Friday, August 28, 2015

Fill In The Blank - Exhibit for ArtEAST

Paper mache' box supplied by ArtEAST

As a member of ArtEast (a fabulous gallery and organization, by the way!), I was asked to participate in their "Fill In The Blank" exhibit.  Where the members (both artists and non-artists), were given  7"x7"x3" paper mache' boxes, and told "Your charge is to fill in this blank box in such a way as to represent yourself, spark conversation and inspire someone to declare ""You've got some explaining to do!"".

Here's the blank box on my table (definitely needing filling!)

1/4 sunflower

It sounded like a fun project, so of course I signed up!  But then I had to find something to fill it with.
I didn't have time to create a new piece of artwork for it... but perhaps I already had something I could use!  As luck would have it, I had just taken apart a painting.  It was a 1/4 flower-face from an attempt to make a whole, interchangeable art piece... but I didn't execute it well and wasn't happy with the results.  I took it apart to experiment with silk that had been permeated with matte medium (which is how I normally get my paintings to adhere to canvas).  It was flexible, but not soft and silky.
But it was perfect for the box!!

Some of the items,
I thought about incorporating
The box with the main
panel mounted, and edges
painted green

So I began to cut it up to fit the inside of the box.
I painted the edges and corners of the box a soft green to match the tone of the green in the painting.  Then I began to glue in my pieces, and play with what else to fill the box with??

I paint on silk with dyes, so I needed a nod to that. I'm a crafter/maker too (and can't seem to escape that!), so I wanted a nod to that as well.   I have a HUGE button .. collection (addiction?) and wanted to use some of them.  And I have sold a lot of upcycled items including my most popular world-globe-based items - so I needed a nod to that as well.

 Once I'd mounted the silk painting on the inside, and put scrap silks on the outside of the box.  I began to try figure out the layout for the rest of the items.

a small world globe in the
form of a pencil sharpener

As the owner of Re-Covered Treasures, I have made and sold MANY world globe lampshades and world globe bowls. I found this nifty world globe pencil sharpener and thought it would be perfect in size and scale, to use in my box.

So I made this tiny globe into into those a pendant lamp & shade, and a bowl.

Mini world globe lamp
Mini world globe bowl
(with floral arrangement)

The bowls are typically used for holding floral arrangements so I made a little arrangement out of silk flowers which I painted with a touch of dye. 

And the lampshade - I used a strip of silk which I pulled threads from until it looked like fringe. Then added a wire and a lightbulb (from an xmas light!), and then wired it right into the box - to hang like a pendant fixture! 

A few
silk tools

Then I chose a few silk tools (specifically a paintbrush, an eye-dropper, and a needle-tip applicator bottle).  I even added a small chunk of loose/soft silk which has dyes on it - so people can see (and potentially feel) the way the silk really is before it's mounted.
Button art

I went through my vast array of buttons (oh say, 60lbs of buttons thanks to Ebay!) and found some that were of a similar color scheme.  And I found 1 funky 60's pin in an orange-swirl pattern to use.  Now to create a little bit of button-art.

I had one last thing to add to complete my box ... the labels that I wear (figuratively, most of the time) daily.  Those I added, scattered around - because that's how I end up wearing them... randomly, often overlapping.

Here is my finished box.   It's box #38 - and I hope you stop by ArtEAST to see all of the fabulous boxes that have been created!!
My finished box for Fill In The Blank - at ArtEAST

Right side
Left side

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tu-lips Are Better Than One (except there are 3)

So the pun is horrible - sorry, but I couldn't resist (ha ha - resist... a play on words itself, if you're a silk painter).  OK enough of that!

12"x12" reclaimed silk, mounted on canvas with acrylic matte medium
Anyways... thought I'd share a fun piece I just finished mounting.  I called it Stained Glass Tulips Demoplay because it is the same design as my Stained Glass Tulips, but I used it as a demo piece and let other people (mostly non-artists) play with it (hence the demoplay name).  

The style isn't something that I would normally do, but I kind of like the watercolor look it has!  Plus the fact that at one time it was a pocket (albeit a BIG one) is kind of cool.  I did have to cut the bottom hem off because the piece would not fit onto the canvas otherwise. 

