Saturday, December 24, 2011

Red Shoes

When I stepped into Sheila's studio to get my professional head shot, she said, "Wow! Red shoes. I'm in the presence of a confident woman." I never thought that my wearing red shoes and especially these red shoes said nothing more than I like fun shoes. Of course, they also have to be comfortable and I hate spending lots of money (I got these from for $35). Also in the quilt world, colorful shoes are not unusual. So my question to you is, "Do red shoes mean a confident woman?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Teacher of the Year!

Great news to share! I have been nominated again for Teacher of the Year through the International Association of Professional Quilters. I was nominated the first time for the 2004 Teacher of the Year. The amazing Mary Stori received the honor.  I will receive a notification of the results after March 30 and the winner will be featured in the Spring issue of The Professional Quilter magazine.  I have 17 questions to answer and must submit everything by January 13.  This will take time and thought. Also another reason for my head shot! Life is good!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thankful Tuesday- Lynn Kunz and Vivian Helena

Lynn Kunz won my Memories of Kyrgyzstan ATC blog giveaway and sent me this wonderful fiber postcard as a thank you. I was touched by her kindness.  Thank you Lynn. I promise to pass your kindness along.

I got a few emails asking if my journal covers were reusable (removable). Yes! For me, that was the point. Vivian Helena shared with me some photographs of her beautiful journals which were made like postcards then applied to the journal with white glue. She promises to post them to her blog soon. Now I need to work on expanding my journals. Thanks Vivian!

The quilt world is full of wonderful, giving people. I love my community!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Professional Head Shot

I hate getting my picture taken. I am not pretty. I am not photogenic. I have needed a professional head shot for while and could not put it off any longer (needed for book, Italy, etc.). Sheila Rutledge, of Captured, Inc., made it painless and easy even though she was in a body cast! (thrown off of a horse). Thanks Sheila! It felt great to get this done and off my ever growing to do list. It does indeed make me feel more professional! Tomorrow I have a "meeting" with the person show is going to market my book, Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love. (Voyaguer Press). It's good to have all these new experiences. They are certainly keeping me on my toes. By the way, I'm also excited to see that Amazon now says that my book will be available after December 25 instead of arriving on February 15.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I began keeping journals in Composition books more than thirty years ago. They were cheap, yet sturdy. A great size for carrying around and storing. Nearly fifteen years ago I decided I would like to make a cover and I included a bookmark and a place to put a pen. Now I'm thinking about adding a pocket since I always seem to be picking things up and somethings simply sliding them into the pages is not safe enough.

I love black and white fabrics with hints of red so that's what I used for my first journal cover. I amazed at how well it has held up since I carry it everywhere. One of the fabrics (the black and white polka dot on the left) is fading and there is wear on the edge, but overall I am still happy with it. Making and giving these as gifts is something I do often. I will teach how to make them in the first class in Italy. It is also one of my workshops.

I am back to writing my book on my technique. It's time.  Also time to play again! Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Italy Here I Come!

I am thrilled to now be able to share with you that I will be teaching at the Abruzzo School of Creative Art in Italy fro August 22- 29, 2012! I am so honored and happy.  I also applied because it's been a while since I have done something that scares me. I think it is important to keep pushing at my comfort zone.

Locanda dell'Asino d'oro, the school's location, is situated approx. 6 minutes from the ancient city of Sulmona and a couple of minutes from Averil Stuart-Head’s, the CEO, home in Introdacqua, a medieval village. Sulmona is approx. 2 hours east of Rome and is very easy to get to from Fumicino airport. 

I will be teaching "No Time to Quilt: An Artful Approach to Quilt-As-You-Go." It is my own technique. On the first day, we will make journals to learn the technique and provide each student with a unique place to capture not only what happens in class but the entire experience. I'll share some of my journals tomorrow. Then we will begin creating a quilt that represents the Sulmona area.  Check out the school's website for more details.

