Saturday, December 31, 2011

Resolution 2012

One day in October I was complaining to a friend that I thought I had lost my "mojo" as an art quilter.
That evening my son called to tell me he has cancer.  Talk about a game changer!  In these last months of 2011 I have come to realize that there is nothing more precious than living in the moment.  I am learning to appreciate the blessings of the path rather than to fret about where it leads.

My resolution for 2012 is to treasure every hour I am fortunate to play/work in my studio and to never again whine about something as empty and fatuous as "mojo."  As the last minutes of 2011 tick away, my son is winning against his cancer.  Whatever I can create with my talents is just icing on the cake.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tacoma Christmas 2011

So many blessings lighting up the lives in this house.  My son's health continues to improve!!!  Little Bridget has mastered "4 wheel drive" (so nothing below 24 inches is sacred:-)  Lots of family trekking up by road and air to fill the extra rooms.  We won't care that it's supposed to rain all next week.

My temporary studio in the basement has been packed up and stashed under the ping pong table to make even more room for merriment.  But my knitting bag is always nearby to keep my creative juices simmering.

May all the world enjoy a peaceful respite during this special time.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Few Words Wednesday

On rare occasions in late autumn, Mt. Rainier casts a shadow on the clouds as the sun rises behind it.  Inspiration!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mt. Rainier, pieced 16" x 64"

I secretly like paper piecing, especially during periods when the muse of originality forsakes me, or when following someone else's directions is like taking a vacation, or when the design is too beautiful to ignore.
This paper pieced view of the massive volcano, designed by Amber Wittmayer, was too intriguing to pass up.

It has been the perfect project for those few precious hours when I can reconnect with my sewing machine.  With the exception of some very unpleasant side effects, my son's melanoma is responding well to the drug Zelboraf which is buying him time for whatever will be the next step on his path.

Of course, my mountain awaits a backing, batting, and quilting.  Certainly by Christmas so I may gift it to my beautiful son and his valiant wife.  They are climbing a virtual Mt. Everest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Postmark'd Art

Two lovely things have been occurring for me recently.  Last year I joined an online group titled Postmark'd Art.  Members hail from all over the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand, and we exchange our small works of art by "snail mail."  Recently the website was beautifully revamped and if you visit, you will see some of my postcards.

The other lovely occurrence is that my son seems to be responding well to one of the new drugs for melanoma.  We know it's not a cure, but his improvement makes it so much easier to be hopeful.

Happy Pomegranates and Persimmons!!!!!

Postmark'd Art

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


When my husband drove up here to Tacoma a couple of weeks ago, he brought my sewing machine.  He said it was calling my name pitifully.  I'm using a ping pong table for cutting and lay out.  It's down in a basement with no natural light but plenty of space.  My ironing board is on a Beer Pong table (no idea) and fortunately, my SewEasy table came with my machine.  So here's my warm up sewing.  I know, I know--no focal point.

We have a long, long road to get my son to wellness.  He'll be going on a new FDA approved drug for melanoma which is a temporary fix but we hope will make him feel better.  I grab my sewing moments when our granddaughter naps.   Comments and suggestions for how to make the above into something good would be greatly appreciated:-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comfort Knitting

Any knitter is familiar with the question, "what are you making?'  My answer these days is, "a rectangle."
I bought this beautiful hand dyed yarn in Ashland, Oregon on our vacation trip up to Tacoma a month ago.  Now it feels like a lifetime ago.  I love yarn as much as I love fabric, and knitting is better than comfort food.  My best friend brought me the gorgeous bag from Guatemala.

We await determination of the proper treatment of my son's melanoma.  We know it will be a long and difficult journey but are keeping our focus on his healing.  This may be a very long rectangle.

