art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

Saturday Morning Coffee Pot Post

Oh my god, I can’t believe that WordPress just ate my entire post without saving it. I really have to reconsider using this platform. I’m paying for it and it can be such a pain. Maybe I will have to start writing it separately and pasting it in.

Anyway, hmmm. I was writing about the past week, which started in Lake Waccamaw at my sister’s house, traveled to Greensboro then Asheville mid-week, then back to Greensboro. I spent the last several days of 2022 finishing up my tapestries for display at the Tapestry Weavers South exhibition at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville. It’s called “Follow The Thread” and will be there from January 14 to May 3. After that, the show goes to Elkin to the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center as part of the Tapestry Weavers South retreat.

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This is a photo from just after cutting it off the loom. Originally I had planned to mount “Cathedral on a frame. So I planned ahead to hem it on all sides, and I did that. Since I waited too long to get someone to construct a canvas frame the exact size, I sewed the longer slits and backed it with fabric and a sleeve in which I inserted a wooden slat with a hanging wire attached. The way I did it means that I can go back to my idea of either mounting it on a canvas or frame, or hang it from a limb or piece of driftwood from the bald cypress tree it honors.

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^^^ “Cathedral” today

I forgot to bring the fabric to wrap the foam core boards that I wanted to mount “Mr. Blue Sky” on, so my sister came to the rescue with this perfect paper. The top board is wrapped with red, but you’d only see it if you looked at it very closely, which I’m diggin’. It’s like a little secret. Originally I was going to attach a blue jay feather to it, but it looked better without it. Now I’m thinking that when I get it back, I’ll attach a bottom fringe with beads and feathers.

MrBlueSky

The other one was blessedly ready for display – this was the “rain on the lake” tapestry that took a direction of its own. I renamed it “A Place You’ve Never Been” from a friend’s suggestion. It was woven with naturally dyed silk.

lake tapestry for web

Now I’m going to wrap up this post and hopefully save it before I lose it again.

art, art retreats, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, Tapestry Weavers South, weaving

Tapestry Weavers South Retreat 2022

Playing a bit of catch-up here. I was in Elkin, NC at the Yadkin Valley Fiber Center for the 2022 Tapestry Weavers South retreat a couple of weekends ago. I drove up there on Saturday morning, stayed in a hotel, and left on Sunday afternoon after a very relaxing, fun time.

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^Beverly Walker’s work in progress

We welcomed a new member, Beverly Walker, whose tapestry includes mixed media. (She’s a teacher, also.) Betty and Terri shared some of what they learned in Fiona Hutchinson’s pulled warp workshop at Convergence. We all had little looms or projects to work on or show and tell.

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^Betty Hilton-Nash’s work.

On Saturday, lunch was from the Barking Coyote Kitchen, and I HIGHLY recommend their sandwiches. That night several of us went to Southern on Main even though we knew we were going there for brunch the next morning, because there are never too many times that you can go to Southern on Main. It is that good.

That afternoon, Leslie brought out the indigo buckets and we had a great time dyeing yarn, fabric, paper, and bamboo socks that Betty brought to share with us. I mostly overdyed some cotton yarns which I have way too much of but don’t particularly care for the colors. I also dipped some papers and found out which ones won’t stand up to dip dyeing (hint, it was the recycled ones that I had pulped in a blender).

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On Sunday morning we socialized, worked on our projects, then had a great brunch on the patio of Southern on Main. That afternoon we had our annual business meeting, but there was really very little business, mostly enjoying each other’s company.

Here’s my O postcard for the collaborative postcard tapestry project we are doing for our upcoming exhibition at the Folk Arts Center in January. I’ve almost finished it now and I’ve been given the letter H to weave.

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art, art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches, Topsail Beach

Riveted by Nature on Topsail Island

Friday morning I set off on my own to drive to south Topsail Island, near Wilmington, North Carolina. I’ve been there a few times before, and the last few times I’ve been there to take a class from Leslie Marsh. This class was similar to one I’ve taken from her before, but this time we riveted a leather spine onto the soldered, stamped metal covers. We leaf printed the inside pages in a nature dye vat for the inside signatures, and bound them with a variation of longstitch.

