Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 31, 2017

A Look Back at 2017

Here it is the last day of 2017…
A year filled with continued volunteer weaving and demonstrations,
learning new techniques in workshops,
and projects that have tested and expanded my horizons.

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May the New Year bring you joy, inspiration and creativity!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 1, 2017

Polka Dots, Peacocks, and the Eyes of Argus

It has been said that the path of creativity can be long and winding! This certainly was the case for my latest wall hanging ‘Eyes of Argus’.

It all started back in 2013….


After taking a dye and surface design workshop with Jane Dunnewold sponsored by the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild I used an umbrella/parasol blank as the base for a dyeing and surface design project.




This was something fun and different and I wanted to continue playing so I ordered another blank.  Much to my disappointment the company had switched to nylon fabric and no longer offered cotton fabric for the canopy but it was worth a try using fabric paint instead of dye.  Long story short….. when trying to heat set the fabric paint I ended up melting a panel = OOOPS!!!! (And other learning experience ticked off the list!) Because the hardware and frame for the umbrella was well made I was not about to throw it out. I was sure that at some point I would have a use for it.

Jump ahead to 2015….



While taking a workshop sponsored by the Michigan League of Handweavers from felt artist Sharon Costello that involved using felt as a “skin” for sculptural pieces [see October 2015 blog Felting Thin, Thick, and DejaVu I realized these techniques might work around the umbrella canopy ribs and I could create a felt parasol! Hmmmmm… things to think about…..




Jump ahead to 2017….


After a year and half of thinking I took the leap and created a felt canopy parasol to be part of AAFG’s annual spring event Fiber Feast – Fashion Show, Luncheon and Sale. The parasol would be an accessory to go with my Minnie Mouse Meets Marilyn Monroe Polka Dot Sundress.





Rather than try to felt around the canopy ribs, I created felt yardage using silk chiffon fabric as a base to layout the merino wool fiber and circles cut from pre-felt. The felt fabric was then cut and sewn using panels from original nylon canopy as the pattern.









I made a smaller second parasol to bring with me to the AGWSD summer school [see August 2017 summer school posts].

The ‘goggle-eye’ effect of the layered circles and a fabulous peacock fanning his tail in full glory when I was at the zoo this summer became the inspiration for Eyes of Argus.



The Eyes of Argus…



In Greek mythology,  Argus was Hera’s faithful servant. He was the best watchman and guard because he had 100 eyes and never closed more than half at a time when he slept. Hermes killed him when he lulled Argus to sleep by telling a story so boring that all 100 eyes closed. To honor Argus, Hera placed his eyes into the tail of the peacock.


I started by felting wool, silk fibers, and stitched yarn to create the eyes, quills, and feathers.

Once everything was felted, I used embroidery to outline the eyes and highlight details.


Eyes of Argus

Felted wool, silk fibers, stitched yarn with Embroidery embellishment – 32″ diameter

Eyes of Argus will be on display the month on December
part of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit
in the lobby of the Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton Michigan.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | October 24, 2017

Bits and Bobs

If you live in a colder northern hemisphere climate like I do here in Michigan, you’ve heard the phrase ‘spring cleaning’.  It’s the opening of windows, organizing of closets and shaking out the bedding that happens after the house has been closed all winter due to cold temps and snow. Well… this year my motivation for ‘spring cleaning’ has come in October! Maybe it was due to finishing up the pieces from my AGWSD summer school course [see September 2017 blog UFOs–the Ghosts of Workshop Past]. Maybe it was due to the beautiful patch of weather with sunny days and mild temps. Maybe it was due to a pause between projects.  Whatever the reason, I finally had some time to put things away, bring a sense of order to the sewing room, and un-bury the work table.

WOW!  What difference that makes!

The downside of this is that I am now looking at baskets and bags full of handwoven fabric scraps– all those bits and bobs of fabric that I just cannot bring myself to throw out because of the time and effort that went into weaving the yardage.

So…. now what to do with these small strangely shaped pieces?

I decided to make some small purses to have for sale at the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild Holiday Sale in November.


Playing with these new shapes and combinations got me thinking. Could I stabilized the softer ribbon I’ve used to make cowls to make a purse? Yes!










