Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Digging Out

Today I made my first inroads into the deadline induced mound of chaos that is my studio. Clearing a path to think creatively and with something of an organized mind is an absolute necessity for me. Oh - that and the fact that I can't walk two feet or reach any of my supplies for the piles on the floor. I've been racing to meet one deadline after another and things just (literally) piled up.

After clearing one corner I took a break to sew up some Christmas Bags. Every year I buy a yard or two of a Christmas fabric on clearance and make a few gift-wrap bags of different sizes. Sometimes I get fancy and include drawstrings and linings. This year I just whipped a few rectangles together with serged edges and tied it with a ribbon. I've always disliked gift-wrap. Not really. Actually - I think a beautifully wrapped gift is too beautiful. All that time and expense on something that will be ripped apart and thrown away. These bags are kept year to year or given away. Believe it or not they end up being much cheaper, even initially, than wrapping paper. If I wanted to they could be as elaborate and beautiful as any paper wrapped gift.

And this for Catherine in New Zealand. The view out my studio window. Blue skies, colorful autumn leaves, green pines. Here in NC there are trees grow like weeds everywhere that you don't mow or pave. Most lawns stay green year round. I love it here weather-wise. Mostly. Talk to me again in August about humidity. I think I'm definitely a cold weather girl. I love my woolen sweaters and socks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

Hmmm. Beautiful rainy day outside. Not too frigid but certainly cold enough to make one wish to stay indoors with a good book and a a warm quilt. Don't forget the hot chocolate. On Sundays the TV and radio stay off. Music is usually classical or from our own instruments. Once in a while we'll invite people over for dinner but mostly it's a day just for family and church. 

After reading many books together the little ones are now all piled on daddy. Sort of a low key wrestling match but it seems they are all enjoying it. I really, really, love taking a day off to slow down once a week. No errands or shopping, no running here and there.

This week has been absolutely lovely. No lessons or sports or activities to run around to. No homework to hound. Visiting family and lots of great food and time together. Maybe I appreciate the peace and simplicity more than ever this year in contrast to the pressure of my every day life and events.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Time to Breathe

I look back on my earlier life and often wonder how I could have ever thought I was busy. I was stressed out and overwhelmed with two toddlers. Now I have two toddlers at home, plus two talented teenagers and a sports nut boy who all want to go places and do things but can't drive themselves there. 

I have a career that is part-time if you average it out but in reality it's more like these overwhelming crunches of time just before a trip then back to almost nothing. Or it would be if things weren't going as wonderfully well as they are. It seems I've always got a deadline waiting for me as soon as I finish something up.

I used to whine about my husband working long hours when I needed help with the kids. Now his job has an exponentially greater amount of responsibility involved. He still works long hours. Plus he and I both have church responsibilities that take up a good 6-8 hours every week.

When do we take time to breathe!?! 

We make time. Today we made time. We climbed trees. We rolled in leaves. We ate junk food.

We let go of things that aren't important. Like matching socks. We remember what's important.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I've decided that instead of rushing from one deadline to another - I'll give myself a day to play as a reward for each deadline met. Actually - once I turned in all of my book work I gave myself several days. I sewed up a blouse I've had cut out for a while, turned a couple of dresses into skirts, pants into capris, and made several long overdue repairs. I haven't done any garment sewing in ages and I miss it. 

The best project? Almost a year ago I purchased a box of scraps from Carter Smith's cutting room floor. He is an absolutely amazing artist using shibori as his main technique, and a gracious person too. I spent a couple of days piecing together my favorite scraps and now I have an absolutely lovely jacket. You really have to feel it. Pure luxury. If you see me at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this year, feel free to touch it. Yummy.

Now back to the next deadline. I need to photograph a new class for Quilt University. Screen Printing this time. I think I'll do double duty and call that "play time" too!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Quilting Arts Gifts

Fun stuff again! I just received advance copies of Quilting Arts GIFTS, a fun issue full of quick and easy projects that are perfect for Christmas. It should be on the stands by the end on September.

It's been years since I've had time to make hand-made gifts for people so I don't usually pay attention to projects like this. If I were to do something from this issue however, it would most definitely by Lois Jarvis' Travel Scarf. You'll have to look it up. Here's a sneak peak at my project.

As sort of an "aside" I thought I'd share my Christmas gift philosophy. We have lots of kids in our family. We live in an affluent area of the United States. We love Christmas. I do, however, try my level best to raise my children without that sense of entitlement that seems so prevalent among children today. I think they get tired of my telling them that we are put on the earth to make it a better place, not to be entertained.

