Be Delighted

"Oh my my my my, what an eager little mind!"

Auntie Mame

Friday, February 2, 2018


I've been making lots of little fabric stuffed hearts lately, because it's close to Valentine's Day and because it's a quick, easy way to create a miniature fiber artwork from leftover fabrics, yarns, abandoned projects, samples of embroidery, crochet, lace, and saved scraps of ribbon.

I love helping other people create and express themselves too, so here's a basic instruction guide for a do it yourself heart using the 'captured threads' technique. If you're not handy with a sewing machine you can do it the old fashioned way with a needle and thread.

First create a simple heart template on paper or cardboard. They are easy to find by Googling free heart patterns or you can fold a piece of paper in half and remember your elementary school skills with a pair of scissors. It doesn't even have to be a perfect, symmetrical heart. I mean, have you looked at a real heart? It's a bit more lumpy, bumpy, but feel free to make your hearts as wonky as you like. My hearts are about 3.5 inches across

For the base on this example I used some leftover fabric from an ice dying workshop I attended, but any commercial fabric will do since for this technique of "thread capture" most of the heart will be covered, anyway, but pick a colour that will please you.

Gather various threads, yarns, slivers of ribbon, even chopped fabric in confetti sized pieces, and drape them across your cut out heart until you like the flow of the textures and colours. I save snipped threads in a jar for just such a purpose.

Cover the whole thing with a piece of tulle net. Try different colours of tulle. I had some dark blue, some pink, and some shimmery bronze. They sell them by the spool in the wedding supplies sections of craft stores. For this pink background the dark blue worked best.

Carefully stitch all around the edge of the heart using a matching colour of thread, either by machine or hand. This traps all the threads under the net. Cut away the excess net and thread all around the heart. Although, in my case, I liked leaving trails of thread floating out one side of the heart.

Cut out another heart for your backing. It can be the same fabric or something wild. Stitch the two hearts together over the other stitching but this time leave a one inch opening on one side of the heart. Use fluffy, soft filling designed for stuffed animals and stuff the heart. It doesn't take much. Make sure you poke the filling to each curve and point but don't overstuff.

After that, just stitch the opening shut and then find a nice bit of silk ribbon or yarn or twine and hand stitch to the back of the heart. I then embellish with sequins, beads or buttons, or even hand embroidery, over the tulle. Just remember to bury the thread back into the heart before snipping it off.  I often finish the edge of the hearts by brushing gold or silver metallic acrylic paint around the rough edges of the hearts. A beautiful finish for frayed edges. And done. Start to finish it takes about 45 minutes to an hour, but you're having so much fun it seems shorter.

I made a gold one too, using this technique, and a starry night, and a fish in the sea.

And if you make a lot of hearts they make a lovely display.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Clio's Texas Adventure

Our son, Ian, brought his girlfriend, Clio, home for Thanksgiving. She is a native New Yorker doing her PhD in Astrophysics at Berkeley, so mainly a coastal person. We decided to bring them to the middle and have a taste of Texas, especially as it's not summer, so therefore not 100 degrees outside.

First they flew to Dallas to spend some time with Andrea and Tina. Art galleries, restaurants, and a sculpture garden.

I don't know what's happening here but apparently they're off to Oz.

Next a rental car to drive to Lubbock. And a photo op with this sculpture somewhere near Throckmorton.

Upon arrival in Lubbock Clio decided to try a Cosmo. I make a good Cosmo.

She brought a card game for us to play, Mystic Vale. Took me a couple of tries to figure the rules, but it's visually a very pretty game. I certainly liked my Moon Wolf card (Moon Moon!)

Ian and Clio take a walk around Tech Terrace Park

                    We ate in. We ate out. Jalisco's, One Guy From Italy, Hayashi, La Sirena. And Ian had to treat Clio to chicken fried steak at the Cast Iron Grill.

                                                  Breakfast at George's with Ian's Nana.

And we all enjoyed a room escape adventure. This time we were breaking out of a science lab with secret documents. (Glenn, Val, Naomi, Chel'C, Isaac, Ian, Clio)

Glenn arranged for Clio to ride a horse on the ranch of a friend, LaGina Ledbetter, who lives outside Levelland. Clio had had some horseback training when younger so she wasn't a complete newbie.

                                                      Putting Chance through his paces.

Riding Poco

                 A day trip to Paladuro Canyon, two hours north. It was a great day for hiking

                                      As we left the park this fine lady wished us happy trails.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All Creatures Great and Small

Growing up with a British heritage many of my story books were about cute and clever woodland creatures living cozy, heartwarming lives in gentle forests. Many great British authors have brought to life these lovely, bucolic worlds, for children (and adults) to immerse themselves in a natural world that is not threatening or brutal, but awash in beauty, charm and mystery.

There is, of course, Beatrix Potter, with her wonderfully detailed watercolours of little animals with delightful personalities, like Mrs. Tiggy Winkle. Who doesn't love a domestic hedgehog?
 Then there are all the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods in A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh series:

And of course, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I still have a very old edition of this book and fondly remember my father reading this aloud to us. He particularly enjoyed getting into character as that rascal, Mr. Toad. I suspect because he, himself, was a lot like Mr. Toad:

Later, when my own children were growing up there was the Brambly Patch series by Jill Barklem:

And as they got older, just shortly before the advent of Harry Potter, they really enjoyed the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I mean who doesn't love a sword wielding field mouse fighting an angry badger or an army of weasels?
All of these stories may have an influence on some of my recent artworks. Maybe I need a diversion from the real world but I love creating my own whimsical characters in animal form, or just capturing the beauty of our wild companions on this planet.

And I leave you with Mr. Toad's humble tribute to himself, imagining my Dad reading this in his Russian accent and stopping to laugh between verses: