Tuesday, November 30, 2010


When I read about Judy's lost necklace I felt such a pang and thought about my frog and wondered about how and why we become connected with little things.

I've had this brass casting since the summer of 1969 when I lived in Provincetown, MA. It was a frog mummy - you know how they die and dry indoors sometimes - when I found it. I was helping put away folding chairs  at the community movie theater when I picked it up from the floor all dry and fragile.

I remember thinking "Magic!" and holding it in my closed hand as I worked. And then it kicked me. No kidding. I'm sure there were drugs involved, it was 1969,
but I was impressed enough take it to a local artisan who made jewelry from shells and leaves using the lost wax method of casting. He was intrigued and dubious at the same time. He filled it in under the jaw because the skull was so thin and fragile and there used to be a ring attached to the frog's butt. When it broke off I looped a ring through his arm. Too heavy to wear as jewelry, he has been on my keys since my very first car.

close ups here and here

Monday, November 29, 2010

steps in the right direction

After adding enough to call it good, plus a black & white border to rein it all in, I'll find a piece of batt big enough and machine quilt this one and call it done.

Spending time digging into Denise Schmidt's  more contemporary designs made me wonder about long arming and I  can see how someone, somewhere decided to take a quilt off the bed and hang it on the wall just to gaze at.

I'm still procrastinating about sewing these pieces together so I started a little oil crayon study that I'll elaborate on during my shift this afternoon.

I'll also be going through the stash and selecting juicy single, one of a kind pieces of cloth to post at
Random Acts of Dyeness.
I spent most of saturday morning learning the trick of adding PayPal buttons to the offerings there.
I hope I did it correctly! Please let me know  if I screwed this up!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

post holiday exercises

Relying on past experience, I'm going through the motions, groping for the spark.  To this end I'm trying to light both ends of the candle; hand and machine stitching both.

When something comes together and names itself, that alone will keep me going. That and the memory that several of my favorite hand stitched pieces started out staggering and unfocused. So it is for "Taken by the Night".

And below  just stealing edges from some of my favorite pieces of cloth figuring I won't miss a 3 inch strip down the line when I actually use the stuff in something.

I can't tell you the hours I spent shuffling these colors around only to come up with this. No doubt it will continue to grow. Ann Brauer makes it look effortless and elegant.

We had a marvelous Thanksgiving together, btw. I'm still suffering from a combination Turkey & Apple Pie poisoning.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UFOs in service

This nasty piece of business has been troubling me since it was born. I  used a fat double batt because I was interested in how the machine stitching carved deeply into the damask. It's been kicking around the studio as a cat bed, seat cushion but now has been pressed into service as a rug in the upstairs bath. Hey, it's washable and just the right size, why not?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A change of medium

 At least I won't be bitchin' about the same old things!

This was the first time I've worked with oil pastels, which were applied directly to the canvas and blended with a pencil eraser.

Yeah, it was fun to do. There's an ease of use and a degree of control that's almost effortless. To get just the effect I want, where and how I want it without having to make allowance for the limitations of cloth....it may be a long fiber sabbatical. Now to learn a little more about the possibilities of oil pastels and how these relate to that wonderful set of Shiva Oil sticks I was given and have let languish.

Monday, November 22, 2010

another and the stonewall

I found one more lurking on my work table the last one, biggest one.

Nothing else creative happened this weekend.  I continue to stitch on "Ocean Homes" but I'm at a stonewall place with my art right now wondering if I shouldn't start hacking some of the largest pieces into placemats and potholders.  There's no one to blame and I don't feel one way or the other about it all. I'm tired of the struggle and uninspired by working.

I've done little by way of promoting my work this past year, and when it's hard to get excited about making things, it's even less than interesting trying to market the results. I'm going to pick up the studio, take out the trash and let things lie for a while. Read, think things through and let time heal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

like so many cupcakes

 (update - A,E,F,H and K are sold!)

see which is who

Ok, now I'm really done! After rolling and stuffing hundreds of scraps last night my wrist aches and I'm finally out of cotton! And WILL NOT go back to HoAnn's to buy anymore. For a while.  What I really have to do is go to the library and get a good book. I need something else to do between calls...

You can go here for a very large, clickable image of these cusspots stuffed with scraps from my studio. They range in price from $10 to $20 dollars. Email me and let me know which one you want.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stuffed Cusspots

I'm so tickled that Grace over at windthread  got the stuffed cusspot that I put in with her cloth at the last minute. It made the package lumpy and after I dropped it in the hopper I worried that the irregularity might delay or derail it's arrival.

Who knew there was so much inside it!
(all the scraps she has on that line)

There a half dozen more upstairs waiting to be filled and I just uncovered a new basket of scraps! I'm going to reshooting them and posting them for sale by the weekend.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

reviving littlefeather

My quick fix for the Janome failed and it looks like I'll need a bobbin case too (it got "holed") so I've taken the Singer  Featherweight out to relearn the pleasure of using this machine.  A new needle a little oil and off we go. What a great stitch!  Now to tape off the feed dogs and see if I can get the freemotion going.

As I walked away from this scene, I heard that box of attachments hit the floor.

PS- pictures would have been nice but I forgot to take any! 
I was able to freemotion  some nice swooping spirals all around the border. Washed & dried it which caused it to plump, pucker up and look lived in, just as I wanted it to, and handed it over. Little feather is a dream to work with. Today I'm going to see if she fits down in the table and pack up Big J for a trip to the machine doctor after Holidays.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Nothing like an impending occasion to put an unfinished project to good use. I found this batch of pieced blocks deep in the stash and set them aside along with some fabrics that might complete the project. Then the need popped up and I "whipped it up" as the expression goes.

