Last Minute Shameless Self-Promotion

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Just in case you didn't know already, the Etsy Bloggers Street Team is sponsoring a Holiday Sale. Over 50 Etsy Sellers on our team are offering discounts and/or shipping deals on orders placed between this Friday and December 1st.

I am offering 10% off all orders at Lunasbaublebilities plus free shipping on all orders over $45.00. At GoblinsMarket, all orders get free shipping.

Plenty of other stores will be offering similar specials so check them out. You can see all of the Etsy Bloggers Team sales by clicking on the announcement. You'll find handmade everything from Soap and Scarves to Chainmalle and Childrens' clothes. People who make and sell Fine art (including Photography) and art and crafting supplies are also particiating.

Buying on handmade Etsy may seem a little strange, but it is a truly revolutionary way to shop. Everything on Etsy (excluding supplies and vintage goods) has been handmade by one individual artist/craftsperson or a by small cooperative of two or three artists sharing resources. The money you pay for your items minus a small listing fee and any PayPal fees (usually about 10% total) goes directly into that artist's pocket. The artist earns what he or she has decided is a reasonable & fair wage for their labor and goes on to make more beautiful things. You recieve something unique, carefully crafted and valuable.

No frantic bidding. No major corporations and greedy middlemen. No child labor. No sweatshops or human rights abuses. No mass produced junk. No shopping malls or giant retail stores. Just you, the artist and something beautiful that comes to your home in time for the Holidays. You can even do a search for artists and craftspeople who live in your little corner of the world so that you can buy local and well as handmade.

Go check it out!

What I'd be doing if I worked for the Queen

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Two posts in one day? No way.

I stopped by Sharon B's blog (which has moved to Pin Tangle) today and she had a link to a costume exhibit at Kent State University Museum. The exhibit is called - are you ready? The Art of the Embroiderer.

Fabulous stuff. You must go look at it. I've borrowed a couple of photos that link back to the exhibit to tempt you.

As much as I would LOVE to make my living embroidering such marvelous dresses, I live in great dread that someday Molly will expect me to embroider and bead and embellish some amazing dress for her. When she was little, I made her a Flower Fairy Halloween costume - it's still somewhere in my hope chest - with all handmade ribbon roses, beads, sequins, trailing ribbons, a wand, a circlet crown of ribbon rose flowers. It took weeks. She wore it for two hours. Kind of like a wedding dress.

Maybe if I start on one now, It will be ready by the time she finds someone to marry.

I'm really pleased that Kent State has put together such a marvelous online exhibit. What a priceless resource! This is why we need to continue to fund the Arts & Education.

Thanksgiving already?

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Today is so full of stuff to do, I have no idea how I will get it all done. Lately, it is becoming difficult to avoid despair and despondency when I look about me and see just how much I have to do. It is truly amazing.

But this morning, I had a major accomplishment. I processed 75 photos - ready for posting in my shops - in less than 90 minutes! I love it when I get all the settings right and the white balance adjusted properly on my camera. It saves me so much adjustment time at the computer. Sometimes I think I should buy a cheapo digital camera to use around the house and ONLY use my Dimage in the studio so that I never have to fuss with the settings.

Last night I shot new photos for some of my old earrings and got some of my new beads ready to post. They are truly gorgeous! The last time I got a new box of beads, I went up to my studio to put them away and take photos of them and I realized that I felt happy in a way that I haven't felt since childhood. My imagination was on overdrive creating new ideas for adornment and my eyes and ears were enjoying the sparkle and tinkle of the beads. I love that my new shop allows me the luxury of buying just about any beads I wan and creating all kinds of other adornment related goodies. I play with the ones I need and sell the rest.

That blissful enjoyment of playing with my beads as I put them away led me to put together two mixes of beads. : Fantabulous Blues and The Fantabulous Warm Mix. they both include gorgeous Czech glass rounds and spacers with incredible finishes and cultured freshwater pearls in various shapes and colors. These mixes might just allow another bead addict to enjoy a dazzling assortment of beads without a staggering price tag.

The Fantabulous Blue Mix inspired me to start working on a choker made of a coiled rolled silk cord with various baubles sewn onto it. So far, it isn't really turning out the way I want it to so I may have to take everything apart and start over - but the basic design idea is that of a jewel encrusted rope. It should have lots of drape, be very sparkly and it shouldn't matter which side is up or down or against your neck. I think the problem I'm struggling with right now is the fact that I've put a few very large opalite beads on to dangle near the middle of the necklace. While they are very pretty, I think they are subverting the original concept. I'm not looking for a pendant with symetry, I'm looking for something much more organic. I'll post more photos as it comes along - the Thanksgiving madness should give me some time to be away from this computer and actually work on something. :)
Now I need to go wash some laundry, post more scarves in my store, wash the dishes, clean the living room and kitchen, put some bread in the machine, exercize, take a shower, order scarves for the Scarf Painting workshop next weekend, Pay the mortgage, direct Molly's homeschool efforts, fold laundry (so that it can sit in baskets being churned through twice a day for three weeks when I get another chance to re-fold everyone's laundry), vaccum the hearth, clean the study and find time to feed my family a couple more times today.

Can I just go back to bed?

Potatoes and Pearls!

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Big ones Small ones and Some as Big as your head!

This potato made a really yummy soup.

It came from our garden - the biggest, lumpiest, bumpiest potato I've ever seen!

I got new beads today - including some beautiful pearls!

Photos for scarves are processed and ready to appear on Etsy Monday. I'm amazed at how difficult it is to get good photos of these satin and velvet scarves. Just trust me when I say that they are a thousand times more wonderful in person. ;)

Angel Wings!

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The end of last week really fell apart on me. I was breathing through both sides of my sinuses for the first time in two weeks but still not sleeping well and feeling very worn out after Studio Tour. I didn't accomplish much at all besides enameling these beauties. I've posted the minty pair and the amethyst pair at Goblins' Market this morning, the others will go up later.

I wish I thought I was going to have time to play with them myself but I probably won't get to do that 'till after Christmas. I am imagining them as Art doll Angel and Fairy wings and as embellishments on a tiara.

I am determined to try creating a tiara soon. I have ordered a bunch of new pearls and plan to order some heavy gauge brass wire today or tomorrow to use as the base. The price of sterling wire has always deterred me from making tiaras in the past but with this new steampunk movement, a brass tiara would probably find an appropriate market. I'm picturing something with a dark patina on the brass, maybe even a hint of verdegris, with lots of glistening pearls, crystals and a dragonfly or set of wings to add lift. I'll be sure to take lots of photos of the process when I get around to it!

Now I have to go clean house and pay bills. Maybe that would be more fun if I had a tiara to wear whilst sweeping and dusting.

Painted Silk Scarves with Fiber Reactive Dye

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Welcome to my tutorial on painting silk scarves using Fiber Reactive dyes!

This method works best for satin and velvet devore (burn out) scarves. These scarves are a blend of approximately 20% silk and 80% rayon with silk as the base weave of the scarf and the pile or satin part being rayon. Scarves like this have incredible softness & drape and take colors with an intensity and accuracy not expected of scarves with a higher silk content. (Rayon is a color glutton.)

In fact, allow me to say something about fibers and dyes before we get into instructions here. Silk is a protein fiber, like your hair or wool from a sheep - they are all made by animals. Rayon, cotton, linen, bamboo & hemp are all cellulose fibers. They come from plants. These scarves are patterned by silk screening an acid on the back of the fabric that eats away the cellulose (rayon) fiber but leaves the protein (silk) fiber behind. You end up with a scarf that is partly sheer with a soft velvet or shiney satin pattern in it. Dyes formulated for protein fibers do not work on fabrics made from cellulose fibers. Dyes made for cellulose fibers, like the Procion Fiber Reactive dye that I will be using here, work on some protein fibers but the colors often shift on silk.

For instance, you may have a dye that makes a gorgeous, rich teal blue on cotton or rayon but when you put it on silk, the color shifts toward the green/brown spectrum and ends up looking muddy. You wouldn't want that on a 100% silk scarf but for this technique, that color may not end up being a disaster. You would get a bright clear teal blue in the rayon part and a more muted, sheer greenish color on the silk part. Quite lovely, actually.

