Artist & Teacher

Posts tagged “stitch

Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse

final quilt

A several weeks ago I showed you the first art quilt in a series about endangered species of Sonoma County; that piece highlighted the plight of Myrtle’s Silverspot Butterfly. This week I finished the second in my series featuring the very charming Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse. Just like Myrtle’s Silverspot, this little mouse is endangered mostly due to habitat loss but climate change and sea level rise are a problem for it too. It seems we humans are a most invasive species and I’m afraid the habitat loss is the main reason for most of these endangered critters. My next quilt will feature the California Tiger Salamander, maybe not quite as cute as the mouse or beautiful as the butterfly, but charming in it’s own way. Look for that in the coming weeks.

I hope you notice the hand printed and marbled fabrics I used in these quilts, I have some upcoming workshops to introduce you to stamping and marbling fabric check out my website for more info.

Allowing Failure to Lead You

I haven’t blogged in a while – I’ve gotten out of practice. The end of the year was busy with teaching and holiday’s and visitors. And the beginning of the year was busy with teaching and visitors and all the busy-ness of life. This past week I decided to create space for a making week. Not prepping for classes, not writing a magazine article, not preparing for a show – just making. For a long time now, I have felt that my creative endeavors are bifurcated. I have my paintings and mixed media work and I have my fabric work. My roots are deep into textiles and stitch but in the last 25 years my focus has been more on paint and collage. In the past 10 years I have been dipping more frequently into my fabric art persona connecting to the vast next work or quilters and quilt guilds. My one goal in my play date with my studio was to create something in the medium of fabric that is in the same voice as my paint/collage work.

To that end I set out sketching and planning. I dyed and printed, stitched and pieced, quilted and embroidered. After 4 days of this I stepped back and didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it. The scale was wrong the colors weren’t working, my heart sunk, my plan – kaput! I lay the three-foot by four-foot piece across my dining table and decided to sleep on it. In the morning it was clear to me that I needed to cut it all up and let go of my plan. I got out my ruler and rotary cutter and cut the piece up into 11×14 inch rectangles. I didn’t cherry pick, I just cut. All along I had planned to put wrens on my piece. I had already printed out my watercolor wrens onto cotton fabric and they told me they still wanted in on this piece. I pulled out two bins full of printed and stamped fabric from past adventures and let them talk to me. I started composing. Word from a psalm in that Sunday’s church service found their way in, a snippet of sheet music called out. A favorite rubber stamp I’d carved years ago of a bird in flight stated firmly it need to be included. My studio exploded – I worked furiously, with energy and joy and perhaps most importantly – no plan. I will say I am in love with these fabric collages. They feel like me. They feel like home, they feel real.

I am so glad I allowed myself to the space and time to create. I am so glad I allowed myself the space and time to fail. I am so glad I allowed myself the space and time to find contentment and my mature voice in this medium. Now my synapses are firing and tingling. What about natural dying? What about rust prints? What about a series on endangered species in Sonoma County? Oh the possibilities!

Take time for your own creative self. Let yourself fail, brood about it, then make something of it – remember that joy is meaningless without knowledge of struggle.


Spring Has Sprung

9.Cala Lillies in April

Fabric photo montage of Cala Lilies at The Bishop’s Ranch

The birds are full of ideas. I watched pair of sparrows with straw in their beaks searching for a perfect nesting spot today. The bees as I walked down the wisteria laden arbor here at the Bishop’s Ranch are also full of ideas. Their busyness got me full of ideas as well. I’ve been admiring the Cala lilies along the Ranch house walk for a few weeks and realized I better get busy if I was going to catch them before they start to fad. So I snapped a bunch of pictures on my phone and wandered off wondering what next. So like the birds and the bees I got a creative idea too! I printed about 12 of my Cala lily photos onto printable cotton and with a bit of inspiration from the early photo collage work of David Hockney got to work on this fabric collage of Cala Lilies at The Bishop’s Ranch (if you look closely you can see the Chapel of St. George in the back).


