Thursday, October 20, 2005

Other People's Work

I've been officially reminded by several friends that today marks 1 month plus one day since my last post. There. I've stated the shameful truth, now let's gloss it over and move on!

Last night was crit group. We don't have a name yet. We don't have officers or rules. We don't care. But! We *DO* work. Actually, some of us just came back from the Fabrications retreat where we took classes with Laura Cater-Woods and Ellen Anne Eddy.

First up, Sharon. Here's a piece she finished up. I just love the color palette--so subtle and soothing.


Nextly, Deb. This is the beginning of Deb's beginning. She is transitioning from 'starving entrepreneur' to 'starving artist' and this piece is her first in a long, long time. Can't wait to see it finished. Go, Deb, Go!!

And then Linda. She started an embroidered chameleon in Ellen Anne Eddy's class and also made a stamp of her face that I think is just cool.
chameleon 1

chameleon 2
The background fabric is made by Ellen Anne Eddy and I'm jealous....not because I don't own it, but because I didn't make it. Call me 'nutty'. This is the wrong side by the way. I believe Linda is still bobbin drawing at this point.

Here's the right side:
chameleon 3

And Linda also made this groovy stamp from an old photo of herself. How cool is that?
linda's stamp

Now we have the other Linda (seen above with the first Linda). She made this thing she calls a 'fabric kaleidescope'. It's two seperate layers, joined at the center. The top layer can be rotated to reveal different prints in different holes. If you study the pictures, you can see I've rotated the wheel a bit. Is it not clever? What a great idea for a child's gift. Actually, forget the kid. Just give it to me (I was mesmorized).
linda 1

linda 2

Sandy brought this piece in progress. Great contrast.
sandy 1
She had another fabulous piece, too, but I, the Mighty Super Spec, screwed up the picture.

As for me, I'm just happy to be sitting still. The Fabrications retreat signifies the end of a year that has been mostly travel for me. Now that the retreat is over, the only travel I forsee is to buy groceries. Perhaps there will be some light Christmas shopping that forces me to drive 30 miles or so. Otherwise, I'm happy to be boring at least for today.

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's done!

I'm Super Spec today: facing impossible challenges against all odds. Consequently, this won't be too wordy.

Here's the fabric of the moment, fully painted, waiting for washout:

The sheet underneat is cool, too. I'm planning to use a length of cotton, prepped and ready as my undersheet next time (in about 10 minutes):

Shot this on the clothesline for a full view. It's breezy today. The photo's a bit washed out:

And a bit closer:

That's it for today! Super Spec must fly away.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


Here's what happened Friday morning:

Followed up by a little:

Now, I'm not intending for the background to be yellow. I want it to be green....with yellow lines. So, I'm trying to think of this like a batik project, where there's a gradual build of color.

And I also have a lot to learn. Some people let their fabric dry, others cover it and let it batch:
I felt good about this except that when I took the plastic off, the resist lines were tacky. This was worrisome to me. And then, the fabric took forever to dry. I probably could have left it uncovered and been just fine.

The other lesson I learned was this:
The Dreaded Crocking!!
The color from the petal wicked across the sheet underneath my fabric and then placed color on the other side of the resist line. It didn't just bleed through the resist line. I'm really a closet silk painter, but am too lazy for all the fuss that silk painters put into their prep. Often there is great care taken in attaching the fabric to a frame, so nothing is touching the table. This prevents Dreaded Crocking, even though too much paint will bleed across a line. I suspect allowing the table to dry out completely before adding the petal color would have prevented this. Or maybe more thickener in the dye....that would have made a difference. Either way, I'm calling it a happy accident.

And now, the reveal:

I still have another layer of resist and a final layer of color before this piece is done. Will issue a full report at the end!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Table: The Maiden Voyage

That's right. I had to whip out some fabric and lay a hurt on it:
table view

Up until the birth of my print table, I'd been doing this kind of thing on 4' x 8' sheets of foam insulation. Getting the pins to stay in was problem A. Keeping the sheet from bowing while stretching fabric taut made me absolutely crazy. So, imagine my delight when the pins stayed where I pinned them---without sinking into the surface or popping out at the worst possible time---and the fabric stretched like a dream.

I put the last pin in and broke into a fit of geek-snort laughter. What is that? Well have you seen the commercial for identity theft that ends with the line, ' Girl robot,'? A nasal-y, throaty 'hee, hrr, hee', interjected with well placed snorts. That's geek-snort laughter. And tonight, I was giddy with it.