My daughter informs me that all of my artwork names are dumb and that, while she loves my artwork, she is ashamed of the names.   sigh.  SO, stay tuned!  I may have some VERY interesting names for the new pieces I'm working on (and apparently for some of the finished pieces as well).  Although I do have veto power - somehow I maintained that when I gave up control of my naming rights to a 13 year old (HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??).   

Maybe I'll call it A Pocket Full Of Tulips  ??  Perhaps that will pass the 13 year-old's test!

8/26/15 update
The 13 year old, said that A Pocket Full of Tulips was "acceptable"... so that's the name I'm going with (whew!). 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Update to the 8/12/15 post "Just applied for 2 new shows - oh my"

I have found applying for shows to be an interesting situation.  Did you title your piece correctly?  Do

Also rejected
the curators think it in some way, correspond to the theme of the show you're applying to?  Do they like your work or not?  If you're rejected... you never find out why.   If you're accepted, you may hear some positive feedback - but you may not.

In light of the above questions, I have decided that IF I am going to apply for shows - I simply must be confident in my work.  If I am not, it will show through my art and my art will not get

in. And IF I am confident in my work, then it doesn't matter if I do or  don't get in to a show - because my art pleases me and I know that art is extremely subjective.  This is a weird mindset for me!  I tend to be a people-pleaser/worry-wart.  Usually I tend to obsess a bit on the what-if's.   So to accept that my art may not get in to everything I apply for AND to be ok with it --- because I know I like my art... well, that is a whole new world for me!
Also accepted

But really, it is amazingly freeing!  Do I still care what other's think?  Yes, of course... how can I not?  Do I strive to do good work in hopes that it will be appreciated? Yup. Sure do.  But, my happiness with my art, lies soley in the art itself!  My art is mine.  I hope that others love it as much as I do.  Some pieces were INCREDIBLE struggles to get through and I love how they appear (which are not exactly like I'd planned).  I'm actually ok with not getting into a show (yes, I still wait with anticipation... hoping I did get in), but for me - if I love what I made, then I have confidence in it that doesn't need outside validation (although it's still nice to hear!!!).

Case in point... my post from August 12th, this year.  I had just applied to a new University House EAFA show, and I had also applied to the Washington State Fair in Puyallup (first time I've ever tried for a fair).

A few days ago, I found out I didn't get into the EAFA show.  Was I disappointed? Sure.. but it's ok. Then I found out that one of my best friends, applied for the show (her first time EVER applying for anything!), and SHE GOT IN!  HOORAY!!!!!   So am I going to go to the opening since I didn't get in to the show myself?  YES INDEED!  I am going to support my best friend and my fellow artists. The show openings are fabulous and I can't wait to see what works made the final cut.

Then today, I received a letter in the mail from the Washington State Fair.  BOTH of my pieces were.... ACCEPTED!!!  HOORAYYYYYYY!!!!!    So excited about that!  My artwork will be on display in front of thousands of people.  WOW.  (that's actually a bit overwhelming!).

So now in my head, I'm looking at the artwork I submitted to both places.  The one that didn't get in to the EAFA show -- I like it, it's about a personal journey.  But I will admit, it may not be my best work.  It's abstract and was created because I had to make something for a collaborative show... it was fun to do, but it's not in a style that makes my soul sing.  So I'm guessing that others probably feel that way too.

The ones that did get in to the Washington State Fair.  I love.  They are done in my "normal" style and I LOVE how they turned out (although I'll admit that the Camellia is my favorite!).

This journey that art is leading me on, is amazing in it's capacity for growth and development.  Honestly - if you had told me (even 10 years ago) that I would have the confidence to not only apply for shows, but to be ok with not getting in .... I would have NEVER believed you.  But here I am.. and that's me!   How amazing!!

(perhaps it's time to see if I can make the rejected pieces into pillows!  LOL)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Jeanne Dana of

Photo courtesy of
I met the most amusing man and (and his most-patient partner) yesterday.   Together, they form the creative group Jeanne Dana (He is Dana, she is Jeanne) of  They make wonderful fine art castings and sell them wholesale (and at some craft fairs I believe) around the country. 

