Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Preparing to Make Advent Stoles

I thought I'd give you  a sneak peek at the fabric dying process we're using in preparing, designing and sewing for Advent. We don't often dye our own fabric but we really enjoy the process. I think it takes me back to the many years that I painted with watercolors. 

The white cotton fabric is first soaked in a bath of soda ash. If you're a chemistry type this is actually sodium carbonate. It actually activates the fiber molecules so that they can chemically attack the dye so it's more reactive. Is that too much information? 

The wet fabric is set on a rack on top of a tray and is then covered with ice cubes.

Powdered dye is sprinkled over the ice. As the ice melts the colors will mix. The fun part with this step was when the construction worker who was doing his thing in front of my studio saw the wet purple-y fabric and asked if I was making elderberry wine! We had a good chuckle. Then when I explained that I was a fiber artist and I did work for clergy and this was part of my preparation for Advent another of the guys asked what Advent was. That was an unexpected little moment of evangelism!

24 hrs. later the fabric looks like this. It gets rinsed and then washed.

And we then end up with THIS! It looks so pretty in the garden I might have to wait to bring it inside to cut (tee hee!)

Monday, September 16, 2013


Dear husband says to me over the weekend: "lets go for a hike Sunday afternoon."
I respond: "There's a great space in the city I've wanted to check out for ages."
Dear husband: "Great! Send me the address and I'll GPS it."

Fast forward to being in the midst of the hike through the 400 acre, 200+ year old, hilly, wooded, intriguing, city cemetery...

Dear husband remarks: "If I were one to post things on Facebook I'd probably get some laughs out of the fact that I asked my wife on a date for the afternoon and she said 'let me show you a cemetery.'"  Laughter is a good thing, right? Anyway....the property provided for a good hike/walk, the history was intriguing and of course there was much inspiration for Carrot Top Studio! Here are a few of our favorite images--

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Art Promotes Community

I have been thinking a lot about community lately. This is probably partly because I am a new empty-nester. Yikes!....part of my community isn't living with me anymore. I have been contemplating and self examining my neighborhood community, the community friends provide outside of where I live, and community we're able to have via the internet. Lastly I have been examining the community that happens because of The Church like the author of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, "therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

viewers treasured the Modern Quilt Guild of Pittsburgh mini pieces

Fabric and creating has been part of my life probably since I was a child making curtains and rugs out of scraps for my doll house. The work that Carrot Top Studio and our clients provide are a blessing and thoroughly enjoyed but I also appreciate having sewing, design and creating in the "free time" of my days. Therefore the empty nest and examination of community has led me to join a new community of quilters. This weekend I was able to attend an art gallery opening for this group's first ever exhibit. The event promoted community as the members prepared for the event ahead of time and gathered to see each other's works. Additionally because this gallery was in a small space of a large library there was extended community as viewers of the general public stumbled upon or purposefully engaged in the art and with the artists. Experiencing this calls me to encourage you to think about your church buildings. Maybe you have a small space that would be suitable to encourage artists to share their work and the viewer to be challenged by their art? It doesn't need to be fancy. I'd say a clean wall, good lighting, and a simple hanging system would give you a great start. The "gallery" space could have short term or permanent use.
Won't You Be My Neighbor, detail
Getting back to the quilt guild exhibit, here's a detail of my little piece. We were challenged to create a quilt that was no larger than 8 x 10" with the theme of Pittsburgh. Won't You Be My Neighbor? was created because of my love for Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. Inspiration stemmed from a traditional quilt block called “next door neighbor” that has been pieced to surround a representation of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. This work has been made modern through the use of high contrast coloring and grid work style machine quilting. The arched quilting symbolizes our many bridges and the straight lines recall the downtown skyline. All of this is turned as a reflection below the quilted water’s edge.

I'll sign off today looking forward to knowing some of the creative ways you've helped or participated in connecting community and the visual arts!