Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New paintings

Paintings of home

I am back from my week long Christmas vacation. Had a great time with the family. Always so much fun with the three little kids. It was a white Christmas, and cold for a while. But turned really nice and was 57 for the drive home.

I have been working on landscapes of home. Bright colored abstract oil paintings of the Sandhills, and some of the plant life. Makes me wish for spring. At least the days are officially getting longer, if only by a few minutes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Better color

The color is much richer and truer with natural light.

Photographing artwork

I have been working on rephotographing all my artwork, and rugs and everything. It is quite a daunting task. I have learned that natural light is the absolute best lighting. Outside on a cloudy day is the best. Of course it is sunny and about 20 degrees right now, so I was experimenting inside by my south windows. It is the best with the indirect light. Also set your white balance on your camera to natural light and don't use a flash. Do an experiment and take a photo of something inside with a flash and then take it outside on a cloudy day. Then compare and see how much better the colors are with the natural light. I am trying to retake every photo I have on Etsy. Maybe that will help my sales!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to get a treasury on Etsy

I started trying to get a treasury last week, and now I'm on my second and I am hooked. Basically it's like being a curator at a museum or gallery and you get to pick all the items. What I do is think up a theme. This week it was purple and teal what a deal. Then I scour Etsy for twelve items plus four alternates. I keep track of all those item number and then the waiting starts. The treasury has to hit 332, so you just look at what number it is at now and then count backwards to see when it will hit the magic number. Then you sit and wait. And don't refresh your screen. When it hits 332 a little box will open at the bottom for your title. Then you just need to enter all the item number and viola your done. It's quite fun. Go to http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=26487 to see mine for this week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I finished the rug!!!

I finally finished the rug!!! It is massive, 58 x 75 and heavy, almost 10lbs. But it is beautiful and worth the time it took. It was quite the challenge because my loom is only able to weave 36 wide so I had to make two pieces the same size and then sew them together. I do absolutely love it and I hope the woman that wanted it really likes it too.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Measuring on a Loom

I am weaving this large rug on my loom and trying to measure the length was really difficult until I read this great tip. The rug is wound on a bar so before I was using a measuring tape and wrapping it around and I was having difficulty. Now I measure 20 inches and mark it with a stick pin on the side then I know the length easily. So much better.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Wool is a very wonderful fabric and has been around for a very long time. Wool will absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture without feeling damp. Most fabric like cotton absorbs less than 15% and starts to feel damp. It's also dirt resistant and flame resistant. Woolen fabrics are soft and heavier. Worsted wool creases better and is less bulky. Tartan's are plaid that come from Scotland and were used to identify clans. Tweeds have little nubs of color throughout the fabric. Gabardine is tightly woven with diagonal ribs. Jersey is lightweight with knit stitches on one side and rounded stitches on the other. And Merino is made from Merino sheep and is of the highest quality said to resemble cashmere. There are more kinds of wool too. Check out www.denverfabrics.com, and www.fabric.net/wool for lots more info.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New exciting projects

I am working on two new challenging projects. The first is a wool cloak lined in cotton. It has been a while since I worked with wool. Wool is a wonderful fabric, but I just don't have much access to it where I live. It is a custom cloak and he found this wonderful olive green fabric called cactus. With a cotton lining of burgundy or tan. I need to see the fabric before I decide on the lining. The other exciting project is an 5 x 8 ft rug. My loom is only 36 inches wide so then I have to weave two pieces 8 ft long and then sew them together. It will be a very exciting project. It's going well right now. I have the fabric all cut in strips and ready to go.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Paintings

I have finished two new paintings and listed them on ETSY. Both with my new technique using the card to apply the oil paint. I like the texture and the ability to apply a lot of paint at once. They are completely abstract and are painted on the sides so that they are ready to hang. Abstract is my favorite subject because I can just let my my wander and it is amazing the stuff that appears on the canvas.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I am thankful for many things today. For my family and friends. For the beautiful weather we have had so that everyone could travel this week. For the fact that I did not burn anything on my first Thanksgiving at my house. For the dogs and their unending love. For the fun 4-wheeler rides we had yesterday. For the fun 40th anniv party we will have this weekend. For this wonderful place that we live. For the studio that I have to paint in that Dad helped me fix. For my creativity. For all my new friends and for all the one's that I have known forever. I hope everyone has a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Free shipping on my paintings

I am having a sale on my paintings. Free shipping on all my paintings in the US through the end of November. Check out my site www.mwestdesigns.etsy.com and everything is marked that has the free shipping.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I sold a painting!!

