Monday, December 31, 2012

Inspired by a Locust Tree

For more than 14 years, the view from my studio's windows has been a locust tree. It is a tree that I both love and hate. On sunny winter days, I watch its shadow move across my yard. In the spring and summer, I watch the birds that sit in its branches. In the fall, I curse it when I have to rake and sweep its tiny leaves and when I unclog its leaves from my gutters. Lately, it is this tree that I have been using in my artwork.

I decided to make coasters for my son and daughter-in-law. I had hoped to have them completed for Christmas but that didn't happen so they will get an after Christmas gift. They have chosen to limit the color of the walls in their house to shades of gray which made it easy for me to design the 4-inch coasters. I'm a night owl so making an evening scene also gave it a personal touch. The background was machine pieced then fused onto Timtex. I keep hoping that one day soon I will have used up all my scraps of Timtex. Everyone needs a dream and this is one of mine. I fused the lame moon and tree, machine stitched details into the trees and satin stitched the edges.

I used the tree once again for the center of the wall hanging that I made for my 80-year-old dad for Christmas. The quilt was suppose to be for his 80th birthday in May but in the spirit of the Musgraves doing things late is the way. I continued to get hand prints far after his party.  I was just happy to get them.

Family is one of the most important things in life to my dad and so I included the hand prints (the left one because it is closest to our heart) of as many family and close family friends as I go get. I lightly traced each hand (more than 50) and quilted them in the borders and the background of the quilt. I was able to get all of the immediate family and at least one hand print from each of my dad's four brothers' families. My dad is proud of his Irish heritage (ignores the rest) so I placed an Irish saying below the tree, "It is in the shelter of other people that we live." This was not an easy quilt for me to make. My dad's health is not good. I had hoped that before he died we could work out the issues of the past. I realize this simply is not going to happen. The completing of this quilt helped me release the pain and anger (just isn't working for me anymore).  Art can heal.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quilting in Prison

Quilting in prisons came up as a discussion on the Quilt Art list and Beyond the Barrier, a special exhibit at Sacred Threads, was mentioned.  Beyond the Barrier, special exhibit at Sacred Threads, was a one time and wonderful project initiated by Vikki Pignatelli at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio. The chaplain ran the actual program but she did not actually teach the women to quilt even though she is a quiltmaker herself. Her role is spiritual. I think one important thing to know is that the women were not allowed to keep their quilts. They either had to pay for them to be shipped home (or wherever) or the quilts were put into storage.

For years while I was a volunteer with Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories(Q.S.O.S), an oral history project for the Quilt Alliance, I had tried to add interviews from inmates without success. I was very happy when in 2009 ORW and the Franklin Prelease Center in Columbus allowed me to interview six of the women who had participated in Beyond the Barrier and I did so over a two day period. You can read the interviews here. I was given a small grant to pay for transcribing the interviews. I personally paid for the rest.

One of the conditions from the warden was that I had to begin each interview by having the women explain why they were incarcerated. Before the tape recorder was turned on, I did explain to the women that this was not the focus of the interview and they did not need to go into a lot of detail. The assistant to the warden sat in on all the interviews conducted at ORW. The interview I did with Tangy Thomas at the FPC, I was alone with her.  I cried during almost all of the interviews. I did not require the women to hold an ID sign during the photography as was usually required by the Q.S.O.S. project. I wanted this to be as positive of an experience as I could make it.

ORW has the "Stitching Post" where women in the prison can work and earn money (15 cents an hour). I was impressed that everyone in the prison is encouraged to work.  One of the activities in the Stitching Post is making quilts for charitable organizations from donations from outside the prison. Some of the organizations provide batting and backs but most do not. The quilts are generally simple and minimally quilted. The focus is quick production NOT creativity or even precision. None of the women in the exhibition presently work in the Stitching Post. Other activities include crocheting, knitting and making special shirts for military personnel who have lost arms.

I still correspond with four of the women. Joy Major's conviction for murder has been over-turned. She always claimed to be innocent of the murder of her husband. She is no longer at ORW and the facility where she is now allows her to create personal quilts which she is doing. She is writing a book which she hopes to get published once she is released. Teresa is studying hard to get her GED. She passed the pretest with flying colors so I don't think she will have a problem. I see her confidence level increasing each time I hear from her. Rosa is in a drug program so that once she is released, she will hopefully not fall back on bad habits. Rosa is Mexican and will be deported the minute she is released. I have promised to help her as much as I can after her release because she lives in a very poor region of Mexico which was why she was dealing drugs in the first place. Michelle is trying to exercise to loose some weight and waiting for a transfer to a prison closer to family. Ronda (pictured with her quilt) will never be released from prison. She coaches a basketball team and sells her artwork to support mission work. I have found all the women to be open and honest about why they are in prison. All want to make a difference when they are released. Few have had many positive things in their lives. I try to be one.

I worked hard to get another project like Beyond the Barrier for the women at ORW without success. I am convinced that having these kinds of projects in prisons changes lives. However, I am acutely aware of the pain of the victims of their crimes as I have been contacted by a few of them.

