Another slow week

Fiona watercolor sketch

Last week held promise yet evaporated without much to recall. It started strong with the large Ewe and Lamb charcoal drawing then fizzled until Friday when I did a bit of product development with holiday ornaments. The weekend was beautiful and we took full advantage of the weather by completing numerous outdoor projects and even the front door interior wall. Our old dog Moby was not impressed and spent the majority of awake hours on serious medications to calm his fragile nerves. His noise fears continue to worsen with age so we really have to plan our house remodeling jobs. Nail guns are not his thing. Fortunately he was able to escape to the far back yard and sleep under the hazelnut tree shade. I’m actually looking forward to when he goes deaf.

blended blue/green single spun on an Ashford

I think I’ll wait to share the new product designs until later. I’ve managed to create a bit more single spun yarn for the upcoming Birdseye weaving pattern. Sunday night I learned that the oldest son of my neighbor just adopted 6 Alpaca! His mom let him know that I currently work with wool, so possibly next spring I’ll be trying my hand at processing an Alpaca fleece!

rainy afternoon

We are actually having RAIN!!! Currently the second storm front is moving through since mid-month. With rain, downspouts that haven’t been cleared are clogging. This morning I had a bit of first-hand rain experience perched on a ladder clearing out the gutter. It felt wonderful! Autumn is here! Trees are glowing yellow and leaves are falling. It just feels so good to have rain return.

The above sketch was one I played with today. A quick Fiona kitty sketch in blue and gold. 6B pencil and a bit of watercolor blobbed over the top.

Have a good week!

Under the weather

Last week equated to zero art and lots of recovery. I managed to finally receive a third shot of Pfizer! Hurray! However, my body really disliked this third round. It doesn’t get easier for my body to deal with the experience and it used pretty much the entire 72 hours to recover. Once it left my body, I was up tackling normal household stuff that didn’t receive attention while I was down. Then we cooked like crazy people Saturday for a family gathering on Sunday. We had a total of 11 attending. It made me so happy to see everyone. No photos because we were all just enjoying the time together.

Early stages of Lamb and Ewe drawing

Today, Monday, started calmly and then became a bit more involved. A week without any serious art was hard so I chose today to start a large drawing. All of my previous colored pencil work have been on 11″ x 15″ sheets. I’ve jumped into a grand format: 38″ wide by 48″ high. The image is one from a farm visit during lambing. This is the same farm I receive wool from. The image is currently all in charcoal on Arches Rives paper. Will it remain only charcoal? I don’t know, only time will tell. You’ll just have to wait until next week to find out.

Thanks for reading!

Swamped with Home Improvements: September 6-12

After coming off the long Labor day weekend I kept working on the current house project of revamping the front door wall. Our weather is still good, but rain is actually looming later in the week. Below are a few images of the progress from start to end on the 12th. We still have the upper section of planking to finish but it will have to wait until next weekend. One downfall to the project was Mr Moby. His loud noise anxiety kicked in due to the compressor and nail gun operation. He spent almost all Sunday in the back garden. Poor guy!

Sunday progress

Thursday I did step into the art world for a bit with disastrous effects on my hands. So it goes with psoriatic arthritis. The bummer part was that Friday is a standing spinning date with a wonderful group of women. I’ve only managed to make it one week this summer. The group is planning on a natural dye workshop and I had really hoped to join the fun. Hopefully they don’t think I’m a total looser. Maybe this new week will be the one! Anyway, what I played with was felting pumpkin shapes using the shockingly orange dyed wool from a few weeks back. I managed to create 5 forms in one day and sold three to a neighbor (who wants a few more too!). What I need to do is gather together my winter stock levels and see what can go to a seasonal shop in the coming months.

One other thing of interest happened during the week. I was asked to come talk to a high school art class during Fall term. I just need to set up the month and I’m thinking early December.

Looking forward into the week I see several things happening. I might finally get a Covid third shot since the medications I’m on weakens my immune system. I’ve really debated on this one because I feel like everyone world wide needs more access to the vaccine, but I do want my body to be more able to handle possibly getting hit with the Delta variant or others down the road. I’ve read one small study that possibly shows people on Methotrexate doing alright with just the two vaccines (the study group was only 133 people). I’ve also been planning a family gathering to commemorate our mother’s birthday, but that’s also not fully together because of Delta. Infection rates have been higher in the county we would be gathering at and people would be coming down from Portland/Seattle to Eugene. More family discussion to come.

On with the new week!

Dividing time: Aug 29 to Sep 4

What happened this week? I’m feeling like nothing happened, but thanks to keeping track via photos, I can look back at everything.

pink! shocking pink!

