Remember that fiber exhibit I was prepping for?
It was REALLY amazing.

You know I was worried about my “craft” hanging out alongside real fiber “art.”
But I was also fretting about the unusually cold weather along the east coast.
Here in Charlotte,
the cold has been keeping people at home.
Would folks venture out into the cold?
In the dark?
Just to see some fiber art?

At C3 Lab for the TEXTURES exhibit

The happy answer to that was YES.
Yes they did.

What a heart warming experience to walk into C3 Lab to find it buzzing with people.

The CLTextile Artists (and I’m on that list!!)

I was equally excited to see MY name included on the list of participating CLTextile artists.

How cool to be part of the CLTextile group.
To be at C3 Lab.
To meet like minded people with a love of making.

Every piece in this show was an intricate work of someone’s hands and heart.

My “Out on a Limb” on display at the TEXTILES exhibit

When I noticed people clustered around my piece,
I was delighted that they were taking the time to study the little details.
Didn’t think I could get any happier.
…Til someone mentioned the local news had been by earlier in the day,
And that they’d noticed “Out on a Limb.”

“Out on a Limb” by Val Chan

That’s when I found out my crafty little bird even made it on the local news.
Here’s the link to some clips from Wilson’s World talking about our fiber show.
  My piece shows up in the last three minutes of the clip.

My cup runneth over.

Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb

Arts and Crafts.
I love them both.

As an “artist,”
I draw and paint in a myriad of mediums.
I use lots of glue (specifically Mod Podge).
I love to experiment and to mix techniques and mediums.
I want to be able to produce representational art when the mood strikes.
But it’s the crazier, looser stuff that really sets my heart pounding.

As a “crafter,”
I tend to be more careful.
I mostly crochet, needle felt, knit and sew.
I try NEVER to mix glue with my fibers.
I follow patterns.
I like the cute stuff.

Until now,
I’ve kept my “arts” and “crafts” separate.

So what’s changed?

A few weeks back, a fiber artist friend asked if I’d like to participate in a fiber art exhibit.
I was intrigued.
But a little worried.
For me, working with fibers is strictly a crafty kind of thing.
“Crafty” as in kitschy and cutesy.
How could simple embroidery or amigurumi stand side by side with fiber art?
I was intimidated.
But what the hec.
I said “yes” anyway.

I pulled out embroidery floss, felt, yarn, wire and roving.
I used wire cutters, pliers, crochet hooks, embroidery and felting needles.
I crafted my heart out.
…And I made something that (gulp) might actually be classified as “art.”

My fiber sculpture is called “Out on a Limb.”
It will be on display at the TEXTURES exhibit at C3 Lab this Friday (Jan 5, 7-10pm).

I’m still worried about it being more “crafty” than “artsy.”
But you know what?
I worked really hard on it.
So call it art or craft,
I’m proud of this little sculpture.

Blanket Stitched Felt Coasters

Blanket Stitched Felt Coasters

Remember those rocks I’ve been drawing on?
I decided they looked extra nice displayed on a simple grey felt coaster.
(Yes, I still love grey felt)

A plain cut out felt circle looked fine.
But a blanket stitched embellishment around the coaster edge looked even better.

Then my obsessive-compulsive nature took over.
And I just had to stitch felt coasters for all the ladies joining me for a “Ink on Stone” Girls’ Night Out.

I cut and stitched.
And cut.
And stitched some more.
I prepared 19 coasters before I ran out of felt.
I had enough coasters (and rocks!) for everyone.
Our evening of drawing on rocks was a lot fun.
Everyone went home smiling.

Did I really need to stitch all these coasters?
But did this extra bit of detail make a difference?
I’m going to say yes.
I like the little added details that kick things up a notch.
I was really pleased to present something handmade to each of the evening’s participants.
And don’t you think the stitched coasters grouped together make a pretty picture?

Freakin’ Cool Doll by Kris

Freakin’ Cool Doll by Kris

Creepy Doll by Kris

Let me show you this freaky little doll.
Created by my friend, Kris Dikeman.
I am the lucky new owner of her intricately handcrafted hard work.

Creepy Doll measures 10 inches high.
She has a 7 inch wingspan.
She is hand sewn.
I think her basic body parts started as gloves and fabric scraps.
I’m so taken by her that she now resides on my main work table.
She stands off to my right where I can keep an eye on her while I work…
(In case she tries to step off the table and take a wander around my house).


Her face was built in two layers.
Eyeballs and teeth (!) stitched into the first layer.
Lips and eye sockets created with the top felted layer.

