Tag Archives: m Theresa brown

Re-loving a vintage White sewing machine

Winter 2016 finally decided that January 2017 was a great time to begin, so for a week the weather forecasters gave dire predictions of a “southern” nor’easter. Sort of tantamount to a snow apocalypse. But the actuality was a lot of sleet and about 5-6″ of snow on our little mini-farm. However, the bitter cold for a North Carolina day (high of 22) changes things a bit and keeps everyone home and pretty much off the frozen roads!

View off studio steps
View off studio steps

This snowed in period has turned out to be a good time to give my thrift store find some TLC. I only invested $45.00 in this vintage White series 77 sewing machine. And frankly, it seemed like a bargain for the machine with all its attachments, instruction booklet and its all original beautiful cabinet! On a Facebook group, Eco-Dyeing Creating Learning that I am an administrator to, a member, Rudolph Ramseyer shared his research into vintage finds and noted that “An interesting bit of information is that White owned their own forests and sawmills, which supplied timber to their cabinetmaking workshops.”

Partial view of machine and cabinet
Partial view of machine and cabinet
A look at instruction book
A look at instruction book

 

It took 2 men to get this into the back of my little Honda Fit at the Thrift store. The back seats of the Fit fold back and up allowing room for upright items that normally could not go into a compact vehicle. Of course at home, it was my husband and I who unloaded it to my office/sewing room. That weight factor alone tells you a bit about the history of sewing machines in general as none were designed to be portable. My current Brother CSi6000 probably weighs…2 pounds? And in spite of all the fancy stitches built into the plastic Chinese made machine (most of which I do not use), it is sobering to realize that a machine that could go both forward and then, with the flick of a lever, go backwards without missing a stitch, was a huge deal 60 years ago!

View of attachments
View of attachments

The box of attachments is priceless in that they are all there. An immense buttonholer must have been a godsend. And there are attachments (some I have no clue about) and instructions for hemming, stitching lace, a combination tucker, edgestitcher and top braider, embroidery, quilting, a 5 stitch ruffler, one for gathering, one for single stitch pleating, shirring, piping and a host of other techniques, some of which I have never used!

Close up of White Series 77 sewing machine
Close up of White Series 77 sewing machine

The sewing thread sits on the middle spool holder. The one towards the wheel is for use with the automatic bobbin winder. Stitch length adjustments on the right and tension adjustments on the left. It is a pulley system, not a belt system and, of fascination to me, run with a knee operated lever (seen lower right top photo). It is also interesting that these were called “rotary electric sewing machines” and were driven by the rubber wheel contacting the motor directly in back.

So now cleaned and oiled, I have played with sewing on it. There is something oddly comforting in sitting down to a machine that was once the pride and joy

sewing
The sewer

of a household. Was it a  gift from a caring husband ? Or purchased on a new “lay-a-way” plan?  Did the woman marvel at the amazing things she could now do? Was she able to add buttonholes or  create beautiful ruffles she had never before been successful at sewing?

Sometimes it is the little things we take for granted that can give the most enjoyment. This frigid, snowy day for instance, makes me grateful for simple pleasures: indoor heating, hot coffee, power still on, outside animals fed and comfy and, quite frankly, the Internet. I feel no guilt today indulging my inquisitive passion of researching little things such as a vintage sewing machine. And today, it’s a good place to be 🙂

Wearing Nature’s Colors

There's nothing like silk!
There’s nothing like silk!

Truly-there is nothing like the look and feel of silk! Soft and luxurious or earthy and light, nothing compares to this all natural, sustainable fabric against the skin.

And nothing speaks to the soul as eloquently as wearing Mother Nature’s colors imprinted naturally onto silk fabrics. For me,  wearing creations that come from Nature and to experience both the natural colors the leaves give up during my process or the results of natural dye additions is the journey I enjoy most!

The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk
The wide variety of natural colors from the leaves on silk

Let the look of my handcrafted garments tell their own story!

Custom made silk noil tunic
Custom made silk noil tunic
Handcrafted silk noil dress imprinted with leaves.
Handcrafted silk noil dress imprinted with leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handcrafted poncho dyed with cochineal
Handcrafted poncho dyed with cochineal
Handcrafted poncho of silk noil
Handcrafted poncho of silk noil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stylish fit
A stylish fit
Ecoprinted long silk scarf.
Ecoprinted long silk scarf.

