Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Finding the Balance Retrospectively – Nothing was Missing in 2010

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I’m taking the time to sit and reflect on how 2010 has been for me.  Many of my friends in the blogging world have published highlights of the past 12 months together with insights they gleaned and this has inspired me to take a look at what my year offered.

I was going to summarize what I perceived as my successful moments as well as those I reckoned really weren’t anything to write home about. But when I began to zoom in on how things were for me, I got the distinct feeling that it hadn’t been all that good at all and wondered if I really wanted to write about it all.

So my first thought was that I would just skip it, claiming that I ran out of time and then no-one would give it a second thought. I would get by unnoticed. What a cop-out.

I decided that I was important enough to be accountable to. So for that reason, being accountable to myself, I’m going to share with you some of the things  I came up with.

  • Firstly a bunch of unprofitable craft fairs that I took part in but ended up asking myself why I had gone there in the first place.
  • Then we had to navigate a spell of visits by potential buyers of the house we are living in at the moment as tenants
  • There was a police incident with one of my sons who was ‘jumped’ by a mob at school
  • Our top stairs capsized
  • And I continued to grapple with severe insomnia and other health issues

Okay, that’s enough to be getting on with. And this is the point where I take a deep breath and know with certainty that despite how all of this looks on the surface, every single thing that has happened, has had just as many benefits as drawbacks. Here are some examples – my craft fairs were  excellent opportunities to network and see who and what else is out there. The house viewings led to me speaking out in no uncertain terms instead of just swallowing and getting on with things. You can read about it here: ‘Bringing Thoughts, Words and Actions into Alignment.’

The beating up opened up new avenues for us getting help for our son and 2011 will mean more support for him in school. The capsizing stairs brought more awareness around the steps I was taking as well as ensuring that jobs were done adequately and safely. And the continuing health story has helped me to see where I need to let go and surrender and confront my inner demons.

And already I can fully see that I am on track and always have been. The same applies to everything else that happened this year and last year and every year before that.

The thoughts and longings for things I think I didn’t have or didn’t achieve now come to mind, too. But as I contemplate each of them, I can see that they did indeed manifest, just not in the form that I was expecting. But they were there. Whenever I think about me being less successful than I had hoped, I remind myself of comments I received on Facebook, my newsletter or in emails, phonecalls or face to face. All those wonderful people who sit and watch and enjoy quietly  in the background and then step forward to share their appreciation at the most unexpected moments. I have no way of truly knowing what appreciation there is for who I am or what I do. I have no way of really knowing how many people’s lives I have touched in a meaningful way. And the same is true for all of us.

The recognition that nothing is ever missing is what centres me and brings me back to the present. Just knowing that everything is in perfect balance at all times.  I think that this is agood  reason to celebrate 2010 as the best year yet, just like every one before it. And it is with this strength that I step into 2011. The only goal I need to set is to be myself.

On that note I’d like to wish us all a wonderful year ahead of being ourselves and having our best year yet.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 18 Comments

Reflections on the Art of Christmas

It’s been nearly a week since we all sat around the tree unwrapping presents and enjoying the festivities. And this year it was just that bit different because the family was smaller than usual. It was my first Christmas without one of my sons. So I’m writing this post to share with you some of my process as I came to terms with how that would be.

I think I was making it a bit difficult for myself because I  had expectations of how I thought it all should be. You know. Families all belong together at Christmas. It certainly never even entered my mind that one of my kids would want to go off and be somewhere else.

When he first told me, I took it with a pinch of salt and had this belief that he was going to change his mind. But as the day got closer, it became more and more obvious that he really meant it. He would be spending Christmas with his girlfriend. Oh my God. I immediately went into the victim role, feeling totally got at and abandoned because he was putting her before me.

The day came when he was ready to go off on his journeying and asked me to help him get his things together. We ended up stuffing things into a suitcase at 1 o’clock in the morning, freezing out in the hallway with arctic conditions in the house. I went to bed with a headache and got up really early to see him off. Not a joyful moment. The rest of the day I felt quite miserable and kept wondering what I had done wrong. I knew this would come at some point, just not as early as this.

But strangely it was my husband who came to the rescue. He caught me wallowing in self-pity and said quite simple: ‘You know, it’s only Christmas. Don’t get all hung up on it!’

I stopped in my tracks and gave it some proper thought. He was right. Although it was the Festival of Light, a time of connecting and a time of rekindling love in our lives, it was still only another day. Me having a good time would be a choice. Choosing to have a great Christmas, whether or not all my kids were with me, was all it would take. I could continue to love them all and feel loved whether or not they were there on that day. And the fact that one of my sons had chosen to spend a few days with his girlfriend didn’t mean that he loved me any less.

We all act true to our values no matter how we try otherwise. It’s a subconscious thing. We can’t stop ourselves. And just remembering that my son was doing the same as I was doing, helped to put it all into perspective. We are all in the right place at the right time no matter how it may seem on the surface.

And so Christmas day came and went. I had a lovely time. And the days passed quickly, my son returned and it was lovely to have him back.  No more. No less. No big deal.

One more lesson learnt in the art of mastering the chicks leaving the nest.

December 29, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , | 18 Comments

Revamp a Silk Scarf and Give it a New Lease of Life

I was just wondering if you have any silk scarves lying around at home that you attempted to dye and just weren’t happy with. Or maybe you’ve put some dye on them and they’re become a little faded. Well, I just wanted to let you know what I’ve been doing to one of my scarves. I’ve revamped it, given it a fabulous new lease of life. And it looks really snazzy. So how did I do it?

I simply added some new layers of dye on the colour that was already there. The one I worked on was plain blue with some white shimmers showing through. I had had it lying around for a while and for some reason didn’t really like the look of it.