Don’t delay follow those creative ideas buzzing around in your head let inspiration take over, you’ll be glad you let it rule the day!


Detail of stitching on fabric photo montage

The View from Above

Russian River Valley. Looking east. iPad drawing printed large and free-motion stitched

Russian River Valley. Looking east. iPad drawing printed large and free-motion stitched

As some of you remember I have been working on some aerial view art quilts. I’m using photo images taken from a plane to create iPad drawings then having those drawings printed large on fabric then quilting. (see these links to past posts Flying High & A Stitch’n Week). I have completed a couple more of these art quilts and I’m ready to share. I was pondering what to say this morning on a chilly early morning hike. As I wandered along the trail, in and out of trees and into clearings it struck me that these aerial views are of the same place I’m walking but seen from a different perspective. In that same vein I’ve been pondering my family relationships – specifically my relationship to my demi-adult son and my eighty-something parents. I am finding that navigating the parent/demi-adult relationship is harder than I was expecting. How to support him and love him but let him go and make mistakes and find his own way. So my experience as the parent of a young adult has made me reflect on my own young adulthood and my relationship to my parents. I have new empathy and insight into what I put them through, how I wrestled and struggled with my self-definition and sometimes let them in but often not. So in these landscapes I am experiencing and translating the same place that I have walked through and painted again and again but from a different point of view where I can experience it anew. As I climb higher, I can now see the river carving through the valley and the hills sculpted low against the mountain and the row of trees reaching up and out. This landscape is like my own life- carving, sculpting, reaching up and out; connecting to the journey but separate from my son’s journey and likewise connecting to but separate from my parents’ journey. Here I am like a hawk on the wing, riding air current of my life in this unique space between beginning and end seeing each from a new point of view and grateful to catch a glimpse now and then of where I’m going and where I’ve been.

Detail of stitch

Detail of stitch

I have a couple more quilts ready I’ll show you soon in another post.


SING  Experiments with alcohol inks on fabric stitche on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint

Experiments with alcohol inks on fabric stitched on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint

I had a little time in my studio yesterday, which sadly I haven’t had a lot of time in the past couple of months. So yesterday when I found that I had finished my Christmas gift list, prepped food, and made soup, packaged spiced nuts, wrote notes, and generally got business done a little miracle happen for one small afternoon there was nothing on my list, every item that could be done had a red line through it (I love the red line).  With a wide open mind I walked over to my studio.  It is a rare thing for me to have no agenda, no class to prep or make samples for, no article I’m working on, no sale to make merch for just my tiny cluttered studio and 3 hours to play.  I had been thinking for awhile about experimenting with alcohol inks to marble fabric.  It seemed to me that the inks would float on the water then perhaps would work like other marbleizing mediums but dry faster less fuss.  It turns out the ink does float but when it hits the water it kind of seizes up I laid the fabric on and got some interesting marks and the colors are bright but nothing fabulous.  So now what?  I decided to cut them into strips and see if that got me inspired.  On the ironing board were pieces of denim from another fabric dyeing experiment that didn’t pan out so why not mash it up and see what happens?  So a few hours later I walked out of my studio with these 3 little ditties, charming I think.  And what a lovely time I had just to wander and wonder and create.  I hope you can find time to do the same in this busy season in whatever way gives your heart and mind a little space to sing.

SING 2 scraps of previously marbled fabric stitched on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint

scraps of previously marbled fabric stitched on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint

PS. I am teaching a weekend Encaustic Collage Workshop here at the Bishop’s Ranch in early January that I would like to invite you to.  It is 2 night, meals, housing, workshop and all materials included.  Start your new year off with a little creative retreat here is the link to the workshop registration

SING 3 Experiments with alcohol inks on fabric stitched on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint

Experiments with alcohol inks on fabric stitched on denim and stenciled with acrylic paint