Oh, oh, the Ammonite!

I’m hearing the Bob Marley song, ‘The Israelite,’ as I make fabric prints from this CNC-carved wood block made by Tony Bevis. There is a whole little ammonite sub-culture here in the Pikes Peak Region. Kim Lacy has been using the ammonite shape in her prize-winning art quilts for several years. Dennis saw these, and wanted to carve one on a huge maple burl disk he has turned. Our friend, Tony, is a neighbor of Kim’s, and started looking for an image to carve with his CNC router. He cut four different sizes of the image. I am lucky to have two much smaller ones for block printing experiments.

The easiest transfer to fabric is a simple rubbing to pick up a ‘white line’ print of the carved areas of the block. For this black quilt, I quilted the lines first, and then painted inside them. Some black-on-black texture comes from a stencil, and from hand embroidery.


I liked the stencil of the pebbles enough to add it to the wood block with spackling. Technically, the block became a colograph at this point, and it was perfect for a new step in the game – using a gelli plate as an inking surface. I applied the paint in a very wet condition, pressed the block into the ink, and lifted it off. The thickness of the paint created a ‘denditric’ texture. This print is from the block, not the gelli plate– black ink on white cotton sateen. I then painted over the dried print with transparent acrylics from CMYK colors – the base colors for inkjet printing. Perhaps we are unaware just how much this 4-color printing process has shaped our color sense!

Cyan/Magenta/Black Ammonite

Oh, Pompeii

I haven’t been to Pompeii, but I collect the evocative photos of the ruins of the civilization there. It seems like a hedonistic place, but that may only be the impression left by the wine jugs in the cellar that fell together like so many party animals. I have made a pair of quilts, and now, a high relief carving about that wine cellar. 8×10″, turned and carved elements, bas-relief texture.



The hotter version of secondary colors seemed just right for a bit of a tourist poster for Southern Europe. The white line block prints are from archeological illustrations in Marija Gimbutas’ book, The Civilization of the Goddess, about neolithic Europe. So, although I haven’t been there in 2022 (with various Boomer friends), I feel very entitled to interpret our shared heritage.

Airstreams rolling onto Etsy

Frosty Mornings are Best!

My sister has been camping in her Airstream, which inspired me to make some small quilts with original drawings, paints, some commercial fabrics, and machine quilting. They are for sale at LiggysNotions.etsy.com.

RV Summer

This one uses a hand-dyed silk fragment made by the late Johnnie Venezia with some fussy machine quilting.


This 9×9″ framed quilt is from the crowded campgrounds during the pandemic. I added a polymer RV and a tree for a little extra dimension. The quilts are in the ‘textiles’ section of LiggysNotions.etsy.com

Photo uploads working again!

Troika of Candlesticks for the holidays

After almost a year, magically, WordPress fixed the photo upload problems I was having. In that time, the number of completed projects has stacked up, almost like the two candlestacks. Made of disparate elements, these stacks show some of the ways small turnings can be joined on an internal axis.

These 3 are going to the St Peter School’s holiday craft fair. This family-centered Saturday is a great reminder of the best things about the holiday season: homemade gifts and a bake sale!

Write like an Egyptian

quilted hieroglyphics

This composition began with block-painted silk. The three bird images are from a library of hieroglyphics, drawn onto the sillk, and then quilted. The small symbols are machine quilting. This kind of drawing with the sewing machine is possible with a dedicated free motion machine, like my mid-arm Sweet 16.

This quilt is finished with a facing; 9″ wide x 12″ tall

finding the center(s)

‘Proud Bird’ started with the powerful Egyptian hieroglyphic of a pelican.

The parallel lines in the tail were especially strong. I repeated them in the cowl of the bird’s head, giving a kind of Sphinx-like quality to the bird.

I also drew the figure so that the curve of the head echoed the curved color gradient in the painted silk background. The head, the lines, and the curve became the strong center of the little quilt.

Everything else I did after that was designed to echo or strengthen the impression of that center, by building on borders around each component. This process is natural for a quilter; we always start the quilting in the center and move outward toward the boundaries.

The quilt is almost monochromatic, with the yellow-orange-beige colorway predominating, and the turquoise accents limited to less that 25% of the area. The tiny bit of white is very important to the design.

New turnings – timeless design

Traditional darning mushroom to honor my Grandmother Franceska, who was a pioneer farmer in Utah–the source of this cottonwood burl cap.  The stem is mesquite – another wood that was unknown to my Slovenian grandparents.  They both brought needlework skills to their new life.  Grandfather Francis was trained as a tailor, but preferred to try farming.  They moved to Denver soon after my mother, their 8th child, was born in 1923.  Grandmother continued to sew, darn, make lace, and crochet in the city, passing her skills onto my aunts.

Zentangle® for quilters

This small quilt began as a drawing of a woman with an umbrella on paper.  I drew the Zentangle® patterns around her with a pigment liner pen.  I printed the drawing onto cotton with my inkjet printer, added the color wash, and used scraps from quilting to frame the drawing.

The colorway for this quilt comes from the cyan-magenta-chartreuse set of transparent primary colors.  It takes transparent color to allow the drawing to come through.  This type of print-and-paint gives me the opportunity to make a series of quilts from the same labor-intensive drawing.  I have been in galleries with easel artists who sell their painting numerous times by making prints.  My method provides a unique composition, but allows me to work quickly on multiples.

The primary benefit of the discipline of Zentangle® drawing comes from a relaxed approach to infilling a background.  In order to do free-motion quilting in a truly freehand way, I need a repertoire of patterns that are adaptable to different sizes and shapes of quilted areas.  It is also necessary to learn to divide the quilted surface into sub-sections, and Zentangle® provides practice making these divisions (called ‘strings’ by the founders).

I have also enlarged the patterns significantly in order to provide a more interesting style of background quilting.  This black matrix quilt started with a rubbing of an elm stump.  The machine quilting is straightforward right up to the  edge of the stump.  For the background, I used simple ‘string’ divisions and then drew upon Zentangle® patterns to fill the black background area.  It takes excellent lighting to see the patterns in the background, which adds a bit of a surprise to the artwork.

Even though we may no longer be interested in covering every available surface with Zentangle® drawings, practice with this drawing system is uniquely helpful to any quilter developing freemotion patterns.

Crafting the European Folk Art Horse

While working on my quilt of ice age horse drawings, I discovered the marvelous ‘Kone’ of Miroslav Jaros on Pinterest.  These carved and decorated horses reminded me of the simple horse carvings that my Slovenian grandfather made for me and my sister in the 1950’s.  We loved playing with the wooden toys, wich needed all of our imagination to supply the details and the stories.

I feel very comfortable exploring some of the forms that Jaros uses.  We have the same eastern European heritage, so any appropriation is personal, and not cultural.  I have never seen his work in the round, or even learned the scale of it, and I never copy directly from his forms.  There are many examples of Swedish folk art horses, as well, although they lack the more sculptural and monumental weight of the Kone.   With my grandfather standing behind me, I have a great sense of joy exploring this form.

The horse figures in the photo have been roughed out on the bandsaw from 1.5″ thick stock.  They are about 5″ tall.  I used carving tools and abrasives to refine the forms after taking the photo.  These are marvelous surfaces for ornament!  There are an infinite ways to divide the surfaces for pyrography, paints, patination, and applied decorative elements, like upholstery nails.  Although the shaping is somewhat tedious (more than woodturning; more like quilting!), the surface decoration makes it all worthwhile.