Archive for the ‘Materials’ Category

Trolley Needle

Monday, September 9th, 2013

I was researching embroidery techniques and ran across reference to a Trolley Needle. Appeared quite useful, so I ordered one.

Trolley Needle

The tool is used for keeping thread flat and in order when doing needlework. I will not be able to use it for a few weeks because I sustained a repetitive stress injury of my hand and wrist.

Another item that I keep in my tool chest is gaffer tape. I wrap it around the edge of hardware cloth to prevent snags and frays of fiber and my hands. I like that it sticks nicely but does not leave a sticky residue.

Gaffer Tape

These are a few panels in progress that may be part of a triptych.

Needlework In Progress

Trolley Needle

Gaffer Tape

Mayo Clinic Repetitive Stress Injury

Baylor Health Repetitive Stress Injury

Vintage Wavers As Potential Art Material

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

While cleaning and clearing out stuff in my studio I ran across a small bag of vintage wavers. They were a gift from my grandmother in the late 70s. I had always thought that she had naturally wavey hair.

I can’t remember the number of times that I packed and unpacked that little bag of wavers. Always saving them because they were a gift. Rather than taking a photo and discarding them, I decided to use them in my work.

Here’s what happened—had just read a blog post about making rope vessels on The Red Thread. Then I was looking through my stash of fiber and there was some beautiful nettle.

Wavers, Rope Vessels, Nettle.

Made loops on either end of the first batch of wavers and attached them loop into loop and a twist. Started binding and stitching the wavers together leaving the frayed ends exposed.


Gray Detail

 Gray Inside

Gray Outside

There were enough wavers to make three small pieces, one with gray wavers and two with brown.

The wavers were wrapped and bound with nettle fiber, while leaving the ends for interest. The technique is similar to looping.

Brown 1 Process

Brown 1 Detail

Brown 1 Interior

Brown 1 Exterior

A box will be built for the two similar pieces and the third which is more cup-like will most likely be attached to a base to become a goblet.

Brown 2 Outside

Brown 2 Inside

Hemp was substituted for nettle in the cup piece. The hemp has been unused in my stash for several years because it always seemed too stiff to use in previous pieces. It was softened a bit by running a length a couple of times over the edge of my work table.

0703 Piece in Progress

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

This is a birthday celebration piece. The cream side contains the originally date of birth. The green side is the day with the current year. Morse Code is used with green cord substituted for dashes and rust cord for dots.

20130703 Birthday Front

The date begins in the upper left and works around clockwise.

Morse Code Layout

Planning to wax the entire piece to add some age and to keep everything in its proper place.

I have been dinking around with various ways to finish off the backs of pieces. The back is needed to complete the piece. Even if you cannot see the back it does exist. And I don’t want the wall showing through if there is open stitch work.

Recently I have been using starched burlap because I can stitch in title, date of piece, and my name in code.

20130703 Birthday Back

This is the first time adding strands of cord to the back with the intent of using the piece rather like a loom. Still deciding if I want to give that a try.

Since the waxing should only take a couple of hours I have plenty of time before my July 3rd deadline to make the decision.

20130703 Birthday Detail

Hardware Cloth, Cotton Fiber, Metal, 1954 Penny, Rebar Ties

9.5″ x 8.5″ x .75″
Depth may change if I decide to build a frame/box as part of the piece.

Rebar ties make for a nice hanger. I bought the bundle years ago thinking they would be a great art material. Tried using them several ways, but they haven’t revealed themselves to me as of yet. So, I have been using them for hangers for some small pieces.

Rebar Ties

Celebration 50th Birthday Piece In Progress

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Sometimes when I begin a project I make a layout in Flash. By making symbols for each letter and number I can quickly compose a layout while preventing errors in the code.

Vertical Layout 1963

Vertical Layout 05111963

Horizontal Layout 2013

Horizontal Layout 05112013

1963 and 2013

Horizontal 2013 Over Vertical 1963

1963 and 2013

Layout With Dated Pennies

The piece is composed of wool, cotton, pennies, hardware cloth, burlap, and starch.

Piece in Wool

The knotted piece connects two pennies (1963 and 2013) is to be hung next to the woven piece. There is a sentiment in Morse Code substituting knots for dots, dashes, and spacers. Grey knots represent dots, cream knots represent dashes, and rust knots are used as spacers between letters of words and larger spaces between words.

Detail 1963 and 2013 Pennies

Detail of component to hang next to woven piece.

The next part of the process is to construct a cedar box/frame. The woven piece will probably be attached with brads. I haven’t decided on the hanger for the knotted component.

Celebration–A Mixed Media Piece

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

I am in the process of completing a personal project to celebrate the 40th birthday of a family member. I saw an image of nautical flags used for code and liked the idea of each flag representing a letter of the alphabet. I decided to make my own alphabet of stitched pieces for each letter of the alphabet, numbers from 0 to 9, and two types of spacers. I have included images of the actual stitched blocks that I used for this project. The blocks are composed of a piece of 1/4″ hardware cloth, a piece of starched burlap, and cotton embroidery floss.

I attached the blocks vertically together with jump rings just to get a notion of how they would look. Each block is approximately 1.5″ x 1.75″ and the spacers are .75″ and .5″ in height which makes the pieces if stitched together approximately 1.5″ wide and 63″ in height.


While the jump rings are a visual distraction, I do like the the vertical arrangement. When I decide for sure, I will build a narrow cedar box/frame to house the blocks. Currently the plan is to wax the blocks and attach them to the inside of the box with brads.