I have a semi-annual tradition of going to the Seattle Gift Show - and have done so for about 5 years now.  I started going when I first created my business (  

I originally went with the intention of trying to determine whether or not, my business could create enough product to sell via a wholesale venue like the Seattle Gift Show.  It was an amazing view into the wholesale/retail/business world - in fact I highly recommend you visit it if you get the opportunity! 

lovely, but NOT antique!
The Gift Show has changed (and not for the better, over the years), but it has been interesting to watch what businesses have succeeded and which have either failed or no longer can afford (or need to attend) the Gift Show.  

One of the BEST things I have taken away from the Gift Show, is to look at the products supplied by companies that sell home decor items!!  I have absolutely been blown away by the amount of relatively-authentic-looking items that are 
of vintage style.   Why should that blow me away, you ask??   Well, I see these items OFTEN as I peruse antique stores (and I mean, I see them ALL THE TIME!!).  These new "vintage" items, usually have had all their tags removed (including the ones that say "made in china" AND they are being sold as AUTHENTIC vintage/antiques.  tisk tisk tisk!!!  Shame on those retailers!!
Brand new, but vintage-looking

So for me, this knowledge has saved me from 1)paying far too much for cool-looking items, and 2)stopped me from being snookered into thinking I've found a good deal on a "vintage" or "antique" item.  

It really opened my eyes, and saddens me more than a little bit - because this is happening a LOT!

By the way, if you plan on attending the Seattle Gift Show (or any wholesale event) - You do need a business license and documentation in order to attend - this is not something open to the general public.

ANYWAYS, my original concept for this post is actually about the creative team Jeanne Dana. 

So there I was, walking through the gift show with my friend, feeling a bit sad that it was so empty and many of my favorite wholesalers were gone. Then, I walked up to Paper and Stone's booth.  And Dana (who can be best-described as an "interesting character"), started his shtick.  He was HYSTERICAL!  He had myself and my friend laughing and waiting to see what he'd do next.  Really amusing to watch and listen to - in fact I'm kicking myself because I didn't video him (he's got a GREAT stand-up act if he ever decides to give up art and be a comic!).  

If I had a store front, I'd have definitely bought from him (and his prices were great too)! 

A small sample of their artwork (my favorite is in the middle)To see more of their artwork, or to purchase - please see their website
He told us about his processes, and showed a variety of really lovely castings. He and Jeanne were generous in sharing details and references, and they gave me permission to blog about them.  

I'm so glad we ran into them that day!  They were truly the highlight of the day!  I wish them the best of luck and hope they receive many orders from the show.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Starting a new silk painting - this time it's a collaborative piece (oh my)!

The Laundry Line (to be a collaborative piece)
Yes, that's right... I'm starting a new painting.  It's to be part of a collaborative piece done with 3 other artists (well 9 others actually) from the Fiber 19 Artist Group.  

A picture was selected (The Laundry Line), it was decided that each completed picture would be sized 4 feet wide by 3 feet tall... and that the picture would be divided into 4 slices (with each 4th being 1 foot wide and 3 feet tall).  Names were randomly selected and assigned to a section/slice of the picture.  AND I (stupidly) in my infinite wisdom, signed up to do 2 slices so that there would be 3 whole, completed sets made.  

Each artist is to interpret their assigned piece in their preferred medium.  Although certain marks must line up (the clothes line and the wood), the colors and medium are up to each artist.  It should be very interesting to see the end-results!  We have weavers, painters, quilters, collage-artists, and free-motion sewing artists, just to name a few of the types.

Slices 3 and 4 hung on my display board
(which is actually my daughter's old closet
door with rollers on the bottom!)

I ended up with slices 3 and 4.  Since I paint on recycled silk, my slices will both be silk paintings.  I'm going to paint slice 4 in the traditional serti technique - using Resistad colored with black dye...which will (hopefully) give the appearance of stained glass.  I will then paint slice 3 on silk, using the modern Sistek/Magic-Sizing method (which is a stop-flow method, used with little or no resists).  

I've started on slice 4 and am already experiencing some technical difficulties.  Darn it.   

My test sample - that's not a water
mark, that's black dye bleeding out!
I used Jacquard Red Label (black) dye to color my Resistad.  And while the resist-lines seem to hold back water just fine... the lines themselves are bleeding.  I heat-sat them and then did it two more times to no avail.  The lines still bled.  