Molten metal scares the crap out of me, otherwise I would fully embrace this technique! I enrolled in Leslie’s wearable metal book class during the pandemic, and I have all the supplies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it without someone knowledgeable standing by. My first go on these covers were kind of pitiful, and I almost settled for them, but after I saw the other covers in the class, I went back to the soldering station and I resoldered and stamped the covers on my own, so, yay me!. I plan to find a cool bead or shell or other natural object to attach to the top of the spine. I liked this cabochon that Leslie provided because it reminded me of the little turtle I rescued earlier this month.

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If I ever do this again with the rivets, I will not solder or stamp with a lot of texture on the sides next to the spine or anywhere else that the rivets go. That presented a problem for me in drilling and inserting the rivets. My drill kept slipping and my holes got wonky and I messed up the leather in places. I also dyed all my pages instead of inserting white pages in the signatures, which I think made the other text blocks pop after I saw them. Still, I’m quite happy with the result.

I didn’t follow directions very well this time either. I placed the cabochon at the top, so my leather binding had to be shaped differently. Plus I was ready to bind before everyone else so I did my binding a different way. HA. If you’d like to see the other books from the class, you can see them on Leslie Marsh’s Instagram page

The pages and the felt bag were dyed in Leslie’s dyepots by rolling them onto copper pipes with leaves and tightly binding the bundles to the pipes. One of my discoveries in this round was redbud leaves. Also, the leaves from my eucalyptus tree didn’t give the reddish oranges that the silver dollar eucalyptus leaves do. I wish I had used more of them. I didn’t get good definition on my wool felt so I’m going to embellish it with embroidery, and next time I am not going to bundle paper with it on the same pipe.

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If you are interested in taking any of Leslie Marsh’s classes or buying her fabulous work (she is a multi-talented artist!), her website is www.leslie-marsh.com/.  I must warn you that her classes sell out very quickly!

I’ll make another post for my other photos from Topsail Beach.

art, coffee pot posts, critters, dyeing, Nature printing, tapestry, weaving

Sunday Rainy Morning Coffee Pot Post

While Portugal and other places in the world burns, we have a sweet reprieve from the oppressive heat since a cold front with rain came through last night. Diego and I are sitting on the front porch. The rain is pattering and gurgling, wind is wafting, a cardinal is chirping, and a train horn is blowing. Now a mockingbird sings. We have many mockingbirds in the area.

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This weekend so far I have not left the house except to pick a couple of hot peppers for our chili last night. An ancho and a poblano. They didn’t seem so hot after I did a test nibble, but after I minced and seeded them, soap and water did not clean my hands and I wiped my itchy face with my hand. I remembered a tip from my sister and dabbed some sour cream on the stinging areas. (Cream cheese works too.) It worked and the chili turned out perfect.

I’ve been concentrating on finishing “Cathedral.” I know that I have been saying that for years. But I actually have the top edge of the left side finished and it’s a matter of weaving up the right side and middle to match it, then weaving a hem. When it is cut off, I’ll ask Sandy to make a video. Standing at this loom is not good for my body and I will probably sell the Shannock loom when I finish Cathedral. I have many looms to choose from, mostly small tapestry looms. I have reworked the section on the right of the top photo several times. It is time to let it go now. I’m content with it.

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Last weekend I needed to do something that was easy on the brain and would give me a dopamine hit, so Susanne and I did a couple of natural dye pots and rolled up paper with various leaves on copper pipes to make prints. This time we dipped the paper in an alum/water solution first. I experimented with three different papers and I had no expectations. We didn’t have much in this particular dyepot other than some rusty iron bits and a few old pecans with hulls that I found. It was also still dirty from the same time I used it. Susanne also did a dyepot with avocado pits but I haven’t seen her results from that one.

