Nellie"s Needles

Friday, January 30, 2009

Painted Birds

I am loving LuminArte Twinkling H2O paints. They have enabled me to make a bird with black fabric. I had been wanting to do that, but using just black or even subtle printed black fabrics just didn't appeal to me ... or at least there were none in my stash that did. I wanted that iridescent sheen that shines from black feathered birds. Now I've got it for this red-winged blackbird.
The subtle fabric for the bird below was chosen because I knew I could add that iridescent sheen of real feathers to it too. Previously, I would've considered this fabric choice a bit too subtle ... and boring to work with.
The paint is added after the birds are constructed, but before the beaks are glued on. I work on separate areas at a time, usually starting with the head, then down to its back, then the wings, and finally the under body. I've found it works best to brush just water onto an area before applying the paint. Mostly I'm after the iridescent colored sheen of these paints. I like that the fabric patterns and colors are not obscured. Although, a heavier application of paint will change the fabric color if that is desired ... as I did the yellow in the fabric of my giveaway gift bird for One World - One Heart.

These LuminArte Twinkling H2O paints are recommended for paper, canvas, rocks, wood and even Easter Eggs! It is also light fast which is a good property in regards to my birds. I have tested the color fastness on fabric by heat setting it with an iron. There wasn't too much loss of color when I rewet it and then ironed it again over a piece of white fabric. There was a lot of loss of the iridescence, however. I would not use this paint on any project that required washing. My use will be limited to art pieces.

Now, I'm off to hunt up some dark and black fabrics to play some more with my new set of paints. The aspect of FUN in making so many birds had begun to dissipate, but now it's back. Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One World, One Heart, Many Hearts

NOTE: Comments will be closed at mid-night on Wednesday, February 11th


I have decided to participate in this years One World, One Heart, Many Hearts giveaway. My offering is this bird who comes with a snippet of ribbon ready to build a nest in the home of the commenter on this post whose name is randomly drawn at noon on February 12th.
Now, to tell you about this special bird. It is one of two that I made from the same imported cotton batiste fabric.
On the right in the picture below is the giveaway bird in process. The other one is finished and is destined to be sold in a gallery.
One reason they look different from each other is because I've discovered these little pots of paint. The paint is solid. Wiping a wet brush across the surface picks up the paint. It spreads easily and soaks into the fabric leaving an iridescent sheen or areas of color.
Notice how the solid line of black in the fabric print on the birds head shades into the body with the application of the purple paint. The yellow in the fabric has become a shimmering copper color. There's a subtle iridescence over its whole body because of a thin wash with the pink azalea paint. I'm loving this new discovery and have added sheen to birds I've previously posted ... the peacock bird is now exceptionally beautiful.
I'm just one of over 900 participants in this giveaway. Click on the world button at the top of this post to find links to them all (I'm #706) in the sidebar of Lisa Swifka, the creator and host of One World-ONE Heart. If you'd like a chance to own this pretty bird leave your comment on this post before clicking on that button to check out what else you have the opportunity to win just by leaving comments.

To ensure there's a way to contact you if you're a winner include your email in the comment IF you don't have a track back for me to notify you through your blog.

A New Group

I've joined a newly formed online group blog, "Today's Title is ...". This is its first week and the blank is filled in with "... Blue Chair". This prompted a memory of an experience along with the image of a particular blue chair that popped into my mind.
My post got a bit long and I suspect that I went beyond what the originator, Helen Suzanne, had in mind ... an image and brief/minimum description ... to let the picture tell the story. The other contributions more closely followed those guidelines. Click on the blog's link at the top of this post to read all of them.

Go here for complete information and instructions if you are interested in joining this group.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mandala For Peace

A Million Mandalas For Peace is featuring the image of my art quilt, "Spectrum of Love" as one more mandala to radiate peace throughout the world.

Spectrum of Love - 60"x 60"
This quilt was made at the same time I created a quilt about 9/11. I felt compelled to make something beautiful and full of light and love. "Spectrum of Love" was created on my design wall next to "Out of the Rubble". The source of universal love is represented in the center. That love shines out and into each of our hearts to be radiated into the world beyond. These were my feelings about the outpouring of love, concern and help offered by people all over the world to the people of New York City as well as to each other after September 11th. During the inauguration of Barack Obama I felt that same love radiating from the crowds in Washington D.C., from posts on blogs, as well as from people and friends I've talked to.

The Million Mandalas for Peace blog is where creative individuals unite in sharing their art in the intention and awareness of peace. I was made aware of this project through my friend, Karen Bailey Earith, having her mandala posted there. Mine is number 140, so there are many more images needed to get to the goal of a million. All of the information about the project and for contributing to it is in that blogs sidebar.

To read about why I created this piece go here. The construction methods and techniques are posted here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Laugh!

I saw this posted on Terry Grant's blog and pursued it for myself. If only !!!! Of course, notice the percentages.

