Posted by: bschutzgruber | December 30, 2018

2018 – Looking Back

As another year draws to an end it’s time for a look back.
2018 was a year of further exploration of the fiber arts
as I meet artists while traveling, shared ideas and learned new techniques.

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May 2019 be filled with joy, inspiration and creativity!!

Posted by: bschutzgruber | November 18, 2018

November 18 (1918-2018)

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In honor of my mother, Dorothy Anne Marie Hanlon Schutz,
on what would have been her 100th birthday.

Born in the wake of WWI
And the great Influenza Pandemic
The oldest of seven – her identity and job was to be ‘the oldest’
To keep track of her brothers and sisters
To be the first and forge the trail

A Bachelor’s Degree in 1939 at age 20
A driver of convoys cross country in WWII
The first woman to head her government department
10 years in the work force

Charmed by a precocious ‘youngest child’ and married
She gave birth to 5 children in 7 years
She experienced the loss of miscarriage

She buried a son who was only 20
And stood next to her first born, a daughter

When she buried a son who was only 2

She organized people and stockrooms
She chaired committees
She drove us to all our activities
She raised us alone every summer for 6 years
So Dad could get a Masters Degree

She was never a ‘Martha Stewart’ type
She was not a ‘warm & fuzzy’ mom
She was all business and analytical
She was no nonsense

She rarely yelled – she didn’t have to
A quiet, calm, icy voice was far more potent
Each word articulated with deadly precision
Oh, we knew we when we were in trouble

She never talked behind anyone’s back
You always knew where you stood…for better or worse

The things that made me crazy growing up I now see in myself
I look in the mirror and see her eyes looking back
I hear her words coming out of my mouth
I can organize people and stockrooms

She gave what she was able to give
She made choices and moved forward
Never looking back asking ‘what if….?’

Happy 100th Birthday, Mom!

Dorothy Anne Marie Hanlon Schutz
November 18, 1918 – October 17, 2005

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Posted by: bschutzgruber | October 31, 2018

Jean Gauger Workshop

One of great perks of being a member of the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild is that the guild organizes workshops several times a year. The workshop offered this fall was with Jean Gauger, who creates unique art-to-wear nuno felt pieces.

We would be learning to make a nuno collage cowl neck poncho.

With eleven people signed up and each of us needing table space of 8ft x 5ft/4.5m x 1.5m, AAFG member Helen Welford generously offered to host the workshop in the upper level ballroom of her barn.


Day 1

Michigan weather in October can be a ‘rollercoaster’ experience. The morning found us wearing layers, coats, hats, and gloves as the barn is unheated.

Jean talked about her method and helped us decide which of 3 patterns each of us would like to make.

In the afternoon we made samples to check shrinkage rates and test color combinations. I had variegated wool roving that I thought might work well with my hand-dyed silk, plus black wool roving so a test was definitely in order.

I  liked the multi colored wool (R side) better than the black (L side). 

Using the body dimensions of one pattern with the cowl from another my pattern nearly covered the full table.


Day 2 

We laid out the silk fabric for the front and back of the ‘inside’ of the poncho

and the layer of wool fibers.

I really liked how the colors were blending!

As the day went on the weather warmed up. We were all in shirtsleeves by the end of the day! So different from Day 1.

Day 3

Over 3 days the temperatures had gone from cold, to warm and humid, to just right.

Now we add silk fabric for the front and back of the outer layer.

I was very pleased with how the colors were blending on this side too and did not add any embellishments.

Late afternoon into evening was spent rolling and shrinking the poncho 40% to the desired size. By 9pm I was ready to try on my rather damp poncho.

Several of us brought them to the October guild meeting for ‘Show & Tell’.

I love the variety. Each one is unique and true to the personality of the one who made it!

This poncho is so versatile!! It is reversible from inside to out, front to back, side to side – each presenting a new perspective.


I have enjoyed wearing mine, especially when I performed the end of October at the Scary Story Festival in the haunted Howell Opera House. Built in 1881 the theater was closed in 1924 by the local fire marshal and has remained untouched for over 90 years. The space is unheated so on this cold rainy night my poncho was the perfect garment to wear as I told the frightening tale of a wandering musician who wears a pied cloak of rags.

Posted by: bschutzgruber | September 18, 2018

Into the Woods

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One of the venues the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibits members work is in the lobby of the Village Theater at Cherry Hill in Canton Michigan. This year I was inspired to create a felt wall hanging based on one of my stories.

Once upon a time….

There was a girl, who lived at the edge of a vast forest. At night, after the days’ work, the adults sat together to tell their stories. The sound of muffled voices and laughter drifted through the air to the dark room where the girl slept, enticing her to quietly leave her bed and crouch unseen in the shadows to listen.

