Bunny business


Fibergig, our Etsy shop, invites conversation about our products. This week Sarah admired a linen pillow, but it didn’t match her needs. “I want it to be easy to wash and larger, perhaps a square.”

I agreed to play within those parameters and present several possibilities. The original pillow is in the lower right of the photograph. A cotton pillow front with printed pattern is on the left. I made two more similar to this.

While I was on the bunny trail, I painted a white onesie and hat featuring our sweet bunny with spring blooms. I also took a more contemporary approach with a larger bunny and purple dye, paired with a tie dye hat.

Sarah will decide if my efforts match her needs; we agreed that she would be under no obligation. The rest of the items will be in this shop soon.


A Gift for the Groom

I volunteered to paint the groom’s tie for a spring wedding, and yet I had never painted a tie before. I assembled paint, tools, and the tie. I sorted through what I know about Jeff: energy and composure. Here is the result.

For whom would you want a tie painted? What words would you choose for inspiration?

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Gown of Generations

The request came: will you make my wedding gown into a christening outfit?

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I photographed the gown and then gently deconstructed it.

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I cleaned part of the lace and fabric to see if it was safe and if it made a difference.

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The Christening outfit,  boxed and ready for delivery, was debuted in late December.  Today I cut out a Christening gown, 2 bride’s hankies, and an extra surprise.

This project delights me, taking a good garment and the memories of a celebration and regenerating both cloth and joy.  Blessings on those who celebrate.

Working With the Weather

I like to cooperate with the weather instead of resisting it. It’s the farm girl in me. It’s the sensible mom in me. It’s the “be present” mystic in me.

Snow and frigid cold is a gift of time for design and prototype development in the studio this week.

Fingerless gloves knit by my daughter Emily keep my fingers warm. I want her to knit more of these for our fibergig shop next winter. Do you think bright-colored wool is a good addition to a snowy day?

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Evolve in the Land of Little Bits

Big drama wears me out. Big bites overwhelm me. I often choose a “little bit,” a phrase my father often used and now so does my son.
Both Studio Three 17 and its division fibergig experienced significant growth spurts in 2013. We grew, we learned, and now we are intentionally building on those experiences. This week I am painting on new scarf prototypes, a circular cotton knit and a large rectangle rayon number with fringed ends.
Exploration is in the early stages. Fabric, wet or dry. Paint application with brush, with tip top bottle. Fabric flat or scrunched. More paint? Time to print with ink? I am happy in this Land of Little Bits.

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An Economy Lesson from my Mother

I stacked up 3 buttons and then repeated the action 7 more times. The little buttons were embellishments for gingerbread men, a new design for journal covers. I threaded up the machine, successfully sewed on two buttons, then cracked the third and broke a needle. I took the thread out of the machine and found my thimble.

As I found a meditative pace in the repetitive work, I remembered the November when mother and I made 25 Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. There were three size options and a range of skin and hair color. Over Thanksgiving break, I was assembling doll clothes while mom was organizing the big meal. She stopped in to see my progress.

She was not entirely delighted. She had caught me zig zagging every seam in the small garments. “Norma, this is just doll clothes! “. This statement came from the same woman who had ripped out wavy seams while I cried just a few years earlier. My pursuit of excellence was deeply rooted in her parenting. Today, she was teaching me something new, an economy of time. Today I call that day’s lesson, “appropriate effort.”

I could have glued the buttons on the journal covers, but that does not conform to my standards for my studio artifacts. I expect the owner to slide her hand over that cover, to enjoy the soft wool couched around the cotton figure, perhaps to flick the button a bit with a finger nail. The buttons are sewn on securely, with doubled heavy duty thread, so that I only made two stitches for each button. I honor the economy lesson from so long ago.

What did you learn long ago that helps you today?



The fun part of selling do-its in person is asking folks what verb they would choose to put on one. A few weeks ago I watched a gentleman carefully pick out dance, begin, create. “What would you like to see on a do-it?” I asked. “Repeat,” he responded quickly.
“Repeat? May I ask what you do for a living?” I was surprised by his verb. It was one that had never occurred to me to use.
He chuckled, “I teach dance.”

What a beautiful gift of a word he gave me! I have been pondering it. I see how important it is to my studio work. Repeated techniques. Repeated motifs. I recall my joy of seasonal life, a repeat I share with community. So I put the word repeat on a do-it. And repeated it a few more times. These are being shipped to a good teacher. More will become part of the shop inventory for fibergig at Etsy. One will hang in Studio Three 17.

A do-it is a small tag made of fabric, thread and yarn. It serves as a whimsical reminder of a desired action, which is handwritten with fabric pens. What verb would you like on a do-repeat 003 (640x480)it?

Assisting Cinderella

I entered the aisle for fabric paints and saw a puzzled woman with silk shoes in her hand. I turned to the next aisle, paused, and came back to the woman.
“What are you thinking about? You obviously are searching for a solution.” Her face questioned me. I piped up, “I am a textile artist. Your face and your shoes intrigue me.”
She quickly told her situation: mother of the groom. dress and shoes not quite the same tone. She decided, “I should just give you my shoes.”
I talked her through options that she could do herself. Distress began to register on her beautiful face. I fumbled through my purse and pulled out my business card. “This is who I am. Give me your shoes. Let me help you.”

I added shading and dimension with 5 metallic paints, a few stencils, and several brushes. I practiced on some bits of silk before I started on her shoes. The “little bit more” solution was a good choice as the shoes took on a more complementary tone to the dress fabric.

We met at the local pub for the shoe delivery. We chatted over a beer about the northern Midwest and military family life, points of commonality. She left to pack for the wedding. I departed to get back to larger scale projects. But I was pleased to have helped with the golden slippers.


Ever Widening Circle Stoles

This set of five stoles was designed for a bishop’s assistant. The recipient worshiped with a different congregation nearly every Sunday, so he requested the stoles be portable (not wrinkly) and versatile in color.

I chose quilt cottons in traditional patterns to accomplish those two requirements. Fabric selection and the set of the patterns create a more contemporary effect. The star/cross motif is repeated in each design. The quilt pattern is concentric circles made with a wavy stitch, suggesting the movement of the Gospel into the world.

(Click any image below for a larger view.)