Thursday, December 31, 2009

Full Moon Dreamboard/Word of the Year

Metamorphosis 2010

Jamie Ridler over at Jaime Ridler Studios, asks what our dreams are for the new year on this last blue moon of 2009.  I chose to incorporate my word of the year “Metamorphosis”, and the perfect images popped up in the first magazine I looked through.  The affirmations are from an old copy of Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life”, purchased for a pittance at the library bulk bag sale, and perfectly state what I am intending for the new year.

Wishing you all the best in the upcoming new year, and looking forward to sharing more of the journey with you. 

Chicken for New Years? Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!

Since I received the eBay award to purchase my laptop last winter, I have been able to accomplish a great many things online that hadn’t been possible until then.  More updates to my Etsy, easier and faster queries to editors, even a NaNoWriMo novel last month.  But the most important thing I accomplished was the massive web surfing and reading of blogs connecting with people online, like you, my readers, Naomi at Itty Biz and the amazing Havi over at The Fluent Self.

One thing I really enjoy participating in at Havi’s blog is her Friday ritual of listing the hard and the good that happened during the week. She calls it the Friday Chicken.  I have found that as the weeks have passed, somewhat like the law of attraction people who tell you that what you focus on increases, the good has outweighed the hard, even in these difficult times.

Today she posted a Chicken for the Year, like Chicken of the Sea, but with less tuna.  In lieu of Chickening at the comments over there, I am Chickening here with you.

So 2009, this one’s for you:

The Hard:

The massive ice storm in late January which knocked out our power and our water for two days.  I could’ve dealt with the power being out that long just fine.  I do handwork, so could still create, we have a kerosene heater, and it was cold enough to keep the food on the back porch in a cooler.  But when the water went out, that was a deal breaker.

field at the end of our street

It looked so pretty, though!

Marty came thisclose to being offered a temp job in July.  The interviews all went well, the guy really liked him.  We were sure this was it.  Then we found out the job went to someone else.  It was spirit crushing and put a damper on all of August.

At some point we’re going to have to replace our kitchen cabinets.  That point being when funding becomes available.  We knew there was a problem with the sink, and it obviously is still livable, but it has become a “must do sooner than later” type of thing.

And I’m going to tell on myself here.  As much as I am happy that my friends in my art group are showing and selling their work, it has been hard to watch them sell their work while mine comes home from the shows we all were in.  Part of me knows that you can’t really compare why one piece of art speaks to a person over another.  But that part of me that comes out late at night when I don’t know how the bills are going to be met next month wonders if maybe it’s because their work is less expensive, and if only you’d lower your prices my work would sell as well.  Hard, hard, hard. 

The Good:

My book came out in the spring.  Well, not technically my book, but the book I have eight projects in, which was a really big deal, considering the initial query said they were only looking for 40 projects total.  1/5 of a book of my designs!  Yay!  And it is a beautiful book, too.  The editors at Lark did a great job putting this one together.

My other book came out in September.  Yes, again, not technically, but I have four projects in this one, and the beaded votive holders even made the cover this time.  Another great job by the folks at Lark.

Netflix .  Need I say more?  Thanks to the wonder of streaming video and my laptop here, I can watch endless episodes of Dr. Who while stitching on new projects.  Oh, and they send videos to your house as well. 

Thanks to my Netflix account, my son and I had a wonderful July exploring the work of  Charles and Ray Eames (check out their videos, I am especially inspired by the one featuring their studio space) and Sister Corita Kent .  I took some leaps in my work, and we collaborated on a piece which sold at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles “High Fiber Under Five” show.


African Masks III, design by Izzy Stern  2009

Getting back into some physical movement.  Not as much as I’d like, but more than I had been.  Marty found a program which enabled him to go back to school for his CPA, and while he was in class, I made time to head out to the bike path.  I’ve also incorporated more yoga and the Dance of Shiva into my days.

Connecting with new friends and old family through social networking (hi Emily!).  Finding out I probably had more in common with some of my high school peers than I thought at the time.  Being grateful for the opportunity to make up for lost time.

Then there are the massive little drops of good that manage to combine into a big pond of good.  Having pieces headed out to shows in January, being invited to exhibit at the library, being featured in the Athens County visitors guide, more book proposals, more pieces being featured in other books, winning the award at the Ohio State Fair Fine Arts competition.  All great things, and all the things that are important to list because they are small and tend to get forgotten in the daily grind of making more work and getting it out there.  And lots of good to carry into the new year, getting 2010 off to a great start.