What have you done lately that has pushed on your comfort zone?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent Elves

one of my elves
 How often do you jump into something without thinking it all the way through? Me? It seems I do it often. This was definitely the case when I decided to make 44 inch advent elves for my two great nieces, Alexis (11 years old) and Makayla (6 years old) and cousins. I saw some elves in a calendar and thought they were cute and would make the perfect gift. However, the price tag of $187 (each) plus shipping made them too expensive for my pocketbook. Hence, the idea of making them. I didn't think that I would be sewing 50 pockets or how much stuffing they required (48 ounces) or how much time they would take to construct. I wasn't sure once they were finished that the girls would even like them. Shipping also posed problems. They would only fit in a golf box so that cost me $20 then another $30 to ship. It's always good to have a friend who follows along in your folly as my friend Barbara did.

I wrote stories that I put in each pocket along with some props--tissues when the story gets sad, envelopes with the letters that are written in the story and a sparkly notebook to write answers to questions. I plan to do this every year and want to add more props next year.

Barbara's elf
I am also happy to report that the elves were a hit! Both girls are sleeping with them nightly and they are placed on the couch side-by-side with a blanket placed over their legs while the girls are in school. They also wait for each other to read their stories out loud to one another. So it was worth all the time, effort and money.

Each year I seem to find a project that takes more time than I imagined so I'm curious to see what happens next year. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mark Your Calendars! Fiberart For A Cause Returns

Photo by Virginia Spiegel (used with permission)
On February 15 and 16, 2012, Fiberart For A Cause (FFAC) returns for its seventh year of raising funds for the American Cancer Society with a new online event, Foto/Fiber 2012. Ninety photographs taken by Virginia Spiegel, Karen Stiehl Osborn and Cynthis Wenslow will be available for purchase. Thirty-four fiber artists will also be providing BONUS Fiber Surprises (6” x 9” bubble mailing envelopes filled with donated items such as small fiber artworks). In addition, all ninety patrons of Foto/Fiber 2012 will have the opportunity to win fiber art generously donated by Leonie Hartley Hoover, Lyric Kinard, Lynn Krawczyk, Yvonne Porcella, Susan Schrott, and Mary Ann Van Soest. The goal of the event is to raise at least $7,000 in just ten hours to add to the $215,000 already donated by FFAC to the American Cancer Society.
On February 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central, for each $100.00 minimum donation to the American Cancer Society, patrons will be able to choose one of ninety photographs and a BONUS Fiber Surprise. On February 16, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (or until sold out), patrons will be able to choose one photograph for a minimum donation of $50.00, but their BONUS Fiber Surprise will be chosen at random for them.
According to Spiegel, the founder of Fiberart For A Cause, “I was ready to mix it up with this fundraiser after fundraising and promoting fiber with the Postcard Project, Tote Tuesday, and Collage Mania.  I’m excited to share beautiful and inspiring photos by Karen Stiehl Osborn, Cynthia Wenslow, and myself.  We are all fiber artists who are also fairly prolific photographers. I’m even more excited to have a bit of mystery added to this fundraiser with the BONUS Fiber Surprises. The thirty-four participating fiber artists will be plundering their studios and sharing with donors a little bit of themselves and their studios.”
The BONUS Fiber Surprise donors are Natalya Aikens, Frances Holliday Alford, Pamela Allen, Liz Berg, Sue Bleiweiss, Nancy G. Cook, Jane Davila, Vivika DeNegre, Diane Rusin Doran, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Leonie Hartley Hoover, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Lynn Krawzcyk, Jane LaFazio, Susan Lenz, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Musgrave, Gail Myrhorodsky, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Cate Coulacos Prato, Yvonne Porcella. Wen Redmond, Sue Reno, Lesley Riley, Susan Schrott, Cynthia St. Charles, Lura Schwarz Smith, Sarah Ann Smith, and Terri Stegmiller.

The donors of the BONUS Fiber Surprises were asked to make them “wonderfully wonderful, creative, and unique.” Patrons of Foto/Fiber 2012 will receive as their BONUS Fiber Surprise a 6“ x 9” bubble mailing envelope from one of the participating fiber artists.  The envelope may contain a small work of art, hand painted or dyed fabric, screen printed Lutradur, vintage kimono scraps, a small original screen for printing, dyed embroidery thread, a small bundle of "magical" raw materials, etc.

