Monday, October 31, 2022

Mandala CXLIV

(Above:  Mandala CXLIV.  Custom framed: 28 3/4" x 28 3/4". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Found objects include:  A rotary telephone dial; cookie cutters; doll clothes hangers; keys; bottle caps; paper sewing machine bobbins; lavender insulin syringe caps; checkers; long needle-like parts of prostate radioactive seed implant devices; red, adapters for 45 records to be played on a stereo; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

It took more than an hour for me to dismantle the old rotary dial telephone.  There are all sorts of "things" firmly attached to the back of the dial.  I wanted it "flat".  I was determined! I'm very happy with the results and grateful to my friend Flavia Lovatelli who donated the telephone to my stash. 

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLIV.)

Flavia and I are both getting ready for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  It's a lot of work but so rewarding to be surrounded by aisles of top-notch fine craft artists from all over the country.

(Above:  Mary Edna Fraser and me in front of The Grid of Photos, one of my pieces at my solo installation, Anonymous Ancestors, at City Gallery at Waterfront Park.)

It was equally rewarding to have Mary Edna Fraser come to the opening of my solo installation, Anonymous Ancestors, at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston.  Mary Edna is like ... famous! ... and fabulously talented!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLIV.)

Believe it or not, I am still working on another Found Object Mandala.  I think that the way I deal with anticipation, fear, stress, and all the other emotions associated with "the next big thing" is to keep stitching! LOL!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Mandala CXLII

(Above:  Mandala CXLII. Custom framed: 37 1/4" x 37 1/4" when hung as a square and 53" x 53" when hung as a diamond.  Found Objects hand stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Found objects include:  A clock spring; wedding cake leaf decorations; PEZ dispensers; coffee K-pods; gold salad forks; assorted hair curlers; doll hands; copper colored can tabs; vintage coffee klatch coasters; heart shaped buttons; red, plastic peanut butter lids with orange plastic circles cut from a six-pack beer yoke and Snapple beverage lids; buttons and beads. Click on any image to enlarge.)

This Found Object Mandala was so much fun to create!  It also reminds me of a special day during my recent art residency at Catoctin Mountain National Park in Maryland.  While there, I gave a presentation to the Stitch in Peace quilt guild in Fairfield, PA.  I talked about my passion for giving second life to old things among other things.  Afterwards, two sisters approached me.  They wanted to give me an old family quilt.  They explained that it was not in great condition and neither of them knew which of their grandmothers had actually stitched it.  So, I returned later in the week.  Fairfield was having an apple festival.  The quilt guild was mounting a small show.  The sisters presented me with a green-and-peach basket pattern quilt.

(Above:  The donated green-and-peach basket pattern quilt.)
Compared to the Bear Paws quilt I cut up last weekend, this quilt was in excellent shape!  Yet, it really was beyond good use as a bed covering. Seams were fragile. Edges were fraying. It showed plenty of love over many years. It was truly an honor to transform it into ART!  (More pieces in this series will be stitched on the rest of this pretty quilt!) 

(Above:  Mandala CXLII on pointe. 53" x 53".)

On my drive back from Fairfield, PA, I stopped at the Emmitsburg Antique Mall.  WOW!  What a place! I know antique malls.  Once upon a time, I was an anchor dealer in an antique mall outside Charleston, SC ... something I did as a dealer in framed, antiquarian prints ... for thirty years! So, I've visited dozens and dozens of antique malls over the last three decades.  This place was amazing.  With 34,000 square feet, I expected dim lighting and too much summer heat (which would mean freezing temperatures in the winter.)  I was wrong!  It was well lit, temperature controlled, and had plenty of parking too!  There were over 120 booths and none of them looked neglected.  The staff was nice.  Best of all, I found several things for my series ... among them ... affordable PEZ dispensers!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLII.)

At my local auction house, I've attempted to bid on table lots with PEZ dispensers.  They've always gone too high.  So I was thrilled to purchase these.  I also got the perfect, green coffee klatch set of coasters.  My haul included plenty of other interesting things ... which ... like normal ... have been mixed into my stash.  Soon, I'll forget where I got some of the items purchased that day ... like I've forgotten who donated the pretty copper can tabs.  Please know, if you donated to my stash ... THANK YOU!


(Above: Detail of Mandala CXLII.)

Some people have asked if I glue my object in place.  I don't ... expect when I do!  LOL!  In order to keep these PEZ dispensers arranged the way I wanted them, I used a dab of glue behind each "head" ... and then stitched them in place.  Otherwise, everything is stitched down.  Even the coffee klatch coasters were pre-drilled in order to stitch them to the quilt.

Mandala CXLI and CXLIII

(Above:  Mandala CXLI. Custom framed: 21" x 21".  Found objects hand stitched to a section of an old, tattered quilt.  Found objects include:  A hand mirror; four, brass door knob plates; Lincoln Logs; red checkers; loose paper binder rings; copper pipe straps; blue plastic lids; clock gear shaped buttons; buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last weekend I cut up an old and very tattered quilt and stapled sections to various stretcher bars.  The smallest piece became Mandala CXL and I blogged it last Monday. During the week, I worked on three pieces, two of which used the same, tattered quilt as a substrata.  This post shows the results.

(Above:  Mandala CXLIII.  Custom framed: 29 5/8" x 29 5/8" when hung as a square and 42" x 42" when hung as a diamond.  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of an old, tattered quilt. Found objects include:  A decorate metal ring that was glued to a cheap glass container; four, brass discs that were part of a trophy; clock face and gear shaped buttons; four, brass knob plates; orange insulin syringe caps; ViewMaster reels; assorted, red bottle caps; eight hors d'oeuvres forks; buttons and beads.)

I've actually had the old quilt in my stash for several months.  Part of me didn't want to use it.  It was in really poor shape. Yet, part of me couldn't resist.  This is just the sort of old quilt that I love best.  I adore the brown fabrics, the pop of red and blue, and even the name of this pattern:  Bear Paws!


(Above:  The Bear Paws quilt used for three Found Object Mandalas.)

This old quilt is also the sort that has no other use.  It NEEDED a second life!  So despite the badly tattered areas, I stapled parts to stretcher bars and then cut remaining parts to layer on top of the places that were "really bad".  Like all of my Found Object Mandalas, I then put a layer of bridal tulle over the entire surface.  Even the areas where the real cotton (including seeds!) shows are protected by the bridal tulle.  The result worked well and I am pleased with these new additions to the series!  Below are a few more pictures!  Enjoy!

(Above:  Mandala CXLIII on pointe.  42" x 42".)

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLI.)
(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXLIII.)

Monday, October 17, 2022

Mandala CXXXVIII and CXL

(Above:  Mandala CXXXVIII. Custom framed: 24" x 24". Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include: A glass floral frog, wooden clothespins; four silver napkin rings; eight drawer pulls; four Tinker Toy connectors; hard cider bottle caps; four metal plates that read "Fill Every Day"; and assorted buttons. $350 plus tax and shipping.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Last Wednesday I blogged Mandala CXXXIX.  I do not know why I forgot about Mandala CXXXVIII but I did.  I hadn't snapped a photo but I did create a label and enter it into my inventory book.  Honestly, I thought I had a well established habit ... finish a piece, photograph it, list it in the inventory book, create a label for the reverse, and then BLOG IT.  Somehow, that didn't happen and I didn't even realize it until Mandala CXL was finished!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXXXVIII.)

I was really thrilled to stitch this piece.  The clothespins were sent by a dear friend, Nancy Cook.  Someone else sent the cute hard cider bottle caps but I've forgotten who (but I am very grateful!)  I don't know what the "Fill Every Day" metal plates were for.  I got them at an auction along with some of the five "speed" indicators I used on Mandala CXL.  In fact, there were all sorts of metal "things" on that table lot.  I just don't know where they came from or what they were once attached to.

