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Barbed Whispers

Photographed at The McGregor Park Fish Hatchery on The Rogue River above Shady Cove, Oregon

Coiled Seeds

Somewhat reminiscent of graffiti, these are the coiled seeds of an Alder-Leaf Mountain Mohogany Tree growing above Ashland on Tolman Creek Road.

Creating Felt Fabric Collage


Felt and Fabric pieces for Collage

Felt and Fabric pieces for Collage

Fabric Collage refers to the creation of a new cloth from a collection of different types of textiles.  I have been playing with my stash of handmade felt, fabric and scraps to make unique textiles that can transform into a vest, pants, wrap or a scarf.

I begin by pulling out different types of complimentary textiles and laying them out on a big table. I like to work with one bigger piece of fabric that will be the base fabric around which patterns and themes can emerge.  Once I have my base fabric and a few anchor textiles, I begin the adding and subtracting process.  My fabric scrap collection contains lots of little treasures that can be added as design or accent elements.  I love working with selvage and raw edge scraps.  Prints with words are also fun to incorporate into the design.  I like to have my pattern pieces on the table as well so that I can begin to think about fabric placement.

The next step in my process is to start stitching some of the fabrics together.  I like to overlap

Collage pieces attached to base fabric with free motion stitching

Collage pieces attached to base fabric with free motion stitching

the fabrics as this creates more texture and interest.  Once I have a few pieces of my textile stitched, I place them on the pattern to see where they might look best.  An important tool in this process is a dress form as it allows me to see where on the garment certain designs will fall.  If you don’t have a dress form you can hold the pattern pieces up on your own body to see how the textile will flow.




Once I stitch all of the fabrics together for the pattern pieces, I am ready to construct the garment.  If I am lining the vest, I will sew in the lining and then sew the shoulder seams.  I try the garment on to make sure the armhole and bust area’s fit my silhouette.  Next I pin the side seams sew them together and I have a one-of-a-kind piece of wearable art.

Collage Vest, Felt and other complimentary fabrics

Collage Vest, Felt and other complimentary fabrics

felt vest

Collage Vest made with all felted fabrics



Studio Snapshot – New Earth Spirit Vessel: Embrace

A couple of weeks ago, I showed the latest Earth Spirit Vessel I was working on. Well, last night I finished it. I have named it Embrace.

Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace, contains 688 individual pieces of hand folded papers.

Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace, contains 688 individual pieces of hand folded papers.

Looking in from the top of Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace. All the green papers are hand painted paste papers.

Looking in from the top of Earth Spirit Vessel, Embrace. All the green papers are hand painted paste papers.

To see photos of it in its early stage see: Studio Snapshot – Starting Another Earth Spirit Vessel

Enjoy, Candy

Pen and Ink… Just Inking Around

Watercolor & Ink Demo

“Inking” – as in drawing with ink.

Hi!  I’ve been studying up on working with ink in preparation for my upcoming demonstration for the Society Of Southern Oregon Artists.  And, its coming up this Monday!  Note to me…that’s SOON!

SOSA Inking Demo

But I’ve been preparing.  And, besides, how hard can it be to stand in front of a room full of people and talk while painting?

Exactly; for some of us it might be easy.  Not so for me.  So I’m arming myself with knowledge!

Dip Pens

I decided I ought to know more about my materials and dip pens in particular.  “Old school” time – and its really fun!

The reasons I’m working with dip pens and nibs follow:

  • I had several laying around my studio.  Yes, several stylus (styli?) and nibs just laying around in my studio waiting to be appreciated and used.
  • I like how dip pens and nibs are sensitive to the touch and expressiveness of the artist.
  • I had ink, Higgins “Magic Ink” in black.  I also have some acrylic inks but am not using them for this demo.
  • So, you can draw the conclusion —  I didn’t have to purchase new supplies!  I like using supplies I have around the studio and house.
Working With Ink: Mapping Nibs

My Collection of Mapping Nibs; Comic Nib for Comparison.  Please note, the nibs are not in any particular order.

Something Special About His Nibs

One of the most exciting things I found out about my supplies is that I have some “vintage” nibs.  Did you know that there are such things?   These nibs were my father’s – artist John Stermer.  I cleaned them up and they work great!  As a matter of fact, several looked almost brand new.

Working with Ink: Dip Pen Nibs

My Collection of Comic or Regular Nibs Plus one Calligraphy Nib.  Note, the nibs don’t necessarily align with the list of nib types.

Dip Pen Tips – For Using

I thought I’d share some tips for working with dip pens.

  • Keep your nibs clean; they work better.  The ink flows and it is ever so wonderful!
  • The nibs are designed to be held a slant, about 45 degrees.  They don’t work quite so well on the vertical.
  • Draw moving the pen toward you; the nibs glide.
  • You can wear out a nib going back and forth.  They work better when you draw in one direction – toward you.
  • You can dilute some inks as much as you like.  Even a little bit of water can enhance flow.
  • The nibs work better on smoother paper.  I have tried using dip pens on rough watercolor paper and the ink does not flow as well. Its all a matter of taste, though.  Whatever works for the artist.
  • When you’re done with your pen, remove the nib.  Store dry.

About the Ink

I use Higgins Black Magic Ink.  It is waterproof and fade proof.  That means, for example, after the ink dries, you ought to be able to paint over it with wet watercolor with out lifting.  However, I did manage to get a smear this morning.  I have no idea why; something must have been not quite right.  Generally speaking, though, it does work as advertised.

There are other inks that are not waterproof.  They can be great, but I haven’t been experimenting with them.  They are beyond the scope of my  upcoming demonstration.

