Sunday, December 30, 2007

Soft detours

My pile of second-hand sweaters now lies in my grandmother's mending basket, in pieces. The book is Colorful Stitchery by Krisiten Nichols, a talented woman I had the good fortune to know, when we were both members of Dunstable Artisans almost 15 years ago.

Here is my first felted throw:This one was cut with a rotary cutter and pieced by machine. Then it looked dull, so my daughter and I have been adding bits by hand: A fun and cozy project, since the quilt now is big enough to stretch across two laps. Also, if felt thin, so I am adding a second layer on one side.

The first throw was such a hit I am making a second to give away. This one I am piecing by hand, and keeping more color-coordinated:

It looks raggedy and is coming along slower but I enjoy the friendly process. They are both too cozy to be believed. All this from a few junk sweaters.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter brake

Brake, and break. The business is in neutral. I have a mental lock on the studio door. Yummy projects still follow me down the stairs:This pile comes from the Salvation Army Store. On Wednesdays you can hunt for $1 bargains. The sweaters are all 100% wool. I brought home 3 bags full and threw them in the wash. Now they are slightly felted, super soft, and so warm. This afternoon my daughter and I cut and piece. The idea was to make gifts, but I'm sure something will get made for us too, maybe a throw, to ward off the chills after the heat goes down at 9PM.

At Open Studios this month, I also fell for some hand-made yarn:

I don't knit well, but this looks so beautiful it should surmount my efforts.

Link of the day: The Little Red Blog of Revolutionary Knitting. Scroll down to see her political knits on display. On the light side, I love the rubric: the "Martha Stewart of Mess." Some of her poliltical art gives me shivers. Check out the body-count mittens. Last spring, when Lowell Fiber Studio sponsored an exhibit of scrolls, I wrestled with the idea of a piece about the inexorably growing body-count. I backed off. Here one knitter's done it with a pair of mittens, and time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WIP ideas

Noodling with the computer. Here is one version:
I could be at this all day, especially if I can figure out how to rotate a fragment once I "cut" it on the computer. I like the more vertical orientation, and the dark green works an diagonal to offset the one made by the trees. Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Piles of paperwork to do. But I'm thinking about the Next Piece, which has been in the queue since the fall: I'm wondering whether to cut and rearrange it, or just stitch it up as is. I took photos so I can cut and paste on my computer first.

Drove up past the mountains of snow to Lowell for the weekly gathering of Lowell Fiber Studio. Even with the holidays at hand, half of us made it. Lots of ideas about next year and beyond. Lovely to pull in the harness together towards new goals.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snowed In

No surprise to anyone with the Weather Channel. No complaints. The weather was fine for our home show. Many people came. Now I'm ensconced in my sister's home. Funny how washing dishes in someone's else's kitchen is a holiday. We are going to watch "Away from Me" together, and I get another night off before the drive home.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tiny things

Worked on key bags yesterday, to take to Poughkeepsie.

It seemed a shame to throw away all the tiny trimmings, so I made my first artist trading cards. The satisfaction of the designs on such a scale surprised me.
Now I must go shovel out my car.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Running around

I have figured out how to make notebooks and am totally tickled with the process. All the satisfaction of assembling an image, and then, poof, it becomes functional. Inside one I put the auxiliary pocket on upside down, so I get to keep that one. Now it holds my check book AND a calendar AND a notepad, so behold: no more lost ideas, dates, ideas. A miracle.

But my studio is dark because it is time to go stand in line at the post office and then on to GoodWill to hunt for sweaters to felt for gift-making. If the sun comes out, I hope to take some pictures, too.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Lovely words in my email today from folks who stumbled onto my work on-line. Plus a woman in Hawaii posted about one of my bags, which she ordered sight unseen. Such trust. Such compliments. They make my day shine. Thanks to all.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Portable Art

Photographed a few 5x7" pieces before Open Studios began in earnest yesterday. They are posted on Etsy now.

Much traffic, which is good for the soul, and a few serious buyers, which was good for the kitty.
With four-plus floors of artists, there is more now in one building that you can see in a day.

I like this last one a lot, almost enough to hold on to it. But letting go clears the way for more to come.

Friday, December 7, 2007

More birds

Another set of images mounted AND photographed.

Sunlight (sold)

I am trying to become better friends with my camera. I'm also interested what happens when I use fabrics from different print runs. They inform and enrich each other:

Departure (sold)

These birds are for sale as individual prints, but I hope the photos prove good enough to use for cards.

Moments (sold)

The sky is full of potential snow. The light is almost pink. This piece has a lot of pink in it, but I have my doubts about all those sharp angles.

Wonderful poem by Anne Sexton about snow on Writer's Almanac today, in which "every branch wears the sock of God."

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Noodling through my bloglinks led me to Joannie San Chiro, who pointed out the blog of a wonderful Seattle-based artist, Bridgette Guerzon Mills. Dream-like imagery. Birds. Trees. I am in love.

Speaking of dreams:

Dream (sold)

Made while dreaming of Cape Cod. Warm thoughts for a cold day. Posted on Etsy today.