So there you have it, my 2009 Year End Chicken.  It’s a great ritual and opportunity to connect with yourself and others, and I heartily recommend you check it out, and try a little chicken yourself.  Who knows? You could be surprised at what you find out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Alice and Friends

Like many of us at this time of year, I am in the process of taking stock of the year about to end, and making plans for the year to come.  One of my plans for 2010 include completing a series of images based on Alice in Wonderland as well as other fantastic creatures of myth and imagination, then finding a venue to exhibit the pieces.  The name of the series is “Alice and Friends.”

queen of hearts in process

Queen of Hearts, approximately 14” x 14”, embroidery on handmade felt.

queen of hearts detail

Detail of the stitching.

queen of hearts almost complete

Everything stitched, next up is the glue the spots onto the mushrooms and then border the piece.

Next up:

frog prince in process

The Frog Prince, still in process.

In the process of finding the right color floss in my copious stash, I found some wonderful grays that are begging to be shells in a mermaid piece, and I have plans to make several of my previous quilts into embroideries in this method.  I am very excited about this series, and looking forward to finding venues for it in the new year.  What are you looking forward to in 2010? 

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What It Kind of Looks Like Outside Right Now

Winter White full 

Winter White, 2009  Patchwork with upholstery fabric and commercial cottons, crocheted applique

Winter White Det full

Detail of the patchwork and crochet.

Winter has a lot more color in the landscape than it initially appears.  The flash of red cardinals, the remainder of green moss, the rich textures of all of the trees that line the hills that surround my home.  Add a misty layer of a snowfall and you have the perfect composition.

If one has the pleasure of being snowed in with no place to go, it is fun to recreate the landscape in fabric.  Just make sure the power and heat stay on!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

That’s What She Said

Friends don't let friends speak crappily.

I was at an art group meeting on Monday.  That in itself was a rare thing, as I have been avoiding the meetings in general over the past three years.  However, one member recently lost her husband and has become housebound due to her own illness, and since we were meeting at her home, I chose to attend.

We did our usual sharing of our work and updates on what we were doing professionally (many of us have had sales of our work, and I had just turned in a project for another book).  It was all fairly light and fluffy, usual fare, but then our friend shared her journal with us, and how much harder the past month had become for her.  Before we knew it, we were all passing the Kleenex.  It was like that cemetery scene in “Steel Magnolias” , except no one was there to tell us to “Hit Ouiser”. 

When we all were able to catch our breath, my friend said “You need to enjoy what you have today, because you just don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”  (She said this in part because not only has she had issues in her own life, but another member had a major house fire, and my husband has been unemployed for three years, and another member had a heart attack earlier this year).

And whether she intended it or not, I heard the unspoken “Because tomorrow you could be hit by catastrophe.”

Which is why I had been avoiding the meetings in general for the past three years.  It was easier for me to avoid the meetings all together than to stand up and say “Well, tomorrow could bring something great as well, couldn’t it?”  (Which, no, I did not say in that room on Monday, but I did say it in my head; and now I am saying it here).  Or to say “I believe we can sell our work and make a living at it” or “No, actually these hats are for galleries, not to keep my family warm, but thank you for thinking of them.”

I let my friends speak crappily.  It bothered me, and I vaguely knew why, but today this came through my inbox, and helped me put a finger to it.  I will have more to say in a future post, but for now let me close with this post from Christine Kane, who really sums it up:

Watch Your Language: 7 Tips for Big Results
by Christine Kane

A few years ago, I was in a car with the promoter of one of my performances. He had picked me up at the airport and was driving me to my hotel. On the way, we talked guitars. We got onto the subject of Olson Guitars, arguably the best guitar in the whole world. At one point, the promoter said, "Yea, well, in my entire life I'll never own an Olson guitar."
There was a time when I'd let a remark like this slide on by, even adding my own "me either" to the mix.
Now, I can't. Yoda steps into my head and says, (in his Yoda voice) "So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done."
So, I turned to the promoter and said, "You are NOT allowed to say that!"
This is because I know the power of language. When you know that words become things, it's hard to let language slide.
I can't help it. I have a rule:
Friends don't let friends speak crappily.
Language is powerful. Words can create reality. Even if my promoter friend doesn't know how on earth he'd ever get his guitar, it doesn't mean he should cut off the possibility with his own words.
If you're wondering how to begin watching your words, here are 7 practical language principles for becoming a better creator of your life.
1 - Eliminate "never" and "always."
Never and always are words of hysteria. "I always mess everything up!" "I'll never figure this out!" "I'll never get an Olson Guitar."
First off, it's not true. If you always messed everything up, you wouldn't have made it out of the womb.
And second off, extreme words are designed to hook you. It's just your emotions taking a joyride. You're more powerful than that.
2 - Use AND instead of BUT.
"But" dismisses the statement before it. "And" includes it. For instance, "That's a good article, but it needs some editing" isn't nearly as encouraging as "That's a good article, AND it needs some editing."
"I love you, but…" is another great example of the dismissive power of "but."
3 - Avoid "Should."
Should is a heinous word for many reasons. It is victim-speak. It disempowers its object. It negates desires, thereby making it harder to make choices. It adds a nebulous energy to the decision making process. Use empowered language instead: "I could…" "I would…" "I am choosing to," "I would like to," "I don't want to," or "You might consider…"

4 - Stop calling yourself depressed.