Materials: Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen and brushes

Supplies:  Ink, watercolor, paper, dip pen with nib attached, watercolor brush and ink brush.

My Process

Back to the demonstration.  My process for incorporating graphite, ink and watercolor is as follows:

  • Graphite:
    • Draw with graphite first.  This is the most important phase.  I have to resist the urge to move on to ink and watercolor too soon.
    • Its easier to make drawing corrections to graphite drawings.  And, if there is a problem with the drawing, so goes the painting.
  • Ink:
    • I re-draw my subject with ink, though I don’t need to re-draw every line.
    • I emphasize major lines or nodes (junction points).
    • I like to use ink to map out direction or movement in the drawing.
    • I cross hatch to ensure I understand the value (light/dark) pattern of the subject.  Sometimes this is a fast phase; sometimes I want the ink to be the focus so I am more deliberate.
  • Watercolor:
    • Poetry in color!  This is splishy-splashy fun time.  It can be the hardest phase too!
    • I concentrate and work on using the paint to enhance the image.
    • The trick is to use enough to capture a feeling; not so much watercolor as to kill the poetry.

Single Best Tip

The best tip I can offer:  if you have a dip pen in your studio, give it a try!  You might have loads of fun!

Ink study

Study, Watercolor & Ink

Assorted Links:

On cleaning and care of the nibs.

  • Care and Feeding of the Calligraphy Dip Pen.  Even though the author talks mainly about calligraphy (italic) pen nibs, the same principles apply to point dip pen nibs.  I found a suggestion to clean ink pen nibs with ammonia based glass cleaners in this article.  This is for pen nibs that have caked on ink.  Ammonia window (glass) cleaners work wonders!  Brought my nibs back to clean as new!
  • Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders .  Provides a good over-view of the types of nibs and holders.




The post Pen and Ink… Just Inking Around appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Wall Woman

I came across this unexpected design on an Ashland alley wall.

Dried Weed

I’m not aware of the name of this weed found along Tolman Creek Road above Ashland.

Helen Hiebert’s New Calendar for 2017

Paper artist Helen Hiebert has a Kickstarter campaign going on to fund her new 2017 Calendars. These are not your ordinary calendars, each month includes a paper project along with instructions.

This is the cover of Helen Hiebert's new 2017 Calendar.

This is the cover of Helen Hiebert’s new 2017 Calendar.

The calendar is filled with fun paper projects to enjoy each month. Every page features photo of the completed project, an interesting paper quote, a list of materials and tools you’ll need to complete the project, plus step by step photos and easy-to-follow instructions.

This is December's calendar page.

December 2016 is a bonus calendar page, so there are actually 13 paper projects included in this calendar!

To purchase your own calendar, check out: Helen’s Kickstarter Campaign. I purchased the calendar along with the custom paper pack. Delivery is expected sometime in October. I can hardly wait!

Enjoy, Candy

That Time In Between


Mandala with Blessing Sticks from Art Unraveled…

These are the days between midsummer and late summer. Here in my perch above the Klamath River the flowers are reaching as tall as they can before they go to seed.


I am nestling in the way I always do after I travel… especially when I teach. I have been to Colorado where I taught with my dear friend Leslie Marsh in the vacation home of my other dear friend Hasty Pearl, (Laura Roberts). Such an inspiring setting with rugged cliffs above the jubilant singing Crystal River. And such inspiring students as they created with all of their hearts and soul. See photos of Crystal River book arts here.



Pages in Progress by Marline


Student Artist Books

And I taught in the mountains where I helped raise money for the wonderful Klamath Outdoor School… this is the land of blue-green spring water and ponderosa pines, long lush grass, wildflowers and butterflies. This workshop included nature walks and talks by my friend, Marjorie Glass, a wildlife biologist. We slept in a big yurt and the stars were amazing. Please see photos of "Nature in the Mind's Eye here.


Artist Book by Christine


Kandis Artist Book Pages

And lastly I taught three workshops at the amazing Art Unraveled in Phoenix, Arizona where I was welcomed with open arms, encountered my first Monsoon and realized again just how strong the pull of art Is. Please see photos from my three workshops at Art Unraveled here.


Artist Book by Helen


Artist Book by Chrissie

In each place I got to spend time with old friends and new and be amongst other women who know how important it is to nourish themselves. 

One of the things I love the most about teaching is when I walk away from someones worktable and then return after awhile the amazing surprises I encounter!


Victory Shield by Laura


Blessing Sticks by Helen

Studio Snapshot – More Playing With Paper Cutting

I haven’t spent much time in my studio this past week as I was camping in the high desert of Oregon. It was a wonderful time for me to relax and commune with nature. It was very restorative and I now have a lot more art energy pent up. I’m ready to start working on my art with a new vigor.

After cutting these flowers, I put paste papers behind the cut out portions to give them each unique colors and patterns.

After cutting these flowers, I put paste papers behind the cut out portions to give them each unique colors and patterns.

What time I did spend in my studio was playing around with the paper cutting I started last month. I made a few more flower designs and played with putting some of my paste papers behind them the cut out areas.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

I like the look of these and will continue to explore paper cutting. I am sure this is just the beginning of a new addition to my paper addiction.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

For details about how I cut my cards, check out my blog post: DIY – Playing With Paper Cutting.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

A single hand cut flower backed with painted paste paper.

I photographed my cards on one of my paste papers. To learn more about my paste papers, check out my blog post: Making Paste Papers: Part One.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Hand cut flowers backed with painted paste paper.

Enjoy, Candy