Last Sunday I did a bit of dying. Another half pound of wool and another striking color. The wool will most likely be spun and turned into a weaving project. I also dyed a batch of Periwinkle blue later in the week but failed to photograph.

Hyena in process. Slowly emerging with lots of color.

Monday and Tuesday were Hyena days. The image is resolving itself more, but not quickly. I just have to keep plugging along and (fingers crossed) it will all work out.

great grandmother’s diary

Wednesday was completely different. I spent the day scanning the diary from my great-grandmother. It was from 1886! Her handwriting is really tough to work through so it will take some serious dedication to decipher. Plus she wrote in pencil (hence the scanning to be able to darken the lines).

the beautiful eggshell.
eggshell in charcoal, pencil, and quinacridone magenta

One morning during the week I happened to crack open a most beautiful egg. It was so lovely that I actually wanted to draw it…. and pull out my meager paint and study it more! I have to admit I have a bit of a yearning to purchase a few tubes of paint and just play. Of course, I also want to drag out the 50 pounds of clay waiting in the garage and make animal sculptures. And then there’s all the wool to work with! I think I’m going crazy. I just want to do everything.

painting clear coat on blue pine

Saturday was spent sanding and coating blue pine with a clear finish. Dave found some really interesting wood for the interior wall at our front door. It’s a tall space and has a small, non-functional window. We’ve talked for years about how to revamp that entry way and settled on a wood application. It took many years to finally settle on a type only because Dave happened to take his phone along to the home improvement box store. Now we’re spending the long weekend working through this project plus finishing the final bits of exterior house painting. I’ll post more at the end of the week.

And finally a look at our first harvest of Asian pears! We planted the trees early spring of 2020 and followed the recommended “no fruit” on its first year to help with root establishment. This year I let it produce! It did so well, I had to thin fruit several times. I’ll probably chop up a bunch of the bounty to dehydrate. The rest we will continue to munch through.

smoky day

Our days continue to be dry but have really cooled down into the 70’s and 80’s. The smoke wafts north from southern Oregon and probably northern California fires. We’re so parched and yearning for the fall rains to arrive. Will they? Seems like all the water is going north to Canada (who also desperately need it! ) or flowing up the east coast. We need some water!!!

Ok, that’s it for last week. The long weekend sucked up too much attention and delayed the posting of this past week. So I guess you will receive 2 posts in one week! Anyway, that all for now. Thanks for checking in. Talk to you soon!


Finishing one project and changing my mind

Fat sheep donation chosen!

This past week was filled with indecisions that finalized. What indecisions were on the table? Well, the donation for The Art Center’s Art for the Heart. I kept waffling between old and new ideas before settling on the Fat Sheep felted sculpture. I think it’s a better choice that the owl pictured below.

barn owl front view
side view of the barn owl creation

Sometimes I get rather wrapped up in a project that I’ve thought I would donate, then realize that it’s probably way above and beyond the set asking price, which is what’s happened with the Owl. It’s worth way more than the $75 price and I’m not feeling that generous.

As I was waffling, I started another project that’s now part of my Africa series. We will just call it the Colorful Hyena.

the start of the juvenile hyena colored pencil drawing
another step farther in the hyena process.

It’s amazing how crappy things look at the beginning of a piece and how layers and layers of color can help. I just keep plugging along and trying different things to see if I like the effect. Maybe by the end of next week it will be more resolved.

maybe magenta eventually?

I had hoped to do some dying over the week but never quite got there. Today, Saturday, I finally have a batch of wool cooking as I attempt to reach a magenta using hot fuchsia and violet. At least it’s a fun looking dye pot!

Artist Raymond Hunter and his wife doing finishing touches on the Ballerina

One more thing of note. I actually went to see the current show at The Arts Center in Corvallis. If you’re looking for color, you shouldn’t miss this show. “Vibrant Fiber: Quilts in the Colors of the Rainbow” is on display from Aug to September 26, 2021. I visited with my quilting sister Kim and she really enjoyed it too. We also had a chance to talk to sculptor Raymond Hunter who was touching up the Ballerina sculpture at Central Park. She was reinstalled this week (after vandals tried hard to destroy her) with vibrant bronze and the original patina on her dress. He fondly explained all the parts and processes she went through before the return to her beautiful home since 1979. Quite a process and we look forward to the return of the squirrel who was also vandalized with a sledgehammer.

