Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Piece 3 - Complete!!!

Just put on the finishing touches!! Whew! Looking forward to your feedback!


Here is a close-up of the main branch.  The branch over the textile part is made from bark cloth Wil gave me from Africa. I'm afraid I matched the color for the painted part of the branch so well you can't actually see it in the photo.  The other bit you might be able to distinguish in the photo is that I used crushed up shells from the actual pecans off the tree on my mom and dad's farm in Texas.  The current resident was kind enough to send me a bag of them!!  How cool is that????

The fourth canvas is underway and the fifth (and final for now) has been started!! 

One more poppy

One more poppy piece before the year ends.  I did an experiment with thickened dye spread on a plastic mat and pressed fabric over the surface.  The dye bubbles and moves so it's very upredictable (but fun).  I used some cardboard poppy shapes as a resist.  The left side is a piece of shibori with the same dyes; I used clothespins as my resist.  Poppies are free motion stitched and I heavily machine quilted the background  It's small, only 12" x 12".  Happy New Year Everyone!  Hope I can remember my password..... Wil, can you help???

All Together Now

I have just been looking at the pieces each artist has done so far and I have to say that I am liking the way the pieces look together!! Not one to have worked much in a series or anything before, I can see how this concept is beneficial. Great work everyone!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weeds can give us drugs - Irene MacWilliam

12 x 24 inches 30 x 60 cms
I am using the same technique and fabrics as in my other pieces that I have already posted. I used steam a seam light for the various bits of the foxglove; as it is repositionable this made it fairly easy to get an arrangement that pleased me. Al the fabrics are painted, dyed, stamped etc. I am still not sure what I think of this series, some days I quite like them and other days I feel dissatisfied, I think because they are not in the usual strong colours I tend to work with. I am aiming to do 6 pieces to these dimensions although I will be switching to a new theme for 2014.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I hope you all had a happy Christmas and are looking forward to a new creative year. But it is also time for some thinking :-). Do you want to work with a new theme in the coming year or expand on your present one? Just let me know and I will add it to the blog.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Third Pecan piece on its way

Yes.....before you gasp....I DO know what day it is and how soon Jan. 9th is.  But am I panicked???? Ummmm....yes.....just a bit!

Anyway, the third piece is currently called "Emergence".  This is just the background (a blue wet acrylic color wash.  Dabbed out the "cloud" effect with a paper towel when the paint was still quite wet.  Next I stitched in the textile piece.  Added bits of brown (a pounded fabric from years ago) since the branches would be prominent in this piece.  Then did the grass and began the infrastructure of the tree branch itself.  The "star" of this piece is a screen print of the pecans when the covering opens up and the pecan (as we are used to seeing them) is revealed.  That will be for tomorrow along with some leaves. OH and a stretched piece of bark cloth (like the trunk of The Sapling, will be the continuance of the branch on the textile part. It is sopping wet and stretched out to dry at the moment. And one more thing, I have shelled a bunch of pecans from the HUGE ancient tree in from of my parents former homeplace in Texas. They were sent to me by the wonderfully kind current resident. I will be pulverizing the shells to adhere to the larger parts of the limbs for texture.  I did a test piece and really like the results.


I do have the other 2 designed and the materials assembled...just need to execute them.  

Somehow I had hoped this would be a more conversant group. But then, I haven't been particularly great at that myself on a regular basis I suppose. I'm hoping it is because we are all so wonderfully involved in making awesome art!  I just know that I for one would LOVE to have some feedback.....even if you don't like a piece.  It helps us to improve and learn.....    just sayin.......

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Poppy Assemblage

Hello All,

I am puzzled about what to do next with this piece; it's a complicated one created with DSP (same batch of dye as Birch & Moons).  Using cardboard cutout poppies, I printed on two pieces of white silk which then were fused to the hand-dyed background piece.  Then --- an experiment!

