Dec 13, 2014

The Griswald's Were Here !

A spruce tree that I found in a planter by the pool about 15 yrs ago ... just 2 little needles sticking out of the dirt ... finally finding a home where once a large maple stood ... now about 18' high in front of our home ! ... 500 little lights on it


Today we had our annual Christmas tree hunt. 
The older kids enjoyed the trek through the bush as much as the grandkids enjoyed it ... Baby Sabrina is 15 mos. and walked most of the way !
This year we went to a tree farm that also offered hot chocolate with a few marshmallows for the kids to roast around 2 big campfires in the middle of the bush.
and they're off ...cold and damp today and quite foggy ... temp 0*C

dragging back their trophies ... look who's doing all the work ! my runner !

our 3 daughters and families ... Gramps in the middle ... kiddies out front

Amelia is yelling 'Merry Christmas !' 
the large campfire
... finished our hot chocolate and the marshmallows around the smaller campfire where Grandma could sit on a stump instead of a cold rock

Dec 9, 2014

This Just In ! ... Had To Share With You !

Santa Shuffle
Tribune photo by Ned Bekavac
The colourful event supports the Salvation Army.
Here come Santa Clauses
Guelph’s Sarah Yackobeck (bib No. 4944) and her father-in-law Gerald Brazeau (far right), of North Bay, lead a group of runners down a Kortright Road sidewalk and towards the finish line at the fundraising Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk Saturday morning. Runners and walkers turned heads as many of them were decked out in Santa Claus and other Christmas-themed gear. The colourful event, which takes place in cities across the country, supports the Salvation Army.
This beautiful lady is my youngest daughter, Sarah. This past year she took up running, inspired by her father-in-law, Gerry, who took up the sport when he was 60. She, and her hubby and little girls, went to Boston this year to watch and support him as he ran the Boston Marathon ... she is going to run it with him next year !
They made it onto the front page of our local newspaper ... So proud !

Nov 20, 2014

To Dye Or Not To Dye ?

Eco-dyeing is such a rage right now and I always wonder why I don't do it.
I have messed around a few times but have been to lazy to get a book from the library to figure out what to do. And I dare not ask an internet friend 'cause I remember how she feels about questions re; dyeing ... take a workshop, she would say !

When I went camping in September I had a pint jar, 2 tiny bits of iron, vinegar and some internet directions on how to rust-dye with these products. Instead of wetting with vinegar and wrapping around some iron, I decided to immerse the cotton-wrapped bundle in a cup of vinegar with some plain water to cover .... I let my small piece of cotton sit in the solution for a few days. Voila !
A nice colour but I don't see anything there to embroider !
It could be cut up and used in something else, I guess.

A few days ago, I decided to experiment again ... again, not really knowing what the hell I was doing !
I had found 3 glorious maple leaves the day before the snow began to fall. I wrapped them in a piece of cotton and submerged the bundle in a pint jar containing a small rusty spring in the bottom,  added boiling hot water and a splash of vinegar ... it's too damned cold to boil this stuff outside, so I figured if any colour was going to be released from those leaves, the hot water should start the process. The splash of vinegar was a spur of the moment ... oh, yeah, and 2 copper pennies were in the bottom as well.
Almost immediately the  fluid turned quite dark and there were black flakes swirling around in there ! It just got darker until I could no longer see anything swirling. I left all sitting in the window and did not take any deep breathes over the concoction ... I was feeling very 'witchy' ! The next day I opened up the bundle ... maple leaves were showing... areas where the string was tied, showed ... lots of contrast and the cloth smelled like wet leaves. I rinsed in warm water and ironed it.

Laying one end against the other (where most of the action was) I could see a pair of aliens or astronauts, or 2 toddlers in snowsuits unable to move for the bundling !
It's been snowing a lot and there is very little good light for photography.

But I still had this jar with this glorious dark colour ... what to do with it ?