As I un-buried the work table I also found map pieces leftover from making my Cartography Chic map hat and purse. [see March 2015 blog Cartography Chic]

Why not use these scraps to make a small pouch with a lid?


I must say having several completed smaller projects gives me a sense of accomplishment and having a workspace where I can see/find my scissors and other tools when I set them down is great. But I know it won’t last– and yes, the table will be covered again with bits and bobs just waiting to be reimagined and who knows where that will lead!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 20, 2017

UFOs – the Ghosts of Workshops Past

I love taking workshops!  When I  step into the World of Workshop I get to leave behind the demands of everyday life with deadlines and just focus on creating exciting things. Within the World of Workshop I am not worrying about designing a finished product because in the World of Workshop the focus is on learning new techniques or working with a new materials. When the instructor says, “Anyone want to try……” my response is, “Sure — why not!” When choosing color combinations I find myself thinking, “I wonder what will happen if I combine A with F?” Sometimes the end results are pretty darn neat and other times the end results can be pretty darn ugly. I’m OK with that because in the World of Workshop it is the journey that is important.

But the World of Workshop has a dark side for it is also the World of UFOs— those items I did not have time to finish before we moved on to another exercise or that one last project I started because I wanted to keep playing.  And so it is, when I leave the World of Workshop, stepping back into the world of everyday life with deadlines, often times I am not alone– I have company. Those UnFinished Objects have hitched a ride.

Coming home from the AGWSD Summer School [See my posts for August 2017] I had 3 baskets that I had not finished – the shifu paper lace basket, the miniature knotted/cord basket, and the dyed cane pouch.


I always have good intentions to finish the UFOs but I have to admit… I rarely do. UFOs lurk in the corners of the sewing room, in the back of the closet, and in canvas bags hanging on hooks.  They are the Ghosts of Workshops Past that haunt and needle me because more pressing projects and deadlines have push them out of the way. This time however, I had volunteered to be part of the What I did over Summer Vacation Show & Tell at the September meeting of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild, so I am proud to say….. I finished all three baskets!


I know that I will never lay to rest all my Ghosts of Workshops Past….
but then, I’ve always had a soft spot for ghost stories!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 20, 2017

AGWSD Summer School – Day 5 and 6

Day 5 – Coiled Baskets and Making Cords
After a late night weaving… with the added exciting entertainment of the sound of heavy helicopters circling and hovering over/near the college campus multiple times as I worked in the wee hours (I kept looking out the window expecting to see floodlights panning the grounds! Apparently there is a military base near by and they were doing night training)… my Friday morning was a bit slow when it came to learning a new basket so I spent my time checking over the lace basket and correcting some weaving errors, getting the ends knotted and taking the basket off the block.

The shifu paper is lovely to work with and I still need to give it a ‘haircut’ and do some finishing work on the ends.

In the afternoon I finished the edge of the Perigord garlic basket.  This one has been woven and unwoven sooooo many times but I think I FINALLY got it and will hold a nice size clove of  garlic.

At this point I was up to starting on the days projects of making cord and doing a coiled basket.  I chose to do a knotted coiled basket using cord and waxed linen thread. By end of day it was about the size of my thumbnail.


Day 6 – Last Day
We only have the morning to work on things and Averil gave us one last project to try. We dyed chair cane and worked on a small twill pouch.


Then it was time to display all our work for the afternoon walkabout.
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There were 18 courses offered this year and the work that was created was amazing and the felters won the prize for the most creative signage.

Here’s just a taste of what the others did…
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4pm it was back to the workrooms to pack and clean up then it was off to the Gala Dinner.

All in all…. this week has been not only Simply Special as the theme stated…
it was Simply Spectacular!

Next Summer School – Leeds in 2019

Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 18, 2017

AGWSD Summer School – Day 3 and 4

Day 3 Wednesday
Today we moved onto weaving with rush.

Averil brought both chair rush and Portuguese salt rush.  I’ve worked with the chair rush before so gave the salt rush a go in making a three strand braid Perigord basket. I have to say learning how to braid sideways took me MULTIPLE tries before I could get the hang of it!!


Wednesday is a half day in the workrooms to give everyone a mid week break. I chose to spend the afternoon on the two stop ‘field trip’.