Here is everything you will nee. You can get most of this from Dharma Trading Co.

- a silk/rayon scarf with a burn out pattern
- water, preferably warm
- salt (non-iodized)
- soda ash
- a bucket
- two or three containers for dye (those large Kool-aid mix conatiners are great as long as the mouth is not too narrow)
- Procion Fiber Reactive dye in 2 or 3 colors
- 2 or 3 sponge brushes that fit into your dye containers
- a large sheet of plastic or plastic shower curtain
- a wooden spoon never to be used for food again
- two or three teeny mixing containers for saturating the dye powder (old film canisters work great- make sure there are no ridges or bumps on the bottom)
- some bamboo skewers for stirring dye solution
- rubber gloves
- face mask for filtering particulates
- set of measuring cups and spoons dedicated to dyeing (not for food anymore!)
- synthrapol or dish detergent for washing
- some old towels for wiping up spills

First I mix my chemical water. I use the following recipe with my ultra filtered rural water. You may want to consult Dharma's techniqes pages if you have very hard water or urban water with lots of chemicals in it. In fact, when I teach classes in Potsdam, I always bring water with me from home. There is something in Potsdam's water that inhibits blues from fixing - your urban water supply may cause similar problems. If it does, find a friend with a rural supply or try bottled water or filtered water for the dye.

Chemical Water Recipe:
1/2 gallon warm water
1/4 cup soda ash
1/2 cup salt

Mix all of this in your large bucket until the salt and soda ash are dissolved. Some of it may remain in suspension - using warm water helps everything mix more quickly.

Put two cups of chemical water into each of your dye containers and put a few drops (maybe 1/4 tsp) of chemical water into each of your teeny mixing containers. You are about to mix your dye.

A word about colors here: Dyes are transparent and blend like crazy. That is wonderful when you put the right colors next to each other - blue near green or fuschia will blend into beautiful shades of aqua or purple.

Fuschia next to green will turn into mud, and it might not be a nice mud.

While you are still new at blending colors, it is best to stick with two or three colors on the same side of the color wheel. Choosing a pale peach, a firey red and a red violet will give you a nice warm blend. Using blue, green and yellow will give you a mix of bright greens with blue and yellow "edges."

Never, never, never put yellow and purple, red and green or blue and orange next to each other unless you know what they are going to do or are prepared for a surprise.

Put on your face mask (don't worry, you get to take it off soon) and add 1/2 to 1 tsp dye powder to each of your teeny mixing jars. (My recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dye powder per cup of chemical water. Using a full 1/2 tsp will give a deep, vibrant color, using less will result in soft, pastel shades. Dyes with an * after the color name on the bottle require twice s much dye powder.)

Allow the dye powder to sit for a few minutes in the film canisters to soak up the chemical water you dribbled in there earlier. They should soak up the water fairly quickly and start to look like a paste in the bottom of the jar. Some colors do this more readily than others.

The color I have here is fuchsia and it does not blend well. If this is the case with your dye, carefully dribble a few more drops of water along the side of the container but don't flood the dye. The dye will mix much more evenly and leave fewer "explosions" on the fabric if you turn it into a paste before adding more water. **Heads up! - any color with fucshia as a primary will leave explosions, no matter how careful you are. Using a blender might get around it, but I don't have a spare blender for dye. Just stir the paste really, really well, add water gradually and cross you fingers!**

Once your paste is well mixed, add more water, stir that well and pour it into the dye container. Once all of your dye powders are mixed with chemical water, your powder jars are capped and there is no more dye dust floating around, you may remove your mask. People who inhale dust from the dye can develop allergies to them and cannot use them anymore. That would make me sad so I'm very careful not to breathe my dye powders.

Did I mention that you will also want to be wearing gloves? Dye will stain your hands and possibly dry or irritate your skin. You'll want gloves when you're mixing the dye, applying the dye and washing the scarf out.

Now that you have your dye ready, you can lay your scarf out on a large piece of plastic. Stretch it right out full length with no wrinkles and start applying your dye.