So then I did a bit of research and troubleshooting and was advised to steam-set the lines - which would then bond the dye to the silks.  So I did... to no avail.  The lines still bleed.  (picture me pulling my hair and getting SERIOUSLY pissed!!).  
My resist lines on

SO now,  well now I'm taking a break because I'm mad at the darned resist lines.   I did decide that I don't need to be a purist about the slice I'm working on, so I will paint it (and pray the black lines don't bleed too much) - and then I will do a bit of corrective interpretation with acrylic paints once the painting has been mounted on canvas. 

FYI, this particular piece of silk used to be the leg of a pair of pajamas.
(finding used, recycled, or remnant silks in this big of a size, with no seams or other darned hard!). 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Just applied for 2 new shows - oh my

Well friends, this year is turning into a bit of a trial for me as an artist.  I'm finding my time (as an artist)  severely limited and that is INCREDIBLY frustrating! 

This year, my plan was to ramp up the business side of being an artist. 
  • Get the blog going more regularly and modernize it
  • Post on Facebook more frequently
  • Get more involved in other social media (ie, instagram, pinterest, youtube, etc)
  • Try selling more online
  • Get in more shows, galleries, etc
  • Sell more
It all sounds great and I am getting some done (researching what I want my website and/or blog to look like, posting on my blog more often, applying to shows), but life has a way of throwing a monkey-wrench into the heart of things (for instance, having to get a full-time job in order to provide benefits for my family). 

But I am working my way through it all, and squeezing in art whenever I can!

MTB The Inner Soul
MTB The Outer Shell
To that end, I have applied for two more shows.  Another University House show through the EAFA (Evergreen Association of Fine Arts), and the art show at the Puyallup Fair (now known as the Washington State Fair).  So I am awaiting the results of the University House show (called the Personal Identities Exhibition), and am feverishly working on mounting and framing my two pieces for the Washington State Fair.

For the Personal Identities Exhibition, I submitted my two abstract paintings Moving Through Blue (MTB) The Inner Soul, and MTB The Outer Shell.  They were originally painted for the Beyond Blue exhibition which Fiber 19 created for the Sidney Gallery in Port Orchard, Washington earlier this year. 

For the Puyallup Fair (I'm sorry, but it will ALWAYS be the Puyallup Fair to me!!), I have created 2 new pieces: Sweet Lil'Tulips, (which is mounted and framed) and Oh My, Camelia! (which is the piece I am desperately working on!). 
Oh My, Camelia!
Sweet Lil'Tulips

I've never done a fair before.  Apparently you apply, then turn in your artwork (meaning you physically bring it to them) and then in a few weeks, your work is either accepted into the fair's show, or you're contacted and told to come get your artwork (oh my).   SO, I've got my toes crossed (because my fingers are busy!).

I'll let you know what happens. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

So you're thinking of making your own World Globe Lampshade or Pendant Lamp?

So you're thinking of making your own World Globe Lampshade or Pendant Lamp?  
World Globe Lampshade with Beaded Trim

My previous post talks about finding, selecting, and cleaning a World Globe.  THIS post will give you a basic tutorial of how to make your own lampshade or lamp out of your globe along with a few tips about using World Globes as lampshades or pendant lamps.

To make a lampshade (or a pendant lamp) you'll first need to decide what size lampshade you want.  Do you want to open the globe at the equator giving you a half-lamp look?  Or do you want to cut along a latitude line below the equator to give you a taller lampshade?  Both look nice and it's just a matter of personal taste (although if your globe is falling apart at the equator, then it's quite easy to make it a half-globe lampshade!).  By the way, you don't have to do anything fancy - of course you can just slice open the globe and stick it on a lamp.  It just won't look as finished (it's paying attention to the little details that makes the globe lampshade look so nice).

So once you've chosen the size of lampshade you want to make, you'll need to gather a few supplies: box knife or craft knife with a SHARP blade, fine grit (and maybe a medium grit) sand paper, craft glue, acrylic paints and a small paintbrush, clothes-pins, wax paper, gimp trim (also known as upholstery trim), and beaded trim (optional). *You'll also need a pendant kit if you want to make a World Globe Pendant Lamp.

