Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thread Magic Class in Iowa City

Friday, September 19th, 2014

I’m Going to be Teaching in Iowa City in October774 Fall Flight 848 Moonstruck 890 Moonstruck!

Thread Magic Mastery: Working with All kinds of Threads
Cost is $35, supplies available for purchase

Make your plans to come and sign up now!

Old Capitol Quilters Guild
Iowa City, IA

Monday October 13. 2014 Evening

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 9 am

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church
2301 E Court Street
Iowa City, Iowa 52245
Email to sign up

For more class information see my  brochure

The Show I Won’t Get to See

Friday, October 11th, 2013

894 For the Bees PleaseTomorrow the Uptown  Blanco  Quilt Show opens!

902 Crescent moon

I remember the first show I had a quilt in. It was in a three story rotunda building. My quilt was on the top rung. I went up to it and started to pet it, and an eight year old boy barked at me”Don’t touch the quilt!” I gave him a wry embarrassed smile and said, “But it’s my quilt!” It didn’t matter. As a mother and child reunion, it was a strictly hands off situation.

I’ve shown quilts for 30 years. But it really never pales. You walk into the space and there it is, your quilt. No matter what anyone says in front of it, it’s your quilt. It’s a humbling moment. When it’s a group of your quilts, it’s jaw dropping. “They hung my quilts.” I still think it a thundering honor.  I’m never sure of how to act. So I usually answer questions and tell stories and generally fill the silence with my panic.

I won’t be there this time. But my quilts will be. And trust me, they’re loud. They fill the silence quite well with their colors, their untold stories, their energy, their ferocity. I’ve always wished I was as as verbal, as strong and as bold as my quilts. But they do quite well by themselves. So you’ll have to see them for me. And tell me how my children have fared

If you’re near either Austin or San Jose, you’re near enough to get to Blanco, TX. You’l also find a wonderful juried show surrounding them. 

 Uptown Blanco Quilt Show

3rd Annual Uptown Blanco Quilt Show

Uptown Blanco’s 3rd annual quilt show, “Colors of the Sky” hosted by the Uptown Blanco Textile Studio runs Friday, October 11 – Sunday, October 13. In addition to the 200 quilts on display, there will be special exhibits of quilts by internationally renowned quilters Louisa Smith and Ellen Anne Eddy. Ellen is our guest teacher and lecturer.

The Uptown Blanco Arts & Entertainment, Ltd. complex will be filled with quilts, wearable art, vendors and on display will be the patchwork smart car quilt that was created as a Breast Cancer Fundraising Campaign in Europe. The life size patchwork quilt completely covers a smart car and is made entirely of fabric donated and signed by over 20 celebrities including Russell Brand, Ryan Giggs, Sara Cox, Elizabeth Hurley, Rachel Stevens, Twiggy Lawson, Joanna Lumley, and Jane McDonald each selecting personal swatches of pink fabric from worn articles of clothing all used to create this special quilt.

Events Details:

This special exhibition showcases the vast wealth of quilts created in Blanco County and throughout the Texas Hill Country.

Event: Friday, October 11th
Reception: 5pm – 6:30pm
Show Hours: 12 noon – 7pm

Event: Saturday, October 12th
Show Hours: 10am – 5pm

Event: Sunday, October 13th
Show Hours: 12 noon – 4pm

Price: $5 entrance fee, children under 12 are free

Download 2013 Flyer ->
2013 Press Release ->

New Book !

Many Creatures Under Many Skies, a show booklet of my work will be available on sale at the show, as well as on my website. It’s available for sale now. 

9780982290156-many creatures front cover


 In case you’re no where near or you’re wishing you could have a souvenir, I’ve made a small show catalog, Many Creatures under Many Skies, for sale at  the show and on my web site.  It’s a grouping of some of the most exciting quilts I’ll be sending to the show in a cool little booklet.  You can order it now on my web site at

Dancing Trees

Dancing Trees






 I will be in Blanco  from Friday February 28th through Sunday March 2nd with some great classes and a lecture. You can sign up now!

