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Newsletters #7

Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives #7

How do I move my work along?
How do I keep my work fresh and new?
These are two questions Ive been mulling over each time I come into the studio in the past couple of months......there is a voice inside telling me to venture out into new directions, wondering what is next? Part of this is that spring is around the corner and I am hungry for after a winter of wearing lots of black and brown, Ive put myself on a dark color diet.....cut down on black unless it can be lightened up, and to use pale neutrals and color in my spring sewing.
The past couple of months have been full of travel---Ann Arbor to teach for the Fiber Art Guild, Portland for family, friends and fabric shopping, Santa Barbara for a wonderful Design Outside the Lines retreat and most recently, Cleveland, where I did a shoot for the PBS series America Quilts Creatively, on the techniques Ive developed for painting on fusible web. I have a renewed respect for Sue Hausmann who hosts the show. She is warm and kind, NO ego--(in other shows there is a wardrobe department and the host is carefully groomed and garbed). There was a dear young makeup person, but Sue's dressing room was a rack of her own clothes tucked away in the corner of the green room (the room where things are unpacked, pressed and prepped for the actual studio). She tried on some of my things and wore one of my jackets----when one of her staff suggested her blouse was not quite right, she just shrugged, buttoned it at the collar and moved on. She is a pro in front of the camera, but behind the camera another amazing skill shows.....she sifted through my samples and in nano-seconds had everything all edited, layered for the steps and ready to go. We did it in one take.....was easy and fun. The segments we filmed will start to show on PBS stations starting in August. I met inspiring people too.....a woman from Indiana whose specialty is hand quilting and has a major personal collection of mennonite quilts, a woman from Florida who gave up a dressmaking busines and has started a company called Kandi Corp which makes a little heat tool that glues crystals etc to fabric and paper (looks better than it sounds), a world class digitizer who has one of the main machine embroidery companies, two women who represent Millikin mills (one of these has a fiber art gallery in Atlanta)--they produce those fabric backed paper sheets to that you can run through your printer, in this case, they start with the basic fabric and guide it thru the entire production process, the 'tech guy' from HP who appears in every show---his project was a photo quilt he was making composed of photos taken on a North Dakota hunting trip---maly sewing!!---dogs, trucks, guys in camo, autumn scenes. We had dinner together every night and had some very interesting conversations.
Painting on Fusible Web
I spent a wonderful week in the studio preparing for (playing) TV shoot. All I did was paint on fusible web and invent ways to use this fabulous material. Two (non-sewing) friends dropped by for coffee one morning and stayed until dark.......I had the design table set up for painting and once they started they could not stop. I was in the process of inventing a simple little bag to use for the shoot, so I/we designed a bag for each one using her painted web. Each bag is gorgeous --- still in process, but I'll post the results on the website. We collaborated on the bags, and their results are as different as can be, just one of the reasons I am so enthused about this process.

When I fly I love to read a new magazine. On a recent trip I picked up a copy of Vogue with an article on Balenciaga that was worth the entire magazine. There is going to be a show of this fashion genius's work at the Musee de la Mode in Paris in 2007----a good reason to schedule a trip to Paris! Watch for more information on the house of Balenciaga past and present in upcoming months.

Sewing: Spring Resolutions
Editing, paring, eliminating---spring calls for a fresh canvas.
Each time I come back from a trip, I pause and take a fresh-eyed look around my studio to notice what can be eliminated, what fabric, potential garment or surface design technique are calling. In addition to my black diet, Im also (once again) seeking alternatives to jeans and want to bring in skirts to wear instead of jeans, my sister dubbed this, The Skirt Life. Stay tuned as I put this into effect this season. My goal is to add clothes to my wardrobe that I can wear everyday in the studio, and this includes making garments from scratch, re-working existing garments, buying clothing and putting it all together in a way that feels good from the inside out.

