Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Some times things just pop into my head at the strangest times. I'm used to having lingering dreams about quilts I want to create. Sometimes I dream that they are already complete and hanging. I've already had a solo show in my dreams. It was bitchin'!

Yesterday I was just hanging out on my day off, minding my own business when along comes this image into my mind of a huge dragon. Boom, there it is. So I set about drawing it. It's nowhere near complete but after giving it a day I think this idea is a keeper. Fits in with my other illustrated figures; mermaids, medusa, fairy tale wolves and now a dragon. I'm seeing it big too, like the others - almost square but not, probably about 6.5' x 8'. I've just expanded to 4 solid quilts in the works; the beginning of my body of work. We all know that 10 is the magic number. It's a start. No, come to think of it, I'm right in the midst not the start. Feeling good about that.

Mermaids is coming along well. I'm plodding along like a snail but making progress. We flung ourselves into the fourth and busiest quarter at work. I'm setting out Christmas shelves daily, lifting heavy boxes, dragging wooden shelves all over the place. Coming home exhausted. But in the studio I'm plodding, at least an hour a day. I aim to stitch all the pieces on "Mermaids," draw out the quilting lines and then start putting together "Medusa." Once I have the three quilts all set up, I'll concentrate on the quilting. Hopefully this will keep my stitching similar from one to another of the quilts. Tomorrow I have a whole day to play in the studio. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

to Michele Lea of Ohio

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am overjoyed to learn that my donation to SAQA's Benefit Auction has sold today for $150.00. My concern that no one really knows who I am or the quality of my work yet was niggling at me. I was thinking that it would be one of the ones left at the end for them to send back to me. I'm happy that it did not go that way. Thank you Michele, and I hope that you enjoy this piece in your home or studio!

There are still some wonderful quilts to buy. You may want to check them out at Two days left!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Visuals have been hard these past few weeks. Either they are disappointing like these of my new neighbor's house going up or they are impossible like the ones below which really show nothing of what is happening with "Mermaids" but are the only things I can show. I'm living with gallons of frustration. Each and every day this late summer has started at 6:30am with noise, i.e. chainsaws cutting trees and that sickening snap of the life of a tree followed by the resounding thud when it hits the ground, bulldozers and dump trucks complete with the wafts of sand blowing into my house on clouds of diesel exhaust, and now compressors and the constancy of nail guns. Not only are my nerves shot but I landed in the ER two weeks ago with breathing problems which they labeled bronchitis but I know it is being caused by the caustic cocktail of sand and diesel.
One day last week I was talking to my boss on the phone (I was out of work on a 'vacation', unable to really do my job well with breathing problems) and staring out over my deck into the back yard when I see two little dogs chase each other through my yard with a teenage girl in hot pursuit. My new neighbors. Trapped inside a hot house, (can't open the windows or sliders) looking at this scenario made me madder than a wet hen! We bought this place for it's privacy and quiet, knowing that the land next to us was up for sale but thinking that no one in their right mind would pay the $275 thousand he was asking for it and then have to sink hundreds of thousands more into clearing and building. Surprise to us! Tony has been looking at the real estate listings. He wants to move again but I don't know if I have it in me to pack it all up and start over. All I really know for certain is that the visuals directly outside my studio are making me sick - literally.
I haven't been posting a lot here because I just can't show what is going on with my work if I want to try for the next Quilt National. It's killing me because things are shaping up nicely and looking amazing. Above are the two hand dyes I chose to flesh out the skin of the two mermaids. Took me the longest time trying to settle on the exact placement of the tissue pattern. I spent hours looking to get the shades and blotches in the right place. The choice of color here really makes them look other-worldly. Above these base fabrics I have layered others to flesh in depth, but they are subtle and from a distance these two read as the main characters.
These fabrics comprise the major part of the fish tail of the mermaids. I stumbled on the fern fabric in a sale on one of my favorite online haunts and it is so perfect for that tail that I couldn't have done better if I spent two years looking through fabrics. Finding another which felt just as perfect was not easy. They are on the quilt now complete with their tail fins. Hair is coming next. I've decided how I am going to quilt this one too. I am mapping out the patterns of the stitching on my cartoon and will be using chalk pencils to actually draw out the patterns so I don't get too carried away and make a mess. Going to have to work with small sections at a time as the chalk wears off easily.

