Category Archives: workshops

Dyeing Blue This Week

     I started two indigo vats this past week-one with the pre-reduced indigo from ProChem and one with the natural indigo in  a lime-fructose-indigo vat. It was easier than I thought it would be and the warm weather helped me jump outdoors and jump into fabric dyeing.

Silk Habotai with natural indigo

Cotton with natural indigo

Pre-reduced indigo with silk 

     It was interesting to see the variety of values between the vats and the different types of fabric I used. The pre-reduced indigo resulted the very dark blue fabrics.  It is a stark difference between the two and I think I enjoy the lighter blues. I used silk, bamboo/cotton blend and cotton to try with this batch. The only assignment was to start the vats and do test swatches which I have done and now labeled for future use this summer.

    I also am continuing on my series but ran out of navy blue for one of my pieces. So out came the  Procion navy blue and few pieces of cotton for the fabric dyeing I needed. I am ready to move on to brighter spring colors to use up what I have already dyed.  Fabric dyeing is time consuming but I didn’t want to waste the 75 degree weather here this week which has been unexpected and pleasant.

Bamboo/cotton with Procion Teal Blue

 Back to work on my blue lines next week.

I can’t get a few of my pictures to load so on that note -off to guitar lessons with my son.

A Peek at Last Week

       I definitely went into class withdrawal last week on my series. But as I did some uploading of photos, I realized that I kept working away for the whole week.

     I went to a demonstration day at our local sewing store given by the group I belong to- Lakeshore Fiber Arts group. We meet monthly to learn new techniques and review what we have worked on the past month. A few of the members gave demonstrations on surface design techniques and it was very well attended.

I also started an indigo vat down my basement using natural indigo, fructose and picking lime for the online class (called a 1-2-3 vat) I am doing given by Glennis Dolce at Shibori Girl studios.  I was just going to be an observer this time and wait until summer.  But thought I would just work a little each week in case I had questions so summer I can start a vat and keep it going in the sun.

Bad lighting in the basement but  this is really a nice range of light blue on linen, silk and a bamboo-cotton blend.

  I spent a day sewing with a friend on my baby quilts for our annual March drive for the NICU at our local hospital.  It is nice to have two of them done for the meeting and fun to catch up with a friend who is very busy. Thanks Betsy!


     And finally, for the week’s work, I was machine quilting an old piece deemed worthy of finishing. I think about ten more hours of work left. And the new week has begun with this piece under my machine.

Just Beginning

     I finished uploading my last assignment for my class yesterday. I was actually finished with it earlier in the week but procrastinated on it I guess because I just wasn’t ready for it to be over with.

     I set a S-T-R-E-C-H goal  for myself this time:  I  wanted to entirely finish the piece right down to the sleeve and label.  I had a huge cloud following me around. It was the cloud of unfinished projects and I was building up this huge barrier inside my head that these pieces would not get done. Ok, enough of that so the stretch goal.

    The last assignment was to simplify or elaborate our design. I chose elaboration and …fell flat.  I didn’t like how I overworked the motif.  If I look at my motif which I tried to increase the complexity of it by adding more lines, it is just too much, too busy. If  I cover up the lower strip on the right purple motif or “house”,  I like it better. So next piece I make I will eliminate that angled strip and see if that helps.
Rooflines # 6,  36×36, Colleen Kole, 2012
      When I put it up on the wall to photograph it, I saw what was wrong with it and when I wrote my self critique, it no longer felt like a failed assignment but another learning experience. And I set up parameters for the next piece. I love the phrase”the next piece”.  I know I  learned many things but the “next piece ” gives you freedom to try new things and not be afraid to fail.   I felt fantastic that I met my stretch goal for the week which was to finish the piece and have no anxiety about machine quilting the other pieces.
      It was truly a gift to take this class. I highly recommend  Lisa Call as a teacher and the online experience was better than I thought possible.  I am finished with class but just beginning to find joy in working in a series. 