So I gave it a good soak, got out the plastic sheeting and added some bright shades of blues and turquoises. The finished product was bundled up into the microwave and cooked for 5 minutes again.

Redyed silk scarf

And here you can see what it looked like when it came out. Pretty cool, eh? Well, I think so and I’m sure it’s something you could do to spice up a dull accessory in your wardrobe.

When the festive season is over I’m going to post some photos and more details so that you can go ahead and do this for yourself.

But in the meantime, have a fabulous Christmas. Enjoy your break, just enjoy being and have fun.

I’ll look forward to seeing you very soon.

December 23, 2010 Posted by | EXPERIMENTS IN SILK | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making a Silk Dress with my Very Own Handpainted Fabric – Part 1

Remember I painted 2 lengths of silk recently? One of them was in satin silk and was a bright array of vivid pink, fuchsia and orange.

The other was a pastel affair in soft shades of orange. Well, at last I’ve got round to planning the next step which is to make a lovely silk dress for myself.

You can see the fabric in this video and hear about what I’m planning to do with it.

But I really had to laugh while I was editing this footage. I’m going to have a competition to count how many times I say the word ‘gorgeous’  in this film! However, even though it was a little bit silly, I decided there was no way I was going to do the recording again as that would be even sillier.


December 19, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Create a Beautiful Designer Silk Scarf Using Your Microwave

That’s quite an odd title coming from me, isn’t it? If you’ve been following a lot of my writing here and on other sites, you’ll know that I’m a real believer in good quality steaming for silk painting. But….in view of the fact that not everyone has the time, space and funds for this whole process, I thought I would share with you some of my escapades with microwaving. So here’s how I’ve been doing it.

The first problem I had with microwaving was that I didn’t own a microwave oven. I’m not going into the details here, but I prefer to cook all my food by conventional means. Okay, so that meant I had to go off to Morrisson’s and luckily they had a really basic model which suited my needs. Two dials for timing and heat. That’s all you need for what I’m going to share with you.

Materials for microwaving a silk scarf

You’re also going to need some silk dyes, remember, the ones that are specifically for steam fixing. Not the paints which you set by heat. Read the labels on the bottles if you are unsure, or ask the shop assistant for help. You’ll also need a plain white scarf with rolled edges that you can add the dyes to.

Before you start you’ll need to get a bowl, add a mixture of 2 parts water and one part vinegar, then soak your silk scarf in this for at least 15 minutes. This will improve the dying process and ensure you get lovely bright colours that last.

You then take the silk out of the bowl, squeeze it out gently and lay it out on a surface covered with plastic sheeting. Have the dyes and brushes you’d like to use at hand, and you’re ready to go.

Tie some knots into the wet silk

There is one other thing I need to point out – you will get very messy hands doing this unless you put on some rubber gloves. Which I never do, but I’m passing on this tip to you if you don’t want to run around with ghoulish fingers and nails for the next few days. 🙂

What you do next is completely up to your own imagination. You are going to start adding dyes to your heart’s content. Pick a nice colour range that would suit you and this will ensure the colours don’t clash. Splash them on with big brushes randomly. Or you can scrunch the silk up and dribble the dyes into the silk. Or what about folding it up and then painting the colours on in patterns? The example I’ve shown here is tying loose knots in the silk before applying the dye. The good news is that I’m in the process of putting together a video we took of me demonstrating this technique at a fair back in the summer, so you can copy what I did to get you started, if you like.

The important thing is that you keep the silk nice and wet so that you can properly ‘cook’ it afterwards.


Place the silk scarf in the bowl ready to microwave

Right, now you’re going to lift your silk and place it into a microwaveable dish. Don’t worry if the silk gets a little scrunched here too as your finished scarf will have an abstract pattern to it anyway. What I do next is get a piece of clingfilm and stretch this over the dish – I think it’s called Ceran wrap in the USA (that’ll save a few emails).  – ah, thanks Muffy. It’s Saran wrap. 🙂 One thing you need to do at this point is prick a hole in the foil. And if you don’t do this? The foil will bulge up and may explode….making a bit of a mess.

Now we’re going to place the covered dish in the microwave for 5 minutes at a medium-high setting.

Use this time to go back and wipe your plastic covered surface clean. The last thing you want is to have dye spillage messing up your finished scarf. Or you can just lift the sheeting to one side and put it out of harm’s reach. This may sound like Kindergarten stuff, but it’s one of the main causes of people messing up their lovely silks after all the work is done. So, I just thought I’d throw it in again here.


Finished effect of tying knots in the silk scarf

Right, the 5 minutes are up, so remember to use some sort of cloth or glove to lift out the hot dish. Carefully remove the foil and lift out the wet scarf.

Yes, it will still be totally wet at this point but the dye is fixed so the wetness only comes from water.

Now all that is left for you to do is hang up the silk to dry. Later you can rinse it in warm water with a touch of mild shampoo to remove any excess dye and then dab it with a towel. Iron the silk dry from the reverse with a medium hot iron. Another thing you can do for a really fashionable look is twist the wet silk and leave it to  dry. That will give you the look you can see in this final photo.


A gorgeous designer silk scarf

And there you are, ready to go. You’re now the proud owner of your very first original silk scarf. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a great way to make yourself something gorgeous in such a short space of time.

Do watch out for the video I’ll be posting in the next day or two, so that you can see the whole process in action. Have fun and let me know how things work out for you. I’d love to see your designer scarves.

December 12, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

How to Stretch Silk onto a Wooden Frame

Here’s a video for those of you who are completely new to silk painting. It shows in detail how to stretch your silk onto a wooden frame so that it is taut enough to begin working on. This is the first in a long series of footage that will help you on your path with this wonderful artform.


December 1, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment