Recording - from a Shared Journey

The third piece to emerge from my shared journey to the west coast of Vancouver Island:


Detail,  Recording   Cotton, monotypes, paint, hand stitched and beaded.

Detail, Recording

Cotton, monotypes, paint, hand stitched and beaded.

If any of my images could be representative of all of the encounters that we experienced during the journey, this one is it. 

The piece originated with another comment by our captain. While on the water we saw a boat in the distance. It’s a seiner, he told us. They’ve started showing up in our area recently. They use nets to scoop up the small feeder fish that juvenile wild salmon feed on. Then they crush the feeder fish into pellets that are sold as food for farmed fish.

To be blunt: if we continue to plunder our waters like we are doing, there will be no food left for either salmon or for humans. Our nets will be empty nets.

Is this really our choice?

Recording Salmon...from a Shared Journey

The second piece to come out of my shared journey to the west coast of Vancouver Island:

Recording Salmon. At the show opening, a few people asked me about the title, looking puzzled. Recording? I meant the word in the sense of documenting. Placing salmon in time. Helping us to pay attention.

Detail,  Recording Salmon 2018   Cotton, reclaimed cotton, gauze, raffia, paper, monotypes, rubbings, paint, hand stitched and beaded.

Detail, Recording Salmon 2018

Cotton, reclaimed cotton, gauze, raffia, paper, monotypes, rubbings, paint, hand stitched and beaded.


After two days of travel to reach the departure dock, we awoke at 5am to a chill morning. We carried our many belongings down an aluminum ramp to the dock, then sat on coolers and coerced one of our travelers to unpack his coffee pot and brew steaming cups (for which we will be forever gratefu).

The low visibility from the forest fire smoke demanded the use of both the radar and sonar on our vessel.  We stood and watched the map and blips over the captain’s shoulder, fascinated by the technology that allowed us to travel through the yellow-tinted haze. Responding to our interest, he was proud that he could find each fish under the water.

A child of the Star Trek and Star Wars era, I have spent decades marveling at human technical ingenuity.  These days, though, my admiration is tempered by my sense that it has gotten out of hand. We can find every fish from the surface? I recall my time on the Chesapeake Bay, hearing fishermen talk about their personal fishing spots, often shown to them by their fathers and grandfathers. Theirs is knowledge of place, and shows respect for the fish that forms their livelyhood. Identifying every fish by electronic means? Not so much.



from the flip side


In another unpremeditated encounter, we motored past a series of pens set in a pattern on the water, with floating docks connecting them. What is that? we ask…and are told that it was meant to be a shellfish farm. When the owner applied for approval, it was given with the stipulation that shellfish would be farmed, not fish. For three years the owner raised scallops. This year, however, he had changed to salmon. Now the local tribe is trying to shut the farm down, afraid that the farmed fish will transmit disease and pests to the wild salmon in the region.

It was the first fish farm I had seen in person, so once home I looked for more information. Have you seen the overhead shots of round pens stuffed with fish swimming head-to-tail, round and round? As a gardener, I am reminded of pot-bound plants. We plant them by breaking up the roots that have circled round and round the pots, ‘showing them’, in essence, that they can now grow down as well as around. The forced limitation of swimming in a never-ending circle seems a particularly poignant form of torture for a wild thing meant to traverse from stream to ocean and back again.

Detail,  Recording Salmon 2018   Cotton, reclaimed cotton, gauze, raffia, paper, monotypes, rubbings, paint, hand stitched and beaded.

Detail, Recording Salmon 2018

Cotton, reclaimed cotton, gauze, raffia, paper, monotypes, rubbings, paint, hand stitched and beaded.

Recording Flame...from a Shared Journey

Can’t help it…the events with the most impact bubble to the top. Once I was back in the studio after my camping trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island BC (see previous blog post), these were the first to emerge.

Horizon Line

Big Sky

Smoke and Fire


British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California…all familiar with the orange haze of smoke.

A progression of folds, paint, wax resist, rubbing, stitching and couching.




beach barnacle

made marks I like…

Recording Flame   Linen, wax resist, paint, monotypes, oil stick,  raffia, hand stitched and beaded

Recording Flame

Linen, wax resist, paint, monotypes, oil stick,

raffia, hand stitched and beaded

Follow me on Instagram! @janscilipoti.fiber

A Shared Journey...

In August, I traveled to the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC with 20 other people. We camped on a beach and shared breakfasts and dinners together.


It was a magical time. On my first day, friends took me for a walk to a nearby beach, where we followed tracks of four pedators: wolf, cougar, and bear.

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What?! TRASH?

And had all-too-frequent encounters with trash, big and small. Incongruous and disturbing.


Read my article in The Islands’ Weekly

by clicking HERE!

Summer Moon Scriver, photographer and fellow Chimera Gallery artist, was with us. By chance - or maybe not by chance - she and I were scheduled for a joint show starting October 13, 2018. Sitting on the beach together, we decided to base our work on our shared journey.

Summer Moon Scriver, carving a bowl.