Block 0

Block Number 0

Block 1

Block Number 1

Block 2

Block Number 2

Block 3

Block Number 3

Block 4

Block Number 4

Block 7

Block Number 7

Block 9

Block Number 9

Block A

Block Letter A

Block B

Block Letter B

Block C

Block Letter C

Block D

Block Letter D

Block E

Block Letter E

Block H

Block Letter H

Block I

Block Letter I

Block L

Block Letter L

Block O

Block Letter O

Block R

Block Letter R

Block S

Block Letter S

Block T

Block Letter T

Spacer 1

Spacer 1

Spacer 2

Spacer 2

Unexpected Connections To The Past

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Tim and I went to grad school at WSU in Pullman. Friday He rang me to say he was on his way to Pullman. One of his former students was having their thesis show. We caught up and reminisced. I can’t believe that it has been 20 years since I had my thesis show.

On Saturday I received a letter and the following newspaper clipping from Mark, my friend from my days at Ohio State. He saw the article and remembered how excited I would get whenever I opened a kiln to see what the kiln gods gave me.

Soda-Fired Article

Hearing from Tim, reading Mark’s letter, and seeing Dustin Harris’ soda-fired piece brought back memories of my own past firing experiences and my year as a research assistant working for Ann Christenson on her vapor glazing project.

Phone call and letter, coincidence and connections. I am fortunate to have such thoughtful friends.

Ann’s Work

More of Ann’s work can be viewed on her website.

Tim’s Work

An image from Tim’s Figures in Landscape series. You can see more on his website.

Dustin Harris Piece

More of Dustin Harris’ work can be seen here.

Cracked and Melted Glass

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I subscribe to several craft blogs so that I am never short of ideas for craft projects while visiting my niece and nephew. Occasionally, I will read about a technique or material that might be reworked for a project that I might want to make. A few days ago I read a post about cracked glass stones on the Dollar Store Crafts blog. The instructions were simple–oven temperature 425º for 20 minutes and then an ice bath.

I liked the idea of it, heating glass stones and then immersing them in ice water for a rapid cooling. This is not all that different from raku firing, remove work from a hot kiln, then cooling it quickly in a bucket of water. Quenching after raku firing is more dramatic, but a similar notion.

I thought that I would give it a try. Picked up a bag of glass stones at the local Dollar Tree. Surprised to find 100 stones in the bag.

Glass Stones Before

I lined the baking sheet with paper and spaced the stones a finger width apart.

Glass Stones After

The paper liner came in handy to lift and pour the hot stones into the ice bath.

Glass Stones in Ice Bath

Stones in the ice bath.

Glass Stones Cracked

The result is some nice and at times subtle fractures.

What are my plans? I was thinking about the possibility of using fractured glass bits as part of code in some of my work. I could use the color of the stones or the method for binding them to act as an aesthetic element which is also code.

I got to thinking about some tests that I did in a kiln firing with metal tins and glass beads. I had a bunch of beads left from some craft projects and thought might be able to somehow use them.

Glass Beads Fired in Kiln

Glass beads with a bit of metal mesh in tin fired to approximately cone 015.

Glass Beads and Pins Fired in Kiln

Glass beads and straight pins in tin fired to approximately cone 015.

I was hoping for some slumping of the glass over the metal bits. That didn’t happen, but there is always something positive with every test. Something to use in a different way or to build on. Sometimes I may not integrate the results into a project for several years. It is important to keep records. It saves a lot of time and testing in the future.

See A Penny Jute Border

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

Before adding the jute border.

See Penny Before Jute Border

After adding the jute border.

See Penny After Jute Border

Corner Detail.

See Penny After Jute Border

Need to add some more jute stitches to the corners and then the piece will be ready for aging.

My New Favorite Tool… a thimble

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I always had one of those metal thimbles in my sewing box. Never used it. I liked the look of it, but it didn’t really fit and felt bulky.

I recently ran across a silicone and metal thimble. Since I have been doing a lot of stitch work I decided to try it.

Thimble View 2

The thimble is comfortable and is great for pushing the needle through my work.

Thimble View 1

After several hours of work, I went to the kitchen for a snack. Started washing my hands and there it was. Had actually forgotten that I was wearing it.

It sure beats using pliers to pull the needle through my work. I suspect using the thimble will also extend the life of my needles.

Clover Protect and Grip Thimbles

Potentially Dangerous Can Be Beautiful

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I recently snagged some Oleander pods from the parking lot of a neighborhood restaurant. In California it is common to have plantings in parking lots.

Oleander has a reputation for killing people and animals. Some stories have a valid science component, others lean toward myth and urban legend.

The pods I snagged have dried and opened exposing their lovely seeds.

Oleander Pod with Seeds

Why did I snag the seed pods? I use poison plant bits in my work. Some of the bits that I use are from plants banned in a few states. The reason for the ban is reactionary. A couple of kids decide to get high, use too much, have a bad reaction, and the plant is held responsible.

Each of the cups in my Poison Cup series has a small bag of bits from poisonous plants. These are a few of the bags included in the series.

Seed Bags

The title of the series is actually Preservation. While the cups refer to the tea ceremony and poison goblets, the cups have been perforated making them a nice vessel for seedlings.


Treat with Respect contains the seed bag in the upper right corner of the above graphic.
The bag contains 11 Castor Bean seeds.

Additional image of the series can be seen on my website.

Nerium (Oleander)

Fatal Wienie Roast

Oleander Poisoning


The Poison Garden Website

The Merck Veterinary Manual