 

Indigo dyed Silk dress
Indigo dyed Silk dress

All Natural dyeing with plants

Somewhere back in Time, our ancestors figured out a number of amazing things. In the course of survival, it is understandable that clothes needed to be made and the progression from animal skins to fibers is a fascinating history. But then, someone decided that colors would enhance the fibers and a whole new journey began 🙂

I don’t think most people even think about  color except when looking at clothing on racks in a store. But recently I not only experimented myself but watched a friend Dede Styles, reach back into her Appalachian roots and demonstrate at the NC Mountain State Fair.

She used both iron and brass pots heated with the convenient propane heater. On one day she could not attend, a young couple took over with butternuts.

Dede Styles dying with Goldenrod9
Dede Styles dying with Goldenrod

 

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Her results were stunning reminders that all that is new is old 🙂 This is especially true when today’s thinking is “go natural” and words like “sustainable, renewable and recyclable” are bandied about as though it was a new concept.

Dede Styles dyeing wool
Dede Styles dyeing wool

My own efforts are similar yet different. I am all about dyeing silk rather than wool. A huge part of the enjoyment is collecting the plant matter to use in a dye pot. My husband happily joins me in this search. Who doesn’t want to wander down back roads and through one’s own pastures? I used my 1940’s porcelain/enamel pot on a hot plate since an iron pot is not yet in my studio!

dyeing with goldenrod
Dyeing silk with Goldenrod

 

dyeing with sumac
Dyeing silk with Sumac

The results are beautiful and indeed, sustainable, renewable and totally organic. And honestly, our ancestors had a good thing going, I think 🙂

Art Shows and the ART Studio

The months of April and May have been been “art show” months with several shows each month …..a great way to showcase my work in person! I was hardly able to unload the vehicle  in between shows 🙂  But any way you look at it, if you go to shows you need a place to unload and a place to work! Check out the Silk Art Studio images below 🙂

An outdoor art show
Theresa at Artsplosure in Raleigh NC

 

So what does the studio look in May? Notice the awesome clothesline?

View of studio from afar
View of studio from afar
Inside workspace
Inside the Studio
View of silkstudio
The outdoor work area

Next blog will be all about my Indigo adventure 🙂

 

 

Eco printing on silk and paper

I love this time of year. The trees and pastures are coming alive again as the nights have warmed. And with that new growth come the many shades of green seen only for a short period before settling into their summer look. They were preceded by that southern staple, the dogwood tree, which grows wild, looking like popcorn in the foliage free woods. Red buds, weigelia, confederate jasmine ….all follow, coloring the landscape and promising an end to winter!

The dogwood near the studio
The wild dogwood near the studio

Our mini farm is home to an assortment of roses. Not the landscape teas of the cultivated garden, but the hardy farmhouse roses, the heirlooms, that we have rescued from abandoned homesteads in our region. Soon, usually around Mother’s Day, they will virtually all erupt into one spectacular, aromatic display before their blooms fade by the end of May. Until then, they are supplying me with an abundance of rose leaves in every size and shape!

A few unexpected freezes had us out in frigid weather collecting the tiny oaks leaves and catkins blown down by a freak storm (Nature is known for surprises) My artist hubby, Stephen Filarsky has gotten into the whole “eco-thing” as he calls it. We have always hiked and traveled the back roads with cameras and sketchbooks. We know every abandoned house within 100 miles of here. So it is meaningful to return and collect leaves from long forgotten flowers and shrubs and bring them back to life in a new and beautiful way!

Searching for catkins
Searching for catkins

 

Crab apple tree at the studio

My studio deck  overlooks my small pasture and for another week or so, it is awash with yellow wildflowers.  The deck is where I do most of my laying out of the plants, bundling, and where my steam pot sits. I only move inside when it is too cold or too windy (a real challenge!) to work outside. I also use my bargain picnic table if I need even more room!

Working on the picnic table
Working on the picnic table

The last few times I have spent in ecodyeing, I have also pulled out some watercolor paper-we have SO much paper in our other art studio-and added a bundle to the dye pot.

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing elaborate but oh my, what amazing, and different  results!  So before I head outside to feed animals and then to the studio to photograph yesterday’s results, I’ll share one result of using the same japanese maple leaves on both silk and watercolor paper, and another of just the watercolor paper. The surprises are what makes this an invigorating art form!

watercolor paper vs silk!
watercolor paper vs silk!

 

11x14 watercolor ecoprint
11×14 watercolor ecoprint

 

News from our Working Artists studios!

Early Spring (March), 2016

March and there is SO much going on. Many art shows and horse shows coming up this spring. We  love to show and tell so scattered throughout this newsletter are some of the many art pieces we created for our collectors.
Also meet our newest family member, Bella, our baby alpaca. Theresa is already deciding what to do with all of her fleece when she is sheared the end of March.

