Archive for the ‘Journals’ Category

For the month of May Sharon B issued this challenge:

What do you call yourself, and why? 

This question has a very specific focus with regard to those of us who work with fibers, fabric, color, design, etc. 

The challenge color palette uses these colors:


At first I wanted to make some kind of garment, either a jacket or a clergy stole, because it would be a very visible symbol of “what I call myself”, and carries the theme in my faith tradition of “putting on” a new garment or name to fully describe oneself after a period of transformation.

However, I knew that would be pretty hard to design and complete well in one month, so I’m setting that plan aside and will work on it later.

I decided instead to make another journal using a gel print on cotton that I had made before this challenge, but seemed to fit.  I added hand embroidery and beaded sequins to this flowing ribbon design.  The ribbon design came from a series of doodles I did that came out like ribbons.


It’s one of my favorite doodle motifs, and is a motif that symbolizes much of my life:  like a flowing, shifting, floating, turning ribbon, that has a different appearance as it flows, yet is still the same ribbon.

To illustrate what I call myself, I used this ribbon, then embellished it with fibers that flow around it, adding beads and sequins for sparkle and texture.  I continued the flow of the ribbon beyond the cover bounds with an organza ribbon tie.  With the journal cover alone I think I can explain to people who ask what it means to be a fiber artist.



I have resisted for a long time calling myself an “artist”, thinking of myself more as a skilled craftsperson.  However, as I have moved more and more into the realm of creating pieces from my own designs I feel more comfortable with the term “artist”, even though I am pretty much self taught and have some trepidation based on my lack of formal knowledge of art technique and history. 

With that said, I believe artists bring together elements in ways that haven’t been brought together before, often bringing order out of chaos of element and arrangement, producing design. 

It is, I believe, the creative character of all human beings, in many different endeavors, that gives us the deepest connection to the divine.  When we create, we transcend the mundane–even when creating with mundane elements–and we sometimes, thus, are able to glimpse our true selves.  That transcendence does not come without struggle, however, if it is true creation.

I chose to make my gel printed embroidery piece into a journal cover that encloses pages for recording quotes, ideas, and goals that are bounded by signature covers of hand dyed fabrics.  On two of them I have placed triangles to symbolize the work I do with piecing and quilting of fabrics. 


The inside cover and pockets (front and back) are also hand-dyed fabrics. 


If I carry this journal with me and am asked about what I do, I can use it to tangibly show:  painting and printing on fabric, stitching with fibers and beads, hand dyeing fabrics, sewing, and quilt making.

Throughout this month’s exercise I have tried out different word descriptions of what I call myself and why:  craftsperson, quilt maker, embroiderer, artisan, textile artist, and fiber artist.

I keep coming back to fiber artist.  It’s the nomenclature I’ve most often used, and feels most comfortable rolling off my tongue, even though it means I usually must add an explanation.  In that explanation I am able to open people’s vision to a broader idea of what the word “artist” encompasses.

My palette is not just paint, but an entire array of textiles, fibers, dyes, beads, and even found objects.  Creations are usually multi-dimensional with both visual and tactile texture. 

I am also a writer in my professional career as a clergy woman, so placing my fiber art around pages for writing adds another dimension to the descriptive piece. 

In the same vein as this month’s challenge, I have begun to read sociologist Richard Sennett’s latest book, The Craftsman.  It explores what it means to do or make something well simply for the doing of it as opposed to as a means to an end.  He posits, I believe, that our post-modernist cultures have lost that value in many areas, while engaging it in other ways that are new and unexpected.

I’ve just begun the book, so I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes this theme.        


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On Wednesday Linda from my knitting group taught me how to spin using a drop spindle.  Boy, did I feel like a klutz.  However, she told me I was doing fine and to keep practicing.


She sent me home with a spindle and some roving and I’ve been practicing a couple times a day.


Yesterday I was actually able to roll off a ball of yarn.  It’s pretty ragged and uneven, and you can see from the picture that the ball of yarn is not much bigger than a US quarter.

But I’ve been trying the different techniques she showed me, and yesterday I made even more progress.  Still pretty uneven but I’m having more and more moments when I think I can actually feel how it’s supposed to be.  Hopefully the next ball will be a little larger. 

Tomorrow I’m heading up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado for their Fiber Festival with Laura and Meredith from knitting group.  I’m going to be on the lookout for spindles and fibers.  I’m hoping for better weather than we’ve had here in Taos the last couple of days.  It’s been cold, wet, and windy.


