Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

coming ’round the corner…

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Defining Moments 23: The Aging Optimist

Today I photographed no. 23 in the Defining Moments series and put it up on my website. This piece, The Aging Optimist was another that sat in my head for weeks, figuring out how to design it. I had yet another roll of strips made of scraps from which I had started the series and I wanted to carry forth that same idea, although in the early work it referenced the Christian cross. On this piece I wanted it to represent the growing vine, the road traveled or any other metaphor for aging. I discovered though that the strip, already congested with many seams was not going to curve around and make a tight corner. So I cut it into sections, which almost resembles vertebrae and constructed my winding path from there.

strips that started the series

Now I am starting the text for no. 24. Again, all but done in my head, only to be done in real time and stitched. No. 25 is a true collaboration so no deadline stress! It will happen when it does. So there I am three plus years and 24 quilts later. A grand sense of accomplishment, indeed!

Throughout this project I have acquired both new skills and new equipment. The challenge remains to continue to create work that says something, tells a story, sparks conversation, gets people to think and put it out into the world. I do have my work cut out for me (haha)!

Meanwhile I have come up with a truly inspirational way to celebrate my 70th. Other than the spa day and dinner out, this is a way for me to spread the love and give back just a little bit. Stay tuned for the deets …


on deadlines…

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017


Today while looking through birthday cards for all my favorite winter babies, I came across one with the grim reaper on it. Somehow it did not strike me as excessively funny.¬†Yet as one who is rapidly approaching a new decade, a BIG birthday (as if they are not all big) I didn’t find it particularly amusing. The punchline however was something about life having a deadline.

Which got me to thinking about the word deadline having the word dead as part of it. We never say I have a lifeline on Thursday unless of course we are anticipating some sort of help, escape or spa appointment. No we say I have a deadline on Thursday.

For me, the past 3.5 years of my art-making has been driven by a deadline. This self-imposed deadline is to finish the Defining Moments series by my 70th birthday. The idea of this partnership was each of us was to design and sew 25 big quilts before my December 2017 birthday. I am now designing #23 and where my partner in this project is, remains a mystery!

At least semi-annually my husband has said that I had put a big whambo (he has his own dialect) on myself in setting this deadline. I just brushed it off, half thinking he was right while the other half was driven to make it.

Because I keep great documentation of my work, I am able to share this exciting bit of trivia with you. For this series, in 2014 I made 4 pieces, 2015 was 5 pieces, 2016 was 6 pieces and year to date I have made 7.5 ! So clearly I function best with a deadline, grim reaper or not!

I did get a hitch in my deadline driven rhythm this week though when my wondrous dream machine had major tension problems. Hubs and I spent the better part of two days recording non-existent numbers & running the gamut from no tension to high tension on both top and bobbin. All this achieved was sheer frustration, an enormous waste of thread and several lovely samplers such as this. Finally I threw up the white flag, contacted the dealer, got his input and voila today finished stitching the background of no.23. I am back in business!

Granted I am not going to make the deadline, but I am so close that I am very pleased! This leaves me wondering what my next deadline will be?

stress inducer 101

reflections on completion…

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

reflections on the Seine

As I round the corner on the final lap of Defining Moments, a three year series, I seem to be experiencing a wealth of emotion! ¬†I am so pleased with myself that I’ve nearly met this self-imposed goal of 25 large pieces in 3 years time. Realistically I know I will not meet it precisely, and likely run into January, yet I am not worried. It is not a competition! I have four pieces left to do and two require enormous prep.

Right now I am stitching the background of no. 22. The design is drafted and one of these evenings I will throw it on the overhead projector and trace it, making the template. I figure the background stitching and the template making will likely happen in the same 24 hours.

No. 23 is in my head, partially designed, partially not. No. 24 is also in my head and yes it is getting crowded in there. No. 24, while rather simplistic in design will require hours and hours of PhotoShop work. I started last week to make a sample and oy! My head hurt after a few hours, so I have decided I need to eat this elephant in bites. Ideally if I can spend two hours a day in PhotoShop designing this piece, it should be ready to print and stitch by the end of October! Then I will have two more months to make the last two pieces.