Looking at this becoming, up on my design wall is exciting and it is keeping me going. I can now really see what my mind's eye was visualizing. With this being the first really big venture for me, I am just loving it. It's taking twice as long as I thought it would, but I don't care. It's coming from my heart and soul. A slow steady flow. Turtles always win the race anyway.

As I look to my goals for my next year, especially within the Visioning Project, I think I am going to expect a little less in the "timing" of my pieces and more in the "development" of them. I am my best when I am working steadily without looking at the clock or at dates. This doesn't mean I won't be setting goals, it just means they won't have time limits. My goal has to be to just keep myself steadily working. Eventually they will all make their way out of me into the pieces I feel already exist in my mind but need to be fleshed out in fabric. Ultimately the goal of having a body of quality work with which I can begin to show, is the one true goal I am working towards. I am enjoying the process. I just wish I could share the visuals. All in due time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Trip To Lowell

Well there it is, the post card announcement of the art quilt show "The Sea." I went up to Lowell yesterday to see it. As the regional meeting for SAQA was held there, I raced out of the house quickly to get there by 10am. It's about and hour and 45 minutes away. The racing part is responsible for me forgetting to bring my camera as the battery was charging in the kitchen. What a day to forget the camera! Not only was there the one show but others all over the city and the trunk show for SAQA was in attendance at the meeting.

I was very impressed with the quality of the work hanging at the Brush. When you walked in there were two gallery walls, left and right with quilts greeting you. The one to the right had two quilts by Betty Busby which were phenomenal. Betty's quilt is the one chosen for the post card above. I just couldn't pull my eyes off them. With her two was a quilt called Loggerhead by Gay Young Ousley. Gay's quilt was rich in texture, a tortoise swimming in the sea. These three quilts made such a commanding presence as you walked in. There were so many wonderful quilts, that I wished I had brought the camera. As I was wandering from quilt to quilt it began eating at me that I had wanted to try to enter this show with "Mermaids." But there was no way I could get it done in time for the deadline. It would have looked wonderful there amongst the other sea inspired quilts. I left with a renewed urgency to get it moving faster and with more attention to detail.

I did bring it with me for show and tell at the regional meeting. I wanted to see if it was interesting at all to the other quilters. After all it is just a wave. I got some well needed feedback, especially from Linda Dunn, who told me she was wowed by the wave alone and was concerned about the addition of the mermaids. I instantly got it. Most artist renditions of mermaids are a bit tacky, dripping with shells and seaweed hair. I am steering clear of this type of rendition in creating what is in my mind for this illustration. While thinking about it on the way home, I honed the image I had of them even more coming up with the final title of this piece in my head, "Beneath the Deep." I see the mermaids as what they are in folklore, specter-like sirens, other-worldly in existence but alluring to men. Their tails are fish-like and their bodies voluptuous but not human. They're more to be feared than anything like a great white shark would instill fear in a swimmer. As forcefully beautiful as the wave is, the sirens will be equally as ominous. This is the story I am telling with this quilt.
On the way out of the Brush I looked at some local artist's wares outside in booths. I bought some wonderful hand-spun and hand-dyed yarns to use on the mermaid quilt. They will be couched over the wave to create swirls of movement. I'm really exited about the embellishments that I have set aside to make the water come to life with movement.

Back to reality at home, I hung a stained glass piece I found at the Brush in my studio window to distract me from the disturbances of what is happening in our neighbor's yard.

This has now become my view. The flowers just visible to the right of the window are the left portion of the Butterfly Garden. The only thing I can see as a positive is that the garden will get more sun. Soon we will be planting cypress all along the edge of what once was the woods to try to regain some of our privacy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Vacation Bonus!

Look what I found going through a listing of activities for the weekend of August 5th and 6th. Tony and I went to Cape Cod for a mini vacation this past week. When looking for fun things to do I noticed a quilt show in Harwich, about 20 minutes from where we were staying. They named it "Sew Many Pearls! 2011" and it was sponsored by the Bayberry Quilters of Cape Cod. All the usual venders were present, local quilt shops, long arm demos, Pfaff, Bernina, and Viking, and even a button Godess "Dusty's Vintage Buttons - Tablecloths - Trim." I had lots of fun with the buttons. $30.00 worth of fun!
"Revelle" by Maggie Walker, hand pieced, appliqued and quilted.