Then, because I was purging my studio and came upon an envelope of silk that I had ordered from Dharma, I whacked myself off a 45" x 8" length of it, scrunched up the silk and submerged it in the juice. The next day I had a lovely warm grey, mottled length of silk.
I wondered if I could get a repeat so got another length of silk, twisted it lightly and popped it into the juice for another day ... same result, just mottled a little differently ... these would make lovely scarves.
I have ironed them but am wondering if ironing will set the dye ?  I will have to visit 'google' ;)

Nov 17, 2014

Wise Words

The snow is here to stay ... heading into day 2 of day-long snow fall
Whilst reading about new members of the Around The World Blog Hop, this morning, I somehow stumbled on Danny Gregory ... you know the way it goes, one blog leads to another, one commenter becomes interesting, and leads to another site, more commenters, more sites, via ???, etc., etc ... and before long I feel as if I have just travelled around the world but can't remember the route and now I am lost ... thankfully I copied his url ! 
This ATWBH has led me to a lot of bloggers that are extremely interesting and have lots of wise things to say.

The quote below struck me enough that I wish to share his words on the topic that perplexes enough of us when wondering 'am I an artist' ... I remember the angst I felt before I actually said the words, myself, out loud :)

In Danny Gregory's words;
"One thing I keep encountering when I talk to people about starting to draw: fear. People are terrified of pens, paper, and brushes. Art is scary.
So I propose we call it something else. Drawing or journaling or sketching or doodling or sketchbooking or testing your pen. I call it ‘art with a small a‘.
Here’s how I look at it.
There are so many things we are willing to do that we know other people do much better. 
There are all sorts of amazing chefs on TV doing incredible things with scallops and opening four-star restaurants, but we are all still willing to cook some burgers for dinner without being terrified. We don’t say, I just can’t use a microwave, I didn’t go to cooking school.
We may not be ready for the NBA but we’ll toss a basketball around with some buddies. We won’t be headlining at Madison Square Garden or winning any Grammys but we’re all still willing to sing in the shower or whistle while we work. 
We may not be on the Pulitzer shortlist but we can still write an email or a birthday card. 
We are just doing it to have fun. 
Or because it’s an essential part of life. And I think art can be both.
We don’t need to label ourselves chefs, or basketball players, or musicians, or writers. So why does art have to be so different?" Danny Gregory

Personally, I have always thought that everyone has a talent whether a seamstress, blacksmith, farmer or cook. We are all artists. So say it out loud !

Nov 12, 2014

A Card or a Postcard ?

'Tis The Season ... and I have just hung my Christmas wreath on the front door. 
I love the Christmas season the best and I hear that it will snow the rest of this week and into the next.

I had my 6 week check-up this morning and the doctor is very pleased with my range of motion in my shoulder ... yeah !  no more sling ! Going to get get in my truck and got for a drive !

Anyway, I have had these 2 inks waiting for scanning. I haven't been very happy with my camera of late and scanning isn't turning my crank either ... not the crisp white of the originals.  
I have been pondering whether to have these printed as traditional Christmas cards or print them as postcards. In the past few years I have received quite a number of postcards with Christmas themes & family portraits on them. I quite like them and they are definitely keepsakes and easy to tuck away in albums or wherever one keeps little treasures. Indecision. 

Now that I see them on the computer screen, I think I shall take the traditional route.

Nov 7, 2014


I have been invited to join the Around The World Blog Hop ... a venture to showcase and connect artist/writer's blogs from around the world ... to read and be inspired by those who may work similarly but whose media, techniques and ideas are different from our own. 
After fulfilling the duties outlined (introducing myself and my work) I will introduce you to 3 of my favourite bloggers and fellow Canadian fibre artists ... Arlee Barr, Monika KinnerWhalen and Penny Berens. 

First of all, I would like to thank Margaret Robbie 'Charlton Stitcher', for choosing me as one of 3 artists to follow her on this Around The World Blog Hop. Margaret is a fellow fibre artist/blogger with whom I have been communicating for a few years and whom I found when she posted to another blog one day as I went blog-surfing.
Margaret Robbie
Recently, I was inspired by one of her lovely hand-stitched sketches to delve into some hand stitching myself. 
Much of Margaret's work is inspired by her beloved Cotswold Hills landscape. 