The first stop was the Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke. I have been on brewery tours before but this was the first distillery tour and found the process very interesting.  The green/glass houses are a work of art as well as the distilling chambers.


Plus we got a cocktail at the end of the tour!

The second stop was the Whitchurch Silk Mill. It is still a working mill and produces exquisite silk cloth

and the AGWSD currently has an exhibit there.

The evening was the informal Fashion Show/Tell where anyone who wishes can ‘strut their stuff and  walk the cat walk’.

I brought my felt apron and a felt parasol



and closed out the evening with a storytelling performance. This group is one of THE BEST audiences a storyteller could ask for!!

Day 4
Today we tackled weaving a lace basket made with Japanese Shifu which is woven over a block.  Most of the morning was spent drawing the grid on our blocks of wood.

Getting base started took several tries as the actual weaving pattern made sense to me but it took me forever to figure out how to add in each new weaver. FINALLY I got it then it’s on to weaving the sides.


Late afternoon and evening I helped with the Silent Auction which raises funds for the Association’s different programs.  With 75 minutes to place bids on the different items it’s a bit of a madhouse!






Then it was back to my room to continue working on my lace basket.  Because we have to continually add nails this is not a fast process so it was in the wee hours that my head finally hit the pillow but I am very pleased with how the basket has come along!









Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 16, 2017

AGWSD Summer School – Day 1 and 2

I’m taking the Soft Basketry course with Averil Otiv

Day 1
13 of us got settled into our classroom

and got a chance to see some of the baskets we might be making.

Today we would be working with two types of materials – paper and New Zealand flax to get a bit of introduction to basket making.

I was not familiar with the New Zealand flax but luckily there was on the campus so I could see what it looked like in its natural state.  The leaves Averil brought with her were about 3-5 ft long/tall.  We split the leaves into sections and began weaving.

It’s a very soft material and nice to work with.  Our end result was a New Zealand Friendship Flower.

The second project was weaving with paper.  We had painted the paper on both sides first thing so it would be dry and ready for use once we finished our NZ Friendship Flowers. We used a pasta cutter to slice strips for weaving.


I chose to make an 8 cornered basket which would have one color on the outside and another on the inside.


By the end of the day I had 4 of my 8 corners done. Since the next step involved cutting…. I did NOT take it back to my room work on it in the evening = best wait until the morning!

That evening we had a fabulous presentation by Jennie Rayment – “Twiddling, Fiddling and Texture – The Trials and Tribulations of a Traveling ‘Nipper and Tucker’ ”


Day 2

The morning first half of the morning was spent working on the second set of 4 corners of  8 corner basket and turning down the rim opening

The second half of the morning we spent breaking down and softening the NZ flax to make a 2 cornered pouch.  This was a workout on my thumbs as we scraped the flax sections over knives or scissors to soften it until it was flexible like leather strips = 12 were needed!!

The afternoon was spent weaving! Splitting the sections 1/2 way through certainly made this a ‘learning experience!


The end of the day I had 2 VERY different baskets!


In the evening we had a lecture by Rob Harvey Long “The History of Cotswold Sheep from 2000 BC” with some fascinating facts.

More to come as the week continues…..








Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 14, 2017

AGWSD Summer School ‘Simply Special’ – the beginning

This week I am attending the biennial summer school put on by the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers in the UK held this year at Sparshoolt College near Winchester, Hampshire. This is my biennial super hit of fiber fun!

Pre-summer school kicked off with a visit to my friend Eve Alexander. I met Eve at the first summer school I attended back in 1999 when we both took the Rush Weaving course.  She is a fabulous weaver and loves playing with complex structures. Her AVL loom (a.k.a. The Big Boy) has its own room!

I was in luck – the London Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers was meeting on Saturday and I got to tag along to the weaving interest group. The weavers have been studying deflective double weave and members brought in samples they made. Wonderful texture is achieved by weaving two layers simultaneous, a top and a bottom, and the warp and weft threads of each layer are interlaced.

Discussion was had concerning the exhibition The Thames and Southwark: Threads of London life in November at the Southwark Cathedral – an area in London that has been part of the textile industry for century.

Then it was walk to the Victoria and Albert Museum for a lunch in the Madejski Garden Courtyard and a stroll through several of the galleries.


