Messing around with cold wax and oil paints…

My friend Connie and I just attended a 4 week session class on painting with cold wax, taught by George Wade Carmichael- a fabulous teacher. George is incredibly knowledgeable about historical painting techniques and materials.

However, it was the total opposite of what I had read about cold wax painting on-line!

I was expecting to do heavy textural layers of cold wax, with squeegees and sharp mark making objects.


Initial sketch idea in acrylic and collage


Painting in cold wax and oil- still in progress

Instead we worked with the smallest brushes I have ever seen and laid down super-fine layers of translucent colors of oil and cold wax, starting with a foundation of complimentary colors which de intensified the application of color on the next layers. So completely different from my usual approach to painting which is lots of applications of thick saturated colors with complimentary colors laid beside each other, not in layers.


The inspiration for my sketch came from this lovely photo of my niece, Louisa Lily Bell

With this technique I appear to have a softer and more detailed image that I would normally paint.

Must be the tiny brushes!

The painting is not finished as I ran out of my mixture of cold wax and thinner while painting. George showed us how to cook it up in the microwave-so I made a batch this evening. I’m liking the translucent layers- and the contrasting opaque areas too.

As you might be able to tell, I’m in a knitting frenzy ..

…just finished a baby girl knitted vest for my friend Linda’s son and wife, Scott and Brittany. Since they live in Wilmington, I thought summer colors would work for them. Next on the list- my nephew Ruiaridh and his wife, Mel and their baby Theo, in St. Albans, England


Spring vest for a beach baby


You can see where I got the inspiration for the colors for the baby vest-love camellias especially now that it’s getting into winter


detail of vest- got the perfect (vintage )buttons at the Hospice Flee Market shop

More details about the “Outlander” hand knitted wraps

The “Outlander” wraps are for adults: they are all hand knitted with some hand dyed wool yarns mixed with other multi fiber yarns. Each piece is one-of-a-kind with up to 8 or more different yarns and every knitted piece has a different mix of yarns . The wraps go around the neck and shoulders and tuck into your coat or jacket. Although the knitted pieces are knitted with thick yarns, it is not bulky underneath your coat or around the shoulders as long scarves tend to be.

The “Outlander ” wraps are  $60 plus postage if ordering on-line

The “Outlander” collar is $45 plus postage if buying on-line

If you are interested in purchasing, all pieces will be display at the Kirby Gallery, Roxboro or email me at: to order directly.



Outlander wrap 1: 33″ long and 6″ deep


Outlander wrap 1-detail


Outlander wrap 2-with more pastel colors; 36″ long and 6″ deep


Outlander wrap 2-detail


Outlander wrap 3- with dark trim. hand knitted with some hand dyed wool yarns mixed with multi fibers and textured yarns


Outlander 3-with dark trim detail


Outlander neck collar: 22″ long by 5″ deep


Outlander neck collar detail

Please be aware that there will be a proportion of hand dyed wool fibers in the knitted pieces which can feel “scatchy” against the skin for some people.





Phyllis starts her tapestry inspired by an illustration of the sea


Alison focuses on textural effects

Reflections as another workshop draws to a close


Alice shows her artwork inspiration for her weaving

The Hirsch Wellness Network is a unique organization that provides more than free workshops in art, yoga and gardening. It’s overarching goal is to provide classes that are structured to support and encourage participants in creative endeavors during and after their cancer treatment. This means that sometimes students may come to the workshop, in the middle of their treatment or at the start of a new drug, and may not be physically or mentally at the most receptive to learning new skills, or even socializing with fellow participants. What amazes me is the courage and graciousness of the participants as they tackle their projects, jumping into the unknown with great spirit and determination.


Charlene chooses very fine, sparkling blue yarn to start her tapestry

We did something different this time around, we began the class by each student warping their own looms. This is significant, as it is quite a challenge to warp ends under the correct tension, especially for students with no prior knowledge or experience in weaving or warping. I was so impressed with their ability to keep on task and keep pushing their own limits.


Tammi weaves different forms and colors, as well as a warp stripe

Everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace; it really is about the process, working with your own sensibilities, finding out what works for you, discovering your own preferences, making choices.

This session ended with a short assessment to find out what worked for the students and ideas for future workshops. Out of the 8 students participating on the last day,

6 were interested in follow-up classes with 2 maybes.


Rebekka weaves tapestry in the Navaho style

3 would have liked to have woven a finished product-such as a coaster or bookmark. 5 said it was  not as important to them to have a finished product.

3 would like to weave immediately and work on warping at the end of the session, if there was time


Rebecca weaves shapes based on a landscape illustration and blending yarns together in gold areas

5 wanted to learn how to warp, even if it did slow down the weaving time

It might be make sense to offer a follow-up class, now that we have covered the basics. We could focus on creating colored shapes and outlines.


Sylvia weaves some beautiful textural yarns


Sara Jane- about to add a bold yellow triangle to her design. Thanks for your help, Sara Jane!

Deadlines-it’s what keeps me on track !

I promised to enter 10 pieces for the Kirby Gallery December Christmas Show-what was I thinking?


