Archive for the ‘Embers’ Category

leaves of sass: begin

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

what if . . . is one of my favorite motivational tools. when i’m having a fog-covered, moving-at-the-speed-of-cold-molasses day, i play “what if” with myself and first thing you know, i’m perking again. it’s a little bait-and-switch trick i learned/taught myself as a child.

and it still works like a charm. (used it quite effectively just yesterday and again today, as you’ll see . . .)

jude plays a mean game of what if. acey does, too. so does paula, and judith, and cathie.

so today i got to thinking . . .
what if i join in and play with jude, too?
what if i do something i seldom-if-ever do and detour from my current project, setting it aside before it”s finished?
what if i take a placemat that just happens to be shaped like a leaf and use it for something else?


what if i remove the vein that’s shaped with wire?


what if i ponder and sketch and sketch and ponder and eventually come up with an aha that tickles me?
what if i have more show-and-tell tomorrow?



Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

when the call came, doris mager (commonly known in audubon circles as “the bird lady”) said yes and went to pick up the adorable baby owl who had recently survived a wing amputation. baby is now one year old and learning to talk. one night baby owl hears a dog, listens intently for a while, then begins to bark. but somehow that doesn’t feel quite right, so baby stops barking. next, baby owl listens to a nearby elder screech owl and mimics the hooting. but that doesn’t feel quite right either, so baby stops hooting. over and over it goes: baby hears a fetching sound and tries it on to see if it feels right, comfortable, native.

tonight we had the great fortune of stumbling into one of doris’ bird talks where we met e.t., the 25 year old gorgeous pet owl, a sparrow hawk who allowed himself to be paraded around while he showed us the gorgeous underside of his wings, a vulture that was surprisingly beautiful (if severely angular), and this baby owl with one-and-a-half wings who is currently learning to talk.

as i stitched leaves today, took them out and stitched again – and again and again and yet again – i couldn’t shake the notion that i’m on the verge. like the baby owl in search of his native language, i search for my stitching voice.

and i sure do hope it shows up soon ’cause this one teensy little ole’ piece is starting to make “slow cloth” look like the leader on the nascar circuit.


connecting the knots

Monday, May 12th, 2008

if we
connect the knots,
begin to take shape . . .


garden cloth

Friday, May 9th, 2008

have seen in the past few weeks that some people are like these grasses: soft and graceful when viewed from afar but get close and you find their razor-sharp edges.

today, though, it was time to leave the world of grasses and create a brand new world of my own clothimation:


stray thoughts as company

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

just a teensy little time to stitch today (so far) and nothing picture worthy as i’m still just stitching, stitching, stitching on what i call the basic, infrastructure level. next stage of unfolding on both works should start soon.

stray thoughts that kept me company today when i shoved the ubiquitous work aside and began stitching on this one “flash image” simply to assuage my soul’s craving:

  • harry chapin’s mr. tanner. a song i had somehow missed until slug sent it to me as i worked on my thesis. it’s about one mr. tanner, a dry cleaner by trade, who sang with his magnificent baritone voice whenever he could because singing made him “feel so happy and it made him feel so good/and he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul/he did not know how well he sang, it just made him whole.”
  • willa cather who said “the end is nothing; the road is all.”
  • in her book walking on water: reflections on faith and art, one of my hands-down favorite authors of all time madeleine l’engle says the work knows more than you do. it comes like an annunciation and you can choose to be the vessel and create the work . . . or not. if you say yes, says l’engle, it’s your job as artist to follow where the work leads, trusting it as you go.

The Bedquilt

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

“Of all the Elwell family Aunt Mehetabel was certainly the most unimportant member,” began Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s story called The Bedquilt.

