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Jake Prater 2001-2015


Jake so sweet

Jake so sweet



Jake gives orders.

Jake gives orders.



Jake in charge

Jake in charge




jpknits.com No More

Simplifying, downsizing, decluttering—trend? fad? whatever? Some say it clears the mind as well as the home. I’ll let you know.

What I am choosing to do is to give up the jpknits.com domain. That means that website, not the blog, is going away. It also means the jane@jpknits.com email is also going away. I will still keep this blog and will check in from time to time, but the only way to get to it will be https://merelyasuggestion.wordpress.com so you may need to resubscribe if you came here via http://jpknits.com.

Patterns will still be available via ravelry.com. Email is jprater28209@gmail.com. Still on Facebook.

I have lots of places that will require me to change my email, passwords, user data; and I will try to work through them as fast as possible. Simplifying can be very complicated which is why I didn’t do this much earlier.

I hope that as a new Spring is here, you are making new things. Here’s my latest effort:

Gypsy bead pot Negative space

More later–

I Made Paper

Evan is working on his Cub Scout Art pin and I am getting to help.  One of the requirements he elected was to make paper.

Had a bit of trouble removing it from the mold.

Had a bit of trouble removing it from the mold.

Obviously, I didn’t know how.


Added bits of yellow cardstock after pulling the sheet.

Added bits of yellow cardstock after pulling the sheet.

But thanks to Google and YouTube and a house full of art stuff, I learned.


Added some orange and yellow construction paper to the blender when making the slurry.  Nice soft orange.

Added some orange and yellow construction paper to the blender when making the slurry. Nice soft orange.

I’m still a beginner, but this was fun.  I may get better equipment—-and I may not.  It’s mostly water, paper pulp from recycling paper, and gumption.  Suitable for age 8 to “I.m no longer telling.”

More later–

Family Problems

Do you have trouble getting a decent picture of the men in your family, even at important events?Pinewood Derby1Pinewood Derby2Pinewood Derby3Pinewood Derby4


Steve Lets Out His Inner Artist

T shirt 3

This is my husband Steve.
He is a right-brained mechanical engineer and he is very, very smart.  He knows lots of math and science things, but he also knows history and the arts.  He can name any rock guitarist in 6 measures.   He doesn’t think he has any artistic talent and, about this, he is dead wrong.

Steve's sketchbook

This is one of his sketchbooks.  Yes, it is a piece of shim with equations written in Sharpie.  He has lots of ideas–but that’s another story.  When I saw some of his designs, I  said YOU SHOULD DO SOME T-SHIRTS.  Ands he did.
Golden ratio

Recognize this formula?  Me, neither.  It is the Golden Ratio, or Mean, or Spiral.  It defines the perfect composition for an artwork.  Ask Leonardo.  It says a lot about Steve that this would be his first piece.  And that he would not label it and make it easy for the rest of us.

Here are some more of his early ones:
Avogadro's (Avocado') Number
Avogadro’s number. As an avocado. Pun. They get better.


Log of natural e
This defines the log of the natural e. Well, both daughters recognized it and it was a gift for Erice–E, get it? The white paint was not satisfactory. Already he is looking to improve his materials.

Kekule-benzine ring


This is his shirt from the first picture. Kekule discovered the Benzine ring. Turns out he was having a hard time figuring out how to visually represent it until he had a dream about a snake swallowing his tail. Hmmmmm.

Planck's constant
Another gift for Erica. Planck’s constant. So he drew a plank. Erica fell down laughing.

These were my Christmas presents.

Dali's iPhone


I love art that makes me stop and then maybe laugh. Salvadore Dali’s melting clocks fits
the bill in spite of its deeper meaning. Only for me I got a melting iPhone.

Chrysler Building
My favorite building in the world is the Chrysler building in New York City. Lots of Art Deco and gargoyles. Beautiful. He cut the stencil out of freezer paper. Lots of little pieces. I love it.

He, too, has been experimenting with art supplies.  He started with fabric paint from the craft store.  For Christmas I gave him Shiva Paintstiks.  He is having a great time.

Here are the new ones:

Sagitarius A (black hole)
This is the black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. I love the effect on the black sweatshirt.

Leo Szilard
This is Leo Szilard, the guy that discovered nuclear chain reactions.

The Shiva Paintstiks leave the fabric unchanged. No stiffness. And they can be mixed like oil paints. We both like them.

I’m so proud.

Grey Matters–Tonal Paper

One of the things I most like to do in my Art Adventures is to experiment. I read an article recommending tonal papers for watercolor, grey or tan papers, or even colored papers. I said “H-m-m-m-m-m-m-m.”

