Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tiny Works in Paint and Stitch

Working tiny is so satisfying. 
Below are a few Spring inspired tiny projects I've been working on in both paint and stitch...

Little bird and bunny studies I did around Easter.

Some pretty little embroidered beads with cornflower blue flowers.

A little mouse house complete with a mushroom chimney.

Another trio of pretty little beads, this time with pink blooms against an aqua background.

Four little imaginary birds, each perched inside their own 2" x 2" square.
(I think they each reflected the mood I was in when I painted them.)

More spring time blossoming beads. 
Obviously, this style with the flowering vines are fast becoming my favorites to make!

                                 And if Mrs Mouse gets a house, then so does Ms. Ladybug!

And speaking of tiny...

When my youngest daughter came home for Easter she asked me to accompany her in getting her first tattoo. She had been thinking for sometime about getting these words, "You inspire me." placed on her arm. They come from a letter written to her, about her, by my father when she was 8 years old and shortly before he passed away from cancer. She has carried that letter with her ever since, holding on to the lovely things he spoke to her in his written words. The tattoo artist captured my father's handwriting precisely, right down to the tiny hook on the "u" and that tiny curl on the "s". I was beyond honored to be asked to witness this. I know that when my dad wrote those words to her, he hoped with all his heart that they would whisper his love for her, for all the passing years she would grow up without him around. Now they truly are a part of her, and I think he too, would be honored.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fabric Beads 1, 2, 3, and 4

Real job and real life seem to keep encroaching on real studio time, and often by night time when all the must do's are done, I just want to sit on the couch with a heating pad behind me and a blanket over me. Happily though I am able to stay creative while relaxing by stitching up some of my fabric beads. 

I've been focusing on four styles...

Style #1 are these assorted Hand Quilted Fabric Beads made from various Japanese Chirimen fabrics, shown above and below.

One of the keys to a successful fabric bead, (at least in regards to the type that I make) is to take one's time to carefully build up the edges with layer upon layer of stitching. Doing so creates a solidly sculpted shape. 

Here you can see the stitched edges of the beads as well as a peek at their inner fabric core lining. 

Style #2 are these Frayed Fabric Beads...

Unlike Styles 1, 3, and 4, which basically follows the construction method outlined in my 
Quilted Fabric Beads PDF Tutorial Pattern, this style of bead uses a different method that I am just starting to play around with.

However they still utilize the same sculpting method of building up the edges with lots of slow stitched layers.

Style #3 focuses on beads inspired by the rough patching and stitching of Japanese Boro...

Made from bits of shot cotton, the beads feature lots of rough hand stitching while wrapped bands of heavily stitched strips act as my boro inspired patches.

The bands of stitched fabric strips give each bead it's own unique "figure" and shape.

I like to think of each one of these beads as little sculpted works of textile art.

While doing these boro inspired style beads, I started morphing them into my 4th style.

This bead above and the one below show a bit of the morphing where I am beginning to incorporate more "pretty" embroidery stitching into these previously rougher stitched boro inspired ones.

And then finally, in Style #4, I have started embellishing the beads with just the "pretty" embroidery stitches as shown below...

I've just begun making beads in this 4th style, and need to play around with different stitches to see what I can come up with, but I really enjoyed doing these simple little flowing vines and always love making french knots.

I generally make the beads in two sizes as reflected below...

And that's the fun of having various styles... one of these styles always seems to fit my mood! If you'd like to see which beads are currently for sale you can go here. Note that some of the beads shown have already sold, and that as time allows I will hopefully be listing more beads. And who knows, maybe more styles and variations will emerge.

Oh, and while I like to just wear 1 or 3 on a ball chain or a cord, here's a more decorative necklace that I made using some of my Japanese Chirimen beads as well as little colored glass beads and vintage buttons...

(I would love to have enough to make a bohemian beaded door curtain, but I don't think that is going to happen any time soon... or ever. That's would take a whole lot of beads!)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Yesterday was an honor and a privilege and a day that I will never forget. So grateful to have experienced it with women I love and admire. Here are a few photos...

It began with a blurry but happy photo of myself and my sister, (who came all the way from Texas) on the bus at 6am, excited to begin.

After arriving, we all walked to the metro which would get us to the march and the speakers. On the way we passed this amazing woman who joyfully reminded us of the strength and ability that so many women of this world possess.

Here I am with my wonderful daughters and my one daughter's good friend. All three of these young women are shining examples of strong, intelligent, creative, kind, responsible, and passionate people. It was such an honor to be with them and share this experience. At this point we had been standing and listening to the speakers for several hours. There were so many people... old and young, women, men, children... that we actually were unable to march for some time. It took a good 90 minutes, (maybe more?) for there to be enough movement at the opposite end of the march, to trickle down and allow us to unpack ourselves like sardines and begin marching, too. Despite this, the crowd remained kind, peaceful and supportive towards one another. I was in awe.