I am proud to be a part of this effort.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


My daughter-in-law brought a 6 year old named Elizabeth to our Thanksgiving feast. Sang is Elizabeth's mentor and wanted Elizabeth to experience a "typical" (not sure how true that is) Thanksgiving. Elizabeth was naturally quite shy in the beginning. I had worried that she would be bored. I think one of the best things I have done in my home was paint the door to our garage with chalkboard paint. Usually there is a drawing from my great-niece Alexis on the door. Since Alexis is a kind and caring person, I did not think she would mind if Elizabeth replaced her drawing. Alexis will give me a new one when I see her at Christmas as is our tradition. For me it is interesting that she drew a storm. The z's are lightning. Sang is there next to Elizabeth. I made it into the drawing too. I am touching the thorns on the flower and Elizabeth is rescuing me.

The one thing that Elizabeth wanted to do and did so with enthusiasm was clean my studio. It was so much fun! She delighted in everything. "This is soooo beautiful," she would shout with glee as she picked up pieces of fabric from the floor. We actually made great progress and I never had so much fun cleaning my studio.

Elizabeth promised that she would come every time Sang visited me. I sure hope I have the opportunity to spend time with her again. She made this Thanksgiving one to remember. Have any good memories of this Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thankful Tuesday--Janice Paine Dawes

Janice Paine Dawes is the co-leader of the group Arts in the Cards. I love her sense of humor and that she is a straight shoot. She says what she means and means what she says. I find it refreshing. The story of a quilt made by Janice as a commission (reproduction of an antique quilt) is also in my soon to be published book Quilts in the Attic.  It was a joy to work with her. So thank you Janice for being a part of my life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quilts in the Attic Final Cover and Winner!

First, Lynn Kuntz is the winner of my ATC. Congrats Lynn!

I am pleased to share the final cover of my book. It is a printed laminated hard cover with a cloth binding because the plan is to market it to craft stores and these kind of stores do not like jacket covers. You may think that authors of books have a say about titles, covers, etc. It may be true for some, not for me.  The two quilts on the cover are not quilts from the essays  in the book. Does that matter to you? If you saw the book on the shelf, would you look at it? What does the quilts on the book say to you? Would you buy the book based on the cover and description? Thanks for your input.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bonnie's Boxes

I love when something I post makes someone share. My friend, Bonnie Smith, has some incredible boxes on her blog which she made out of her watercolor drawings. Now I have to go dig out more stuff for boxes. Love it! Thanks Bonnie for sharing. Go check it out!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Box Making Crazy!

Just had to share my latest obsession--box making.  The large boxes are full of greeting cards that I have made. The pink square box has ear rings in it and the long purple boxes have spoons in them. I have to say that box making is pretty close to instant gratification. Enjoy! What are you doing for fun?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Memories of Kyrgyzstan ATC and Blog Giveaway with a Twist Five

Arts in the Cards, my ATC (artist trading card) group, had grateful for this month's challenge. I had played with Wordle, a site where you can write in words and it gives you different options for arrangements. Lots of fun! I was going to use the arrangement for my background, paint the card with Fluid acrylics and add a drawing I did of a woman jumping for joy. Well, Wanda did something similar so it was back to the drawing board for me. After a few days of thought, I decided to make my Grateful ATC about one thing instead of many. I just Nevr-Dull, a metal polish, to create the paper (pages from National Geographic) for the background. The images are photographs of women in native clothing that I copied with a laser printer. Next I scanned the image, sized it to be 2.5 x 3.5 inches and printed it on cloth. I fused the cloth to Timtex for the middle layer. Since I was able to meet some incredible felting artist during my visit, I wanted to include a little felt so I needle felted (not what they do) a heart. I also put a copy of one of the wonderful postage stamps. This served two purposes--one to simply share and another to cover the felting that showed through the white fabric I put on the back.

Kyrgyzstan was full of life changing experiences. Some of them I share in my lecture. There were plans to have me return, but it never happened. I am so grateful that I had the experience. Kyrgyzstan will always be near and dear to my heart.

 I'll give up this ATC next Monday (November 21). Remember you must answer the question. Followers get three chances to win because I love my followers!

What place is near and dear to you? Why?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Calendar Collage

I have gotten requests to see more of my collage calendar pages so here you go. I had to include on that had something to do with Georgia (country not state). When I am there I'm constantly stopping to take photographs of doors so one had to be included. The churches have amazing frescoes. I was at Barbara's house when I made this one and realized that the Blue Angel would have been perfect. Guess I'll have to save it for next year. I liked that I put the question, "What will I remember most?" The answer is "my friends and the times we spent together."

I finished 11 months without any problems but finishing the twelfth was tough. I had gotten out of the flow. Does that happen to you?

I've been asked how I will determine who gets which collage. Well, my children got to pick which one they wanted. Nathaniel picked his birthday month, June, which happened to have a pick up truck in it so that worked out well. Jeremiah allowed his wife Sang to pick and she choose her birthday month, May. I have no expectation that the calendars will become prized possessions. I know this surprises some but for me, it has always been more about the process then the end product. Please don't get me wrong. I want the end product to be nice. I take pride in my work. I also know that when you give something away, it should be given freely and with love. It's released. Does it kill me when someone sells one of my quilts in a garage sale because she is redecorating. You bet! But a quilt is just a thing and not worth ruining a relationship. Of course, I would never give her another one.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Yesterday I headed into Chicago to have lunch (Cosi's on Michigan Avenue across from the Art Institute of Chicago) with Jeanne Marklin who was visiting from Massachusetts. My first encounter with Jeanne was when I interviewed her for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories, an oral history project of the Alliance for American Quilts, in 2009. She is also a member of Fiber Artists for Hope and SAQA as am I.  Sometimes online relationships don't translate well into face-to-face relationships. I am happy to report that meeting Jeanne was great! It's always good to find a fellow person who one can relate and share. We both realize that time is short and we have to make the most of it. I was even more thrilled when Jeanne asked about visiting the National Museum of Mexican Art. I drove her right over!

I checked in with her alter in the evening to make sure she got back to her hotel okay and how she liked the museum. She loved it! She shared that she really like Mario Castillo's work so now we have yet another thing in common!

Okay, you're probably wondering about the black piece of paper. Well, I found it while walking from the parking garage to the restaurant and couldn't resist picking it up. Good thing too because if I had waited the 20 minutes of snow that occurred while we were eating would have ruined it.   As I inched home in rush hour traffic (why it's called rush HOUR is beyond me because it lasts for hours), I kept looking at it and seeing something new--a bird, a horned heart, etc. I think I am going to put it into a collage.  What do you see? Do you pick up things too?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Kristin

Kristin kindly sent me a photograph of my Day of the Dead mask hanging in her home.  Doesn't it look like it belongs there? Kristin shares,  "Freezing outside, but warm here now especially with such a beautiful, perfect new piece of artwork on the wall. I have hung it adjacent to the prosperity chickens from India, the wedding basket from China, my sage and other native materials for smudging, the eagle feather given to me when I retired, the Tibetan bell and bowl, the little Buddha and other small pieces, all atop a lacquered bookcase that holds my "Selvedge"  magazines and knitting books. A little glimpse on the chair on the left of my Jacob's coat knit wool shawl that I wear as I write my Morning Pages each day.

Thank you so much for sending me such a perfect addition to my little sitting room here in my Montana bungalow!

Always now I will think of you when I am in that wonderful little room!" And I will think of Kristin often. I love when pieces of my artwork end up exactly where they belong.

 I can remember a time when giving away a piece of my artwork was so difficult. In part, it was because so much of me was put into the work and I think I was not confident enough to believe I could make something more. I wasn't even sure how or if my blog giveaways would be embraced.

I love Robert Collier's quote, "You cannot hold on to anything good. You must be continually giving--and getting. You cannot hold on to your seed. You must sow it--and reap anew. You cannot hold on to riches. You must use them and get other riches in return." With this mask I've gained a new friend!

Do you find it difficult or easy to give away something that you have made?

Monday, November 7, 2011

More on Calendar and Winner of Blog Giveaway with a Twist Four


 First, the winner is Maureen! I know Maureen from Postmark'd Art so I am thrilled!

Secondly, thanks to Marti for calling me and letting me know how much she loves my spoons. And thanks to Bonnie Smith for her kind words in an email about my collage calendar.

What a great Monday!