Then I bought a pad of Strathmore papers which had white, light grey, grey, dark grey, and black paper. Clearly I could now discover how the color of the paper affected the finished work.

I drew a funky bird sitting in a nest. Then I colored the back of that drawing with pencil and transferred the drawing to the white, lt. grey, and grey paper. Pencil won’t show up on my dark grey and black paper. That was my first problem to solve. Aha! I finally have found out what the white charcoal pencil is for. I had to trace a new copy of my test drawing and cover the back of it with white charcoal and transfer it to the darker papers.

Finally, I traced over the drawings with pen (1-3) and a Sakura white glaze pen (4-5). Now I could paint.1
I began the process of painting the birds using my Derwent Inktense artbars. They are like watercolors except the pigment is ink. They are brighter and I’m all about that. First I painted the blue bodies (1000-ultramarine) and the orange dots (300). First lesson–Ultramarine doesn’t show well on darker papers. I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.  Immediately I noticed that the ultramarine did not show well on the darkest papers.

I overpainted the two darkest with a lighter shade (900) and this was better.



Step 2: Painted the breast and head of each with a medium green (1300). The black paper got two coats.  Then I painted the beaks yellow—oops—-


I next spilled my water over the two darkest colors. I was testing the waterproofness of the dried paint. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



Step 4: Using a dark brown (2000) I painted the inner nest and some “twiggy” lines on the outer nest.

Step 5: I painted the outer nest with a three lighter colors: 1900-a chocolate, 1800-burnt sienna, and 1700-a mustard gold. As I added these three layers, it became harder and harder to get the paper to accept the color. Perhaps the paper had absorbed all the wet media it could. I really don’t know. I rechecked the tablet notes and saw the paper was designed for “dry” media. Such statements never stop me from trying. You never know . . .
I did note that the resulting nests were painted with different amounts of dark and light colors.


The final details were added with Prismacolor pencils which are waxy. They are more intense that my regular pencils and are easy to use. I added shading and some highlights with some pens. Finally I was satisfied I had done all I could do.

Ideas to take forward–
1. Lighter areas\colors have more impact on darker backgrounds.
2. Shading can be deeper tones (values), greys, or complimentary colors.
3. Dark paper does not always indicate gloom and doom.
4. Unexpected benefit—-By using my favorite colors, this project helps me see the effects of the value of the background and can be a reference for the future.
5—12. These will dawn on me later when I am working on something else.

Hope you learned something or got an idea for an experiment of your own.

More later–

Embellishments for fabrics

Favorite t-shirt with food stain covered.

Favorite t-shirt with food stain covered.

Those of you who know me are aware that I cannot eat without staining my clothes.  This is why I always take a busy scarf to restaurants.  So much more attractive than a bib.  Some years ago, in a moment of genius, I combined some of my bits of freeform knit and crochet with my stained T-shirts.

This new challenge to alter Erica’s jacket (here) has sent me a different way.  Paint and thread, but embroidery.  Since I know little about painting cloth, I experimented.  (Not knowing what I am doing has never inconvenienced me in any way.)

Acrylic paint with stencils on muslin and flannel

Acrylic paint with stencils on muslin and flannel

Painted Cloth2

Acrylic paint with stencils and stamps on cotton gauze and a medium weight cotton.

Painted Cloth3

Acrylics with stamps and other stencils and some embroidery on a linen/cotton blend.

Painted Cloth4

My favorite after I change the pink thread on the right–A light weight cotton, with paint smudged on and actually used to wipe up a spill. The birdcage is stamped using acrylic paint.

These samples are made without a textile medium to change the paint from regular paint to fabric paint.  Fabric paint has additives that increase its ability to be soft and flexible even after washing and drying.  Tulip makes a good product available at Michael’s.  I haven’t played with mixing my own colors using that paint.  Crayola makes an awesome fabric marker and they are cheap.  Still I have the color problem.

Yes, I have dyes–lots of them, but they involve measuring and not breathing powder and it is sort of like cooking.  I don’t do that.

I even have a bottle of Golden’s textile medium (GAC-900, I think), but in my excitement I forgot all about it.

I kept the paints sheer  and thin except for a few stamps.  This makes if very easy to handsew on it.  The handsewing was important to me because I wanted this to be a portable project.  I have avoided beads and plastic buttons only because I don’t think they fit with my “vision.”

Next time, I will also drag out and paint bits of shiny cloth and some upholstery things buried somewhere in the attic.  I have already washed some dark pieces to try, but who knows when.

My next decision is whether or not to just deconstruct the whole jacket so I don’t have to wrestle so much as I try to add pieces.  If I do that, I can also trace the pieces and make some other jackets.  Yeah, right.  Too many ideas, too little time.

If you have any advice, please don’t hesitate.

More later–


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