As I put the very last quilted heart in the last red square my Janome threw a shoe and that loose screw under the throat plate is finally going to call for attention I can't  give it right now.

I'll figure it out. In the meantime there is time to do some hand quilting in the pale blue border.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

old computers must die

...someday, but not today.

 But the warning bells sounded last night. Right in the middle of a nice session of Lexulous, a grunting clank issued from the box and a strange Blue Screen of Death popped up with a dire message about the Nature of the Soul or some such gibberish about the inner workings, both hard and soft, of this computer that I have been abusing since early 2005. 

The fan goes through spells of making sounds like a coffee grinder or guinea pig sex. The heat that comes off this machine makes this corner of the room cozy on a chilly morning.

After a night's rest for both of us, I powered it back up this morning, tinkered with the OS a bit and was able to restore to a few days back but time is running out on this one I fear. The errors are too widespread and diverse for it to be other than a impending motherboard  implosion.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday Afternoon at the Cathouse

We took advantage of another gorgeous fall day to sleep outside while she stitched away on that blue thing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

sun day on a friday

Took myself and Ocean Homes to the park for some sun and fresh air today.  Stitching, solitude and a good book on the ipod. There was not a soul there
but me and the geese who were less than interested after I made it
clear that there would be no snacks.

They  seem to think that everyone who sits at that table will be sharing but I had nothing to offer but bits of thread and they milled about and muttered amongst themselves for a while before they lost interest and moved on. This is at Bethesda Park which is a short three minute ride from my house.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I'm still in the clutches of a cold and will probably hang on to the cough until sometime in March just like last year.

Although I got up full of piss and vinegar yesterday I made the mistake of tackling a long put off cleaning project.  And this on my day off! "Hoarders" is really getting under my skin.

It's not that bad but I was thinking that months and months of dust piled on stacks of books, CDs, mail and UFOs right next to my bed wasn't helping me get better. Digging it out an doing away with it may have set me back a few days but it's done now and the opposite corner beckons. Maybe Saturday. 

After a spell of rest, I settled into bed with this piece to see if some hand stitching could bring some light. After cross hatching a handful of the white shapes with full ply floss I realized that it was not going to help and picked it all out and fell back on the comfort and ease of crocheting with cotton.

Next for this one, and irrevocably, will come paint but not until I'm feeling more focused. My head is full of echoes and hollow places full of NyQuil fumes...

Monday, November 08, 2010


I stitched on this one between coughing and sneezing this weekend. I have a world class head cold and should probably sterilize it when it's done.

The Janome continues to puke up when I try to use the Sulky 12wt cotton so the white was very slow going.

I still can't help feeling that I have done these pieces of cloth a disservice using them this way, but I'll see it through to the finish I suppose.

Meanwhile, this one continues to tantalize me over my  shoulder and I am thinking over how I want to build this one before I start the same unsatisfying dance I'm in right now. Back to handwork on something this large? Maybe I have to experiment with a sail maker's needle and full weight embroider floss.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Happy Diwali !!

Never heard of Diwali  before I hit the Bing front page yesterday and since the forecast was for freezing temperature I ran outside and snatched all the open blooms off my potted marigolds. Even if I was a bit hasty (70's predicted all next week) the plants are still covered with buds.

Arlee, should I dry them, freeze them or squash them between the pages of the OED? Right now they are really stinking up the laundry room and I'm about to move them to the trunk of my car. Don't get me wrong, I love that marigold stink but this many in a small room makes the head swim!

I've added a few new thing to the Small Things page and  spent the morning with the intention of making up sets along these color lines but I got swept up in the stacks of colors and textures and came up with these new ones.

Friday, November 05, 2010

home on a Friday...

...with a sore throat and fever. I'm grateful that I don't have to talk to a bunch of crabby asses on the phone this afternoon.  The sun is bright, the air fresh and I'll get some exercise outside later.

    There's nothing like a  good patch of give and take with fellow artists to stir the creative pot. Did some looking around, looking back - and so spotted a light on the path forward.  The card of the day was right. These pieces are stuck up on the design wall now and having a lot to say.

I'll let them perk a while and get back to quilting the one in progress now, refreshed hopefully, for the stitching and what it could bring to the design.

Here's a much better photo of the container that's still evolving.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


What's tech-wiener speak for spilling a cup of sugary coffee into the keyboard?  I did it  while working the other night and had to quick swap out the keyboard from my main machine and pray it worked..it did.  On half recalled urban legend, I rinsed the coffee flavored one in the kitchen sink, and gave it overnight to dry out. Not quite enough.  I took the whole thing apart to see what was affected or still damp.  Very interesting what goes on under those keys. Swabbed everything with alcohol, gave it another 24 hours and it's back...well 99%. Who needs the 2 or 0 on the number keypad anyway?  
I need a better lamp at my workstation so I can actually see what I'm hand stitching. Appliqueing bits of rusted crochet cotton to cusspots is like putting decals on fly's wings. Now I notice the resemblance to those Mayan scribblings.

Meanwhile, I've finally committed to a design for this piece and have started to machine quilt it. So far, I'm not enthused. Somehow, by backing, batting and machine stitching this piece I've fell like I've killed it by eliminating it's potential as something of utility. The artist in me seems to have left town in favor of the working stiff.