And yet…also jammed in there with all the ideas, between the how to manifest these ideas and the sense of extreme accomplishment is the what now? or the actual what then? Try as I might to stay in this moment, I am beginning to obsess about the work I hope I will make once this series is done! These thoughts actually started about 6-7 months ago, and I brushed them aside. I will think about that when I get there. Well, now the light in the tunnel is getting closer and I am beginning to fret. What if I have a long dry spell? What if? What if?

So for now, I just plod along, a third in procrastination mode, another third in get her done mode and the final third in what if? mode. I never realized until recently how much a plan and a goal inspires my creativity.

Was there ever a better time to live in the moment?


peeling the onion, in reverse…

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Defining Moments 12: Motherhood, background under the needle

I have often heard it said that getting to know someone is like peeling an onion. My new style of working is more like peeling the onion, in reverse. It is a layering process.

Ever since I succumbed to the siren call of the mid-arm my whole style of designing has changed. Now, because I can, I stitch each piece in layers. First I piece the background and then quilt that. No more skies that start and stop at the edge of a building. Now the sky goes all the way across as a sky does. No more fused parts loosening up and dog-earring while stitching an entire piece. Now the machine appliqué parts are fused and then stitched, in their own time. It is so much easier and truly remarkable how much more professional the work looks doing it this way.

stitching text

I am currently wrapping up Defining Moments 19: Motherhood which has been a bear to create. It was a bear because I could not figure out what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it.  I was reminded by my favorite aunt that motherhood for me was a challenge, and like all people, places or things that have challenged me in this life; they also have challenged me in the series. I was at a total loss for a design. I knew I needed to include Motherhood as a defining moment but oy, how? Finally I just sat down and started writing, free thinking if you will, just writing without editing. And what come out was remarkable.

free-writing, also screen the background

I wrote about how I never considered whether I wanted kids or not, because that is not what women in my generation did. We got married and had kids. It was the norm, it was expected. It’s what you did. Some might question how I could even admit that and yet I am here to tell you that my daughter, now grown, made¬†her own¬†decision not to have children, in her 20’s. When she told me, I thought what great courage and integrity it took to make that decision and do something about it. Perhaps her decision gave me permission to admit publicly I was uncertain if I should reproduce or not.

Another thing that came through the writing was my battle with postpartum depression. I struggled through it for many months and had never really spoken much of it, certainly not at that time. Those two issues alone make for a very strong piece about motherhood.

collage of daughter’s childhood images

Then I decided to then add something that personified the blessing that came to me through motherhood. So I made a collage on silk organza of some of the most wonderful photos of my daughter growing up. This adds the paradox of my motherhood experience; from all that worry and stress came this beautiful baby who grew into a woman of such integrity and conviction. She continues to be one of my greatest teachers, as I peel back the layers.

Happy Mothers Day!


Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

American southwest, likely Utah

shibori where snow meets desert

Last week we jetted down to New Orleans for a five-day Road Scholar program on the culture, music, food, mystique and more food. It was great fun and other than six freaky tornadoes hitting the state mid-week the weather was sublime.

I was my usual aerial photography fool coming and going with the best results on the trip South. The way the snow dusted the desert dazzled me with all these shibori like shapes.Then there was Lake Powell and the swamps surrounding NOLA.

lake powell, UT

aerial surface design, snow meets desert

swamp thang…see any gators?

Once we landed and acclimated we began a week long indulgence in music, sugar, butter, booze, cheese, fried and pure unadultered goodness! I had never really tasted Creole or Cajun food much, and thought it would be terribly hot and spicy, but truly Mexican is much hotter. I LOVED shrimp and grits, gumbo and shrimp etouffe. I skipped all booze and desserts until the last night, in an effort to outfox knee inflammation, which was successful. I also wore my new pure-torture right knee brace that allowed me to walk over two miles a day!

chocolate flourless cake at Muriel’s

On the last night I indulged in a cosmo and the¬†chocolate flourless cake! It¬†was SO worth it, although I had planned to have just one bite, which proved impossible! ¬†Oh wait… I also had a killer sorbet in a fancy spun¬†sugar bowl at Commander’s Palace. But that was it. I passed up booze, cheesecake, bread pudding, bananas foster, pralines and pecan pie for 5 days. So really I was quite disciplined! (insert pat on the back!)

sorbet in spun sugar bowl

shrimp & grits, Commandeers Palace

Other than the food and the music we also visited

cast iron gate

…the Museum of Southern Art, Louisiana State Museum and WWII Museum, which I boycotted. I have had it with war museums but really enjoyed the art of self-taught artists and the Katrina and Mardi Gras exhibits. We also had a thorough tour of the city, including the cemeteries, parks and sculpture garden. We even learned the interesting story of how the dead are buried, and moved in New Orleans.

tombs at St. Mary’s Cemetery

I loved these sculptures¬†the most and mostly¬†did not write down the artists’ names. We learned the difference between Creole and Cajun, cast iron and forged iron gates, and how resilient these people are who live not only with devastating hurricanes but a random tornado too. And we were blown away by the Southern hospitality. Never ever have we met such friendly & gracious people.

Overflow by Juame Plensa

Overflow, detail

sculpture by Korean artist in Sculpture Garden…incredible!

detail, korean sculpture






All in all it was a good and fun trip!


Saturday, January 7th, 2017

detail of screen-printed wedding dress, lace and bridesmaid dress

In 2012 right after my Dad died and I was recovering from my second knee replacement, I felt like I needed a lifeline. I had been ruminating for at least two years beforehand¬†about creating¬†a mixed media women’s art group. So I chose 7 regional artists to join me, and six accepted. One from my past life in fiber, another three I knew from the arts council¬†and¬†functions there, while others¬†I knew of their work but had never met them.

It was important to me that they be working in different media than I and that they were already established, with a list of juried exhibitions, website, sales history etc. I had been in groups where I was the only one with that history and there was nothing for me to learn. I wanted more! We had our first meeting, set up ground rules and started right in inspiring each other with our work and process.

Now nearly 5 years since, the group has redefined our intention, seen changes and moves, lost members, gained members, retaining three original and settled¬†into a very comfortable¬†dynamic.¬†Now we are a group of six, three here and three in Sonoma and it just feels so right. We rotate each month, meeting in each other’s homes and/or studios. Although my original intention was fewer fiber and more other media, we now are comprised of five who work with fiber (paper and cloth) and one who works with metal;¬†yet none of us does exactly the same work. And all of us have long marriages, which that in of itself in today’s world is¬†both unusual and spectacular!¬†One of the things I enjoy¬†most about this group is the wisdom that transfers between¬†us as we each move in,¬†out and through our individual creative processes.

Last week I had been asked, by a visiting artist friend, how much time I spend in the studio?¬†She asked me if I work in the studio every day? I laughed…hardly! It varies I said but I guesstimate I work in the studio on average 7-10 hours a week. And yet that seems so completely inaccurate to me so perhaps¬†I should keep track. Or maybe count the times I walk past the door?

In¬†yesterday’s art group meeting the subject of studio time came up.¬†Not so much from the how much time do you spend in the studio part but more from the how much time is spent in contemplation and research for each new work? It was then that I really¬†comprehended¬†that so¬†many of my waking hours are spent contemplating the message for¬†each piece in¬†the¬†Defining Moments series. In¬†addition there is thoughtful consideration of how, as in technique to implement that message so when the viewer looks at the piece they understand what I¬†am conveying.