What’s Happening:  Shows where you can find us, as vendors or on the grounds with our easels   (Remember to check back with us on our calendar as sometimes this changes)

March 12 Triangle Farms C horse show, Hunt Horse Complex, Raleigh, NC ! Look for us on just Saturday, March 12 at the show! At the Hunt Horse Complex. We’ll be there with portraits and silkwork (oh the horses!)  http://www.trianglefarms.com/

March 17-20  Triangle Farms A horse show, Raleigh NC    Steve will be at this show part of the time with his paintings. Check with us for the dates!  http://www.trianglefarms.com/

March 18-20  Spring Carousel Gift Market  Raleigh, NC, At NC fairgrounds, Jim Graham Building  Theresa will be there with her all of her silk art. https://www.facebook.com/springcarousel

March 23-26  You will find us at the Spring Premier Horse Show at the Hunt Horse Complex in Raleigh, NC.  Portraits, paintings and silk art in our indoor booth!
http://www.raleighspringpremier.com/

April 23 Bynum Bridgefest!  A one day art and craft event (on the Bynum Bridge) between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, NC that meshes with Earth Day.  Come see Theresa with her fiber and silk art!   http://www.bephilarthropy.com/

April 30:Cary Spring Daze!  Long URL to a long established one day art and craft show held in a beautiful park in Cary, NC!  http://www.townofcary.org/Departments/Parks__Recreation___Cultural_Resources/events/festivals/springdaze.htm

May 6-7: The Handmade Market    We’re still waiting to hear back on this art and craft event but if it’s a go, Theresa will be there with her silk and fiber art! http://www.thehandmademarket.com/site/

May 21 & 22 Keswick Horse Show: Like last year, Steve will make his annual jaunt to the Keswick Hunt Club (in Virginia) and can be found around the grounds with his easel painting the scenes at the show!

May 20-22  Artsplosure  A very busy, super fun art and craft show in downtown Raleigh, NC. Theresa will be there with all of her fiber and silk art! http://artsplosure.org/

Well that’s probably enough to keep all of us busy! There will be our long time horse shows in June, July and August including the 2 weeks at Blowing Rock, NC and possibly  some Virginia shows. YOU can easily keep track of where we will be through our Facebook pages!

ART classes and workshops (March-August)
These are classes held at our studio location and others. If you would like us to set up a workshop with your art group, just drop us a note. Sign up for our separate art student academy newsletters that are just for our painting students!
Theresa is teaching some new classes with the Vance Granville Community College (http://www.vgcc.edu/coned/personal-interest) in the Personal Enrichment program, including some Heritage Programs coming up. Make sure you are signed up for our Art Student Academy newsletters to stay on top of all art classes!   http://artstudentacademy.com/

SHOP with US!
A great landing page to branch into the areas we have that interest you is http://www.OnRoadArtists.com  From there you can read our blogs, see what we are painting and so much more! But additional locations are below:
Theresa’s  portraits are online, is: http://www.etsy.com/shop/mtheresabrown
Theresa’s abstracts and silk art: http://www.DreamHorseArt.com….go to the shop section to see what is available!
Visit Steve’s store with his paintings is:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/sfilarsky

To reach us, all you have to do is go to ONE page:
http://www.OnRoadArtists.com
There you will find links to our blogs, Facebook pages, various websites, phone numbers and emails!

New work images posted regularly on our Facebook pages! Watch for our updates!
Until next time!
Theresa and Steve

Eco-printing, driftwood and working in the Silk Studio

Late winter and I’m ready for spring. Leaves on the trees, flowers…that kind of spring!  Some of my silk art I can create inside, in the warmth of my small studio (my cabin) But others I have to create outside. 30 degrees is cold when your hands are submerged in water and winter gloves are not an option.

Silk Studio in late winter
Silk Studio in late winter

 

 

 

 

But March art shows are coming and today I’m moving my work space out to the tables on the deck as the temperatures should finally be kind :-). I alternate between my hand painted silk and my eco-printed silk.  A recent trip to gather freshwater driftwood from a lake shore inspired me to create a few wall hangings.

Driftwood hanging1
Driftwood hanging1

20160225_113541_resizedAnd you have to love the random patterns of eco-prints from Mother Nature.  Raw silk, gathered leaves and gathered driftwood-all re-purposed into new, beautiful artwork.

These two images are shown hanging on my tobacco stick fence in front of my large art studio. This studio is kept separate from the silk as it is where my artist hubby, Stephen Filarsky and I paint in oils, pastels and acrylics.

Paint and silk do not work well within the same space 🙂

My driftwood is also being re-purposed for additional use in my silk work. Images coming soon.

These wall hangings and my newest painted silk creations can be seen in two shows this month:

The Spring Carousel Gift Market in Raleigh, NC  March 18-20. The following weekend is the Spring Premier Gaited  horse show in the same general location-the Hunt Horse Complex March 23-26. Good place for my horse scarves 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Nature’s Colors in eco-printing on silk

My last “batch” before leaving for a trip to Oregon earlier this month.  Grinding, then boiling cochineal bugs and laying out plants on silk….all part of the long process!

Laying out the plants
Laying out the plants

 

Cochineal extract
Cochineal extract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the results? Oh my, what fun! 🙂

Collage of Mother Nature's colors
Collage of Mother Nature’s colors
Detail of an eco-scarf.
Detail of an eco-scarf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of vegetable plants on silk
Close up of vegetable plants on silk
Bella watching the silk dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 3 weeks in the Pacific northwest and I could not leave without expanding my collection of leaf matter.  Check out the monster Big Leaf maple.  The weather promises to break, the snow is melting and the sun will make it possible for me to create more of Mother Nature’s Art 🙂

Big leaf maple
Big Leaf maple
Pacific northwest oak leaves
Pacific northwest oak leaves

Alpacas, peg looms and weaving sticks!

Way back in college, I took a weaving class and managed to squeak by with a “D”. No joke. I loved the weaving part, but the big old floor looms required threading heddles and to a poor college student who had no transportation,  the eventual yarn I purchased for the warp was too stretchy. And although I made a beautiful (to me) wall hanging for my final project, it was not of the technical skill my instructor was looking for 🙂

Enter the peg loom and weaving sticks!

Working with my peg loom!
Working with my peg loom!

So I am all about simple, easy and yet with great results! After more than 25 years as a self employed portrait artist I am way past that “suffer for my art” nonsense 🙂 So you can imagine my delight when, with no instructor looming over me (haha, a pun) I managed to make my first peg loom weaving. I am hooked. I used yarn of course but looking forward to using my silk and silk sari ribbons for something unusual!

But then, what else did I try? Weaving sticks! SO simple, so much fun and I could play “old lady” in front of the fire with my sticks in my hand, balls of yarn in the basket and Louie (my dad’s old cockapoo we inherited) on the arm of the easy chair and just eave away! I can just about finish a scarf during one Columbo rerun. Definitely through a Miss Marple 🙂

My basket of yarn with my weaving sticks
My basket of yarn with my weaving sticks

Never one for halfway measures, I added Bella to my menagerie of 2 ponies, 18 chickens and 5 dogs. Shearing will be in April when a nearby alpaca farm brings in the shearers…I better learn how to use that drop spindle if I want her fiber lol!

Bella, the baby alpaca
Bella, the baby alpaca

 

 

Nature’s colors-Amazing results from eco-printing on silk!

OK, I admit it, I’m hooked! Nature’s colors rock! After 11 days of constant painting on silk at the Village of Yesteryear at the NC State Fair (Another blog!) , I experimented with yet another technique for eco dyeing/printing and the results were gorgeous! (I admit it, I brag!)

I collected yet more leaves from maple trees  and along the roadside as well as on my own mini-farm….adding to my collection so I would have leaves when the winter came. It wasn’t hard to enlist the help of my artist husband, Stephen Filarsky! I had hoped that some of the colors of these stunning fall maple trees would dye but the colors did not migrate to the silk….yet. I’ll keep trying 🙂

Fall maple trees
Fall maple trees

Working with iron, onion skins and pecans as a mordant in different batches, well, you’ll have to see the results!

The following scarves consist of silk eco-printed with an assortment and variation (in each) of maples, peonies, mimosa, oak, roses, pear, sumac and pecan to name a few natural ingredients.

onion skin mordant
onion skin mordant

Oak, maple and sumac were within a few of these silk scarves.

Peonies, ferns, maple and roses
Peonies, ferns, maple and roses

A beautiful combination of colors-a surprise actually 🙂

maple leaves on silk
maple leaves on silk

So real, it seems as though you could pluck them off the silk!

rose leaves from various old roses
rose leaves from various old roses

Interesting how different roses printed differently.

Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk
Eco-printing on indigo dyed raw silk

The raw silk really takes the dye process. I had previously dyed this piece with indigo and was not happy with it-I am now 🙂

All of my silk work is being done in the small studio. At the moment I am heading off to a show and looking forward to free time after the weekend to experiment a bit more. Big show coming up towards the end of the month!