(Above:  Mandala CXL.  Custom framed: 18 1/2" x 18 1/2". Found objects hand-stitched to a block of a vintage quilt.  Found objects include:  a glass circle from an old lamp; five shoe horns; five metal "speed" plates; Lincoln logs; red, plastic lids with external tooth lock washers; hair clips; heart shaped and round buttons; beads. $250.00 plus tax and shipping.)

This piece was a challenge.  I had five shoe horns and no prospects for finding more.  Yet, they really did seem to create a nice star effect!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXL.)

So now ... I think I'm caught up with my blogging ... until tomorrow!  I'll be finishing another piece later tonight!  This series is so addictive!

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Anonymous Ancestors at City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC

(Above:  Anonymous Ancestors at City Gallery at Waterfront Park, Charleston, SC.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It is my great honor to bring Anonymous Ancestors to City Gallery at Waterfront Park in downtown, Charleston, SC.  It was also a challenge on several levels.  First, the space is extremely large.  Second, the space is divided by sectional walls into three distinct areas.  Third, the space has a very contemporary feel to it. 

It was my job to conqueror these challenges and I'm very pleased with the results. I'm also quite happy that Steve and I were able to install inside of seven-and-a-half hours!  On Thursday, we packed the van with more items than we've ever brought for one of the earlier exhibitions of this work.  This is the first time the two folding screens and the empty bird cage were part of the show despite the fact that they were always part of it (at least in my mind!)

I needed these extra things in order to transform all three areas of this big gallery.  I also had to spread out some of the other furniture.  In past shows, at least one or two chairs and the marble-topped table were actually on the Oriental carpet ... not just "near it"!  My goal was to make all three, contemporary spaces look and feel as if a parlor in a stereotypical, Victorian house where walls are hung with family photographs.

City Gallery at Waterfront Park has two levels.  Back in 2010, my Decision Portraits occupied both levels.  (Click HERE for a blog post and lots of images of this giant gallery! That show was called Personal Grounds.)  Because of this earlier opportunity, I knew the gallery space well ... especially the center section.  It is a totally open, soaring, two-story space.  Back in 2010, I had access to a Genie lift and hung 45 two-story long, sheer chiffon banners.  Without a Genie lift, I had to carefully figure out where to suspend the two Sculptural Garments ... where I could tie a wire around the banisters of the overhead walkways.

The second floor will soon be used for a juried show called Homegoing, artwork inspired by Yaa Gyasi's 2016 novel by the same name.  According to the call-for-entry, "Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two sisters, split apart by the slave trade, and their descendants through eight generations."  In my mind, the themes are intertwined.  My anonymous photos pose questions about heritage, identity, passing time, and family memories.  I think the two exhibits will create a very thought provoking experience for visitors.

Yet, Anonymous Ancestors will be open three weeks before Homegoing.  The opening reception for my solo show is on Friday, October 28th.  The other show doesn't open until November 18.  Both close during the last week in January 2023.  It is nice that a big gallery like this staggers openings and closings, allowing each exhibit to shine on its own as well as to provide joint considerations.

After Steve and I finished installing, I took the photos posted here and also a video.  (CLICK HERE to view the video on You Tube.) Then, we counted the number of pieces on the walls.  The grand total is 309!  All but two small piece were hung ... including four new ones. 

I've tried to stop making more pieces for The Wall of Ancestors.  Seriously, I don't need more than 311 of them ... but ... I can't help myself.  Often, I see an anonymous photo at Bill Mishoe's auction house and it seems to be crying out for me to "rescue it" by "turning it into art."  My mind instantly composes a flash fiction statement, something that the picture seems to suggestion.  Those words are easily collaged onto the image.

This past week four anonymous photos were transformed and framed.  They are all hanging now.  For some strange reason, I only snapped photos of three of them.  They are at the bottom of this post.