Have been running around alternately delivering work, making it, photographing it, and trying to beat back the tumbleweeds of dog fur in the house. O yes, and getting ready for Christmas. I think I made my last run to the post office and UPS this week. Two more shows to go.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday shows

If you are near Lowell Massachusetts next weekend, come support the arts ! Lowell Fiber Studios will be open, along with the studios of over 100 other artists at Western Avenue Studios Saturday December 8, 10-6.

If you live near Poughkeepsie, NY, you are invited to the home show at my sister's house on Saturday December 15, 1-5. I will be there along with Beldan K. Radcliffe, a print-maker from Martha's Vineyard. You'll find lampshades, scarves, jewelry, journals, along with lovely art for the walls.

Buy local. Buy art.


First, my "office" on a typical day. It's "to-do" piles, all the way down:
The snow arrived yesterday, with ice in tow: weather only dogs and kids could love. My girl,up at 5:30 AM, was delighted to wake to the sound of shoveling. I, who once shoveled an entire driveway not six weeks after surgery, was hard-pressed to clear the sidewalk. Soon I will be one of those old people the neighbors send their kids over to help. It's true.

I remember my grandmother, weeks before she died, saying "I don't know how I became 80. Inside, I'm still 21." Well, 50's in the review mirror, and I still sing the Mr. Ed theme song. Go figure.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hard at work

You can barely move in my studio. I've delivered goods to three shows and packaged up more to mail, so you CAN get through the doorway. But my studio still looks like a whirlwind.

The long list of Coulds now runs smack into the short, unmoving Musts. They sort themselves quickly into the Nows and the Laters. To finish one set of printed bags, I found that even I could slap out 24 labeled pockets without dithering. The large quilts can wait. Tomorrow I mount my two medium art pieces and crank out cards. The rest will keep until the new year.

Here's my "office,"by the way, in a moment of calm. Larry the Lamb lamp came from the trash. "When you bring home this stuff," my husband commented "I think, 'Maybe she *should* see a doctor.' "

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


For today, from Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker's Creek:

"Hasidism has a tradition that one of man's purposes is to assist God in the work of redemption by 'hallowing' the things of creation. By a tremendous heave of his spirit, the devout man frees the divine sparks trapped in the mute things of time; he uplifts the forms and moments of creation, bearing them aloft into the rare air and hallowing fire in which all clays must shatter and burst."

That describes the artist's job to me.

And when the work is going well, "My mind branches and shoots like a tree."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

collage in miniature

I have been collaging scraps of fabric into cards.

Little exercises in composition, and a chance to let the bits too small or fragile for real sewing still sing. I love buying artist's cards. I admire all the work, then bring cards home.

Cultural aside: Go see Lars and the Real Girl. It is quirky, surprising, lovely. No guns or car chases, just a good story well-told. The artists who made this movie deserve our support.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I have so much fun printing I think I should be arrested.

The idea this weekend was to use commercial fabric to feature hand-printed ones. The collages became pockets on large tote bags.


When I brought them to our group crit, the others saw that printing on the bag itself would integrate the two layers.

So I spent the whole day yesterday at the studio. Fabric everywhere. Even on the floor. I worked on a dozen bags plus yards of fabric. Special thanks to the person who recommended using lumiere inks to print on black.
You can find some of the large totes on ETSY. Also collages framed and ready to hang.

Two whole-cloth works are drying in Lowell. O yes. This is what the world looked like this morning, before the rain:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fnding the Path

With the morning email came posts from Debra Roby and Rayna Gillman on what Debra calls "energy drains." You know: those little things, too small for the to-do list, but always begging to be done first? They lure, distract, call, beckon, insist, wheedle, whine. So you pick up your junk, paw through a pile, make a phone call or turn on the computer "just for a minute" and before you know it, time for dinner. How do such daily experiences take us be surprise, again and again?

Perhaps the seed of contentment is more zen: to find the good in the necessary, while we turn from (acknowledge but not follow) the distraction. We need to spend time with each other, with our moms, friends, in-laws, even the dog - why be here if not some time together? And we need to pick up, sometimes, after each other or ourselves.

We don't need to follow every link on the computer.

This weekend, stumped and maddened by the clutter in my studio, I rooted out a whole bag of precious stuff I "couldn't" use to give away. Out of that detour came a realization, and from that an idea that worked.

In the documentary "Comedian," Jerry Seinfeld says something like "show me someone who says he knows where his ideas come from and I'll show you a liar. Like you KNOW where an idea comes from. Like you had anything to DO with it." I just know that somehow letting go gave birth to a better idea than the one I was beating my head against. So the point was to stop doing what didn't work, take care of the necessary, and be listening when the next idea arrived.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Alzheimer's Quilt Initiative

News arrived today that my small quilt for the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts auction sold. All the money raised goes to benefit research into Alzheimer's mysteries. Thank you, Mary Ann Littlejohn, a talented quilter too.

