Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dyed Colors

I finally have all the dyed fabric ironed and folded.  The first photo shows the few pieces I did flat on the table.  The second yellowish color and the brown are not very solid at all.  The two color piece does have some lines from the plastic which you can't see from this picture.

The next picture shows the colors I did in containers, but the fabric was pre-soaked in soda ash because I thought I was going to do mostly the flat dyeing.

I also pulled out some of my previously dyed fabrics that I didn't think I would use because of the color, too much mottling or that were too similar to another piece and over-dyed those.  I dyed them the way I usually do in a container with Ann Johnston's method. (The soda ash water is poured on the fabric after the dye.)  I'm much happier with those pieces now.

The last photo is all of them together.  Now I hope these and what I have in my stash will last me until next summer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sheer Dyeing

Probably about a year ago I purchased some silk organza to try some of the methods Melanie Testa has in her book Inspired to Quilt.  I did not get around to doing anything with that organza, until now.  A while ago I had an idea for an installation artwork using the silk organza.  I thought that shibori dyeing would achieve what I had in mind for my idea.

I have not worked with dyeing silk or any kind of sheer fabric.  I have also not done any shibori techniques, but have read about it.  So I found a PVC pipe we had, cut a piece of the organza, wrapped it around the pole, squished the fabric to one end, secured with rubber bands and stuck it in a bucket of dye.

It was a bit hard to get the fabric to slide down the pole (I didn't put the rubber bands on until after I had squished a little section of the fabric down the pole, then squished some more and put another rubber band, etc.). It was thin and just didn't want to slide easily.  The dye I had in the bucket looked brown, but when I put the fabric in, it looked more red, like burgundy.  Silk takes dyes differently than cotton.  However, when it was rinsed and dried, it looks like black.

It is an interesting pattern.  Not the color I had envisioned, but I have learned something.  I'm sure I will eventually be able to use it for something.  As far as my installation idea, it's not quite the look I was going for.  I think I will try some paint on the organza or try drawing with thickened dye.  Don't know when I will get to that.

I still don't have all my fabrics ironed but a couple of them were piled together and I thought the color combination was interesting.  Quite different from the black sheer above.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

End of Summer

Yesterday, Boise had a record high of 101 degrees.  I guess summer wasn't going down without a fight. I knew it was going to be hot near the end of the week (didn't know it was going to be that hot!) and decided to dye my last roll of PFD fabric.

I wanted to try the flat dyeing method I had read about on Simply Robin's blog.  So I purchased some plastic and clamps at Home Depot.  After a few layers, I realized this wasn't working so well for me.  Even though I had bought a somewhat heavy plastic, there were still folds and crease marks from being rolled up that would leave lines on the fabric no matter how many times I rolled over it with a roller.

The last layer I did, I tried the two color method ala Melody Johnson (scroll to bottom for flat dyeing).  The rest I did my usual way in containers.  I don't have them all washed out and ironed yet, but the container ones ended up more solid than my flat dyeing ones.  There must be a trick I don't know.  Or it could be that I did not fold my fabrics in half as Robin does.  I used my cutting table and cut the fabrics slightly smaller than a yard to fit.

What I learned:  I thought maybe the flat method would be faster and easier.  Maybe it would be if you were well practiced at it.  But it wasn't for me.  I also didn't like the dripping off the edges, but couldn't adjust the dye well enough to cover the fabric but not drip off (my driveway also slants some and that probably did not help).

I don't need a completely solid color.  I like some variations in the fabric, just not major obvious marks.  I can get a solid color good enough for me in the container method.  I might try the flat dyeing again with the fabric folded, but we'll see.

As I get the rest of the fabric ironed and folded, I will share it here with you.  I have also been getting the other Color Fields pieces quilted and will get those posted as well.  With the patio construction, end of summer dyeing and usual life happenings, I feel like my blog has been slightly ignored.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pretty Things Outside the House

Despite the mess of the construction zone, there are some pretty things outside our house right now, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Outside the House

There have been some things going on outside the house here for the last couple of weeks that has garnered much of our attention.  On the side of the house we had a big wooden deck with some benches.  Instead of replacing the wood, as we would have had to do eventually,  we've had the deck removed, as well as the small concrete pad that was underneath it.  Below is a picture after that has been removed.

 We also had to take out some stairs from the upper deck and remove walls from the small shed that was underneath.

Dirt has been moved around and rock brought in as a retaining wall and steps.

The forms have been laid (you can see behind the chair) for concrete to be poured.  It will be stamped and  colored to match the rocks.  The large cylinder will eventually be a gas fire pit, but it won't be that tall.  In the end, we will have a nice patio. 

There will be more work for us to do, though.  We will have to re-do sprinklers around the area, put in some new plants, rebuild the shed and stairs and do some paving to connect the patio to the driveway.  More stuff on the to-do list!

I will post more pictures when it is completed. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Here

My new Mac Book arrived a few days ago. I will have to learn a lot to adjust to this new system. I don't have much experience with Apple products. I have an obsolete iPod 4G Nano. I've played Angry Birds on Frank's iPad2. But the one thing I have noticed is that I think they are brilliant in the way they package their products. It is almost a work of art in itself.

