But is it ART…or is it MY art?

New blog is UP!!!

Oh what a cute little piece of vintage commercial fabric. I could see this design reworked with appliqued yo-yos and embroidery.I could use any commercial fabric of my choosing for the background, or I could use some of my hand dyed fabric for a more artsy look.  But then the questions arise. Is it my art quilt, a copy or an inspirational derivation?

What if I did nothing to the fabric except put a binding on it and some beads. Does that make it art? And if it makes it art, is it MY art?

If I want to submit it to an art show or a quilt show, can I honestly do that and call it MY ART or MY QUILT?

Recently I’ve had this very issue come up. When I asked what makes a commercial fabric that is simply bound and beaded art, I was told it is the artist’s hand that changed it, otherwise it is just fabric.  Ummmm…maybe ….

My response was that it is the artist who transforms any medium into art. But I don’t see binding and/or beading a commercial fabric enough to transform it into art….and especially not art that you can honestly present as your own work. You aren’t the designer of anything except the binding.  If you are beading the design it isn’t much more than paint by number.

I think this discussion goes far beyond a fiber artist using commercial fabrics for their art. Pamela Allen is a master at using commercial fabric and making art and there are many more.  With the ability to purchase  unique fabric from the designer who sells it on sites like Spoonflower, the chance of something being claimed as the fiber artist’s own art and design increases. I think it is dishonest and I wonder what you all think about it?

I know I’m outspoken and not afraid to enter into a spirited discussion about all things fiber and I hope you will let me know your views on this.  I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday this week.

Shark tooth

I’ve had an enjoyable few days. My son and his family were here for a visit. My granddaughter asked me to help her make  a pocket for her loose tooth.  Here is how the story goes and why she wanted a pocket for the tooth….

She had a shark tooth. That was a new one on me so if you don’t know what that is I’ll explain. Her permanent tooth is growing behind the loose tooth. She has been carrying a plastic zip lock bag in her backpack  just in case  the tooth fell out at school. And if she lost the tooth she might not get that big pay out from the tooth fairy. Remember, it doesn’t take much cash to inspire a 7-year-old. She had to have something to carry the tooth in until she got home and could transfer it to her tooth fairy pillow.

She drew a picture of what she wanted us to sew. Then we went into the studio so she could find the fabric she wanted to use. We found a yellow fabric with bright red cherries and a yellow dotted piece for the lining.  Instead of a pocket we made a little zipper pouch. She got some practice feeding the fabric through the machine so I could show her it wouldn’t eat her fingers.

Guess what happened a couple of hours after we finished the little pouch…the tooth fell out!  She decided she would put it under her pillow here with a note to the tooth fairy  that she hoped she would find her here at Grandma’s house.  And we all know that the tooth fairy can find a little girl or boy any place there is a tooth under a pillow. Ka-ching!!!

Deadnettle Day 2 Dyeing – Pickle Juice!

deadnettle day2a  copy

Above are the bundles from soaking overnight in the dye pot. Ron unwrapped one that was a white on white print. Because the print is vinyl, it never takes dye. You can see the top two are on plain muslin and took the dye well.  The next step was to add iron mordant to the pot and add some of these back in. Amazing color shift. It even made some of the imprints from the plants stand out that you can see in the fabric on the right.

We left 2 bundled fabrics in the pot and will take them out tomorrow. Oh, it doesn’t smell like mint in the dye room. It smells distinctly like dill pickles!  Which is really what the color of green looks like…pickle juice!

deadnettle day 2b copy

Deadnettle Dye Pot


Do you have this weed in your yard or in a field near you?  It is Deadnettle, Lamium Purpureum for the purists, and winter weed for the layman. It is a member of the mint family.

Deadnettle - Lamium Purpureum

Deadnettle – Lamium Purpureum

Using Sasha Duerr’s book “The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes” I sort of followed the directions for dyeing with mint.  I say sort of because Ron and I used a bundling technique as an experiment rather than just making a dye pot. We  put the bundles into a stainless steel pot and simmered for 40 minutes with washing soda and alum in the water. Tomorrow we will see what it looks like after the water cools. We are hoping for a medium mint green color. If they are, some of the pieces will then be put with an iron mordant to see if we get a deeper green.  By the way, this is cotton fabric that was scoured and then wetted before bundling. We used a 1/1 concentration of plant to WOF [weight of fabric].

Wrapping the bundles

Wrapping the bundles

Ready for the pot

Ready for the pot

Art Walk at the Blackbird Cafe

In conjunction with TAO, The Art Odyssey, the artists on the studio tours in May were asked to display at the monthly music night at the Blackbird Cafe. There are 2 at a time and last night was my night.

I took a single table display with a few examples of what I do.  I thought it was enough. I expected browsers and maybe some chatting about fiber art since many people don’t know what it is.  “Surprise, surprise, surprise,” I said in my best Gomer Pyle voice.  It was definitely a $$$rewarding$$$ evening.

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Rescuing A Viking 6030 Sewing Machine

At the Humane Society thrift shop I found this Viking 6030 machine that was in parts. There was a plastic bag with all the pieces that someone in their intake shop had taken off the machine.  The story I was told  was that it didn’t run and they tried to fix it and decided to sell it for parts.  It was also very dirty, a slight cigarette smell…but it was only $5 and I knew that if I couldn’t get it back together and running that I could easily sell the carry case, foot control and extension table for a lot of cash on Ebay.

Since I had rescued a similar machine I knew that the biggest problem with the older Vikings is oil and grease that solidifies in the gears. If you try to run them it will crack the cam shaft and then it will only do a straight and zig zag stitch.  Sometimes they get stuck in reverse so someone will think there is a big problem.

As soon as I got home, I covered the dining room table and spread out all the parts. They had taken apart the bobbin winding mechanism that is also the reduction gear and attaches to the belt that drives the hand wheel. I had nothing to look at or figure out where all the parts went. There was even a tiny little ball bearing the size of a pin head! I was so lucky they put all these parts in the bag and nothing was lost.

After a few hours of putting it together and taking it apart just to put it back together a different way, I was ready to plug it in. The motor ran, the light worked and the controller gave it power. But none of the stitch dials moved and it ran hard. I quickly unplugged it and took the covers off so I could reach all the gears and drive bars. I liberally coated all of it with a silicone oil that melts the old grease.

This morning, I put thread in the reassembled machine and crossed my fingers. It runs perfectly!! I wish I had taken photos of the machine in parts but I hope you can appreciate that this wonderful machine was headed for the dump and now it has a new life.

Ron is so funny….he said I was the only person he knew who could spend $5 to have hours and hours of fun repairing and rescuing an old machine. It is cheaper than a movie and popcorn or even renting a DVD. I asked him if he wanted me to see if I could fix that damn light on the vintage Buick Regal that the mechanics can’t seem to fix. He told me to have at it! Hmmmmmmmm……


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viking in parts**** This is from another site but is basically what the parts looked like that I had to put back together. The guy who did this one at least knew where each part was supposed to go and didn’t have to do a hit or miss puzzle like I did.