Wednesday, August 31, 2016


(Above:  Steve and me overlooking one of the many waterfalls in Glacier National Park.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Some people say that Steve and I are jet-setters because we travel so often.  The truth of the matter is that Steve is a genius when it comes to figuring out airline miles programs, on-line car rental options, and how to book great accommodation at amazingly low prices.  Add to that, we are flexible with the dates and equally happy to visit an any number of wonderful places.  We went to Montana last weekend because that's when and where Steve found the best possible deal ... and what a fantastic trip it was!

We flew into Spokane, Washington and drove to an Air Bnb private residence just outside Whitefish, Montana.  From there we visited nearby Glacier National Park ... during the weekend centennial celebration of the entire National Park Services.

We drove our little rental car three times over "The Road to the Sun" ... just like the vintage styled red tourist buses.

The views were breath taking.  We learned a lot about glaciers ...

... the native trees ...

...wildflowers ...

... and the wildlife.  We saw a mountain goat, a bear, and a big horned sheep.  None of them stood still for photographs.  Neither did the free range pony that galloped across the road moments before we came on these grazing cows.  (We saw the bear from a very safe distance. The bear was totally unaware of the fifty very excited people in the boat crossing Two Medicine Lake.)

We also heard a great many birds.  Plus, I watched this little fellow take a bath in the crystal clear river water.

We didn't stay in our cars though.  We did quite a bit of hiking.  From Logan's Pass we hiked to the Hidden Lake overlook.  (1.2 miles ... one-way.)

We also hiked from the small parking lot at the Jackson Glacier overlook to the St. Mary's Lake parking lot.  This hike took us over a swinging bridge, by Deadman's Falls, and through a section of the park that was badly scorched by last year's fire.  This hike was 1.3 miles ... but we didn't stop there.  We went on to both St. Mary's Falls and Virginia Falls ... over three miles before taking the shuttle bus back to our car. 

Hiking was wonderful ... especially since there are so many waterfalls in the area.  Some of them don't even seem to be named.

The view from the top is as gorgeous as ...

... the view from the bottom.

Although the deep colors of the rocks and water are certainly inspiring ...

... as a fiber artist, it is difficult not to be even more inspired by nature's complicated root systems ...

... or the trauma of fire ...

... and the textures flames leave on bark.

I took a few "selfies" ... but there is no way to capture the feeling of actually being there!  That's something that must be experienced, savored, remembered!

On our way back to the Spokane Airport, we stopped at Kootenai Falls.  This was the location for the Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon movie, The River Wild.  There's a hanging bridge ...

... which only allows five people to cross at a time.  Fortunately, we arrived early and didn't have so many people bouncing up and down on the wooden boards while we walked!

The water there roared.  It was amazing!  I'd love to go back ... but I'm a realist.  At fifty-seven years of age and with so many other beautiful places in the world just waiting for a visit, I will likely never return ... but I'll always have the memories and images of this very special time in Montana!

Monday, August 22, 2016

HOT Workshop for SEFAA in Atlanta

(Above:  HOT Workshop in progress.  Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Over the weekend I spend a fabulous time conducting my "HOT" workshop to a sold-out crowd at the Southeastern Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) in Atlanta.  It was a blast and everyone went home with several projects ... at least one totally finished and already mounted in an 8" x 10" mat. 

My workshop doesn't have a set pattern.  Participants are asked to bring only their own scissors (unless they don't mind using my dull ones!)  I bring everything else ... from all the fabric, thread, needles, beads, soldering irons, the industrial heat gun, irons and ironing boards, staple gun ...

... two sewing machines ...

... and everything needed to professionally mount and mat the artwork!

All sorts of heat-activated techniques are explored ... including the process I use to create my "In Box" and faux "Stained Glass" fiber artworks. 

No two pieces look remotely alike!  I love the fact that each participant can follow his or her own style!

It is amazing to see some of the same ground fabrics being transformed into completely unique finished pieces.

I was so fortunate to be hosted by an incredible art quilter, Terry Utz (above on the right). The talented Lyn Adamski (above on the left) even brought lunch for the entire class on Sunday!  It was an incredible weekend!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


 (Above:  In Box CCLX. Inventory # 3814. Unframed:  18" x 30". Framed: 25" x 37". $675. Click on either image for an enlargement.)

Over the weekend I finished In Box CCLX.  I'm really enjoying this new approach that limits the palette and doesn't solder holes inside the individual "boxes".  The white-on-white presentation is also new and fresh.  I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have a solo show at City Art this coming November.  It is allowing me to explore some of these new ideas.

(Above:  In Box CCLX, detail.)

Of course, this isn't all I did over the weekend.  There was another project too!  My recent experiment called Rain did lead to a new adventure!  Three poems were selected.  These three poems will be included in the upcoming publication that accompanies Jasper Project's multidisciplinary event called Marked By the Water.  I'm one of the artists who was invited to participate.  I volunteered to stitch these poems on a unique surface:  strips of plastic, bridal tulle, and ribbon created using Mokuba's 2-part water soluble stabilizer.  I finished the first poem and started the second ... and then broke a needle which also threw off the timing mechanism inside my Babylock Tiara free-motion machine.  Who would have guessed that there is a guy who makes sewing machine repair house calls?  Well, Tommy Leitner came on Monday and now the second poem is finished and I'm hard at work on the final poem.  I'll blog about them later! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

How Long Did it Take You to Make One of These?

(Above:  Window CXXIII.  Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3802. $265.   Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is, "How long did it take you to make that?"  I don't know the answer.  Honestly!  I don't know.  Why?  Well, when working on smaller pieces, I have several on my table.  If I cut a circle of polyester stretch velvet that is either too large or two small for one work, it will undoubtedly find a place on another piece.  It makes sense to work like this, but then I really don't know how long I have invested in each one.

(Above: Window CXXVI. Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3805. $265.)

Then there is the matter of prep work.  All the polyester stretch velvet has to have Pellon's 805/Wonder Under ironed to the reverse before I start.  I buy Wonder Under by the bolt and go through it fast ... especially when receiving an order from, a company that sells the material by the yard.  My orders generally include ten to twelve different colors, a yard each.  Sometimes a full day is spent on prep work ... but for how many pieces?  I just don't know.

(Above: Window CXXVIII. Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3808. $265.)

Then, there is the time to be spent in the garage melting the holes.  There's time to mount and frame each piece ... and then photograph and blog it.  With so many different steps, there's just no way for me to figure out the length of time I spend on an individual piece. 

(Above: Lancet Window LXXIX. Framed: 31" x 11". Inventory # 3810. $395.)

I'm also used to working on more than one at a time.  Why not? Each piece goes through so many stages.  There's time in my studio, time in the garage, time in the "frame shop" (which is my downstairs).  Thus, why not have work in various stages and in different locations ... all at the same time?

(Above: Window CXXV. Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3804. $265.)

The only constants seem to be the need for more work, my inventory book, and a blog post to share the completed pieces.  Right now, I'm gearing up for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show in November and a big solo show at City Art during the same month.  I need plenty of new work.  So ... I have lots of pieces in progress.

(Above: Window CXXVII. Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3806. $265.)

The work presented here was done during the last two weeks.  The amount of time any one of them took will remain a mystery.

(Above: Window CXXIV. Framed:  17 1/4" x 15 1/4". Inventory # 3803. $265.)

As I type this blog post, there is one larger piece in the garage and another one under my sewing machine.  Several pieces of recycled, black industrial felt have been cut and are waiting for work to be constructed on each one.  There's lots to do ... no matter where I go!  I love working this way.

(Above: Lancet Window LXXVIII. Framed: 31" x 11". Inventory # 3809.)

There's a rhythm to working this way.  Also, after making a bunch of "stained glass" inspired pieces, I have all sorts of strangely shaped scraps of polyester stretch velvet.  At that time, I cut it up into squares and rectangles.  At this point, I know it is time to make more of my "In Box" series work ... and the new ones will be shared on the next blog post!

