The Colors of Nature, Art Piece # 121

The Colors Of Nature, AP 121

Eco Dyeing:

In 2019 I attended a class led by Lisa Binkley. The subject of the class was eco dyeing. Put simply, eco dyeing is a process used to dye fabrics or paper using plant material. During the class we experimented with a variety of techniques. From those explorations I harvested several specimens. The center strip of this composition was taken from one of my dyed fabrics.


The eco dyed material was layered on top of turquoise wool. Beneath that is a fringed section of burlap. A row of stitching was added near the edges of the burlap to prevent further unraveling. Borders of a floral print fabric, a blue material with a bed spring design and a solid grey were added for interest.


To add a touch of flair I stitched a row of hand stitching around the perimeter of the eco dyed fabric. Also added were random black French knots. I also stitched around the outer edges of the floral petals and centers. Densely populated French knots were stitched in the middle of the flowers. The blue fabric printed with abstract bed springs received special attention too. Following the outlines of the faux bed springs I added a running stitch with a matching colored thread. The grey fabric was also quilted; running along the inner edges I stitched a simple straight stitch.

To polish off this extra special composition I hand stitched my signature in the bottom right corner and added a silver dragonfly embellishment. I also made a jazzy label for the back. The lettering of the label was hand stitched with earthen colored thread. A decorative row of stitching adorns its outer edges. A hanging sleeve made from the same grey fabric as the outermost border was attached to the back of my fiber art piece with blue hand stitching. In its finished form, The Colors of Nature measured 14 1/4” x 28”.

Before selecting a name for this unusual art quilt I paused for a moment to take in the details as well as the overall appearance. Through my observations I took note of the colors, techniques and special features. All of them brought back memories of my wanderings outdoors. I chose to recognize the varied colors exhibited by nature as the inspiration for this piece.

The exhibit:

This item was included in an exhibit at the UW Madison Arboretum. Mary Oliver and her poems was the theme of the show.

If you gaze at the center area of the art quilt you will find an imprint left from leaves used during the eco printing process. These images remind me of the leaf in Mary Oliver’s poem titled “Autumn Leaves.” Mary refers to the leaf as “Shining-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.” In my eco printed fabric the scattered leaf images seem as if they are aloft, “cheerful as birds” floating through the air as Mary’s “Shinning-Leaf.”

Needing one, I invented her –

the great-great-aunt dark as hickory

called Shinning-Leaf, or Drifting-Cloud

or The-Beauty-of-the-Night.

Dear aunt, I’d call into the leaves,

and she’d rise up, like an old log in a pool,

and whisper in a language only the two of us knew

the word that meant follow,

and we’d travel

cheerful as birds

out of the dusty town and into the trees

where she would change us both into something quicker –

two foxes with black feet,

two snakes green as ribbons,

two shimmering fish – and all day we’d travel.

At day’s end she’d leave me back at my own door

with the rest of my family,

who were kind, but solid as wood

and rarely wandered. While she

old twist of feathers and birch bark,

would walk in circles wide as rain and then

float back

scattering the rags of twilight on fluttering moth wings;

or she’d slouch from the barn like a gray opossum;

or she’d hang in the milky moonlight

burning like a medallion,

this one dream, this friend I had to have,

this old woman made out of leaves.

Autumn Leaf By Mary Oliver

Let’s look at photos of my finished project.

The Colors Of Nature, AP 121
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121
The Colors Of Nature, AP 121, Detail
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121, Detail
The Colors Of Nature, AP 121 Dragonfly
The Colors Of Nature, Art Piece # 121, Dragonfly

Last A Life Time:

I had a wonderful time in Lisa’s class, dyeing my fabrics, creating my one-of-a-kind art quilt and participating in the special exhibit. The adventures will have a lasting impact on my life for years to come.

thank you!

Before closing let me thank you for showing an interest in my activities. I am grateful for your participation and look forward to your comments.

Best wishes for a wonderful day!

Relaxed Fit, Art Piece 112

What do you think of when you hear the words relaxed fit? For me it conjures up a comfy pair of denim blue jeans. Now what do those two words have to do with the art piece I am about to reveal? Read on and you will see.