Aunt Mehetabel had never been married, and as the official old maid of the family, she lived with her brother’s family to help take care of the children, clean the house, grow, cook, and preserve food. One day an idea for a quilt came to her from out of nowhere At first she thought she’d dreamed it. Or maybe it had come during the weekly prayer meeting at church. One thing she never seriously considered was that she thought of it on her own because it was “too great, too ambitious, too lofty a project for her humble mind to have conceived.”



cloth as mirror and map

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

deciding to work with what i have in order to satisfy hands that are restless and itching to get moving (everything still in nc), began work on found crewel piece. no thinking, i said, just selecting, cutting, joining. the why’s, if there are any, will bubble to the surface in their own good time. here’s what’s bubbling:

layer l fabric:


forests. lush. dark. shadow. with pattern of pulse, throbbing. bulges then narrows, but always, always is an open field in the background waiting.

layer 2 = venturing out


linearity, discipline and planning and order that’s often undesirable but necessary in art. for me, it’s about a place of comfort where i can tick things off the list and speak a language most are comfortable with. it’s a challenge to escape that voice that wants me to stay there, moving forward on a straight, previously-thought-out line.


unassuming palette of color with small splashes of reddish and greenish. patterns begin to emerge: squiggles, leaves, flowers. imagination beginning to blossom and bloom.


open. inviting. takes on different whispers of color depending on lighting and surrounds.


green. growing. using familiar colors in different ways. experimenting. leaving space. beginning.


veins. rich veins. linearity relaxing. bones. marrow.

slug (my son) called me from l.a. after i cut last block for layer 2. so much fun to share it with him live and in the moment. as i told him about plans to go to nc tomorrow and get started on autoquiltography series again, how this was just working with what i could get my hands on here, i realized this IS part of the autoquiltography series. in that magical, conjuring way of creativity and cloth, in that way of deep, deep knowing without knowing that you know, this is a map of my creative evolution.

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new old cloth

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

my rediscovered crewel piece, created so long, long ago, has been keeping me company the past few days, sitting beside my computer on my old library table (that’s now my creative hub – it belonged to both of my grandmothers before me).

when i was growing up, as they say, my mother worked outside the home and wasn’t interested in spending her free time doing any kind of needlework, though she did make the Very Best Halloween costumes. my paternal grandmother had a series of strokes way too early in her life, leaving her hands laying useless in her lap, so she couldn’t teach me. my maternal grandmother sewed quilts from castoff scraps of fabric she collected from friends who sewed, but she was more interested in teaching me to play the piano than how to make quilts.

so to satisfy my craving for creating something from cloth and thread, i ordered this kit from an ad in a craft magazine. the design is stamped on the fabric – all i had to do was stitch over it. it’s obviously a piece for front line beginners, and i’m so glad to have uncovered it – it’s like being reacquainted with a part of myself i’d forgotten all about.

yesterday i knew -i just KNEW – i needed to make a quilt from this sampler, so i pulled down my boxes of fabric and auditioned pieces. i have lovely fabric – and plenty enough to create a project like i have in mind – but none of it was quite right. this piece begged for old cloth. something that has been once loved then set aside. so i took myself right on over to the thrift shop, and within minutes, i had this:


you know, i think my aging sampler is right at home nestled in this new family of old fabrics.


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i take that as a “yes”

Monday, February 18th, 2008

so there i am, devoting several hours to capturing my bits of information and ideas that i’ve accumulated over the years onto index cards. it’s the next stage in writing that book: card the bits, clump the bits, then string the bits together into a book. it’s been my method of choice since that 7th grade math term paper. (who on earth assigns a term paper in MATH????)

this is a little project i’ve entertained myself with over the past several years. it’s about different ways of knowing, and just re-reading some of my research got me all excited again. i live in a belt where it often seems nothing is accepted as bona fide knowledge unless there’s scientific evidence proving that it’s true. me, i believe that science is mostly a re-discovering of what sentient human beings and artists have already discovered just from paying close attention to their own lives.

i just know – as many others do, too, now – that there are different types of intelligence, no one better than the other, though perhaps one type of intelligence can be more useful in a certain context. i also know that there are different ways of knowing things, and not everything can be or has to be “proven” scientifically.

so when that strange little voice (the good one – not the one that peppered me with doubt and questioning the other night) told me to get up and look in the bottom file cabinet drawer, i did it.

right then. didn’t even stop to question.

it’s a drawer i haven’t peeped inside of for years and years. but when i pulled that drawer open this afternoon, what do you think i found but this crewel piece i did when i was in high school:


yes, there are different ways of knowing.

different ways of learning.

and different ways of confirming that you’re on the right track.

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