Saturday, July 26, 2014

What's New at the Orange County Fair?

After years of thinking about it, Rob finally nudged me to submit a few things. Good idea! Here are a few pictures, with some positive results.

They covered it over with a large sheet of clear plastic to help keep it clean...or to discourage people from touching it. I'll admit, I am a very tactile person and this is one quilt with lots of texture, especially with the extra puffiness and fluffiness of the lamb.

The last time I was at the OC Fair, maybe about 3 or 4 year ago, I remember that there were 4 pieces of some nice calligraphy there. So I decided to do a piece for this year. Rob suggested this selection from "The 13th Warrior".

My son Andrew took this photograph which is what I sent in to the Fair committee to see if it would be accepted for display. This was a juried show this year. I submitted 4 items and all 4 were accepted.

This is after it was properly matted, framed, and displayed. :) I'm already planning on something even bigger for next year. Once this is picked up after the Fair closes, I plan to take it out of the frame and have some good copies made that I will put up for sale. Size of just the calligraphy is 15" x 20".

I also included two hand-made books. One is a log book, meaning that the cover is wood. This means I have wood burning on it. 

That's an Honorable

Here are some of the photos that I sent in that show it in better lighting. These are what I sent in to the committee.

The next book is on display, near the calligraphy, but did not take a prize. Still, I'm delighted that it got into the show. The disc in the front is a woodburned piece.

Again, I would like to give credit to Andrew Garig-Meyer who helped immensely with the photo shoot so I could have good pictures to submit to the committee. Many thanks, Andrew!

The Orange County Fair runs from July 11th to August 10, 2014. 
You can check out their website at

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Cross Country Clearprint Project: Roasting Marshmallows

This is how I participated in the Cross Country Clearprint project! This is a project by the makers of the Clearprint Vellum sketchbooks where you decorate one page from one on the 10 books that they have going across the United States. I found this project posted on Facebook. All I did was to go on the site,!cross-country/c1oyi and follow the directions. They just need to know who you are and where to send the book. What you get is one of 10 books that travels across the country, collecting art, and you also get a free vellum sketchbook to keep just for participating. It's a pretty good deal; one page of artwork gets you your own Clearprint Vellum Book. There are a few rules as to what they can accept for the subject matter but the rules make sense because the artwork is getting posted on line. The idea of the project is to reach out to artists and give them the experience of trying out the product. You can use any medium you like on one page, then send it back. The only catch is that you have one week to complete the work. So this is what I did and what I found out about the paper. I used a combination of inks, watercolors and colored pencils.

The advantage of working with this kind of paper, which is basically a sturdy tracing paper, is that you don't need to line it for the calligraphy. You can do all your preliminary work on another sheet of paper, deciding on which size nib or pen point that you want to use, and which style of calligraphic hand you want, and figure out which works best. Then just slip the lined paper beneath the vellum and calligraph. No guidelines to erase! This also helps with placement of the components. Slipping rough sketches behind the vellum helps with composition. I decided on a smaller dragon in flight, a motif that I though would look better than a large dragon character that would be place behind the monk who is writing about the method of roasting marshmallows. (He has a little "Press" card tucked into his headband.)

The fun of this paper is that you can do artwork on both sides of the page. It is sturdy enough that neither the inks or the watercolor I used bled through. However, imaged painted would show through from one side to the next. The bird and tiny beasties hiding among the interlaced vines at the bottom are seen as something hiding in the mist, or the distance.

This is the finished piece. You can click on it at the link below to see it on the Clearprint website.

Along with your page within the book, each participant gets to add to the cover. The cover of the book is of a heavier weight vellum that is smooth and takes ink well. I added my griffin and positioned him to relate to the decorative motif that the previous artist drew. I used a fine point Rapidograph pen over a rough draft that I drew to place the character next to the first figure so that they would relate. I hope that once the book is filled, the front and back covers will also be displayed on the Clearprint site so we can all see how they turned out. I'm sure it will be a big surprise! 

This is the cover with a plain piece of paper behind it. It blocks the first picture in the book. Below you can see the inner cover that is detachable cardstock. This is what you place between the inner pages since they are thin and drawing on one page can leave indentations that show up on the next page. You can see just how thin here.