Go see my quilts! Did I mention they’re for sale. Check at the new Uptown Blanco Textile Center for prices and availability.


Thread Magic Summer School: Color Theory Past the Wheel

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

color school logoAnyone who  teaches art, teaches color theory. It’s almost impossible not to. Students ask us to explain our color choices, to correct their color choices, and to offer other color options . They will always ask you why. The real answer is almost always, because I like it. But if we pin it down, past personal preference, we can analyze why. There are ways of seeing consistantly why we like certain combinations.

Every so often I have someone come to me with a color wheel and say, “What do I do with this? ” As an exercise, it sort of falls flat. Once we have a wheel painted or sewn we can say it’s to help us mix  colors.  But that’s only such a small part of it. 

So for the next week we’re going to look at color at Thread Magic Summer School. We’ll look at the different forms of contrast that bring excitement and drama to everyone’s work, traditional or contemporary, applique or pieced, restrained or unleased.


color wheel  pattern 3So let’s talk about what color theory really is.

  1. First off, it’s a theory. Like all theories it describes how color works. Like all theories, it works as a theory until it doesn’t. When it doesn’t that means that we have some factors our theory is not accounting for. We’ll look at those.
  2. Secondly, the wheel is simply a chart that explains color theory. It is, basically a family tree for color, showing how colors relate to each other . Like every chart, it’s a good servant and a poor master.
  3. Thirdly, we’ll look at the difference between color combinations,  and color creation, two very different thing.

We’ll also look at what doesn’t work in color theory.

  1. Part of our problem is that there is no perfect. Color theory doesn’t work from time to time because it assumes a perfect set of primaries. Sorry. There is no perfect. So when you mix yellow with blue you may or may not get green. You may get a wierd greeny brown.  There are ways we can adjust around that and we’ll talk about them.
  2. Color theory is verbal. Colors are not. The names are going to fail us every time. There are very few absolute color names. Paint comes in recognisable formulas, and you can dial in color numbers on Photoshop, but color names are largely useless. We need to remember that and be gentle with each other when I call your blue a grey.
  3. We all see differently.  People’s eyes really aren’t the same. Try picking out thread with a friend. Don’t worry about that. You only need to be consistant to yourself.

refrigeratorI invite you to a week of Thread Magic Summer School. Last year, we looked at threads. This year we’ll look at color theory, not just what colors make colors or what combinations are called, but at the core of what makes color work within your quilts and your art. Will it expand your art? Inform you? Entertain you?  I hope so.  I will give you a test at the end of the week, to help you measure what you’ve learned. It will measure what I have to teach as well.

 Why would I do this? Because I want to remind you how very much all quilt teachers bring to your knowledge outside the basic class being offered. We teach a subject, a technique, a series of cool tricks. Those are all worth the price of admission. But past that, we bring in and make available the tangental things that can expand your ability to do what you want with your art and craft. To remind you why it’s important to keep learning when you know almost everything. Because, as for me too, there’s always something you didn’t know. I also invite you to send me your best quilt to put up on the refrigerator. Each day we’ll show off someone’s art on the refrigerator, the first and most important gallery we’ve been shown it. Please email your quilt to and I’ll proudly show you off.

If you like these classes, please recommend me to the guild, store, conference, or happening where you like to learn. So that we can share so much more than just  a class.

Tomorrow: Contrasts in Hues!

Lessons from My Garden:Color Musings

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

804 Allium and ButterflyMy garden has gone bersonkers. Perhaps it’s all that rain. Or my friends who morris dance in it from time to time. One of the things I enjoy most is the cycle of change measured by my flowers. The garden starts as yellow daffs, goes through a multicolor, but mostly red tulip phase, and then lands in the purple part of May/June


peonie 2This is the time of peonies and alliums.