I think that’s about all for the week of Aug 21 to Aug 28, 2021. On a weather note, we’re finally experiencing more comfortable temperatures but have a Red Flag warning today: Winds from the north with low humidity. That sort of weather pattern gave us the raging fires last year, but this won’t be as crazy. We are almost a year to date from that weather pattern.

Ok, signing off for now. Hope everyone has a good week stepping into September!

Busy Week of Wool

Life has certainly been moving along. With my body aches subsiding, I’ve started working on wool with seriousness. I realize that I only have about 2 months left of outdoor drying as autumn approaches. Yes, dyed wool!!!! I’m loving the colors that are coming out of my crazy dye baths. Slowly but surely I’m starting to hone in on what I want with colors and actual purpose with my spinning. Go figure!

Current working fleece started out with 4.6 pounds! I’ve used about 1.5# thus far.

Let’s back up a bit: I do have several things in the works. First off is The Owl. It’s been coming together and actually having a true background added with “aged cedar”. I haven’t shown any images here regarding the owl, but it’s a donation to my local Arts Center in Corvallis. Below are a few progress images to the final piece (well, almost final!)

start of owl using wool from my friends sheep
Fluffy face before trimming. Wool used is NZ Corriedale
Premature trimming….
Lots of blending happened to achieve the “barn owl” color around their head. NZ Corriedale, Merino, and something else…
trimmings from the owl project
Figuring out alignment for the owl.
Owl surrounded with iron stained cedar
Owl with dark iron stained cedar. It’s resting on a waste piece of wood.

Cedar is a lovely color, but I really wanted a greyed out aged finish of barn wood. I recalled that my father aged the cedar shakes on the exterior of his houses using a simple solution of vinegar and iron. I stuffed a OO size steel wool bundle into a jar and pickled it with vinegar. After 24 hours I mopped it on after first treating it with black tea tannins. It went much darken that I thought, but I think it’s ok. Mounting of everything to come.

Next up: the weaving project! So, I’ve been dying wool this week and that’s been just lovely!!! The wool was a 2019 fleece shearing from my friends Cheviot cross ewes. This fleece was cleaned via my now normal fermentation process and washed with the Unicorn Power Scour (not Dawn Dish soap). The fleece was air dried on my homemade rack and bagged for future use. 4 or 5 fleece ended up in 5 gallon pails with lids out in the garage for safe keeping. So, I’m working through this first easily accessible fleece and totally loving the wool! I’ve even spun up a whole bunch for a near future weaving. First dye bath was for green.

Next dye bath was for a crazy intense blue.

First Blue dye bath and I love everything!

Now I’m just dying for more blues and Orange!

Second Blue dye bath with Turquoise, Periwinkle and Violet.
Friday Orange dye! OMG I love it!

Carding has become more intense because I’ve been learning more. With my hand problems due to Psoriatic Arthritis, I need to card my wool multiple times. Originally I was only carding it twice. Now I card it about 6 times with all the color blending and it has improved the flow of wool through my fingers. The easier it flows, the easier it is on the tendons in my hands. Wow! I had no idea it would make such a difference. This year I also figured out that the roving processed off site requires multiple cardings before use. I originally thought it was going to be perfect from the start, but it wasn’t. Now I know and can work with the wool more in order to make it easier for my body to handle.

first bobbin on my regular Haldane type wheel.
second bobbin that’s much larger and on a different spinning wheel (Ashford)

Heading into the weekend I have more dyed wool, an owl donation almost completed, and a spinning project well underway for future weaving! I do have one more project/reworking in the mix, but the garage studio hasn’t been able to incorporate the mix as of yet. Hopefully next week will bring about it’s completion and I’ll show you then.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Lioness WIP

Drawing is my greatest nemesis that causes uncomfortable brain challenges, but pastels might prove to be a way in overcoming the pain. I’ve become glued to several YouTube channels over the past few months with one being a UK pastel artist who gives incredible tutorials. Since I’ve been floating around in the art world not feeling connected with any one particular medium, I decided to make a side step back into the world of drawing with the help of pastels.

I stepped into a charcoal drawing, initially thinking playing in black and white values would suit my brain, but the colors started jumping on the page.

The lioness model is from a photo I took one morning in Kenya. The group of sisters were snoozing under cover of a bunch of shrubby trees. Such a beautiful bunch of cats! I think there was a family of Black Backed Jackals skirting round the lioness group, looking for food scraps. This drawing is my first attempt with pastels and hopefully the image will be mounted on an 8″x 8″ block for a fundraiser at The Arts Center of Corvallis. Hopefully….. I still have plenty of time to screw it up.