Summer Moon Scriver, carving a bowl.

Me, just sitting!

Me, just sitting!

We came home inspired, dismayed, and focused on responding to our time spent with the horizon, the sky, and companions.


Follow me on Instagram! @janscilipoti.fiber

Abstract Narrative Art? What is that?

Basically, it’s something I’ve been trying to connect in my textile work. I want to find a way to tell a story (narrative) using the abstract techniques I enjoy most: resist dyeing, stitching, beading, and printing/painting.


Doe, 2009

This is one of my early examples. The narrative refers to an accident involving a deer and my car. The techniques I used are resist-dye on merino wool and hand stitching & beading.

Some of the questions I have to answer for myself: Does the viewer need to understand the narrative when they look at the piece? Should I suggest the narrative through the title or an written explanation?

Maybe the story that motivated the piece doesn’t matter, since the work is basically abstract. Does it have to ‘look like’ anything? Maybe it could just be interesting and engaging for other visual reasons, like technique, color, or form.

And, if the viewer doesn’t follow the narrative directly but still enjoys the abstract nature of the work, why do I bother connecting it to a story at all?

Black Poppy.jpeg

Black Poppy

ca. 1960, Judith Godwin (American, b. 1930), oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. M.S. Chevalier

Here is an excellent example. If you hadn’t seen the title, would you have thought of a black poppy? Or a windmill? Or maybe you didn’t see a ‘thing’ at all, but just form, color and paint.

Sticky as it is, I’m still drawn to the idea of expressing narratives through abstraction.

POP UP **Open Studio**

Wait. What?

Jan has a studio in the Village? What happened to the studio that she and Neal built? got full. A fiber studio plus a jewelry maker space was a little over the top.


When I saw the ad in the paper for a space in Studio 25... Interesting!

It got even more interesting when I found out the space had two rooms, and that it was a 6 month lease. I thought of Stina (@wind.water.rock), another jewelry artist at Chimera Gallery. Would she be into the second room?  Yes! 

It has been delightful to have my loud, messy silversmithing tools in one space, and my quiet fiber in my home studio. Don't know what will happen after the initial six months. But for now, come and take a look!

I will be in Studio 25 on Wednesday, July 4th, Post-parade to 4:00. 


Come see

this nice pair of old stash turquoise cabs.

*30 IN 30* Day 30

On my Instagram post for today (@janscilipoti.fiber), I joked about getting a Scout badge for finishing the 30 in 30. On some level, it would be great! Today was spent first at work and then off-island doing errands (one of which was unexpectedly having to replace the tires on my car). I took the 7:50 ferry home, which put me in the studio at 9pm. I mean, who does this??!

My partner, meanwhile, is wiping down the cabinets in the kitchen.  This is a signal that someone must be about to visit. It's a good thing that Day 30 of 30 has arrived, because he has begun Preparation for Guests, and my constant studio visits are at a well-timed hiatus. 


Day 30!!

Cotton, sheer silk, prints, free-motion stitching.

*30 IN 30* Day 29

Walked in my studio at 9pm to see all of my wax gear strewn around. The hot plate with wax, the ironing station, the newspaper stack for putting wax on, the newspaper stack for taking wax off, the multiple paint piles. Why fight it?  I worked with wax and paint. 

The last two days I started with linen and darker colors, so today I started with a scrap of beige cotton sewn to a piece of white hemp/silk.


Here is one section. There are a few pieces of fabric tacked on, but it's mostly layers of wax and paint.

Thought I'd add some stitching, but at a certain point I kept my head together and realized - nope, better stop. So here is my favorite section.

Am asking myself, how can I incorporate my free-motion figure stitching with these wax/paint techniques?


Day 29

Hemp/silk, cotton, silk, wax, prints, paint.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 28

Continued using wax today, but started on a light colored linen instead of black. Really tried to retain some of the original fabric. Hard not to obscure it when you get moving with wax and paint!


The full sleeve -

(working again on reclaimed linen that was a shirt in its former life :)

I really like the contrast of the final stitching with the surface. The dark grey is the wool blend that I just bought in Vancouver BC. Touchy to sew, but gives a fabulous nubby texture.


Day 28

Reclaimed linen, wax, prints, paint, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 27

Day 27! That means I only have 3 sketches I turned to wax. Lately I have been combining more of the techniques I already use with a wax resist. Have a few ideas I want to try...

Look a little familiar? This started from an unused section of my very first 30 IN 30 sketch.  Had a great time adding multiple layers. Physically satisfying, to manipulate wax and paint.


Day 27

Cotton, paint, prints, oil stick, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 26


Today I did a tiny sketch to specifically test these 5 questions!