The first papers were Susanne’s handmade “dream” paper, speckled with herbs. It didn’t hold the leaf prints as well but I think that the yarrow leaves that I put in one of the bundles dyed everything a brilliant yellow. The texture is very nice.20220709_114441

The second paper bundle was a thin commercial paper that may have been too delicate for the dyepot, but I was experimenting. I did get prints and one section near the top of the bundle that was torn is so pretty that I’ll do something with it. This paper will be good for collage.

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The last set of papers just floored me. I was so pleased and surprised when they came off the pipe bundle. These were heavy cream colored watercolor papers that I had torn down to make book signatures with. They turned out so beautiful and vibrant that they will have to go on covers, I think.

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Leaves used were sweet gum (called liquidambar in the rest of the world, I think), black walnut, pecan, redbud, oak, willow oak, swamp bay, and the black/purple areas were from dried petals of black hollyhock flowers. I grew one several years ago and it didn’t do well, but I dried and saved the petals. There are a few strawberry and rose leaves in there too.

People always ask about the lines. Those are the string marks from tying the paper bundle tightly. It is on the outside of the bundle so that part picks up the dye in the dyepot – in this case, the iron bits and probably residue from the last time I dyed with black walnuts.

art, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry, weaving

The Lake Tapestry

I really finished this last weekend, and I was going to wait until I had it mounted and framed, or whatever display I decide on, but I couldn’t make up my mind about whether to back it in black or not, so I decided to go ahead and post it.

lake tapestry for web

Originally I was planning to name this “Lake Effects” but since it changed into a mystery place as I wove it I am renaming it after a comment my friend made: “A Place You’ve Never Been.”

99% naturally dyed silk threads for the weft and cotton seine twine for the warp. 4.75 x 6.75 inches.

What do you think? Should I use this black background and frame it? Or should I mount it to a cloth covered board with a lighter, neutral (beige or cream) color? (I can already see a cat hair, so I’ll have to re-photograph it!)

When I cut this tapestry off the loom, I also cut off a sweet little painted silk weft weaving that I began at Pam Patrie’s cabin long ago. I don’t think it can technically be called a tapestry since the weft is woven all the way across, but some people call any art fabric a tapestry. I’m a bit more picky in my labeling. I have no idea what I will name it, but it is inspired by the beach near Cannon Beach, Oregon.

painted weft tapestry for web

dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, tapestry, weaving

Lake Waccamaw, April 2021

20210426_150338I spent a few days and nights down at the lake house with my sister last week. Lisa spent most of her time with me since she was having her bathroom remodeled at her house, which is within walking distance. It was the first time we have seen each other since July, and it was a good time.

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Other than to ride with Lisa to get takeout meals from a couple of places and to walk down to her house, I didn’t leave the house. The weather was a bit cold the first couple of nights and we discovered that the heat is not working. Lisa brought out her electric fireplace from storage and it made the place very cozy. Then the weather turned perfect, although still too cool to get in the water. By Wednesday afternoon when I left, it was getting hot.

Happily, my weaving muse came back finally came back and I starting weaving on this tapestry that I began three years ago at a Tapestry Weavers South retreat. It is an abstract interpretation of a photo I took of a calm reflection on the lake when it was just barely raining and a little bit of blue sky was reflected on the tea colored water.

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All but a little bit of the darkest color are silk threads that I have dyed with natural dyes at various times. Sometimes I threw them in with a bundle of fabric or paper or tied them around a bundle, so those are variegated. The blue is from indigo, and the warm brown coppery colors from black walnut. The other browns and grays – I don’t know. I’ve enjoyed designed from the perspective of the threads, and adjusting the design as I go. Not my normal process, and maybe this was why I had a hard time getting going again on it. Decision fatigue! I am very happy with it, but it won’t be finished in time for the TWS show, I’m afraid. My eyesight gets too blurry to work on it very long. Guess I need to make an optometrist appointment.

book arts, dyeing, Nature printing

Natural dyeing on paper

Posting these photos before I forget again! It’s been over a week since Susanne and I pulled these bundles out of a dyepot with black walnuts and a bunch of leaves we didn’t use inside the bundles. We didn’t put a lot of effort into this – it was just fun.