If you'd like see which celebrities resemble you, click on the link at the bottom of the above "poster". I suggest you wait until you're ready to have it posted, because the My Heritage site publishes it instantaneously on your blog. It is possible to for you to then put it in draft mode and add your thoughts. An exception is that once it's on Google Reader, there is no getting it off. Consequently, those of you who subscribe to that service may see this twice.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Birds, Birds, and More Birds

When this bird project began last April it was just to have a project to do with a visiting friend. Golly, has it ever taken off. Especially since I posted the pattern and instructions to share the fun out there in blogland as well as with my friends. There have been over 5,000 visitors to the Scribd site where the pattern and instructions are available ... there have been over 600 downloads. Whew! That's a lot of birds! Here are six that I've been working on this week.
I'm loving real feathers on their heads. There are pheasant ones on the "peacock" bird and cockateel feathers from my neighbor's bird on the other.
The red feathers are a new headdress for a bird you've seen before. If any bird sticks around long enough it may get stuff added. A fuzzy yarn mane seemed more appropriate for the red bird.
And a back view.
The blue Millafiore bird didn't get a headdress ... nor did his wings get quilted. I was engrossed in the process and forgot to quilt them. But with that fabric on this bird, it's okay. The stripes on the blue-green bird are from fish patterns in the fabric. See? Playing!
They all have pretty bottoms and breasts. I like choosing contrasting or coordinating fabrics for the backs of their wings, too.
Two galleries that carry my art pieces have seen the birds previously posted here on my blog and have expressed interest in selling them. It never occurred to me to offer my birds to them. I was just playing. These birds are destined for those galleries. So far after creating about 30 big birds and 9 small ones I'm still having fun. The question is, how many more before it becomes a chore? When that happens, I'll be DONE!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Birds Going South

These four birds made by cousin Judy stopped in for a brief visit on their way south to escape the harshness of winter in Indiana.
These have been so cold their legs have bent "backwards". For all of you making birds with bent wire legs, that joint bends like our elbows.

PS: To see these four birds plus all the others created by others and myself go to the Picasa album of "Birds". To read about the making of them click on "Birds" in the label following this post.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The first snow of winter! And it's coooooooold!
The whole day it seemed as though we were living in a snow globe.
A nice thing about living in Tennessee is that we get to experience all four seasons. Thank heavens winter is the shortest. That snowfall will be gone by the end of tomorrow and we're expecting temperatures near 60 degrees on Friday. Now back to making more birds in my warm, cozy studio.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cyber Fyber Exhibition Report

Golly! Where to start? First there was Susan Lenz! She was right there and visible both days I entered the Vista Gallery. The first day she was updating the show's site on her laptop out in the middle of the gallery, the second she was hand stitching one of her Decision series pieces. I was thrilled to meet her ... to actually talk to and touch her.
To quote the article written in a Columbia, South Carolina publication, "Cyber Fyber is not your average gallery exhibition. It is the culmination of a monumental, yearlong project developed by Columbia-area fiber artist Susan Lenz. The project was inspired by the sense of community she developed with other fiber artists around the world through her blogging experiences."

The postcard and ATC exhibits are amazing! While I was there, they were the major draw for anyone entering that showroom. Those small pieces of art drew viewers in for closer inspection. There were audible "ooo's and ahhhh's". There was wonder when they realized that Susan had made as many postcards and ATC's as were hanging to trade for all those exhibited in this show. I'm sure everyone treasures theirs from Susan as much as I do mine.
I have been online multiple times to study all these postcards and ATC's, but their photos do not portray the intricate details, colors, and textures that could be seen with my own eyes. I've voted (commented) on many of them and am glad to see that one of the ATC's I voted for won. To see a video of the people's choice awards go here.

I follow the blogs of many of the exhibitors. It was great to get up close to study the work that I've seen and read about online.
Arlee Barr is the cyber fyber artist with whom I've had the closest contact and interaction. It was wonderful to get to see and touch her Exquisite Corpse piece, "Shifting Gears". Although, I couldn't help but feel wistful that the original piece, "Rust Never Sleeps", designated for this show had gotten lost in the mail. I had contributed my work to that one. To read about the other exquisite corpses that have been created thanks to Arlee's organization and overseeing as the originator and "Grand Corpse Vizieress" go here. A third round that again includes fiber artists from around the world has just begun.

"Shifting Gears" by Arlee Barr

Another of Arlee's pieces hung on the wall opposite to one above.
This piece, "Cache", is rich in color and texture that can be seen in this photo. However, seeing those qualities in person is an AWESOME experience.
"Cache" by Arlee Barr
Arlee says of this piece, "It is a composite of techniques and ideas, many of which I was exposed to or shared on line, with my “Cyber friends”. Go here to read more.

I love to see artist's studios, the place where their creations "become". Susan's works in a space that is astonishingly small AND crowded.
In the center of her small space is the installation of her doors piece. Three walls exhibit finished pieces. There is hardly room for a stool to be brought up to her very crowded work table. Below is a photo of Susan's studio that I lifted from her blog.
As you can see, the fourth wall is shelves for containers filled with supplies.

Among all of the wonderful pieces hanging in Susan's studio this one spoke to me. There is a quiet elegance about it that I found appealing. The stitched birch bark pieces have the feeling of runes to me. It can be read about here.
Westport Island Series: Birch Bark
by Susan Lenz

I'm privileged to add that piece of Susan's to our home filled with art.
Susan is truly an amazing artist and person. Thanks to her more of the world has become aware of how the internet has positively connected, as well as affected, many of us artists separated by a lot of geography. The process of getting this exhibition together,as well as the exhibit itself, has extended and helped cement a world wide community of creative textile artists. Thank you, Susan.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cyber Fyber Exhibition

I'm in Columbia, South Carolina and have been to the Cyber Fyber exhibition on two days. The exhibit is FABULOUS! There is so much to see within each of the pieces from the artist invited by Susan Lenz as well as her amazing work. And then there is Susan herself ... she is a dynamo of enthusiasm and creativity. I feel privileged to be here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fine Feathered Bird

Feathers! Linda's bird got me to thinking about a bag full of pheasant feathers a friend had given me. I got them out and dressed up this bird.
Originally, he had a fuzzy yarn neck ruff. This added to his gruff quality. He was not a pretty bird.
I used an awl to enlarge the space between stitches in the seams to make room for the quills to be inserted. A drop of glue secures them. The fibers in the wing fabric were separated to insert that feather with its drop of glue. It tickles me how the pattern in the fabric echos the shape of the real feather.
Now, he's a mighty fine feathered bird proudly strutting his "stuff" off to South Carolina wrapped up as house gift with a few nesting materials included in the bow.
This is the weekend for seeing Susan Lenz's Cyber Fyber exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina. Woo Hoo!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Whoa Nellie!

This little fairy doll designed by Kate Church just tickles me pink. She was packed in the Christmas box from my brother and is the perfect size to ride my resident studio bird. A piece of black chenille yarn makes a good rein ... "Whoa, Nellie!Actually, somebody needs to say "Giddy-up, Nellie". My studio is a mess, out-of-town guests are coming, and I should be working on three quilts. Instead, I'm struck down by a nasty cold and the only thing I feel like doing is being on the computer ... surfing and catching up on 134 blogs I subscribe to through Google Reader ... and sleeping.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Presenting a "Nellie Bird"

I received this photo in an email this morning. The purple bird is the one gifted to my friend, Linda, in Milwaukee. The fabulous one with the fancy tail feathers is her creation.
Linda said, "Since this bird was born on your birthday, it seemed only proper that it share the name with its designer. The bird was great fun and went together so quickly with your instructions. Took both to my Milwaukee Art Quilters meeting and they wanted the website of course." Now, I'm looking forward to seeing what that creative bunch comes up with.

Here are updated photos of the birds made by my friend, Alicia. When I got to Milwaukee she saw the head dresses on the birds I gifted to our mutual friends. She quickly gathered her fuzzy yarns and got busy dressing her birds heads. Some of these birds you've seen before ... the ones she has made in my studios here in Tennessee or in Michigan.
The center one with the black floral fabric is a new one ...

... as is this little beauty ...
... as are these two.
An appropriate headdress for the one couldn't be found so he got a piece of yarn to hold in his beak.

These are added to the Picasa Web Album of "Birds" which can be viewed by clicking on that album in the sidebar. If you've made a bird using my pattern please email a photo or a link to share it.

If you'd like to join the fun of making these, my pattern and instructions are free. To download the bird pattern go here and here for the instructions.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Elvis Has NOT Left the Building

Happy 74th Birthday, Elvis!
This metal sculpture of Elvis by Bill Reed of Racine, Wisconsin, greets everyone coming and going in our entryway. We had commissioned it about twelve years ago. My husband had communicated through the Chicago gallery with the artist about details. In the mean time it has become a collaborative work with Lee's added touches.
Elvis is "king", right? He has gained a crown. We haven't figured out whether the pink flamingo is serving as a microphone or feeding Elvis his pills from his built in "Presley's prescription pill pouch".
Lee made additions here, too. Other added doo-dads include the Las Vegas show girls and glued on jewels and mirrors.
Speaking of jewels, they're all over the place including finger bling ... some of which are sculptural as well as added.
There is also a turning drum in his mid-section which features 37 locations around the world where the real Elvis may be. Just give it a spin to find out. Brrrr... it's cold and snowy in Macatawa. Hope he's gone down the shoreline a bit to Kalamazoo. It's warm at Burger King.
The artist had Elvis walking on water. Our interpretation is a bit different through the addition of another sculpture.
You do recognize the RCA dog, don't you?

My birthday is a few days before Elvis's. This is one of the presents from my husband ...
a bracelet full of Elvis charms. It's not meant for me to wear, but to disassemble and sew each charm to a crazy quilt which is a project I had only been THINKING about. True, I had begun gathering some stuff in a box just in case I decided to go ahead with this project. The item that got me thinking seriously about doing this project was the silk blouse given to me by a friend.
So, I guess there's no backing out now. Elvis definitely won't be leaving. He's begun to occupy my thoughts and in time he'll be taking over my studio.