I wasn't planning on sharing more of my collage calendar, but several emails with questions have convinced me otherwise.

I only did three  months that were easily recognized as holiday related. I love Halloween so that one was easy. Looking at it now, I think I should have added more details. I host my family's Christmas so that holiday is always near and dear to me. Generally I would not do something so Christian because I have lots of friends who are not, but none of them are getting a calendar (hope they are not disappointed but none of them are calendar users) so I decided to just go for it. I have a brother and a nephew born on the 4th of July so I wanted to honor that month too. We also get together at my house for that holiday too. Family is very important to me.

 Remember there are no rules! If you want to create your own calendars, my advice is to just have fun.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I live to serve. (I actually got Penny McMorris, owner of Electric Quilt, to snort her coffee through her nose when I signed an email to her with those words. Great memory.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Collage Calendar

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures. - Bob Kerrey

Kristen, the winner of Blog Giveaway with a Twist Three, called me on the phone to ask if she was really the winner.  Her excitement and kindness is still with me. I named my blog "connections" with the hope that these kinds of things would happen. Thank YOU Kristen!

I love to play with paper, rubberstamps and stickers. Stickers in particular make me feel like a kid again. When my friend Barbara suggested that we make simple collages and turn them into calendars to give as gifts, I was in! What a great idea! Each calendar will also include one original collage. I was a little worried about the color copies, but they came out great. I used a coupon from Office Depot and made the copies myself to save money. I purchased blanket calendars from Archiver's, a scrapbook store which is also online. They send me 30% off coupons which I used to purchase the calendars over several months. I figure the total cost of each calendar was around $20 and in terms of the fun I had (especially when I got to spend time with Barbara), priceless.  The opportunity to just play truly does spill over to my work.

If people like them, I could definitely see this becoming a yearly activity. While we made our pages 8 1/2" by 11", if I do it again, I plan to make them 8" by 10" for two reasons. First, the copier cropped the work and secondly, if someone would want to frame the original collage, it would be cheaper because they could purchase a stock frame. I love making gifts for people. Do you make gifts?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spoonful of Inspiration

My love affair with spoons began in my twenties while I was living in Aruba. I met a man who lived outside of town (known as the cunucu) who carved spoons and sold them so he could pay for his cataract surgery. It is one collection that I never went crazy, but still love. When I moved into this house, I always thought it would be nice to have a river bed going down the slope in my backyard. When I looked into the cost of making it out of rocks, I knew it wouldn't happen so I created Spoon River. While collecting the spoons, I came across sterling silver plated spoons. What I discovered quickly was that when I tried to bend them, they snapped in two.

The Naperville Art League has a holiday show every year where members can sell gift items. In thinking about what I could make to sell, I came across my unused spoons and inspiration struck.  These were so much fun to make! I used alcohol inks to color them then added wire, charms and beads. I was thrilled when I figured out a way to make them hang. My love of words was added with stickers (another thing I collect and love). I have no idea if they will sell. It will be interesting to see what happens. Hopefully they will bring some smiles.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- With Update

Okay, I know it is suppose to be wordless, but I was so hoping someone could tell me the story behind this church. It is the former "Lutherische Kirche" (written on the building) which in German means "Lutheran Church." It is on the corner of W. 19th St and S. Peoria in Chicago (Pilsen neighborhood). 

Sandy Snowden has spurred me on to do further research.  I have learned that Peoria used to be Johnson. Records for the church are available at the Newberry until the early 1940s so Sandy's thought that it might have burned during the Great Chicago Fire (it was on the edge) did not pan out.
It was part of the Missouri Synod so I've emailed them to see if they know. I sure hope so because I want to know what happened.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Foto/Fiber 2012

I am pleased to announce and be a part of:
 Foto/Fiber 2012
90 Photos AND 90 BONUS Fiber Surprises
Beauty and Mystery Unite to Fight Cancer

Gold Donor Day - February 15, 2012
Make a minimum donation of $100, choose a photo by Virginia A. Spiegel,
and choose a BONUS Fiber Surprise by a specific artist from an amazing list of generous fiber artists.

Regular Foto/Fiber - February 16, 2012
Make a minimum donation of $50 and choose a photo by Virginia A. Spiegel.
Your BONUS Fiber Surprise will be chosen at random for you from the list of generous fiber artists.

