patience is a virtue or my babushka's tablecloth

How's that for a confusing title? I'll explain... I inherited several tablecloths from my grandmother, all in various states of disrepair. My babushka was the ultimate recycler, these table cloths are full of patches and mending. Anyone else would have thrown them out eons ago. I, on the other hand, have decided that they will make perfect base cloths for the rest of my Pagan series.

Two weeks ago I started painting the first one with Prismacolor water-soluble crayons. I start by sketching my basic design on the cloth, then spray it with water, wait for the colors to come a live and blend together and then let it dry. I steam iron it to set and start all over again until I reach my desired result. By the time I reached that stage with this tablecloth it had become quite holey... So I pinned it to batting and now I am in the process of mending all the holeyness with my favorite variegated cotton threads. I didn't like the pictures I took of my process up to this point so I'll have to do that better next time, meanwhile here are some pictures of mending in progress. This could be a long process as I do this in my down time usually in the evening in front of the TV. Good thing the batting is wool, it'll keep me warm through the season.

After my playdate with Vivien the other day, I decided to paint the second
tablecloth differently. I also didn't want to waste any paint.. I made several layers of fabric, various pieces of muslin, silk chiffon, silk crepe de chine and cotton sateen. On top I put my tablecloth folded in half, partly because I wanted to have two somewhat matching halves when I was done and partly because my table could only fit half. (I learned the original painting method from Sonji Hunt's blog a long time ago and have tailored it to my needs. Thanks Sonji!) I sprayed the whole sandwich with water and let it sit for an hour or so until it soaked through, then started painting with Jacquard Dye-na-flow paints, just my usual swirls and curls on a giant scale. I sprayed it with water and then added some dots and doodles with the Jacquard Textile paints. Then sprayed with water again and let sit for another hour. Good melding of colors started to occur.Then I again painted into it with various swirls and dots using the textile paints. When I decided I was done, I went to town with my spray bottle (industrial size) and soaked everything again. Look at the lovely blending that started to appear. And this is were the "patience is a virtue" part comes in. You've got to let this whole thing sit until it's almost dry to achieve the effect I desired. No peeking until it starts to dry and even then only a tiny bits can be picked up for a look so you don't disturb the process. I was greatly rewarded this morning, here's the tablecloth and take a look at each progressive layer as I peeled it back - gorgeous I think... and look at those lovely drips.. and here's the top layer table cloth unfolded and ironed. Most of these fabric will be used as a back ground for other projects, some I might just embelish for small works and mostly they will look quite different when I am truly done with them, but if you look closely you will be able to pick out the original details.. I'll keep ya updated..


She is done, finished, finito! My pagan goddess, Mokoscha is complete... I really enjoyed working on her, but I am so glad she's done. She was a tough gal this one, always demanding more, just as I thought I'd be close, she'd want more this or that.. guess that's the problem with working intuitively... But she finally announced that she was complete. So she is photographed, cataloged and is off the design wall, resting comfortably on rack covered with muslin...

Now here the problem - I was all ready to put an image of her here... but... I am chicken. What if I decide to enter her in a juried show that has a problem with previous publication even on the artists own blog? Now I don't know yet if I will enter her in such a show, I haven't quite decided what she is worthy of... So I apologize for the tease, but I am going to hold off showing the whole of her yet. Here some detail shots that will fill you in a bit and if you'd like to see all of her maybe you can come to my house... or wait for the show...

brrr....hello february...