I still get excited after all these years when I sell a painting. And I sold one today!!! Thanks Erin! My creative gift will always amaze me. And I am always thankful for it. I believe that we are all just channels and God works through us to create art, and our lives, and everything we do. "Art is a divine collaboration. A sacred covenant between the artist and the Great Creator" Breathnak

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A beautiful Day and a 4-wheeler ride.

It was another beautiful day yesterday. We went on a 4-wheeler ride to check out the horses. We started out on two 4-wheelers and then mine ran out of gas or something. So we ended up on one, and the moral of the story is just take one 4-wheeler! That's lots more fun anyway. The horses were beautiful and I took lots of pictures. The sun was starting to set and it got really cold really fast. But that is the best time of day to take photos. The light is just amazing.

And I got some really great pictures. We made it back just before it got dark. It was a great day!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New painting technique

I have been creating really bright colored, abstract paintings lately. I had been using a really big brush to paint, then I started using my palette knife. It gave a great texture and covered the canvas much faster, but I wanted something that held more paint. So I had this Idea to use and old credit card to spread the paint. It gave great texture and I was able to put two to three colors on at once. "The abstraction is often the most tangible form for the things that I can only clarify in paint" Georgia O'keeffe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas Cloak

I just made the most beautiful cloak for Christmas. It is reversible garnet red and fir green velvet. It is so soft and warm and makes me want to go caroling or to a Christmas party. It's so great because it is easily turned around. One day you can wear red on the outside and the other day green.

I listed it on my Etsy site today. www.mwestdesigns.etsy.com

Monday, November 17, 2008

wall around your heart

I have many sketchbooks full of quotes and poems. I was going through an old one today and found this by Mary Chapman Carpenter. It's a song called Wall Around Your Heart. It's about faith and taking a chance.

It starts at the place that two people face each other merely by chance
abandoned by words and the purpose they serve
it stops them right in their tracks
how long has it been since this feeling within
has made you forget who you are

and lets you believe once more in the moon
and lets you have faith again in the stars
and lets you go free 'cause someone broke through
the wall 'round your heart

Now the world is unkind most of the time
and most of the time we survive
hard luck and losses and love's double crosses
that all broken hearts seem to find
after giving too much now they're afraid of the touch
'cause the last time it just left a scar

but if you believe once more in the moon
and if you have faith again in the stars
and you can go free 'cause someone broke through
the wall around your heart

There's wall made of steel
there's walls made of stone
but none are so strong as the walls made of fear alone

Sooner or later it's old human nature
propelling you forward again
it's the step a turn and a glance
asking where in the world have you been
but you don't have to answer 'cause now you're a dancer
and the music is ready to start

and you can believe once more in the moon
and you can have faith again in the stars
and you can go free 'cause someone broke through
the wall around your heart

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advertising my etsy site

I have been looking for ways to advertise my Etsy site and I have found some great ideas. First is business cards. I put several in every package I send, and give them out to everyone. I also made flyers on my computer that say buy handmade and list my site with pictures. These go out in every package I mail also. Plus I ordered a return address label and stamp every letter and package several times. Stickers are good too. They can go on every piece of outgoing mail. Even bills I mail get stamped or stickered or business cards. I figure that lots of people handle the mail so why not do some advertising. I bought a bumper sticker for my car. If someone behind me then they will see it. I want to make t-shirts with beautiful pictures on them and my etsy site. The latest thing I learned about was the showcase on Etsy. Basically it's advertising in the different categories on Etsy. Some of them are hard to get, and you have to check back often. I did get one on the Storque page and I am going to list more blank books and get a spot on the books and zines. I'm sure there are lots more ideas, but this is what I've found so far.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Irish walking cape

There have been several magazines sellingIrish walking capes recently. The are a beautiful wool ponch/cape and they retail for $250-$500. I have been trying to figure out how to make them with no luck. Until yesterday. The nicest woman has a handmade wool one that she let me look at. Her's is beautiful shades of purple with cranberry. Two pockets and a button on the side. A zipper up the front and a collar. Very simple but quite striking. I would change the aipper and add a button or two at the neck so that it would overlap. I am going to expand my cape line to include these. I think I will start out with fleece until I can find a good supplier of wool.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

glass insulators

Just got this great idea from a lady for something creative to do with glass insulators. You can turn them over and put a votive in them. It looks really cute. Or you can put a battery operated light under them and it will illuminate them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sandhills of Nebraska - Home

I have traveled all over the world and still the most beautiful place is the Sandhills of Nebraska. Yesterday we had all this snow and I woke up to a winter wonderland. There was no wind so everything was just perfect and still. Of course once I let the dogs out it was a little chaotic. The sandhills is the largest sand dune in North America and covers almost 20,000 square miles. It sits on top of the Ogallala aquaifer. It might sound kinda boring but it has the largest and most intricate wetland ecosystem in the United States. Rolling hills with grass, yuccas, and all sorts of beautiful wildflowers. The sunsets are mindblowing. It's the greatest place in the world!! :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Purple/black reversible velvet cloak

I just made the most beautiful purple/black reversible velvet cloak. It is soft and warm and would be perfect to wear on a day like today where it is cold and snowy. Check out my etsy site to see more pics. http:/www.mwestdesigns.etsy.com

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Where does inspiration come from? I believe that God is the source for all inspiration. Whether that is to build a scryscraper or just pick a flower. We are all a channel and God's light flows through us. One of my favorite books is Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. August is the month where she talks about creating. She says " We do not create in a vacuum. Art is a Divine Collaboration, a sacred covenant between the artist and the Great Creator." If we remember that we don't create alone than the flow of creativity can never be stopped. But what do you do on those days when it just doesn't seem possible to pick up the brush, or warp the loom or to carry on with your Creativity. You just show up. And work. And don't think too much about it. " She writes " How do you prepare yourself to enter an extraordinary state on an ordinary morning? By showing up. Day in, day out. By not judging how it's going. It it's going at all, that's enough. you can't afford to think about how the work will be received. Our job, then, is just to do it. It can't be published, produced, performed, or purchased if it doesn't exist."

So on this cold dreary morning, after weeks of beautiful weather, I'd rather just crawl back into bed. But I'm just going to show up. I am going to finish the two paintings I started yesterday. And then I'm going to work on a new rug. God is always with us, especially when we are creating. So I won't be alone on this cold morning.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go out and Vote!!!

I was reading in the Etsy forums this morning about the British and their voting.
One person said that we Americans Rock because we are so passionate about this election. They said that in the UK they have heard more about our US elections they they ever do about their own. She made it seem like elections weren't really a big deal in the UK. Which is sad really, cause it's important to vote no matter what country you live in when you have elections. That is what it is all about. Using your voice to make a choice for the future. I am off to vote this morning and then I have a bunch of errands to run.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine

My most favorite art magazine is Cloth Paper Scissors. It is a magazine about collage, mixed media, and artistic discovery. The pictures are amazing in this magazine. It's the greatest if you need some inspiration. The articles give you step by step directions on how to make collaged and mixed media artwork. Kelly Rae Roberts has many great articles. She has this unique technique where you take collage papers and glue them onto a canvas and then put gel medium on top. After it is dry you roll paint on with a brayer and it gives the picture a beautiful back ground. She then paints these amazing women in the foreground. I am experimenting with this. The picture is one I did based on her instructions. So check out Cloth Paper Scissors for some great ideas.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New rugs and great weather and a great Halloween

I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I had a blast. Got dressed up twice to go trick-or-treating. Once in the afternoon and then again last night. So much fun. (I'm on the left) It is hard to believe though that it is the 1st of November now. It was 75 degrees out today and no wind. What a lovely day. I did spend some time outside but I was also finishing some rugs. I have several new colors. And some beautiful new rugs. I am going to start a new batch. I just need to warp my loom again.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Sale

In honor of Halloween (my favorite holiday), I am having a sale in my shop. www.mwestdesigns.etsy.com Free shipping in the US through Monday november 3rd. Just let me know you read my blog and I will refund the shipping price. Plus today I am finally going to list more handwoven rag rugs. Have a great Halloween!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Textured Paintings

I've been working on adding lots of texture to my paintings. I have been putting layers of crumpled up tissue paper on them. I put a layer of paint, then tissue paper and more paint. I move the paper around and bunch it up in some areas and spread it out in others. It does take a while to dry, but adds a nice 3-D affect.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


