Monday, December 29, 2008

Tea and Rest

Nothing smells as good as bread fresh from the oven.

Winter arrived in style, just days away from Christmas. The whole neighborhood shoveled for three days straight. After that, I took the needle off the record (to use an expression from my past). No sewing, no posting, no email even. Just reading, and wrapping, and sipping tea. You can see one of my favorite tea cups in this picture. The artist, Kristin Nichols, is a remarkable designer and long ago was a colleague. Now she owns her own sheep herd in western Massachusetts and publishes her designs and books. Check out her blog.

One of the books I devoured was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. That inspired me to get out the bread machine again. And to fritter some early morning hours daydreaming on-line about seeds and container gardening. Now I'm reading Musicophilia and thinking I should clear off the piano to play again.

A last check came from one store, plus a welcome request for more inventory. Here are my pillows, packed and ready to go:

I am sending them a sample of my new pocket note books. At just $4.75 they are an easy way to slip a little indulgence into your life. They sold well at the Loading Dock Gallery. I will have them in the studio when we hold our next open house, this Saturday, January 3. I'll post when I get the new crop up on Etsy.
But this week the dog is my inspiration: curl up, stay warm, and (unless food's handy) relax:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thank You

The days rush past. Many many folks still without power. News of more layoffs reach me: jobs falling like branches in the ice storm.

So thank you everyone who leaves a kind note here, or visits our studio, or just smiles in passing. Generosity and kindness are gifts, gratefully received.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Last Open Studios for 2008

If you plan to spend anything on anyone, skip the mall. Come to an artist's open house.

All the beautiful items above are under $20.

Of course, if you are in the neighborhood, I hope you'll come to Lowell Fiber Studio, #512 at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Noon-5PM.

My scented pillows, from vintage table cloths, hand-dyed and hand-printed: $8-$22

Hand-dyed and individually pieced scarves, $20-$30

But I'm sure some artist somewhere is hanging out her shingle near you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What is Real

Yesterday, 8AM, in my neighborhood:
Three houses were damaged. In Cambridge, that means at least 7 families dislodged. My friend's home is toast.

I find myself hugging my family, and my dog, a little more. And wondering what it would feel like to kiss so much of my physical "self" goodbye. A reminder: it doesn't matter beans whether my shows go well this weekend. Just so long as everyone gets home safe at the end of the day.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Winter Lights Artisan Show

My first opening and I missed the photo shoot! That's what I get for having an early bedtime!
Don't they look fine?
photo by Adrien Bisson

We all came duded up in our finest. Champagne punch was the drink of the evening. My o my.

If you want to shop is for meaningful gifts - made with love and modestly priced - come to the Loading Dock Gallery. We're open 11-4:30 Wednesday through Sunday. Parking is free. I'm gallery-sitting December 10th and 19th --- I 'd love to see you there!
This show features small work: Jewelry, housewares, textiles, photographs, blank books, pens. Something for everyone. My little covered books are priced at $4 - perfect for teacher gift or stocking stuffer:You can also go upstairs to Hub Mills, which is having a blowout sale on yarn and sweater samples. Your time will be rewarded. The show will make you happy, the gifts will show love, and your cash will stay right here in the US, helping an artist get dinner on the table or heat into the studio. Thank you!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lowell News

Wouldn't you love to put your ipod in this quilted holder by Lowell Fiber artist, Susan Webber? I would.

The talent among the members at Lowell Fiber Studio still amazes me. Here are some of the new items we'll have on sale at studio 512 the next two weekends, when Western Avenue Studios holds it's open house. Please come by, Saturday and Sunday, December 6-7 and December 12-14, from noon til 5.

Cathy's made Christmas ornaments:
Margot's crocheted hats and made her adorable pins:
I've appliqued my prints onto vintage aprons:
And we've all dyed scarves and collaged blank books:

It should be a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buy local. Buy art.

I am printing and sewing up a storm. This print is now a pocket on a vintage apron. Maybe I can work up an idea for Threadless, the site that creates t-shirts from art by real people. They just posted the RISD collection. Proceeds from the sales go to a RISD Scholarship fund. What a great idea.

Meanwhile I am now the proud possessor of eight (8!) bottles of Champagne, in anticipation of the punch we'll serve at the Winter Lights Opening Reception December 5. We set up this past Monday. Jewelers loaned cases. Green walls were stenciled with snowflakes. I clambered up and down hanging holiday lights. The place looks like a fairyland now, full of sparkling jewelry, glass, ceramics and more. My Altered Aprons will be there: They are all vintage, many hand-made. I print on them and applique, even add a button or some embroidery:One sold while we were still hanging the show, so now I'm busy making new ones, to restock.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Loading Dock Gallery for the Holidays

Buy local. Support an artist. You meet the person who made your gift; you shake the hand that shaped it. Ditch the mall, and come to an open studio sale.