Nasty today on the East Coast... ice storm this morning.... brrr.... but none the less it's been a good day so far. I started off with a good visit with one of my very good friends, even if I had to drive over mountainous icy roads to get to her. Well worth the visit, so nice to hang out with an old friend that I've been close to since we were twelve, surrounded by her three kids and one of mine. Bittersweet though, as she became a widow this Thanksgiving, and the heart still aches... I know mine still does, I can only imagine hers...
~ did everyone get the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine? My journals quilts are in it! Very exciting to be published once again. Check it out! Mine is the "Go Green" article on page 72, and do enter the challenge too. I can't wait to see the results of that one...I have been back at work on my pagan quilt, she demanded some hand stitching. So I have been at it for hours now, but I am relentless, I must get this done... I have so much new stuff brewing in my head, but I can't get started on it until this is done...

journal and collage progress

It has been a fruitful afternoon today and the day is not even over. I finished my journal quilt for the week - 3{52}calm... More paper towels in this one, inside of a potato chip bag, a piece of tissue paper, and a tiny piece of chiffon. All hand stitched with cotton variegated thread from Oliver Twists and silk thread.

I also made some progress with the collages from the last post, I did some free-hand machine embroidery on them, very sketchy. I am pretty happy with the way they are turning out so far, I plan to start hand stitching them this evening.
Remember my pagan quilt that I grand plans on finishing before the end of the year? That did not happen of course, life got in the way... But I have been dreaming about it a lot and mulling it over as it hangs there on my design wall and I actually got a few stitches into it today. I think that next week I'll get a chance to work on it some and I'll share pictures then. I thought about setting a goal of finishing it before the end of January, but decided against it, I don't feel like I can rush this one, it needs to happen at it's own pace....

and now on a warmer note... борщ

That's borscht for those who cannot read Russian... is it nesting? what is it about the cold weather that inspires one to cook hearty soups? This is the heartiest soup that I know how to make, not that I know too many. I always make too much of this, seems the recipe never works right if I just make a little. That's OK though, we share with the neighbors and freeze some individual portions for later.I am finished, done, finito with the Russian school Christmas pageant costumes. Here they are ready to go, almost looks like I am back in the costume business again, eh? I do miss those days sometimes... Although back then I didn't make too many frog, dog, wolf, bear, warthog, fox, and snowflake costumes all kid size.

I even had a chance to fiddle a little with my pagan quilt. It keeps talking to me as I spend time looking at it while working on other stuff. Now it wants more... well maybe tonight...

journal quilt x 2

Thanks to my friend Jane, I can finally post a picture of my journal quilt that went to Houston recently. Somehow I neglected to get a finished picture of it before I sent it. Thank you Jane!

So here it is - Mokoscha...
...and here's the statement that went with her:

"A Page from My Book: Journal Quilts 2007 - Journal Quilt Project

I found out about the QuiltArt List too late. I wish I had known about the Journal Quilts Projec
t, that's reason enough to have joined years ago. Alas that's not to be, and so I am here making up for lost time.

Although I was happy with the rules of this project and really loved pouring over the book and reading all the techniques available to me, this quilt was a struggle to make. It was rather overwhelming - all the choices.

I finally started on it by choosing a base cloth. I thought that if I started with something that held a lot of meaning to me, the quilt would speak to me and tell me what to do. The base cloth is a very old holey linen shaving towel that my father used for many years and then I had used as a blotter in my art school days
. Then I thought that this would be a perfect place to start toying with a subject that has been increasingly more interesting to me over the last few years. It's been brewing in my head, but nothing had yet come of it in cloth - might as well start now. That subject is Russian paganism; it has always been fascinating to me to see glimpses of it in Russian culture and Russian Orthodox Christianity. I had been researching it for a while, and decided to start with the only known female deity from ancient Russian mythology. Mokoscha is the goddess of woman's work, childbearing, darkness, water, and spinning. She might even be a representation of Mother Earth. And this is how she appeared to me..."

Creative Quilting techniques that were used: free-motion machine work (p.23); used scrap that had been used as a blotter while painting (p.101); rubbed with Shiva Paintstiks® (p.201); layered sheers (p.251)

So what you see above is my first foray into Paganism, as you know I am working on m
y other piece now. She is also Mokoscha, just a different view of her, and I have to admit she'd haunting me, a third view of her has already appeared in my head.