Being in two different prisons was a real eye opener. ORW does not look like a bad place. There are gardens all around. However, the constant view of razor wire, crowding and lack of freedom was ever present. It makes me count my blessings.

Several people have asked me about sending messages to the women but not waiting to write them themselves. Just leave a comment and I'll send them for you. Thanks!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Featured in the Naperville Sun Again

When Joy Davis wrote me at the end of November and asked what I was working on and if I had anything "exciting" coming up, I was pleasantly surprised. It had been just a little more than a year since my blog was featured in my local newspaper, the Naperville Sun. She explained that I might not be chosen to be featured in a "where are they now article." It was up to her editor. Well, I made the cut! The article went online today. It's a nice way to end the year. Thanks Joy!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa Quilt Done!

I still cannot believe that I finished my Santa quilt. I can thank my soon to be born (due January 4th) grandson. When my sons were growing up, I always thought it would be fun to have seasonal/holiday quilts. Life was to crazy to make that happen. This was part of my thinking when I asked the Friendship Bee to make Santa blocks for me in 1996. I'm thrilled! The rod is not long enough which is why it's not hanging straight and I decided not to move the nails. I'm not sure anyone will notice except me. With my extended family coming for Christmas (15 people this year), I don't have time to go shopping. The quilt brings back such great memories and certainly warms up the living room. Guess I am going to have to start working on the Halloween quilt that I had wanted to make years ago. It just might be done by the time my grandson knows what Halloween is all about. Life is good! I hope it is for you too.

Friday, December 21, 2012

When Doubt Creeps In

I'll admit that the entire time I was needle felting (single needle, punched by hand), I just wasn't sure I liked it. I wasn't sure I wasn't taking a perfectly nice looking silk scarf and ruining it. Then my husband commented how he really didn't like it and I had a moment of panic. Has this happened to you?

Galileo called self-doubt "the father of all invention." I've thought a lot about self-doubt having experienced often and watched what it has done to other people in my life. Self-doubt that doesn't lead to decision or action is ultimately self-defeating, and creates a numbing negativity. Whereas self-doubt that leads to resolution of the doubts can be a remarkable source of energy and creativity.

My goal was to create an organic piece of art for a friend to wear. These are not my colors. They are hers. I think the colors are part of the reason my husband does not like it. I learned long ago that I can take into consideration what other people think but I don't have to act on it especially if it does not ring true to me. I wasn't making the scarf for my husband. While I value his opinion, I pressed on and finished the scarf.

I didn't think about how the felting would make the scarf feel and was pleasantly surprised to find that it feels divine. I can't stop petting it.  I used mostly silk but added some wool and some unknown content fibers. There is bits of silver thread thrown in too to give it a little sparkle. It looks better in person than it does in the photo, but several people have asked it I finished it. It was made with love and I know it will be received with the same even if she does not like it.  I am blessed. I hope you are too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

12/12/12: Lisa Quintana and Pillowcases for Sandy Hook

Here is another wonderful quilt made for the 12/12/12 Project. This one was done by Lisa Quintana. I love how she used "twelve" in different languages. Please visit her blog to learn more about how she came up with her design. It's also not too late to join in the fun. This is a busy time of year so I know people need time to finish their quilts. Just send me images of your quilt when you are done. I don't plan to write the article until after the first of the year.

On a more serious note, as we try to come to terms with the tragedy of deaths in Sandy Hook, Becky at Quilter's Corner in New Milford, Connecticut,  is collecting pillowcases for the children at Sandy Hook School. She would like to have around 600. All People Quilt has some great free downloadable patterns. Please pass this message to any sewing friends. Pillowcases can be mailed to her at Quilters Corner, 312 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776.

On Saturday while at my local Dominick's, the discussion at the checkout was all about Sandy Hook. We decided (cashier, bagger and me) that we couldn't change what happened, but we could be kind to everyone we meet. Be kind today. Who knows it may just change someone's day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

And the Winner Is....Drum Roll Please

Congratulations Diane! I can't wait to see what you do with my fabrics. Thanks to everyone for stopping by, your kind words and suggestions. I will be going to the library today to check out In Search of Indigo thanks to Karen Davis. I plan to do another batch of indigo dyeing in January and will be doing another giveaway. I love to share. Make it a great day!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Textual Journal Cover

I am a productive procrastinator. I do things that need to be done, I just don't do things I should be doing. I was tidying up my office and came across an old list (2008) of things that I wanted to make in 2009 which obviously did not happen.  On that list was "textural book wraps" (Angie Hughes, October/November 2007 Quilting Arts Magazine). I was pleasantly surprised that I had not given away my copy (I use to send them to Georgia until I realized I was actually causing more frustration  because the supplies ae simply not available than inspiration.). I knew I didn't want to create a wrap but I loved the idea/construction. Of course, my heat gun died during the process so melting away the organza some more (right now you have to look close to find any) is not going to happen but it still has the organic feel that I wanted to achieve. I definitely want to make a few more.