  • The first step is to clean the surface of your globe.  This will help you see
    Cleaning the globe
    any issues your globe may have, and give you the best surface for your knife to cut into.  And remember - use a damp cloth - don't soak the surface and be VERY careful if you decide to use actual cleaner - it takes very little effort to permanently damage the surface of the globe (I'd recommend spraying the cloth and NOT the globe!).  On the other hand, I've been extremely successful in removing most dirt from the surface.  Because most globe's surfaces are glossy, I've found that I can carefully scrape off paint and have even managed to remove a good deal of pen marks.
Cut open
  • The next step is to cut the globe open at your preferred latitude line.  I usually choose the latitude line below the equator and it often is missing a small part of the line (where the globe logo is) - so you may need to carefully draw/cut a guide line through that area.  You will need a VERY sharp cutting tool to do this - I usually use a razor blade/box-knife.  And as I mentioned in the previous globe post - it usually requires a new blade for each globe.
Keep that disk!
  • Once your globe is cut, you can remove the globe-base (if it has one). But be sure to hold on to the divination disk (located at the top of the globe if it has one), because it's easy to lose.  You may also want to hold on to the base if you plan on using it to make a globe-bowl out of the remaining bottom-portion of the globe.
  • Once the globe is open,  you're able to push out dents and holes, and fix/fill any holes or pin-pricks with acrylic paint (make sure to match the surface color of the globe!). 
  • Next, I usually sand the cut-edges.  If I've been less-than-perfect in my cutting, I'll use a medium-grit sandpaper to sand down the ridges of the cut edge.  Then follow that with a sanding using fine-grit sandpaper.  *Make sure to remove all the dust before doing any gluing or painting! 
Paint the edge
  • At this point, I make sure all the inside surfaces of the lampshade are solid (not fraying or sticking out).  Anything that is coming apart, I add a dab of glue to and then place a small piece of wax paper on top of and either clamp with a clothes pin, or place something on top of the wax paper to hold the cardboard together while the glue dries 
For pendant - cut a hole
  •  Next, I carefully paint the cut-edge of the globe - to seal it and keep it from fraying. 
  • IF you are making a pendant lamp, you will need to cut a hole in the top of the lampshade.  If you have the divination disk, use that as a template for your hole!  It's usually the perfect size for a pendant fixture to fit through! (I also sand and paint the cut-edge of the pendant hole)
  • Now is a good time to re-glue the equator-tape if needed - or to gently scrape the glue off of where the equator-tape was if the tape is missing (the glue usually is easy to scrape or gently sand off without hurting the map-finish).
gluing in the beaded trim
Glue on the upholstery trim - on the outside
  • If you decide you want to apply beaded trim, I find it easiest (and best-looking) to apply it on the inside of the rim of the lampshade.  I use craft glue to adhere the beaded trim and I use clothes pins as clamps to hold the trim on while the glue dries.  *I find it easiest to keep the clothes pin from getting stuck, by putting a piece of wax paper over the glued-on-trim before clamping with the clothes pins!
  • Once the beaded trim is applied, it's time to apply the gimp/upholstery-trim to the outside of the rim of the lampshade. I do the same thing with the wax paper as with the above beaded trim.  
Glue on the divination disk to the top
  • If you haven't already done so, you'll want to check the equator-tape and glue down any loose parts. Or you may want to glue on some kind of replacement, if your globe is missing it's equator-tape.  
  • Next is to glue on the divination disk IF you're making a lampshade.  If you're making a pendant-lamp, the divination disk won't be used. 
  • At this point the lampshade is pretty much done.
  • For the Pendant Lamp, you'll need to attach the actual pendant lamp to the lampshade.
Finished lampshade on lamp
Finished pendant lamp


Thursday, August 6, 2015

So You Want To Make Your Own Vertical Stovepipe Steamer?

I wrote a post on my other blog several years ago, but was just asked to create a new document for the Silk Painters group on Facebook.  So I thought I'd share it here!

Making your own Stovepipe Steamer is relatively easy to do and certainly cost effective!  To buy one new (and made specifically for silk paintings) will easily cost you over $1000 bucks.... but making one yourself can cost under $100 (mine was less than $50!).