Also stop allowing anyone to tell you that you are depressed. When you call yourself "depressed" or "obsessive compulsive" or "ADHD" or whatever - you're claiming this thing. You're calling it forth with the most powerful two words in our language: "I am." That creates very little option for the transformation of this condition.
5 - Delete the word "hate" from your vocabulary.
"Hate" has lots of energy. When you use it, you send lots of energy out into the very thing you "hate." Even if it's negative energy, it's still a powerful force, adding its charge to that thing. You're also depleting this energy from your own spirit as you say it.
6 - Be "great." Or "wonderful."
A disease of the creative temperament is a belief that we must be authentic at all costs. So we can't answer a simple "How are you?" without delving into an in-depth scan of our emotional temperature.
Try this instead: When people ask you how you're doing, just say, "I'm great!"
I used to think if I said this, then I better have a good reason for saying it, like I just won the lottery or something. I thought it would make me look suspicious, and people would start to wonder if something was wrong with me. But then I did it. And you know what? Most people don't care why you're great. You're saying it for you.
7 - Pay attention to the music of your speech.
You know how some people? They talk in question marks? And you have no idea why? But it makes you think you shouldn't really rely on them? And it makes you not want to hire them?
The music of your language says a lot about you. If you let your sentences droop like Eeyore, ("Thanks for noticing me.") or if you do the uncertain question mark language, take note of what attitudes are causing this. These patterns are created for a reason. Even if it feels like faking it at first, generate confidence as you speak.


Please do! Just be sure to include this complete blurb with it:

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 8,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at

See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Every Wednesday, Jamie Ridler asks "what do you wish?" This week's theme is "What do you wish to embrace?"

This is only the second time I have answered her question on my blog, not because the questions are not intriguing, nor because I don't have any wishes, but primarily because I always feel like "What if I choose the wrong thing?"

This week, the answer came immediately. I wish to embrace uncertainty. I have been running from uncertainty for over three years, and it turned into a long range marathon in December of 2006. I am stopping now, and turning to face uncertainty, embrace her and welcome her into my life. Because, really, no matter how certain we think we are about our future plans, what we are going to do tomorrow, even today, that certainty can be swept away at a moment's notice. Life happens, jobs are lost, people get sick. Good things can happen unexpectedly as well. It's all part of the uncertainty.

So this week, my wish is to embrace uncertainty, and to enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Painting, A Love Story

When I was a kid, my dad would draw the most goofy drawings on our bills before mailing them.  He painted larger versions of them on cars, making a “Dart Bird” on our neighbor’s black Dodge Dart, and decorating my uncle’s panel van when they drove down from Minnesota to visit one summer (when you have eight children in the family there weren’t a lot of choices of vehicle back then; mini-vans hadn’t been invented yet).

When I was five, he taught me how to draw a hot-dog horse (using the shape of a hot dog to draw a horse) and when I was eleven, he took me to the real art supply store (Lewis Art Supply on Woodward Avenue) and bought me a real sketchbook and a set of Buffalo markers.

I drew, and drew, and drew some more, filling that sketchbook and many more after that.  I loved the control that drawing gave me.  It was also neat and portable.  Painting seemed to be something scary and different, at least the kind done with the Grumbacher tube colors.  I also remember my grandfather asking when I was going to start painting, and giving me my first quart of linseed oil in a green and white checkerboard tin, even though I had absolutely no clue where to even begin to use it.

When I was seventeen, I received a set of acrylics for my birthday, and played with them some.  There wasn’t the control I had with my drawing, and my attempt to recreate a photograph of luminous purple grapes fell flat.  It was the time of budget cuts and jobs moving to Mexico and there weren’t art programs in my school, and my dad was lucky to still be working the afternoon shift as Shop Steward in his job as a metal patternmaker.  I had to learn it all on my own, and I gave up and returned to my beloved pencil.

Over the years, I kept dancing with the idea of painting.  I loved the idea of being able to sweep my arm and create a line of color that followed my motion.  I also loved the photo-realism of Audrey Flack and Ralph Goings .  I’d buy paints and canvases, and play a little, but then put them away, distracted by life and fear.

Recently I began painting again, inspired by the work of Lynda Barry.  I gave myself permission to play, permission to make mistakes, permission to take time to learn.  I have been having a blast.

I posted some of the paintings earlier this year, from my journal.  Some have gone on to my Etsy shop, and now I am also painting on canvas.

Just Dessert

Just Dessert, 2009  6” x 8” 


Harvest, 2009, 6” x 8”

mom mom's kitchen

Mom Mom’s Kitchen, 2009, 12” x 9”

Each piece started with a blank pre-stretched canvas.  I made color photocopies of either images of my work, or of old family photos, and collaged them to the base using matte medium.  This gave a nice under painting, and adds to the content of the work when the image ghosts through the top layers.  I drew on the canvas using my trusty India ink, and once that was dry, I painted the image using acrylic paints (a mix of brands I’ve collected over the years, but I am trying to move to Golden brand as I need to replace paint).  Then I coat them with a layer of matte medium and two coats of varnish to seal. 