For those of you who do not have a copy of the magazine, you weave a foundation over a fusible interfacing, rubberstamp, paint, etc., add fibers and other things that won't interfere with the quilting then cover it all with organza and heavily quilt it. I found my piece did not shrink as the article indicated so I ended up cutting it down then sewing the cut off pieces onto the cover because the pieces were just too wonderful to throw away.  Next time I will definitely add more fibers and other things before topping with the organza. I added more fiber after the quilting which Angie didn't do. I went crazy with sewing buttons too but then I love buttons. It's 8.5" x nearly 12".  My next one will be smaller. This was fun and I have another gift done! Now to finish my other projects! I can procrastinate no longer.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roving Mind

I have been blessed with truly amazing friends. It's always good to surround yourself with people who make grow as an artist, support you in your efforts, make you want to be a better person and embrace what you make.  As the years roll on, it is getting tougher to think of new and exciting things to make and give. Digging through my roving to make felted soap provided me with an idea for one of my friends. Now I just have to feel the fear and start felting this hand dyed silk scarf (I folded and pinned it so you could easily see the entire thing. It's actually 14" x 72".). Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12: Be...

I kept thinking that it will be another 100 years before 12/12/12 happens again. I'll be long gone so what would I want to share with people in the future. Inspiration struck and my "Be..."quilt happened!
I choose:

Be Focused
Be Generous
Be Passionate
Be Grateful
Be Open
Be Flexible
Be Creative
Be Playful
Be Bold
Be Amusing
Be Kind

The fabric is actually the back of a Kona Bay leaf fabric that I had in my stash. Next I cut out a simple body shape that I seem to love and have used in the past which I used as a stencil. Using a makeup sponge and Lumiere Halo Violet-Gold by Jacquard, I dabbed around the my cut-out. I am so happy! I still plan to finish my other 12/12/12 quilt. Can't wait to see what everyone else does!

12/12/12: A Moment in Time Project

Here’s what December 12 has to offer:

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has declared December 12, 2012, as Anti-Doomsday Day in celebration of rational thinking and reasoned discourse.
December 12 is the last of the repeating dates until January 1, 2101. Repeating dates (like 12/12/12) can, for obvious reasons, only occur in the first 12 years of a century.
At 1:21:02 a.m., palindrome lovers everywhere rejoiced in the single second that marks when the date-time combination is the same read both forwards and backwards: 2012-12-12 1:21:02 = 201212-1-212102.
On the date,  the First Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court John Jay was born in 1745, followed by "Madame Bovary" author Gustave Flaubert (1821), Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863), "‘ol blue-eyes" Frank Sinatra (1915), politician Ed Koch (1924), abstract expressionist Helen Frankenthaler (1928), singer Dionne Warwick (1940), and jazz drummer extraordinaire, Tony Williams (1945) just to name a few.
December 12 hasn’t proven to be an exceedingly popular day for famous deaths, however English poet Robert Browning, Baroness Spencer-Churchill (wife of Winston), Ike Turner and Tom Walkinshaw, (former racing driver and Formula 1 team owner) all hold the honor.
And today there will also be quilts!

I woke early this morning anxious to get going on my part of the 12/12/12: A Moment in Time Project. I sliced and inserted fabrics. Not entirely thrilled with my efforts (I did have fun. I just think I needed more coffee!) so it's on to quilt two! I'm going to do some hand applique so it may be a while before you see my next one.

Carol Esch send me a photo of her quilt made from her own wonderful shibori fabrics. Carol shares, " I was going to put 12 12 12 on it but decided on Roman Numeral 12  XII..........which actually consists of 12 straight pieces." I love it! She's trying to figure out how to quilt it so leave her some suggestions.  

Here is Sylvia Lewis's quilt. Please check out her blog for more details. I know I want to know more! Sylvia is also participating in the blog giveaway party.

Do send me images of your work. Do check back later for to see more. Do sign up for my blog giveaway.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Running Full Speed with an Idea

An 8" x 6" journal page for a journal exchange, created a desire to explore using the image of Mother Nino (I've never heard a Georgian refer to her as St. Nino but she is a saint in the Georgian Orthodox Church and I have visited her grave.) in more art. I'd like to thank Helen Lindton for causing this journey. I don't think I would ever have created any of this art if her journal had not been about icons. And while I love icons, I've never created any art using them.

Part of the reason I wanted to continue to explore was I was not entirely satisfied with the journal page. That's what I get for not entirely planning things before I start gluing!

The next step was to create a 6" x 4" postcard.  I have joined Shannon Ganshorn's International Postcard Swap V 3.0 (encouraged by my friend Marie Z. Johansen). We have to make 10 postcards and mail them to 10 different people. I love the idea of being exposed to art created by other people. I'm particularly interested in art being created outside the US. I thought if the postcard worked out that I would have one less postcard to make. By the way, there's still time to join in the fun! They just need to be mixed media creations.

Next I created a 2.5" by 3.5" ATC (artist trading card). Arts in the Cards theme for our January trade is verdigri. The background of the ATC is from a photograph of a patina part of a building that I took in one of my trips to Georgia which seemed perfect on so many levels. I love the way this background works for both the theme and the card. I'm a very literal person so being able to come up with art that is not literal to the theme makes me very happy. Also I'm done early so less January stress! Of course, this is creating more December stress but I truly believe one needs to listen and answer the call to create when it happens (if at all possible).