I have regular peonies.  But they take a back seat to the Chinese peonie trees I put in years ago. They stand as a tree and have spectacular 6-8 inch blooms in pinks, purples and reds.

alliumAlliums are a huge purple  garlic bloom. How could you go wrong? Add another  color peonies and the garden starts to sing in purple.

purples chart wWhy is it so exciting? A look at the color wheel makes it plain. We”re playing with complements again. But on top of that we have colors on either side. So we have an analogous color combination  as well. The colors make a split analogous grouping which really is my favorite way to play. You get all the smooth colors from an analogous color arc and the excitement of a complement group.

Remember that  the color wheel is not just about mixing color. It’s not just red and blue make purple. Instead, it’s a mapping of color relationships.  We respond to the relationships of color, who they are next to each other, much more than we respond to one color or another separately. And we can spin the dial to create to reproduce that relationship with another set of colors entirely.

Next time I’ll take you for a spin on the color wheel using Photoshop as our guide.

Wanting to build your own pattern free quilt garden? Check out my book

Thread Magic Garden Until then, make sure you bathe in the colors.



Once More with Feeling: Cats: The Series I Couldn’t Do

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

103Feathered PersianI’ve regularly been asked why I don’t do cats. I love cats. I’ve had cats since I was a child. It seems fairly simple. You would think if it matters to your life it will show up in your art.

Yes. No. Well both.

I would like to say I could draw anything. I would like to say it but it simply isn’t true. You simply cannot draw something you can’t in some way see.

This is an early portrait of Mehitable Le Plume. Hittie was a ferocious black long hair, who looked Persian and wasn’t. She had no interest in mice, bugs, birds. She preferred larger game. She took out rude boyfriends, policemen, home invaders and dobermans. She weighed 5  pounds dripping wet and God help you if you were the person who got her dripping wet. She defended me all the days of her life.

Well yes. Somehow I could quilt her.

paintwhatiseeBut it’s really a problem of vision. This old Gaham Wilson cartoon explains it all. I paint what I see. And most of the important things of my life I tend to see as bugs, fish, frogs, and birds.

When I was in California, I had the pleasure of several stays with Tina and Andy Rathbone. Tina is very active in her quilt guild, and a fine artist on her own. They had, at the time, a timid and sweet Siamese named Laptop. She asked me to embroider Laptop. It was seriously outside my comfort zone, but that didn’t matter. They were gracious hosts, so I tried.

423 Ivy in the IvyI don’t have pictures of that piece. But I tried fur cats after that. This is Ivy in the Ivy. It was interesting. But I knew it wasn’t electric. It simply wasn’t the way I saw her. I could have gone back over and over again, doing cats until I GOT THEM RIGHT, but the passion just wasn’t there. You see, I see them as bugs.


jump at the sun (1)

This is the portait of Khyam, a lovely tiger boy who I had briefly. Khyam had FIP, which manifested after he had surgery for eating thread. There was nothing to do but say goodbye. I saw him as a cricket jumping to the sun. It’s simply how I am.



tigre cat
Every so often, I make myself try to be real. When I did Tigrey Leads the Parade, I embroidered both cats and dogs. Like all stretching exercises  it was very hard and very good for me. This cat is escaping from a large parade of dogs and humans tramping past her door. If I didn’t get her form exactly, I think I did capture her mood.


So that is why I don’t do cats. I do. You just may not recognize them as such.

I hope you paint what you see, with passion and purpose. I hope you choose what you have to produce and leave what people tell you to do behind. Because the most important part of your art is your vision. No one will ever see what you see, exactly. That is the most amazing gift we have.

You’ll find Tina’s delightful blog on Artelicious. She’s an amazingly gifted soul. And a lot of fun.