When I am in the development for a new Vogue pattern I test out an idea and a pattern again and again. In the last newsletter I mentioned a black felted wool vest. Ive taken the same pattern and added a sleeve and made it in a woven linen-esque fabric. The fabric is seriously flawed, looks like the beginning of a factory run. Found by a friend, we bought the piece together, then split it lengthwise in half so we each would have a fair share of the wonderful imperfections. Ive sent these photos off to Vogue, let me know what you think. Here is what I like about the shape and design of the pattern: it is lightly curved and shaped to the figure with darts at the neckline, has tucks that run from the shoulder, adding width to the shoulder and at the same time shaping the waist. I added the godet in the back to give additional shaping and lead the eye up while adding another vertical design element. On this version I used Diane Ericsons trademark technique wrapping the facing around the seams so it makes a narrow piping effect at the collar, then widens at the front hem edge making a V-shape that repeats the godet in the back. Im interested in your feedback and to hear how you visualize surface design for this garment, either the jacket or the vest. See the finished jacket on my website:

T-Shirt Evoloution
I continue to make T-shirts, and love the motto I heard at the DOL retreat in Santa Barbara from Sally Petersen of Madison Wisconsin, two t-shirts a week. This is a sure way to tune up your t-shirt making skills and to freshen a wardrobe with things you will wear every day. Sally also said, Sew the cashmere first --- good advise to use your favorite BEST fabrics right now! Stay tuned---I love this idea of 2 T-Shirts a week and am making it a goal, will post photos as the garments are finished.

In the last newsletter I mentioned Sandra Betzinas GREAT new T-shirt pattern: Vogue 8151. See the pattern envelope'sandra%20betzina%20patterns'&page=1
Leslie Maya-Charles made the wrap version A, it is lovely, I plan to test it soon. I like the look of version B, just a basic jewel neck T. The shaping is fantastic---when you look at the pattern pieces it is very shaped and the result is a great fit. This is a very well cut design, has a lot of shape built in. I moved/pivoted the side seam dart to the neck and added lots of smaller darts in different lengths. I've always wanted to experiment with cutting knits on the bias, here I cut the sleeves on an angle (not a perfect bias) and love the result. This is the kind of sewing I LOVE...... a design as you sew project, every element after the darts was made up as I went along. See the finished garment and learn more on my website:

Resurrecting a purchased t-shirt

I look at what is in my own closet and love to wear. In my spring clearing I had a pile of garments ready for the goodwill, when I realized that I might use old favorites (with stains) as a canvas for surface design. I tested dye discharge to see if it resulted in an interesting color beneath. Here is one of the results, using silk screens with dye discharge, Lumiere paint and metallic foil in an asymmetrical design---taking the garment into spring.

New Silk Screen Designs

What is it about Labyrinths? I love these images. Last fall I travelled to Chartres to walk the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral only to discover it was covered with rows of chairs bolted together. I picked my way around the chairs, but could not walk the labyrinth. I have been reading about labyrinths and mazes and have added a trio of Labyringth designs for silk screens that includes the Chartres design, a classic rendering of a canonical labyrinth and a pair from the Hopi tradition, called mother earth and father sky. Watch the site for ways I am using these designs in my own work, and see the new screens available at:
Reviews from people who have purchased my new CD On The Surface are so positive and enthusiastic. Even better than a live workshop with me because the information is so neatly distilled into bite sized chunks. You will not be tied to your computer, you can just review the information you are going to use and head into the studio. If you are interested in exploring surface design, I know you will want to have this in your library.

On the Surface
Workshop on a CD-rom
by Marcy Tilton & David Coffin


70 minutes of detailed how-to video demos
70 minutes of narrated slide shows
handouts to print & links to resources

Silk Screening * Metallic foils * Dye Discharge
Painting and Foiling on Fusible Web * Carve a Rubber Stamp

For a preview go to:
click on the download for a preview peek.

To order go to:
Cost: $40 plus $6 shipping & handling.

You can purchase it on the site using Paypal.You can also reserve a copy via e-mail, simply send me an e-mail at:, to reserve your copy, include your snail mail address and pop a check in the mail and when your check arrives I'll send you a copy.

Sorry, no credit cards. Marcy Tilton, PO Box 2161, Cave Junction, OR 97523.

You will need the most current versions of Adobe Reader and Apple QuickTime (at least 7.05 for Reader and 7 for QuickTime); you need BOTH of these FREE programs to access the disc contents.