Last night I became inspired once more. This time I made a small quilt (7" x 9").  The transfers were printed on silk habotai. Georgia was part of the silk route so I thought this was appropriate. It was the first time I worked with using silk habotai for transfers. It has a great hand but the background colors bleed through. For the most part this was okay except for the image of her head covering around her shoulders. This presented me with the challenge of fixing a problem. I'm actually quite happy that this accident occurred! I like the look I was able to achieve.

So which one do you like the best?

Don't forget to enter my blog giveaway! (see below)

I have gotten a glimpse of some of the 12/12/12 Project quilts and all I can say is "Wow!" I am going to have to definitely step up my game! Thanks! You still have time to join in the fun. Details are here. Make it a creative day!

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Not Crazy Catalog

The I'm Not Crazy exhibition catalog (50 pages) arrived today! I haven't had the chance to see the exhibit so this is definitely the next best thing and so much better than looking at photos online.  Salli McQuaid did a great job designing and putting it together. Thank you Salli!  It's available through or SAQA's store for $15 (plus shipping if applicable). Hope you'll consider supporting this endeavor. I am so honored to be a part of it.


"If your life has in any way been touched by mental illness, you will find this art quilt catalog -- and the exhibition -- irresistible. "I'm Not Crazy: Stigma Revealed" chronicles the striking international art exhibition "I'm Not Crazy,"  a powerful international art organization created for the advancement of the textile art form. The exhibition was conceived and curated by Kathy Nida of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). The innovative exhibition defines mental illness, exploring visually and viscerally a kind of illness that causes behavioral problems and to which stigma is almost always attached. Internationally-known Quilt Artist Sue Reno juried the exhibition."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Blog Giveaway to Celebrate the 5th Birthday of Quilting Gallery

Michele Foster is celebrating the 5th birthday of her Quilting Gallery with a Quilter's Blog Hop Party. I appreciate all that Michele does to promote quiltmaking and quilters who blog. I decided to give away pieces from my last indigo dye adventure. The long skinny piece is dupioni silk (3.5 inches x 20 inches) which just happens to be my favorite kind of silk. The rest are all cotton.

Starting top left:

9 inches x 9.75 inches
12 inches x 9.75 inches
14 inches x 9.5 inches
10.5 inches x 9 inches

Read Carefully:

1. I will ship internationally.
2. I won't be responsible if the package gets lost in the mail.
3. Winner will be announced on December 16. I will not track you down so make sure you either check back or leave an easy way for me to contact you so I can get your address. If I don't hear from you within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.
4.  I love people who follow my blog and want them to know it so my followers will get their names put into the hat twice.

Enjoy the hop!

St. Nino and A Journal Exchange

I'm in an international journal exchange through the Milliande Art Community for Women. I am in a group with two other artists who both happen to be in Australia. I love being in exchanges with artist from other countries. Our journals needed to be around 6 x 8 inches to get mailing costs reasonable. I got into the exchange at the last minute so I used a store bought journal and simply created a cloth cover for it. We could decide on a theme or go no theme.

My first journal is from Helen Lindton who is a master at Coptic makers and faces. Her theme is "Icons." Yikes! Of course, this is exactly why I choose to be in these kinds of situations. They make me grow. I decided to do St. Nino who caused the country of Georgia to convert to Christianity. Here is what I have put together so far. It doesn't seems finished to me. Suggestions are welcomed!

Do check back later for the Bog Hop Giveaway.  We will be posting between 6-8 Eastern time.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Indigo Woman

Last night on one of my breaks from machine quilting, I was going through my things trying to decide what to have for my blog giveaway when I came across a piece of my indigo fabric. It's a small piece of linen. This is actually the back which is more muted. It looked like a person with a hole in them which is kind of how I am feeling. I used some more of my fabric to create a head. Now I have an idea for a new piece! Not what I should be doing, but something I need to do. Can't wait to see how this evolves. Do you strike when the idea occurs or do you what until you have time?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Creativity Class and Julie Sefton

Julie Sefton is sharing her thoughts on my creativity assignments on her blog today. Thanks Julie!

You can join in at any time. I encourage you to work through the assignments from beginning to end. It is especially important for you to do the assignments that you are resistive in any way. These assignments are offered freely for you to explore and enjoy. I'm here to support you in any way that I can.

I also hope that now Julie has shared her thoughts and work that it will encourage the rest of you to do the same. Make it a creative day! It's my plan.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Felted Soap

My youngest son makes very nice handmade soaps but receiving a white bar seems a bit underwhelming. I decided to see if I could use some of my collection of roving and felt the soap. It's like having soap and a washcloth all rolled into one. I remember seeing felted soap for a ridiculous price at Anthropology a few years ago. Well, these are my first attempts and once again this confirms that a felt maker I will probably never be. I do plan to give it a couple more tries to see if I can get the felt to be more even and not have soap peeking through. At least I have very clean hands!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Creativity Lesson 4: Sheild/Coat of Arms

Okay, I am in denial (Isn't that a river in Egypt?) about the fact that it is December. Afterall, I mowed my lawn and grilled yesterday! For those of you who are too busy to add this assignment to your to do list, it's okay. Do it next month. I'm not here to beat you up. I'm simply sharing and supporting you in your journey.