Sunday we were off to Sparsholt College, just outside Winchester, where 260 fiber loving individuals are participating in 17 different courses.


Let the fun begin…..

Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 8, 2017

Hats for the Cancer Center – A follow up

After my July 27, 2017 post Weaving at the University of Michigan Medical Center I have been asked to share more information about the hats we make.

Each weaver takes a turn designing and winding out the warps made up of different width stripes in a variety of colors. We use 5/2 cotton – 15 epi – 24″ wide. We’ll use that same 5/2 cotton, or sometimes rayon, for the weft. We do not use wool because even on good day many people cannot wear it next to their skin – let alone if they are dealing with side effects of chemotherapy.  The weave structure and/or weft colors are change every 24″ which allows us to get a variety of color combinations from each 7 yard warp. The yardage is then washed and dried prior to sewing.

Guild member, Bettie Behen, has been sewing our hats from the beginning. The pattern she uses is a simple circle crown/top with a band. To get as many hats as she can out of our yardage she combines the handwoven fabric with commercial fabric – polar fleece for winter, or lighter weight cotton or polyester for summer.

The diameter of the circle ranges from 12″-17″ and she cuts the bands in a variety of lengths to accommodate different head sizes. The hats have finished seams and the handwoven fabric is lined to keep any abrasiveness to a minimum.

She also makes few hats by folding and stitching a larger section handwoven fabric.

Bettie always does a fabulous job finding just the right accent combinations, which is no small feat because she never knows what colors she’ll be working with until we hand her the bolt!




Posted by: bschutzgruber | July 27, 2017

Weaving at the University of Michigan Medical Center

Since 2002 members of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild have been weaving at the University of Michigan Medical Center Comprehensive Cancer Center.  AAFG member Marion Marzolf was asked to set up a weaving program as a form of entertainment and distraction for patients waiting to see the doctor. The University Medical Center owned a Harrisville Floor Loom (4 harness 36″) that could be used to weave cloth for hats that could be given to the patients free of charge.

The program is part of the U of M Cancer Center Patient & Family Support Services Art Therapy Department. For the past 15 years we have been set up in a variety of corners, hallways, rooms, nooks, crannies, and now have a home in the main lobby as different weavers come in Monday through Friday to weave for several hours. Over the years nearly a dozen members, myself included, have volunteered to weave or sew hats. We have a budget for purchasing yarns and supplemental fabric, plus other weavers donate yarn. We put 7 yards onto the loom each time and will get about 18-20 hats out of that. So far we have given away close to 1,900 hats!

We spend almost as much time chatting with people as we do weaving.  We hear stories of family members (both here in the USA and from around the world) who would weave, spin, knit, crochet, quilt, tat, cross-stitch, and more. Patients’ faces light up with smiles as they find ‘just the right hat’. And for those who would like to try their hand at weaving we give a simple lesson.

With the loan of a smaller loom we wove memorial handkerchiefs for the Bereavement Center for several years.

Currently we are weaving fabric for the hats as well as for pockets that are sewn onto canvas bags because depending on the treatment, not everyone is in need of a hat.

As far as I know we are the only program of this kind in the country and we were featured in the 2015 Summer issue of Thrive magazine (published by the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center).

In November 2016 we were contacted by the daughter of Josephine Grant Strobel.
“Josephine was a great weaver having learned from Swedish tapestry weaver Lillian Holm while in high school in the late 1930’s at Kingswood (part of the Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan). She loved it and found great peace and fulfillment in weaving. She was so creative and was a breast cancer survivor. I would be interested in donating her loom to the University of Michigan (I am an alum) and I know she would be overjoyed to know that it was being well used.”

It took some time to work out all the details and I am happy to say that in January of this year, we moved the loom into our corner of the lobby.

The “Big Girl” as we have come to call her is beautiful!  She appears to be homemade as we cannot find any makers mark or brand. The Harrisville loom is still being used for hats, the Big Girl for pockets and the smallest loom is warped so we can give quick lessons if someone is interested in trying.

“We are so pleased to have this wonderful skill shared with our patients, not only for the calming affect it has by sitting and observing the weavers, but also for the lovely hats made for our patients from the weavings.”
–University of Michigan Medical Center Comprehensive Cancer Center

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