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.