Posted by: bschutzgruber | July 25, 2018

The Land of Enchantment

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Recently I had the opportunity to spend 2 weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Being a gal from SE Michigan = the Land of Great Lakes, gray skies, humidity, 840ft/260m elevation and flat…. this was an adventure in opposites = high desert, sunshine all day every day, no humidity, 5300ft/1600m elevation, the Sandia Mountain Range (10680ft/3255m) within walking distance, WIDE open spaces, cacti, rattle snake, and prairie dogs.

I was surrounded by the varied textures in the landscape, learned the history of the people, and witnessed some of the most spectacular sunsets at the Valley of Fires, White Sands National Monument, Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, the Coronado Historic Site  and the Jemez Historic Site, the Gilman Tunnels, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, and Santa Fe.

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At the Jemez Historic Site I met Cindy Fragua of the Jemez Pueblo.  Cindy creates traditional Jemez pottery, storyteller and other figures, miniatures and ornaments.

It is always fun to talk with other artists – especially ones who work in different mediums than I do. Cindy was generous, shared ideas, and willing to trade art for art so she and I have exchanged work.
I have 2 of her Corn Maiden figures

and she has 2 of my purses.


This trip certainly brought inspiration and new perspective!

New Mexico truly is a Land of Enchantment

Posted by: bschutzgruber | June 28, 2018

Making a One-of-a-Kind Jacket that Fits

Each new workshop stands on the foundations
laid by the ones that have come before it!

Part 1 – May

One of great things about the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild is the depth of knowledge, creativity and skill of our members! This past May member Helen Welford presented a 3 day workshop ‘Jackets that Fit’. Helen has a wealth of knowledge and experience in garment construction, especially historical garments. Her focus was to offer us tools that we will be able to use again and again, and for us to get a good start on a well fitted garment.

We began by making a sloper. A sloper is basic pattern that is the exact size of the body – a second skin so to speak. It can then be used to develop patterns for garments or can be stuffed to make a dress form or manikin that is exactly the same size as the human involved. With no access to a human size 3-D scanner we worked ‘old school’ by taking measurements…..lots and lots and lots of measurements – 31 different measurements to be exact.

Using our own bodies as the form we draped muslin – folding, pinning, cutting, and marking to create a 3-dimensional likeness.


From here we lay the muslin flat and then traced it onto heavy paper for a more sturdy pattern.


At this point we had a choice – continue on and make a complete bodice that could be stuffed and made into a personalized dress form or adapt a commercial pattern using our measurements and the sloper sections for a better individual fit. I choose to practice making alterations to a commercial pattern for future use and made several muslin prototypes.

Helen is a great instructor! With 12 people in the workshop of all shapes and sizes I gained further insight as to why clothing does not always fit and what to do to tailor items to achieve that ‘perfect’ fit!

Part 2 – June

The Michigan League of Handweavers Summer Workshops were held at the beginning of June.  I took the ‘One-of-a-Kind Jacket’ class with Mary Sue Fenner (Wisconsin). Mary Sue has a keen eye for combining fabrics and has presented several times at MLH. I have always been impressed with the items that are created in her workshops.  This would be the perfect follow-up to Helen’s workshop.

Mary Sue comes with a huge suitcase packed with jackets in a wide range of styles for us to try on as we discussed the fabrics we each brought and possible patterns we’d like to use.


Because I did not have any of my own handwoven yardage ready, I brought fabrics I had collected but had no idea what I wanted to make with them: 2 pieces of handwoven wool I bought in Scotland, 4 yards of vintage Tai Silk from Hong Kong that was given to me, and 1 meter of silk I purchased at the Whitchurch Silk Mill during last year’s AGWSD Summer School. After some discussion I decided to use the Scottish handwoven to make a Marci Tilton jacket Vogue 8709.

Laying out the pattern took some planning as I only had 2 meters for the body of the jacket and 1 meter for the back which would be cut on the bias.