Now, what's going on with the fabric? It called for a little corn dextrin resist, so I broke out my trusty:
...and whomped up a batch of hot dextrin. It's lumpy, I know. But can you really expect me to use a seive in a moment of evil genius? No! Thank goodness there was one T-pin left over. It served well as a squeeze bottle unclogger.

Now I'm waiting for the dextrin to dry. After that, there will be a layer of dye, some drying, followed by more dextrin and dye. It's fabulous in my head. Let's see if it ends up that way.

One last view of the design:
top view

Until tomorrow....
Funky C.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Table is Born

Welcome to the birth of my new PRINT TABLE!! Yeah, I'm yellin'. Just a little excited here.


Features include two storage shelves, a vertical bin on the end for storing silk screens, 4 wheels, two of which lock. The table is 4' x 10', big enough to print 3 yards at a time.

Here we have the elves adding the oil based paint, two coats please:
Painting done:

Then, two layers of plain ol' felt from JoAnn Fabrics, wrapped and stapled:

Finish with one layer of unbleached cotton twill (denim), wrong side up:

And Voila! I'm cookin' with gas.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Moving On....

Are we all tired of the Scary Clown Girl picture yet? Me, too!

So, for a change up, let me introduce you to Harriette:

Harriette is my ride. She takes me everywhere I want to go. She's not so easy on the eyes, but full of interesting quirks....just like me. AND! She came from my friend MolliB who purchased her to prove that a woman can own her own car. So, Harriette reminds me daily about Girl Power. Who could not love such a car?

Anyway, Harriete has driven me to Paducah, Kentucky, home of the AQS quilt show. Above you can see her parked outside the Museum of the American Quilters Society. Below, Harriette is visiting Paducah's amazing Flood Wall.

I am not really in Paducah to pay homage to quilts, or to shop, or any of that. I'm in Paducah waiting for this (see picture #3): reveal it's contents. My sister and her husband have made a baby. And I think that's waaay cooler than any quilt I could ever produce.

All My Love,
Funky C

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Star Girl

The things I do for kids that come to vacation Bible school:


But then, my husband superglued a bone to his nose. Don't even ask!

fiberliciously yours,
Funky C

Monday, July 18, 2005

About that tie dye thing.....

Several of you asked about my tie dye t shirt orders and whether or not I'm in business. The answer is yes, I try to make a little $ doing what I love and t-shirts are part of that. My business is called 'Harmony Fibers' and has been a base for everything from alterations to vending at quiltshows to producing commissioned art quilts. I don't have a website yet, but am headed in that direction.

So, here's a few pics from a recent dye session. This is a small order--16 shirts for a family vacation. I use 100% cotton t shirts and mx dyes. The customer wanted a basic spiral variation that I love to do (though haven't quite perfected).

Here, the shirts are prepped, tied and have their first layer of dye.

The rainbow of colors are squirted into the wedges made by the rubberbands. Blue is eliminated because I will use it in the next step.

Then, the shirts are flipped:

Now, for a typical spiral shirt, the same pattern of colors would be repeated on this side. Instead, I'm going to soak this side with solid blue.

The shirts are allowed to batch anywhere from 4 hours to 24 hours, depending on how tightly I've pushed the deadline. These shirts got a generous 24 hour batch. My tables are covered with plastic, then a layer of newspaper. The plastic protects the tables, and the newspaper absorbs excess dye.

To finish, I fill the washer with cold water and a bit of Synthropol (a detergent designed to soap out mx dyes). I take the rubberbands off each shirt just before it's added to the agitating water. The shirts are allowed to agitate for 15 minutes, then spin out. The cold rinse removes soda ash from the shirts and stops the dye's chemical reaction. I choose cold water because I believe it keeps dyes from migrating to where they shouldn't be.

This step is followed by a long soak in hot (140 degrees or hotter) water--at least an hour, preferably longer. The hot soak allows any unused dye molecules to hydrolize, or react with water. The shirts are then put through a full wash cycle with hot water and warm rinse. If the rinse water is tinged with color, I repeat this step, though rarely do I have to.

And that's it.

You can see the spiral of color behind the blue. Groovy! Here's another version I made last summer. The model is *moi*, of course, striking a pose at the end of last week's beach camping extravaganza.