I've been laser printing onto gampi (rice paper) for collage and decided to try adhering a small piece with matte acrylic medium on a sample of fabric.  It worked, so I printed the cluster of poppies (lower left), ripped off the excess paper, and adhered it with the matte medium over one printed silk section. Gampi becomes more transparent when it dries.  This has been pinned on my bulletin board for a couple months because I'm not sure where to go next with it and haven't been back in my studio since mid-Nov.  Might put it away for a while and when I re-discover it maybe the light bulb will go on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weeds - Children Make Daisy Chains

Another piece in my series on appreciating weeds. 12 x 24 inches or 15 x 30cms

I screen printed a child on an a mockup of the green earth and blue sky. It seemed OK but a tiny bit pale so I added a bit more grey and printed the children using my own handcut stencil on my actual piece. Horrors they looked far too dark. Left the piece for a few days and then decided to overprint the children with a paler shade of grey. I did this by carefully placing the stencil over each image and then placing the screen to add the additional fabric paint. They were apppaling like plasticy extrusions!! They looked worse each day, then a friend suggested covering the piece with organza. In my unusual fabric bag I found  a sheer organza with flowers and leaves so applied that to the children but it was such an improvement. Not sure if it was the answer but I added the daisy plant, looks more like the button daisies than the wild ones but I have had positive feedback about them so will leave it as it is.

The sky and ground were made with stencilling, dyeing, sun printing etc. The green daisy band and binding were sun printed. This will make my third piece posted – I only started half way but I am working on another piece and hope to have six in this collection so if it is Ok with members I will post them as I complete them.

Now to get my head around thinking of something for 2014. Posted on a gloriously warm day in December, unusual for here in Northern Ireland

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Finally Completed

Just completed the finishing touches on the second piece in the Pecans Series - Summer Grove.  I am very pleased with how it turned out. Hope you like it.  Now on to the third piece!!  Time is getting rather short.  Glad I have them all pictured in my head!!  (note - the strip across the top is actually straight...just an anomaly with the actual photo.  Can hardly wait to get them professionally photographed!!)

Summer Grove

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Grove continued....

Yesterday I painted the grass field for the grove of pecan trees.  Today I painted in the first tree on the canvas.  There will be two more painted trees and a textile element as part of the sky that will hopefully be completed by the end of this week.

Here is a closeup of the first painted tree. I used the same thermofax tree branches that I used on the textile. It seems to work a bit differently on canvas.  


Central portion of a 12" x 20" DSP piece titled "Eclipse".  Background was created with two pieces from the same print batch and moon eclipse(es) are fused applique from leftover fabric.  Randomly machine quilted, not finished.  Am home on Day #9 recovery from right hip replacement and may not make the six for this year!  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Second in the new series - Pecans

Working on my second piece for the Pecans series.  This one will be titled "The Grove"

Here is the beginning. I have just stitched the textile part onto the canvas.  Now to do some painting!

Here is a closeup of the textile portion so far.

Got to do some painting today also so I completed the painted part of the sky. There will be a textile element to the sky but that will be for tomorrow.

I'm so happy with how these pieces are going. They really are turning out like I see them in my head!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Irene MacWilliam - Nettles Support 40 Species- theme- Weeds

I thought I had this piece finished a few weeks ago but I was not very happy with it. Every day I looked at it and I knew that the nettle looked rather uninteresting and wrong. Here is a detail of it. I had bound the edges and got the sleeve on it.
I realised I needed to add more interest to the nettles so I free machine stitched to try to remove the flat look. I was not worrying about being realistic as if there were a light source. As the stitching was added after the piece was finished it looks strange just having this stitching showing on the back but I do not care, it would not satisfy any quilt judge. 
and here is the complete piece. It is 24 x 12 inches or 60 x 30 cms. I am a lot happier with it. It is unusual for me to be working with pale fabrics. All the fabrics in this piece have been dyed or overdyed and then painted, printed by various means with home made stamps and sun printed except for the leaves of the nettles, they are polycottons in 2 shades. the home produced fabrics were then cut and reassembled and cut and reassembled. The lower part is quilted with buttercup leaf shapes to keep to the theme of Weeds.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Broken Lines

My 6th quilt for this year's theme is completed. It is called Broken Lines and here are the pictures of it:

I stitched the quilted parts onto a painted canvas. All fabrics used are my hand dyed ones. The size of the canvas is 16"x20".
I have been thinking if I want to continue with this theme in 2014 or if I should choose a new one. Have not yet made up my mind. What are you doing? Continue or pick a new theme?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One Down...seemingly a gazillion to go!

It's DONE!!  The first piece in the Pecan series!!!

And now for the unveiling......