Having the foundation of images already in place made the blank canvas a little less intimidating.  It also helped the subsequent layers have a depth of color.  I like the way the lines of each individual copy can still be seen in the finished work, giving it a quilt-like texture that I miss in traditional painting.  Right now working this way is the perfect melding of the control of drawing and the looseness of painting, feeding both those needs in my soul.

Next up, paintings without foundation images!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do You Know the Way To San Jose?

The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles is hosting its “High Fiber Under Five” exhibit and sale, starting tomorrow and running through November 8th.  This is an excellent opportunity to acquire works of art from many well-known fiber artists for $500 or less per piece.  Whether you are just starting to collect art, or are looking to add to your collection, this show promises something for everyone.

I chose to send pieces based on my drawing experiments of this summer, as well as the piece which is based on my photo from the banner above.  Here is a sneak preview:

garden party II 300

Garden Party II, approximately 16” x 20”, available starting tomorrow for $450 This piece includes my hand-dyed and hand-painted twill, fabrics from the Stonehenge collection by Northcott fabrics, as well as machine cording.


African Masks I, 9” x 6”, but sewn to a 10” x 8” canvas, as are the other three pieces in the African Masks series.  This one includes shibori from Debb and Michael Lunn, and commercial cottons.  I collaborated with my son on this piece, he created the original drawing on which the quilt is based.  This piece, and the other three pieces in the series, are available for $150 each.


African Masks II, commercial cottons, machine quilting.


African Masks III, silk suiting fabric and commercial cottons.

Unfortunately I was running right up to the deadline to finish African Masks IV, so do not have an image of it.  It is red cotton on a base of golden yellow silk dupioni, also machine quilted.

I really enjoyed making these pieces and can see making more small pieces as studies for larger works.  I am grateful to the SJMQ&T for inviting me to submit work for this show, it provided me an opportunity to try something new, and for a good cause.  (All proceeds above the artist’s commission goes to help fund the museum and its programs.)

If you are interested in acquiring one of these works of art, you may call the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles at 408.971.0323 x14 after the sale starts on November 3.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Taking the Leap

Like many artists, I keep a journal/sketchbook.  I started this practice in earnest nearly 15 years ago, when, tired of buying a new sketchbook only to end up giving it to my children to draw in, I decided to keep the sketchbook no matter what.  I gave myself permission to make the “worst junk in the world” as Natalie Goldberg said.  I didn’t judge what I put in the book, I didn’t tear pages out, and until recently I didn’t go back into old pages to rework them or cover up stuff I decided was too personal for possible public consumption. 

My journal has been idea generator, confidant, and catch-all over the years.  I put it aside three years ago after the tumultuous spring, summer, and fall of surgeries, job losses and meltdowns.  I missed it, a lot.  I kept trying to come back to it, because I knew that working in such a safe space would help me heal from all the trauma my family and I had been through.

Finally I found the wonderful book The Creative Entrepreneur, by Lisa Sonora Beam, and by chance she was offering a summer special on her online journal workshops.  I signed up for the PowerFULL Magical Visual Journal workshop, found a wonderful book at a local art supply, and I was off.  Over the course of the past three months I worked that book until it was full, and in the process I was creating more work than I have created in a very long time, having the time of my life, and making work that I wanted to share with the world.

Selling completed art journals is probably possible, but not something I want to do at the moment, and I loved some of the work so much that I wanted to take it “offline” as it were and make some free-standing work.  The watercolors I posted last month inspired some such paintings, and now I have also expanded the repertoire to work on canvas. 

snail painting three

Untitled, in process.  The background is a collage of color copies of a photo I took.  I then painted the image on using India ink, and after that dried, I went back in with acrylics.  The faces on the underlying photo aren’t as obvious in person, I was surprised and pleased when they popped out in the photo.  I think the canvas size is 10” x 20” but I am not positive.

snail painting four

Here I am auditioning the piece with a separate snail I made by sewing unryu paper and painted paper to a Pellon base and then trimming.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to put him (her?) on, but after seeing the photos I think that I will attach this snail to the piece. 

cake painting

This piece is made in the same manner, but I used copies of an old family photo as the base.  One thing I’m learning in this process is that it is easier to “read” the ink drawing if the base image is color instead of black and white.  The lines tend to get lost in the darker areas of the photo on a black and white image.  It is on a canvas that measures 6” x 8”.

