Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Playing with the mandala

I think I've done enough embroidery and beading on the mandala, but sometimes it's hard to know when to stop. So now I'm playing around with possible border fabrics.

It's amazing how many of my commercial prints have exactly the same colors as my hand-painted fabrics that I used for the mandala. My stash is heavy on orange, turquoise, light greens and purples.

This Kaffe Fassett stripe has lots of possibilities, depending on how it's cut and pieced to give different directions to the stripe. I'm also getting distracted by the leftover pieces from the mandala:

This is the book that inspired it all. I didn't plan to duplicate the colors on the cover -- I just picked some favorites from my stash and they turned out to be the same!

Here are my daughter's latest doodles. We live hours away from each other, and without realizing it we were both doing mandalas at the same time. Bunners gave her stamp of approval when we visited last weekend.

Well, I haven't made a decision yet on the borders, and if I don't give myself a deadline this project could go on for years. So I think I'll tell myself (and all of you) that I'll decide tomorrow on borders and sew them on by the weekend. Then I'll do the quilting and then maybe some final embellishing with beads in the borders. 

Have a colorful day
p.s. Hop on over to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday to see what other quilt artists have been doing this week:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Color in Bellingham

Another visit to the kid in Bellingham found us cruising downtown, looking for color. NW Handspun Yarns always delivers. Here's the tree outside their shop.

Here's another decorated tree, but this one is by Mother Nature in the Sehome Hill Arboretum on the Western Washington University campus:

Make.Shift Art Space is really colorful outside and inside and was having an exhibit on Iceland.

It has exhibits, music, artists' studios and a member library.

The staircase leading to the library looked great going down (above) and coming up (below).

Back at the kid's apartment, we did a photo shoot of her coordinating thrift store favorites, a striped wool sweater and crocheted afghan in those 70s colors.

Then we indulged in the highlight of the trip -- Julia's chocolate-coffee pie that was to-die for even though it was vegan. (Actually, I guess it was less to-die for because it didn't have all those unhealthy animal fats.) Note her thrift store plate.

Have a colorful day

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sort of a Valentine heart

Everyone is posting hearts on facebook and on their blogs today, so I thought I'd start another of my yoga mat quilts using heart cutouts. I dutifully pulled out some red fabric, but I'm not really a red person. So I put it back and got what I really wanted: Purple, orange and green.

I fused Wonder Under onto the back of a piece of my hand-painted purple, then folded it in half and started to draw hearts. But I'm not a heart person, either, so I switched to a plantlike form and circles. When I cut it and unfolded the piece, I did have a heart! The top photo is the leftover purple background, showing a purple heart. This next photo is the intended shape:

I fused that down and then added some circles ...

... and some other pieces:

I may add a few more shapes, then I'll begin outlining and embellishing everything with hand embroidery and beading. I like to use hand-dyed pearl cotton embroidery floss from Artfabrik (click here to see the threads) because the colors are so luscious and because I like Laura Wasilowski, the quilter behind Artfabrik.

This is the leftover pile, which I'll use to start a few more yoga mat quilts:

I came up with the name "yoga mat quilts" a few years ago when I was inspired by the design on my yoga mat to make quilts using symmetrical plantlike, unfolding forms. Then I realized that the hand embroidery and beading were very meditative, continuing the theme. One of these days I want to get around to writing an article about them, but first I have to actually finish one. Here's a post about the technique:

I've linked this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Fridays, where you can see what other fiber artists have been up to this week.

Have a colorful day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Who Do You Love?
Please vote for River's Wish!  Contest ends Feb. 13th at 5:00 p.m.  We need your votes today!!  Thanks! 100% goes to the animals.
(Photo shared by River's Wish Animal Sanctuary)

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Colors we don't like

I made grey and brown blocks. It was hard not to add sunset strips.

My art quilt group, STITCH, issued a little challenge last month: Make something with our two least favorite colors. We revealed the results yesterday, and they were heavy on grey and brown. I'm not sure what I'm going to make with my blocks, but I'm pretty sure they'll be combined with something more uplifting that involves brighter colors.

Janet and Judi dressed in grey and black.
Janet and Judi both dressed in grey and black to continue the theme, although in this photo Janet's vest looks brown. It's really grey.

Judi translated her B&W waterfront photo into fabric.
Judi started with a black and white photograph that she took of the waterfront and translated it into a quilt. She does a lot of nice work with photographs, but most of her photos are glorious colorful shots of sunsets, birds and flowers.

Janet did this geometric study in black and grey.
When I think of Janet, I think of beautiful, clear colors in her crazy quilts. These black and grey pieces are very different for her, but they're striking.

Janet's brown tree in a very grey-black-white landscape.

Anne doesn't like brown and pink, but I love this piece.
Anne, who hosted the meeting and therefore got to name the challenge, doesn't like brown and hot pink. She made this quilt based on the Cat In the Hat book and said "It makes me smile because it's so ugly." I don't think it's ugly! Most of Anne's quilts are very painterly.