June, 2019 I had the opportunity to attend QSDS (Quilt, Surface and Design Symposium) at the college of arts in Columbus, Ohio. It was the second time I attended their summer program. One of the instructors I chose to study under was Lisa Binkley. Lisa is a fiber artist from Wisconsin. She is well known for her eco-dyed fabrics, elaborate beading and hand stitching. Even though I know Lisa personally and can visit her locally I decided to attend her two-day class.

The name of her class was In the Boro Sprit. If you have read my last two posts about additions to my portfolio then you are aware of my recent exposure to the technique known as Boro stitching. The posts A Boro Collage, Art Piece # 110 and Black, White and Gray, Art Piece # 111 both discuss items I have made following that practice.

During Lisa’s class she discussed the characteristics of a Boro item, shared examples of its application and gave demonstrations of the stitching. During the remainder of the class we applied our knowledge by creating our own brand new art piece.

Along with items from our own inventory we were encouraged to include specimens from Lisa’s array of fabrics. One of the items I decided to include was from a pair of my old blue jeans. The jeans, well-worn and tattered from hours of use, had the label containing the trade brand of Relaxed Fit. Lisa often uses labels from discarded clothing to embellish her projects. Following in my teacher’s footsteps, I too decided to do the same. The label caught my eye because it reminded me of the relaxed nature (raw-edged appearance) of the scraps that would potentially be added to my piece. From that moment on I just knew it would receive a predominant place on my art quilt.

Relaxed Fit was assembled using pieces of denim from my old blue jeans (you can still see the stains from hours of gardening on my knees), sections of eco-dyed fabrics I made while attending one of Lisa’s other classes, scraps of silk organza leftover from previous projects, segments of lace harvested from larger items, fragments of old neck ties, hints of the old quilt secured on the back, and kantha cloth I purchased from the internet (kantha cloth is fragments of old saris layered on top of one another then hand-stitched together). Sandwiched beneath my fabric design is a section of an old quilt I rescued from oblivion years ago.

The many layers that comprise my fiber art piece were hand-stitched together using complimentary colors of Perle cotton thread. No attempt was made to hide knots either on top, inside or on the bottom of my art quilt. In some places threads were deliberately unraveled and left to dangle freely. As you peruse the surface of the quilt you will also discover lengths of Perle cotton that extend beyond anchoring knots. They too add elements of design not seen in a typical quilt. Surrounding all four sides is a binding of black cotton fabric.

A glance at the back of this amazingly unique art piece reveals the erratic twists and turns taken by my stitching. Without the distraction of multi-colored fabrics, the individual stitches are allowed to exude their own art element. Also included on the back is a fabric sleeve for hanging as well as a label with identifying features. This unique one-of-a-kind fiber art piece is incredibly soft. The nature of the used fabrics combined with the backing of the old quilt meld together to create the pleasing softness.

All of the distinguishing features of Relaxed Fit, Art Piece # 112 have made this an art piece that outshines any other.

This fiber art piece has made a wonderful addition to my portfolio. I am so grateful that you were here to join in my reveal.

With warm wishes for a wonderful day!

Solo Art Exhibit

Late in 2018 I received an invitation from Gael, the owner of Blue Bar Quilts in Middleton, Wisconsin, to display my art quilts in a solo exhibit. My response, after overcoming the shock, was absolutely! September of this year was set aside for my event. Yesterday the two of us sorted through, organized and put on display 64 of my art pieces. The experience was exhilarating!

I am overjoyed to proudly announce the official opening of my solo art exhibit titled Transformation. The event will run from September 1, 2019, until September 30, 2019. A reception with refreshments will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2019, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Please stop by on the 14th to say hello and share in my excitement. I would love to see you. If you are able to stop by during the exhibit, please don’t forget to sign my guest book and leave a few comments.

Before departing I must say thank you to the individuals that have had an impact on my art. First on my list is Gael from Blue Bar Quilts. Thank you Gael for giving me this awesome opportunity! Your interest in my art has brought me so much joy! Next I would like to extend appreciation to the individuals that have had a profound impact on my journey. They are Rayna Gillman, Lisa Binkley, Judy Coates Perez, Pam Beal, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Susan Carlson, Cindy Grisdela, Heidi Parkes, and Maday Delgado. Your amazing talent has helped me to expand my horizons and become the artist I am today. The last and most important person is my husband Gary. Without his unconditional encouragement and financial backing I never would have had this opportunity.

Now, make plans to visit Blue Bar Quilts some time between September 1 – September 30, 2019, to observe my solo art show and of course do a little shopping.