All the quilts on display were from members of the quilt guild. The first room I went into had a long grouping of quilts, some Hawaiian, some traditional and some like the one above. There were about 15 in a row. As I was gushing about how much fun the chickens were a woman told me that all the quilts in the row were done by the same woman and introduced me to a rather elderly woman. I hope I'm quilting when I'm her age!

Most of the quilts were of the traditional ilk. They were just lovely. Above is a sampling of the 200 quilts in the show.
"Through Spencer's Eyes" by Julie Lariviere, machine pieced and quilted.

I just can't resist colorful quilts and this one caught my eye right away. There is enough diversity in the blocks of this quilt and the randomness of the arrangement that it captures your eye and doesn't let it go. Below is a detail.

"Endangered Species Tiger" by Barbara Delphos

A Rob Appell design with multiple irregular shapes. She used echo quilting to enhance features and to add dimension. Machine quilted, appliqued and quilted. I just loved all the contrast and stepping back from this one makes it look so alive.

Another one of my favorites in the show was called "Mom" by Paula Tuano. She worked in whites, greys and blacks to transform an old photograph of her mother on her wedding day in April of 1942. The puddle of a train was free form at the bottom of the quilt. They had it mounted from the ceiling and hung very high. It was so high up that I could not get a good picture of it. It was very intricate and extremely creative. Loved it!

What a great surprise on my vacation. I love those kinds of surprises.

Not these!

Upon returning home from the Cape it was clear that even though we were not there to hear it a tree or twenty fell in the woods! We talked to the workmen to find out that the owners were bringing the driveway along our property line, in 300ft, like our driveway. Then they would situate their septic system, the house behind and the yard behind that. They were felling the whole 600ft. Their house will be situated just behind my bank of studio windows and the woods behind my lovely butterfly garden are ripped out to leave a gaping hole of emptiness behind it.

Tony and I did some research into privacy plantings. The quickest growing plant is the Leyland Cypress and we will be putting in a lot of them to try to patch up the holes in our privacy. There are huge piles of logs and branches all over their property. It really is such a shame that this has to happen when there are an abundance of homes already built and on the market all over RI and even at rock bottom prices due to the economy. I'll tell you it is going to be really hard warming up to these neighbors when I already despise the first thing they have done.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The End of Privacy As We Know It

This is the entry into our beautiful home in the country in Rhode Island. We bought this home five years ago in an attempt to get away from the noise and bustle of the city, having lived in Providence on the east side for years and Mount Pleasant across from the High School for five years. Our neighbors were always too close, too loud and way too visible for our liking.
This wing of the house is on the left side and houses all the bedrooms. Bedrooms are usually where you want the most privacy.
Next to that wing you can see our yard delineated by the mown lawn. Beyond that are the woods from the vacant lot next door. The previous owners of our home owned this piece of land, 160 feet wide, situated between us and the Browns property. We knew they had the land on the market and were asking an exorbitant price for it. We couldn't afford their asking price, nor could the Browns. We never thought he'd sell due to his greed, his immovable desire to get his price for the land.
Take a good look. All this will be gone in the matter of a few weeks as someone has bought the land and they are clearing and building a house on it. The deer, turkeys, hawks, rabbits, fox, and coyotes better have a back up plan because they will no longer be able to use this piece of land to live, or cut through to the deeper woods behind us.
If you take a really close look you can see the yellow 'dozer sitting at the entrance which they just cut out of the hundreds of years old wall fronting the property. And of course, you can't hear them felling the trees with their chainsaws which is happening as I type. I'm hearing the trees go down one by one. We have no idea if they will leave any on the border of our properties. All the trees are on their side of the line. I'm having this uncontrollable panic-filled need to call a nursery and order about 50 junipers or arbor vitaes to line the edge of our land for privacy!

And then of course is the yet unspoken issue of the new neighbors, who we have no idea who they are, and there being people living too close again, too noisy, too visible, too loud. I really don't want to move again. I love my new kitchen, all the wonderful windows and sliders and my sunny and large studio, which will now probably look out onto their back deck only about 25 feet away.

More buzzing noise - another tree down. Oh, how I wish someone would just make it all a bad dream so I could wake up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


They buzz around the garden all summer long. Big and little, bumbles and honey bees. Above is a large bumble having a feast on my catmint. I took a short walk with the dog today and was scoping out the action around my coneflowers. Two different types of bees, a swallowtail butterfly and two smaller butterflies, one with a double set of wings. As I love the flowers, so do I love the critters.
Above is a detail from a quilt I did in 2009 called "Lions, Tigers, and Bees." The bee was an integral part of the composition. There were bee buttons scattered around the border too.
Several years ago I felt a strong desire to create a bee themed quilt. I found a honeycomb fabric that spurned me on and I bought over 2 yards of it.

