"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dashing All the Way

That sums up the month of December for me. It was jam packed with visits from family and friends, celebrations, a much needed and enjoyed family vacation, and a wicked head cold. Since I haven't worked on anything the last few weeks, I thought I'd share a few pieces that I made last month but never had the opportunity to post. They are all 5x5, not inlcuding the hanger.

These two (above and below) have spent the holiday season at Eye of the Eagle Art in Clayton, NC. They are two of the pieces I submitted for their "Biggest Little Art Show". They are for sale, so I am hoping that they will spend future months brightening the living space of new owners.

The photos are mine, printed onto fabric and sealed. Above are some beautiful poppies from Santa Fe, NM. Below, a visitor to a bloom at the North Carolina Zoo.

The next three are pieces which I made for my etsy shop. I hope they will be available in the next day or so. I also hope to get a few more pieces of my bottle cap jewelry loaded and available for purchase. I'm a little late for the holiday rush, but it was the best I could do this year.
Anemones (Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham NC)

Poppies (Taos, NM)

detail: Blue Door (Taos, NM)
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and love. ~Michelle

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spreading Holiday Cheer ...

A couple of fun online holiday events that you might enjoy ...

Tim Holtz's third annual "12 Tags of Christmas" ... one tag a day, tons of Mixed Media fun, and his talent will blow you away!

Lisa Vollrath of "Go Make Something" is offering a download-able image each day for 25 days. Her "Countdown to Christmas" is a treasure trove for anyone who enjoys using vintage images in their art.

Check them out, and have a creative holiday!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Seeing Red

First of all, I have finally opened my etsy shop! I hope to have it loaded up with plenty of goodies by the middle of the month!
This gorgeous (unretouched) sunset happened in late October. I was standing on my front porch when I took this picture. You would never know that we live in the middle of suburbia and there are houses in front of those trees!
And here, finally, is the promised photo of my red door! I love it. I love how the house turned out, love the color, love my red door, love the new hanging light fixture we installed. I might have to start using the front door!!!
I hope all my US readers had a nice Thanksgiving. Are you ready for December? It's time to turn the calendar. Where did the year go???

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THEE Quilt!

Here is the quilt that resulted from the blocks I share in this post. The finished size is about 42" square. There are 36 blocks.
Here's a closeup shot so you can see my swirly quilting. I used a variegated blue thread and was surprised that it showed up so prominently on the quilt. These are the two pieces of hand-dyed fabric that I used to make the quilt. The first one isn't quite as pink and green as the photo suggests, it is more blue and purple. The pictures of the quilt are a better indication of this fabric.
This one was my first attempt at a one yard spiral. It came out ok, but I think it looks better all chopped up!
I forgot to get a photo of the back, but it is pieced remnants of these two fabrics plus a third hand-dye because I didn't have quite enough. I really like this pattern and will probably use it again.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This is my new autumn candy dish ... what do you think?
The talented Leilani led a challenge on Fiber Art Traders, and this was completed in 5 easy steps.
If you look closely, it has "inchies" with beads and shells stitched to it. I think it looks terrific and very festive, sitting on the side table, holding goodies.

The problem is ... I can't seem to keep it filled up. So I guess that means my family likes it too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End is Near

Our year-long house front swap on Textile Challenges comes to an end this month. I just completed my last house front for Pam in the UK. Her theme was "In Need of Repair".
Turn down any country road in central North Carolina and you will see bits of the old south ... simple homes, once painted white, with tin roofs and wayward vines still in glorious bloom. These homes have always intrigued me. They are quite modest, but always boast an inviting front porch and I'm sure these homes saw many a summer day with rockers creaking and neighbors stopping by to sit a spell with some sweet tea and biscuits. I am sending a bit of the old south across the pond, to sit a spell with Pam.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Minor Breakthrough