The kids get one gift from "Santa" and a small something in their stockings. They love to make or buy gifts for each other. We don't put presents under our tree until Christmas Eve. After they go to bed each child is allowed to sneak up, pull out the gifts for the family that they have hidden, and put on the elf hat and arrange it under the tree. Then we put the rest of the gifts there. 

We give family portraits to our parents every year and among my siblings we have traded names in the past. Lately we have written down our different memories of a common experience instead of buying things. Eventually we will have a family history book that will be a treasure for generations.

We try each year to choose a service project, such as sponsoring another family, and go all out spending a day shopping and wrapping and when possible, anonymously delivering gifts for them. The kids know Christmas is not their birthday - it is Christs'. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Quilting Arts TV

What an adventure! I spent half of last week taping a couple of segments for Quilting Arts TV

What lovely people and what a wonderful opportunity. Patricia Bolton is one of the hardest working (honestly - I don't know when she sleeps) people I know. It has been such a pleasure to watch her add on projects and succeed with every step. I give most of the credit for the wonderful leaps my career has made over the past several years to her.  You can read her blog here.

And I learned some interesting things. The most interesting is that being the Hostess of a TV show requires three brains in one head. Pokey had to make up questions and comments on the fly, watch the crew's cues, listen to the producer in her earpiece, and remember things like who she was supposed to introduce for the next segment. Oh - and change outfits every 30 minutes for a week. Sounds like work to me. Can't wait to see how it turns out. I'll have to order the DVD's though as PBS doesn't hasn't picked up the show in this area. Write your local station and request the show - I have. Didn't work but I keep writing. Hopefully it will happen eventually.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Making Progress

Whew - getting there. I feel like the entire day today was one continuous interruption (that's an oxymoron, I know) with kids needing something every few minutes. I think I've got most of the samples done that I need for the book. Now on to a couple of "step-outs' and a few miscellaneous illustrations. Oh - I keep forgetting an entire sketchbook to fill. And the props to gather. And a few final edits to the writing. That's next week. This writing a book business is looking an awful lot like a lot of work.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the intrepid and wonderful friends who were willing to try some design exercises. They are trickling in and looking wonderful. I might actually make this deadline yet. Um - perhaps wishful thinking on my part.

Monday, August 11, 2008

heads down - working hard

I've got some serious deadline issues. All the artwork for the book needs to be done in just the next few weeks. Plus getting ready to shoot a couple of segments for QATV. I'm trying my best to dovetail the two - using some of the same work for both. Here's a pretty picture of my new baby... getting ready to sandwich and quilt a funky color wheel.

I'm averaging six small pieces per day. No time to photograph and blog - barely enough time to feed my children and get them where they need to go. I can't believe I'm missing the Olympics. Hmmm.... maybe it's time to do some of the sketchbook work - in front of the telly? Looking at the list - maybe not. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What a ride!!!

Did you think I'd dropped off the planet? Actually - I feel like I've been traversing half the planet. I know we drove half our lovely country! from North Carolina to Washington state. And loved every minute of it!
I've learned a number of things. One is that I still love Chicago! I love tall buildings both from way down on the ground and from waaay up in the sky!

I adore wide open skies and twisting mountain roads! I truly miss watching thunderstorms move across the sky.

I thought the ten days of car travel with three teenagers was easier than one day of air travel with two toddlers. Especially after discovering that those toddlers get carsick on those twisting, winding, mountain roads!

And - for some reason I didn't think I'd ever in my life have the opportunity to see a mountain meadow full of wildflowers again. Why, I don't know. It made me cry for the beauty of it. 

The beautiful mountain passes were tempered by seeing half of the trees dead. One of my loved ones believes it is the environmentalists fault - that they have restricted the spraying of insecticides that would save the forests. (He didn't explain how they survived before the spraying started.) I've read articles saying that the subtle shift in temperatures is allowing the beetle larva to survive and thrive. Sigh. What have we done to ourselves? We did get to see the beginning of a few western wind farms. We need MORE technology and innovations like that to rid ourselves of fossil fuels. This said of course, as I drove and drove and drove and consumed many gallons of fossil fuel myself. Sigh.

