Tuesday, January 30, 2024


(Above:  Mandala CLXXVIII.  Custom framed: 16" x 16".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Objects include:  Kitchen timer dial; six, miniature fighter jets; six vintage belt buckles; burgundy colored tops from injectable medication bottles; light blue insulin lancets; casino chips; Cheerwine bottle caps; round, front rail felt punchings from my old piano; all but two letters from a Scrabble dice game; assorted buttons and beads.  Click on either image to enlarge.)

Every day sees Steve and me a little closer to moving into the old Cateechee mill village church that is being renovated into our future home and my sanctuary-sized fiber arts studio.  Just yesterday, I delivered all the wood that was my 8' x 8' mat cutting table and a glass storage unit.  These were essential parts of our framing shop.  Although we are no longer accepting custom picture framing orders (as in RETIRED after 35+ years!), we will need these units for framing my own art and storing finished artwork.  We got lucky!  We met a great guy who does plenty of remodeling and custom woodworking.  He came to Columbia and carefully dismantled the units ... noting where each plank and slat went.  Even as I type this blog post, he is at the church reassembling everything.  Soon ... as in "this time next month", I plan on being able to cut my own mats in my new studio space!  

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXVIII.)

The only way I am keeping calm and sane during this transitional period is by stitching a little every day.  This Found Object Mandala was recently finished.  Two more pieces for my Kinsfolk Series are nearly ready to blog. Another mandala and a commissioned In Box are also underway.  Yet, I am really looking forward to getting moved into my new studio and resuming work on my Cascade Installation!  The desire to spend all day, every day with a threaded needle is my driving force! 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

A Fantastic Weekend!

(Above:  The kitchen at our Cateechee mill village church renovation!)

Most weeks find me packing box after box and loading dozens of our framed artwork into the van.  Then, Steve and I are off to haul everything into the sanctuary of our Cateechee mill village church.  The sanctuary will become my giant-sized fiber art studio.  Nowadays, it is simply the place for waiting appliances, plumbing and lighting fixtures, and whatever we've moved in boxes, etc.  Why?  Well, the former Sunday school rooms, choir room, and offices are currently being renovated into our future living area.  So far, the kitchen is ahead of the other rooms.  It looks AMAZING!  Under that piece of plastic and plywood is a gorgeous walnut butcher block island.  Steve and I have never had an island.  We have never had new appliances either.  This is all super exciting ... especially since this kitchen was "custom made" ... 

... including dove-tailed drawers and a two-layer "lazy Susan" (always hated that name!) in the corner cabinet! 

The kitchen is open to this dining area where the floors are still "a work in progress" but the lighting unit has been installed!

While we were dropping off a van load on Friday, we saw several people hard at work ... including Mr. Lopez who was painting the trim on the newly installed stained glass windows.  We were overjoyed to see them.

The two stained glass windows were once in our living room.  We commissioned them from a former employee who was, at the time, working on his MFA as a painter.  He installed them in front of the existing windows and told us that they could be "taken out" and "installed elsewhere" ... if we ever moved.  At the time, I never thought this would happen ... but last week, it did!

The stained glass windows overlook the altar area ... just like the three windows that are part of our future living room!

One day, Steve says he will paint the altar area.  Currently, that's not part of the renovation!

We've hired a professional moving company to move our bigger furniture and most of our framing equipment.  That will happen on February 21st.  We have, however, decided to get a totally new bed for the bedroom! 

After we left the church, we drove to Atlanta for the evening opening reception at Spalding Nix Fine Art.  The gallery has four distinct areas for four, separate solo shows.  As a new artist to SNFA, I am truly honored to have been given the hallway area for a selection of my Found Object Mandalas.


Steve and I had no expectations for this opening.  Thus, we were beyond stunned at the standing room crowd.  Despite not knowing anyone there, I talked to plenty of people.  It was a wonderful evening!

We spent the night outside Atlanta and drove home this morning.  It rained nearly the entire trip but we still stopped at Elder Mill covered bridge ...


... and I got plenty of hand-stitching done on a new commission!

Friday, January 19, 2024

Lost & Found XIV

(Above:  Lost & Found XIV.  Framed in an antique, cross-bow frame: 13 1/2" x 26".  Three plastic birds, fabric yo-yos, and buttons hand stitched to a section of an antique crazy quilt. Click on either image to enlarge.)

 The three birds look as if they suddenly flew off an old cuckoo clock but they didn't! LOL!  They have indentations on their back sides ... so that they could hang directly on a wall.  They aren't even old.  They're plastic but they look so sweet!  They went perfectly in this antique frame and they also used up a narrow piece of the old crazy quilt that was cut for my Kinsfolk Series.  

(Above:  Detail of Lost & Found XIV.)

The antique crazy quilt was tattered but before attaching the three birds and the embellishments, I covered the entire surface with bridal tulle.  I add plenty of decorative stitching to the simple stitches of the antique crazy quilt ... until all the stitching blends together and the netting isn't even obvious.  The tulle protects the fragile and fraying fabrics.  I am really enjoying this process.  This is the sort of stitching I am doing every evening ... which is keeping me sane during the process of moving!

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Lost & Found XIII

(Above:  Lost & Found XIII. Custom framed: 13" x 19".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Objects include:  Two glove hangers; a tomato server; four, dog-shaped souvenir spoons and two silver souvenir spoons from Spain; Tinker Toy connectors; two, corn-on-the-cob holders; Herbacin Kamille hand cream tin lid; four, white circles cut from a beer can yolk; two, pink Spoolies (folding hair curlers); sewing machine bobbins; two, gold Stella Artois beer bottle caps; artificial leaves; and assorted buttons and beads.  Click on image to enlarge.)

I couldn't resist stitching this piece.  It was entirely inspired by the two, decorative glove hangers.  I used several less decorative ones on Mandala CLXXII ... but these two didn't match.  I only had two and no prospects of finding two more.  Thus, I designed them in a fan shape that only required the two I had.  I'm very pleased with this one! 


(Above:  Mandala CLXXVII. Custom framed: 21" x 21".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Objects include: A vintage, aluminum gelatin mold; a ring of front rail felt punchings from my old piano; eight seed heads of artificial stalks of wheat; eight, lobster claw clasps with D-rings; yellow-gold and copper beverage can tabs; eight, Singer sewing machine stitch dials; sixteen, amber-yellow dice; four, brass clock mainspring barrels; Newcastle beer bottle caps; red Monopoly hotels; laminated Tampa Nugget cigar bands; orange, syringe needle safety covers; chandelier prisms; assorted buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Since Christmas, I've been stitching every evening.  I just haven't had time to blog the work that was finished until now!  This is the fourth Found Object Mandala.  In a minute, I will write another blog post featuring Lost & Found XIII.  With any luck, I'll be finishing another mandala later tonight.  Stitching is my best way to cope with the stress of moving, the frustrations with the contractor's slow progress, the worries over the sale of Mouse House (our home/business), and the demands of packing.  I really don't know how other people manage trying times without the passion for embroidery!  Many people remark that I must have the "patience of Job" to stitch so much.  I just smile ... because I know that the only way for me to find patience is by pulling a threaded needle through fabric (and ... apparently ... holes drilled in found objects! LOL!)


Mandala CLXXVI

(Above:  Mandala CLXXVI.  Custom framed: 18 1/2" x 18 1/2".  Found objects hand-stitched to the back side of a vintage quilt.  Found objects include:  A vintage clock mainspring; piano hammer flanges [part of the internal workings of a piano key]; assorted beer bottle caps; eight gold flatware forks; four, vintage brass belt buckles; ballpark seat numbers; plastic candle holders for a Christmas tree or cake; eight, tan-colored Princess phone key chain rings; assorted buttons and beads. Click on either image to enlarge.)

Moving can be emotionally difficult.  There are always items that are highly sentimental, things that no longer have a place in one's physical reality but serve as markers for past memories. For most people my age (which I'd like to call "middle aged" ... but I'll be sixty-five next June, a senior citizen on any system that gauges the human aging process ... basically ... OLD!) there is no one in the next generation who wants or even cares about my "precious possessions".  I've known this for a long time.  I've even presented a 2015 TEDx talk called Precious: Making a Plan for Your Precious Possessions.  

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXVI.) 

While preparing to move, I've had to face the twenty-nine year accumulation of "stuff" in my business/home (some of which was still in boxes from the last house!)  I've had to make some heartfelt decisions about what to toss, what to give away, what to consign to Bill Mishoe's auction (which is where lots of my "stuff" came from), and what to keep for basic living and for potential use in my studio art practice.  It's hard!  Of course it is!  As an artist who finds inspiration in "found objects", I could rationalize that EVERYTHING IS NECESSARY.  But, it really isn't.  In my TEDx talk, I mention the fact that "sometimes, the best way to 'safe' one's precious possessions is to give them a chance with someone else".  So, I've been "letting go" of plenty of things.  

Yet, I couldn't "give away" my piano.  No one wanted it.  Of course no one wanted it.  It was big, heavy, and unfortunately had a broken sound board which prevented it from being successfully brought up to perfect pitch.  I learned all about such problems while stitching Found Object CXI, the Steinway Mandala.  I learned that even a Steinway is more expensive to repair when its sound board is cracked than to replace.  My piano certainly wasn't a Steinway ... and I have to admit that I haven't played it in years (and I was never very talented!)  As sentimental as my piano is to me (which is a long, sad story of a lonely teenager finding solace in the basement playing my piano), it made no sense to move it to the church.  (Bill Mishoe's auction refuses to accept pianos on consignment; they just don't sell and no one wants them "for free" either.)  

So, I decided that I would dismantle my piano on Christmas Day.  It was actually fun to do!  Each flat head screw led to another flat head screw until I had lots of parts!  Because I had already dismantled the Steinway, I knew it would take most of the day.  I streamed Christmas music and by that evening was already stitching parts to this Found Object Mandala!  My piano now has a "second life" as ART, and there will be more parts in future pieces! 

Mandala CLXXV

(Above:  Mandala CLXXV. Custom framed: 24 1/2" x 24 1/2".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt. Objects include:  A Tissot Sour Lemon Drop tin lid; six, gold flatware salad forks; artificial leaves for cake decorations; six, Dutch souvenir spoons; twelve Tinker Toy connectors; Heineken and Stella Artois beer bottle caps; four, vintage gold belt buckles; keys; green cocktail forks; chandelier prisms; four, white casino chips; assorted buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

This Found Object Mandala started with the Tissot Sour Lemon Drop lid and the Dutch souvenir spoons and grew from there.  I was particularly happy with the way the Tinker Toy connectors worked out.  I only drilled a single hole in them which was filled with a gold bead.  Otherwise, I used the center hole for the five, blue stitches.

(Above and below:  Details of Mandala CLXXV.)

This piece was one of five finished since Christmas but not blogged until now.  Steve and I are really busy finishing the last few custom picture framing orders before our retirement!  We are also in the midst of moving things to the Cateechee mill village church that is currently being renovated and also SELLING MOUSE HOUSE!  Our fingers and toes are crossed for successful paperwork in the coming weeks that will find us closer to our big dreams!


Saturday, January 06, 2024

Mandala CLXXIV

(Above:  Mandala CLXXIV. Custom framed: 32" x 32".  Found objects hand-stitched to a section of a vintage quilt.  Objects include:  A wheel from a rolling sewing tape measure ruler; four, red vinyl 45 records; four vintage aluminum gelatin molds; eight lobster claw clasps with D-rings; eight Singer sewing machine stitch dials; eight wooden clothespins; dominoes; ViewMaster reels; cabinet pulls; blue casino chips; red plastic lids; clear, plastic candle holders for a Xmas tree or cake (?); colorful tops from injectable medication bottles; vintage, brass belt buckles; buttons and beads.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

It seems like forever since I last wrote a blog post (and it has been since Christmas Eve ... quite a long while for me!)  There is, of course, a good reason!  Steve and I are crazy busy finishing the last of the custom picture framing orders that were dropped off at Mouse House before our final, retirement deadline.  Plus, we are deep into our plans with the Cateechee mill village church that is being renovated into our home and my sanctuary-sized fiber art studio.  Just last week, appliances were delivered!  The sinks, toilets, and other "plumbing" things are on site too.  Tomorrow we are delivering all the lighting units.  These were sent to our home in Columbia in order to assure there would be someone to accept the delivery.  The floors are being done and the custom kitchen cabinets will be installed on January 16th.  Every time we drive to the church, we bring a van load of things ... from bookcases to garment racks to various pieces of furniture.  It is all very exciting.

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXIV.)

One might think that I haven't been creating artwork but one would be wrong!  The only way I can cope with all this is to take time after dinner for hand-stitching.  Basically, I am keeping up with an active studio practice "for my own sanity"!  I was just not getting around to photographing the works ... until yesterday.  I snapped pictures of five new pieces.  This is the first.  With any luck, I'll get a little time late tomorrow afternoon to blog at least one more!

(Above:  Detail of Mandala CLXXIV.)