I have figured out how to use the scanner with this borrowed computer and so now I can finally share some of the things I am working on. I should have a new computer soon, but until then, at least I am not totally cut off from the blogging world!
I am working on a baby quilt for a dear friend of mine. Her baby shower is this Friday ... at MY house ... so you know what I will be doing this week. I promised her a baby quilt, and although I'm sure she'd take an IOU, I'd really like to give it to her on Friday. These are the two 6" blocks that will make up the quilt. I have 14 of them done. Not sure how many I want to make, but I know I need to make more!!!
I tie dyed two pieces of fabric. One is a spiral done in Cayman Island Green, Bright Yellow, and um, I don't remember the third color, but it's an aqua/turquoise type. The other was done by banding portions of the fabric and dyed with orchid, caribbean blue, and aquamarine. I love how the different colors show up in random ways when the fabrics are cut up. I think it's going to make a really nice quilt. She doesn't know the sex of the baby, so hopefully it will work for either a boy or a girl. I think it will.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Agenda

Painting Painting Painting ... no not me (I wish!). Today is day 5 of the great house painting adventure. They guys have been working hard and squeezing out every ounce of daylight. There were a lot of repairs that needed to be made, so that took care of the first few days. We've been fortunate that the weather has been perfect this week. Rain coming tomorrow, but I think they will finish up today.

My front door is being painted red as I type this - I think the color is called Fireweed. It's a red with some brown in it. I think I'm going to love it! The house already looks so different.

In the meantime, I am dyeing a color run from Musk Melon (Prochem) to Sky Blue (Dharma). I hope to end up with some nice browns in between. I have never been successful at achieving an even color in my dyed fabric - usually I don't want an even color, so that's fine, but in this instance it would be nice. They just started batching, so we'll see what we get later on.

I am also down to the wire for planning my daughter's "eco-friendly" birthday party, which is tomorrow. I need to make the cake, buy snacks, rent a movie, figure out lunch, etc etc, but I don't really want to leave home with my doors hanging wide open, so I'll get out later. We are going to tie dye silk scarves and make some recycled creations. It should be a good time. Hopefully it won't rain too much! there's always the garage...

I hope you are enjoying your Friday, and that life brings you joy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Sweet Autumn Treat

Still no photos - sorry! I am working to build up my bottle cap supply for fall sales, the first of which is in early November. I also learned I have until the end of the month to get those ten little pieces made for the show - so of course, I am procratinating!

We are having some faulty siding replaced on our house this week and soon it will be painted! The new color ... Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay, a soft gray with a blue/green tint. I can't wait! The current color, called Moonlight, is a buttery yellow, so it will look like a new house when it's finished! I'll share photos when I can.

I thought I would leave you with a recipe for a quick autumn treat that is warm and filling and not too bad for the waistline .... enjoy!

Take one apple, core it and cut it into wedges. Put it in a small microwave safe bowl. Top with a small bit of butter (about 1/4 tsp), a sprinkle of brown sugar (about 1/2 tsp), a few raisins and a few chopped walnuts. Microwave 1 minute on high (1.5 minutes if the apple was in the fridge!). Let cool just slightly and enjoy! You could dust it with cinnamon, too, if you want. Mmmmm...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My First Priority: Alzheimers Quilt Sold!

I can't access my photos right now :o( so I have nothing to show you, BUT I recently donated two small quilts to Ami Simms' Alzheimers Art Quilt Innitiative. It is something I've wanted to do for a while. These quilts went with 1000 others (yeah, 1000) to Houston Texas for the International Quilt Festival. All these little quilts are for sale, with proceeds going to fund Alzheimers research.

Ami is sending out "tweets" as quilts sell, and one of mine sold today! I'm so pleased with this! I thought I had a photo of it on my blog, but I can't find it, so if you want to see it, go HERE and it is way down at the bottom - quilt #4428. The other one, which is still available, is the first one that you see on this blog post HERE. I hope it will sell soon!

It must be something else to see all those quilts together!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another New Adventure

I made this little piece today ...
It is 5"x5". I am participating in an art show/sale where the pieces have a maximum size of 6x6. When I signed up, it didn't really register that the pieces are due in the middle of October. Yikes! So here is my first one. I like how it came out. I am debating adding a word, as that was my original intention. I printed some of my photos onto fabric - this one was from our recent trip to the zoo. I decided to solder the edges, since these are required to be "ready for hanging". It is my first time soldering, although I've had all the supplies for quite a while. It wasn't too hard. I'm not that good at it, either, but I'm sure I'll improve with practice.

I had to offset the hanger due to the weight of the beads on the right. I kinda like it that way.

I would enjoy constructive feedback on this piece.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A little problem solving goes a long way

Phew. The final September obligation is finished ... just a little late. But I am pleased with the results, I learned a lot, and I'm glad I forged ahead. As a firmly left brained analytical person, I have often pondered what draws me to art. Through this project, I think I have realized it is the problem solving ... it's what I do, and it gives me great satisfaction.

I belong to a small group of women who help to manage a larger online group. We have been working on our own little project since February, called "A Dream House". We are making 8x8 pages for each other to put together into a little book. Each page is a "room" though we've used that term loosly. This is my last one to make. It is for the lovely Leilani aka Studio Gypsy. Her dream home was a sculptural and poetic, creative place in the hills of Tuscany. My room for her is actually a threshold ... the "Doorway to inspiration". It is the first piece of interactive fiber art I have made ... thus the need for problem solving.

Of course the "key to creativity" is what opens the "Door to inspiration" and I had fun beading this old key.
Whenever Leilani is feeling a creative block, she can find inspiration here ... by pulling the strings on the left up or down, she can choose a color direction...

By spinning the wheel in the upper right corner, she can set the mood ...
By flipping the tags on the right she can settle the details of her piece ... each tag is has its opposite on the reverse side.

The background is a piece of fabric which I knew I would not use as is, so I painted it in the colors of Tuscany ... reds and orange like the poppies of the fields, lavendar (well, maybe that's French, but I used it anyway) and olive green. I free cut some petals from the fabric before adding the olive green details and made these flowers, which I am rather fond of. I hope that Leilani is dreaming of the Tuscan sunshine and finds inspiration wherever she looks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Down

I finished one of my September commitments. Did you ever read "Catch 22"? I read about half of it ... never could finish ... but I remember one character. His name was Major Major and he became a Major ... so he was Major Major Major and he could never tell if his subordinates were being respectful in addressing him, or were calling him by his first name.

So this month for the house front swap on Textile Challenges, I had to do a Greenhouse. I decided to make it a "Green" Greenhouse by using as much recycled material as I could. I even considered (and started out) making it mostly green (in color) so that it would be a Green Green Greenhouse, but as you can see, the monochromatic thing didn't really happen!

Below is a peek in the door ... cut from a coffee cuff from Panera Bread. You can see the green background, which is a piece from a wallpaper sample. The flowers are old embroidery samples that belonged to my grandmother. The nameplate on the door is from a paint chip, and even the wire is from a string of bamboo beads that I took apart.
The roof in an aluminum can which I ran through a crimper. The vent/fan is from a floppy disk. The brass "blades" actually spin. The venting solar windows were made from the thin plastic that housed some fancy dog biscuits. I recently learned that No 6 plastic is actually shrink plastic! It shrinks A LOT but what a great discovery! I just used a heat gun to do the shrinking. So check those cookie trays before you toss them!

Oh - and eat more cookies!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Zoo of Inspiration

September has been a busy month, not least of all because my kids have been out of school for three weeks. We've managed to have some fun ~ mostly of the non-fiber art variety. Last week we took a day trip to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, which is about an hour and a half west of us. The day dawned gloomy with a promise of rain, but we went anyway. The rain held of, except when we were eating lunch (inside), the crowds were extremely light, and the animals were all reveling in the cool moist air. It was a perfect day at the zoo!

I always manage to take tons of photos - of the plants and the animals - and always find inspiration. I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos with you.

The Zoo is huge, and divided into two "continents" - Africa and North America. The original plan was to have all 7 continents represented, but it has since been scaled back. Above is a banana palm and some baby bananas. I love palm trees. Can't get enough of 'em.
We had the incredible good luck to visit on the day a new baby baboon was born. He (or she!) was born in the morning before the zoo opened. Here are mama and baby, and the proud papa. It was quite amazing.
There was also a little one month old baby baboon. Her main goal was to escape mom's clutches and go exploring. Good thing for mom she has that tail to hang onto! Are you sensing the animal world is not too far off from our own???
Near the baboons were these gorgeous flowers, many of which had gone to seed. The seed pods were just as beautiful as the blooms.
This guy preferred the blooms ... and happened to land right where I had my camera focused!
Purples do not usually show up well with my camera, so I was very pleased with this photo.
They have built a platform that extends into the giraffe enclosure. You can walk right up to the fence, hold a branch with leaves and the giraffes will come up and strip the leaves and eat them ... eating right out of your hand! The platform just opened earlier this month and it is a terrific addition to the zoo. I can imagine it would be awful on a hot, crowded day!
And how can this NOT be inspiring! Just absolutely gorgeous. This is the same giraffe as above. She is about a year and a half old and one of the smaller ones at the zoo.
I was pleased to get such a crisp close up of this lantana bush. I was reminded how much I love this plant ... so much so that I bought one to plant in our yard. You gotta love a plant that blooms in yellow, orange AND pink, and all at the same time!
This bloom was about 1/2" wide. It looked like a tiny hibiscus flower about to unfurl.

We loved watching the otters play. This one found an acorn and was having a ball with it. He would drop it and then chase after it while it sank.

Bonus animal! This guy was hanging out near the Elk enclosure. We have lots of lizards in NC, but I haven't seen one like this before.
My son wanted me to take a photo of this sign. He found it quite amusing!
The prickly pears were fully fruited. How nice it would have been to pick a few to enjoy with our lunch!
And even at the end of the day, the animals were enjoying themselves. I think they enjoy posing for photos! This was just before quitting time (5:00) so this guy was about ready to punch the clock and call it a day.

I hope you enjoyed my little diversion. Back to the studio!!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The results are in ...

Here are the pieces I dyed yesterday ... I'd like to try them again using different colors. The fuschia is a bit overpowering and I always get speckles...

This is the piece that was wrapped up. It's a one yard piece of fabric, so that's one big heart! I think it kinda looks like it has a smiley face in the heart. Not sure if I will use this for the quilt or not.
These are the stripes I had hanging on a clothesline. Kinda cool. Looks like a rainbow zebra. I think I'll enjoy cutting this piece up.

And this is the tone-on-tone that was in my sink. Kinda fun. I wish there were more blues yellows and greens over on the right, but the fuschia decided to set up shop on that side. I think it's kinda crazy with all those wild white flowers popping through. Sort of like a garden in reverse.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Just a Little Time Today

September has proven to be a busy month. The first two weeks were spent clearing out and organizing my studio. It doubles as a guest room, and this week we have guests. They have taken the kids to a movie, so I set up some dyeing that has been long overdue. The weather is gorgeous - mid 80s with tolerable humidity and blue skies. Lovely late summer weather. Perfect for dyeing!

This is batching in my sink ... I'll have to rinse it soon, as I don't want to leave it for when they return. It's a tone-on-tone and hopefully the background will retain a decent amount of color and make an interesting piece with the flower resist.
This is a one yard piece which will hopefully be the basis for a baby quilt ... if it turns out well!

And this is a piece on which I drizzled the dye while it hung on the clothesline. I'm really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. Right now it is just dripping a line of dye on my mulch.
I used Fuschia Red, Cayman Island Green, and Bright Yellow for all three pieces. I thought I had Turquoise, which is what I wanted to use, but I guess I don't have any more. The CIG will hopefully be a decent substitute.
Stop by again soon to see how they turn out!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


My friend Tracy had a birthday yesterday. Well, I won't be the one to tell you how old she is, but I made her this little book and I wanted to share it with you! Tracy was having a bit of trouble accepting her new age status, so I decided she might as well head into the new decade with a bit of attitude! I followed the directions for this nifty little tutorial to make a one-page book. Instead of paper, I used interfacing as my base.

I made some soda can charms and beaded dangles for the spine. I loved that part!

Tracy's hubby threw her a big birthday bash at a local brewery, so I stitched a little vinyl pocket to each page for her to insert photos of the big event. Hopefully they remembered to take lots of pictures!!!

Each page has some little impertinent saying on it, as well as little bits of this and that which I pulled from my scrap bag. This page has painted paper bag pieces on it.

The trick was to decorate the pages in the right orientation and in the right order before folding and stitching the book. I made a paper sample book and labelled everything. Even then, it took a bit to make sure I folded it exactly the same way. If you are directionally challenged, just go slowly! It was a fun gift to make, for a great cyber-friend who really has nothing to be worried about in the age department! Happy Birthday, Tracy!