When my box arrived, I had one side with tape that I needed to slice to open it. Then here is how it looked inside.

No peanuts, extra stuff - just very neat and clean. I am using my Mac now. But still have more to figure out. New programs to get. I'm disappointed because I cannot get Microsoft Publisher for the Mac. I believe my husband said I could before I decided on a computer. That is the program I use the most. Any suggestions for substitutes?

The other thing I'm trying to get use to is the keypad. The buttons are flatter than on a regular keyboard and it is hard to type on it with long fingernails. My fingernails are usually long because I just let them grow until one of them breaks, then I trim them all. The keypad also seems a little closer together ( but maybe it's not in reality). Also, there is a delete button, which is equivalent to a backspace button on our other keyboard, but not a button that will delete the character in front of the cursor (like the delete button on our regular keyboard). I used both buttons before but now will just have to get used to the one button on the Mac.

I was hoping that Blogger would function better on the Mac, but it doesn't. I still have to go back and forth between the new and old editor to be able to get the pictures to load.

As with any change, there are new things to get use to.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This past weekend was Art in the Park, the Boise Art Museum's big fundraising event. I was working last week to help get it set up.

Since my parents were coming into town on Saturday, we waited to go to the event until Sunday, so they could attend, too. I forgot to bring my camera. My mom took some pictures, but they left for Yellowstone today. So the only picture I have is of my newly acquired artwork.

This is a picture of my Guardian of Flights of Fancy by Mary Ennes Davis. This was her third year at the show. The first year I saw her pieces, I really loved them, but didn't feel like I could spend the money to get one (I think I posted a picture of one on my blog). The next year, I thought, "I should really get one." But once again the price scared me away (most likely because I was probably thinking I could make myself one. That's not always the best way of thinking).

This year my mom fell in love with them as well. I had already purchased her Christmas present earlier at another artist booth, and she offered to buy me a Guardian for my Christmas present. Oh yea! It took me a while to decide on which one to get, because I liked several (so did my mom). The writing that goes with this one is "This spirit is filled with ideas and imagination." Perfect. (Maybe next year I can get one that gives energy to work on all those ideas.)

So, my Guardian came to me on 9/11 and the artist started creating these guardians after 9/11 for family and friends as a way to protect and honor loved ones. She made them to fit into stockings, which is why they are long and skinny (my guardian has long chopstick legs even though I cut them off in the picture). You can read the full story on her website and see more guardians (although she said those were all sold. But if you are interested in one, just email her and she will send you pictures of what's available).

Now, she makes all different sizes, instead of just those that fit in stockings.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Today we are surrounded by computers.  They are portable and we can even carry them in our backpacks or purses.  Technology has advanced so quickly in my lifetime.

I'm not sure I even knew what a computer was in elementary school.  They probably did teach us about the first computers that took up large rooms, but I don't remember.  Our high school did have a computer lab, but I think it was mostly geeky students that took classes and used them.  There was a guy I knew that even got paid (I think) to do some computer work outside of school.  Since my passion was in art, I didn't have anything to do with the computers there.

I went to a liberal arts college and my majors of art and business did not require that we had to have a computer of our own.  Of course we used computers for classes like accounting and I even took a class on computer programming (which readily verified that I was not much of a geek and did not have much patience for dealing with a computer).  But there were computers at school we could use.

During my Junior and Senior years at college, I lived in a house with six other girls.  One of them had had a computer since freshman year and she was nice enough to let us all use it (the house computer).  As the end of a semester would approach, we actually had to schedule time to use it as we all would have papers to write and projects to work on.  We managed (sharing - what a concept!).

Right after college, I got married.  Frank was required to have a computer for his engineering degree and that is what we had for awhile.  Over the years, he has been in charge of purchasing and maintaining the computers (since he works in the industry) and we only had one computer.

Anna started using the computer when she was two.  But as she has grown, we have still shared one.  Eventually Frank purchased a laptop to take with him when he travels.  So as Anna spent more time on the computer and was required to do homework assignments on them, we have had two to use.  Sometimes on weekends, I would not be able to use either computer as they would both be occupied.  It wasn't a big deal to me most of the time.  I would try to do important stuff during the week while they were at school and work.

Over a year ago, Windows crashed on our desktop computer (which is about eight years old) and would no longer function.  Frank knew he could keep the desktop functioning with Linux and that is what we use on it now.  Of course, it is something new for me to adjust to and we don't have all the software that is equivalent to the Windows versions I like to use.

We still have Windows on the laptop, so for some time I have been going back and forth between the two.  Both have access to an external hard drive which makes the switching a little bit easier.

Last year, Anna decided she wanted a Mac for Christmas.  Santa brought her a Mac Book (which they now no longer make).  She has been using it since.  Frank has been very impressed with it.  I have never used hers.

Now we have three computers in the house.  To me that seems reasonable with three people living here.  Some of my family members have been urging me to get my own computer as they know I am getting increasingly frustrated with switching between two different ones.  But I kept thinking, "Isn't that excessive? We already have three (plus the recent addition of an iPad2 of which I have also had minimal use). Do we really need to get another computer?"

The answer is "no."  But I have finally gotten to the point where I want my own.  So, we have ordered a Mac Book Pro laptop for me.  Since Frank was so impressed with the Mac, I figured I would get one.  I would have a new learning curve anyway if he decides to replace our old desktop, so that is what I chose.

I wanted a desktop Mac, but when Anna and I visited the store, the screens looked so big to me.  I asked if they had anything smaller and they said the smallest they make is the 21" screen.  That was too big for me, so I looked at the lap tops.  I am getting the 17" screen.  We ordered a refurbished one and it has yet to arrive.
It is my first computer of my very own. I hope I like it.

Are you a Mac or PC and why?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

New Work

Because I create my art with fabric and a sewing machine, it is hard for me to work on art while on vacation. I always try to have some small handwork ready that I can bring with me to work on. Of course I always bring my sketchbook and do sketches if I want. I've also brought a small sketchbook and a travel size watercolor kit. But watercolor is not really my thing. Therefore, I don't do a lot of creating when I travel.

It was the same for this past trip to Long Island, but I was able to finish the bindings on three little plant-a-day pieces, finish the hand stitching on the piece below and start another small work that will only be hand stitching (although who knows when it might get completed now that I have access to the sewing machine again).

Spring Forest
hand dyed fabrics,
machine pieced, hand stitching
8-1/4" x 8-1/8"
© 2011 Lisa Flowers Ross

It was with great contentment that I was able to get back to work in my own studio this past week. It felt so comfortable and right where I belong. Before we left, I thought I had completed the Color Fields series, at least for a while. But my mind had other ideas and I have pieced two new Color Fields works, and another in progress, this past week. I'm still trying to decide how to do the quilting on the first two while I'm designing the third.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Deep Spaces

Back in April I gave you a sneak peek of a piece I was working on, which I later told you was accepted into the show Deep Spaces. Now I am revealing the entire piece. It was inspired by our trip to Ireland.

Deep Within the Forest
hand dyed and commercial fabrics,
machine pieced, machine and fused and applique,
machine quilted
45" x 18"
© 2011 Lisa Flowers Ross

The show is split for the Latimer and Edmonds locations (my piece will be at the Edmonds location) but will be seen in its entirety in the other locations.  Here's the info:

Deep Spaces
A Textile and Mixed Media Exhibit

Curator Larkin Jean Van Horn selected the theme "Deep Spaces" following a conversation with friends about the limits of space and the photography from the Hubble telescope. While it was clear that textile art dealing with the cosmos would be an appealing exhibit, the title implied so much more. Artists interested in participating in the exhibit were encouraged to interpret the theme in any manner that suited them, and the entries were outstanding. The artists went deep into space, deep underground, deep under water, deep into the woods, canyons and prairies, and deep into the mysteries of the heart. Each artist worked in her own style, whether photorealism or pure abstraction or something in between. Holding all this wide variety together is a common size (18 inches wide by 45 inches long).

The task of choosing the fifty pieces in the exhibit from the hundred-plus submitted fell to Larkin and two other highly experienced textile artists, Debra Calkins and Anne Niles Davenport. For one of the venues (Latimer), Larkin also invited several artist friends to create three-dimensional works for an existing display case. In the final total, we have 58 works from 19 states and two international entries.

In line with Larkin's desire to do good in the world wherever possible, a catalog has been created for this exhibit, and will be for sale in disk format, either at the exhibit venues or from the Deep Spaces website:, or in book form from Blurb: (A direct link will be available on when it is ready.) All proceeds from the sale of the catalogs will go to Doctors Without Borders.

Dates and venues:

September 5 to November 6, 2011
Latimer Quilt and Textile Center
2105 Wilson River Loop Road - Tillamook, Oregon
Opening Reception: Sept. 11, 2011, Noon to 4:00 pm
28 textile art and 8 special 3D pieces

October 20 to November 30, 2011
Edmonds Conference Center
201 Fourth Ave. N. - Edmonds, Washington
ArtsCrush Opening: Oct. 20, 2011, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
Art Walk Opening: Nov. 17, 2011, 5:00 to 8:00 pm
22 textile art

January 10 to March 12, 2012
Sam Houston University Museum
19th St and Avenue N, Huntsville, Texas
Opening Reception: January 19, 2012, 5:30 to 7:30 pm

March 28 to June 24, 2012
LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum
700 Second Street, La Conner, Washington
Opening Reception: March 31, 2012, 2:00 to 4:00 pm

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Today is another Twelve by Twelve reveal day for their latest color challenge, orange. This is also the last in this round of challenges. The orange color choice coincided nicely with the Treasure Valley Artists' Alliance blue and orange show. I made a piece that would work for both. So here is my play-along orange piece and it is also one of the pieces in the Complements show.

Summer Breeze
hand dyed fabrics,
machine pieced and machine quilted
30" x 17-1/2"
© 2011 Lisa Flowers Ross

Here it is in the Complements: Inspiration in Blue and Orange show.

Be sure to go to the Twelve by Twelve site and check out the oranges.