Friday, October 21, 2011


This blog will not be receiving much attention from me for awhile.  My artistic life has been shoved to the back burner by a family emergency.  My son Devin has cancer.  I will be up in Tacoma, WA. for an indefinite period to help with my 9 month old granddaughter while his wife works and he undergoes tests and whatever other ugliness is necessary for him to heal.  This prayer flag will go with me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Seatbelt Quilts

As a short person, I have yet to find a seatbelt that doesn't cut right across my neck. (I  hate to think what would happen if the belt actually had to perform in an accident.)  Purchased sheepskin covers are wonderful in winter, but not so comfy in summer, and my 6'2" husband hates them.  My solution is these seatbelt quilts, which are a fun way to use up scraps of practice quilting.  Even if shortness isn't your problem, I think they look pretty cool in the car.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Petit Bijoux 11"x14" 2011

Two days before they needed it, the Kings Art Center called me to donate something to their annual Gala auction.  The center of this little quilt is a tiny piece of fabric art I picked up last year in England and then mounted on four upholstery samples which I quilted.  Unfinished it hung out on my design wall for most of the year.  Nothing like a deadline to get the juices going!  I echoed the central circles in the same shiny fabric onto a piece of purple silk, quilted with copper metallic thread, and couched some shiny yarn onto the seams.  Now it wanted a French title.  Voila!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Birthday Strips 46" w x 30" h 2011

A couple of years ago my artist group, Loose Threads, started celebrating birthdays with art quilts in a strip format.  The first year the individual strips were sewn together end to end... a very interesting display challenge.  This year we decided to keep them separate but united by a theme.  My theme was "Cracks"
inspired by a Leonard Cohen lyric: "Ring the bells the bells the bells that still can ring ring ring.  Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."

On the far left is a strip from Barbara which my photo failed to give justice.  She layered black felt over painted paper towels, melted cracks into the felt, and then embroidered the word cracks down the middle.
Next is the other Barbara who created a quilted sidewalk with fibrous green weeds growing in the cracks.
Third from left is my own interpretation.  I wrote the lyric in calligraphy on fuschia and purple silk and appliqued them to a painted black silk background.  Karen executed another little sidewalk to evoke the game of hopscotch.  Remember you weren't supposed to land on a crack?  Grace knows I love to paint fabric so her strip says, "If it cracks, just paint it!"  Finally, Anna cut a big crack into her strip quilt and finished it off with her signature bead fringe.

What is always amazing is that even though we don't discuss our creations in progress, they always belong together in the end.  I am truly blessed to have such artists to share with every month!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Brain at 64 4" x 6" 2011

Recently, I was a week late remembering a very good friend's birthday.  I sent him this postcard by way of explanation.  (That is a painted bubble wrap sun.)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blessings Prayer Flag 8.5"w x 14"h 2011

Our sky today, 9/11/11, is as gray as the somber mood of the nation.  Ten years ago this day dawned so beautifully with brilliant sunshine and clear blue skies.  Now we know it was a deceptive innocence.  It's easy to reflect on those crashing jetliners and collapsing buildings as a metaphor for our nation spiraling into futile wars, paranoia, and greed spawned recession.  Like a bitter pill, the daily news is hard to take.

Sometimes one has to look away from the insanity of the wider world and consider the small blessings one can find closer to home.  Perhaps a garden, a grandchild's smile, a husband's hug, family and friends, an uninterrupted day in the studio.  I really could go on and on.  Like leaves scattering on the breeze,
I send out my prayer that all may have blessings that make life worth living.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Soles on the Fence 12" x 12" 2011

I'm sure I've posted this little quilt before, but it no longer belongs to me.  I donated it to Studio Art Quilts Associates' 2011 Benefit Auction, which begins Sept. 12.  If you wish it to become part of your collection, please go to this website
Of course, you'll find  lots of wonderful art quilts.  Should you get lucky, it all goes to helping SAQA put art quilting on the fine art map.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Prayer 15" x 23.5" 2011

My camera skills aren't up to the task for this little piece which has taken me over a year to complete.  The motifs in the center panel are the Buddhist eight spoked wheel, which represents the Path to follow in life, and the Mehndi hands, which I see as openly gesturing.  I used Shiva Painstiks to rub these symbols from old wooden printing blocks onto the red-violet silk, and I quilted all the motifs with trapunto technique.  At that point time slowed way down because I hand beaded all the motifs and all around the edge.  For me the piece has a spiritual elegance, although it's still looking for its own display location in my home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ice Dyeing #2

