Archives for 2014

Keeping a Low Profile

A while back I decided to cut back on entering shows to display my art. While I was meeting with what I thought was good success, I was beginning to feel as though I was being ruled by a schedule of applying, accepting, and shipping works around the world. My already busy life was about to become busier with trans-continental commutes. I also wanted some time to percolate a bit and focus on developing skills like hand-stitching. As a result, you have to search a bit more to view my works in public.

Despite my reclusiveness, my works have been surfacing this summer and will continue to show up in a number of venues this fall:

  • Rochester Contemporary Art Center
    You may remember a post of mine earlier this year about the 6×6 show in Rochester, NY.  About 7,000 works were displayed both online and at the center in June. People could purchase the 6″ by 6″ works but the artist’s name was not revealed until after the purchase was complete.
    I am happy to report that my contribution was displayed and purchased within the first week! While I couldn’t post it earlier to abide by the rules of the event, I am happy to share it here.
    6x6 donation
  • SAQA 25th Anniversary Trunk Show
    It seems like ages ago, but I did send in a contribution to SAQA’s 25th Anniversary Trunk Show. I was just reminded in a friendly email from William Reker, the SAQA Traveling Exhibition Coordinator that my piece, Crevasse, will be traveling in Oregon through August 2014.
  • “Up Against the Wall” at A Different Path Gallery
    In September you will find two of my works on display in a show of my local fiber arts group, RAFA. The show will run September 5-26, 2014 and I will be sure to mention it again on this blog as it gets closer. The two works are:

    Emergence 2

    Emergence 2

  • 2014 Quilt & Fiber Arts Festival
    I am delighted that once again one of my art quilts will be appearing in the annual show of the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum in La Conner, WA. The show will be October 3-5, 2014 and I will be sure to remind you of it as the date gets closer!

    Glacial Flow

    Glacial Flow

I am pleased with all of these opportunities. While I am enjoying my relatively quiet profile, it is always nice to be acknowledged! 🙂

Knowing When to Stop!

Do not follow the ideas of others, but learn to listen to the voice within yourself.”
Zen Master Dogen


With hand stitching, as with art quilts, the artist could continue to embellish and tweak till eternity. It takes a goodly dose of self awareness to hear that inner voice whispering (or eventually yelling) ‘That’s enough, dear!”.

So it was this past week   – I realized as I completed some inserts  that I had been working on for a few days that the pouch in my hands was done. I know I have shared some glimpses of it these past few months. Here it is, finally complete. :)

Hand embroidered pouch

This piece is a happy reminder of our trip to Normandy in May. The fabrics were purchased in London, the white overlay, shown below, is a clipping of a handkerchief I picked up at an open market in Paris.

hand embroidery

You can see from these detail shots that I made good use of that Liberty fabric I have been blogging about! The pouch is actually lined with the fabric as well.

liberty fabric insert

I added a few tabs to the bottom front of the pouch. I am not sure what I will use this pouch for, but if I do travel with it, the tabs will give me a place to place a few needles while stitching.

tabs on body of pouch

There is a special glow that comes with working with such beautiful fabric and from finishing the composition. It inspired me throughout the week as I took up some new projects. Hope to share more on them next week!

In the meantime, I will be linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday blog tomorrow, so be sure to check out everyone’s posts.

Looking Back to Go Forward

Once you understand where you come from, you’ll be able to see where you’re going.

I read this quote a few weeks ago – the author attribution was simply ‘Irish saying’. I am planning a trip to Ireland in the fall to revisit where my grandmother was born and raised so it seemed a timely thing to save.

Last year I created a quilt depicting the remnants of a cottage that helped determine my grandmother’s life. It was of a place where her older sister lived after her arranged marriage. The cottage is out on the coast of Western Ireland. The closest town today is still only a few streets along a road, so it is probably an understatement to say that the cottage setting was quite remote.


The story as told to me was that my grandmother decided that she wished to have the freedom to choose whom she married and where she lived. It spurred her to reach out to relatives who had immigrated to the U.S. and soon she was making the journey across the Atlantic herself. As she saved her earnings over the next few years, she sent home funds to allow some of her younger sisters to have a similar choice and follow her.

That story has inspired me over the years. My grandmother was a wee bit of person physically but her determination was gigantic. We have a saying in aikido, true power is energy flowing towards a vision. I don’t doubt for a moment that my grandmother had a vision of a better life for her children and their children and she sure acted on it.  In moments of doubt, I have learned to revisit my own visions and move forward myself, one step at a time.