This past weekend was a family outing. My four female first cousins on my Dad's side of the family and I got together at my house for a girl's weekend. We really haven't done much together since we were young and the two cousins on each end of the age spectrum haven't really gotten together at all. It was such a fun time for all of us. In the process of reacquainting ourselves we found out that cousin Judi was a beekeeper. She had to give up her bees in the last year as her husband, Bob, started to become severely allergic to the stings due to his medication. The last sting landed him in the hospital. Very sadly the bees had to be relocated. But she still has jars of the honey, which we all got and little pots of hand cream made from the wax. A solid reminder of her joy tending her bees.

I've been slathering her honey on my toast each morning since she gave me the honey and all this honey has brought me to thinking about bees and quilts. The two pictures above and the one below are the start of a mini quilt. It's only 12" x 12". My inspiration from Judi's bees has led to a little exploration. While taking me a bit from the Mermaids I need to continue, it's a welcome diversion and a little something to practice the quality of my stitches on after the many weeks of working, cleaning house and gardening which have derailed my momentum in the studio.
Before I'm done it will have a lot more bees buzzing around. Shouldn't take too long to pop out. Just have to love that honeycomb fabric! Got to go find some wing fabric and have some more toast with honey.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cleaning & Organizing

Every once in a while it just becomes evident that some reorganization and cleaning have to happen - even in the studio. Years of Fiber Arts magazines fill two of the magazine boxes above. Sadly they will be a fixed collection as Fiber Arts is no longer being published. My subscription goes back to 1997. I love looking over old issues for inspiration every so often. I had magazines in stacks all over the studio. They needed rounding up!
I love having a large area of bulletin board so I can keep track of all the odds and ends that I collect. However, these two have been propped up sitting on the end of my work table since I moved into the studio. Only one of them had a wire on it, so I had to put wire on the other in the same place and with the same length so that when they were hung separately they would hang evenly, together. You can see why they have been sitting for years untouched. I finally tackled it and they now hang on the wall. Not only do I have a few more inches to my table, but they won't ever be knocked off into the abyss behind the table ever again. :)
Above, the old verticals hang over the slider onto the deck. These verticals have been the bane of my existence since we moved in. The bottoms were connected by chains which rattled when moved, and were dirty and warped, hanging unevenly. Below, bye-bye, verticals - hello, sheers. The sheers look lovely, flowing and light. In the winter they will get switched out with curtains lined with energy efficient fabric.
We have three large windows, 80" wide and two sliders on either end of the studio. That's five curtain rods and 10 curtain panels. This was a big project, still not complete but I have all the things I need. All I have to do is add some time and sweat.

And so long as I am in the cleaning and organizing mood, I took on the spare bedroom which was our daughter, Andie's room up until January when she took an apartment of her own. I'm having family come for a weekend in two weeks, so I needed to get it finished. While only a 10' x 11' room, the bright windows, pastel yellow and open bed frame help it feel bigger. No I did not make the quilt on the bed. I had one of my pieces on the wall above the bed but sold it. I'll have to make something fun to grace the wall.
While cleaning this morning I looked out into the yard to find a brood of turkeys. There were three adult females with 6 babies, two of which were still very small. They let me get pretty close with my camera. One of the moms let go with a shake of dust and dirt and stretched her tail feathers for me, giving me a bit of the typical turkey tailfan. Then off they went slowly into the underbrush. This house has been a constant drain in upkeep of both two acres of yard and a 1980's style home needing some love and updating, but sometimes the perks are just so wonderful. I have a great studio where I can watch turkeys strut across the yard with their babies. Who could ask for more.

Friday, June 24, 2011


11 1/2" x 11 1/2"
completed 6/24/2011
silk & cotton batiks fused and stitched by machine, embellished with buttons & beads

Even though it was a rather sleepy, gray day, I finished "Girasole" for the SAQA auction. Now all I have to do is get it mailed to New Mexico by next Saturday.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reading Jane

I like to spend a bit of my time surfing around the information highway and reading in the morning. It's like going to school - you learn things. Often I will find some inspiration that will spark the energy for my day. I was checking out the new posts from the blogs I love following and I found the profound body of a lecture by Jane Dunnewold called "What Matters?" I copied it and saved it for future reading. It is deep reading and has so many sparks to fuel the fire of thought that one morning is not enough. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling at all with the "why's" of life. It is written from the perspective of the artist but cuts across all that is human.