Artists donating BONUS fiber surprises include:
Natalya Aikens, Frances Holliday Alford, Pamela Allen, Sue Bleiweiss, Nancy G. Cook, Jane Davila, Vivika DeNegre, Diane Rusin Doran, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Leonie Hartley Hoover, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Susan Brubaker Knapp, Lynn Krawzcyk, Jane LaFazio, Susan Lenz, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Musgrave, Gail Myrhorodsky, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Cate Coulacos Prato, Yvonne Porcella, Wen Redmond, Sue Reno, Susan Schrott, Cynthia St. Charles, Lura Schwarz Smith, Sarah Ann Smith, and Terri Stegmiller

Drawings for Fiber Art throughout the event.
All patrons of Foto/Fiber 2012 will also have multiple chances throughout Foto/Fiber to win amazing fiber art donated by:

Leonie Hartley Hoover
Lyric Kinard
Lynn Krawczyk
Yvonne Porcella
Mary Ann Van Soest

More information on how Foto/Fiber 2012 works is here:

Our goal – Raise $7,000 for the American Cancer Society in just ten hours over two days.

Fiberart For A Cause has already donated over $215,000 to the American Cancer Society through the generosity of fiber artists and their patrons.

Contact Virginia(at) for more information.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blog Giveaway with a Twist Four

Mending a Broken Heart
Congratulations to KAM for winning last week's mask giveaway!

This week's blog giveaway is one of my Mending a Broken Heart hearts. I started making these as gifts to send to friends who had heart attacks, divorces, break up with significant others, loss of pets and children, any time a heart was broken. I decided to add it as one of my Bending Quilt-As-You-Go (my technique) workshops and for a few years I traveled the country teaching it and I have to admit I was surprised when  it was the most requested of my workshops. People were always surprised that they went home with a least two completed hearts and often four. It also gave me an opportunity to teach rope making (very addicting). And as quickly as this workshop was popular, it stopped being requested. I have no idea why.  However, I continue to make and send these hearts to family and friends.

"Home is where the heart is," the old saying goes. It is not a mistake that "art" is a predominant part of the word "heart." Our homes are our refuge, the one place where we can truly express ourselves. I collect things that I cannot do myself. I love things made out of clay so I have a collection of pots and sculpture. I also have a small collection of quilts, many from friends whose work I love. I collect rusty sculpture usually incorporating rocks (another love of mine) for my garden. I still remember the high school student whose moving rock sculpture I purchased at an art fair in Geneva, Illinois. It was such a thrill to provide validation to someone just starting out. Again they are all things that I simply could not have made and yet, speak to me. What do you collect and why?

Winner will be announced ob Monday, November 7th. Followers get three chances to win because I love my followers!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Clutter Busting

I brake for articles and books about clutter because it's seems that it's one of the crosses I apparently give myself to bear. Or so I thought. This book, Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What is Holding You Back, is different. It explains that clutter happens because of beliefs and unresolved issues. Palmer asks ample questions, giving you lots of food for thought. The exercises pave the way toward deep work, self-knowledge, and understanding. His main premise is that it is you who is sacred, not your things. The book explores such fundamental topics as the false identities we assume through clutter, the feat of change those junk piles represent, the addictive nature of holding on to objects, how clearing clutter makes room for clarity and sweeps away confusion and stasis and much more.

I love the quote at the beginning of the book by Ramesh Balsekar, With all the things you have in your life, are you any more happy than your dog?

Palmer has a blog too! He has performed stand-up comedy for years and this is evident in both the book and blog. While he as been featured in national and local media (he lives in Chicago), I had not heard of him. I discovered the book while pursing the clutter section at my local library and I'm so glad that I brought it home. Visiting his website, I discovered that he has a new book coming out next year. Hopefully, I won't need it!

I'm a pile maker. What kind of clutter do you battle?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Get Ready to Blog- Naperville Art League

Thursday night was my first Naperville Art League meeting since I became the Second Vice President on the League's board in June. The membership had said that they wanted business and marketing programs so I recruited fiber artist, BJ Parady, to give a program on how she uses her blog to promote and sell her work and the different options out there. My fear that no one would show up was quickly elevated and we had a full house! BJ did an excellent job and members in the audience contributed too which is exactly as it should be. Our next meeting will be in January and I decided we have a movie night. I'll be showing Who Does She Think She Is?