“The process of creation is a force moving through us, and only through practice do we learn how to cooperate with it.” Shaun McNiff

symbol: a material object representing, often something immaterial – Webster Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary

Assignment #4 – Shield/Coat of Arms

In this assignment, we will explore what we need to protect AND recharge our creativity.  You will need to take some time to think about the positive ways you protect and recharge your creative juices (time to get out your journal) then decide how to express it.  What shape is your shield? A circle? A hexagon? What needs to be on the shield? How about the color? In past, colors had very specific meaning. Green meant hope and loyalty in love. While Blue meant loyalty and red meant strength. Maroon meant patience. When you’re feeling a need to recharge what do you do? Hot bubble bath? Chocolate? Gardening? You get the idea. It can be as abstract as you want as long as you understand the meaning. 

Start looking: Find a quote, poem, book passage, or song lyric that moves you; that has meaning. When you find it, write it in your journal. You have some time so please don’t panic. Just be open. Can’t decide? It’s okay. Collect as many as you like.

Suggested reading: Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

12/12/12 Another Background

This time I decided to create the background then figure out how to add the "12" elements. I'm thinking that this time it might be fun to play with the number but who knows until I actually get down to the work. Not really planning, just planning on having some fun.

Yesterday I was playing around on the computer using different search engines. I'm always curious to see where I can find my book, Quilts in the Attic. Yesterday I discovered that you can purchase it at (not sold in stores). I would love to know how many they have sold because personally I have never thought of buying books at Have you?

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Moment in Time: 12/12/12

I do have an obsessive personality and my mind has not stopped thinking about 12/12/12 since I announced a desire to explore the date with quilts. From the emails that I am getting, I know I am not alone so I'm giving everyone an opportunity to start playing. Just wait until 12/12/12 to do the reveal. One decision, for me, is to make three quilts that will explore the number 12. I've created the first base for my first quilt and explores my love of typography. I plan to slice and add color to it. That is as far as I gotten in my playing but my mind is going full tilt. I've even worked on quilts in my dreams! Sweet dreams and lots of for from me to you. Can't wait to see what everyone does. Are you still thinking or have you begun to work?

Quilts in the Attic- Day 3 Stuff My Stocking Offer

What a great surprise to have an email (see below) from Pieceful Heart Fabrics and discovering my book was the Day 3 offer for their "Stuff My Stocking." I might just see a paycheck next year!

Greetings from Pieceful Heart Fabrics!

Dear Friend of Pieceful Heart Fabrics,
It's DAY 3 of STUFF MY STOCKING! This is the third of 12 special offers - one each day thru December 12th for a special discounted gift item.

To take advantage of the special price, all you need to do is hit reply or call us (630-718-0112) and tell us to "STUFF MY STOCKING—Day 3!" Be sure to include your FULL NAME and phone numbers. (Remember: We have more than one Linda!)

We will be sending a new email each day with the special item of the day. Feel free to purchase only the packages that you would like to have. The special price for each of the offerings is only available until midnight (you have about 28 hours to respond), so be sure to check your email daily!

From December 15-24th, stop in the store to pick up and purchase your loot or better yet...send a SANTA!

If you or your Santa can't get here by the 20th we'll call you for your credit card info to ensure your order is held safely for your last minute pick-up.

If you want to participate but live a distance away, we will be happy to ship the items to you. (We will add the shipping charges).

This is the perfect way to get what you want for Christmas and save $$$, too! You know that your family wants you to have just what you want so...COME ON...JOIN THE FUN and tell them you are doing the shopping for them!

DAY 3 "Take A Breather"

"Quilts In the Attic" by Karen S. Musgrave

Quilt lovers will enjoy taking a break from stitching to read the short stories in this book.

Karen has done her research and accomplishes what the subtitle "Discovering the Hidden Stories of the Qults We Love" promises. Fun to read a story at a time, or straight through if time permits. The sense of the history and legacy we leave when making a quilt is inspiring.

Regular Price, $24.00-- STUFF MY STOCKING Special $18.99

To take advantage of the special price, all you need to do is Click Here and tell us to "STUFF MY STOCKING-Day 3!"
(Remember to include your FULL NAME & Phone numbers)

I will be back with another special tomorrow!
Piecefully, Head Elf Gina, and all the elves (staff) at Pieceful Heart Fabrics

Friday, November 30, 2012

Glancer Magazine

Glancer magazine arrived in my mailbox today! I'm really happy. They didn't edit which they said was a possibility and there's a nice large photo of the book's cover. I was worried that it would be small and people would not be able to see it. It should be interesting to see if any of the bookstores in town actually get copies. Right now the only place that it is available is Pieceful Heart Fabrics in Lisle.  Life is good!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mind Mapping

One of themes for this (our 16th) round for Postmark'd Art was "Maps." I decided to do a play on Mind Mapping which is a diagram used to visually outline information. I had learned mind maps from a journal class I took from Corless Brown Ferrara in 1993. Being a strongly visual person, mind maps are a great tool. Of course, the minute I finished my postcards I found the perfect brain material in my stash.