We now are marching up Independence Ave. These are the folks behind me.

Loved the artistry and message in this political poster.

I wanted to capture the protest with the flag in the background. It's a simple visual reminder that this America belongs to all of us, (as this poster also emphasizes, Wahine being the Polynesian word for women. I had to look that up, but now I know). It is the government's responsibility to listen to, represent and care for all of its people, not just a select few.

I'm not sure where we go from here except that we must keep going. We must stay active in having our voices heard. For some it may mean becoming active in their local and state politics. For others, such as myself, it will be to continually call their representatives, on a daily basis if need-be, and certainly a more then once a week basis, to insure our voices and concerns are heard. The number of people that came out to march yesterday, in DC, around the United States and across every continent brought me to tears. To see such goodness and compassion for our sister and fellow beings gives me great hope in an otherwise very scary time.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Reflections, Thankfulness, Creativity and Faith

Not my favorite year. 

Personally we had some set backs. Jobs were lost, income was decreased, youngest daughter had some health scares in the beginning of the year and a few days before Christmas found herself unsuccessfully swerving to avoid hitting a car that ran out in front of her. Car was totaled and we were unsure as how she would get home for the Holidays. In 2016 my husband lost his father, and collectively we lost many icons that we grew up with or who helped to shape our culture. And thus, mortality on this planet that we call home, has stared us in the face in a way most of us find unsettling. My creativity, or time to create was diminished, my candidate didn't win and my hopes for a safe, secure and happy future have been challenged more then ever before.

Ok. So what's to be thankful for? 
My oldest daughter celebrated her 1st wedding anniversary with a man she loves deeply, and who we all love as well. My youngest daughter graduated from college and found a great job in Virginia

Her earlier health scare wasn't as bad as it could have been and she thankfully walked away from that car accident with just whiplash. Her best friend's schedule allowed her to be able to drive  
the 5 plus hours to get her and bring her back home for the holidays. My husband got to spend some quality time with her as they went car shopping and she will be driving back to Virginia in a beautiful brand new car that she got a great deal on. 

Employment was found, albeit at less income but thankfully at less stress, 
and my husband and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. 

(I have better photos of our wedding, 
but I always liked this candid shot of after the ceremony and before the reception.)

While creative time and output was decreased, I still did create. My quilt stitching can be found on previous posts from this year, and I am happy to report that the hand pain has diminished enough that I've even been sewing, (and listing for sale) some quilted fabric beads again...

I also continue to take photos, (and post on Instagram
of the beautiful old worn and weathered barns and buildings in my area... 

I am happy to report that I have slowly, but FINALLY, put aside my fears and anxiety over picking up paintbrush and putting paint to paper. After a almost 30 year hiatus, I am allowing myself to simply play again, no pressure, and oh it feels so wonderful and brings me the most centered calm...

I began with some little leaf and nature studies...

And recently have been exploring some little paintings based on my barn photography...

And while my personal anxiety has often risen this year over diminished hopes and dreams for our  futures, both personal and collective, I try to use that to strengthen the very thing that seems to have weakened.... my faith. It has given me the very thing I need to chew on and contemplate and decide. I am determined to restore it and increase it, and I am looking forward to marching in Washington this January with my daughters and sister in the Women's March on Washington.

Here is to 2017, may it surprise us with unimagined blessings and graces. 
Love, peace and best wishes to us all. xoxo

Sunday, October 9, 2016


This newest quilt started out as an experimental piece based on an improv block I developed and showed in my last post. I call the block "Haystack", so "Hayride" seemed like a fitting name for this quilt. 

I originally set out to only use the left over bits of two polka-dot fabrics that have been in my stash for close to 20 years, but quickly ran out of the darker blue, so I gave myself permission to substitute the plain muslin that I had on hand. (Actually, it's 3 polka dot prints... the dark blue with cream dots, and 2 different cream ones with slightly different blue dots)

The limitations on fabric that I placed, caused the various blocks to each be unique, even though construction method was the same for each. When I ran out of the cream polka-dot fabrics I stopped. This is also the first quilt that I can recollect where I didn't bother to square up the edges and block after washing, as I wanted to keep a utilitarian look as much as possible. Surprised at how close it came to being more or less squared all by itself.

I machine quilted it with, yes, what many seem to consider boring old stippling.... which in truth I love as it provides such wonderful texture. I've said it before, and I will say it again, I do not understand why this humble, free-motion machine stitch has fell so out of favor.