Izzy also got into the act and has been painting also.  We are planning at Etsy update, first tomorrow for some watercolors, then around October 15 with sculptures.

izzys pumpkin king two

Scary new territory, but fun, especially when you have such an enthusiastic studio mate working by your side.  I already have the next two pieces planned, and am looking forward to heading back to Blick for some larger canvases.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Excellent Opportunity

One of the members in my SAQA region called me last Thursday with a request.  Ellen Anne Eddy creates marvelous embroidered imagery and is teaching a workshop in Carmel, Indiana, November 2-5.  Spaces are still available if you are in the area.  I have admired Ellen’s work for years, and the techniques taught in her first book Thread Magic, helped me create my Picky Butterfly piece for The Artful Storybook.

You can view the brochure at the Embroiderers’ Guild website .  More information on the class will be up soon at Ellen’s site where you can also see images of her beautiful work.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009



It seems like September has only begun and here it is September 16th already.  I have been working on several deadlines, one of which is the upcoming High Fiber show at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.  No work will be over $500, and I am planning on sending 6 pieces.  The piece above is one of them, based on the photo I took at the Franklin Park Conservatory.  You can see the actual photo in my blog banner.


I started the piece by cutting some Pellon to approximately 16” x 20” and freehand drawing the log, the spiral and the leaf onto it.  I then appliqued the parts onto a piece of hand-dyed fabric I made over the summer.  The tree is made from the Northcott stone collection, as is the spiral.  The leaf is composed of African brocade and twill that I painted with Setacolour paints.  The splotchy effect on that fabric was made by sprinkling kosher salt onto the piece while it was still wet.


I did freemotion zigzag over satin cording for the vines in the background, and made zigzag cording with strips of hand-dyed fabric for the vines in the foreground.  I also used freemotion zigzag to add details to the log and the leaves.  The background was just random freemotion quilting, I am not an old hand at the “stipple” look yet.


Here is a detail of the log, with a better view of the bark details and the machine quilting.  I am really pleased with how this piece turned out, and excited to begin the next to last piece, which will be three dimensional waterlilies on another piece of hand-dyed twill.  But first I have to finish Garden Party I (the green water towers from August) for the local Women in Appalachia show deadline.

When it rains, it pours.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fabric Gardens

Usually when I do something like dye fabric, the product sits around for months or sometimes years before I actually use it.  Not because the fabric isn’t beautiful, but because I am afraid that once I use it all up, it will be gone, and where will I get more?  This is especially true of colors that I don’t know how to duplicate (like the inadvertent rust fabric of earlier this month), or just love so much that I can’t decide which *one* project it will go into.

This month has been somewhat different.  I realized that I can buy more dye when it is time.  I also was not able to run out and buy yardage at the quilt shop, and had to use what was on hand.  This is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.  There was a time when I would use the lack of being able to buy new stuff as an excuse to not make anything, and I am really amazed and grateful at how far I’ve been able to come from that old unhealthy pattern.

So far, with my new hand-dyed fabrics, I have made purses:

octopus sun and snail one

A sample for the private class I taught:


And an embroidery piece inspired by the ink paintings I’ve been doing in my journal:

inspired by ink paintings

I had, however, been putting off the most frightening project of all, an art quilt made using the fabrics.  I wasn’t sure I had enough commercial prints in my stash to make a larger piece, and I wasn’t sure the colors I’d made were right. 

I finally did get off my fence, and started to put together this:

green towers process one

Untitled as of yet, though it reminds me of  the early spring greens of the local cornfields, and of the verdant growth of the plants at the Franklin Park Conservatory.

green tower process two

Pinning the appliqued pieced to a base of the new hand-dyed fabric.  I also used some fabric I painted using Setacolour Paints on another fabric day this month. 

green towers process three

Three of the towers appliqued to the backing, one to go!

green tower process four

Sewing the fourth tower to the background.  I use a basic zigzag with a darning foot so I can make curves easily.  I love the needle down function on my Pfaff 2054 most of all, I don’t know how I made these pieces without it.

All of the fabric used either came from stash or was the new hand-dyed fabric I made earlier this month (which also was stash, I just needed to put the stashed dye onto the stashed fabric).  The finished piece will measure somewhere around 44” square, and I am in the process of quilting it.  I really love the richness of the browns and greens together, and I am so happy that I stood up to those fears and started the work.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Not a Personal Ad

Not a typical blog post from me, either.  Creating isn’t always about the physical product, it is also about creating a life, and making lemonade when life hands you the proverbial lemon.  Today I’m going to share a little about the mental processes I go through while still managing to make art.

Since receiving the EBay award last November, I have been able to upload images of my artwork more frequently, blog more, research galleries and shows, and more.  Hits to my website are up, and I’ve been able to get a lot more accomplished in a fraction of the time it took while working on my old desktop.

The problem, if it is a problem, is that I became used to sitting at the computer for what felt like hours to do simple tasks like checking my email.  Now that it takes less time, you’d think that would mean I had more time to do my work. You’d be wrong.  What it really meant (up until now) is that I had more time to surf different websites. 