A lot more time goes into thinking about the construction. I used to be very spontaneous in my work, and still am to some extent; but there is also careful thought¬†of just how to construct it to get the most impact; and that thought occurs everywhere, in the shower, at the gym, while driving, ‘watching’ TV, when I should be sleeping, etc. Then there is the stitching. As I am incorporating more hand-stitching into my work¬†I ponder a lot about that.

Most recently I have also dealt with my¬†inner perfection critic… just how perfect these stitches must be?! I used to say I was a recovering perfectionist but clearly there is more work to be done on that front! I find it rather¬†remarkable that I am so drawn to hand-stitching, and sometimes actually crave it, yet when I do it, it’s so tight. A good metaphor for the state of my brain perhaps. So there is more thinking about relaxing¬†which is truly¬†ironic, although a good overall trait to possess.¬†When all of this is added up it seems I spend hours and hours and hours on the process, but maybe just 7-10 hours a week actually applying hand to fabric.

hand-stitching my headscarf through 4 layers of lace, cloth and batting

That said I am putting the final stitches, by hand, onto #16 which is about our marriage, which truly was a defining moment in my life. Because I thought I would be through by now, #17 is being drafted and #18 insisted on 3 am contemplation last night.  So progress is being made on the final 9 pieces of this series, which I still very much enjoy even if it takes up most of my headspace.

So how much time do I spend on my art weekly? How many hours are there in a week?



stop making small…

Friday, November 18th, 2016
scrap purses

scrap purses

One of the problems of being creative in a capitali$t society is people always say you could sell that. As an exhibiting member in artists’ co-ops, that has often been music to my ears as I have had an outlet for $tuff I could $ell!

It is also appealing from the sense that it is a great way to gain exposure for my large work while smaller work pays the rent. And I know they are some who mass-produce small items to make a profit in their respective galleries and good for them. But¬†I have long struggled with the idea of making ‚Äėstuff‚Äô just to $ell.

For me it has always been a huge investment of my time and materials with little gratification in return. I am constantly retraining my brain so that when someone says you could sell that, I take it simply as a compliment and go no further with it. And yet I forget and once again find myself in sweatshop assembly line hell. Seemingly I needed this reminder once again.

I started sewing these small purses as a fun, quirky way to use up scraps. Each one is unique, one of a kind etc. They take on average 90 mins to construct, from scraps, purchased buttons and cord straps. Initially I sold many, which justified to me the rent I paid to show my larger work; the work that resonates in my soul; the true reason I am an artist.

Last summer I received a phone call from someone who had picked up my biz card in the gallery. She wanted to know if I would sew her a custom scrap bag in specific colors to go with (fill in the blank.) I simply said no! She seemed shocked that I would say no! Would I not be grateful that someone liked my work so much that I would welcome a custom order? What kind of ingrate am I anyway? Do I not appreciate the below minimum wage I am making for these fine bags? Sensing¬†her palpable shock I added that I merely sew¬†these to use up scraps from my large ‚Äėmuseum quality‚Äô work; and that making the bags was not my primary creative endeavor. She found a quick way to hang up. I felt liberated!

Then an artist acquaintance called suggesting I take my tote bags to a nearby boutique run by a friend of her sister’s neighbor’s brother-in-law, twice removed. I could sell those in this shop! I told her I wasn’t interested. I have been down that long narrow retail hallway before, selling hand-dyed, screen printed silk scarves. It is not what I want to do with my time. She was quite annoyed that I did not relish this golden retail opportunity!

I have managed to find the strength deep within to just say NO to painting shoes for sale. How many times have I heard you could sell those while wearing my painted chucks? I have painted them for friends, because I don’t mind doing that, but no way am I going to subject myself to hours of fumes for the almighty $. And besides do you have these in pink in a size 6? NO.

This said, recently I was asked to sew up a bunch more of the scrap bags for holiday sales at the gallery and elsewhere. Earlier this year I had sewn a bunch of ‚Äėblanks‚Äô i.e. the pieced scrap backs so essentially the work was already half done. And yet I could not pry myself away my current series to sew these little bags. Finally forcing myself to do it, the first one took me nearly 2 hours to get back into the sweatshop assembly line groove. Once I got a rhythm going it was better but I kept feeling like I did not want to be doing this.