I hope you enjoyed my contribution to the Cross Country Clearprint project! I had a good time doing it and got to experiment with a new type of paper for me. I found that this paper holds up to a moderate amount of water, erases well and has a nice plate finish that is not too slippery. It does have a habit of the corners curling up slightly while working on it. If you don't use a heavier piece of paper beneath the page on which you are working, it will leave impressions on the page beneath it. But knowing what to expect from the paper allows you to prepare for it. Clearprint Vellum products are made by Chartpak, Inc.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What will I be doing? Taking part in the Cross Country Clearprint national project! I have one week to complete an original piece of artwork on an 6x8 book of vellum paper. Once I complete my art, which will include calligraphy, it goes back to Clearprint where it will be photographed and the image put up on their gallery page. Then it will be sent to another artist elsewhere in the country. There are several books being circulated. Here is the website to check to see what artwork has been placed into these books. You can also check into signing up to contribute your own artwork in the

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

There is a really nifty way to work on pyrography if you do not want that hand-made  look but want a really professional finish and be able to duplicate it as many times as you want. This is by using  the laser engraving machine. Even if you are not an artist but just have a creative urge and you can use your computer to format your design.

Here’s just an example:

Type it out, change the font to what you want, then pick the size.

Pirate’s Treasure inside!

Pirate’s Treasure inside!

Next, add a picture:

Put them together, then as a unit it can be imported to the laser cutter.

Pirate’s Treasure inside!

Put them together, then as a unit they can be imported to the laser cutter. Here's a video that shows how the laser cutter, used as a wood burner, prints out the design:

CO2 Laser Engraving Machine

Alas, this is a machine that I do not yet own. I am still doing it by hand, one piece at a time. This in itself is not a bad thing. There is a lot of satisfaction for making each piece a unique work of art. However, it does take time and a good deal of it. But in the world of art, you can approach a project in a variety of ways and each way can be perfectly acceptable and pleasing.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

East Indian Adventure...almost!

 Tonight I am going to share a bit of adventure with you! I love to travel, even if it is just to some place where I can capture a bit of a different culture. This last Saturday Rob and I went to the Ethnic Fashion Fest which was being held in La Mirada. A friend of ours, Faizah Cooper, had invited us, via facebook, to come. None of us knew what to expect outside of that this was featuring clothing from India and Bangladesh. Faizah is from Bangladesh so she was already familiar with the clothing styles. She grew up with it! I've had East Indian neighbors in the past and love the gorgeous saris that the women wear. So this is some of what we found  - Enjoy!

We found a veritable jewel box of colors and designs! Interestingly enough, they had long shirts and dresses that were very reminiscent of Medieval tunic styles, complete to the triangular gores on the side that fall to longer points on the sides. They boast a lot of great machine embroidery! This is the type of embroidery that I would like to be able to do on  a very nice Brothers Quattro 2 6700D machine. I could scan in my original artwork and designs and do pieces this large.
Some tunics were very simple like this blue one and looked very much like the tunics we used to wear in the SCA.
Some tunics took a very modern approach like this yellow Georgette tunic.

I could do this by hand, but the time it would take would me months!

This one is a red Georgette which was unfortunately a couple sizes too small. Their sizing, by the way, is very different. Too bad we didn't get a view of the sleeve. They were slit up almost to the shoulder and the edges were trimmed with fancy trim buttons to hold them closed.

For more information, check  them out at

                                                                    They will have different items on their website because those items they stock all the time. When they have a road show, they will have one-of-a-kind selections. Alas, we didn't take pictures of the truly beautiful gowns, the long saris that were richly beaded and cost up into the $300 and $400 range. Next time I will!                                                       

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Angel and Lamb Beaded Quilt

This is a beaded quilt. It came as a simple kit that my husband and I found in a small but wonderful quilt shop in Northeastern Arizona a couple of years ago. I love things with wings and I could immediately see the possibilities for embellishment! The print is called the Golden Angel and Lamb quilting panel by Michael Miller.

I made one for my Mother-in-law, Diane, who presented it to her church where it is now displayed.
It was understood that the second one I would make to sell. So this one is up for grabs.