Peace Out.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fabrications Retreat

I, along with a few other fiber art friends, will be running away this fall. Just for a weekend-nothing too serious. But! We want everyone to come play with us! So, bearing that in mind, I officially invite ALL OF YOU to:

Fabrications Fall Retreat
An art quilt retreat in Northern Lower Michigan
October 15th & 16th, 2005

Fiber Auction Extravaganza: Saturday, October 15th, 7 p.m.

Laura Cater-Woods
Ellen Anne Eddy
Vikki Pignatelli

All the information can be found at:

I have been pouring my heart and soul into planning this event, right down to the last little bit of html. And I (standing on toes, bragging loudly) did the graphics, too:

Those keeping score will recognize the quilt as my own heart quilt. Nothing like getting bonus mileage out of one piece of art. I'm so proud of the site because I, a little scrap o' cow crud, learned all html and did the site without a WYSIWYG editor such as Frontpage. Maybe doing things the hard way is part of my Evil Plan to Rule the World. Maybe I'm so proud because it's something I never thought I could do. Isn't it funny what we tell ourselves and what we can overcome?

And 'lest I sound like a complete credit-grabber, friends are helping with the event's details and taking turns holding my hand. I'd be drowning if they weren't.

Anyway, I hope you'll go to the site and let me know what you think. And I'd be thrilled down to my toes if ya'll showed up!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Air Dad

My Dad is an air junkie. Ever since I've known him, which would be......yeah.....all my life, he's tried to hurl either his own body or some poor inanimate object into the air. For him, it's all flying, all the time. He goes to airshows, he subscribes to specialty flying magazines, he teaches others the joy of flight, he talks about the flying royalty. Heck, he's become flying royalty (Frank Beagle, The Voice of OshKosh).

Now substitute words like 'quilt', 'fabric', 'sewing' into the above paragraph. Gee! Looks a little familiar! Except the quilt royalty part---not quite there yet.

So here's what Dad looks like today. Yes the airplane is part of what he looks like. I can promise that when they're not actually joined hip to frame, they are connected through mind link.

And it's not technically an aaairplaaaane, it's an ultralight. Though the line between the two is becoming blury. This is dad's 5th or 6th ultralight--can't quite keep track there. His current model is a two-seater:

That's my kid, getting ready to have his stomach flopped for the first time. My dad, who lectures and advises (whether you want it or not) on ultralight safety, is probably the only person I'd ever let fly my child in an experimental aircraft.

And although I've flown in small planes because of my dad, this is the first time I've actually been flown by my dad:

I believe I used descriptive language like, 'Yeeeeee HAAAW!' and 'holy s#^%!' It's amazing how a girl who's nervous about heights and gets twitchy in anything Boeing can be so comfortable flying in a lawnchair with wings and a chainsaw engine. No offense, Dad....and thanks for the great ride!
Holy Hill

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fiber Girl Goes Out!

Last Wednesday was Crit Group. Except we didn't do much critique. Instead, we made rubber stamps under the tutelege of Art Teacher Extraordinaire, Barb Dinniweth. Making stamps for printing on fabric is a technique that I think about often. As part of my Evil Plan to Rule the World with Fabric, stamping patterns will soon begin to show up in the yardage I make.

Here's my first stamp ever:
This is a giant rubber eraser. I drew the design on freehand (see? years of phone & boring meeting doodling pay off!), then carved it with a set of linoleum carving tools. Barb also showed us how one could draw on computer paper and then press the stamp onto the paper. The pencil transfers easily, just like Silly Putty. Plus any lettering automatically reverses, rendering a readable print.

First print attempts, acrylic paint on paper:
The first print is painted with straight blue. The second has blue grading through purple, into red...just for fun. Can't you just see this stuff on fabric?

Oo! ooo! It could be a medallion! I just whipped this up in Adobe Elements....
I'm jumping up and down now, 'cause this is just cool! Of course, carving the necessary mirror image stamp might make me crazy. And then getting the stamps to match evenly on the fabric might make 'crazy' look like a good day.

So, I see this as the beginning. The potential for fabric design is huge. This spontaneous design could be turned into a repeat, a border, a medallion. Or how 'bout stamping the design and then making a screen out of it? I could stamp with paint, dye, ink or even resist. I'm also curious to explore the different qualities between stamps made of rubber, linoleum and wood.

Now if only the elves would show up to cook my dinner and bathe my children......

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Emily Solo

Not to be confused with Han, of course!