You know how sometimes you just get a feeling about something, but you keep ignoring it? Well this time it took two artist friends, in the span of two days to tell me to stop making small stuff! Stop making stuff that other people want me to make and make stuff that I want to make! DUH.

Of course then the daughter-of-the-war-bride steps in and says, yeah, but…or as I like to abbreviate yebbit.. what am I to do with all this stuff I have made (that never sold although you could sell that?!) This is where the helpful people step in and say, you could open an Etsy shop! Yeah, that is also what I don’t want to do. I want to get out of the small stuff biz entirely. So for now I will just put it all away or I may just donate it to charity before year’s end and take a tax deduction. Yes I could do that!

Some of the small stuff I have made under the guise of you could sell that is… iPad bags & large tote bags made from early quilts, matted collages,

matted collages

matted collages

portfolio folders collaged with batik & painted papers & foreign newspapers; fabric postcards and note cards. The latter sell, some of the former has sold but there has also been a lot of could I get one in red and black? Could you make these in a smaller size? Could you make four for me to choose from?

quilted tote bags

quilted tote bags

So this latest round of spectacular scrap bags are a limited edition! I am finished thinking small (she says optimistically). I LOVE the museum quality work I am doing. I am done with small.

As a friend says…NO is a complete sentence! So I continue to learn to play attention to that inner nudge and take better care of myself. After all that is pricele$$.




great news…

Monday, September 26th, 2016
detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

detail, Defining Moments 12: No Means NO

Apparently I did not blog post earlier about this piece and now I have very wonderful news. The Cliff Notes version is Defining Moments 12: No Means NO has been juried into the biennial Quilt National 2017.

With just 11% of the entries chosen for the 2017 exhibit it is a highly competitive process to have one’s work accepted. I have entered other years and my work never¬†made the cut. The last time I entered was 2009 as knee replacements stole my attention after that. This year I entered just the one piece as I¬†felt it conveyed¬†a very important message as well as good crafts(wo)manship. Traditionally the rules have disallowed online publication of said work before the exhibit opens, so the piece is not on my website nor have I posted it in total anywhere. But I will give you a taste, a detail of the hand-stitching which made this work so remarkable.

The design¬†evolved¬†when the Stanford swimmer got such a lenient sentence for his sexual assault on campus. His ‘victim’ wrote a very profound letter which stirred my repressed feelings about my own campus rape over¬†50 years ago. I got really angry, and I felt shame (for not reporting it). I¬†was just about to¬†commit to fight for social justice for women on college campuses nationwide when¬†I realized I hate being an activist! I’d rather make art. So make art I did. I made a new #12, squeezing it between two previous pieces in the series.

I screen printed my own story to white cotton, slashed to represent the shattering of my sense of personal safety and trust, and then hand-stitched like crazy. As I neared the bottom of the piece my stitching became much more intense and deliberate. Afterwards I realized that was old emotion leaking though.

There has been some rumbling on social media from artists whose work was declined. Some say no one wants to see narrative work, no one wants to be told a story. They want to see only beautiful quilts, work they would love to hang in their home. To these artists I say three things.

One, everyone is different. If we were all the same and made all the same work, how bloody boring would that be? Secondly, while I appreciate a beautiful quality piece suitable for the living room as much as the next person, I feel storytelling/narrative work also has a place. It takes great courage to excavate these old stories but in doing so¬†we give others permission to think about and tell their own…and everyone has a story! This work starts conversation. Just think what a different world we would live in if more people felt permission to speak their truth instead of bury it in addiction or aggression. And finally,¬†it is simply¬†good¬†karma to be happy for your colleagues’ success.


and another one bites the dust…

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016
detail, Shadow Self

detail, Shadow Self

This month¬†I finished¬†Defining Moments #11. This piece is titled¬†Shadow Self¬†and hopefully is the last piece I ever do about being shortened. I wanted to make it simple yet impactful and¬†know¬†I accomplished that. I screen-printed text about¬†mixed messages and body image onto both silk organza and commercial batiks. I took the 6″ slice from the current profile and embroidered it to the shadow. The most challenging aspect of this piece was the stitching as it is a whopping 76″ long. I keep¬†pondering¬†investing in a bigger machine, especially so when fighting with this much yardage plus batt.