Bigger sigh - on now to six weeks of nothing but heads-down studio time to make the artwork deadline for my book.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Blue Ridge Quilt Festival

Hello Friends - it's been an amazingly crazy month. June just flew by. I spent a week getting ready for the Blue Ridge Quilt Festival and had an amazing time there. Wonderful classes and students! 

Four fabulous days. Fabulous hosts. Here is the view from driving down from their lovely home.

I kept running down during lunch and after class and playing with the Handi-Quilter 16. The sit down model. I must have spent several hours playing. I quilted through a lot of their sample sandwiches, bought the nastiest, most difficult metallic thread I could find, went a thousand miles an hour, went slow, fell in love.  

Guess what baby is going to show up at my house!?! They could have had it delivered to me in a week but I'm on the road - more on that in a couple of days. It will be delivered a couple of days after I'm back home from our current trip. I would have had it delivered sooner but it will take a couple of days to clear out a spot for it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Surface Design Sampler Platter

In Charlotte this time. What a great bunch of ladies! It was HOT, HOT, HOT - even with the air conditioning but they stuck with it and made some fun stuff. Mostly we played!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Saying Goodbye to my Cozy Spot

Sigh. It's hard to say goodbye. Sometimes. Not this time. I haven't blogged much as you would be bored to tears seeing a picture of the same thing every day. I've been spending all of my time writing, and writing, and writing, and writing. 

(picture here - tomorrow after my final edit)

Thank heavens for the best group of friends in the world who have been willing to watch my children so I could write, and write, and write, and write. I drop them (and a check) off for the morning then head to the library and my favorite corner. Glass wall, couch, table, plug. No telephone, TV, housework, kitchen full of food, or other distractions that keep me from writing at home. I'm terrible with the self-discipline thing so I really did need to head out to get the writing for this book done. And... (drum roll please...) IT'S DONE!!!!!

Now on to the fun part. Making the art. Have to unbury the studio again first.

Friday, May 9, 2008


The old, ancient, rusty, barely holding it together, program that I use for my website is broken. Fortunately the website is OK, I just can't update the site and haven't figured out what, oh what shall I ever do yet. Wasn't planning to take the time to build a new site yet. I had intended to learn dreamweaver next year as I really don't have time before then.

My new Mac baby wonderful best friend of a laptop has i-Web which I could learn in about two seconds but am not sure if it is robust enough for my website. Probably. If the old NetObjects - forever ago version could do it I suppose this wouldn't be a problem. Anyone have several hundred extra hours they could loan me this month? I'm hearing my book deadline rushing towards me like a freight train!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Runway

Thought I'd share what fun we had in Virginia during my wearable art lecture. I haven't had models for the works before and believe me, what a difference. Clothes are meant to be worn and to move. 

It was a thrill to see each lovely lady come out with a great big smile, swishing and swirling. 

"Spice It Up" looked so wonderful on Annette Kennedy that it decided to take a vacation at her place for a while. She is a featured artist at a local gallery's opening reception so "Spice" decided to get out and party instead of sitting lonely in my closet. It's come back soon.

(gotta run... I had three other pictures loaded but for some quirky reason they are sideways. I'll fix em later.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Surface Design Sampler Platter

Thought I'd share the fun we had a couple of weeks ago. All that dyed fabric had to go somewhere! Some of it got chopped up into kits for a very fun, very frenetic, very crazy class called Surface Design Sampler Platter. It's a class with a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Stamp carving, stencil cutting, screen printing, foiling, beading. Mostly we have a really lovely time playing like five year olds and getting our fingers all messy.

Here is Elizabeth Gibson after some serious stenciling.

Maren Lindberg came up with something absolutely beautiful.

Ellen Goodloe kept having these wonderful little fits of ecstasy during the beading process. I think I want to hire her to just come to each of my classes and be that happy!

Joan Clemmons was concentrating like crazy during class then all of the sudden the last half hour - kaboom! She went a little crazy and started printing and foiling everything she could get her hands on. Even the background fabric that usually goes on the inside of the sketchbook.

Kim Beatley worked after class and was kind enough to bring her completed sketchbook cover the next morning.  Absolutely gorgeous!

Altogether a very fun class. I leave exhausted but inspired every time. This is why I teach. I love to see people's face light up when they find something they love!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Well, mostly. I wish I had taken more process shots during the dye days but stripping off the gloves, washing off the shoes, grabbing the camera, etc. was just too much work. I "only" got through 100 out of the 150 yards I have available to dye. I did come up with lovely pieces to include in the kits for my students at the Virginia Quilt Celebration. More on that later!