I finished the embroidery on the cover for the journal I’m making for the May TIF challenge.  It’s been hard getting any pictures to turn out well of this piece.  I had to tilt it at an angle so the colors and stitching would show better.  But the pictures are still not a very accurate representation.



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Last night my friend Meredith gave me a wonderful going away gift when our knitting group gathered over pizza.  Although I’m not moving for a couple of weeks yet, we wanted to share a meal together before I leave.


Meredith totally surprised me with this gorgeous cashmere scarf.  I think she said the lace pattern is Crane’s Nest.  I’ll have to check with her again to be sure.

We’ve been watching her knit on this for several weeks, and have been admiring it.  I was so surprised and feel so blessed to receive such a gracious gift.  I know I’m going to wear it a lot–it’s my color–and it will be such a nice reminder of a good friend I’ve made through knitting in Taos.  Thank you, Meredith! 

I worked a bit yesterday on my May TIF project which has been neglected most of the month.  I knew I wanted to add some embroidery embellishment to this gel print I made on cotton fabric, but couldn’t quite figure out what to do.  Size is 9″ x 13″.


I was going through my beads and found some dark blue sequins.  While dark blue is not in this month’s palette I decided to add them anyway.

I just picked up the piece and started putting them on without any plan.  Then I started adding some seed stitching.  It’s kind of hard to see on the photos.  Even the close up doesn’t show the stitching too well, but I’m using a sort of amethyst shade plus a light blue.  If you really look hard you can see the amethyst stitching. 


You also can’t tell from the picture that there is a lovely sparkle and sheen to this piece from the metallic copper paint I used on the gel print.

It’s much prettier than the pictures portray, and I think I’m going to really like it when it’s finished.

I’m going to add a little more of the light blue and some medium blue stitching, also.  This piece is going to be the cover for a small journal that I will use to show what I mean when I say I am a fiber artist. 

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On Tuesday I put out a little teaser about the gift I made for my MOM for Mother’s Day.  Of course I couldn’t show it then, could I?  Then it wouldn’t have been a surprise for her.

Well, now she’s received the package, opened it up and . . . I can show it to the rest of you.  I just finished talking to her and she really likes it.


I used Sue Bleiweiss’s tutorial for a padfolio, using the “expertise” I gained in her journal making class last month.  I was pretty sure my MOM wouldn’t use a journal, but I know she’s a list maker, so I thought this would be a better choice for her.  The dimensions are about 6″ x 9″.


I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out.   I took a piece of my hand dyed fabric, shaving cream marbled it with metallic silver and bronze, and pearl white paint, and made it into the cover for the folio.


Inside I used two more shades of hand-dyed blue.  There’s a pocket for the pad of paper and pencil, and a slanted pocket to tuck in miscellaneous things.


The closure is a perfect button I found at Common Thread along with some super sparkly metallic ribbon.


I even found a mechanical pencil with a blue cover decorated with a silver swirl to put inside with the paper. 


I have to admit this is one of my favorite projects so far.  You can be sure I’m going to make one for myself.  Or, maybe two, because I’d also like a full size one for 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper pads.

I can visualize on of these done with a masculine touch out of the faux leather technique from Sue’s class.  Not to mention all of the other possibilities.     

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As I noted yesterday, I made the cover for this journal with a pieced Log Cabin quilt block made from hand dyed fabrics.  On the inside I fused “pieces” of log cabin blocks dropped at random, jDSCN1935_editeduxtaposing order and chaos.













Each signature (grouping of pages) is bounded with scrapbooking paper that has on it a small Log Cabin block.  It’s positioned in a different place on each of the four wrappers.


The last page of each signature has a place for stashing three unadorned mailing tags.   I thought these could be used for shopping lists for the projects I plan to use this journal to help me organize.


I found these cute beads to put on the ends of the signature ties.


I like the way the colors all lined up perfectly on the spine.

I think the next time I make this journal I’m going to use something thicker and stiffer than pelmet vilene, maybe Timtex.  This one is just a little too floppy.  I might also include some kind of wrap around closure.

I also like Sue’s alternate idea of putting in grommets to hold the signatures at the spine.  I think that might help, but that technique limits you to only two signatures.