Pat didn't like this batik, but we like her fabric Valentine postcards.
Pat actually had to go out and buy a piece of fabric that she didn't like, but she brightened it by zinging it up with hot pink and glitter. She made fabric postcards with it for Valentine's Day. Normally she works in wild and crazy brights.

Carol used purple and a dark green that she didn't like.
Carol used this purple background that she had dyed and didn't like. She combined it with some olive green that she also didn't like. I'm liking the direction her plant piece is taking. 

Delaine didn't like this orange ...
Delaine is our queen of glitz, and she started with two dull fabrics and added tulle, glittery sheers and bright appliques to make this gem of a purse.

... nor did she like the color of the purse lining.

Barbara's challenge was working with brown.
Barbara doesn't like brown, but she pulled out several brown prints to make her interpretation of the Cain and Abel story. Normally she works with traditional blocks, so she said this was a real stretch for her to work in an abstract style. 
Lois doesn't like to use brights, so this was a real challenge for her!
Lois, meanwhile, is our only member who likes to work in subdued colors, including brown. So this gorgeous, vivid red rose was a real challenge for her. The reds and green GLOW.

Next month's challenge will have to do with spring poetry, so stay tuned for those results.

Have a colorful day

Sunday, February 10, 2013

And the winner is ...


... Lucky Linda wins the seed bead book! Congratulations!

Have a colorful day

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beading the mandala

I hope you're not getting sick of seeing this mandala project, but I finally started adding the beads! I found these orange-lined translucent drop beads in my stash and decided they were perfect for a start. They remind me of orange dew drops.

Look at how the drop beads stand up and cast nice shadows. That's exciting! (It doesn't take much.)

My friend Barb made this pottery dish. I normally use it in the kitchen, but I thought my beads deserved an artistic resting place while they're waiting their turn. I also made my annual thread order from Laura Wasilowski, who sells her fabulous hand-dyed embroidery thread at Here's what came in today's mail from Laura:

Hope this gives you a good color fix. Also, remember to enter a comment in the previous post if you want a chance to win "Getting Started With Seed Beads." I'm picking the winner on Saturday!

Have a colorful day

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bead book giveaway

Hi everyone. It's time to give away the last of the three books that Interweave Press generously sent me to review. I've thoroughly enjoyed this one -- my kind of bright colors and I've always liked Dustin's projects when I've seen them in bead magazines. The book is:

Getting Started With Seed Beads
by Dustin Wedekind

I already know a lot about seed beads, so when I read the book I snapped into my editor mode, looking for errors and omissions. I didn't find any. I liked the way the book was organized, starting with a history of seed beads and explaining how to shop for and organize your supplies. This is a good introduction for beginners.

The projects start with an easy technique for attaching beads to little tins and get progressively more advanced. He covers all of the basic stitches and gives you interesting projects (mainly jewelry) to make with each stitch. There are even a few projects that involve beading on fabric. Some of the stitches are netting, peyote, ladders, right angle, brick and tubular herringbone.

I was going to try this "Supple Tiles Necklace" but haven't gotten around to it yet. I have started on a beaded tin, though, using double-sided craft tape. The tin will make a good travel kit for my embroidery and beading supplies. If I didn't have to give this book away, I'm sure I'd dive into it many times over the years for inspiration or to actually (gasp) follow directions! 

Leave a comment ...

for a chance to win it. I'll pull a name this weekend. If you can't figure out how to comment, you can email me at

Good luck!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Field trip! Shipwreck Beads

I'm making good progress on the embroidery on my mandala, but I decided I needed some new beads for it. (As if I don't already have a ton.) What better excuse for a little trip down I-5 (I hate driving on I-5) to Lacey, WA, where Shipwreck Beads has a massive store.

Here it is. All I really needed was some nice gold beads, because I truly do already have a ton in just about every color. But since I love to use gold, I'm almost out and needed more.

 But first I had to get past the pearls ...

... the chunky interesting rocks ...

... and about an acre of seed beads, findings and books.

The prices were too good to be true, so I ended up with a little more than I had planned. I got this pretty pile of seed bead hanks (above) and this string of big chunky white magnesite (below) with outstanding crackles and pits! I just googled magnesite and see that it's a strong stone for creative visualization and imagination as well as being relaxing, calming and having a soothing vibration. And it was only about $3 for a 15-inch strand!

String of magnesite beads.

This whole hank of sunflower seed beads was only $1.97 and it perfectly matches the orange in the mandala. For one Starbucks venti iced mocha I could get two hanks and have change left over. I bought a few more than two and still got an iced mocha on the way home.

Back up I-5 and safely tucked away in Gig Harbor again, I took some photos today of a sailboat race. I'm only showing you these because of the link with Shipwreck Beads ... ship, sailboat, get it? The pink sail and red kayaks were breaths of fresh air amidst all the white and grey.

Hope you enjoyed the field trip, and ...

Have a colorful day