After almost a month of computer issues and problems getting it fixed, I am officially back online!!! So now I have added several new cloaks just in time for Halloween to my Etsy site. www.mwestdesigns.etsy.com And all my cloaks that were $49 are now $39!! Check out the new dark purple, silver, and olive velvet cloaks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sale on my etsy site

I am having a sale this week on my Etsy site. 10% off any item purchased from 9/11/08 thru 9/18/08. Just mention that you read my blog and I will take 10% off.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Weaving on a Union Loom No 36

My Union Loom came to me in peices. And it had been 1o years since I took weaving in college, so it was quite the challenge to get it together. I had no directions and only a small black and white picture to guide me. But after many many hours, I finally got it in working order.
After all that time spent, I found a woman on the internet that has a Loom Manual Library. She has all these old manuals and will send a copy for a small fee. Her website is http://www.weaversfriend.com/
Just an amazing amount of information on weaving and old looms.
It is a two harness loom and weaves 36 inches across. I am now in the process of warping it for the second time. It will be eight threads per inch which is 16 threads per section which means 304 threads at 30 yards each. If you do all that math then it is 9120 yards of cotton rug warp. That will be an estimate of 20 rugs that I can do on that much warp.
It takes a lot of time but once it is done, it will be really fast and easy to get the rugs done.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pictures of Custom Cloaks

The first one is the garnet/white crushed panne velvet reversible. The second is black crushed panne velvet/ black fleece reversible.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Custom made cloaks

I have been working on two custom orders over the week. The first is for a wedding. White crushed panne velvet lined in garnet with fur along the hood. It is gorgeous!! Very long at 64 inches from shoulder to the floor. It has ties at the neck and is reversible. The second is a black crushed panne velvet lined in black fleece with a japanese frog closure at the neck. The woman lives in Maine so it will keep her warm this winter. My newest custom order is for an old fashioned nurses cloak. Navy on the outside lined in red. It has a collar and a button closure at the neck. It is for a woman going to a haunted mental hospital for Halloween. I should have the fabric next week. It will be my first Halloween costume made for this year. Can't wait for more!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quote by Nelson Mandela

This is one of my favorite quotes.
" Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves-who am I to be brilliant, gorogeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be. You are a child of God. And your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us. It is in every one of us. And as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New rag rug

I just finished a new rug. It is blue and tan and 26 x 34 inches. I was inspired by the pale blue delphiniums that are blooming in my garden. This is about the 15th rug on this warp and now I am at the end so I will have to wind on more. It is a lengthy process as there are about 200 threads on the loom. But once I have that done it is smoothe sailing from there.
My loom is a 2 harness Union Loom no. 36. It was originally bought in 1949 for $49.95. It is very heavy and weighs 170lb. It was shipped back then by train. I was fortunate enough to have it given to me. And after a lot of work fixing it up, it now works well.

Monday, August 25, 2008

art supplies

I was checking out a Blick art supplies catalog today and it made me think of all the great places that I get supplies. So I thought I'd make a list.

Polaroid transfers:
669 polaroid film from Adorama.com. Lots and lots of camera equipment and film.
Arches watercolor paper from dickblick.com. Every art supply you could ever need.

Oil paints from dickblick.com. My favorite are the Van Gogh oils.
Canvas from hancockfabrics.com and joannfabrics. com

Rag rugs:
I get lots of fabric from Goodwill. Old sheets work well. If I need a specific color DnL Fabric Crafts and More on ebay is the best. She'll even cut the strips to 1 inch size.

My favorite place for fabric is realfabricman on ebay.com. He has the best velvet and sells it in 70 yard bolts. Fast shipping and great quality.

That's it for now. I'm working on a new rug today. Tan and blue checks. Check out my site mwestdesigns.etsy.com and I will list it later. Have a great day!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

BUY HANDMADE!!! etsy.com

Have you checked out etsy.com??? It is a site devoted to handmade items. I love this site. You can buy jewelry, clothes, rugs, hats, blankets and the list goes on and on.

I have my polaroid transfers, paintings, rag rugs, and renaissance cloaks listed on my site mwestdesigns.etsy.com.

You might ask what is a polaroid transfer? It is basically where you take a 669 polaroid apart before it has completely developed and print the negative side. Then you can texture, scratch and hand tint it.

I listed some new ones today. Several windmills, sunflower, and some Italy pictures.

I like the idea of listing something new there everyday. It is a goal of mine to list 1 to 2 new items a day. Because being creative everyday is the best thing in the world.