French movie with wonderful clothes and interiors
On a recommendation from David Coffin, I rented the French (also described as long---2 discs) DVD of Dangerous Liasons, with Catherine Deneuve in the Glenn Close role and Repert Everett in the John Malkovich role as Valmot.....set in Paris, sometime in the '60's, it is worth seeing for Deneuve's clothes. Pure couture and she wears them every day. The opening scene ball gown is fabulous.....and she is most certainly 'a woman of a certain age', with lovely if a bit soft arms and small tummy, but oh, my does she look great. Everett's clothes are very suave and the Paris apartment complete with secret passages is mouthwatering. They are each the epitome of predatory evil, but that is the story line and the costumes and sets are what kept my attention.

two thumbs up, great on a cool stormy spring evening!
Design Outside the Lines and Design and Sew Retreats

Diane Ericson and I have been co-conducting Design Outside the Lines retreats all over the country for 7 years. Wed love to have you join us in Taos in June or September, or in Sonoma county in late October. These events have proven to be a powerful catalyst in developing creative 'muscles' for the participants (and for myself too). If you are ready to play full out, to grow your work, to be in a supportive design community and to take your fiber arts/surface design/sewing skills to a new level, please join us!

More information is available at:

For nearly 20 years Design & Sew was a creative fiber arts retreat conducted by Lois and Diane Ericson and I had the privilege of teaching several times at this event. This year Diane has invited me to co-produce Design & Sew with her, and Lois will be a special guest presenter. This retreat, held over Mother's Day weekend in Canby Oregon (Portland area), will feature hands on workshops with John Marshall, Nancy Shriber, Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton. It promises to be a lively and inspiring time with such a group of teachers to play with and learn from. Participants will select a two day and a one day workshop with the teacher of their choice and there is always plenty of cross fertilization among the workshops, teachers and participants.

For more info;
Planning ahead for fun. The French have a tradition at the beginning of the new year. The very first thing they put in new calendars and agendas is their vacation dates. Mark the weekend of August 18-19. Shermane Fouche will be returning to Rohnert Park in northern California for an all day workshop on Saturday August 18, and I am planning a workshop on Sunday August 19. more details to be revealed soon, but you might want to block out those dates and plan to be in the area at that time. Rohnert Park is aboug 25 miles north of San Francisco. Shermane's workshop in December had rave reviews, you won't want to miss this one.
Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to your friends. To register to receive it, sign up at:

wishing you fresh and juicy springtime creativity from my studio to yours,
Marcy Tilton

Newsletter #8

Marcy Tilton's Newsletter for Everyday Creatives #8
Topics in this newsletter:

Choosing Small Bites
10 Good Reasons to Come to Design Outside the Lines in Taos this Summer
Reports on Marcy's CD 'On the Surface'
New Silk Screens
Studio Sewing
Groom Bags for summer and travel
Report from San Francisco/Bay Area
John Marshall lecture in Portland area