I have copied an excerpt below which reads like a checklist of qualities which one would employ to develop a sense of community. I was drawn in to it's functionality and it resonates with my internal search for finding my community.

If we see the good in cultivating community, sharing our gifts, being with people who love what we love, then there are qualities we can foster that will make the experience richer:
These properties create a fertile environment where certain capacities can grow -
Generosity, which is making an offer for its own sake, not for its exchange value
Cooperation - For me to win, you must win.
Statesmanship - setting aside person preferences for the group good.
Forgiveness, which signals a new beginning, and choosing to stay in present time.
An acceptance of imperfection - recognizing that our gifts are intertwined with our limitations and being willing to deal with it, without passing judgment.
Mystery - which creates space for what is unknowable in life, and honors it.

When we work intentionally to foster the above properties and capacities in the
Linkcommunity we are part of, we open the way to a life of satisfaction and creativity."

There is so much more of her lecture that would spark deep internal questioning and thought. I highly recommend reading and re-reading it to anyone who is searching for internal development and clarity. Thank you Jane, for publishing your lecture and if I ever see you listed as a key speaker in the future, you can be sure I will be in the audience.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Scottish Thistle

You never can tell where inspiration will hit you. Every day I pass this spot on the way to get a coffee before getting into work. There is a median strip in a busy access road to a shopping center with a boatload of the real thing - the Scottish Thistle.
I've had puny, weedy thistles growing by accident in my gardens before, but they produce, tiny, uninspired weedy thistles. And I pull them out, very carefully. But a week ago I noticed these babies forming their massive thistle flowers. I knew I just had to take my little camera to work soon to take some shots.
The head on this flower is about 3" in diameter, and the spikes on the leaves and stems are brutal. It was, however, worth spilling a little blood to get these shots and I am looking forward to drawing them.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Falling in love in the garden, once again

My gardens are bursting with color, shape, line and design. Above is a mandevilla which I usually buy in it's common shade of pink. But I was loving the smaller pure red blooms of this strain.
As the flowers prepare to open they create such a lovely shape, star-like. Whenever I see shapes in nature I am reminded of Jane Sassaman, who is a master at drawing her graphic shapes from nature.
Caught in his frenzy of pollen gathering, this bee, one of many, will spend hours hovering in the cat mint. They just love it and will return daily as long as the flowers are blooming.
Canterbury Bells are steeped in my memory as one of the many floral remembrances I have of the gardens around my home as a child. They are such a sunny, happy flower. I just can't help but love them.
But this year I am truly in love. Foxglove is just the most stunningly gorgeous flower. It's shape is sensuous with it's gentle sweep, it's colors vibrant and subtle at the same time and the spots are just mesmerizing.
I feel the seed of a new quilt forming in my head. My mind works, oh so much faster than my hands can.

Just a mention of the SAQA auction which I am sending a piece into. For information follow the link.

Studio Art Quilt Associates' Auction begins on Monday, September 12th at 2:00 pm EST and conclude on Sunday, October 2 at 2:00 pm EST. Price points are: $750, $550, $350, $250, $150 and $75. The funds raised through the Auction are critical to supporting SAQA's exhibitions, catalogs and outreach programs.

For more information on SAQA and what we are all about:

Friday, June 3, 2011

It was a lovely June day today, fair amounts of sun, a light breeze, flowers blooming and lots of time for the studio. Just the way I like it! A couple of days of windy weather have wreaked havoc on my peonies. I just don't know what Mother Nature has against peonies. It's usually soaking rains that destroy them not wind but I can't remember a season where they haven't been wreaked by some errant weather. I had to hold these blooms up to shoot them. I just love this one, white with a touch of red in the center. They grow to be so big.
And this magenta one is the one that was started by my father's mother so very many years ago. My mom took a cutting from it and I took a cutting from my mom. I have transplanted it to three different homes.
I started my day in the studio by petaling out the top sunflower and stitching it down.
I then moved to stitching down the centers of the sunflowers.
And this is my progress for the day. I need to stitch around the front, lower sunflower petals before putting in the petals of the third and last sunflower. Almost done. Should be done with the stitching in a few days. Then I can get into beading it. Very productive and pleasant day in the studio.