I'm proud to join the artists of the Loading Dock Gallery in Lowell for their annual Winter Lights, a showcase of affordable, handmade art and craft. I'll be featuring my keybags:
Plus I'll have wee journals re-covered with my new bird series, printed on recycled fabric and wallpaper scraps.

Currently these prints are available as full-size, matted originals, but I have some lovely darlings that just begged for a smaller venue:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Commission Complete

On Tuesday last week, in addition to voting and then standing outside the polling station all afternoon selling treats to benefit my daughter's Latin club, I joined my colleagues in Lowell to hang our completed quilt, Healing Pieces, at the Greater Lowell Visiting Nurses Association.

This quilt began with an idea: Honor one hundred years of nursing in the community by reaching out to the community. After obtaining a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council, the VNA came to Maxine Farkas, arts organizer extraordinaire, asking for textile artists interested in making a quilt. She passed the request on to Lowell Fiber Studio.

During my family's encounters with cancer, dementia, and old age, organizations like the VNA helped my family. So I volunteered to head the project.We worked from interviews with actual patients, drawing our images from their words. The wisteria (not lilac, though I keep calling it that) -- which twines up fences in even the poorest neighborhoods, became our main symbol. Its roots suggested both history and connection. Its blossoms reminded us of growth and love. We collected images, made idea boards, and discussed composition.Because patients compared the VNA's help to both the stars at night as well as the sun rising, we set the wisteria against a progression from night through dawn to afternoon. We settled on major elements - horizon, wisteria, houses. We dyed sky and ground fabrics. Then we divided the quilt into 5 panels, with 2 artists on a panel, and went to work. It felt like walking into the void.

So here it is, 6 months later. by Adrien Bisson

Sharon Sawyer and Gwen Stith took the photos of houses and mills of Lowell. Everyone unstintingly donated fabric, lace, expertise and time. Kudos to all: Cathy Granese, Ann Lee and Sonja Lee-Austin, Margot Stage, Sharon Sawyer, Gwen Stith, Laura Gawlinski, Susan Webber, and Merill Commeau. A remarkable piece.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I've been tagged, and, just as at summer camp years ago, I'm not *quite* sure what I'm supposed to do next. Something about a list? About me? Here goes:

1. I'm not a "dog person," but I have learned that a dog is the most reliable and happiest exercise program you can get for your money.

2. I have never met a carbohydrate I didn't like.

3. When I was growing up, I wanted to illustrate children's books, but was told not to think of that: "The children's book market is dying out."

4. I am one of the oldest members of the Etsy team Boston Handmade. Thank you.

5. I didn't have the nerve to apply to art school until I was 32.

6. I hate to cook. But I like baking bread. See #2.

7. When I am printing, I feel like I'm having so much fun I'll be arrested.

Is that enough?Am I supposed to tag someone else now?

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Work

This new line makes me so happy:I have been printing my new bird screens on already-printed fabric. The results blow me away. This fabric came from a friend years ago. He found it in his mother's house. It looked so ugly I actually used it line quilts. Yikes. Now it's cooler than cool, and I just have a few scraps left. Here it is, made into a cozy clutch.

Other images are going into collages to hang on the wall. Remnants get incorporated into my key bags. Look for new clutches and key bags each day at my Etsy store. Fuller Craft Museum has asked to showmy bags at their holiday sale. The key bags will also be on sale at the Loading Dock Gallery during December. But you can pick out your favorites at Etsy right now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Looking for studio space?

Are you busting out of your home studio? (You know you are.) Do you love everything textiles: printing, sewing, collage and quilting?

In January Lowell Fiber Studio will have room for two new members. We are a group of eight. We share an 860 sq ft space at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, Massachusetts: a vibrant rehabbed mill building with over 160 artists and still growing.

Rent is shared and affordable. Parking is ample and free. Regular get-togethers. Monthly sales opportunities. Print table, sewing machines, dyes, sinks. Great people. Great space. All for less than $100 a month. Pass it on.

For information, please email us at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


What a weekend. Back-to-back shows. The sun shone and people came. The RISD show was thronging. Lots of happy parents from all over the country. Entertainment included a very mellow jazz band, plus street musicians, or should I say street aliens, playing zydeco:The next morning Boston Handmade artists set up at 7:30 AM for the South End Open Market. Ouch! Folks were so nice, and the show so well organized, that I was glad to be there. A much calmer day: plenty of time to meet up with my Etsy team. I was inspired. Today's job is to take a gazillion photos, and get some new inventory up in my Etsy store.