You’ll find more of Gaham Wilson’s art on his web site at

tigreyleadstheparade_cvr print webYou’ll find Tigrey Leads the Parade on my site at

Once More with Feeling: Dragonflies, the Floating World

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

701 Blossom Moon 3 (1)

How did I get caught on dragonflies? It was a mystery for a while. I found them completely compelling and I did them over and over.471 Waterlily Waltz cropped (1)Flying over water, flying to the moon, swooping through flowers.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a constant stream of dragonflies. I couldn’t stop.

424 Dragonfly 16 (1)


When I learned to do embroideries as appliques, it changed the way the elements look. Instead of being ephemeral in the hand dye, they have  raised up solidity. It changed their presence.

After a while I realized how much of my life was like that of a dragonfly. I’d flit in, talk and teach with people, and float out. It was exciting  and ephemeral. And it made me aware how even very small encounters with people  enrich and change you and them. You only have a moment at a time. But there they are, moment, after moment, after moment.

So something small becomes, as St. Teresa once said, large  with love. Of course a large dragonfly is a statement all of it’s own.

It’s a floating world. And I love flitting through it.

Monique Kleinhans: Lunatic Nestled in the Kalispell Valley

Friday, October 19th, 2012

I met Monique at Glacier Quilts in Kalispell. Glacier Quilts is perhaps my most favorite store. It caters to people’s every pleasures. Huge pile of fabric, machines waiting for people to use, fabulous teachers,  babies to borrow, a place to drop off babies, and a coffee run when needed. It even has a sporting shop just outside where you can check your significant other. You can almost move in.

And it has, among the other amazing staff, Monique. 

Monique is constantly in creative motion. She studied costuming and theater at some point. But you get the feeling there are at least 6 quilts going on in her head, all at once.

Her work is as wild as where she lives. She’s in the valley nestled between the mountains and all the creatures seem to know her by name and come visit. Her work teams with them.

Monique makes bed quilts as well. But of course, I love her wild embroidery best!

Here’s what she says about herself.


“I was born in the Flathead Valley and raised on the farm where my grandfather grew up. Just as my father took up the plow from his father, I learned to love and work with fabric from my mother. An avid quilter and teacher, mom’s works lit my creative fire, and much of what I’ve learned has come from our playing and experimenting together.
I draw a lot of inspiration from the natural beauty around us; the constantly-changing seasons, and the majestic (and sometimes humorous) animals that wander by daily.” 
Her work includes traditional quilting techniques, appliqué, and thread painting, along with fabrics she hand-dyes  is available at Paint Metal and Mud Gallery, located in the Historic Kalispell Grand Hotel.

Monique teaches a variety of classes in textile art at Glacier Quilts.  You can also find some of her handcrafted items at her Etsy store at


Taping for Quilting Arts: Epic Fun and Artful Collapse

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Last week I  taped 3 sessions with Pokey Bolton for Quilting Arts. I’ve done this before. Pokey is delightful. The makeup artist is a miracle worker. But the green room….. The greenroom is full of people who are your favorite quilters. And sometimes you even know them. If they’re not your friends before, they will be when you’ve left.

So seeing Penny McMorris, the Electric Quilt Guru, and Jeannine Delpin, the who handles the Bernina teacher’s programs among her million tasks, were both a delight. Then I got a special gift.

Luana Ruben was there. I met Luanna maybe 20 years ago in class. She was a delight then. By now she has the smartest and best online quilting store ever, Equilter. If you’ve never shopped there, it is the easiest way to put together fabric online. And the most wonderful selection I know of. I don’t often quilt with quilting fabric unless it’s a love quilt. But when I do, I get online with the person it’s for, use her brilliant swatch board so we can see how things look together, and know I’m making something someone will love.

So even better still, her daughter Sophie was there. I love quilting kids. Sophie is 10 and has been neck deep into quilting since she came home with Luana. They were both taping for quilting arts. 

It is the best thing in the world to see people become who they’re meant to be. Luana has developed a store community that feeds us all as quilters. But it might be better still to see someone like Sophie with all that passion for fabric in a kid size body. She and I stitched free motion horses for fun after wards. Boy, was she good!