I needed another fabric to use for the front panel and collar so a walk to the local Field’s Fabrics was in order. I found a grey wool plus a lovely silk noil fabric to compliment the Tai silk in a future project.


By the end of the second day all the pieces were cut out and edges serged to keep from fraying.

By the end of the third day the jacket was nearly assembled and I would finish it at home. The jacket itself is not lined but I wanted to line the sleeves so it will be easier to take the jacket on and off.


The grey wool would work but it was a heavier weight than my Scottish wool so a trip to Haberman Fabrics once home was in order. There I found a lovely dark purple wool knit that was a much better match to use for collar and front panels.


Two workshops later I am very pleased with the final result!



Posted by: bschutzgruber | April 25, 2018


Back in the day…. the hands of a lady’s maid had to be smooth and soft or she would risk ruining the expensive silk garments of her mistress by snagging finely woven fabric. I have learned over my years of working with various fibers and fiber techniques that I do NOT have ‘lady’s maid’ hands! That is especially true as I write this blog!!! It’s been long rough winter here in Michigan (we are just now moving into spring and it’s the end of April!) and even with bottles and jars of lotions my hands are like sandpaper.

Due to my travel schedule I only had 2 weeks this month to make items sell at Fiber Feast – the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild annual spring fashion show, luncheon, and sale.

This meant that I was wet felting panels for purses and hand plaiting silky nylon ribbon for scarves all in the same week. This made for a slow process as the wispy silk fibers I use to embellish the wool felt


and the thin nylon ribbon


were sticking and snagging as if my finger tips were covered in the griper side of velcro!

Now that the warmer weather is finally here maybe… just maybe…. my hands will have a chance to recover!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | March 20, 2018

March Madness….

Dad played basketball in high school and the early years of his military service during WWII. Throughout his career as a high school teacher he ‘worked the clock & buzzers’ at all the home basketball games or tournaments. Come March college games would be on the TV in the background while he graded exams as the first half of the second semester drew to an end. I’ve never been a basketball follower but due to snow and ice storms in February several events were cancelled and rescheduled into March presenting me with my own ‘March Madness’ experience!

Weaving by Candlelight at Cobblestone Farm 
This event gives visitors an opportunity to experience what life during in the 1840’s was like during the dark winter months when the only evening light came from candles or oil lamps.

I was surprised at how much light actually was provided by a single candle next to the loom but was very glad the loom is in the hallway and modern safety standards require more lighting than just candles or oil lamps so I was able to see well enough to weave.

Juror Talk and Closing Reception for the Michigan League of Handweavers Biennial Exhibit
The weather on the closing day of the MLH exhibit was one of sunshine, mild temperatures and dry roads and made for a lovely drive from Ann Arbor to Owosso. The Shiawassee Art Center is located on the banks of the Shiawassee River in beautiful old house.


MLH made a slide show of the exhibit to post online [see February 2018 blog posting] so I had a glimmer of what the exhibit was like but each piece was much more impressive in person and I’m glad I was able to get a photo with my piece ‘Back When the World Was Flat’.

Next door to the Art Center is the amazing Curwood Castle – the fabulous ‘little writer’s studio’ of early 20th century action-adventure author and conservationist James Oliver Curwood. Built in 1922 the craftsmanship is amazing and wouldn’t it be nice to have a studio like this! (Hey… a girl can dream…..)

Weaving…. Weaving…. Weaving….
March has also been the month I’ve been weaving two sets of yardage to make garments to submit to the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild‘s Annual Fiber Feast – Fashion Show, Luncheon & Sale.

The weaving went fairly smoothly as I was working in a simple tabby/plain weave but designing the garments took multiple muslin tests and involved many a late night working into the wee hours to complete my Northern Lights Jacket (10/2 cotton warp–rayon slub weft) and When Crocus Bloom Spring Can’t Be Far Behind Vest (10/2 cotton warp–8/2 tencel weft).

This past Sunday was the jury session for the runway….

and it will be an exciting on April 21st as nearly 100 items from some amazing Michigan fiber artists will strut the catwalk!