My experimental, hand-stitched piece, based on Margaret's method, started out with a small bundle of 'beige' fabrics and matching threads which I took with me when I went to house-sit for a friend. 
Sharron Deacon Begg
After I spent a few hrs. re-arranging my little beige fabrics, added stitches, the whole time trying to understand why I was doing this, a story evolved ... I was documenting Winter in the rural landscape of Southern Ontario, Canada. That story evolved even more when a backing piece which looked like leather (from a previous workshop, using heavy brown paper, waxing, crayoning, inking and general distressing) was added ... causing me to think about our pioneer forefathers that would have used and cherished any bit of leather they had. I attached the whole piece to the natural muslin background with a few hidden machine-stitched lines and then attached the edges of the paper with a few hand stitches ... reminiscent of how a pioneer may have stitched rents in his precious leather. 
So, it grew from something very simple and experimental into something just a bit larger, just a bit more involved ... into a piece that became a part of 18-Square Traveling Fibre Art Show ... which opened Nov. 4th at The Grange Gallery, Mississauga, and running through to Jan.23, 2015.
Thank you, Margaret, for the inspiring me to branch out from my chosen and favourite art form ... free-motion machine embroidery.

Please check out the link to the artist, Margaret Robbie, and follow the all links back to other fabulous artists and writers from around the world.

Let me introduce myself, Sharron Deacon Begg. I was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, directly descended from Scottish and Irish pioneers who came to settle in the Huron Tract, with very little but the clothes on their backs and a strong desire to make a better life for themselves. From women who knew what hard work was and who made small comforts for their families/homes from whatever they could get their hands on.
Now a 60 something wife, mother and grandmother, I can honestly say that I have been making art for 60 something years. Drawing, as soon as I could hold a pencil, and sewing by machine at 9, were my particular passions. High school brought several oil painting commissions by the time I was 17. 
Now, I'm not saying I was an expert ... but parents, and friends of parents, were all too eager to indulge a seemingly talented child. Especially an ill one ... I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 11. I mention this because it is so much a part of me and it's daily presence has significantly determined my work. Over the years I have had knuckles, both knees and a hip replaced twice. This extended support system made it possible to dream bigger.
Anyway, I confidently set out to the Ontario College of Art (now Ontario College of Art & Design) to become my fantasy ... a famous artist ! 
Well, what a surprise ! It doesn't happen that easily ;(. 
loved my year there but health and finances took a toll.
At 20, I had a job transferring collected data onto maps for the Soil Department of the University of Guelph. A collection of pen & ink doodles piled atop my desk lead to an observant boss asking me to co-illustrate a text book for the University of Guelph. What an honour ! I treasure my copy.
But, as happens so often with young women of my era, romance, marriage and motherhood put art on the 'to do' list for quite a few years. I married my high school sweetheart and together we raised 3 daughters and a son. Now we have 11 grandchildren !
At 34 yrs, while waiting for the birth of  my last child and needing a sanity break from the trials of child-rearing, I joined a local needlecraft guild. It was there that my drawing and sewing machine abilities came smashing together when I found free-motion machine embroidery. After many years of trying everything fibre art, I now concentrate on thread paintings ... landscapes with hand-painted fabric and thread. I started calling myself Threadpainter in the late 80's. It seemed an appropriate name when trying to describe what I do when asked 'what is this ?'. I started to say, 'these are thread paintings' explaining that "my sewing machine is my easel, the needle is my pencil and the threads are my paint."
I mix it up occasionally by working on water-solubles. 
When I find myself between fibre art projects I bring out my sketch book and start a small ink drawing which I find calming and I am absorbed for a few hours and able to mull over life in general or the next project. 

Four questions were to be answered in my Around The World Blog Hop post.
1. What am I working on ?
This summer has been a good one for me; acceptance in 2 juried shows, a Jurors Choice Award in one (and sold) and 1st prize in my category in the other.
Lake Huron Sunset - Jurors Choice Award
- received over 5000 views on Flickr
Winter Stream - 1st Prize
At this particular moment in time, I am recovering from rotator cuff surgery. But I have 2 projects in the wings ... one giant photocopy hanging on my studio wall wants to become a thread painting of about 18"x24". When my shoulder allows I am, also, trying to finish a small ink drawing of a pine tree covered in ice and snow. It will become the original for my Christmas cards this year. I work from my own photographs and my resource stash is quite substantial.