The first time I tried ice dyeing I didn't follow the directions exactly because I sprinkled the dye powder directly onto the fabric.  Here are some examples of my second session.  I placed the ice onto the prepared (pre-soaked in soda ash solution) fabric and then sprinkled the dye powder onto the ice.  Wonderful results!  For my third session, I mixed things up.  I put some dyes onto the fabric first and then more onto the ice.  More terrific fabric emerged.   I'm thinking that some of my new fabrics want to be whole cloth quilted pieces.  We'll see.  First I'm winging my way up to Tacoma for some granddaughter time and to attend the Pacific West Quilt Show.  Bet I'll find some inspiration there, and perhaps some fun shopping.
We'll see.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ice Dyeing

The current issue of Quilting Arts Magazine, August/September 2011, includes an article titled Ice Dyeing by Linda Heines.  It is the coolest (pun intended) way to dye fabric I've ever tried.  And it's so easy it feels like cheating!  My first attempt included these two pieces which I actually did wrong.  All my mistakes should look so good.  Briefly, I soaked the PFD white cotton in soda ash solution for 30 minutes.  Next I placed the fabric pieces on top of overturned empty plastic containers in a dish tub.
Then I sprinkled several colors of Procion MX dyes on the fabric.  Last I put a bunch of ice cubes on top of the fabric, covered the whole thing with some old plastic and walked away for 24 hours.  Next day I rinsed and washed it all with Synthropol, dried it in the dryer, and then really, really enjoyed ironing my new fabric.

So what did I do wrong?  I was supposed to put on the ice before adding the dye powders.  I'll post some of those results in a few days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Prayer Flag for Pres. Obama 9" x 10" 2011

Yesterday I read an opinion piece in the New York Times titled "What Happened to Obama?" by Drew Westen.  It's a question I've been pondering for many months.  I had such high hopes.  Hence I was inspired to make my second prayer flag.  A breeze immediately began lifting my words, so it was difficult to get a good photo.  Here's what I wrote....
Lead. We need a hero to Inspire, Deliver, Protect, Stand Up, Man Up.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Prayer Flag #1 9" x 10"

For several weeks I have been reading in assorted blogs about the Prayer Flag Project.  The idea is to quickly make a small flag that has a positive thought on it and hang it outside.  It's based on the Tibetan Buddhist tradition that prayer flags blowing in the wind will send their "prayers" wherever they need to go.
I made this one for a distant cousin who was critically injured in a helicopter crash last month.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Bit of Childhood 20" h x 24" w 2011

"Sisters are a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." M. Garretty

This is probably the last of the three sisters quilts I will make.  This one is for my sister Vicky, the cutie in the middle.  I stepped outside my comfort zone to do this traditional layout, and it certainly challenged me.
But when I found the quote, I thought it was perfect to hand embroider above their heads.  Soon as I make a label I can ship it back east to Vicky for her birthday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Postcards

What's not to like about making postcards?  They're relatively fast because each card is a 4 inch by 6 inch commitment.  One approach I take is "mass" production by creating a piece large enough to cut into multiples, such as the second one here. On a background fabric I just layered bits and pieces of shiny threads, ribbons, and fabric under tulle net and stitched it all down.  It looks like a party to me.
Sometimes I play with photos in Photoshop and print them on cloth, which is the top card.  For the third card I used a scrap of piecing, a leftover piece of painted Bubble Wrap, and stitched a tree to make a  landscape.  Of course I love the elegant ladies of old Japan so I framed them with couched yarns and silk flowers.  There is something so satisfying about using leftover bits to create something new.  I'll teach one more class on August 9 at Quilter's Quarters here in Hanford.  Hope some of you can join me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Postcards Class