(Above:  Polyester stretch velvet with Wonder Under ironed to the reverse ... cut up into squares and rectangles ... ready to be made into "In Box" series pieces.)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


(Above:  Rain, 27" x 15". Strips of plastic, metallic threads and floss, and snippets of a sparkly snow-inspired chiffon ribbon stitched on Mokuba water soluble stabilizer to create a unique ground for self-guided, free-motion machine embroidered lettering.  Click on any image in this blog post to enlarge.)

Last October 4th I left South Carolina for a magical month at PLAYA, an art residency in the remote, high desert, "Oregon Outback".  On the same day, Columbia flooded.  Dams broke. Houses were lost. People died.  It was a 1000-year event, a disaster.  I don't know anyone living in Columbia that isn't on a first name basis with a friend who experienced a major loss.  Why did this happen?  Rain ... too much of it!

Artists tend to get creative in response to such stimulation.  The Jasper Project knows and has organized Marked By the Water, an upcoming, multidisciplinary arts event which will open on October 4, 2016 at the Tapps Art Center.  I'm one of the visual artists invited to create work.  My Clothesline Project is part of this exhibit.  (This is going very well, as a matter of fact!)  Yet, I had another hair-brained idea.  The idea popped into my mind on the same day that I was invited to participate, but I didn't think I could pull it off.  I tried to forget it.  I still might not be able to pull it off, but I couldn't help myself.  I had to at least TRY!

(Above:  Rain, detail.)

My idea was to use Mokuba's "free lace" water soluble stabilizer to make a unique ground/substrata on which I could "write" words.  In my mind, the substrata would resemble sheets of rain pouring down. In my mind, I would collaborate with one of the poets ... someone whose work will be featured in the upcoming literary book that will be published for the exhibit.  Of course, before initiating a collaboration I need to know if the hair-brained idea will physically work!  Thus, I used a definition of the word RAIN for this experiment!  It worked.  My process is below!

(Above:  Strips of plastic, metallic threads, ribbon floss, and snippets of a snow-inspired chiffon ribbon on top of the re-positionable but sticky half of the Mobuka "free lace" stabilizer.)

I've used Mobuka's "free lace" stabilizer on several prior occasions.  It is how I created my Epitaph and Decision chiffon banners and my Leaf and Flower dresses.  I know how it works .... but this would be different.  Generally, some sort of a grid is needed in order for the elements to be held together.  Yet, I wanted a definite vertical orientation for Rain.  I also didn't want the resulting "fabric" to be too much of a solid.  I wanted it to resemble "water" ... as in sheets of it pouring down in varying amounts.

First, I applied the non-sticky half of the Mobuka over the threads. Then, I stitched up and down using a fine, metallic silver thread ... hoping and trying to allow the more vertical lines to also overlap enough to keep the materials (also all vertically oriented) together.  There was a risk involved.  Too many verticals ... without being connected ... could result in the piece falling totally apart.  After stitching, I drew a few ink lines on the piece ... knowing that this layer (the non-sticky, top layer of Mobuka) would wash away ... including all traces of the lines.  

Finally, I started stitching the words.  What does it say?

Rain is a noun: 1. Moisture condensed from the atmospher that falls visibly in separate drops 2. The descent of this water 3. he water that has fallen as rain. Rain is a verb: To fall like drops of water from the sky.

The definition of rain was created from various on-line sources.  I used a 100% cotton, variegated blue thread.

The last step found me in the bathroom washing away the two-layers of Mobuka.  Warm water dissolves it ... turning first rather slimy ... but leaving just the strips of plastic, metallic threads, ribbons and stitched words.

I hung the piece up to dry and later stitched it to part of a coat hanger's rod for hanging.  In the meantime, the Jasper Project has already selected the writing for the publication.  If they find a poem (hopefully not a significantly long one!) for me ... I'd do this process again.  Yet, I'd do it different.  I'd not introduce any color ... just silvers, greys, and clear plastic.  We saw see!