I had several successes with some fun shibori scarves! My favorite got away from me before I was able to get a picture of it. I think that it's new owner will absolutely love wearing it! I had thrown in a bunch of socks to dye and they all left with new owners too. Fun to see students running around in purple and lime green socks all weekend.

I hope to get some more dyeing done before my June adventures in Charlotte and at the Blue Ridge Quilt Festival.   Now to work! I've got a lot of writing to do by the end of the month.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


The weather is supposed to warm up today, I have a sitter. The dye concentrate is mixed. I pulled my shibori pole out of the back corner of the garage and cleaned off a couple years worth of cobwebs. 

I've got scarves, socks, a couple of clothing blanks, and 150yds of PFD!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Great Design

I love it when I come across something that is not only great to look at but ingeniously engineered. At first there was nothing too exciting about my most recent studio addition from IKEA other than it's color. Oh, and the fact that if a sneaky little four year old managed to get into my paints and spill them inside the drawer I could wash it out. Can't do that with wooden drawers full of thread. Ask me how I know.
As I assembled the cabinet I fell in love with its' elegant design. I love putting things together! A very creative soul figured out a way to put a full sized Taboret....

.... into this skinny little 3" box. Anyone else out there concerned about the way we ship most everything we buy back and forth around the world? Fossil fuels, pollution, human rights, all that. Think of how many skinny little boxes will fit into the same space as one fully assembled cabinet. Maybe sometime I'll riff on my hopes for the future of clean energy sources. Another day.

Back to the cabinet. This clever designer made it simple enough for any novice to assemble with nothing more than a screwdriver. This is a drawer. Really. Fold on the dotted line, slide this piece in here,  fold the little hook there, and viola! You have a drawer! Elegant design in a simple object.

The gorgeous vase by the way, was a gift from my mom. Every time my parents come to visit they take a little trip to Seagrove, NC - home of too many talented potters to count. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Gathering Inspiration

Inspiration for art is everywhere you look. I'm at the beach with my family and it's rainy, cold, and windy. We knew this going in but the idea of an indoor pool and some other fun things to do made the short trip worthwhile. We spent part of the day at a lovely aquarium and I could have spent hours and hours mesmerized by the schools of fish swimming in circles in the giant tanks. Or the jellyfish undulating against a bright blue background. Instead I had to help keep track of the little ones. I only lost them once or twice.

So how does one capture that soothing, round and round, feeling in art? I don't think I could do with a literal representation of fish or jellies. It was the motion that hypnotized me. When I get home I'll upload a bunch of pics to Flickr for you.

Oh, and last night we watched Finding Nemo, projected huge on my bedroom wall with the new toy. It was amazing. My favorite part was a scene in the end credits where your entire field of vision is filled with waving anemone fronds. All of the kids were laying on the bed with their arms and feet in the air making shadows and waving back and forth along with the anemone. I couldn't run down and get my video camera fast enough to get a shot.

If you looked up from your computer what inspiration for art would you find right in front of you? What else inspired you today?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another New Toy

This first year back into the money making side of my artwork is going to be quite heavy on the capital investments. I guess next year I'll keep some of my profits or take my family on a nice vacation. I probably should save for tuition payments. Years and years and years of tuition payments. I should say it's my first year back into traveling around and making new friends while playing with fabric together. The money is a very fun side benefit. 

I've decided I need to go digital. Most of the techniques I demonstrate in my classes are up-close by hand things. Caryl Bryer Fallert was the first teacher I saw demonstrate something with a camera and projector so that everyone in the room had a great view of what she was doing. She's always on the cutting edge of the technology curve. 

I've been reading so many reviews that my head was spinning and finally decided to give up on that and go straight to the people who have given me much of my quilting education over at the QuiltArt mail list. As usual, someone had the information I needed. I try, I really do, to do lots of research on my own but almost always end up just following the recommendation of someone who has already done the same thing.

Marilyn Bedford loves her InFocus.
Elizabeth Spilker loves her Sony VPL-ES1
Jane Davila loves her Hitachi CP-X253

The best information came from Jane who said that the folks over at the Projector People
have the best customer service available. She was right. I called and asked questions. Then called and asked more, and more and more! 
They know their stuff and are used to dealing with people like me who don't.