I continue to love working on this series and soon will be halfway through it! Now I am ruminating on how to apply text most effectively for #12. One of the most remarkable things about completing this series so far is how many materials have come from my own stash and collection. I really have not purchased much cloth at all;  although I did buy an entire roll of batting!

And coming up soon… the opening receptions and events of the Diaspora exhibit. I am honored to have my work included in this 5 month long exhibit at the renowned Textile Museum in Washington, DC . My daughter and I will go have a girls’ weekend and enjoy the festivities! Life is good.

Stories of Migration: Contemporary Artists Interpret Diaspora
April 16‚ÄďSeptember 4, 2016
In this juried and invitational exhibition, forty-four textile artists use the medium to comment on migration: historic events that scattered communities across continents; today’s accounts of refugees from Syria, Africa, and Latin America, and others adapting to new homes; and personal accounts of family members.¬†Co-organized with Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) and with assistance from GW‚Äôs Diaspora Program in the Elliott School of International Affairs.¬†Learn more at¬†


11, 12 and new…

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

I recall my grandmother at about my current age telling my 20 yr old self that time passes more quickly the older one gets. At the time I just thought, well, she’s old. Now I get it and I see it everywhere, like on laundry day. Is it really 12 days since I last did laundry? On the Wii Fit, what? 5 days since I last used it? Or today, as the second month of the New Year draws¬†to a close and I haven’t blogged for a month?

What I have been doing this past month is working on the collaborative series, doing Arts Guild board biz/lead communicator for our big fundraiser, and searching for a new rescue pup.

Defining Moments #11 in process

Defining Moments #11 in process

I am now stitching #11 which I hope will be the last piece I ever do about my surgeries. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to make a profound yet simple statement and I am thrilled to say that has been accomplished. What also feels like closure to the tale is the backing fabric is from the early Tall Girl Series art cloth I designed. I plan to use more fabrics from that series for the facings and sleeve as well. As number 12 is percolating in my brain I am thinking a lot about hand-writing the stories to cloth rather than printing them. With a total of 25 to do, coming up almost to the halfway point is very gratifying!

In the meantime my exemplary skills as a volunteer were heralded in the latest issue of the SAQA Journal. And I have been worker bee extraordinaire for the annual Arts Guild off Sonoma REPO show. This is a very quirky show comprised of donated artwork made of minimally 70% recycled materials. Over seventy artists are donating work. The show is up March 5-26 . Check the website for details.

Keeping Up Appearances #11, vintage cotton tablecloth

Keeping Up Appearances #11, vintage cotton tablecloth

I am submitting two pieces of the Keeping Up Appearances series; #11 and #12 to REPO. ¬†KUA #11¬†is a dye-painted screen-printed vintage 50’s cotton tablecloth. When viewed close-up the stencil printing of that era is apparent through the surface design. In addition KUA #12 was also dye-painted and screen-printed with etiquette text on mid-century pink and red monogrammed linen dinner napkins.

Finally, ever since we lost our old dog Millie last summer I have been perusing rescue sites. We rescued/then ¬†surrendered a jack russell mix last fall. It was heartbreaking and I was pretty sure then I was finished with rescuing dogs. As defiant I was in my resolve I continued to search and last weekend cast a wider net finding exactly what I was looking for…a terrier mix that was neither pittie nor chihuahua. So this week we went to Monterey and adopted this wire haired sweet girl we have named Mopsy.



And so we begin anew…she is already in training to be my ever faithful studio companion!