Kris must have spent hours embellishing Creepy Doll’s body.
Orange silk cords spiraling around and couched onto the torso.
Chains of beads in a myriad of colors painstakingly stitched everywhere.
She might be a little scary,
But Creepy Doll also has a heart of gold.

She even has her very own polymer clay mask with bird bead.

My first reaction when I received Creepy Doll in the mail was to  yell,
“No FREAKIN” Way!”
My second impulse was to sit down and make a doll JUST like her.

But then I realized,
Kris already created the perfect Creepy Doll for me.
Though I do have dolls on my “to-make” list,
I’m simply not up to the insane time sink this little red haired moppet represents.

To say I am tickled to own this doll is an understatement.
I am so impressed with all her details.
I love the whimsy with the hearty dose of weirdness.
I have nothing but admiration for my friend’s quirky creative visions.

Thank you, Kris.
I’ll be working on dolls this fall…
But they’ll be nothing close to Creepy Doll.
You inspire me.

Craft on!


Three Birds

Three Birds

Finished the birds.
Started last week with some paper and an idea.
Progressed to cutting and pasting.
Then spent hours of meticulously “quilting” the cutouts to the background paper.
As I mentioned last week,
The birds will hang in a column in my powder room.
Here’s how they will look from top to bottom:

One more time but closer up:
 A few tips & tricks for stitching on paper:
  • To minimize risk of tearing the paper as I stitched, I added a second layer of card stock behind the background paper.  I glued the two piece of card stock together only at the corners.
  • I used a thumbtack to punch holes first before following with actual needle and thread.  I put a piece of corrugated cardboard under the card stock to give the thumbtack something to punch into.  I did not use a ruler.  Instead, I just eyeballed the distance from one pinhole to the next.
  • Be wary of punching the holes too close to the edges of the paper cutouts or too close together.  Both increase the risk of tearing through the cutouts when stitching.
  • Tears and little rips are inevitable.  Stay calm.  If possible, dab a little glue where the paper ripped and gently pat paper back into place.
  • I used back stitch.
  • Stitching served the dual purpose of adding depth to the collage and securing each cutout to the background paper.  I originally used a glue stick to adhere the cutouts.  This holds only temporarily.
  • When stitching on paper, pull needle and thread gently.  Check each stitch to make sure stitch is taut but not too tight.  Once again, the main concern is tearing the paper.
  • Work patiently.  Paper is not forgiving of stitching mistakes.
Halloween Goody Bag

Halloween Goody Bag

We got “BOO-ed” last week.
That’s a good thing.
It’s like receiving a chain letter.
Except in the form of a neighborhood kid ding-dong ditching your door 
and leaving Halloween treats on your doorstep.
My boys & I were delighted by the Halloween surprise.
This was something utterly novel to us.
The kids ate the candy.
I claimed the adorable bat goody bag.

Here’s the original goody bag with some of the treats that came it it.
A grey felt bat front with big eyes and little wings.
Purple sides and back.
Face glued on.
Body sewn together.
According to the “Boo-ed” instructions,
I needed to put together 2 more treats and spread the Boo-love within the day.
Cutesy goody bag not required.
A paper bag would have sufficed.
Or I could have bought something ready made from a number of shops.
But you know me –
Never can pass up a crafting opportunity.
 Once again pulled out sketchbook to plan project and newspaper to create a pattern.
Drew and cut out:
  • 1 bag front (traced original bag front)
  • 1 bag back (traced original bag back)
  • 1 long rectangular strip (2.25 inches by 15.25 inches)
  • 2 strips to be sewn double to create 1 handle (0.75 inches by 11.5 inches).

Once I had my pattern, I pinned and cut the pieces out of black craft felt.
Then I freehand cut from scrap felt:
  • 2 bat wings
  • 2 large circles for eye balls
  • 2 small circles for pupils
  • 2 fangs
  • 1 thin rectangle for the mouth
 Hand stitched bat face on.
Machine sewed the 2 handle rectangles one on top of the other for a sturdier handle.
Decided my goody bag needed a little more color.
So added a strip of ribbon to the handle.
 Pinned and sewed bag together using a 1/8th inch seam allowance.
For this project, I pinned everything right sides out to sew. 
Since my craft felt was thinner than the thick stuff on the original bag,
My bag turned out a little floppy;
But still functional.
We printed a “You’ve Been BOO-ed” page, rolled it up and placed in our bag.
Filled said bag with candies and such.
Then waited for dark so we could try out this whole ding-dong ditching thing.
Another something new for my NYC boys.