I usually start by applying the lightest color in splotches near one end and work my way down to the other end of the scarf before I add another color. This allows the lighest colors have an opportunity to strike the fabric before the darker colors are added. It is easy to darken a lighter color or blend a darker color into a paler shade but it is almost impossible to dilute a darker color or blend it if the darker color goes on first.

I allow the design on the silk to guide me in color placement but I try not to be too rigid. I blend colors by brushing the second and third colors over into previous layers of dye. Make sure that you blend your colors well, especially if you have one color that is dramatically darker than the others. You can see in the last photo that I did not blend the colors well enough on those two scarves. They will still look pretty while being worn but look a bit splotchy or severe just hanging flat.

Once your scarf is completely dyed, fold the plastic over it and rub the plastic with your hands. This will eliminate air bubbles within the batching plastic and will assure that the dye is in full contact with the fabric.

Now fold the plastic up into a neat little package and let it sit somewhere warm - preferrabley 70-90 degrees for at least 4 hours and as long as over night.


If it is summertime or at least warmish where you are, you can take your plastic outside and open it up. Spray the silk briefly with the hose (make sure the water is cold first) and place it in a bucket. Fill the bucket with icy cold water and allow the silk to sit for 1/2 an hour.

If you are winter bound, open the scarf up in the tub, rinse the scarf under cold water and place it in a bucket of icy cold water for 1/2 hour.

The icy cold water will shock the excess dye particles out of the fibers of the fabric. After the half hour has gone, dump the icy water and fill the bucket with warm sudsy water using Synthrapol, Dahrma's Synthrapol substitute or dish detergent.

Agitate and squeeze the silk gently so as not to tangle the fringe too much. You can even leave the scarf to soak in the warm sudsy water for another half hour. DO NOT throw a finged scarf into the washing machine! When you are done washing, dump the bucket and rinse the silk under lukewarm running water until the rinse water is clear or almost clear. Some very dark or bright colors will not totally rinse out with the first washing.

Hang the scarf to dry on a plastic hanger or a plastic rod on a drying rack. Wooden drying racks will accept dye so that the next time you dry something in that spot, you will get a pretty little colorful stripe on it. Metal may discolor the silk.

Take the time to gently untangle the fringe now while the scarf is still wet. It will take a good ten to twenty minutes but will look so much better and save you so much time and hassle later. Trust me!

When your scarf is dry (isn't it beautiful!) iron it face down, using a thick terry cloth towel under velvet to retain the plush pile. You can also use a wide toothed comb to gently comb the fringe as you iron, but if you took the time to untangle while it was wet, you may not need to. Now it is ready to wear or give as a gift!

Next time you wash your scarf, you can hand wash it in the sink using Woolite or shampoo to help retain those beautiful colors! Don't be alarmed by some color bleeding the first few times you wash, unless you have ultra chlorinated water, you shouldn't have serious color loss.

If you really want to try this but are uncertain about what you might need, the folks over at Dharma are very helpful and will answer your questions expertly. I will also be putting a few scarf dyeing kits in Goblin's Market in the next little while that will include a scarf, three colors of dye - enough for dyeing that scarf - and enough soda ash for one half gallon of chemical water. I will also be leading a Velvet Scarf DyeingWorkshop at the SLC Arts Council on December 6th.

Halloween & Studio Tour!

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First let me make a ritual apology for my pitiful offering of Halloween photos.

I only have three from Halloween because of the stupid Energizer Bunny. I'm not sure if it was the batch of new Energizer batteries I had or if my charger had gone awry or what, but I was only able to take two to three photos at a time with both of my sets of batteries before they would die. I totally missed getting photos of Molly's great Gypsy(?) costume that she created. It was a strange hybrid of Tia Dalma, Captain Jack Sparrow and the traditional Gypsy thing. She looked prety wild and she decorated the back entry way with draped silk, candles, incense and sundry small eclectica to make the place look a little mysterious. We hung a sign out front that said "Treats, Fortunes, Destiny" with an arrow pointing to the back door. It sort of freaked out her 5 trick-or-treaters, which is what she was trying for.