  1. Will this new black stabilizer make a good field for high contrast black-on-light? I found: It has to be cut around, not torn. It doesn't maintain its' integrity after being sewn, and has to be ironed. When it is ironed, the glue dots are released, which means it isn't as visually interesting. This is a 'maybe'.
  2. Can I attach the black stabilizer to the front so that it stabilizes the linen, but still be selectively removed? This stabilizer can be ironed on, but that won't help, because then I couldn't peel it back off. So I tried basting with the machine. This worked, but was time-consuming to remove. Big hand-basting stitches worked the best. Done.
  3. Can I use one stabilizer instead of two? Yes! This did act as a good surface stabilizer for the thin linen, which meant I didn't need a second one on the back.
  4. How do I transfer an image to black stabilizer prior to stitching? I am hoping to develop more complex pieces, which means I may need to outline images, rather than work from the eye as I do with the simple ones. Here I tried sketching the image on thin trace paper and tying that to the top of the black stabilizer, then sewing through all three layers (linen, stabilizer, and trace paper with the image). It worked...BUT then I had to peel off the trace paper.  Yuck. Still need to figure out a better way.
  5. Finally...even the low-key photos I'm taking have learning moments. See the pics below.

Because of the high contrast between the black stabilizer and the light-colored linen, I could not get the iPhone to pick up the green in the linen.

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After much fussing around, realized that if I pull 'way back from the image, the camera picks up the green.

You can see that this was a sleeve on a linen shirt :)

And there's actually a sixth question.

Is the 30 IN 30 helping?

Yes! Look at this little sketch, and how much I learned from it that can be applied to larger, more complex work. Definitely advancing my technical skills.


Day 26

Reclaimed linen, stabilizer, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 25

Wanted to continue to work with gesso on white silk, but find a bolder line. So I started with the same basic image, but this time used permanent ink over the gesso.

Am continuing to enjoy seeing the wintry trees without their leaves: such different growth patterns. And - bonus - the nests are visible! I saw this one in the city last weekend. A delight to see a handcrafted, recyclable :) shelter, in the midst of ugly commercial buildings.


The birds make nests

hoping for eggs. 

So, I added an oversized nest. The birds make nests hoping for eggs. I made a nest hoping for a healthy future.


Day 25

Silk, gesso, pen, scraps, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 24

Well, my light box has improved my photographs, but shooting some pieces is still beyond my skills. When there is little contrast between values or textures, as in this sketch, the subtleties aren't discernible.

Am happy to say that this one is a delight in person, with an interesting play of textures and whites. Am excited about the stitching done over the gesso, which is painted on a fine white silk. Worked through several technical problems successfully. Yes!


Day 24

Silk, silk sheer, gesso, paint, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 23

The way that I am treating this 30in30 challenge is not about producing solid finished work. It's about exploring. So in that vein, I'm showing what comes out of each day, whether I 'like it' or not. Normally, this would be joining the cast-off pile. 

I started by deciding to reverse the blocking on another piece that had worked out. It was white-no-black. So I was working toward black-on-white. Several small decisions on my part made for a technically difficult and time-consuming yet visually unsatisfying result.   

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Day 23

Cotton, synthetic sheer, stabilizer, free-motion stitching.

Here is something interesting! This image showed up in my IG feed this morning. Innovative and riveting. And a good reminder of why I keep trying...


*30 IN 30* Day 22

Some sketches look like breakthroughs.

Some feel like breakthroughs.

A few actually are.


Day 22

Cotton, paper, paint, oil stick, free-motion stitching.

*30 IN 39* Day 21

There are events that inspire a joyous response - and ones that you wish had not happened. Today there was no question about what was on my mind.

I didn't know Steve well in the traditional sense. But on top of my CD player is a gold disk with "Stever Lamere" scrawled across the top. It is a compilation he made years ago (as in: years. Back when we listened to music on CD's.) It is one of my studio-starter disks. These are the ones that I play when I first get in the studio to work. They set the mood, activate my studio response, get me in the mindset. Music compilations give a unique view into a person's psyche. I've shared a lot of time with Steve's mood, the day he put those tunes together.

Small comfort, but a real one, to know that thanks to recording, I can continue to connect to him whenever I push play.


Day 21

Paper, ink, silk, cotton, free-motion quilting.

*30 IN 30* Day 19

It's the time of year when the trees show us their bones...and in the case of the tree I was working from when doing this sketch, the remnants of last year's seed pods and leaves. Loved seeing them clustered at the tips of the branching.

The simplicity of this is striking in person. The tree is done in silver thread, and the coloration of the pollinators are subtle, but more saturated than this photo shows. 


Day 19

Cotton, silk, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 18

A birth-day day in our household! We have a bold, brilliant, talented Aquarian who astonishes us with creative, heart-felt meals. Here is a quick sketch of the Water Bearer bestowing yummy food to the world.


Day 18

Cotton, paper, silk, free-motion stitching.

Technique-wise, still playing around with stitching/tearing paper and applying fabric in fresh ways. This is new wool thread that I found in Vancouver BC this weekend. Fabulous range of colors, was very hard to choose!

Click here to follow my studio progress!

*30 IN 30* Day 17

One was not enough! The Chinese New Year Lions danced for us twice in one day. In celebration of an auspicious 2018, here's a second lion-inspired piece.


Day 17

Paper, silk, paint, prints, free-motion stitching.

Click here to follow my studio progress!