Actually, It's Emily Parson. And right now, she has a solo show in Muncie, Indiana at the Minnetrista Cultural Center until September 4th. Go,go, go!...for her work is stunning live. The images are larger than life and saturated with pure color. If you're a ways from Indiana, check out her website for more quilts or her blog for knitting adventures.

In a new attempt to promote wackiness, I travelled all the way to Muncie for Emily's opening on Saturday. Everyone around me thought I drove to a friend's house to take my kids swimming for the weekend. Hah! That was just a ploy, a cover-up for my evil plan. The friend is Connie and the real reason I drove to her house was to kidnap her and weasel her teenage daughter into babysitting for the day. The innocent fools all played into my hand and we arrived in Muncie with time to spare.

Here's Emily giving a gallery talk:
gallery talk
The tulip quilt behind her is one of my favorites---lots of movement and color. I hold the dubious honor of asking the only stupid question during her talk. It was so long and nebulous that I can't even manage to repeat it here. Nothing like a big, fat, unedited mouth with no circuit to the brain to keep a girl humble. Help, I'm talking and I can't shut up.

Next photo: (left to right) fellow blogger Jan, Emily, and moi.
The quilt behind us has been made into a wonderful little poster for sale.

So now you know. Instead of blogging on Saturday, I was running away with my quiltshow travel buddy, Connie. Seeing Emily amidst her vibrant work was a thrill. I'm so proud of her!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Time Warp

(cue music, sing loudly)...Let's do the Time Warp agaaaaaiin!....Everybody sing!...It's just a jump to the left. And a step to the riight.....

Well, it's happened. I've recieved a note from a faithful reader politely asking, 'Where ARE you, woman?!?' Does keeping a blog mean I have to be wacky and consistant at the same time? No! May it never be! How 'bout consistantly wacky? Will you still love me?

You know, my family claims I have my own time zone: CST. Cathy Standard Time. I prefer to think of myself as devoid of time. I like to move through the moment unrestricted by such things as watches, time limits, or deadlines. I use time like I use caffeine: when the situation dictates it's use. Keeping my body caffeine free means that drinking coffee when I need a jolt really works. Two cups of coffee turns me into a Hamster on Speed. Time is the same way. I use it when necessary.

In the words of Edna Mole, 'I NEVER look back, dahling. It detracts from the Now.'

So, where have I been? Wandering. Not without purpose, though. And my rambling has been all fiber, all the time (with a little dash of swimming and hangin' out). Just to further warp time, I'll be sharing these experiences backwards, or maybe out of order. Yes, I read magazines backwards too.

Let's start with 'out of order':
For me, it's tie dye season. You're looking at a portion of a fifty shirt order, waiting to be washed. The t-shirt gig, no matter how simple the tie, is hard work. But I love it! Love to watch those colors bleed into perfect, white shirts.

Here's a stack of finished shirts:
This order is done and at the silk screener's right now. Will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Would You Wear This?


I model it for my honey and ask, 'Do you like it?'

Husband: -pregnant pause-'It's not my favorite. Where are you going to wear it?'

Me; 'To church on Sunday.'

Hubby: -flat- 'Oh.' -pause for thought-'Do we have to go together?'

Me: -posing in front of mirror- 'Does it make me look fat? Does my butt look big?'

Hubby: -hesitantly-'It's not my favorite.'

Me: 'Worse than the pink swing coat?' (early 90's, pepto-pink---he loathed it, I loved it)

Hubby: -flatly-'It's not my favorite.'

I reveal that the dress has been purchased for it's fabric content, not for use as a garment. A visible wash of relief floods over his entire person. But what a good boy! He never said, 'That is butt ugly and you look like giant, bad reuppholstery,' or 'I didn't know the Tent and Awning did florals!' Never even came close. Bonus points for tact and self control!

Then I model purchase #2, a size 2 dress that, thanks to the high lycra content, I can pull over my head and down to my waist (I'm an 18/20).

Me: 'What do you think of this one?'

Hubby: 'It's better. Looks trendy. I like the print.'
He thinks it's a top. It's's fabric.

Next up: A nightie I actually intend to wear.

Me: -holding nightie by shoulder straps- 'Who'd I buy this for?'

Hubby: 'I don't like this game any more.'

So where'd all this 'fabric' come from? Thrift stores, of course. And since I've been a Salvation Army dresser since highschool, who could blame the man for being confused?

Here's a collage of new stash aquisitions:
Grand Total: $10.00
God Bless the Salvation Army!