Thanks for your interest! Pastels are Faber-Castell soft sticks and pencils. Paper is Sommerset. Hours more fun to come!

You can always find me on Instagram where I post more images than the blog.


Oh, and there’s also a felted goat in process. It still needs a coat, but he/she is looking pretty fine for the first attempt!

Creating Cloth: A new experiment

The art studio is a total mess. I can barely walk into the space without stumbling over something or an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia. Yes, the clutter and bins of wool have become too much! Ok, part of the problem stems from still trying to finish off the downstairs. Mudding, sanding and eventually texturing is a horrible job and one not to be doing when the weather isn’t great. We seem to finally be warming up again and venting to the outdoors is a possibility. As the house projects continue to bind down my space with the extras, I’ve jumped to another project that can be accomplished outside the studio. The art of weaving on a table loom has commenced!

I’ve never woven anything except little grade school projects. With all the wool around the house, I knew it was only time before a loom arrived in hopes of utilizing handspun yarn. This loom, a Nilus/Leclerc 4 shaft table loom, is on loan from a friend. Rather than jumping right into using my wool, I purchased cotton 5/2 string at the Eugene Textile Center last fall. To learn weaving (thank you YouTubers), I jumped in with a specific project for a niece who was married last fall. Maybe experimenting with a new artform isn’t the best idea for a wedding gift, but things are actually going quite well. They chose colors of blue, green and gray and I chose to create a table runner for their new home.

Thread on the warping board

First decision, after the colors, was how long of a project I wanted to create. I picked 3 yards total for the warping board. Next choice was how much to wind on: between the thread diameter and the heddles available, I determined it would be 360 threads total. Wowza! That’s quite a few to wrap and eventually string through all the heddles and reed! The full process took me about a week of work from start to finish. I had to re-sley the reed about 3 times before everything was correct. Now it’s just down to creating the fabric.

Below are some photos of the process. It’s a bit much to explain everything, but you can at least see some of the process. I’ll post the finished product once off the loom and washed.

metal heddles waiting to accept the warp thread
Pulling the warp onto the back
Attaching threads through heddles and tying a slip knot in each 1 inch bundle
the clean shed (space between the sets of threads)
Spacer yarn and the start of the first true weaving.
Weaving in process.

Thanks for spending a little time with me. More projects to come…. whatever they might be! I’m already figuring how to create waffle weave towels and loads of other designs.

Getting Around

Black Butte and Mt Jefferson in snow

This month has certainly been filled with more activity. We took a mini-vacation to Bend, OR. It was our last visit with my sister-in-law before her move to Colorado. She and my brother never married but we love her dearly and I totally consider her part of our family. This was the first time our dogs traveled to central Oregon and stayed in a motel. With that said, it wasn’t the most relaxing trip due to the dogs anxieties, but we all survived. They even made a new friend with Amee’s little pup Willie. She’s so darn adorable!

The Three Sisters
Mt Washington
Tumalo Creek, Shevlin Park, Bend OR
Tumalo Creek with the Willie, Hazel, Moby & Dave

Saturday we went to Eugene for a little belated birthday party for my brother Tom. He grilled meat, we brought chips/dip/fruit salad, cake & ice cream to finish it off. People in Eugene have been more challenged with securing vaccinations. Tom hasn’t managed to get one so Sunday morning I signed him up for a Pfizer vaccination in Albany. Tomorrow he will get his first shot plus a nice road trip to Albany and back. I’ll be putting in a few hundred miles driving, but that’s fine with me. I just want him protected!

Today is Monday and I’ll be picking up the giant cow head. She’s spent her time at the gallery and received much love, plus the People’s Choice Award. Not sure where she will live as the studio space is crazy right now!

I think that’s about all for the moment. We have multiple house and yard projects in various states of being. Hopefully I’ll be able to show both beginning and COMPLETED photos soon. Completed is the state I want everything to reach, which means I need to pull myself away from the computer and get busy.

Thanks for checking in. The next blog posting should host completed artwork!

Community Love

Last night the awards were announced for the Howland Community Open. Red received enough votes to win the People’s Choice Award! Woo hoo! She’s thrilled and is looking forward to her remaining days at The Arts Center. I’ll actually be visiting tomorrow to talk about how she was created with a young fan and her mother. It should be a fun afternoon. I’ll bring along some tools and wool to demo the process. Maybe we can get another person hooked on the fun of felting!

So that’s the exciting news for the week. Red will return home to the quite studio after the 17th and eventually be joined by a tiger….

Fingers crossed that the cats won’t decide to destroy her!

Thanks for checking in!