Through Jane's wonderful information and her people I learned:
LCD is much better than DLP for those concerned with color accuracy
Set your computer's resolution to the same res. as your projector
Minimum lumens = 2000, minimum contrast ration = 400:1
Get the right cords for your laptop
Some projectors can present with a usb thumb drive rather than your laptop but it wouldn't work with  my Mac. 

I decided that my priorities were:
great looking pictures for my lectures
good enough for lit classroom demonstrations

and the winner is.....(drumroll)

Like I said. I just ended up giving up on more research and going with a strong recommendation. 3.9 lbs and a great picture. We shall set it up this week and play.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wearable Art

This piece was made for the Bernina Fashion Show several years ago. It's made from absolutely to die for, custom dyed, sueded rayons by Cherrywood Fabrics.

It took hundreds of hours to make with a full double circle skirt with yards and yards of reverse appliqué, an easy technique, but there was just so MUCH of it to do in this garment! can I tell you how absolutely spectacular it was to see it swishing down the runway on a professional model with all the lights and music. I felt like a rock star even though it wasn't me up there. The dress traveled to a couple of other venues and didn't come back to me for almost two years later. It had aged out of most of the competitions by then so it did nothing but sit on my dress form for a very long time.

Last weekend a dear friend had a "formal dress" 50th birthday party. I haven't been to a "formal dress" anything since my senior prom in high school. Not even a company Christmas party. (Can you hear the "poor me" whine coming through here?) Quite the hardship for someone like me.

Hmmm. I was going to call my self a fashionista there, but I don't think that term fits. I adore clothes and wearable art but am not interested in fashion trends. I believe that most current trends are incredibly unflattering to the majority of women. And girls. I'd rather just wear what I like and what looks good on me. If you want to read more about my fashion philosophy, my favorite style book of all time is Simple Isn't Easy. It makes the case for finding a uniform that you look fantastic in, and sticking to it, no matter the current trends.

Back to the point. I got to wear my dress for the first time. And dance in it. My hubby and I know a little west coast swing and a little two step but mostly they played salsa and rock. I had fun anyway, since my lovely friend comes from a culture where all the families just get up and dance with each other without waiting for an invitation or partner. They just find joy in friendship and music and dance. I think I'm going to try to be more like that.

I wish every one of you a little time back in that little-girl-twirly-dress blissful place.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Isn't this cool? Blogging on my laptop from a kid's sport event. I didn't know the center had a network I could hook up to. Really I should be cheering for my kid (I am mostly) or writing away but there are just too many distractions here. I'm finding I'm very distractible.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

On The Road

Gotta love a laptop. It turns a seven hour road trip into productive work time. My parents are visiting and we decided to take the little ones and head up to see my brother and his new little one. The kidlets were great in the car. They watched a movie on my tiny little i-pod when they got fussy.
Here's a little detail from a pice that reminds me of travel... marks in a line. What do you get done on the road? I've gotten a lot of work done but not a whole lot of writing. A couple of new classes outlined and a bit of editing. I think I need to sit isolated and quiet for a bit of a chunk of time in order to write

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Quiet Sunday

Life is good. It's a bit cold and gray outside. Rain is good here where we are in one of the worst drought areas in the country. The kids and I are enjoying a Sunday afternoon listening to the last Harry Potter on audio book. Having a lovely time getting my new toy up and running.

The most beautifully cool laptop ever. It really does fit in an envelope.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Line Studies

Time for a couple small doodles this week. In between lots of writing and research and organizing and driving kids here and there and dealing with a screaming ornery three year old. I think the monster that has replaced my little one is not feeling well.

Both are 4" x 6" matted at 5" x 7"
$25.00 each

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What A Week!

I can't believe everything that has happened this week. It's been absolutely insane. The regular old mom job has been pretty much normal, running here and there for this sport and that music lesson and the other playgroup. The weather turned warm enough that I (gasp) shaved my legs and wore capris. I've seen one daffodil blooming at the top of the hill and mine are beginning to wake up.

I did get a rejection letter from the Raleigh Fine Arts Society show. Not a big surprise. Didn't even blink an eye because I was too busy (take a huge breath here) writing for my second on-line course offering, finishing edits for my first, finalizing the contract for a book, and putting together a new class based on my current article for Quilting Arts Magazine because the director of education at the International Quilt Festival in Houston asked me to teach it there this fall.

Knees are knocking here. Oh my goodness. The windows of heaven are opened and the blessings are pouring out and I'm wondering if I'm about to drown.