PS Linking to Off the Wall Friday so be sure to check out the other artists.

Summertime contemplation

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.

Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

I have found the ideal way to brainstorm with myself on a design for a new art quilt — hand embroidery! While pondering the possibilities for stitching some tree trunks, I quietly sit and work on my Liberty London fabric pouch that I wrote about a few weeks ago. It is a wonderful way to pass some of each day in the beautiful summer weather we are having. It seems as though as I carefully stitch on the pouch, my mind slows and opens to possibilities for those tree trunks!

Here are a few glimpses of my gradual progress:

photo 1

hand embroidery

hand embroidered pouch

Deer Haven

Baby deer nestled in plants

Glancing out my bedroom door, I noticed a flash of color in the green, weedy, flower garden outside the door. I quickly moved into our living room where I could get a better view of the flower bed.


This fawn had decided my flower bed was the perfect place for an afternoon nap!


The fawn left fairly quickly after these photos.

We have at least four babies wandering about our property these days. It is fun to watch them grow. Eventually, I will teach them that the flower beds are off limits. For now, it is just fun to discover them every day and nice to be able to offer them  a safe place to grow up. Great excuse not to weed too!

Play time in my Studio

I am in my second full week at home……strange that it feels a bit like vacation. I may have to ponder that a bit!

It has meant that I have had time to wrap up some projects and begin to explore some new ones.  Happily part of my tasks for the week was to send off one of my art quilts that was purchased. I won’t say much about it as it will be a surprise present for someone but, needless to say, I am delighted it is going to a new home. 🙂

I also finished up the piece which the lettering I wrote about a few weeks ago was for. Here is a glimpse at some of it. I am calling it JOY!.

close up of art quilt

With so much World Cup action to watch, hand stitching was a must for this week. Here is a glimpse at my latest pouch – it is being constructed from some fabrics I purchased on my recent European trip, including some delicate Liberty fabric from the well known London store, Liberty London.

hand embroidery


I have another art quilt on my cutting table but I am not sure exactly where it is going yet. I think I will wait to share till I have a little more insight into the piece.

PS I am linking to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall blog so be sure to check out what others are doing too.


Opening Our Eyes to Art

How often do we see without seeing?

Do you ever stop and just look about you? I was reminded tonight how easy it is to take for granted our surroundings. I mentioned the art of Aikido in last week’s post. Tonight I was back in our dojo, or place of practice, just enjoying the peacefulness of our space. I often arrive early on Thursdays as I teach the first class. There is something special about taking a few minutes on my own to practice one of our weapon katas or do some extra stretching or breath work.

Tonight I arrived immersed in plans for my next art quilt. As I looked about me, what I saw was art. We have some very talented members who contribute freely of their time to enhance our practice space. As I looked about, the caring that created the art I found around me enveloped me and created the perfect mood to begin practice.

Here is some of what I saw:

Japanese clock

clock created on our wall using Japanese characters


Wall hanging reminding us of the four principles that guide our practicephoto

Photo of student caught in mid-roll printed onto to fabric


Bell given to dojo for starting class


Linked to Off the Wall Friday so you can check out other artists.

Hand stitching saves the day!

hand embroidered lettersThis summer season has gotten off to a busy start…….and the traveling doesn’t look to let up. Thank goodness that I made that decision a while back to begin studying the art of hand embroidery with Karen Ruane! It means that I can take my art projects with me, wherever I am. 🙂

As a result, while I was visiting my granddaughter this past week, I was able to add to those embroidered letters I mentioned in an earlier post.  So, the word “YES!” is now formed. While I am home over the next few weeks, I hope to complete quilting the piece that they will be added to.

But, first, I am off for a weekend of aikido at Rowan University. I may have mentioned that I practice a style of aikido called “Kokikai Aikido.” I am teaching with a group of nine other senior instructors at a seminar at Rowan. I am looking forward to seeing friends from around the country that I have practiced with for years. If you are not familiar with Aikido, I encourage you to read a bit about it. It is an art of de-escalation – where you move off line of attackers and work with their energy to end an attack. One of the most wonderful aspects of studying the art is the application in daily life. Your ability to remain calm under pressure increases. You also cultivate a heightened awareness of others. A dear friend whom I worked with for 25 years wrote one of the quintessential books of taking aikido off the mat into relationships – Magic of Conflict by Thomas Crum. The mind/body skills necessary to practice aikido can be learned by anyone. Tom was one of the first aikido practitioners to appreciate this. He is still traveling the world teaching those in management, education, health services, and even the armed forces. And, Magic of Conflict is the base of all his workshops. Whatever your calling in life, there are some ideas in Magic of Conflict that will help you along on your journey. Hope that you will check it out.

