Monday, July 20, 2020

Camouflage is the New Neutral

Camouflage is the perfect neutral and so versatile. And wearing it now is so apropos to symbolically fight against Covid 19, our invisible enemy.  

I created this dress and matching shawl with hand dyed merino roving, both dyed and hand painted silk and other textiles like mesh and jute. African trade beads line the neckline hanging from repurposed torn tee shirts.  

I have styled the dress with polka dot leggings and top by AMB Designs, boots by Walk, my hand made earrings, vintage bakelite bracelets and a felted camo cuff on my right wrist.

Camo purse with flap, inside pocket, and twisted leather strap. A few beads are almost hidden on the front flap.

The shawl as a skirt with the short poncho on top.

Hand dyed roving along with commercial roving on black 3 mm habotai.  

Wearing the shawl as a skirt along with a camouflage poncho.

Like a camo cocoon!

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Fiona Duthie's Separate Yet Connected Felting Challenge

We had to keep everything under wraps for a few months. But we can now share the felted pieces that we created for the on-line challenge 'Separate Yet Connected' that Fiona Duthie posed to her former students during this period of self isolation. Seems very apropos timing to now be able to share our creations just as we are crawling out of our cocoons to a slowly opening world. For details about my garment and to be blown away by the variety of felted projects and creativity generated by our felting community during this period of self isolation, go to:

I thank Fiona tremendously for her mentorship, friendship, inspiration, community and so much more. I have stretched and reached creatively during this time of self isolation with gratitute to Fiona.

To view the challenge projects in book form, click here:

For the challenge, I collaborated with Linda Armstrong (Ecolam Fibrearts), a felter that I met in 2017 at Felter's Fling, who lives in Ontario, Canada thousands of miles away from my home in Long Beach, California. We have developed a wonderful friendship and even now months after our collaboration for Fiona's challenge, we have collaborated on several additional projects and text and talk just about every day. Having Linda by my "Separate Yet Connected" side during the Covid crisis has been invaluable. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Abstract Silk Painting

I always thought silk painting was an old ladies' hobby.  Not that I'm denigrating old ladies, I am one as a matter of fact.  But when I think of painting on silk, I conjure up images of old ladies wearing babushkas or sophisticated women from the late 50's donning a flowered headscarf to cover their hair while driving around in a convertible. Both dated or so I thought.  

But according to 2ofakindmag, "Truth is this simple piece of cloth is very versatile, sending out the mixed messages of being the style of monarch and peasant woman alike, of elderly and young sleek lady, both having a bad hair day. Also, as we are living in a period where all boundaries are blurred, headscarves knotted in babushka or whatever style are ideally fitting young blokes as well! Not only it’s now fashionably acceptable but it feels so fresh and exciting that we are sure that it will soon be an off-catwalks favourite. And with its ‘one size fits all’ appeal, this is a catwalk trend that genuinely transcends fashion’s usual boundaries."

Whether or not you are ready to be a fashion icon wearing a headscarf, there are so many ways to paint and use silks.  I personally love painting bold abstracts.  I use the painted pieces in my felted garments as well as adorning myself and my home. I am so lucky to have learned silk painting from Ellen Baker and to open up my world to exploding color and fun.

 Use a scarf as a bathing suit coverup or drape over an ottoman or a table.  Maybe get it stretched over a piece of canvas and hang it where you want to display a big piece of art.  Go wild and use your imagination to conjure up new ways for a silk scarf. 

Margilan silk felted with prefelt pieces made with wool and hand painted silks.
Margilan silk with prefelts made with wool and hand painted silks.

My silk painting area which can easily be set up and torn down.

Nuno felted camouflage dress with hand painted silks
This painted Margilan silk was used to create the nuno felted camouflage dress.

Friday, May 1, 2020

The Ultimate Artist's Smock

This is the ultimate artist's smock.  And although you might not want to wear it for painting, it is so cool with all its pockets which literally could hold all your tools.  But what a garment to wear for traveling if we ever get that chance again.  You can pocket your cell phone, keys, wallet, passport and even keepsakes and talisman,
Ever since I got back from Ellen Baker's silk painting workshop on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, I have been obsessed with painting silk and using them in felted garments.  And although I did not have the time to also take Fiona Duthie's complex garment workshop which used the painted silks, I was just blown away and totally inspired by the gorgeous felted garments in their Color Collaborations exhibit which was located in the same hall as our silk painting class.  

I arrived home just days before countries started closing their borders and stay at home orders issued.  During this pandemic, I have had the time to create in my studio even more than usual.  With the extra time and Fiona's motivation from her on-line challenge (mums the word on what I made for the challenge but you will see it in a few months when the photos are published) and her direction to push and stretch ourselves artistically, I have been teaching myself how to make complex garments using multiple resists.  I have also been figuring out ways to make closures by using things like snaps and grommets.

I am loving painting silk using the method I learned from Ellen Bakker.

This garment took a lot of engineering and design effort including color placement for both the wool roving and silk fabric.  I first made a drawing of the front and back of the garment and then made multiple resists allowing for 35% shrinkage.  

I made felted beads and buttons from 4 layers of roving.

I placed grommets in the felt pieces to make them look more like buttons.  And then I threaded thin felted cords through them to close up the pockets.

Fun, colorful, graphic, freedom, pockets, swinging, sculptural - all ways to describe this complex garment.