The steps were simple: just arrange the pre-printed strips together around the center piece. It was all straight machine stitching. 

After that the real work begins. I worked from the center outward. That meant that the angel's face would be done first. Eyes and lips and eyebrows got embroidered  with the outline stitch and the satin stitch with cotton floss. For the green ribbon in the hair I used rayon floss to give it a very satiny shine. Freshwater pearls were then stitched in.
Next I used some metallic threads to highlight the thin, ribbony tendrils that curl down from the headband. I used threads that I had in my floss stash. One was a DMC Metallic thread #5282 which is a polyester/viscose content Thicker cords were couched in and the thin strands were embroidered in with the backstitch. This added a nice illumination around the face.

  Next come the tiny garnet beads. They are stitched in around the neckline and on the cuff of the gown. The tricky part of stitching in the garnet beads as that they can have sharp or slightly jagged edges. This can cut threads. You need to stitch through the bead 2 or 3 times to secure them. I used a thin beading needle to accomplish this. The good thing is that once they go on, they are not going to be moving around like they would be of they were threaded into a necklace. 

Ah, yes, the little lamb. This was a fun part. Some shades and shadows were already part of the print so I used those as a guide for which shade of  Baroque Crochet Cotton  (a DMC product made in Brazil) and DMC "Cebelia" (made in France). Both are a type of crochet thread that works well for the candlewicking French knots that I used to create a rich texture.
To make the lamb stand out, I stitched a small backing to the back of the lamb using a thin cotton piece of  cotton fabric. I stitched this down around the lamb then loosely stuffed it with some polyester batting. Touches like this make a piece interesting, especially if you are a tactile person like I am when it comes to fabrics!

This is what I did for the back: plain black cotton fabric and loops made out of the remnants of the border fabric so the quilt can be used as a wall hanging. However, I did place them down enough from the top edge so if you wanted to use it for a cover, you could. This later effected how I did the quilting but the loops are big enough that they could be pushed aside and the hand stitching done.

Next I sewed the back to the front with a layer of Warm and Natural to be the inner layer. This is better to use than a polyester batting, I think, because it does not pull through with the needle when you are stitching. It is light-weight, warm and  doesn't puff up the quilt too much. 
Stitch with right sides together, batting on the outside. Remember to leave a big enough gap along the bottom of the quilt to pull the quilt right side out.  Once you have the outsides out, pin to make sure that the inner batting layer is smooth and even. Hand stitch the gap closed.
I then did machine stitching around some of the edges of the borders to tack the front, backing and back together.

I quilted important lines to bring out the shape of the wings, hand, the sleeves and the skirt. I used the running stitch using heavier quilting threads that matched  compliment background fabric colors.

I stitched around the border shapes such as the flowers and the stained glass window shapes. 

You can see the stitches on the back here. The red and blue knots are where the beads are sewn onto the front side.

Last part - the beads!

I used larger garnets, hematites and and some pretty frosted cerulean glass beads for the boarders and the flowers. For the crosses I used metallic and glass beads. Since there was a variety of  the cross motifs I did each one a bit differently but only did four crosses on each side. I did not want to overdo the effect and besides, from the experience I had with stitching beads onto the trim of a Saxon style tunic, those beads add a good deal of weight!

For some of this beading I attempted to just stitch the beads to the top layer of fabric. However, I stitched around the shapes to bring them out and larger beads were stitched through all layers.

And there you have it!

Just remember to sign your work.
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Here are a couple of quickies! I love draw string bags! I always find uses for them and they are fun to make and to give as gifts.

This Tudor Rose is done in Blackwork stitches but I used shades of pink and green  for the rose colors.

This is one of my little dragon bags. It is a cross-stitch pattern that I designed. I like to give them as gifts and  add my friends' names to make them special.
As soon as I can get the pattern scanned, I'll add it to this post. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tonight I thought I'd give you something different, so here are a few pieces of my pyrography for you. Enjoy!

This is a wood burned box with a handle that got wrapped with Celtic interlace on all sides.

A thin line of a figure eight knot curves up across the handle...

...and even across the bottom.

This box measures 6" x 4" x 2 3/8".
It is made of bass wood with brass clasp and hinges.