Pecan Series
The Sapling

There are 5 more in the Pecan Series to be completed. I think the first one is the most difficult. All the concepts and supplies for the others are here...just need to put them on canvas.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Sapling continues

Here is step two of The Sapling. Finished the "ground". Now on to the tree itself.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Sapling as a new beginning

Here is the beginning!!  I wish I had taken a photo of the canvas with just the textile parts stitched on but I just couldn't wait to get painting!!  This is the sky part (obviously I guess).  Hopefully a bit later today I'll get the ground started. Then tomorrow I can start putting on the sapling together.  I'll keep the photos coming!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taking a New Path

OK...thanks for not writing me off lately.  Life has taken a whole unexpected turn that has taken some getting used to.  We are now keeping our 4 grandchildren full time (at least for the near future).  They are 6, 5, 5 (twins) and 11 months.  Yep...a handful to say the least. Fortunately, they are good kids.  But they are kids! Needless to say, long leisure days in my studio are a thing of the past. But thankfully, when the kids are at school the baby naps in the morning and afternoon. STUDIO TIME!!! Also thankfully, I have an amazing husband who knows I need studio time and helps out whenever he's home.  It has been a month now and I think we are just about settled into a routine (or what passes for one I guess)

But as all things work out for the best somehow, it gave me time to re-imagine my Pecan series.  Started in earnest this morning sorting the fabrics to make the textile bits for the first piece.  On my way I think...unless more curves are thrown into the mix (please no)

Here's my work island with the fabrics sorted. After auditioning them for the first bit, that strip is in the foreground of the photo.

Wish me luck!!  (oh and, all prayers and wonderful thoughts are appreciated!!!)  LOL!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

separate pages

I placed copies of the photos we placed on the blog also on the separate artist pages. Check it out. They look great!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I've been experimenting with deconstructed (breakdown) screen printing with mixed results this year. The piece above called "Birch & Moons" was a good surprise.  One day I had extra dye so I printed on a scrap piece of torn and soda-ash soaked cotton canvas.  I had placed deli paper under the screen during the preparation phase and liked the looks.  I placed the dried deli paper over the center of the printed canvas and went "aha" -- a birch forest! Later I hand-beaded my version of birch trees and cut moon shapes from remaining deli paper scraps.  Today I covered and painted a piece of gator board 8" x 15" and glued on the fabric.  I think I'm done.
Last week I tried mono printing with thickened dye.  I spread the dye on a thin plastic cutting mat, laid fabric over the dye, then used a brayer.  The dye moved and morphed on the plastic, creating interesting bubbles and swirls.  I cut a few poppy pod outlines from cardboard and laid some on the dye before adding the fabric.  Had enough "OK" pieces to stitch together.  I free-motion stitched poppy pods over the printed outlines, machine quilted a random grid, and finished with piped binding. The piece which is about 10" x 12" truly is straight and square, but I have difficulty telling my camera that fact.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

WEEDS - theme of Irene MacWilliam

Weeds are useful

In the past few weeks I have been making fabric to the weed theme, sun prints, lino cuts, printing, painting etc various weed leaves and text .
I had a vision in my head but it did not look correct when I laid out the various bits. I cut them up and laid them down as a background and printed the text on some of the small squares. It looked lovely but I wished to represent some of the weeds so I free motion stitched in a dandelion, daisy, corn poppy and a nettle. It looked messy and the drawing did not show up enough. I free motion zig-zagged over the drawn weeds. Now everything is just one big muddle, fine if you are prepared to peer and pick out the elements; however it looks dirty, not fresh and wonderful.

The back of it looks not bad so I decided to leave it exposed just for my own interest and perhaps for use when teaching.

I think all my background pieces were too strongly coloured or maybe I needed to leave some areas blank for my drawing.

I am determined to find my way to my vision of showing the value of weeds through textiles. Much thinking needed. Just as I am writing this text a new approach has come into my mind. We will see.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I'm B A C K!!

I know...scary, right?

Anyway, here is where things stand as of today and my series for this year.

I'm totally reworking the concept for Pecans so I've nothing to show yet. BUT....

Since I no longer belong to SAQA...I'm moving that series here to Free Spirit as well.  This has been one long time in coming series.  Trying to find the best bits to accomplish what I want to end up with has been a challenge but now all the parts are here and we are "off to the races"

A bit of history - Several years ago, Wil was visiting and wanted to see the decorative manhole covers in Nicollet Mall, downtown Minneapolis.  OK....I had never even heard about them! But we found them. I had just done some work in lino printing and as soon as I saw these covers, I thought how cool they would be as lino prints. Found out who the artist is and she graciously gave me permission to use her work to translate it into lino prints for my own work.  Her name is Kate Burke. You can see the original manhole covers she created HERE.  They are all representative of something associated with Minnesota.

And here I am.....

This one is not completed as yet but I thought I would show you this stage in the process anyway. This one is entitled "The Hunter".  Wolves are a bit part of the ecology in Minnesota and I just happen to adore them. So I started with this one.
In a few days, I'll post the steps on how I got here to this point, but for today...this is where it is.

"The Hunter"

The concept is the manhole covers, cut out of the sidewalk where they reside. The final canvas will be larger (this is the only blank one I had handy - 18" X 18")

I'm so gratified to see it finally come together.  I'll catch you up and then keep you posted on the progress.  This "brick surrounded manhole cover" will be stitched onto canvas and then stretched onto the frame.

The next step is to decide what color/design/whatever to do the canvas so as to compliment but not distract from the cover.  I'm totally open to suggestions......HINT! HINT!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

New Member Introducing myself.

Wil has asked me to write a bit about myself so here goes:-

I live in Northern Ireland not very far from the capital city-  Belfast.

I have been involved with textiles since autumn 1985. I regard myself as both a Patchworker/Quilter and an Embroiderer. I belong to both of the Northern Ireland guilds. I have no experience of making traditional patchwork as I never wanted to follow someone else’s pattern and ideas.   I really enjoy free machine work.

Every year for 27 years I made a large wall hanging of world events, last years -2012 - is waiting for me to make the final panel. I have lost interest in them. There will be no more when it is finished. You can see them all on my website.  They have had solo showings when there were 10, 18, 19 and 26 of them.

I am happy to use any technique that fits my thinking. I prefer to work from an idea rather than working from a photo or image though of course I will use visuals to help my design ideas.

I freelance teach and give talks on my work.

I am a bit apprehensive about joining this group as it seems such a big commitment to say I will make 6 pieces within a year to the same theme. Although I have various themes that I have worked on the actual pieces are seldom made one after the other, they may well be years apart. However this will be a new challenge to me. 

I have selected the theme of weeds and while we have lovely sunny weather here I am furiously making prints to use in this series. 

I look forward to being part of this group.

Friday, July 26, 2013


While I was with Kelly last month, we did not have just fun, but we were also very active. During those weeks I completed 2 pieces for my lines theme. In the previous post I have shown Ghostflowers and here is Zebra. Okay, the name is not very Original, I know :-). A couple of years ago I made another quilt based on a zebra. And that one focussed on a specific part of the animal. Click on this link to see a picture of it. For this quilt I used commercial black and red fabric and white silk noir. The pictures of the zebra's are printed on silk organza. Size of this one is 25"x41".

Friday, June 28, 2013

Ghost flowers

Another quilt in my lines theme is finished. I dyed the background fabric a couple of years ago and quilted it last month. The size of the quilt is roughly 40"x40" so this took a lot of hours of machine work. Next step was to cut out and applique the ghost flowers. For this I used a pounded fabric, another oldie:-). And this is how it looks now.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Here I am (still)

Hello my fellow artists. I know I haven't been around here much, seems enough time in one day spent going through facebook, and my other online research (I do some every day looking for greeting card companies to send my art to and galleries and markets).

This Summer I will be very busy at various African markets here in London as I do so love making  my African art. These are all small pieces that I can sell cheaply at these markets.

Have a wonderful week arting.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Jazz Singer - May 2013

Here is the most recent painting- mixed media and collage.. It is the largest picture I've done and it was great fun working on
A friend in Arkansas sent me this photo of last night's Super Moon.  Might print it on gampi rice paper or fabric.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I may be good at art quilts, but my (lack of) ability to post on a blog is a challenge!  I'll get the hang of it.  I live in Rochester, MN and describe my work as Pieced, Appliqued, Felted, Beaded, Hand Stitched, Embellished, Quilted, Machine Stitched, Raw Edges, Finished Edges, Framed, Unframed, Serious, Whimsical, Huge, Small, Simple and Complex.  That "explains" my fiber artwork and why my theme will be: "All Over the Map."