Make Your Life of Work, A Work of Art – Thomas Crum

P.S. Linking to Off the Wall Friday. Check out the other artists there!





1I spent the last week creating

D-Day Remembered

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

In Portsmouth, England, there is a 272′ appliqué quilt called the “Overlord Embroidery.” It was created to commemorate the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. I had the opportunity to view the piece on my recent trip. I would like to share a few photos that I took of parts of the quilt.

Our President gave a speech today in Normandy about D-Day. It is worth reading to understand and remember. Click here for a link.

Whenever the world makes you cynical — stop and think of these men
U.S. President Barack Obama


D-Day Map Room


Boats approaching the beaches


Soldier approaching beaches


Battle Scene


The Beaches



Linking to Off the Wall Friday.



13″ x 11″

In Private Collection

Aspen is digitally printed on silk and machine quilted.

I have always loved studying the bark of trees. While on a winter walk in Aspen, Colorado, this aspen tree caught my eye. The grain in the bark was a work of art by itself. I quickly snapped a photo to bring home and adapted it in Photoshop for printing on silk. The colors are the actual colors of the tree and the day.

Blissfully Busy……..


Sleeping cat

Mia totally blissed out

A friend of ours snapped this photo of our cat, Mia, this past weekend. She is quite blissed out, enjoying her nap. That however is not the state of being that has me blessed out. Check out my studio workspace below!

cluttered studio workspace

My studio workspace this week

This was my week to be home and sew! After spending time last week catching up on all the sorts of household details that accumulate when both of us are away, this week had plenty of studio time. I celebrated by working on three separate projects simultaneously.

One is an art quilt based upon a photo I took of our granddaughter last winter. It involves some hand-embroidered lettering near the top of the quilt. This was the week to decide upon fabric and threads for that lettering.  I worked with two fabrics and quickly learned that my small stash of embroidery thread was too tame:

sample2 sample1









After a quick trip to Golden Threads Needlearts in East Rochester, I was able to come up with a more satisfactory selection of threads for embellishing the lettering which I auditioned on both fabric samples.


By week’s end, I had my first letter created:

Hand embroidered letter

I also worked on a potential quilting pattern for the piece. I would like the quilting to expand outwards from my granddaughter’s heart. To be precise, I created a template to work from.

full scale quilting template

You can see the outline of her figure on the paper and the future quilting lines emanating from her heart area.

It was a wonderful week!

I am linking this to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday so be sure to check out what others have been creating!

6700 art works to browse!

6x6x2011_Card_11Would you like to spend a bit of time browsing through almost 7,000 pieces of art? The Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s (RoCo), international small art phenomenon is now viewable online.

For the seventh year, over 2,000 celebrities, international & local artists, designers, college students, and young people have contributed art works which are 6×6 square inches (15cm) or mounted to a 6×6 board, signed only on the back, and exhibited anonymously.

The art works will be offered for sale to the public for $20 each in the gallery beginning June 7 and online for global purchasing beginning June 10.  Artist names will be revealed to the buyer upon purchase. All proceeds benefit RoCo which you can learn more about here.

Somewhere in those 7,000 pieces is one by me. I can’t display it here but let me know if you think you have found it!

Have fun viewing. There are some phenomenal pieces on display. Just amazing what can be accomplished in 6 square inches!

Remembering ….

Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.

This weekend is the observation of Memorial Day in the U.S. It is timely for me as my husband and I just returned from a National Geographic trip that visited the sites in Normandy, France for the June 6 invasion by Allied Forces 70 years ago.

We traveled with a wonderful group of people, many of whom had spent years studying the events of D-Day.  Each of us took away new learnings and understandings. The numbers involved in D-Day and the events following were staggering as were the number of casualties. The logistics in planning the event were overwhelming, the number of things that went wrong was huge, but ultimately the objective was achieved – the end of an evil regime that was killing millions upon millions of people. Many, many lives, civilian and military, were lost in achieving that objective……war is a brutal way to resolve issues. So many of US deaths were young men who had only begun to live their lives. I read The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan to gain some perspective before our trip. It focused on the individual soldiers and their stories and I highly recommend it.