I love serendipity. Writer Elizabeth Berg said, "Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked." I was looking through the December/January issue of Quilting Arts Magazine and was pleasantly surprised to discover that they are having a Reader Challenge called "Map It Out." Check out page 70.  And while I have hundreds of things that I should be doing, I decided to get right to work on my quilt. Here is what I have so far. Please let me know if you decide to enter a quilt too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

12/12/12 More Thoughts

Want to start your 12" by 12" 12/12/12 quilt today? Knock yourself out.
Start your piece on 12/12/12 and don't get it finished until sometime after the date. That's okay too.
Say you're going to do it then don't. Life happens.

It looks like quite a few people will be creating pieces on their birthdays or to celebrate the birthday of someone else. Excellent!

I am not a quilt police. I am not here to judge. Just want to have some fun, commemorate a fun moment in time and provide an opportunity to share.

I don't want any say on what you create or how you do it. The only "rule" is that it should be 12" by 12". I wanted to keep it simple, easy and in theme.

I would love for those who have a blog to advertise the other people with blogs those who are participating. Send me your info and I will share it. I'll even start now:

Barbara Wester 
Sylvia Lewis

A magazine might be interested in publishing an article. Depends on the quilts which is understandable so keep this in mind.

You can sign up any time, even on 12/12/12. Don't forget to send me your full name and a link to your blog (if you have one).

Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

12/12/12 Project- Interested?

In 15 days, it will be December 12, 2012 or 12/12/12. We won't see this kind of date happen again for a long time. I think it would be fun if we created 12 inches by 12 inches pieces on that day and shared them. It can be on anything that you wish--what you're doing that day, the number 12 and it's meaning to you, etc. Are you game? If so, let me know.

I am so happy people are interested! Liz Nutter shared that the next time this will happen is January 1, 2101.

I am thinking that if you have a blog, send me a link and I'll post it when I reveal mine. If you don't have a blog, I will gladly post your quilt. Other suggestions are welcome. I am excited!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Santa Quilt Continues

I like to heavily quilt the background when applique is involved. This makes the applique stand out. I'm not planning how I will quilt each block. This block by Jean Cloyd was particularly fun to do. I'm having fun with the beards too. Jerrianne Corbin's pieces block provided a great opportunity.  The quilting is more than one-third completed so I might even have this done before Christmas!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Santa 1996

When I lived in Houston, I belonged to a couple of bees. In one bee, we took turns making blocks for each other. Since I got the month of December, I decided on Santas. This was in 1996. I asked that the blocks be able to be divided by 3 (not including the seam allowance). I thought it would make for a more interesting quilt. Unfortunately, several people in the group didn't understand the concept or simply did not read my instructions. At the time, I found it frustrating and set the blocks aside. I don't think I realized it would be sixteen years before I got them out again. Less than a week ago, I had a dream about hanging the Santa quilt with my three year old grandson. He isn't born yet (due in January) but he sure was cute in my dream. Obviously, the blocks must have been on my mind. I dug them out of my UFO box and put them together. It was an interesting challenge and I made it work! It seems strange to be doing something so traditional.  I love looking at the blocks and remembering the people who made them. It's amazing how the blocks truly reflect their creators. Houston was such a wonderful time in my life and having this quilt to hang each Christmas will help keep those good times with incredible women alive for me. I also think it might (remember I'm say "might") spur me on to finish some other UFOs. I am not one who feels guilty about having or getting rid of UFOs. I'm happy I kept these and hope the women who made the blocks will be happy too. How do you feel about your UFOs?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pottery Graveyard: Holding On or Letting Go?

My son Nathaniel was one of my inspirations for beginning a serious study of ceramics/pottery. He liked the idea of creating a "pottery graveyard" for pots or other creations that simply did not work out and he contributed a couple of his pots (red and blue being one). There is something quite satisfying about breaking the pots on the stones. Not all pieces are smashed. If you look closely you'll see one of my feathers where the glazed did not stick. It's a modest beginning, but I am sure it will grow quickly. For me this is a way to re-purpose and create something interesting out of learning pieces of art.

Tuesday night at open studio a few of us discussed our feelings about our first efforts. I was surprised by how many people shared that they have everything they have ever made. I was even more surprised by people's reaction to my graveyard. I have not objection to people keeping everything. This is just another example of process vs product. It just has to do with the objectives of why people create. I don't need to see my beginning pieces to remind me that I have grown/improved. I can remember when I wanted to hold tight to things that I made. It's probably good that I have been able to let go or there would only be small pathways through my house. Actually I am feeling a need to to get rid of stuff I am not using, to continue my efforts to simplify which is always a struggle for me. How do you balance your needs? Are you a keeper? Has letting go gotten easier for you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beading: Ten Hours and Counting