Do you ever have a day when you just can't think big?  Here's my solution.  I love making little 4"by 6" art quilts that I can "snail" mail to special people.  I even belong to an international group called "Postmark'd Art."  Twice a year we create and exchange our postcards with each other.  Recently I was asked to teach a couple of classes on how I make postcards so these three are some of my class samples.  The classes are scheduled for July 16 and August 9 at Quilter's Quarters in Hanford, CA. and I can't wait to see what delights emerge from them.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Colors of New Zealand 19" x 20" 2011

Sometimes a little scrap of fabric is just too precious to toss.  My definition of precious?  I dyed it, or painted it, or the marks are still intriguing to me.  When I have a pile of them, I start sewing them together almost mindlessly until I have a patchwork too precious to toss.  What to do with the new pile of precious?
Start composing something abstract with solid colors that will frame them nicely.  This one looks good on my coffee table.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solar Power 22" w x 27" h 2011

Throughout history, many cultures and civilizations have worshipped the sun for its power to enhance life.
This is my interpretation of the prompt sunshine.  It was supposed to have metal embellishment so I added  the painted metal plug plate to symbolize our modern need for the sun's power.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Monoki 18" x 18" 2011

On my creative journey, occasionally I give my right brain a little break by working on another artist's pattern.
The design for this little quilt is by Ursula Riegel (
I made it for the Little Quilt raffle at my local quilt guild, Common Threads, in July.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grace's Birthday Strips 2011

As I promised a couple of posts ago, here is the entire group of strips created by my artists group Loose Threads for member Grace.  Can you see she requested a garden theme?  The two cute ones on the left did not consult with each other about finding inspiration from That Patchwork Place.  The dark strip in the middle contains real jewelry as well as her signature beaded fringe.  On the right are red silk geraniums and on top a feast of stitched and embellished texture.  My poppies and wine glass glow nicely in the group.  I have to wait all the way till August for my birthday strips.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cutting Loose 22" x 22" 2011

Once upon a time I took a class to learn how to construct a New York Beauty block, which has radiating points that demand extreme precision.  What was I thinking???  Of course mine emerged with some measurement issues but lots of personality, I thought.  However, the teacher said she could tell I had a bad attitude, and so my cheery but lopsided beauties were buried with a bunch of other abandoned projects.  Fast forward about 5 years during which I've learned to let my unruly attitude shine forth.  Digging around for some way to illustrate the word rejoice, my little beauties jumped out and said, "Cut loose with us!"  They sure look happy to me.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wine in the Garden 6" x 30" 2011

Last year in my artists group, Loose Threads, we celebrated birthdays by each making an art quilt 6 inches wide by one inch for every year the birthday girl could claim.  The strips were then sewn together.  Mine was 31.5 feet long!  (Feel free to figure out my years on this earth;-)  This year we are still making skinny art quilts but they're vertical and can be displayed however the recipient wishes.  The birthday person stipulates a theme and dimensions.  I used my own hand-dyed fabrics to make this strip for Grace, a connoisseur of wine and gardens.  Once she has them arranged in her home, I'll post a picture of the whole grouping.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wavelength 12" w x 24" h 2011

Another monthly challenge in my artist group, Loose Threads.  The inspiration word was wave and the challenge technique was low tech tucks.  I started with four prints of my photo of the wake behind a ferry.  For the tucks I painted fusible web to resemble abalone shell and ironed it onto white fabric.  Now I had a technical challenge because I had created a very plastic material that was difficult to crease, iron, and sew down.  This photo doesn't show such detail but there are hand sewn beads holding down each tuck.  My own critique of this work is that I had a good idea but the technique got away from me.  Precision isn't my strong suit but I continue to be intrigued by how I can use my own photographs to be original.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pyroclastic Flow 15"x38" 2011

As soon as I was challenged to create my interpretation of the word passion,
I knew what I wanted to do.  The dictionary defines pyroclastic flow as
"a dense mass of very hot ash, lava fragments, and gases ejected explosively from a volcano and typically flowing downslope at great speed".
That strikes me as a good metaphor for the emotion of passion.  I started with an old polyester knit top I'd saved probably since the nineties because I liked the flowing lines on it.  Then I started adding "hot lava" in the form of foiled organza, metallic lame, Razzle Dazzle threads, and lots of beads stitched on and as fringe at the bottom.  Even though the laboriously slow process of beading would cool any passion, I must say I'm glad I got this piece out of my system.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On the Road Again 12" x 12" 2011