I just read Cormack McCarthy's The Road. A grim vision of the world after its end, written in stunning prose. I am disoriented, as one should be after such a journey.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Show and tell

A successful sale. I know I do these shows for the compliments as much as for the cash. How else to see how your work affects others? I love best the kids that come up, entranced by color and wanting to touch. I really love the parents who get down to their level and admire the work too.

This show ended on a high note. A woman loved my work, wanted to talk about how I made my own fabric, so I held up a length of fabric. It has been covering one of the risers. It was a table runner that had gone through the usual evolution of art fabric: discarded cloth to ugly dyed fabric, through multiple print runs to amazing. She loved it and bought it on the spot, and to *use,* which makes me so happy. The very first impulse I had as an artist was to rescue these precious fabrics - tablerunners, pillow cases, hankies.

I finally figured out how I want to make my small notebooks. The construction is based on a lot of fusible, and, at last, no turned edges. They come out rather like check-book holders, but much nicer to have in your bag.

They have pockets inside for storing business cards, grocery lists etc (the bigger one here blends in because it's the same fabric as the lining). They make me happy. Now I need to haul off and put more time it finishing the large piece up in Lowell.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Cut loose

One gift of deadlines is that I finish things. Often things have sat for a season or more in the to-do pile. This piece started after a class last winter with Gabrielle Swain. The tree is hand-pieced. I found the work soothing, and I could work on it while visiting relatives. (I'll have to get something going for the Long Thanksgiving visit.) But instead of incorporating this into a larger piece, I decided yesterday to let it stand on it's own. I used my usual madness-takes-hold machine stitching, then worked back into it with acrylic paints to remove pointless white and bring more movement to the the ground. I like it a lot, too much, in fact, to put a price on it right now. I need at least a good photo before I let this puppy fly. The best part is it gives me ideas for the next piece, a voice worth listening too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

New work

Judith Klein, of Pins with a Past, traded me this lovely piece for one of my bags. It is made from the flotsam of city life: a crushed bottle cap, a socket, a bit of crushed metal. I love it.

So, after my little rant yesterday morning, I helped to clean the Lowell studio and that was restorative. We are such a group -- creative, cooperative, mature. A new member interviewed. A beloved member said she would reconsider dropping out. A third announced that she's moving to the work/live lofts being developed in an adjacent mill. The sun shone, inside and out. O, and since the RED SOX won, my lovely husband was home early in the afternoon, a rare pleasure now that his commute is so long. Dinner was a breeze; the biscuits came out well. Making good biscuits has been a goal of my life. I'm glad to say I have put my hockey-puck days behind me. All of which is to say I took a day OFF and feel better for it.

I am off to make more Affordable, Portable Art:

And probably some more little notebook holders:

Plus three inquiries came in about buying purses. A little ego boost to get the engines turning again.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Found an artist new to me on-line today, Janet Bolton. Her work interests me, in its intersection of textile arts and illustration. Also I like her images: not sweet, very dream-like.

Last night's internet wanderings took me back to Lisa Call and her thoughts on planning and success. This year for the first time I bridle at the "requirement" to make stuff to sell. My expectations of my work have changed. Satisfaction that once came from piecing useful stuff now comes from printing yardage and making work that lasts. The textile postcards satisfy: they are about composition, on a tiny scale. They function as exercise; then, with matting and a package, they become commercial. But purses, jeeze, I just feel myself slipping into the abyss that is Walmart, India, China, not to mention the young things on Etsy selling their work for $20 a pop.

I must chart a new direction and, of course, that is scary. Over and over, I reach a goal, only to find I am on another plateau, and it is time to take my bearings and set out again.

Today, though, is Cleaning Day at the big studio. Repair work to the roof has left debris over everything. Yuck! Time to grab the broom and mop and go.

Friday, October 26, 2007


My studio looks like a rat's nest. I actually tripped on my sewing machine's cord the other day and pulled it off the table. Yikes. Luckily no damage. The display rack holds completed work: fourteen purses so far. I revisited the two embellished army bags that remain:
The purses are assemblages of high-end upholstery fabrics, with the occasional scrap of hand-printed fabric.
On a detour, I futzed with some tiny journals, because the fabric I'd made just begged to be featured:
Here's an example of what's inside and on the back. Just a few signatures, more a whimsy than practical, but maybe there's an idea there somewhere.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Spent the morning wrestling with photography. I'm learning, slowly. Thank heaven for Gloria Hansen's generous essay in the SAQA journal about resizing photos. I am a slow mule when it comes to mastering new technologies. Even when I worked on the cutting edge, I was always confused.

To cheer myself up, I photographed two works in progress. The first was an exercise in piecing that grew, came apart, then went back together. I can't make up my mind how well it stands up, but I started quilting it today.
The second came during my first session printing with dyes. It makes me happy. I don't think it needs much more work, but I won't let myself start on it until PRODUCTION (purses purses purses scarves purses) for the holidays is over.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On the Subway

Sketches from the wait for the subway.

Production work in the studio - purses and journals. I am hungry to work on a larger piece.

Got the news today that Karen Bettencourt will leave our group. She will have her own studio on the 2nd floor of Western Avenue Studios. We will miss her. But still, it is good to fledge. Congratulations, Karen!