This has not necessarily been all bad.  One of the sites I found was The Fluent Self.  Havi Brooks, and her duck Selma, offer regular blog posts on her processes involving getting destuckified in all areas of life.  I find her approach different, refreshing, and actually applicable to many of my own personal areas of stuck.

One process she describes, which I have had trouble with, is the personal ad.  The way I understand it is that, if there is something in your life you need or want, instead of writing an affirmation, or performing any other sort of “traditional” prayer or supplication, you write a request in the form of a personal ad.  She blogs her personal ads, usually on Sunday, and says that the reader may respond with their own personal ad in the comments, or report on personal ads in the past which have worked, and how the desired request was answered.

I have written a few ads, and left them in the comments.  I have asked for, among other things, a copy of her Shiva Nata DVD set, sales of my work to enable me to pay my summer bills, and a job for my husband in which he actually reaps the benefits of the work he does (in his last retail job, he was unjustly terminated before he could receive the five figure bonus he had earned, and in other retail jobs he has seen other people receive the promotions he has worked for and earned).  But all of those ads felt weird, somehow, and I wasn’t exactly sure why.  And I gave up on the idea of writing an ad, because at this point my wants/needs feel so overwhelming that it feels as if there is no possible answer, so what is the use of trying (I did win an award with my artwork, so I guess you could say that one of the ads was kind of answered).

In today’s post, Havi writes about the process of not being able to write the personal ad, and she suggests several questions to help you work with that stuck.  She shared her answers on her blog, and I’m going to share mine here.  It’s an interesting process, and I invite you to give it a try as well.  There really is nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain in terms of learning where any blocks you may have lie.

With that in mind, here are the questions, with my answers:

Question #1: Even though I don’t know what I would even ask for…

I do know I want things to improve.  I would like things to be more routine, or should I say, I’d like to have a process that I follow so that I know what to do even when I don’t know what to do.  (Kind of like having a workout routine to start the morning, or knowing that every day at 2pm I go into the studio and work on art until dinner time).

Question #2: Even though I don’t believe that there is any way on earth that this would ever work…

I want to believe.  I want to comfort that little child inside me who is afraid that nothing will ever get better.  I want to try.  I need to let go of the idea that it has to be perfect the first time, and allow that it can be a fluid process that changes as my needs change.

Question #3: Even though I feel really, really uncomfortable when I just start to think about asking for stuff…

I need to realize that no one is a mind reader, and that they won’t know I’d like it  or need it if I don’t ask.  I also had an epiphany that part of the reason I have trouble choosing what to ask for is that we took a trip to Holland MI for the Tulip Festival when I was seven.  We went to this shop that had all kinds of little knick knack plastic toys and I went nuts buying things there.  Then we were in another shop with beautifully dressed “show dolls” in lacy, ruffled ball gowns, and I wanted one of those *so* bad.  My grandparents were the ones buying everything, but my mom said “no”, because I had gotten so much “junk” at the first stop.  Ever since then I have been afraid to say yes, in case “something better” would come along later that I would have to say “no” to. 

I also have learned that asking for something puts a burden onto the person who is being asked, and if they can’t afford it, you are being inconsiderate and selfish.

Asking for something means that you are being greedy, and not satisfied with what you have.  “Who do you think you are” is a big one in this part.

Now what?

Now I plan to sit with the answers for a while.  Recalling that trip to Holland was a huge breakthrough for me.  Realizing that I also am suffering from a little “all or nothing” thinking also is an eye-opener.  I believe some journalling is in order to help work through these blocks.  I will keep you updated on the process, and share any personal ads which may come out of it. 

In the meantime, I suggest you check out Havi’s blog, and the great freebies she offers so you can see if you are one of her Right People.  I have been able to take several of her phone workshops, and I highly recommend those as well.

Friday, August 21, 2009

You’re My Inspiration

Earlier this week I posted some of the ink paintings that I’ve been doing in my journal, and I mentioned that I may look into taking them “off the page”.

inspired by ink paintings 

This piece is the first iteration.  It is based on the kantha embroidery technique I learned from Dorothy Caldwell.  I chose a 9” square of my hand-dyed muslin.  The piece was layered with two other pieces of fabric (for this one I chose a happy orange polka dot print from Robert Kaufman Co.).  To secure the work, I stitched around the outside with a regular length seam, then used a longer seam to sew an “X” from corner to corner. 

I used several types of pencils to draw the image, starting with a pencil designed to mark on fabric for the leaves.  I noticed the image was fading before I even got to the end of the leaves, so I tried a prismacolor before finally settling on a good old #2 pencil.  I knew I would stitch over the lines, so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t erase the lines.

The lines were stitched using three strands of DMC embroidery floss.  I removed the basting as more of the image was stitched, making the fabric more stable.  Currently I am stitching in the mountain area with purple floss.  It always amazes me how stiff fabric becomes when you do nothing more than add multiple lines of stitching.