Susanne tried a long roll of handmade hemp paper wrapped around a copper pipe. I rolled commercial papers that I think were cotton based around copper pipes with various leaves, and a small stack of watercolor scrap pieces with sheet metal and grape leaves layered between them and bound with rubber bands between two small wood pieces.

We had some successes and some disappointments – I really expected prints from the fig leaves – but all of it was fun.

art, book arts, dyeing, Nature printing, North Carolina beaches

Leslie Marsh’s Nature Bound workshop

I do not have many photos from this workshop, a sign of excellence for me. It means that I was so much in the present moment that I forgot to take photos. It is generally hard to get into one of Leslie’s workshops because they fill quickly, but someone canceled and I took their place. Leslie Marsh has a beautiful home and studio on one of North Carolina’s barrier islands at Topsail Beach.

A trademark of Leslie’s book workshops is natural dyeing. She studied with India Flint and developed her own techniques of eco-printing. I particularly like Leslie’s method because she skips the mordanting step and puts everything in the dye pot. When we wrap our papers and fabrics with leaves around copper pipes, all we need to do is wet them and bind them tightly to the pipes. Then she pops them into her potion and they come out transformed. I have found that I do not like the mess of natural dyeing and so this is like heaven for me – the magic without the prep and clean-up. I am not fussy and precise. I enjoy the surprise.

This particular workshop was special because it definitely took me out of my comfort zone. We learned Leslie’s method for her metal book covers, which involves liquidified solder! Leslie is a wonderful, patient teacher and gave each of us individual help as we used these tools and methods for the first time.

We spent a cold Saturday preparing the dyed and leaf printed papers and wool felt, and metal covers for our books. Then we spent Sunday binding the books with coptic stitch, which I do so seldom anymore that I always need a refresher. The second photo of the finished book was taken by Leslie.

I took a little while during the lunch break on Sunday to visit the beach and collect some shells. I love the old worn out ones with holes in them. Sandy mostly stayed in our room at the Jolly Roger because he was sick on Saturday, but he revived on Sunday and drove around exploring while I finished my book. Our room was oceanfront, and I was really impressed with these surf fishers who were out there even late at night. Because he was sick we didn’t eat out Saturday night but we had appetizers and dessert at the Beach Shop Grill on Friday night. Their crab balls are exquisite. Expensive restaurant though. We couldn’t afford to eat there often if we lived nearby.

Anyway, I would take every workshop from Leslie Marsh that she offered if I could.

art retreats, book arts, dyeing, Mixed media art, North Carolina, North Carolina beaches

Ancient Wisdom


A couple of weekends ago, Susanne, Sandy, and I went to Topsail Beach for a long weekend. Sandy hung out by himself mostly while Susanne and I took a workshop with Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller called Ancient Wisdom. We stayed at the Jolly Roger Inn and Pier. The weather was a bit chilly and cloudy and it rained really hard one night but we got out on the beach a little. We had oceanfront rooms and that was nice.

We drove down on Thursday evening and ate dinner at the Beach Shop and Grill. With that name we expected hamburgers and hot dogs but it was a very expensive and wonderful restaurant. Sandy saved us by picking up the check. He had crab cakes that were divine. I am not sure that there was any bread in them at all. Susanne and I had shrimp and grits and I think that they might now be number one on my list of favorite shrimp and grits places.

In the morning, we indulged in doughnuts from the Fractured Prune. At this point I knew that there was no hope for my diet. When we went back to the hotel room, Susanne and I walked on the beach and picked up stuff, as you do, and after we went up to our rooms this guy showed up drawing fabulous runes on the beach in front of our hotel. Our own personal installation artist.

Friday afternoon was spent cutting our windows into bookboard and wrapping the covers with plaster gauze. They had to cure overnight.

When we got back to the hotel, the artist had finished.

Then we drove to Wilmington and ate dinner at one of our favorite places: Indochine. The rumors of its demise during Hurricane Florence are not true, thankfully.