But March Madness isn’t over yet! As I don my storyteller and author hat and head to Plymouth, MA for the Northeast Storytelling Conference Sharing the Fire where I will be presenting a workshop with Beyond the Sword Maiden co-author Dorothy Cleveland.


Posted by: bschutzgruber | February 28, 2018

2018 Michigan League of Handweavers Biennial Fiber Show

At the beginning of this month I was excited to learn that my woven sculpture Back When the World Was Flat was accepted for the 20th Michigan League of Handweavers Biennial Fiber Exhibit at the Shiawassee Arts Center in Owosso, Michigan!!
[see January 2018 blog post]

I was looking forward to seeing the entire exhibit at the opening reception and talk by juror JoAnn Bachelder scheduled for Sunday afternoon February 11th…. BUT the reception and talk were cancelled due to 10″ of snow descending upon SE Michigan that weekend!!! So far weather and project deadlines have kept me from making the trek to Owosso but MLH has posted of video of the exhibit.

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The reception and talk have been rescheduled to March 11th – the last day of the exhibit so I will be able to see all the pieces in person!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | January 19, 2018

Back When the World was Flat

Cartography ~ study and practice of making maps
The premise being that by combining science, aesthetics, and technique,
reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.

Before the days of views-from-space, GPS, and navigation apps there were maps. I’ve always found maps fascinating and I was raised with an appreciation of the art and science that goes into making them. Dad had been an Army scout during WWII with an intelligence and reconnaissance platoon, leading combat and reconnaissance patrols into enemy territory.  Here a compass and map were as important to survival as a weapon.  Mom loved road trips and could figure out how to get anywhere. When we were in elementary school she taught the five of us kids (and many a scout troop!) how to read a map and use a compass. History, literature, and humanities classes showed pictures of early maps, told the stories early mapmakers as well as the philosophical, theological, and political debates of taking a 3 dimensional reality (the earth) and translating it into a 2 dimensional drawing (a map). When I look at maps from the earliest (6100 BCE) to now, I am struck with how our ideas of the shape and size of the world have developed and changed.

To illustrate this I decided to leave my comfort zone of creating artwork that has a practical function (garments, baskets, accessories… even my wall pieces can be used as rugs) to create a 3 dimensional piece of art that has no specific external function and submit it to the Michigan League of Handweavers Biennial Fiber Show.

My starting point was the 8 sided basket I learned to make this summer at the AGWSD summer school Soft Basketry course taught by Averil Otiv. [see blog posts for August 2017].

The flat sides combined with a spherical shape was perfect to illustrate the combination of the historical belief that the world was flat and a modern globe. I would use maps as my material – as I did for Cartography Chic Map Hat and Purse [blog post March 2015]

I made a sample using newsprint to experiment with size and weaving a completely enclosed shape.  I cut the strips twice as wide and folded them in half laying out a 14×14 base.



I liked the size but simply folding paper strips in half would not give the over all structure needed to hold the shape. I needed do a sample using a map glued to stronger paper. I chose 140 lb/300gr cold press watercolor paper and used an artist spray adhesive. I cut the strips 3/4 inch/2cm wide, laying out an 8×8 base.  The watercolor paper gave the firm structure I wanted and I used a kabob skewer as the stem to hold my nonagon globe.


Now it was time to weave the final piece using the larger base size.

I used Minwax clear satin polycrylic finish to seal the paper, a kabob skewer set in a 5″ diameter wood base for the stand, a pony bead to hold the nonagon globe in place, and a clear seed bead to cover the tip of skewer.  Final dimensions with stand: 12″ x 12″ x 12″. Now to find a box for transport.

The packing gods smiled on me because I had a box that EXACTLY fit = whew!!  Paper work is filled out and Back When the World was Flat has been delivered.  The jury selection will take place between February 1 and February 4 so fingers crossed!!

The Michigan League of Handweavers 2018 Biennial Fiber Show will be held
February 6 – March 11, 2018
at the Shiawassee Art Center, Owosso, MI




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!

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