It is important that we not forget the lessons of history lest we repeat them………and there were many, many lessons from that dark period in the history of our planet.

I highly suspect that some of these photos that I captured along the way will end up in my art quilts – my way of remembering. 🙂

View near Arromanche, France of WWII memorial

View of Normandy WWII Museum near Arromanche, France.

Omaha Beach today

View of Omaha Beach today

American Cemetery, Normandy, France

View of the American Cemetery in Normandy where over 9,000 military who lost their lives in Normandy and the events after are buried. Many more are buried in the U.S.

Playing with Scrim

Having finished Glacial Flow, this was a week for play!

During my studies with Karen Ruane, one staple that I have added to my supplies is cotton scrim.

Cotton scrim

This loosely woven material is even more porous than what we in the U.S. called cheesecloth. I am sure that it has many uses. My friendly internet reference, Wikipedia, describes it as gauze and suggests that it is used in curtains, bookbinding and upholstery. In Karen’s classes, we use it as a base for making ‘lace cloth’.

The process of creation begins simply. Placed in an embroidery hoop, under the needle of a sewing machine set for free motion quilting (feed dogs raised), stitching over the scrim in tiny tight circles creates a lacey cloth texture.


sample of start of lace cloth

Simple circular stitching on scrim before an processing

While still stitching on the machine, you can add bits of shiny fabric, silk, pieces of actual lace, or anything that you care to experiment with.

creating lace cloth with shiny bits

Using shiny bits in machine stitching



Samples with lace and other fragments added


The real fun comes after you are done with your sewing machine. Hand-stitching totally changes the character of the pieces. I have used some of my early pieces of lace cloth in the embellished bags that I have made.


machine made lace cloth in sample pouch

Tiny piece of lace cloth used in pouch

machine made lace cloth in pouch

Lace cloth embellished in pouch

I plan to embellish the pieces that I have been creating this week with more hand stitching even before I use them in a project. The possibilities are endless and the pieces can easily develop into works-of-art on their own. To give you an example of the potential, here is a piece that Karen has on sale on her website. The words that come to mind for me are exquisite, delicate…..what do you think?


Applique of Japanese Gardens, Spokane, WA


20.5″ x 33.5″

Fused appliqué with free motion quilting Hand dyed organza and cottons are the primary fabrics.

This art quilt depicts a scene in the Japanese Gardens in Manito Park, Spokane, WA. It is a favorite place to escape to in the city where there is always a feeling of tranquility.

Detail Image – Click to View Larger


Spring Reverie

hand dyed with birds and butterfliesSpring Reverie

16″ x 19″

Hand dyed cotton with Angelina stitched figures appliquéd to background. Free motion quilting.

This art quilt began as a piece of fabric that I dyed using an ice dyeing technique. The fabric immediately reminded me of the expansion of new energy that comes with each spring. As I began quilting it, as a whole cloth design, it spoke to me even more of spring. Adding a bird in flight and the butterflies seemed a natural completion.

Detail Image – Click to View Larger

Close up of bird stitched in Angelina fiber



Arctic flowers

Arctic Flowers

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open…No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive….

Martha Graham

Fusing – Turning Lemons into Lemonade

This is a tale of adjusting to the realities of fusing fabric in an intricately layered art quilt.

I began working on the piece that I have decided to call Glacial Flow in early January. My first photo of the work has a date of January 7.

early stage of Arctic Flow

While I have tried experimented with alternative approaches to quilting one of my designs drawn from photos of nature, most often I wait until I have cut fabric for the entire quilt and ‘fused’ the fabric to a muslin background. This is the approach that I used in Glacial Flow – which meant that the piece sat/hung in my studio for almost five months.

Here is a quick snapshot of Glacial Flow just prior to quilting.

Arctic Flow before quilting

You can see there are many layers. I fuse these layers with MistyFuse and normally it holds throughout the quilting process. As you might have guess from the title of this post, Glacial Flow did not choose to behave normally. As I began quilting, it quickly became clear that the fusing was not uniformly holding.

There are probably a number of contributing factors apart from the length of time from fusing to quilting for the failure of the fusing to hold: I added French Knots to some of the fabric used for snow in the upper portion of the design which created a rougher than usual back surface; my choice of batting was a Quilters Dream wool batting which resulted in quite a bit of ‘loft’.

example of deteriorating fusing

Example of French Knotted fabric

Whatever the reason, it was clear I needed to work with the situation. And, so I did. I decided to use the lack of fusing to my advantage. I began to quilt each area in a layered fashion. I used the lack of holding by the fusible to peel back upper layers while quilting those below. In the photo below, you can see the upper layers peeled back  and the piece being quilted sitting a top the lower quilted layer.