I’m sad to see this class ending, but I know I’ll make more journals.  I already have lots of ideas, and Sue’s providing us an alumni group so we can continue to share our ideas and projects.  Yay!

This has been a really great class.  For anyone who would like to take it you can see Sue’s website, and I believe she’s offering the class at Joggles, too.

‘Looking forward to the May Take It Further Challenge instructions coming tomorrow. 

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I think a lot of what creativity and art are about is bringing order to chaos; taking disparate elements and creating something totally different.

Thus, the idea behind my fifth journal for the Journal Making Class with

Sue Bleiweiss.

I went into my workroom yesterday thinking about what to make this journal with.  I needed a piece of fabric that was about 12 inches square.  Unfortunately that ruled out most of my hand dyed fabric since it’s in fat eighths that are only 11 inches wide (although I could certainly have made the journal smaller).

Then I started looking at my commercial fabrics.  I have lots that would work great.  I thought about doing some seminole piecing for the cover with hand dyes.  It’s been ages since I did seminole piecing but I think it would look nice on the long narrow shape of this journal.

I also thought about something textured and went looking for some experiments I had done many years ago for inspiration. 

I also thought about using some painted silk I made a really long time ago and had to search that out–not big enough pieces.   Then it occurred to me to measure a log cabin block I made in February for the Sew, Mama, Sew quilting month challenge.


It wasn’t quite 12 inches square, but pretty close, so I just started putting together the cover with no real plan in mind.


You can kind of see in the photo how the spine fits right along the center square of the block.

Once the cover was together I thought about how neat and organized log cabin blocks are.  I think I’m going to use this journal to do some organizing of my projects, many of which are extremely long term WISPs (Work in Slow Progress), and while I have a fair amount of organization among them, sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for or forget about a project.  This journal will, I hope, keep me more up to date, organized, and on track.


Thus, the mixed up pieces of log cabin blocks on the inside front cover–a reminder that chaos is ok, but better if organized.  I had a professor in college who always said his office was “organized chaos”.  I’ve always liked that image.

I’m making signatures bounded by scrapbooking paper that is in red, yellow, and green, but more subdued shades than the cover; and I found in my yarn stash some cotton yarns in more variations of the three colors that I’ll tie the signatures in with.


I’m going to add some embellishments to the inside pages, pick up some beads, and put the whole thing together today. 

BTW I  went on my longest road biking road to date yesterday–about 13 miles– and so far, I’m not too sore.  It’s amazing how working out on the spinner all winter has improved my muscle strength and stamina.  But I still can’t keep up with John. 

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My husband really likes journals, so I was hoping one of the journals from my class with Sue would work for him.  My hopes were far exceeded with journal number four.  It has a nice masculine look. 


As shown in yesterday’s blog, I followed Sue’s amazing process for transforming brown paper lunch sacks into faux leather.  On the cover I added a long leather bootlace for wrapping and securing around a real silver button.  Very western looking, I think.  John picked out the button and the lacing.  I would have gone for darker lacing, but he picked out the lighter brown, and it was definitely the right choice. 


Inside are three signatures wrapped with scrapbooking paper that I decorated with scraps for a little extra zing.  The signatures are stitched in with taupe colored DMC linen embroidery floss.  I’m finding this to be quite strong stuff with just enough of a rustic look to complement the rest of the journal.


John prefers lines on his journal pages so I set up a page on my computer with lines, colored them a light brown, and printed out gently lined pages on ivory granite stationery.  These are 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets folded in half. 


I made four pockets with more of the scrapbooking paper, stitched the bottoms with a decorative machine stitch and filled them with “Notes on the Run” cards that John loves to use from The Planner Pad Co., tags I made by fusing paper onto mailing tags adorned with more linen embroidery floss, and Post-It notes on the inside flap pocket.


I think it turned out quite nice and John really likes it.  It has some special touches, but it’s not too fussy for a guy.  

We went for a walk in Carson National Forest this morning, on one of the still closed to vehicles forest roads, and saw some early spring wildflowers.  So I just had to include a picture.


I have no clue what kind of plant this is, but it has leaves somewhat like holly.  Could be some form of western holly?  ‘Don’t know, but it provided a lovely, bright, springy spot in our morning.  The flowers are much brighter yellow than the picture shows.   

*Special note for knitters, check out “The Sacraments of Knitting”.  Make a couple copies and keep them in your knitting bags for new “converts”.  

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