I sold all my Altered Aprons, so I'm also off hunting for more vintage aprons to rework with print and applique.

Monday was my 21st wedding anniversary and a state holiday. My sweet husband drove me to drop off new work at the Loading Dock Gallery. I am so proud to be part of this great little gallery. Then we enjoyed Doing Nothing for the rest of the day.

Back to work!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Come Join Us!

Boston Handmade @ the Sowa Open Market

More than 26 members of Boston Handmade will be exhibiting their work at the Sowa Open Market on Sunday, October 12th.

Showing and selling handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, house wares, art, photography, toys, and sculpture. Boston Handmade promotes local independent businesses and individuals creating one-of-a-kind and limited edition handmade works in small studio environments, not factories. For more info about Boston Handmade visit:

Friday, October 3, 2008

All Around Town

Buy local. Support the arts.

The next weeks find me showing in several places.Saturday, October 11, 10-4: Rhode Island School of Design Student and Alumni Sale Benefit Street, Providence. This show still has the best bargains and the most creativity per square foot. I'll feature my key bags and a new line of wristlets. Plus, altered vintage aprons, anyone?
Sunday, October 12: SOWA Open Market, 10am to 4pm. Featuring Boston Handmade, a group of over 25 area artists and craftsmen who met through Etsy. I'll share a tent with Blue Alvarez Designs. (Mmmmm, knits.) Other wonderful artists include the incredible Mimi Kirchner and the very talented Jessica Burko.

November 1: Concord Holiday Artisans Fair. 10-4. Sponsored by the Concord Unitarian Church. My first venue and still one of my favorites. An old-time feeling. Good quality work at reasonable prices, in a friendly setting.

November 15: Open House, 13 South Randolf Street, Poughkeepsie NY. My sister once again will host an afternoon of wine, delicious food, and recession-proof gift items by real people. Email me if you'd like detail.s

December Western Avenue Studios double weekend, December 6-7 and 13-14, noon-5 each day. The eight women of Lowell Fiber Studio will be working overtime. Western Avenue Studios houses over 160 artists now, making our Open Studios a warm, energizing destination, and one you can easily visit more than once. Come up to studio 512 for tea!

You can also find my work at Lowell's Loading Dock Gallery, Cambridge Artists' Cooperative in Harvard Square, and the Weston Arts and Crafts Association Christmas sale at the Josiah Smith Barn in Weston.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Open Studios

City-wide Open Studios in Lowell. Come see artists in their natural habitat:We are cleaning up Lowell Fiber Studio: painting walls, sweeping floors, finishing work. Come. Say hi. Take a look. Free food. Free parking at Western Avenue Studios. Plus a free shuttle to downtown locations and guides to help you find your way. I'll demonstrate screen printing from 1-3 both days, on the fifth floor, outside studio 512.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Approaching completion

Here's the completed quilt I had in pieces a couple of weeks ago.After crit, I felt like I just had too many ideas for one piece. I edited for clarity: moved to bird up, took out images that clamored for too much attention, worked for rhythm the eye could follow. I'm satisfied. And there's a pile of material that didn't get in, waiting for new pieces to begin. Here's another detail. The piece is about half-quilted. I hope to finish it before the weekend.

Today I played hooky, though. A friend and I curled up under a quilt and watched "The Orphanage." Now I'm all dizzy with those grey images, and must give my mind time to come back to me. Do you find movies haunting? My husband can watch one after another on TV, but me, I find the visual imprints itself behind my eyes. The pictures can linger for a days.

Monday, September 8, 2008

New Energy

I am resolved: I will learn to Follow Through. This extends from the mundane (dishes INTO the dishwasher, please folks, not piling up in the sink for Mom to move) to the professional. So. This week I got this piece off my wall and mounted it.Just a few more steps to go here:
Two more quilt tops are waiting at the Big Studio.

I decided a whole-cloth piece that was giving me hell should just get cut down and reworked. Here's the first extract:
And during Open Studios on this past, muggy Saturday I made a half-dozen small collages, now in the queue for finishing. Here are two of my favorites:

I'm putting together my application to join the Loading Dock Gallery. Production has begun for the approaching shows. September 27 and 28, you'll find me demonstrating screen printing at Lowell Open Studios . In October, I'll have a booth at the the RISD Alumnae sale in Providence, October 11. October 12 I share a booth at the Boston Handmade show at SoWa in Boston. In short, it's fall. The heat's lifted. It's time to work. And I can think again.