Sewing layers Arctic Flow

I coupled this “technique” with a decision to make the most of the pillowy base of the batting to create texture. One of the areas where I used this to great advantage was in the portrayal of the actual glacial flow of the glacier.

Glacial Flow river texture

I totally enjoyed quilting Glacial Flow. The fact that the fusing did not hold could easily have turned into a stressful situation. Instead, I chose to ‘go with the flow’ and look upon the interesting ‘landscape’ that I needed to quilt as an adventure. As you can see from the photo below, what I was dealing with was not your classic fused appliqué platform. I got to a point when,where the fusing was still working, I purposely loosened it before stitching to readjust the layers and create the textural effect that was evolving with the quilting.


In all, the result was an art quilt that I am pleased with and now happily awaits facing.

Glacial Flow


PS: Linking to Nine-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

A little here, a little there.

Easter dress and basket


This week began with some precious family time with my little granddaughter. It was her first Easter and her ‘Nana” has a tradition of Easter Egg Hunts for her grandchildren. My daughter decided that the tradition required the purchase of a very special Easter dress. I thought it was quite beautiful and granddaughter caught on pretty quickly to the idea of looking for colorful eggs.




The rest of my week involved flights back to upstate New York and a bit of catching up from the past 10 days. I was able to get some hand-stitching in on the flights so my last pillow from Karen Ruane‘s class is moving forward. It is a bit of one step forward, two steps back at times. After adding some buttonhole stitch, I decided that some of my early stab stitches were too big. My flight from Denver to Chicago involved quite a bit of re-stitching till I was more satisfied with appearances.


Since returning home, I have turned my attention to my glacial flow art quilt which I last mentioned in my opening post for this blog. I prepared the piece for quilting before this last trip and finally began quilting it yesterday.  I started with the arctic flow – for once beginning with what I thought would be the most difficult part. Here is a glimpse at the progress so far. My hopes are to complete the quilting by the end of next week.

glacial flow quilt

I am linking this post to Nine Marie’s blog so you can see what other’s have accomplished this past week as well.

A week of adventures with Judy

The past week was one of those weeks where I was drawn in many directions.

Last Saturday found me at our wonderful aikido dojo opening a practice where Kokikai students from Western New York State gathered.

Aikido Kokikai Rochester

The next day I was en route to the Miami Florida area to visit our son and some good friends. After a long, hard, snowy winter in western New York, it was nice to see that the sun does shine in some places!

Aventura Florida

View from our son’s balcony

Art was very much on my mind while visiting Florida. I found these beautiful samples of hand stitched children’s clothes in a store in the Bal Harbor area.

frenchembroidery frenchembroidery_2


Our friends have an exquisite condominium on Hutchinson Island. I particularly loved their master bath where they have incorporated a flow of river rocks into the wall – love the way the ‘flow’ matches, don’t you!


While Florida was great, the best part of my week was visiting with my beautiful granddaughter and family. She is, of course, a budding artist.


But, did I find any time for my own projects in all this activity. Most definitely!

Here is the second of the pillows from my class with Karen Ruane that I have been taking online.


It has been a pretty full week but wonderful. I will link this post to Off the Wall Friday so you can check out what other artists have been doing as well.

A Busy Week

messy desk

Just a glimpse of some of my working area this past week. Buried beneath  multiple projects is Journey which is patiently waiting for its turn to be quilted. Quite a bit was accomplished and Journey will soon be an active project again!

art quilt interpretation of Aspen tree trunk


Aspen is my latest art quilt. It is adapted from a photo taken earlier this year on a trip to Aspen, CO. After some interpretive work in Photoshop, it was digitally printed for me on silk by my friend, Julie Brandon, owner of Red Dog Enterprises. It is one of my smaller pieces, 11″x 13.5″, but a definite favorite which brings back many memories of a special trip.

hand stitched pouch

Another project, finally completed, is in a series of pouches that I am making using vintage hankies. This was finished with a heart shaped button. I am particularly pleased with some of the detail work on the back of the pouch, including a tiny pocket.  😀


With these two pieces off my work table, my next objective is the final two pillows for Pillows and Pages, my current class with Karen Ruane which will be finishing up in the next week.

Linking this post with Off the Wall FridayPlease check out what other artists have been up to this week.