The Grid of Photos has never looked better than now.  I'm sure it has to do with the amazing quality of light in this side area of the gallery.  The gallery lights are aided by all the natural light flooding in from the waterside park.  The shadows are amazing! 

The shadows were an intentional feature of this artwork.  It is obvious in the statement I wrote for this piece when it was stitched in 2013.  

Each snapshot is a frozen moment in time, a single second on life’s timeline. To stand in front of The Gird of Photos is to remember a not-so-distant past. It triggers a sense of familiarity and common ground. It is easy to envision one’s own family and friends, holidays and special occasions, former cars, and hilarious fashion trends. Yet, these are anonymous photos. They come from yard sales, auctions, and abandoned locations. Who are these people? Who knows? We stand in the present; they look out from the past; too soon we will all be the shadow on the wall. 


I would really like to stitch another Grid of Photos, something that could be hung "in the round".  I certainly have enough anonymous photos to do it.  Perhaps the time is coming for me to start fusing them to unbleached muslin in preparations for this!

Of course, I don't have another exhibition scheduled for Anonymous Ancestors ... but I've written that before!  And, I am still drawn to the concepts, the photos, and the lives that seem to say "more is always better!"

The photo above shows all the things Steve and I unloaded from the van ... before we started installing the artwork.  It is hard to believe that it all fit into the van.  It is scary to think that it will all need to return inside the van next January!  Below ... three of the four new pieces!  Enjoy!

(Above:  A Daughter Was Good But a Son Was Better.)
(Above:  First Catch.)
(Above:  When Flying Was Glamorous.)

Anonymous Ancestors, City Gallery, Charleston

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Mandala CXXXIX

(Above:  Mandala CXXXIX. Custom framed: 18 1/2" x 18 1/2".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Found objects include:  An entire, plastic chess set; white, plastic water bottle lids; blue casino chips; loose leaf paper rings; silver grommets; vintage lid for English made Propert's Leather Saddle Soap; pieces of lace; buttons and beads.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

This small Found Object Mandala was designed specifically to fit into the leftover pieces of the floater frame moulding that we had in the garage.  It seemed wasteful to throw out the small sticks.  It was a great challenge to use them instead!  I'm very pleased with the results!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CXXXIX.)

I've already started on the next mandala ... a big one ... with thirty PEZ dispensers!

Sunday, October 09, 2022

Catoctin Mountain Crazy Quilt

(Above:  Catoctin Mountain Crazy Quilt. 41" x 41". Late 19th century basted crazy quilt blocks finally finished with the addition of a few strips of lace, several small doilies, and a layer of bridal tulle over the surface before being densely hand embellished. Click on any image to enlarge.)

Every evening while at Catoctin Mountain National Park as this year's Artist-in-Residence found me hand-stitching on this very special piece.  It was truly my honor to finish something started in the late 19th century.  It has been so much fun to share it with others.  Now, it is on its way back to Thurmont, Maryland to become part of the National Park's permanent art collection.

(Above:  The upper left quadrant.)

Along with it, I sent a letter of documentation.  It reads:

Mary E. Carter of Michigan donated a box of old quilt pieces to my stash of vintage fabrics. Her hand-written card included the following: They are not family pieces and I have no sentimental attachment to them. However, as an amateur historian and professional teacher of many kinds of needle arts, I have a deep appreciation of the skills, time, and souls that have gone into them. The box included four crazy quilt blocks that were basted together but never embroidered or finished into a crazy quilt. (continued below)

(Above:  Upper right quadrant.)

The blocks feature many exotic fabrics as well as hand-painted handkerchiefs depicting scenes from Shakespearean plays. Dates on souvenir ribbons are from the 1890s and include one for Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States and one for a William McKinley Rally, 25th President of the United States. McKinley was assassinated on September 14, 1901. Undoubtedly, the original maker put her exotic materials together in the late 1890s. (continued below)

(Above:  Lower left quadrant.)

Instead of attempting to piece the four blocks together with a seam, I lay them flat on a piece of traditional quilt batting backed with a vintage damask tablecloth. I hid the center edges of the blocks with strips of lace. Several, small doilies were also added. A layer of off-white bridal tulle was placed over the entire surface in order to protect the fragile materials. I did not start stitching until after my arrival at Catoctin Mountain Park. (continue below)

(Above:  Lower right quadrant.)

Every evening I stitched on this quilt using various colors of embroidery floss. The work-in-progress was shared on Friday, September 9, 2022 on the Catoctin Mountain Visitor Center porch and again on the afternoons of September 17 and 18, 2022 at the Thurmont Regional Library. On Thursday, September 22, 2022 the piece was shown to the Stitch n Peace quilt guild of Fairfield, PA. On Saturday, October 1, 2022 it was shared with the Blythewood Historical Society, Blythewood, SC. The hand embroidery was finished shortly thereafter and a backing, hanging sleeve, and label were added.

(Above:  The label on the reverse side.)

When I finished the hand embroidery, I went into my studio to look for a suitable fabric to use on the back.  In the first tub I opened ... right on top ... was a beautiful piece of olive-brown dupioni silk.  I don't remember when or where I got it.  Frankly, I don't remember having this luxurious material before finding it.  It was perfect.  There was enough for a four-inch hanging sleeve too!  I am very, very pleased with this piece and hope that lots of people get to see it.  There's something so special about the collaboration with a long gone woman, her handiwork, my stitching, and the possibility that our efforts will be enjoyed for generations to come. 

(Above and further below:  Detail shots of the crazy quilt.)


Saturday, October 08, 2022

Seventy Fiber Vessels

(Above:  A selection of fiber vessels.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

During my three week art residency at Catoctin Mountain National Park, I managed to zigzag stitch SEVENTY fiber vessels!  They are in every conceivable color.  No two are alike.  Often the interior is slightly different than the exterior due to the fact that I used a different color in the bobbin.  Some have very distinctive rims too.  Most are $65 plus South Carolina sales tax (even on out-of-state transactions ... because I live in a pesky state that insists on this!) plus shipping. 

(Above:  Ernie the Cat helping with the photography.)

Ernie the Cat was "so helpful" with the photography needs.  If the temporary/foam-centered walls weren't knocked down, the fiber vessels were displaced! LOL!  Yet with seventy individual photos needed, Ernie got bored ... thank goodness!

All these fiber vessels are headed to the upcoming Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, November 11 - 13 where they will be in my booth ... #303 ... along with a selection of my Found Object Mandalas.  In the meantime, they have each been placed on an on-line listing.  Just CLICK HERE to access!  Purchasing is easy!  Just send me an email with your request: or

Last year's fiber vessels were described in great detail.  This was my attempt to identify each unique piece.  It meant googling for various shades of basically the same color.  Seriously ... I was looking for synonyms for "blue" ... like sapphire, royal, navy, aquamarine, cerulean, cornflower, azure, cobalt, slate, denim, Persian, steel, sky, ocean, turquoise, cyan, midnight, teal, indigo, etc.  Sure ... I know that these are all slightly different but man was it confusing!  So ... this year I decided to name each fiber vessel with a vintage/less popular/historic/obsolete female name!  It was so much fun!


I scribbled down a list which includes names like Evangeline, Salome, Rochelle, Eunice, Ekaterina, Dahlia, Imogene, Lydia, Hortense, Beulah, Daphne, and Lorelei.  As I snapped individual fiber vessels, I made a price tag using the names ... simply going down the list ... totally at random. 

I still have more names on my list ... and I still have more yarn in my studio ... and there's always the chance that I will start using masculine names too ... perhaps Willard, Darwin, Ephraim, Abel, Jasper, Baxter, and Sherman!  This could go on and on!  Also at random, I've attached a few of the fiber vessels that are now available!  Just scroll down!