Yesterday I hung out with my friend Barbara and we decided to work on quilts instead of our usual Christmas gifts (denial has set in). I was able to get the quilting and facing done. When I got home, I decided to begin adding bead (sorry I know they are tough to see in the photo. Do remember that you can click on the photo and it get bigger.). People are always asking me how long I spend doing different things so I decided to keep track of the time I spent beading this quilt. I'm using size 11 bronze colored seed beads from Japan that I purchased in 2001 (I know this because Rings and Things always put the dates on things.). I only have 2-3 more places that I want to add beads so I should be able to put a fork in it and call it done soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Clay Feathers

As a reader of this blog, you know I love collecting and making feathers. Since I am now playing with clay, I decided to see whether or not I could make them. Here is my first attempt. I'm happy. When I picked them up at the studio on Saturday, it was interesting to me that the Resident Artists liked them and everyone took turns selecting which one they like the best. I found it interesting that the middle two got the most votes. Which one do you like?

On the plane ride home from Galveston, I was fortunate to run into Ingrid Thomas-Hooker a middle school art teacher originally from Indiana and now living in Houston. Being able to discuss art and clay with someone made the trip home a delight. I certainly hope that our paths cross again. She is someone who I think could make a great friend.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Catching Up

The Island Quilters Guild is filled with the most wonderful women. Thank you! I truly wish I could have spent more time with you. I did find it interesting that two people came up to me after my lecture/trunk show and said, "I just love how you do anything that you want [when it comes to quilts]." My response was, "What is stopping you?" I really didn't get an answer but it did cause me to think. What stops us from doing what we want?

I want to thank Sharlene Ferrin for being chauffeur.  Thank you to Debbie Shabot for sending me the promised photo and encouraging words. 

As you can see, I was able to applique many stones to complete that part of this wall hanging. I'm more than ready to begin quilting then move on to beading.

View from my hotel window

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stones, Handwork and Relaxation

Handwork is relaxing for me. I like to travel with an applique project. I have had some of the best conversations because of my handwork. I'll never forget the crowd I had around me on the plane in Frankfort, Germany, on one of my trips to Georgia. I even sold a small quilt I had been beading! Anyway, my family always teases me that I finish too much before the trip. It's true. Two days ago, I cut out the stones for this new quilt and last night I finished what I had cut out. Will have to add cutting out more stones to my to do list for today. I'm still not sure I will even be allowed to applique on the airplane. While I can bring 4 inch scissors, needles are another story and it's totally up to airport security whether or not I can carry scissors (I lost my favorite fold-up scissors on one trip from O'Hare Airport. For this trip, I'm flying out of Midway.). Anyway, I am liking and enjoying my new stone quilt. There are still a lot more stones to add before it is done. The discharged piece was created in one of my workshops as a demonstration piece in Georgia (country not state) and it feels good and fitting to be using it. I'll share more as it progresses. In the mean time, share with me what you do to relax on trips. By the way, if I can't applique, I'll probably write.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Galveston, Texas Here I Come!

I will be giving my lecture Connecting Cultures: An American Quiltmaker's Pilgrimage on Thursday to the Island Quilters Guild in Galveston, Texas. If you are in the area, please stop by and introduce yourself. When I lived in Houston, I loved going to Galveston so I am looking forward to seeing the island once again and sharing my story with the guild.

Chalkboards are so wonderful. This one is in my kitchen and makes me smile every time I pass by it. The message was left my my great niece Makayla who is 7 years old. What a great goal for me to attai--loving everyone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Moon Mask and Geeting Out of a Creative Funk

I am excited that I was able to create a mask out of clay that could also be embellished. My first attempt was broken before it could be fired. I learned a great lesson.  When the next sessions begins in January, I think I will attempt to make a few more masks. I continue to think about how I can combine clay and fiber. Hopefully an idea will come. My attitude concerning broken or unsuccessful pieces is that I am learning and that I can always create something else.  Tonight is my last class and while I am sad, I do know January will be here before I know it!

Over the weekend I had several conversations with friends about what to do when ideas don't come and when one is in a creative funk. This year has been such a highly creative year for me and I think several things played into this. One is attitude. Another is being kind to myself. I understand that periods of high creative activity are followed by a period of recharging.

However when I have been stuck, I do know that doing anything creative always helps me even it it means making a tote bag. I think collaboration is another way to jump start creativity as well as joining a group that does trades. Another trick I use is to do something physical--go for a long walk, mow the lawn, clean my house. Writing in my journal which always seems to involve painting, drawing, etc. and keeping lists also work for me. Taking up something new like pottery/ceramics has certainly fed my creative spirit. I think the part I has excited me the most is the problem solving/learning that has occurred. What have you done to get out of a creative funk?

Friday, November 9, 2012

How Do You Open Yourself to Inspiration?

"Reflect" ATCs
Recently changes have been made in a couple of the groups I am in that do trades. One now as a rule that if you miss the deadline but still get your work out before the next trade deadline you can only sign up for one group. Another group does not even assign the people for trades until proof that that work is done. This saddens me. Deadlines use to be such great motivators. Commitments were not always kept but those people generally did not stick around.

So, how do you open yourself to inspiration? Without inspiration work either does not get done or becomes stagnant. Do you find yourself at a loss of ideas?