I've had several people ask: Why do you want a Stovepipe Steamer?  Can't you just use a pot and steaming basket on your stove?
Both are good questions!
Yes you can use a pot and steaming basket on your stove.  But I personally, don't care for the idea of the chemicals/dyes/etc being in my kitchen. They are NOT good eats (to borrow from Alton Brown). Plus if you use a steaming basket in a pot, you have to constantly watch the water levels.  And you don't have a lot of space, which means you're probably only steaming 1 item at a time.  And also due to the cramped space, you're having to roll your silk up in a long tube, and then roll the tube up into a coil - in order to get it to fit within the pot and steaming basket.  I've no doubt, I'd be steaming in creases which would be hard to get out. Which leads to why you want a Stovepipe Steamer...

A Stovepipe Steamer sits over a big pot of water.  So your water levels are easier to manage (and require less watching).  The stovepipe is nice and long.  This means you can simply roll up your silks and not have to coil them up.  Plus, because it's a much larger steaming area, you can roll up several silks at a time for steaming purposes.  So it's more efficient - which is always a bonus.
So what supplies do you need in order to make your own Stovepipe Steamer?

  • Stove Pipe (also referred to as Galvanized Duct Pipe) 4-6 feet in length (for example, Lowes has 10 inch diameter pipe in 5 foot lengths for about $15.00 in the U.S.)
  • A round Multi-cooker, Rice/Food Steamer with a removable lid & variable temperature control. For easiest setup, the cooker you select should be slightly larger in diameter than the duct pipe you are using.  FYI, I found mine at a thrift store for $5.00  
  • Insulation blanket (like those used around water tanks).  Fiberglass is best, but I used Reflectix because I am allergic to fiber glass (if you use Reflectix, you must use 2-3 layers of it around your pipe because Reflectix is not as good of an insulator as Fiberglass is!
  • Duct Tape 
  • Old towels 
  • A board a few inches longer than your duct pipe diameter. 
  •  A few rubber bands (not required, but helpful!) 
  • Chain and a couple double-ended bolt snaps (also known as dog-chain connectors) work great, but carabineers would work well too. 
  • A tall, narrow fabric bag (or you could make a chicken wire or plastic mesh holder) – I use a king-sized pillowcase which I cut in half and sewed up the cut-side.  The bag should be no more than 4 feet long and about 4-6 inches in diameter if using a 5-foot pipe (you would want a shorter bag if you’re using a 4 foot pipe!).  Note – 1 pillowcase makes 2 bags 
  • Some twine/narrow-rope (to run through the hem of the opening of the bag- so you can pull it closed.

·         In addition to those items, you'll also need a few more things to do the actual steaming:

  • A thermometer (a battery-operated, food thermometer works great)
  • Dowel rod, pipe, or other round rod/pipe about 1-2 inches in diameter and about the same length as the narrow fabric bag below. 
  • Newsprint (also known as packing paper) or clean, white sheets, or linen (or other washable cloth) 
  • Masking tape or painter’s tape 
  • Timer
You'll also need to use a few tools:

  • Metal Sheers or tin snips 
  • Leather Gloves 
  • A drill 
  • A sewing machine if you are making your own steaming bag.
  • A step-stool (to make it easier to place the steaming bag inside the stovepipe steamer)
  The Instructions:

  • ·         Get your pipe and put it together (unless you’re lucky enough to have that done in the hardware store) by pressing the flat/sharp side into the folded-seam side. (WEAR GLOVES!  THOSE THINGS ARE SHARP!).  Once the seam is closed, you may need to roll the pipe around and press on it to even out the roundness of the shape.  (picture courtesy of – please note, that you will probably want to do this step on the ground or on a very sturdy surface, it is not advisable to hold the pipe and put it together like the picture is demonstrating!)
  •  Next, make sure the duct pipe fits into (and stands solidly) inside the steamer/cooker.  If it does not, you will need to bend the crimped end so that the pipe sits snuggly inside the cooker. 
  •  Now that the pipe is sitting snuggly in the cooker/steamer, make a mark on it showing where the top of the cooker/steamer hits the pipe.   Also make a mark about eye-level (this is where the thermometer will go) 
  •  Take the pipe out and cut a hole in the pipe with tin snips (you will need to drill a hole first before the snips can cut the hole).  The hole will need to be big enough for you to pour water through it (I cut about a 3-inch square hole – and use a garden-watering-can to pour in water if needed during steaming) 
  •  Find the mark you made that was at eye-level.  Drill a small hole there (it needs to be big enough for your thermometer to fit through). 
  • Using tin snips (and wearing gloves!), cut 2 notches in the top (on opposite sides of the pipe) of your duct pipe, for your board to sit in. The board should sit down below the top rim of the pipe so that you can place a lid on top of the pipe.  The board is what you will hang the bag holding your silks from – it is important that the board or pipe is secure, if your silks fall into the water while steaming, it would be a tragedy! 
The top of my steamer with notches cut out
  • Place your board across the pipe into the notches.   
  • Then place rubber bands on the board where it sits outside of the duct pipe (this will help keep the board in place and prevent accidental slips!)  
  • Now wrap the insulation blanket around the pipe and attach with duct tape.  The blanket should be above the line where the pipe fits into the cooker/steamer.  Once wrapped, you will want to cut a flap over the hole where you add water, and cut a hole where the thermometer will go into the pipe.  I used duct tape to attach my insulation to my stovepipe.  I also used duct tape to cover the cut edges - because they are sharp and I am clumsy! 
  •  Next you will need to create your hanging bag. Cut up the middle of the bag (making 2 long, narrow cases).  Sew up to the hem to make your bag (but don’t sew the hem! The open hem can be used to slide a string through to make cinch-sack!)

  •          The last thing you will need to do is connect your chain to the board and to make sure your chain length lets the bag dangle down in the center of the pipe.  I also use a rubber-band to prevent the chain from slipping on the board.   The bag should be about a foot ABOVE the top of the cooker/steamer!  You DO NOT want the bag to get splashed while steaming!! 
The basic stovepipe steamer setup.
Using your stovepipe steamer:

1.       Fill the steamer/cooker with water and set the temperature so that the water is gently boiling (you want a good deal of steam, but little-to-no splashing!)
2.       Lay down 3 sheets of newsprint or fabric, then place your silk painting on it making sure the painting is not near the edges of the newsprint or fabric
3.       Place 3 more sheets of newsprint or fabric on top of the silk.  (you can place another silk painting and then 3 more sheets of newsprint, and do this several more times – so you can steam multiple paintings at one time).
4.       Once you have your layers of newsprint and silks (making sure they are nice and even, and the newsprint and silks should all lay flat!), make sure your last/top layer is newsprint.  Then place your dowel-rod on top of your layers.  Roll the entire layers of newsprint and silk tightly around the rod.  Use painter’s tape or masking tape to secure. 
5.       With the dowel-rod still inside the roll of newsprint and silk, slide the bundle into your steaming bag.  Once the newsprint & silk bundle is inside the bag, pull your dowel-rod out.
6.       You now need to attach your steaming bag to your chain (which should be attached to the wood bar that will hang across your steaming pipe!).  MAKE SURE YOUR BAG IS SECURELY ATTACHED TO THE CHAIN!  If the bag falls off of the chain during steaming, your silks will be ruined!!
7.       Wrap the bottom of the bag and the top of the bag with aluminum foil (this will prevent splashes from below and drips from above from falling on your bundle and ruining your silks!)
8.       Carefully hang lower the bag down into the pipe and position the wooden bar into the notches at the top of the pipe. 
9.       Wrap the steamer/cooker lid in towels and place on top of the steaming pipe.
10.   Insert your thermometer into the hole you previously drilled in the pipe and check your temperature (I just leave mine in and then turn it on to check the temperature).  You want to check the temperature occasionally to make sure it’s hovering near 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  If it’s too low, your dyes won’t set.
11.   Set your timer for the amount of time required by your dye manufacturer (commonly 1-3 hours).
12.   Make sure you check your water levels occasionally!! You do not want your steamer/cooker to run dry!! – this will damage the cooker as well as potentially affect your silks!
13.   Once your timer goes off, you can turn off the steamer/cooker and remove the silks from the pipe.  You should follow your dye-manufacturer’s instructions regarding letting the silks cool/rest, as well as washing out your silks.