I learned to sew at an early age when my mother taught me how to sew a dress.  Sewing led to knitting, embroidery and quilting.  I owned a quilt shop in the late 70's to 80's, lectured and taught quilting in the Midwest and judged quilt shows.  I'm picky about workmanship and I like the statement "good technique is invisible."

At my home you may find me dyeing fabric, working on a contemporary quilt design or combining paper, silk and embellishments for a framed work.  Frequently I indulge in "Fiber Play."  I love to look for special fabrics and
consider the day a success if I stumble across a spool of unique thread of beautiful piece of fabric.  I have small bedroom for sewing and a laundry room for dyeing which are both (of course) filled with supplies.

Bright colors and bold patterns are at the heart of my quilted works, as in this piece "Sumac Suite."
I love the challenge and rewards of commissioned work.  My smaller fiber play pieces require the viewer to look closely to discover the materials, stitching patterns, texture and embellishments.  I enjoy the entire process of creation from the initial flash of an idea to completing the last stitch.  I've been known to rotary cut a "disaster" piece into tiny pieces and escort it to the wastebasket.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

new member

Free Spirit has a new member. Kelly and I met Francie last week and invited her to join this group. Check out her website for the art she makes: http://ginocchioart.com/francie/

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Meta is cutting down on her commitments. That means that she is leaving this group.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Today Joke informed me that she is leaving the group. The language barrier was too big.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

And it's complete

I guess this would qualify as the beginning of my Pecan series.  I had the original 30 X 30 bits on my wall for what seemed like forever.  Just couldn't make up my mind about how I wanted to proceed with the background.  

Then I saw the opportunity to do a piece to enter in a competition that would end up as a street banner.  I played around with several ideas but none really excited me. The issue was largely the very vertical aspect of the required piece. The original  had to be w12" X h22".  Then if accepted, it would be blown up to twice that size for the banner. I had decided just to let this competition pass. Then like a flash of lightening it came to me...The Sapling!!  The Sapling is the name of the first piece in the Pecan series.  But to do it for the banner would afford me a smaller size to experiment with the background.  AND it is very vertical!!  It all came together so well that it was completed in one day!!

What I learned making this beginning piece has further inspired me to get onto the first of the series -- the REAL Sapling!

The Sapling - Banner

A photo of Main Street with the current banners

AND....it doesn't end there. During the summer, the original pieces will be displayed in Main Street businesses.  In the fall, they will be auctioned off to raise money for the Zumbrota Area Arts Council.

AND...one more thing....Wil has a piece accepted for a banner as well!! Wonder if we will be hanging on the same side of the street!  LOL!!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

my second piece

Another piece I made, practicing making collages and making a finished piece at the same time!  :-)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

fabric collage

I made this collage with a drawing of my son Mathijs. I'd made a thermofaxscreen from the drawing and some of his early writing and printed them onto some monoprinted fabrics. With these fabrics I made a collage, adding some painted scrim. I layered it onto batting and a backing fabric and stitched horizontal lines to keep everything in place, and appliqued the print of the drawing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I have added pages to the blog. This will give us the option to have all our work together on one page. Please post on the regular home page, but when you have done that please post a picture of your art work on your personal page as well.
To get there, click on design, pages, select your own page and add the picture there in the blogpost I have created for you all. Let me know if it is not clear.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book/Box Secrets

I am translating this tutorial from Joke but as I have never folded one of those boxes I hope it is clear :-). Joke does not know whether this is the 'official' way of making a box like this. She once saw a picture of such a box and attempted to duplicate it.
The first picture shows a square piece of paper folded twice. Once from the left to the right and once from the top to the bottom. Those folds will remain visible. If you don't want that you can mark the folding lines with pencil. Open the paper till it is flat again. The folding lines are to aid you with the next step. Fold each part to the folding line. To help you these lines are marked in this picture. When you are making your real box you do not have to mark these.
Next you fold the corners of your paper to the centre like you see in this picture:
And folded open it looks like this:
Rotate the paper 90 degrees and fold it twice diagonal like this:
Turn the paper again in the original position with the tops like this and fold the corners like you see on the next 2 pictures:

Now the tricky part comes :-). Fold the corner marked with the arrow like you see on the picture above this text.
Do this clockwise with all the corners and your result is like the box which is shown in my bokk.
The other boxes are folded in the same way, only using rectangular paper instead of square and only the 2 opposite sides are folded inwards.
The big box is again a square one and folded in the similar way.
Good luck!