Many years ago I decided to simplify my life. This is still an ongoing process and I suspect will be one that I struggle with for the rest of my life. It is getting easier. I can now say, "No," to people and things that don't support me and what I want to accomplish in my life. I limit my time on the Internet. I don't answer the phone if I'm creating. I seldom have my cell phone on when I am out. I want to be present both in my work and with the people in my life. I love taking hot baths, often reading until the water begins to turn cold. I get great ideas while in the tub and surprisingly while mowing the lawn.

Rita Mae Brown is one of my favorite writers. She says, "Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work." And of course there is my favorite Pablo Picasso quote, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working."

Belonging and participating in online exchange groups has been so amazingly beneficial to me. I've been exposed to some incredible artists Excitement from the new challenges causes me to instantly jump in and start creating. Getting commitments off my plate early insures that I create things that I am proud of sharing.

Okay, I don't want to forget to share something about my "Reflect" ATCs. This month's theme for Arts in the Cards is the color "Lake." I love playing with watercolors and playing is exactly what I do. I have little desire to become a true watercolor artist. I just like making backgrounds and seeing what I can do. What I discovered was I could copy the backgrounds, print them on presentation paper which makes them a little shiny, cut them up and still save my favorite pieces! For these cards, I also used embossing plates (thank you Marie Z. Johansen for turning me one to these) and I created my own rub-on transfers to add the word "Reflect." I love rub-on transfers and am so thankful to Grafix in Maples Heights, Ohio, for making it possible.

Now go and create!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Glancer Magazine

Just heard that my book will be featured in the December issue of Glance Magazine! I think this is great timing and hopefully people will buy the book!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ransom Note Postcard

I am bone tired and still feeling a need to be creative. I don't know what it is about cutting letters and words out of magazines but it makes me happy. As a member of Postmark'd Art, I was thrilled when Typography was one of this round's themes. I hadn't planned to make another ransom note and yet it seemed like the perfect activity for today. I sat on my couch, watched old movies and created this postcard. It's just the first step. I have to decide whether to use TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) or print it directly to fabric. Too tired to decide tonight. Happy and hope I can get a good night's sleep. Here's to creative dreams for all of us.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Creativity Lesson Three- Your Heart's Desire

“The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.” Joanna Macy

Yes, I now realize that yesterday was the first of the month. A part of me is simply in denial about the passing of time but I also have not been hearing much from people concerning the lessons and no one has shared any work with me so I thought maybe there wasn't real interest. I stand corrected. My only request is that you do share the work you are creating. It's good to be part of a community that supports your efforts. Happy creating!

Assignment #3 - Heart’s Desire

In this assignment, we will explore our heart’s desire by making a heart quilt.  You will need to take some time to think about just what you desire (time to get out your journal) then decide how to express it.  Maybe you want a great garden so use floral fabrics and other gardening things to show that desire. Maybe you want to be comfortable with color so make a colorful heart.  Maybe you want to take life more lightly so make a winged heart. Want more organization? You get the idea. It can be as abstract as you want as long as you understand the meaning.

Outing: Think about a place that expresses or helps you get to your heart’s desire. Go there. Make the time. This is important!

Suggested reading: My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (novel)
                                    The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Feeling Blue- Indigo Dyeing and Spirit Rattles

Created with sea shells collected from Aruba
 While researching cameras, my dryer died. It was only three years old. No fun. Good news is I have my sewing machine back and I did not have to sell my first born. Still haven't bought the new camera so I'm using my son's tiny  Olympus and am finding the colors not quite true so bear with me.

I have had a love affair with indigo for as long as I can remember. I think I was in junior high school when I learned a little of its history. I learned more about the dark side of indigo from Merry Silber. I encourage you to read the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview that I conducted of her and see her wonderful indigo quilt. She was a collector. She died not long ago.

Anyway, I had been meaning to try indigo dyeing for years and decided that there was not better time than now. Dyeing with indigo is a little different than regular dyeing. There is a "flower" on top of the dye that must be preserved. It's removed during the dyeing process and replaced once you're done. The vat of dye can last 2-3 days and you have to have a lid. You can't let the fabric sink to the bottom which meant holding the fabric in the vat. A tad boring to say the least but it was so much fun watching the fabric turn from green to blue (takes about 20 minutes). It is also important to prevent oxygen from getting into the dye which means squeezing the fabric bundles. I was successful most of the time. I do know that next time I am going to be better prepared (have all my folding and rubber banding done ahead of time. That said, I try to strike when the spirit moves me and I am not disappointed. Now I have about 2.5 yards of fabric in various sizes ready to use in my next indigo quilts! I used both PFD (prepared for dyeing) cotton and dupioni silk.
dupioni silk folded, small piece of wood rubber banded around the bundle

I am becoming a better potter. Still not great on the wheel but I am improving. I can't believe there is only two more classes left. Next session does not start until January. I think I will suffer some withdrawal! As I shared before, I love hand building and here is a couple of my Spirit Rattles. The white one has been bisque fired and is ready for glazing. The blue one is ready and waiting for a new home.