Posts Tagged ‘frogs’

Tools Change Everything: Zigzag Bobbin Work

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

20u singerI believe in tools! 

Years ago I bought this 20U Singer industrial. It was under protest. I had burned the brushes off a very nice 930 Bernina. If you don’t know any of these numbers, take my word. 930 Berninas were war horses in armor.

So they told me that a 20 U was  a tough enough machine. I had mine calabrated to work with embroidery thread, and did a number of zigzag embroidery images on it. 

For a fast machine, it was still a tedious experience. This machine doesn’t really use a foot. So all the fabric needed to be hooped. And unhooped. And re-hooped. Again and again and again.

I simply stopped working with it at one point. I was considering selling it. 


179 The problem with princesBut people have always loved the quilts made through this technique. It allows for so much detail and coloration. 40 weight embroidery thread is ephemerally beautiful, and it shines when it’s laid in color layers.815 butterfly garden detail

Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop


halo hoopl


The Halo Hoop has been around for a while. I use them for any larger bit of embroidery I’m working on. It’s a weighted metal hoop with a plastic coating that grips the fabric. Instead of clamping it, you simply slide the hoop along.

My favorite stabilizer sandwich is ( from the back tp the front) a drawing in Totally Stable,  a layer of Decor Bond,a layer of polyester felt, and a layer of hand dyed fabric as my top. Anything that doesn’t iron down, I spray glue with 505 spray.



frog in process

I took this frog drawing and stated to color. I worked from the back for two reasons. My drawing was there, and I could tie off the ends.











frog in process  f2I didn’t get done, but I got far enough to know that between the stabilizer sandwich and the Halo hoop, the whole technique had been revolutionized for me.

Things I learned

  • My father’s old saying: if it’s too hard, too horrible or too long, you have the wrong tool.
  • You can use a hammer for a saw, but it’ s hard on the hammer and what you’re sawing.

Rethinking how to use your tools makes all the difference.  

You can work without a foot, but you need to use your fingers and a hoop. And hopefully your brain!finger positiona

And most of all, good tools change everything!

264 As Good as it Gets


Once More with Feeling: Frog Series

Monday, January 14th, 2013

264 As Good as it Gets (1)Our personal perception is an odd thing. Years ago when I was doing my student teaching,  I watched the 6 year olds mirror themselves as the colored in the presidents, the pilgrims, and all the biographic social science coloring sheets. It mostly divided on racial lines. If they were black, everyone was black, or brown. If they were Caucasian, everyone was pink, yellow or orange. In a way, I approved. I want every little kid to think that they are just  like  all our heros, from George Washington to George Washington Carver . There were two exceptions. One was the child of a mixed family who colored all his pictures blue. The other was an adopted child who was over 100 lbs and on a restricted diet. He colored everyone green. I made two rag dolls for my class. They were raggedy ann dolls, but one was in blue flannel. One was made in green.

An odd thing happened. A six year old boy doesn’t want to be caught dead with a doll. But those dolls were part of every game and adventure those boys had at school. Being blue and green, they walked outside of the limits of being a doll. They became perfect companions carried all over the playground and included in every fantasy. 


Somewhere in my life I realized I didn’t fit either. There was something about frogs. That odd spot where you realize that you’re really not much like everyone else. Somehow it’s easier being green. So I find my self often doing my self portrait as a frog

179 The problem with princes (1)

 The Problem with Princes was myself, encircled with the zinnias my dad always grew.

In Imagio Dei means In the Image of God. If I am in the image of God I am a creator. And as He creates so do I. The fabric runs through my hands and becomes birds, fish frogs and flowers.

398 In imagio dei



Sometimes, I do frogs simply because I love the ways that they move. I’m fascinated by their leaps, belly flops and grand ballet moves. 






Then there are the personal frogs.

This was a portrait of my god children, Tom and Sarah at their engagement.

Somehow frogs have become my own way of accepting my odd and different self and the equally odd folk I’m graced with. It’s easier being green than not being easy with who you are.

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