The Wrap

I have been following jude hilltextile artist Jude Hill for quite a few years now. She remains a dominant influence for me. Actually, I started this blog when I discovered her. I was going through a challenging time and I had to find a way to calm myself. I decided to sit myself down and hand stitch as a purposeful activity to relax my mind…to create calmness; and it worked.

She has videos on you tube that are wonderful. She often records herself talking about something important. Her writing reflects her thinking which to me is equivalent to beautiful poetry. Her writings are thought provoking.

Check out what she has going on at



The Zen of Eco Dying

For about a year I have been attempting to learn how to eco dye, eco print. It is a completely different world of wonder. I am not a planner, note keeper or otherwise. I like to play and experiment as I have no interest in repetition. Eco dying is perfect for me because, it is unpredictable. There are zillions of plants to try out. There are multiple combinations. It is too much effort for me to attempt to sort this out; thus, I am content to play.

My first attempts this winter were surprisingly good and easy; two good components.

I follow several people on Facebook that are eco dying and I belong to two Facebook Groups: Nature Artists and Printing Nature. The members are kind and very willing to answer questions. One of my favorites Facebook friends and eco dyer is: Kim Cowley (UK). She has a Facebook page as well: Kitchen Witch. She shares her results here.

I like to see the results people get; however, what I don’t see (much of) is the making of art or other beautiful things with it. A few people eco dye garments, some make books…which I love. These can be found in ETSY shops. Recently I saw photos from fashion shows with eco dyed garments….its catching on.

eco dying set up 1 eco dying set up 2Last month II decided to make a second attempt at eco dying. I was delighted to have good results again.

I have a perfect spot to do this. I set up tables and my equipment on a porch that opens from my laundry room to the outside (in the shade) complete with a clothes line.

Not every piece was good but I have enough to be happy with. The ordinary results have a place too….they are neutral more like solids and can be incorporated. The (few) true duds I pitch in the trash.

I have studied the fabrics from both sessions and have successfully combined some as compositions. I think the effects (alone) are art….simply art. Nothing needs to be added. Yet, I am compelled to add my personal touch with stitch (of course).

This piece is complete as a whole cloth, size 6″w x 11″ h. From the start I began stitching cautiously….because, I did not know at first what kind of stitches would look best or how much to do. I do not want to overwork a piece; this kills the natural energy in my opinion. So, ever so slowly I added stitching all the while considering the overall finished piece. As I worked at this (exaggerated slow) pace I realized that this is how I discover the paths to follow…which stitch, what color thread, placement etc. It is a conversation; I listen…responding respectfully. The evolution is like a (unspoken) conversation. Touching the surface with my hands and eyes simultaneously; feeling the qualities. This is ZEN…when I am quietly and patiently listening and responding; listening to the quiet. I found myself on the edge of the cliff several times contemplating about overworking.  These eco dyed fabrics call to me in a much more intimate manner. The qualities are genuine and pure which sets a totally different environment.

(I think) this piece is done….I may add a few French knots.

There is an imprint of a rusty key at the top horizontally. It is vague and is not defined enough yet….thus, I have to think of a stitch that will emphasize it just enough. Then there is the texture that develops between the stitches…is this distracting? Hopefully it is not.


The fabric is (new) white silk habotai, very light weight.  The silk was soaked in vinegar/water (1-1) overnight and  bundled with plant matter and a very old rusty key. The bundle was steamed for one hour and then left to cool for another whole cloth stitched full 1024

Moving onto some other eco dyed fabrics for more studying has lead to two more compositions which I am very happy with. It took a few hours trying various combinations, positions and scrutinizing; it was worth the effort.

The fabrics are from very old silk kimono which took the colors in a beautifully earthy way….the textures are rich and interesting, more than the silk habotai.

The second composition has two sections and is naturally contemporary which I think is a rather unique quality, 8″w x 13″h.

eco 2 300I love the simplicity. I will definitely converse quietly and sensitively with this one. I have begun to stitch already and I can see the fabric is firmer the stitches are sitting on top rather than biting deeper as in the pervious piece. Now I’m thinking about stitching minimally and utilize invisible stitches to secure the fabric over all.

The color of the thread is vitally important. I use mostly solid 6 strand embroidery floss; however I have some that is single strand hand dyed variegated colors that is especially beautiful to use on this one.

eco 1 300The third composition has three sections overlapped, 12″ w x 15″h. I like the natural effect of the torn edges instead of piecing; this is a subtle and natural divide. I use a slender strip of fusible web to adhere the layers, leaving the fine loose threads along the torn edge.

I don’t mind (small) holes that sometimes occur during eco dying.

The primary texture/design that I like the most from eco dying is the defined marks from the binding; either string or rubber bands. These are most interesting and somewhat graphic. The marks are less defined on the first silk piece because the silk is so fine.

So, how is all of this related to ZEN? The pace…slow, deliberate, quiet. Listening, feeling and embracing.

I would like to hear your comments. Do you like these effects and results?

Artful Mending

I discovered a new source for hand stitching SLOW FASHION STYLE. There is a face book group that focuses on this topic under the same name. It means to hand sew revealing the work artfully; instead of hiding or blending mending present it with pride.

This topic interests me very much. I tried my hand at this on my grandsons jeans. He had torn the knee completely across. This was the perfect subject to try. He asked for red thread. I like that. I put a new piece of denim under the hole, pinned it and stitched to attach it.

Here is an interesting video about what is going on in the UK with artful mending. VIDEO

Let me know what you think about this. Have you done any? I would like to see them. Double click the picture to see it large. Then zoom in to see the stitches. He loved them and put them on immediately. He had the biggest smile.

The knee mended with red thread.

The knee mended with red thread.

Update 2012

It has been a LONG time since I have posted here. I have been going through a personal struggle and got very side tracked. This struggle is gradually resolving and I am resurfacing.

Currently I am working on a body of work that is for an invitational show at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts gallery on Bainbridge Islan,d WA. The show is for the month of June with the inspiration from WATER.

I am delighted to have this opportunity and it was just what I needed to get my creative mind going again.

I posted a long story about all of this on my main website And, when I finished I realized that the piece I displayed qualifies as ZEN cloth and should be shown here as well.

Blue Lagoon

There are many fine details from hand stitched embroidery. My love of hand stitching is still very much alive and gives me much joy and satisfaction.

Blue Lagoon, detail

A second piece that is in the collection is primarily white. This one is minimalistic. An abstract seascape.

Serenity, 20×24″

The bottom multicolor strip is hand painted fabric paper. Layers of paper and dryer sheets painted with dye paints.

Serenity, detai

The show opens August 3rd. This is the “first Friday” opening. Wine and cheese is served. Please attend if you can!

Making Art For Friends

Making art for friends is wonderful.  Before I moved to Washington I had to say goodbye to a very close friend who I knew I would not see for a long time, if ever again.  I made a special hand stitched ZEN cloth for her.   Here is an image of it:

Both hand stitching and machine stitching are combined.  Beads are hand stitched as well.

This piece was made with a side panel and wrapped around a stretcher bar.  The backing and batting provided a padding against the hard edge of the wood.  The bars were sealed prior to prevent acid damage.

Needless to say, my friend loved this piece.