Another Assignment Done

     This one was by far my hardest assignment. I chose a few parameters for myself and then realized I had chose a silly construction method that just didn’t work for me. I spent hours on this one. It became a case of me against the piece and I truly felt like I had to win. Which really made me crazy and then I just really needed to get a grip on reality and know that the piece really had no vested interest in me succeeding. It really did not care. Oh boy. I didn’t want to give up on all the time I had invested in the project that involved a lot of lines.  I kept telling myself that this was a true learning experience. ( And  few friends reminded me of this too.)

     This was my reference composition and I wanted to work off from this piece.

Rooflines #4
Taking a look at values with my camera

I set my parameters for my assignment : change the thickness of the lines to less than 1/4 of an inch, use a color I don’t like (brown), add more colors within the motif, and try to vary the placement of the motif.
I also tried a different way of constructing the block or motif and that is what made me crazy and tripped me up. Last night when I went to write up my assignment after taking pictures, looked at it and sure enough, I had flipped one of the sections. This –

Ooops -bottom right section flipped the wrong way

Should have been: 

Rooflines #5, 37×37, Colleen Kole, 2012

This is done for the week. And I have never been so relieved. I finished assignment 4. One more lecture on Sunday night, and then one more assignment. I will really miss this class.

A Few Updates

     I looked at my last post date (after a prompt from a friend) and couldn’t believe I hadn’t posted in over a week. So, I return and will give you a quick update.

Vacation: We returned home last Saturday to a houseful of furniture which needed to be moved back into place as we had our hardwood floors refinished while we were away.What a mess of dust to return to. And my college daughter was home on winter break and just left yesterday so I wanted to spend some time with her.  It also just takes me a good 48 hours to transition and get back up and running smoothly. No matter how efficient I try to be!

Vermont: Had a great vacation and I was a hermit working away and enjoying my time with family. I  made cheese one day and will share tomorrow. Very fun. Very little snow but they did ski with lots of snow made by the snow guns.

My class (Lisa Call Working in a Series): I am still in a lovefest with this class. I have had my moments of self doubt (why should I be taking this class? who do I think I am fitting in to this class?  why in the world would I think this piece of fabric would work or this color?  I don’t even like this piece so why would I show it to her, my classmates or you ? Why am I working so hard?) Ok maybe a few hours or  a day or two of self doubt. But in the end, I just want to create and be more focused in my creativity. Working in a series is putting everything I have previously learned into a framework. Have I made anything exceptional? No, that isn’t the point. Learning how to move forward is and to create more work is. You work hard and I am learning to be patient with myself and my work. Well worth every minute of work and money I have spent on this class.

    I see glimpses of hope in each piece as I move forward-an area of each piece that I like and can improve upon. In the next piece. And the next piece is what I am working on!

PS- I say all this even after I made one huge wrong cut in a piece last week-it wasn’t salvageable so I have no new pictures for you.  I have moved on.:)

Jumping All the Way In

      I can’t believe I haven’t posted in such a long time. A nasty cold which turned into a sinus infection wiped me out.  And  a reaction to an antibiotic.  And the rest of the time , I have disappeared into my studio.  In my studio, hours fly by and I look up and can’t believe it’s time to go pick up the kids at 3. I am working very hard and really feel driven to get everything I can from my workshop.  My days have flown by and I truly have jumped all the way into this online workshop given by Lisa Call.

     Reading, journaling, thinking again before I touch the fabric. Learning how to give myself parameters for a piece and then critique it so the next one can be different and improved. And figuring out how I work and where I waste time and procrastinate. I am almost done with the Space and Repetition assignment due February 5th and I want to re-work the one ( Color and Value) from last week.

     I just selfishly want to keep them to myself for now.  I feel self-conscious showing them to you. I haven’t figured out why yet. I guess when I am ready you will see them. Right now, I feel as if I am working very hard and have yet to be overly impressed with my outcome.   Don’t get me wrong- I am very,very excited about this whole class process and what I am learning. There is always so much to learn. But this is truly a great experience and I  have jumped all the way in.


Seeing A Little Light From Down Under

     I am deep in week two of my online class given by Lisa Call. The past two weeks I have buried myself in reading information, thinking time, consistent journaling and actual work.