I also taught a private class this week, and needed to make a sample.  Several years ago I took a class with Glenys Mann, and each morning she gave us a photograph to recreate, postcard size , in fabric before we could work on anything else.  I thought this would be a good exercise to demonstrate to my student, and I found this beautiful photograph in a gardening magazine I picked up at the free pile of the library.

reference photo green piece

I chose to recreate the tree trunk, starting with a base of my hand-dyed twill from the dyeing extravaganza of earlier this month.


The green lines are zigzag stitch over satin rattail cord.  I then layered a piece of red organza on top of the whole piece and stitched around the cording.  The trimming was a real pain, but I stuck with it and trimmed off the excess organza.  Then I re-learned the first rule of sewing: if the machine is acting up, first you rethread the machine.  I had taken the main thread out of the tension disc to run a bobbin of some metallic thread, and when I started to sew, I ended up with the fuzzy loops of threads you see above.  I figured out my mistake when I changed the bobbin to see the lines on the far right and far left.  Pieces like these are go with the flow when I do them, but I will remember for next time!

Inspiration can be found everywhere.  The question really isn’t “where can I find ideas”.  The question is “which ideas do I pursue?”

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just Playing Around

Sometimes it is important to take some time for yourself, to just relax and not worry about outcomes. I was stressing over the purses I’ve been making, among other things, and realized it was time to take a “me” break.

One way I do this is through working in an art journal. I have worked in many over the years, choosing different books depending on the media I was using at the time, or my preferred format for the image surface. When done “right” (which is just the way I do them, your way could be completely different and just as “right” for you) these books are a catchall of random thoughts, occasional quotes, grocery lists, cataloguing works in process, and more.

I had let the process go by the wayside over the past three years of working on freelance design, feeling like every minute needed to be devoted to something productive. Since these books are generally not for outside consumption, I could not justify spending any time working in one, even though I missed it dearly.

That changed last month when I signed up for Lisa Sonora Beam’s summer camp for visual journals and started working through her book “The Creative Entrepreneur”. I was reminded that working in such books is an important part of my process, and was necessary for me to get out of this place of stuck I’ve been wallowing in.

So first I purchased this, a 9” x 12” Aquabee Super Deluxe blank sketchbook, filled with heavyweight paper that is designed to take wet or dry media. I began working in it with no rules, and no expectations, just me and the page. I gave myself permission to put whatever I wanted on the page, and allow myself to go back in and work over pages if I wanted to hide something I had written earlier, or if the situation/my perspective on it had changed.

I also found Shelley Klammer at Expressive Art, and began doing a collage a day using old magazines from the library free table. The rule with these was that I would choose 2-3 images which caught my eye, and one phrase. I did this for about two weeks, with some eye opening results.

Finally, and this is where I am at the moment, I decided to pick up my copy of Lynda Barry’s book What It Is, which is about writing, but is a great inspiration for creativity of all kinds. I also checked out her book One! Hundred! Demons! after reading several of the interviews linked on her website.

In that book, she described her drawing process. It involves ink and a brush, on any paper which is available. It looked so fun I had to give it a try. My inlaws had visited China several years ago and sent me an ink set, which I promptly retrieved from my studio. Then I went to town in my sketchbook.

The results so far:

bull journal page august 2009

A bull and a seahorse, inspired in a way by the Percy Jackson novels my son insisted I read. I used some metallic pan watercolors on this one, and went back into the drawing with a white Sakura paint pen.

hollyhock journal page august 2009

Hollyhocks and bees. The quote came from a large print Reader’s Digest I picked up at the library free table.

fish journal page august 2009

More sea life, and a tiger peeking in from another page. The big quote is from a story about an unusual fish. I wonder what secrets he can tell. Maybe the tiger knows.

pie shopping page august 2009

My weekly grocery list/running tally of expenses. Makes meal planning easier for me when I can see it all in one spot. And it is more fun to shop when you have cool art to look at while you’re shopping, don’t you agree?

fox journal page august 2009

I started getting a little silly here. Is the spaceship taking off or landing? The yellow dots symbolize fireflies for me in this series. The fox looks like he is having a conversation with the mushrooms. I also love how the watercolors blended on the mountains in the distance.

trumpet vine journal page august 2009

Trumpet vines are all over town here in Athens. I decided to memorialize them in ink and watercolor.

frog journal page august 2009

Finally, a frog riding on a lily pad. I don’t think he’s trying to eat the fireflies, but I’m not sure. He looks like he’s having fun, though.

I did change from just using the ink stick and ink stone to using India Ink so that the watercolors wouldn’t make the drawing run, but other than that these are drawn straight from my head onto the page with no pre-drawing in pencil or anything. I added the quotes on some, and may go back in and journal on them. I’m also going to dig out my airpen and try drawing on some of the twill I have around here, to see how I like these in fabric. Some of the characters may also show up on the purses.