Board member Michell LeBlanc put together a short film (aren't phones and Macs amazing) with a  review on her blog, Naperville Cultural Center if you are interested. Thank you Michelle!

Friday, October 28, 2011

New Direction

Crow's Delight
My new work seems to be a natural progression, at least for me. I'm trying to move myself to do abstract work.  I entered this piece in the Naperville Art League's themed exhibition As Crow Flies. (Each month the League has a themed exhibition.) It was the first time I had ever entered anything and frankly I was nervous. I actually sat out in my car for a few minutes before going inside to register my pieces.Turns out I didn't need to be nervous. My quilt was warmly embraced and I got lots of positive feedback (alas no sale). I did find it interesting that people felt very comfortable touching my piece and wondered how they would feel if someone did that to her work of art. However, I do feel that being accepted, having positive comments, etc. is worth having my work handled after all it is only natural to want to touch fiber.  This work included retail fabrics and my own bleached and dyed fabrics, hand quilting and machine quilting and hand beading (which is where the title originated). It was my attempt to create an urban landscape. The "love" was my homage to graffiti.  I feel the exhibition was one of the better ones for the NAL. I am pleased I pushed on my comfort zone because next time will be easier. When was the last time you pushed your comfort zone?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interpreting Manuel Felguerez

They Ask for Fish by Manuel Felguérez
Continuing to share the work of Las puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul and the Mexican artists whose work they choose to interpret. Christina choose Manuel Felguérez's painting They Ask for Fish (created in 1966) from the permanent collection in National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Felguérez was born in 1928 in Valparaíso, Zacatecas in Mexico. He's still alive, living in Mexico and working. I encourage you to Google images of his work where you will find both images of his paintings and sculpture. I discovered that I really liked his abstract expressionist paintings. He is an avid collector of all sorts of objects (would love to know exactly what kind of objects), taxidermist, anthropologist, teacher, investigator and master artist. He traveled to Europe in the late 1940s which is where he had his first meaningful encounter with art and attempted to study art in Mexico. He was one of the first artists to criticize the Mexican school of painting.  He adopted the ideas of writer, poet, and diplomat  Octavio Paz (1914-1998), who thought that art had to be an incessant movement of continuity and breaks from tradition. In both sculpture and painting, Felguérez constantly appropriated the artistic movements of his time (Cubism and Abstract Expressionism).
Christina Carlos
He was a professor at Cornell University. professor of Design and Investigacion Visual at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and was awarded a awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship while he worked as an investigator at Harvard University.  It always interests me to discover how many Mexican artists have a connection to the muralism movement so it was interesting to find out that in the early 1960s, Felguérez was commissioned to make more than 30 murals for public and private institutions. According to Octavio Paz, "Manuel Felguérez created a new muralism movement where painting is joined with sculpture." He charged little for the murals in an effort to be recognized nationally and internationally as an artist. It worked. He closed his mural workshop and opened a studio to focus on painting.  Personally, I think he would be a fascinating man to meet.
I  did not take long for Christina to select Felguérez's painting and I was proud of her for selecting something abstract. I'm especially appreciative that she did because I learned so much personally.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Winner of Blog Giveaway 2 and New Blog Giveaway with a Twist Three

Sorry for the delay in announcing the winner. I haven't heard from the person who was to select the winner so when my neighbor came to the door inquiring about my missing cat, she kindly pulled the name out of the hat. It was cute to see how seriously she took this request. Drum roll please! The winner is Diana Bracy! Who also happens to be a follower. Congratulations. I hope you enjoy!

For those of you who did not win, I found another mask so you have another chance. Again, followers of this blog will have three chances to win because I love my followers! I also love masks and began making them in fiber more than fifteen years ago. Throughout history, masks have allowed us to act out and act up, to lose ourselves in a role and to find parts of ourselves we might otherwise never know.

