already gotten to them. However, this one I’ll cut back in the next couple of days.


I was surprised this last week with Istanbul, a rebloomer. I rarely see any irises this time of the year.


Our Calendula has been blooming all summer. Dave’s been drying it for soap and salve making. Here is an old post about infusing calendula.


The blueberry bushes have turned such a lovely shade of red.

Blueberrry bushes

These little ornamental grasses are too cute!

small ornamental grasses

Our Encore azaleas are blooming too!

Encore Azaleas

I love all of these berries on the Nandinas.


My lavender didn’t do well this year and I had NO harvest as opposed the previous years. I lost most of my plants and ended up planting new ones. However, a couple of the old ones are blooming right now.


We have three dogwood trees on the side of our house. This is the only one that is turning red so far this season, but it’s a beauty!


I love sedums and how they are so pretty this time of the year.


Dave grew this Amaranth in his butterfly garden. Kinda nasty looking if you ask me!!

AmaranthAnd a few more pictures:


ornamental grass

golden mop

Well, that’s our sunday colors for today.

Ace has been “helping” me in the studio.

Ace and Portrait

And I was able to sneak in a little dyeing this past week too.


I hope you’re enjoying your colors. Have a great Sunday!

Posted in gardening, irises, Lavender, Photography, Sunday Roundup | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Around the World Blog Hop

Artists from around the world are participating in the Around the World Blog Hop. My talented friend Lisa Chin asked me to participate and I was happy and honored to be asked.

Around the World blog Hop

Before I answer the four questions, I just have to tell you that Lisa has really been an inspiration to me. I love her art and she is the one I blame for “encouraging” me to buy my Silhouette Portrait. If you don’t know Lisa, check out her blog here.

Now to the questions:

1. What am I working on? 

The indigo dye bug has bit me. In addition to the class I taught recently, I am continuing to work with indigo. I’m thinking about keeping it going – or seeing if I can keep the vat “live” over the winter – but then I think about how I wasn’t real good at keeping my sourdough starter fed!

In addition to my new passion with indigo, I have started to work with silk. I’ve mentioned this before, that prior to taking Evi’s class last year, I was scared to death I would “hurt” silk, so have not played with it much at all. It’s just been in the last several months that I’ve been really pushing myself and I really LOVE it! I love the look and the feel. Below are two silk pieces: a scarf and a handkerchief that are sitting on a cotton bandana I just dyed for hubby. Does that mean I’ll give up cotton? No way!

indigo dye pieces

I am also working on my serger. I bought this baby a couple weeks ago. Right now I’m facinated with rolled edges, but I’m still at the playing stage.

My Elna Serger

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

As far as being different, I don’t know. I do love to try different products and processes to expand my knowledge. I also love to share them with you and hopefully encourage you to try something you might not otherwise think you can or want to do.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I create because I have to. I have no choice and it makes me happy. I’ve always loved crafts, but it’s just been the last several years that I’ve been so drawn toward fabric. I know I’ve mentioned this before in one of my ramblings, but when I was a kid Mom would drag me to the local sewing store where she spent what seemed like hours looking at “yard goods.” I used to tease her about it and mock how she looked at every bolt. It’s amazing that I’ve become her! I write about my art to hopefully inspire you, as I mentioned in the last question, but also to keep a written journal of my art.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

It depends on what I am doing. If I’m working on something with a specific topic such as the Printed Fabric Bee monthly challenge, I research that topic to find some way to turn that idea into a fabric design. Some topics are easier than others. Then I decide on the background. Sometimes it’s from my stash. Other times I will start with white cotton and dye or paint it. Then I test out my design on a scrap piece of fabric until I’m happy and then complete the piece. For my other work I might see something online that spurs an idea or a blog post that reminds me of something I’ve wanted to try. In the last post, I was given that dinner container and I had to create something with it. I’m always looking for new and different objects and mediums to try. If I can’t think of anything to create, all I have to do is open my notebook to those pages of ideas.

Now to pass this hop on. One of the online artists who has inspired me and I swear we are sisters from different mothers, is Judy Sall, aka Judy Tie Dye. Along with Lisa, Judy is someone I feel I can touch base about some burning art question and I’ll hear back from her. And Judy’s tie dye is not your grandma’s or mom’s tie dye. Check her stuff out here.

Posted in art, blog hop | Tagged , | 4 Comments