UPDATE:  Permission for two of three selected poems have been received.  This weekend will find me creating this work!  Also ... I'm linking this blog post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber arts. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Our Baby Beloved

(Above:  Our Baby Beloved, a Grave Rubbing Art Quilt. 34" x 33".  Photo by Jeff Amberg.  Crayon grave rubbing on a vintage child's garment; vintage tablecloth and buttons.  Hand stitching with self-guided, free-motion machine outlining of the letters.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Every other year there are art quilters all over the world working frantically on their Quilt National 2017 submissions.  This biennial exhibit is widely regarded as the most exclusive, international art quilt show ... ever!  The deadline is September 1st.  Odds for an acceptance are long.  Generally only 11 - 15 % of those submitting are accepted.  Each person can enter up to three works.  My piece Circular Churchyard was part of Quilt National 2013, but I haven't always been able to enter this important show.  Why?  Well, in the past, the rules were such that entries couldn't have any public exposure at all.  This year, however, the rules have been changed! 

 (Above:  Our Baby Beloved, detail.  Photo by Jeff Amburg.)

Of course, I didn't hear about the rule changes until very recently.  Thus, I was only making one piece to enter, thinking that it would be the only one NOT on my blog and on Facebook.  Our Baby Beloved was stitched while enjoying my Springboard for the Arts residency in Fergus Falls, MN.  Every night I streamed episodes of Man Men on Netflix and stitched on this piece ... never blogging it.  I thought I had to keep it under wraps.  With the rule change, I can now blog it, share it, and put it on my website.  Yet, I had another problem.  I couldn't get a decent photo of it. 

  (Above:  Our Baby Beloved, detail.  Photo by me.)

After thirteen-and-a-half years, I moved out of my studio at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios.  The move has actually made me more productive and has been a very good thing ... except for the fact that I lost access to nice, white gallery walls with a slate gray painted floor under four skylights.  The diffused light made this location ideal for capturing images.

(Above:  Our Baby Beloved, detail. Photo by me.)

Try as I did, no image I took at home was satisfactory.  Finally, I made arrangements to use a small space at Forrest & Grant Photo Imaging.  Unfortunately, their lighting system does not plug into my point-and-shoot camera.  Thus, my pictures taken there weren't much better.

(Above:  Our Baby Beloved, detail. Photo by me.)

Finally, I contacted Jeff Amberg.  I brought three grave rubbing art quilts to his professional photography studio, including Our Baby Beloved.  He took only one day and his images are incredible.  Today I uploaded all three quilts to Quilt National 2017.  I won't be holding my breathe about this opportunity. Rejection is the norm. Rejection, however, will not change the fact that this piece really pleases me.  The only machine stitching outlines the grave-rubbed words.  The background is densely hand stitched ... rows and rows of running stitch ... often call "kantha" stitching.  All the buttons are hand stitched too ... hundreds of them fill the vintage tablecloth.  The edges show the original crochet in a variegated thread. 

 (Above:  Our Baby Beloved, reverse.)

Blanket stitches under the crochet trim bind the front to the back.  The reverse is entirely made from vintage household linens

 (Above:  Our Baby Beloved, reverse detail.)

Yet, my trip to Forrest & Grant was actually quite successful!

(Keta and Neese ... co-owners and miracle workers at Forrest & Grant Photo Imaging.)

I've known Keta and Neese for years and am always happy to recommend their services to everyone.  They've assisted many Mouse House clients who know absolutely NOTHING about jpegs, uploads, dpi formating, and any other aspect in the digital photo world.  Keta and Neese are hands-on when it comes to helping people. Their prints are always great, affordable, and fast.
(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment I, full view.)

With their help, I was able to get really good photos of my three Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garments ... even with my pathetic camera!  I couldn't be more pleased as I need these pictures for the exhibition proposals that I hope to send out before the end of the year!

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment II, detail.)

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors Sculptural Garment III, detail.)