     Last week we began by setting a theme or inspiration for our series and set parameters for ourselves: how large it would be, what finished would be for a particular piece and then needed to complete a sketch for our series that we would work from. All that information needed to be completed and logged into a private blog before the next  90 minute lecture on Sunday night. So here I share:

1. My Theme/Inspiration/Intention:  Finding beauty in the architectural rooflines and windows of our local   botanical garden,  the Frederik Meijer Gardens.

Frederik Meijer Botanical Gardens

2. I wanted to use  a motif incorporating and abstracting lines so this will be my motif. I set the parameters of working in a 3×3 foot size. ( I have never set  a specific size for myself and stuck with it: challenge #1) I did specify that I would not drive myself crazy and try to actually complete the machine quilting during this workshop.

Series Motif

3. My final sketch for the series in week one:

Colleen Kole, 2012,  Initial Sketch for Series Workshop

     I haven’t worked with lines before so thought this would be another challenge for me. I loved the making of the lines and hope for them to evolve into a little bit softer lines.

    But as I have found this week, week two, you really have to be focused on your original intention for the series and shut the thousands of doors that you find when you start something new.  That is the reason you come back to intention -which I fought , kicked and screamed about last week.  I didn’t want to do it.
    Intention saved me this week.  (More on week two later. )
     Whew- I am pushing and pushing and loving putting all the pieces and parts together of what I had previously learned. Great stuff if you are thinking of taking Lisa’s workshop.


Deep in The Rabbit Hole

     I signed up for an 8 week online class with Lisa Call called “Working In A Series“.  It actually was my Christmas present from my husband, Marc. Yes, a very sweet man who encouraged me to try it . Ok, I begged and he agreed for it to be my present. I really need nothing else.

     Well, there is no “trying it”. I am deep in the rabbit hole soaking it all up , pondering, making right brain meet left brain (ouch-very painful experience) , stomping occasionally having little fits and thinking things through in ways I never have before. Starting and starting again.

     The online format to me was questionable with an art class. But Lisa has methodically and meticulously set up a private blog forum for the class. We receive e-mails three times weekly with loads of reference material and can post questions on the blog as much as we would like. That is in addition to lectures via conference calls -five 90 minute lectures. The first one was Sunday night and we are off and running with potential ideas for a series. Assignments are given and due dates described with finished work posted on the private blog.

     I have to admit that I have not had intention, theme or meaning associated with my art. A whole new world is opening up for me. I am working hard and not ready to share yet. But I will. When I am ready. I am going to take my time with this one and try to push myself to understand working in a series.

     Right now, I am deep, deep in the rabbit hole doing the work.

    If you have an inclination to take her class, jump in. Soon. Lisa is a wonderful teacher.  Week one assignment due Sunday.

Shhh…It’s A Secret

      I am the worst person at keeping a secret. I just can’t do it. I really was going to keep it to myself.  But then you would wonder why I am so boring and why I am doing nothing. So, here it is: I am taking a class online. For the next 8 weeks. Can you guess with who?


Last Week: Japanese Stitching

     Last week, I  squeezed in a workshop from our local West Michigan Quilter’s Guild titled “Sashiko : A Good Fortune Wallhanging”. The workshop was given by Sheila De Rose  who specializes in Japanese quilting  and Japanese design.  There were only four crazy people taking a class the week of Thanksgiving so we received  lots of extra attention. Sheila has traveled to Japan and is very knowledgeable in all aspects of fabrics, patterns and needlework of Japan.

      She brought in her fabric boards and I loved the shibori and the actual sashiko fabrics. I had thought sashiko was just the blue needlework stitch on white but there is actual sashiko fabric.

Sheila with one of her fabric boards
Shibori board

Sheila DeRose quilt shown during lecture
Sheila Derose Sampler

Sheila has a new book being published called “The Art of Elegance” coming out soon. She did an excellent job at the night lecture of explaining the Japanese use of color and design principles. I really enjoyed it.

The start of my wallhanging and, yes, I did measure and try to match seams! I can still do it if I need to. The piece will have sashiko stitched centers over a star pattern. Now I have two wintertime hand stitching projects to do. Why was I interested in this class? Long ago, I started a fabric collection of Japanese quilting fabrics and just never knew what to do with them but truly wanted to use them authentically. Now, I know how.

But time to get to work this morning on the Christmas presents. Anyone else making presents?

Be creative, my friends!