After Halloween, Bry went out and bought me some Duracell rechargeables and a new charger so I'm happily back to getting hundreds of shots in before the juice runs out. Hooray!

So - here are photos of Maxx scooping out his pumpkin and in his Halloween costume. He would not communicate with me about what he wanted to dress up as this year so when I was out shopping, I picked up a Robin Hood costume. It looked quick, easy, cheap and involved a sword. I got home, made the costume and he refused to wear it. "I want to be a Pirate!" he said. Great time to tell me, kid. You can be a Pirate next year.

As you can see from the photos, he was sullen about the whole thing until after the third or fourth house when he realized that the costume magically enabled him to get candy from all the neighbors. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photo of the big smiles upon his return home. Curse you, Energizer Bunny!

Here are photos of the classroom at the Arts Council where I set out my wares for Studio Tour. Another ritual apology here - it is pretty durn tricky to get a good photo of all these satin and velvet scarves. The photos just can't convey how lovely these scarves are. I love it when people walk into my "booth" and say "Oooooh! How beautiful!" or "Wow! This is so colorful!" It makes the backache from dyeing, washing, detangling and ironing completely worthwhile.

This is my favorite scarf of the season. The photo can only give a hint to how incredible these colors are together on velvet! It was a bit of a longshot to put these colors together because browns are often very chancy on silk.

Since these fiber reactive dyes are created for use on cellulite fibers, the ultimate outcome of any given color on silk, a proitein fiber, is unknown. Browns are created using some mix of at least three primaries so they tend to shift much more than a primary or secondary color will and the shifts are more unpredictable. Most browns I have used end up looking muddy or sallow and not beautiful at all.

But Molly and I desperately wanted to try a Peacock color scheme for this pattern. We debated for a few days, studying peacock feathers in various lights and we agreed that the most important thing was to get a good, rich brown with at least two shimmering purples and a brilliant teal/blue. Peacock feathers actually have a predominant green flash but I didn't want to risk putting brown, green, purple and blue all in the same scarf. Plus, scarves that are predominantly green simply do not sell. I decided to try 4 colors - a brown, a purple, a specially mixed pale orchid and a specially mixed blue/teal. It was an astounding success. I'm ordering more of this design today so I can make a few more of them for Etsy and my other galleries. And, I'll be honest, one for myself.

Now I have to run and get some long neglected housework and budgeting chores done. Velvet silk painting tutorial coming toorrow or Wednesday!

Studio Tour!

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Every year this happens to me - or rather I allow it to happen to me. Studio Tour comes rushing up over my horizon and I panic because I'm not ready. I have an entire year to get ready for it but I never seem to be able to get it together. I'm like a last minute Christmas shopper or a 7:00 am Easter Bunny. Not quite enough time to get it all done well.

So. I'm unplugging the internet this morning and NOT plugging it back in until I'm completely packed and ready. Next week you'll get to see my tutorial on dyeing scarves. Plus photos of Maxx in his Halloween costume that I spent a whole day making only to have him argue about wearing it. Plus photos of Molly's Fortune Teller/Candy booth she set up in our entry way for Trick or Treaters - all 5 of them.

I will also be adding new inventory to both of my online shops next week - scarves, new colors of silk ribbon and cord, new filigree findings, new earrings and jewelry kits, silk fusion kits . . .

Now I have to go rinse out some scarves, see how many of them I've ruined - only two bad eggs so far - dye a few more this morning, make tags for everything,print business cards, make signage for my displays, decide what supplies are going with me, edge some new alchemy scarves, prepare my neckerchiefs and silk painting demo tools and try to finish a beading project or two before Friday morning. Whew!

Come see me at the Arts Council. It will be fun. Radmilla Zuman will also be there - she makes amazing lace work. Hilary will have some of her bead work there and we have an incredible gallery show of Valerie Patterson's wonderful paintings.

While you are at it - go see the rest of the artists participating in Studio Tour. Gas prices are lowish! Christmas is coming! Real Artists will show you haw they make art! Go here for a brochure.
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