What about masks appeal to you?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fiber Art Now

I received my much anticipated new quarterly magazine Fiber Art Now which grew out of Marcia Young's (the editor) online Valley Fiber Life. Subscriptions in the U.S. are $40.00 and the retail price per issue is $14.00. Because I was familiar with Valley Fiber Life and because I want a good fiber magazine, I thought it was worth the risk of subscribing blind. I think it's a great start and I'm hopeful that as the magazine matures it will become a great resource. It does remind me how much I miss the old days of FiberArts magazine. I enjoyed Viewpoints which asks "my peers" a question. The questions posed in this issue was "Do you collect anything? Does your collection influence what you create?" Book recommendations are from her Advisory Board. No descriptions or price is given. I enjoyed the First Person articles where the artists discuss their process. There are lots of photos. the international Calls of Entry was interesting even though for many the deadline had passed.  I enjoyed learning about contemporary rug hooking. I wanted to have more than just a few photographs of the Wrapping Traditions: Korean Textiles Now exhibition and hope that there will be a focus on what is going on in the rest of the world. I was left a little wanting and look forward to the next publication.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Interpreting Vladimir Cora

Bather 28 by Vladimir Cora
I miss my Saturdays with Las puntadas del alma/Stitches of the Soul. It was a wonderful experience being able to teach at a museum (National Museum of Mexican Art) that I loved. I never imaged it would last three years. In our last session, the group selected a piece from the museum's permanent collection and to interpret, not recreate, that chosen work of art. I encouraged the women to push beyond their comfort zones and choose something abstract or at least something different.

Soco choose Vladimir Cora's Bather 28 created in 1988.  Cora was born in Nayarit, Mexico in 1951. He is self-taught and was able to build a reputation as a formidable painter is his late teens. He knew he wanted to be a painter after seeing a print of Monet's Water Lilies in his aunt's pharmacy where he worked when he was thirteen. Cora was named after Vladimir Lenin by his father, a saddle maker and avid follower of politics. Cora met Rufino Tamayo in 1978 and remained his student until the mentor died in 1991. In Mexico, Cora is a highly regarded established artist. He lives and works in Santa Ana, California.  (Source: Pigment of Imagination by Vivian Letran, Los Angeles Times Magazine, December 21, 2000) 

Socorro Carlos
I was proud of Soco for choosing this painting. She also kept her piece small so she was able to finish by the end of class (another goal with the group). I hope you agree with me that she did an excellent job!

The part I loved was researching and learning about the artists the women choose. Also don't you just love the hot pink walls of the modern section in the museum? It is one of the many things I love about this museum.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tote Bag Closures

Option One
Option Two

You certainly don't have to have the make your tote bags so that they can close.  I am a such a klutz so being able to close my tote bag is important to me and when I give them as gifts, it does make it look impressive especially to non-sewers. Buttons are another love of my life so it's nice to be able to use them. 

I know a lot of people fear making button holes, but sewing machines make it really easy. Just follow the instructions in your sewing machine manual, it usually just five easy steps. I usually make the piece match both size and color of the piece of fabric (you can see it in the Tote Bag Crazy post but this time I wanted to see what it looked like a little bigger. Just remember to make it work for you! There are no rules.

If making button holes just isn't your cup of tea, then try option two.  There are all kinds of fabulous fibers and cords available to use or you could even make your own! I usually cut the cord around nine inches making sure that an inch is in the seam. Stitching around the edge of the bag provides not only a nice finish and provides extra security. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Postmark'd Art and Tote Bags

Postcard by Marjorie Lee Jin En McQuincy
Postcard by Lynn Chinnis

For those of you interested in tote bags, I have made a page (just under the header) with my posts concerning them. I am sorry that I got away from finishing my tote bag construction posts and promise to post tomorrow on closures.

I have belonged to Postmark'd Art since its beginning in 2004.  It was the first online group that I ever joined and I had never made a fiber postcard. Belonging to the group has been an incredible learning experience. I have gained some wonderful friends, stretched and grown as a person and an artist because of this group. We have recently relaunched our web presence. Franki Kohler, our leader and organizer, Lynn Chinnis and I are working with the group to continually add new content.  If you are interested in any way about fabric postcards, visit the website. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Postcard by Franki Kohler