In my other art group, Sew Eclectic, we are creating little quilts inspired by phrases.  Hence this little one, ironically created very quickly.  My sister shot the photo of me enjoying the thrill of roof riding one of London's red tour buses.  Then we sped through the Chunnel to Brussels aboard the Eurostar high speed train.  At the moment, this little quilt seems to illustrate the pace of my life ever since.  More travel, the birth of our first grandchild, more travel, the opening of a new CFA show in Bakersfield, the purchase of a second home on the central coast of California, more travel, and today I'm on the road again to San Francisco.  No complaints but little studio time lately.  Lots of knitting done though!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To Belong or Not to Belong 27"w x 25"h 2011

Last year I was fortunate to attend the SAQA annual conference in San Francisco where I studied with Yoshiko Wada.  I learned that boro is a Japanese term for old fabric pieces that are kept useful by darning, patching, and mending.  We also had the opportunity to use natural indigo dye so I tossed a handful of silk swatches into the bubbling brew.  Here I've embroidered them onto an old piece of batiste that I rusted and then I stitched it onto a commercial cotton.  I really love the marks that rusty bits of metal leave on fabric, but it's impossible to quilt into the heavily rusted areas.  I learned to just go around those marks.  If anyone out there has words of wisdom about quilting rusted fabric, please share.  The inspiration word for this quilt was sole.  Hence the title.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Painted Pears 4"x6" 2011

No comments on my "Soles on the Fence".....hmmm.  I thought they were pretty cool, and so I sent them to SAQA for their 12 inch quilt benefit auction.  The acid test???

Recently I read a quote from artist Chuck Close... "Inspiration is for amateurs.  I just get to work."  Postcards are a fun way to keep working.  I know pears are nothing new but I like how they fit on this format and mailed them to fellow artists on Postmark'd Art.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Soles on the Fence 12"x12.5" 2011

Add caption
Last month my husband and I were traveling in New Zealand, and while he was photographing the pastoral beauty I wandered across the road to check out what was dangling from the barbed wire fence.  Lots and lots of old shoes--mostly athletic or flip flops, and one pair of high heels.
The current challenge for my artist group, Loose Threads, was the word sole or any synonym of it, and to include a three dimensional element.  I traced my photo onto stabilizer, layered it on white fabric, stitched over the picture from the back, and imitated the original plastic tie with a piece of painted Tyvek.  The border is a scrap of my own painted fabric.  A fun memory from a fabulous trip.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fruit of the Loom 12"x12" 2011

This little quilt happened after I acquired a "skein" of silk strips sewn together end to end.  I stitched them on batting with the frayed edges exposed and then cut and rearranged it several times.  To me it looks like a little shop somewhere in India full of bolts of silk.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Abandoned on Carrizo Plain 33" h x 41" w 2011

Last spring my husband and I spent a day at Carrizo Plain National Monument, which is located west of Bakersfield, California. We discovered carpets of yellow and purple wildflowers and two old truck shells rusting in dignity together. Then I took a class from Katie Pasquini-Masopust to learn how to create an abstract composition from a photograph.  Voila!  This quilt along with my "Points of Light" and "Reserved for Tony Graffiti" will be displayed in a California Fiber Artists show at the Bakersfield Museum of Art from March 24 - May 31, 2011.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Memories of a Geisha

Ardi, The 4 Million Year Old Woman

I am so pleased that these two quilts have been juried into an exhibit at Arts Visalia Gallery scheduled for March 2 - 25, 2011 in celebration of Women's History Month. The title "wom-an-ful-ly" (adverb) means as a woman of spirit; in a way that shows or is characteristic of womanly spirit or energy.
Arts Visalia is located at 214 E. Oak Ave., Visalia, CA. 93291