Choosing Small Bites
Happens every year, just about this time. I am faced with making the choice between being in the garden and in the studio. After a week away in the Bay Area, I returned to find that this long, slow, cold, wet spring has finally arrived, and it is time to pay attention to grooming and fluffing the beds I put in the past few years and to think about this year's project.....a shrub border to muffle the kennel next door. 'This week I've gotten up early each morning when the it feels just right to wear a fleece shirt and cotton sox and take my cup of tea into the garden. My property is nearly 5 acres---daunting if I try to 'do' everything I can imagine, so instead, each day (and each season), I choose to be BOTH in the garden AND in the studio, and take small bites out of what calls to be done.
So I give a few hours first thing in the morning to the garden, then head up into the studio where I am embarking on some exciting new projects:
5 new patterns for Vogue to design over the next 6 months
I'll be writing columns regularly for the Vogue Pattern Magazine....if you have not checked out VPM recently, do so, it has a fresh up to the minute look with lots of meaty informative articles aimed at people who love to sew clothing and fine accessories.
2 PBS segments, a beaded bag, and a piece of jewelry, sponsored by Fire Mountain Gems
I'll be teaching a 4 day hands-on Surface Design workshop at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, California, Tuesday through Friday, August 8, 9, 10, 11. More info on this soon, their website:
What works for me in both garden and studio is to chunk things down into manageable bites. I recognize that the garden will probably never be 'finished' and that my studio projects are a never ending stream of works-in-process. But it is gratifying to see trees that looked puny a year ago, now leaping into a promise of what they will become. In the studio I keep a series of small items---bags, wall pieces, simple garments, small bits of yardage--- going while I slowly 'grow' the bigger ideas. These small projects get played with and added to and sometimes completed----reminds me of a discovery I made this morning when I started digging around in my compost heap. All winter i've been dumping small buckets of household garbage into a not very tidy pile out behind the pump house (one of these years I WILL have a proper compost set-up). The neighborhood dogs cruise by and a flock of crows picks through it too. I add lawn clippings and leaves, but mostly just leave it alone. To my delight this morning I filled a wheelbarrow with lovely, rich, fluffy compost---barely made a dent in the pile, so there is plenty more to use. Not much effort, but this garden gold will make a big difference in the results in a few months. My small studio projects have the same effect---a bit of consistent attention leads into bigger discoveries. I use the smaller projects to work out the kinks before launching into a bigger version.
Diane Ericson and I co-conduct Design Outside the Lines retreats in some beautiful locations, but Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos has a special magic for me. We have spaces in both June and September, and we'd love to have you join us.
10 excellent reasons To come to Design Outside the Lines in Taos this summer or fall............
You have gotten to a certain point, a plateau in your work and are looking for an upgrade, a turbo-charge or, at the very least, it is time for a tune up.
Taos is spectacular in June and September. Lively in June, with art fairs & music festivals, everything in full swing. Laid back in September---chili roasting time and the biggest celebration of the year happens up at the Taos pueblo.
You will be in the company of kindred spirits, a small choice, self-selected group of creative, curious and incredible women---women like you, only different, and from all over the world, each one bringing in her own talents, passions and skills.
We have the entire Mabel Dodge Luhan House to ourselves. You'll stay in a charming room with another creative soul or have a room of your own---maybe a room once slept in by Georgia O'Keefe or DH Lawrence.
Some one else cooks fabulous food for you twice a day, sets out surprise treats and snacks and you get to go out to (or send out for) lunch every day with your creative companions.
One of the great fabric stores in the US is a 10 minute walk away. And, a world class chocolate store is just steps from the fabric store.
The moment you enroll for DOL and commit your time, money and creative energy to coming to the retreat, you will begin to experience creative growth in your work.
You will have the opportunity to work and play with Diane Ericson and Marcy Tilton, Creative Divas, beloved for there generosity and inspiration and BIG fun. Classes every day with Diane and Marcy, and work & play with them in our hands-on studio.
Whatever you make---garments, quilts, dolls or??.....your work will never be the same. Your life will never be the quite the same either.
The Design Outside the Lines experience continues after the retreat via a lively and supportive e-mail group composed of all former retreat participants, over 300 creative kindred spirits.
On The Surface CD
Rave reviews are coming in from people who have purchased my new CD rom.....and it is thumbs up all around, even from those who are self-confessed technically-challenged. I'm delighted with the response and proud of the results. For this topic, a CD has many advantages over a book...the number of photographs and images is not limited, and there can be video and slide show segments folded in with the content. There are over 70 minutes of videos and slide shows on all the various techniques, so it is like having me right in the room with you giving carefully edited how-tos. And as one woman told me, "I am not tied to my computer either, I can watch a 10 minute segment and go right into the studio and experiment with it." Individuals, guilds and educational institutions are among those who are purchasing On The Surface.
See for yourself. I guarantee you'll be delighted too.
Take a sample look at:
Groom Bags
I regret that Groom is discontinuing their Origami style bags, but was able to buy up the last of their stock. When these are gone, that's it. For summer, I have a few of the smaller Capucine style in ivory as well as black, copper, linden and wine. And there is one in the Timothee style left in black----this is the perfect bag for my laptop.

The Groom microfiber backpacks are on my list of must have items for travel. Makes an ideal flight bag and a chic day pack. I don't put valuables into the backpack when in an urban area, but use it for everything else (book, water bottle, journal, camera) and carry my $$, credit cards and passport in the small origami bag. Lightweight and easy access.
See Marcy's new screens:
Asian Floral Silk Screens. Florals with an Asian flavor are hot this season, and I've put together a collection of silk screens in this theme. Some of these are fabulous on a BIG scale. Try layering in colors like orange, turquoise and purple, or go subtle, with opaque or pearl white or mixing pearl white with a bit of gold, copper or bronze and layer it up.