Her favorite stories were about the forest and the ones who entered in the light of day or the ones who were reckless and daring enough to brave the dark of night. As she listened, she was puzzled, for she heard no stories of the ones who entered the forest at the twilight hours for that was the time the forest called to her.

When she asked why this was so, the ones who went in the light of day quickly answered, “It is not safe. Twilight is the time when those of the fairy realm walk the forest paths, moving in and out of shadows, speaking in whispered voices and they are not to be trusted. They lure gullible dreamers into their realm; and then turn on them. All who have gone into the forest at the twilight hours, the time when day meets night at dawn or dusk, the dream-time, none have ever returned.”

Now the ones who were reckless and daring enough to brave the dark of night took her aside and said, “The shadowy figures are NOT to be trusted but it is possible to gain safe passage during the twilight hours IF you possessed something they want or you are able to prove that you are stronger.”

As she grew older, the girl began to slip away at the twilight hours to secretly sit at the forest’s edge. There she saw figures moving in and out of the shadows and she heard whispered voices.

–an excerpt from The Forest – an original fairy tale
(c)1999 Barbara G. Schutzgruber
Ladies’ Night Out CD
Online ordering & payment is available in the Storytelling section
on the Store page under “Media”

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Into the Woods
31.5 in x 35 in / 80cm x 89cm
Felted wool, stitched yarn with Embroidery embellishment

Into the Woods will be on display the month on September at the Village Theater.
Here is a sample of the nearly 50 works of art that make up the Ann Arbor Fiberarts Guild exhibit.

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Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 30, 2018

Big Looms….little looms…and a bit of color

The Michigan Fiber Festival held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan the third week of August.
I’ve been attending on and off for the past 20 years
[See blog post August 2016 City Mouse…. Country Mouse…. part 2]
and it is a feast of creativity and inspiration.


This year I took 3 one-day workshops: Hand Painting Yarn pt1 and pt2 with Ellen Minard (Norwich, VT), Building a Warp Weighted Loom with Gail Hollinger (Wayland, MI) and Weaving on a Inkle Loom with Joan Sheridan (Lake Orian, MI).

Day 1
I don’t work with dyes very often so signing up for both Part 1 – Intro to Hand Painting Yarn (morning) and Part 2 – Fun with Hand Painting Yarn (afternoon) was a wonder chance to spend a day learning and playing.

The morning was a review of safe working practices,

an introduction to basic dyeing principles,

and then working with 5 different techniques.

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to dye several skeins of un-dyed wool yarn I had in my stash.

Day 2Building a Warp Weighted Loom
I saw one for the first time at the 2001 AGWSD Summer School held in Bangor Wales and have been fascinated ever since. This style of loom has been used for thousands of years. My instructor Michael Crompton had been asked to build one for an exhibit near York, England and partnered with a woodworker who used only the tools available in the 7th Century: axe, adze, draw knives, saw, chisels, and mallet.

We were not going for a historical recreation so we used 21st Century power tools!

We had been sent instructions for bringing our lumber already cut to length and spent the morning drilling

and assembling our frames. Mine is 6 1/2 ft tall so it can fit in my small car.

One of our class members built hers 8ft tall!

The afternoon was spent winding out a warp,

attaching it to the header beam

and hanging the weights – 2lb bags filled with pea gravel that we made in advance.

We hand crocheted cord to act as a reed keeping the warp at the proper width

and attached heddles to pull the back warp forward when weaving.

This was as far as most of us got by the official end of the workshop at 4pm. I decided to stay longer so I could do some actual weaving.

When the mosquitoes came out at dusk, it was time to dismantled the frame, wind the cloth and warp around the header beam, and pack everything into my car. This was a LOOOONG day but one filled with accomplishments!!

Day 3 – Weaving on a Inkle Loom
Inkle looms have also been around for thousands of years and are used to weave bands and belts. I have woven bands using a backstrap loom [See blog post September 2015 On the Road and Across the Sea] but have never worked with an Inkle loom.

I had been given one awhile back but had not yet learned to use it so this class was a perfect opportunity to have an introduction.  When I arrived at class it was apparent that my little loom (7″ W x 14″ L x 8″ H) might well be homemade as it did not look like any of the other looms there and our instructor Joan Sheridan had never seen one like it!

In the class we learned how to make string heddles the proper length for our individual looms

and Joan devised the best way to warp my little loom.

The rest of the morning was spent weaving straight and tubular bands.

In the afternoon we wound out a second warp and continued with some other patterns.

Of course there was shopping too and a walk through the livestock barns to check out the sheep, goats, rabbits, llamas, and alpacas. The weather was humid and hot – it is Michigan in August! I was glad I did not camp this year because sleeping on a real bed in air conditioning was very nice… especially at the end of Day 2.

The big warp weighted loom is very roughly made so I will be redoing parts now that I know how it all goes together.

The little Inkle loom will be nice to take when traveling.

And my colorful skeins will find their way into some future project.

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!

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