Oh while we are on the journal subject - here's 45/52 my journal quilt for this week.
This is recycling in a major way for me: a paper towel that I used as a blotter for painting, a shimmery clear wrapping plastic and fabric scraps from the girls head bands with a little silk thread thrown in for good measure. This was hard to photograph head on, thus a an angled view which in my opinion lets one see the texture better anyway...

inspiration and paganism

I wanted to share some more of the things that inspire my art. Above is the ironwork on one of the numerous bridges in St. Petersburg. Below is a mosaic from the Church on Spilt Blood also in St. Petersburg.

This is the interior of St. Basils Cathedral in Moscow's Red Square. It dates from the 15th century. And below is another woodcut that fascinated me at St. Petersburg's Ethnographic Museum.
And here are three close-ups of details from my pagan quilt. I have started using the Shiva Paintstiks® on it and am quite happy with the results. Last night I brought it to the SAQA meeting in Somers for a critique. I was very very flattered with all the complements, everyone was very nice. And I hate to say this, but I was a bit disappointed because I did want to hear some criticism. There are things in this piece that are glaringly wrong, despite me being happy with the general outcome, but no one said a word about them.. OK I'll shut up now... I really do appreciate the compliments....

lifus interruptus...

I had grandiose plans for this week, but life interrupted... the kids got sick.... dinner party loomed close and needed planning and cooking... all that puts the brakes on the art production.... But! now everything is as ready as it's going to be until tomorrows rush and the kids are asleep, so here's a quick look at some things I did get accomplished...First is the dry chiffon for the back of the pagan quilt. I am quite happy with the way it came out, very earthy. And below a detail of all the free-hand machine embroidery on the front.Here is the fabric I painted for the new colorway of the Sketched Fairytales. The first picture is the wet, freshly painted cotton sateen and the second is it dried and ironed. This will get fused to a batting and plenty of stitching will happen in the near future.
Good night!

and now for a pagan tease...

This week I spent a big chunk of time working on my pagan quilt. These "in progress under the needle" pictures are actually not quite up to date, as I did tons more free-hand machine embroidery in all of those empty spaces. As most of my works, this is quite heavily stitched. Today I painted some chiffon, hopefully tomorrow I will get to attach it to the back. It won't be quite as dark as you see it here, this is sopping wet at the moment. I am waiting for it to get a bit more dry on it's own before I throw it into the dryer. And then, I am afraid this piece will have to hang out on my wall and wait for me and the Shiva Paintstiks®. I have a few other projects that need to jump ahead of the line... One of them is the new colorway for my Sketched Fairytales Fiber jewelry. I started painting some fabric for it today while I was painting the chiffon. I'll post more pictures of that painting tomorrow.

pay it forward

As I was browsing Planet Textile Threads yesterday I saw something interesting - Pay It Forward. First I thought of the movie by that name a few years ago, which I wasn't too excited about. But this concept intrigues me, so I am game.

I will send a handmade gift to the first three people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don't know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise. The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on you blog.

I joined PIF after visiting Annica's blog and coveting her lovely embroideries.

The image above is a tease... I am working on the second piece in my Russian Paganism series (the first was my journal quilt for Houston which I will reveal on Nov. 1st hopefully) and it's moving along finally. I feel the need to get it done soonish because I have a few other ideas burning holes in me trying to get out...


During the last year I have increasingly become fascinated with Russian pre-Christian paganism. I have found no information about it in English at all, but did manage to find a few Russian history books that had some info. So I was very happy to finally get to the Russian Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg this summer. Paganism in Russia melded with Christianity in many ways, and even though Christianity eventually suppressed it, there are plenty of hints of paganism in decorative arts. I was very happy to find many examples of it on view.These are wood carvings from village izbas (cottages). I also saw many gorgeous textiles. I am using all this for inspiration in my newest series..... Maybe I'll have a preview in a few days depending how much time my kids allow me for work.