Putting Down Roots (8″ x 10″) acrylic and collage


Telling a Tall Tale ( 17″ x 24″) Acrylic


“Outlander” wrap with wool, silk , acrylics and cottons


It’s a process, right? some of the pieces might not make it to this show

So I have paintings…small and big…and did I mention knitting? I hand knitted some “Outlander” style wraps- that is, if during the “Outlander” times, they had access to lots of  textured colored yarns with some synthetics too..! Some of  the yarns I hand dyed at one of our Blue Ridge babe weekends..( hey, we did n ‘t  just go there to have fun, you know..)Well, maybe, ok, full disclosure -we did ! It was fun doing the creative stuff too.

Hope you can make it to the show! There will be wine, food and music at the opening on Friday, December 2, 2016.

The beginners personal tapestry weaving classes will start on October 28, from 1-3 pm at our new location at the Gallery at Revolution Mill, 1175 Revolution Mill Drive, Greensboro, NC 27405.

Those of you who attended the Hirsch Wellness Art Auction know that this is a fabulous location with a great studio space. We have 7 signed up so far, and we have had up to 15 students in the past… We are going to limit it to between 10- 12 so that everyone can get individual help, if they need it. Call Louise at 336-549-8367 for registration or email

Sketch with tapestry samples


Quilt from 1860,Kentucky


Made in 1870 in Virginia, this may pre-date the pattern name “New York Beauty” and in this quilt, you can see the triangles clearly arranged around the circles

Yes,  I dragged my long-suffering husband to yet another fiber-related show, this time at the Quilt Museum in Golden, CO. There was a beautiful show of historical quilts all celebrating the quilt pattern called “New York Beauty.” The ladies organizing the show very kindly explained that the reason the quilt pattern is called “New York Beauty” is because of the ring of pointed triangle shapes around the circles which represents the head of the statue of liberty.


Created in 1870, in Alabama. talk about a striking pattern!


Created in 1870 and made by Florence Caledonia Corley Shealy from South Carolina. This is no demure and retiring Southern Belle, that’s for sure!


From 1895,the Whiteaker family quilt, found in Colorado but believed to be from Tennessee. It’s so bright…I  almost had to put on my sun glasses for this one…


From 1925, North Carolina. It is described as the “Clara Stones broken circle” or “suspension bridge” but looks suspiciously like “New York Beauty” to me-with a twist. I love this one as the colors don’t repeat exactly.. quirky, like my quilting friends in North Carolina (yes, Michelle, I do mean you!)


Last but not least, made in 1935, by Elsa Snuggs of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her name goes perfectly with the design, don’t you think?

I love the bold shapes and strong colors which remind me of some dyed fabrics from Anatolia, that I saw years ago at the textile Museum in Washington D.C.


It’s that time of the year again! The 8th Annual Art Auction to benefit The Hirsch Wellness Network programs Saturday October 8, 6-8.30pm

The Gallery at Revolution Mill

1150 Revolution Mill Drive

Greensboro, NC 27405


The Hirsch Wellness Network provides free programs in art, yoga, meditation and gardening classes for cancer survivors and their caretakers.  It’s a great evening of fun, live music, wine and food! And the chance to bid on some really beautiful ceramics, fiber art, painting, jewelry, drawings, quilts.. oh, yeah. I have never left empty handed. Which can get expensive-but it’s all for  GOOD cause, right?!

Here are the  2 pieces I donated for the silent auction-all proceeds from the art auction sales go to pay for the programs.


Now showing at NC Craft Gallery in Carrboro, NC


AWOL-absent without leave



A small piece with a lot of turbulent emotions







Some of the stages in the development for my latest piece, which started as a painting of a woman beside a vase of flowers, with a bird on her shoulder. A hand has materialized from nowhere to hold the bird.


It’s actually very helpful to see the images side-by-side as it helps me see the lines, forms and negative spaces much clearer. This is a bigger piece where I am trying to incorporate more linear elements, with the solid forms. Hmmm. Lots of adjustments needed for everything to fit together smoothly.


Cotton baby jacket for baby Camille, due any day now

However, I am getting side tracked by the need to knit baby garments for friends daughters and sons and nephews and nieces whose babies are all due from November -February!

danish threadsThrift Stores and Hospice to the Rescue!


Don’t get me wrong, I love DMC embroidery threads. They’re manufactured in France (ooh la la!)  a good quality, decent price and can be found everywhere. However as good as the selection is, there are color limitations so when I need to get more oomph and International flavor in my colors….. I turn to the tried and tested places to shop….the Thrift stores and the Hospice.
For example, last weekend at the local Hospice flee market snuggled amongst the DMC embroidery yarns were…

  • Embroidery yarns from England called Peri-Lusta, a six-stranded 100% mercerized cotton. Sound familiar to anyone in England?
  • A lovely pink yarn from a company called MEZ from Germany (sticktwist muline) 100% cotton
  • Some fine embroidery yarns,  labelled MH matgarn with a tiny red tag saying Made in Denmark
  • Sullivans Premium quality /100% Egyptian cotton  Made in China

and representing American embroidery floss-threads

Six -strand Lily Floss by the Lily Mills  Company, from Shelby North Carolina- and another  yarn labeled the Belding Lily Company. Then I found a collection of colors by J & P Coats, the American Thread Company and  STAR SIX STRAND embroidery cotton, and one mystery yarn called LORRAINE by Softex

sample threads and sketches

Cataloging the yarns according to color families so I can find the color I need more efficiently

Dear reader, do you have a collection of embroidery threads from around the World? If so, send a comment with an image, the name and country of the yarn and I will feature them on the blog. Maybe we can do a swap!


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