New geometric screens too---again on a bigger scale, see the Tiger Stripe which I use a lot for edging and bindings and a variety of dots, round and square, small and large.
Still Sewing T-Shirts!
My T-shirt projects continue. In my spring fabric re-organizing I came across a piece of fabric I'd forgotten experiment in silk screening yardage done some time last summer. I wanted to see how I liked that process, but it was one of those projects that felt so-so, and the season changed so it got packed away. I did a version of a twin-set, a sleeveless tank and short shrug cardigan to wear over it. After it went through an ugly duckling stage, it came together and I really like it. One thing that worked was to cut the pieces and then add layers of silk screen designs on top using pearl white paint that lends a subtle tone-on-tone to the ivory knit. See the finished version with more details:
San Francisco/Bay Area Report
I spent a week in the Bay Area visiting friends, eating great food and doing some power shopping. Here are a few discoveries to share with you.
The 4th Street area of Berkeley is a fabulous place to while away an afternoon shopping and snacking. Don't miss Shoka, a new-to-me clothing store with some of the most interesting (and pricey) clothing you'll find under one roof, both women and men's clothes so fabulous they could be under glass in a museum, and probably will be some day. 1799A Fourth Street. Lillith, and Molly B have great women's clothing too, Rabat has wonderful shoes, and the Japanese paper store is full of treasures. Tucked in behind Peet's is a taqueria with incredible food, and late in the afternoon, we stopped in for a cup of the best hand made cappucino I have had in recent memory.
Stonemountain Fabrics in Berkeley always has a great assortment of fabrics. What I bought this time is is a selection from their assortment of gorgeous cottons from Japan. You could use these for quilts, but they are much more adaptable to casual clothing than most quilting cottons (have a better drape). They had a good assortment of 'chiriman' type rayon crepe prints too in beautiful asian florals that are so hot this spring.
In San Francisco, I shopped at Satin Moon, as always, chock full of treasures, then went across the street to FabriX, a funky discount fabric place where I struck gold, finding linens and silks at giveaway prices. Both stores are on
Clement Street between Aruguello and 2nd Ave. Farther down on Clement, near the corner of 6th and Clement is a store full of wonderful Japanese and Chinese dishes and cookware. Great accent plates and bowls, and there is a huge variety of tiny dishes perfect for for dipping sauces or keeping your beads and buttons.
Two very different springtime sales/shows happened on the same day, Saturday, April 22......I think both are annual events, very different, very interesting and fun. First is a sale of wearable art at the Palo Alto Arts Center, which showcased many Bay Area artists and even included one of the designers from Project Runway. At the San Mateo fairgrounds was a huge Maker Faire, sponsored by the magazine Making It. GREAT people watching. Oddball learning opportunities from eccentric inventors (robot building, how to make a monorail in your back yard), and a good assortment of 20 and 30 something men and women selling clothing they made or re-fashioned. Diane Ericson's daughter Piper had a booth, selling clothing, bags and aprons made from vintage tablecloths. Fresh, fun and inventive!
My favorite new spot is the top of the tower in the new De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The museum is fabulous too.
Next week I am off to Portland to the Design & Sew Retreat, looking forward to spending time with participants and instructors Nancy Shreiber, John Marshall, Diane Ericson and Lois Ericson who is doing a special presentation for our group.
John Marshall is doing a presentation during the Design & Sew retreat that is open to the public. If you love textiles, Japanese aesthetics, clothing or surface design and if you are any where near Portland, Oregon, you will not want to miss this special event.

Trunk show and lecture with John Marshall
$10 donation at door refundable with purchase
Reservations not necessary
Saturday, May 13,
Lecture begins at 7, come at 6:30 for early shopping
Canby Grove Conference Center
7501 Knights Bridge Road
Canby, Oregon 97013

This is an opportunity to learn from a modern master who is also a lively and inspiring speaker. John tells me that as Japanese textile dealers and collectors are aging, they are offering items for viewing and sale that have never been seen by the public (or previously available)---many items that were 'saved for last' are emerging. John will discuss Japanese textiles and garments. He will also be offering exquisite quality Japanese textiles for sale --- from children's christening gowns to Buddhist temple hangins to very wearable haori and kimono to yardage by the foot or by the bolt.
John Marshall's own hand dyed silks will also be available for sale.
John Marshall hand dyes luxurious fabrics using the traditional Japanese technique of katazome (rice paste resist) with natural dyes on natural fibers. For more information on John Marshall, visit his extensive website:

Wishing you a creative and lively spring,
Marcy Tilton

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