My thread paintings are usually of rural Ontario landscapes. Winter corn fields, the trees of winter (whom I call 'ladies-in-waiting), old abandoned silo's form the 1800's and old and tired fence posts are just some of my favourite subjects. 

The giant photocopy waiting in the wings, is an enlarged copy of an old abandoned silo with a small scruffy red pine in front of it. The pine tree will be stitched separately, on thread on water-soluble, then hand-stitched to the finished hand-painted, machine-stitched landscape/canvas.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I know of other 'thread painters' but we all have our own slant on to how we achieve what we do. I learned the basics from Canadian artist Martha Cole many, many years ago.
My thread paintings are comprised of hand-painted acrylics on lengths of white cotton fabric. A hand-drawn, simplified sketch is cut up and used as pattern pieces. Then the picture is put together like a jig-saw puzzle and detailed with threads. Does it differ from other thread paintings ? Probably only in minute details but I have a system that works for my particular quality control issues.

3. Why do I write/create what I do ?
Funny ... I ask myself that same question every once in a while and the only answer I can give is ‘because I like to/have to !' ... as simple as that.

4. How does my writing/creating process work ?
My creative process begins with 'desire to do' ... a photo, an idea or a scene I have just seen, pops into my brain, usually just as I lay down to sleep. More times than not, I awake still thinking about ‘it’ and before I’ve even gotten out of bed I have a complete picture in my brain and an almost step-by-step plan worked out for the completion of another thread painting. Of course the mundane part of the creative process includes the washing/drying/ironing of fabric, choosing the colours and painting lengths of fabric, more ironing of a fusible on the back of every length of painted fabric, ... but so worth it when I begin to draw, cut and sew ... and the feel of the resulting canvas is so luscious, becoming softened and all ingredients melding into one single fabric. 5 years ago I started stretching my paintings over painters' stretcher frames.
I start with a photo and a decent sketch on brown paper in the size I want to work with. Then I trace the major shapes of that drawing ...  again on brown paper. I will cut up the second sketch and use it as pattern pieces. Once all areas are placed on a backing fabric and fit like a jig-saw puzzle, I will iron them in place.
All detail, and the fun, begins when this canvas is placed under the needle of my ancient sewing machine. My machine is upwards of 60 yrs. old, has a straight and zig-zag stitch, and is strong and sturdy and does everything that I require of her. My only other machine was almost as old and she worked hard until bits and pieces just fell off of her. She has been retired and her newer but older sister (of the same name) 'Virgin' (as no man has ever laid hands on her) has stepped in to continue the work.
Well, enough of me. I hope you will take a moment to scroll through my blog and please say 'hello' before you leave. I love making new blogger friends ... you are all so inspiring ... and I would love to hear from you.

Now, I am very pleased to introduce you to 3 fellow Canadian fibre artists/bloggers whom I consider very talented in their chosen art form.

Arlee Barr : I first met Arlee on Flickr where we shared the trials and tribulations of hosting fibre art groups there. She lives in Calgary, Alberta and is feisty and colourful. Her beautiful dyed and hand-stitched pieces of art are worth watching and waiting for. She posts as she progresses and it is always exciting to watch her work.

Monika Kinner-Whalen: Monika lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She is a very busy young mother, artist and teacher. 

She makes me smile ... a lot !
Monika is a fibre artist specializing in freestyle embroidery. Enchanted by the texture and intricate beauty that can be achieved by working with threads, her creations are expressions of love for the prairie and often originate from her own photography of Saskatchewan.

Penny Berens lives in Nova Scotia. Penny and I have been members of Connections Fibre Artists for many years and I am very familiar with her calm and steady hand-stitched pieces of art. She is a sought-after teacher of fibre art. Currently there are two things that guide her work. The first is a desire to never take her surroundings for granted and to record her reaction to the woods and shorelines that surround her. The second is a desire to make her work honest and personal ... 'no protective barriers ... kind of scary !'

Enjoy these lovely ladies and happy blog hopping !