It was an odd, circuitous route, but I think my mojo is back. Sometimes a small detour is just what we need.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Uses for Hand-Dyed Fabric Part I

I am not guaranteeing a “Part II”, just saying in the header that there are many uses for the wonderful fabrics we created last Monday, and here is one way I put the fabrics to use.

Many years ago I bought a bolt of 60” wide PFD twill from Dharma Trading Company.  That fabric has come in handy for multiple uses, from using it as the  base and backing on the pillow shams I made

sunshine 72 web

(“Sunshine”  airbrush and hand painted on twill.)

to a base for hand-embroidery

that 70s fish 72 web

(That 70’s Fish, hand embroidery on hand-dyed twill, patchwork “frame”.)

giraffe 72

(“Giraffe” hand and machine embroidery on hand-dyed twill.)

and even backings for larger quilts (sorry, no images of those).

This week I’ve been using the hand-dyed fabric on something new, handbags.  I’ve been needing a new purse for a while.  I’ve been carrying around my blinged out turtle from Target so long that one of the rhinestones I glued on 4 years ago finally fell off.  And I didn’t know what else to do with all the luscious fabrics we dyed last week.  I was also looking for something a bit more affordable and yet fun (look for a 1000 Markets shop update around August 15).


sun, octopus and snail three

Sun, octopus and snail purses.  Each comes complete with a heavy duty snap closure and a generous inside pocket. 

octopus purse two

I love this octopus with his ‘tude.  The inside of this one is a bright orange with white polka dots, and I sewed sequin suckers onto him before adding the backing.

Each bag measures 9.5” high by 7.5” or 8” wide before seaming, and the straps measure approximately 72” around, including the body of the purse.

I have several more designs on the drawing board, including an owl, a chihuahua and a turtle, plus more variations on the three seen above.  They are a nice respite in between working on the huge quilts for the big shows.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dye Party

Back in May my friend Anna mentioned that she wanted to change from working with commercial prints to using hand-dyed fabrics.  I suggested that our group could meet and have a dye party, and if we each made yardage, we could possibly swap afterward, and we’d all have a bunch of new hand-dyed fabric to work with.

Today was that day, and though things didn’t work out quite the way I thought, they worked out so that fun was had by all.

First, a few pictures from part of Anna’s wonderful gardens, which are filled with plenty of surprises, including a labyrinth and frog pond.  I took these while June and Lynda set up the tables in the garage for the printing part of the day.

Anna's garden one

A delightful perch for a frog and a woodland friend.

Anna's garden two

A little pink pig hiding out by a giant toad stool.

Once the tables were set up, the fun began!

IAA Dye party one

Lynda and June were working with this “Aztec engine block” a wonderful machine part which Lynda brought for us to use as a printing image.

 IAA Dye party two

Izzy with our table of dyes and chemical water, ready to go.

IAA Dye party three

Izzy going all Jackson Pollock on a piece of fabric.

IAA Dye party five

June working on her shibori totem pole (fabric wrapped around a PVC pipe and tied with heavy twine).

We had all pre-soaked our fabrics in soda ash, and also had a  little extra soda ash solution in a bucket for any impromptu dyeing.  Anna over-dyed a piece of batik fabric she had, and Lynda generously donated some t-shirts for us to decorate as well.

IAA Dye party six

Here’s Lynda helping Izzy print a tshirt with the Aztec engine block (using Deka screen printing ink).  Lynda made a really cool piece by printing a length of fabric using the engine block and other shapes, letting it dry, then sponging thickened dye onto it after lunch.  I wish I’d gotten a picture of it, but I was too busy dyeing my own fabrics, including these:

IAA Dye party seven 

Thickened dye, painted and splattered on.

IAA Dye party eight

A detail of the red passage. 

IAA Dye party nine

This piece looks a lot nicer in person.  It came out really Monet-esque with the misty lavenders and greens.  Anna donated this linen/cotton blend with a nice nubby finish.

IAA dye party ten

This looks like it’s out of focus, but it’s not.  The dyes were applied by sponging.  By the time we were wrapping up, everyone was sponging their fabrics.  I got the idea to use the sponges by reading Ellen Anne Eddy’s “Thread Magic” (thank you Ellen!).

IAA Dye party eleven

One of my favorite combos, Sunset Red and Deep Yellow (I bought these dyes from Dharma Trading Company ).

And,  finally, my favorite favorite favorite, because I’ve had tigers on the brain:

IAA Dye party twelve

I accordion/fan pleated the fabric, holding it together with clothespins, then squirting the fabric with orange dye and then brown dye.

I don’t think any of us dyed pieces large enough to share, but we all had a great time and are already planning a batik day sometime this fall.  Making art in the studio by myself is fun, but it is great to occasionally get out of the studio and make art with a bunch of great friends like these!