The next day was dyeing day! Leslie had eight different natural dye pots going in her backyard and we spent most of the day dipping our book pages in them. What a great opportunity for overdyeing! I have never had access to so many colors at one time so I went nuts. I could not tell you the combinations on a lot of my pages, but I used indigo on most of them. Turmeric, avocado pits and skins, black walnut, and turmeric made good combinations too. Other dyepots held madder, yellow onion skins, red cabbage (which fades to light gray) and blueberries (also light-sensitive and fugitive). Honestly, I never guessed that you could get such beautiful natural dye results on paper.

We forced ourselves to stop and paint our plaster covers so that they would be dry by the time we bound our books the last day. I cut my mica too close to the edge because I was thinking that the plaster would be covering it. Stitching it that close to the edge ripped out through the sides so i improvised. Those sea oats were picked up off the road after the hurricane, by the way; no illegal picking of sea oats happened here. I scratched and stamped circles into the plaster to honor the art work I had seen on the beach – this is still a work in progress.

That night we ate at Sears Landing in Surf City near the bridge on the Intracoastal Waterway. This is a place where I will definitely return. All the weight I lost and more came back by the end of the night.

After dinner we went to Quarter Moon Books and Wine Bar  where the three of us and Pam, a friend we met at the workshops down here, had drinks and listened to some great acoustic music by The Doug McFarland One. (He is a hoot.)

On Sunday we bound our beautiful colorful signatures with longstitch (for using as warp for weaving later) and then put the whole shebang together with coptic stitch.

We didn’t have time to do the woven binding but I drilled holes in the back cover and I am working on embellishing this book further now.

Thanks, Leslie Marsh and Kim Beller for another exquisite workshop experience! Also to Bee Shay for spending her lunch teaching a few of us to wrap stones with macrame stitching for hanging. What a sweet weekend it was.

Back Forty, depression/anxiety, dyeing, fiber art, tapestry

Saturday morning coffee pot post


A quick post before I go to the farmers market and buy some of that delicious corn from Rudd Farm.

I’m working on moving away from the hole. I’ve been circling it for a while and I don’t want to change meds. A higher dose worked but it also made my heart race, and that upped my anxiety considerably. Now I’m considering therapy to help me cope. The fact that I am writing this post shows that I am moving forward. I’m still feeling OC as hell, but I have been functional. The main thing I need to avoid is getting agoraphobic again. That’s a nasty downward spin.

I registered for this online tapestry class: Fringeless, co-taught by Sarah Swett, who I have worshiped as my favorite artist forever, and Rebecca Mezoff, who has become THE online teacher of tapestry. As much as I have shied away from online classes in the past, this seems to be the year for it.

Speaking of which, the photo at the top is of the progress of my stitched piece I’m doing for India Flint’s “Gardens of the Heart” collaborative project. We were assigned a number when we signed up – mine is the third line of a three line poem. I won’t know what the first two lines will be. There are several hundred people worldwide doing this and India will put the lines together in the exhibit. There will probably be a website and a book, which is good since the exhibit will be in Australia. The cloth is actually very blue because I dipped it in indigo after I printed it with leaves. The silk/cotton thread was tied around dye bundles too.

My friend Susanne wasn’t around to stop me, so I volunteered to help with Tapestry Weavers South’s social media accounts. This really shouldn’t be a problem for me, though. I’m not doing it on my own, so if I spiral out, I hope that I won’t feel any guilt. I got so burned out doing Slow Food and Sierra Club and Friends of the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and trying to revive the weaver’s guild here about 10-15 years ago that it is taking me a long time to recover. The Friends of the Market was the worst experience ever. That group is now defunct because it got closed down by lies and crazy accusations in the local right wing press. So sad, and so typical of our times.

So, Tapestry Weavers South is basically the only group that I am involved in now, and I love the members of TWS so much that it will truly be a labor of love. I belong to the local chapter of the Sierra Club and Slow Food Asheville too, but I’m not an active participant in those groups.

Okay, it’s getting late and it’s getting hot. Time to go to the farmer’s market. Teaser: I am working on a few blog posts about my favorite books. It will be fun. And in conclusion, the groundhogs are leaving my basil and foxglove seedlings alone, so this bed will be beautiful next spring.