My one sorrow? My camera died. Everyone said they’d send me pictures.Perhaps, like me, they came home and laid down for a week.

Luana wrote about the trip in her generous blog. Visit Equilter and be amazed!

I’ll share more about this in some other posts. My segments were on corded binding, the right darning foot, and couching feet for all kinds of yarns and trims.

 I’m currently on  this years Quilting Arts TV series in episode 1002 and 1004. You can find more information about that on on Quilting Arts TV.


Succulent Succulents: In Search of Color

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Source: via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

Lately I’ve been suffering from succulent envy. The shapes of succulents make me crazy. The textures and colors are subtle and incredibly rich. So I thought it would be fun to put them up on the color wheel. They’re all greens, but what makes them so exciting?

Source: via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

I really don’t think this will come as a shock to anyone, but what we have here is a lot of green. What’s interesting about that is that the greens are so different. They really range in cast from quite cool to quite warm. And they have a huge range in tones (lights and darks).

Now all the excitement in color is about contrast. We can have contrast in color,in light or dark, or in cast (colors lean towards yellow or blued tones). Here we have two out of three. We’ve got all the excitement between light and dark and the thermal shock of the cast contrast.

What this really accentuates is texture. Texture is invisible without the contrasts in color.

Source: via Ellen Anne on Pinterest

How does this translate into other arts past photography?

This is by Randi Larsen. It’s an ink study.The contrast of warm and cool greens makes it shivery good.




Here’s how that translates to quilting. This leaf has bright greens on the front side, but the turn side is in the dull shades. It’s the contrast in tone that folds the leaf.

You’ll find Randi’s amazing work on her site at You’ll find all those fabulous greens outside everywhere. Or in your work and mine.

Thread Magic Summer School: Visual Snacktime

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

This is a great day for you to reread and review. Next week we’re going
to talk about thicker threads, odd threads, needles, machines and
more. But it’s Sunday! Time for a treat!
So today, I’m going to put up some images of embroidery
with different threads so you can see what we’re talking about. Guess
which threads I’ve used. Tomorrow, We’ll lable these pictures so
you’ll know.

In Search of Color:Zinnias

Friday, May 25th, 2012
The Problem with Princes


I am the bane of the nail parlor. Recently I had my nails done when we did some photo shoots. I’ve always used my nails as an adult pacifier. They’ve been chewed, abused, nawed on  and broken to the nubs. The cool thing about having them done is you just can’t get to them. There’s this wad of polish between you and them. And I kid myself into thinking I look like a grown up.

But that all goes away for zinnias. It gets to be zinnia time and my hands are in the dirt. And the nail guy is completely grossed out. He really disapproves. I keep reminding myself, I pay him. He doesn’t pay me.

Zinnias are my childhood love, right up there with lilacs. My father grew them for me as a special garden gift each year. What makes them so fabulous? Well, it’s the colors of course.




One zinnia is fabulous. A sea of zinnias is absolutely heartstopping. No mystery there. When we get them on the color wheel we know why those colors sing. That lovely range of oranges, reds and pinks (a lighter form of purple) is an analogous color range. Against that is the red complement green. Wowzer.


Use zinnia colors with care. The Mexicans called the Ozo, or eyesores.Which in my case means put them absolutely everywhere.

If you’d like help making zinnias there’s a chapter on it in Thread Magic Garden

 If you want some fabulous zinnias, go to Sherrils Garden sale

May  26 and   27 Saturday and Sunday

at her green house at 300 Franklin Street, Porter, IN 46304 From 8:30 AM to 3:30PM 219-331-1174 Or email

More information on my blog, The Best Neighbors: The Best Tomatos


Book Signing Tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

Beetle in Bloom

Tomorrow, Thursday April 19th at 7PM. I’ll be doing a book signing of my new book, Thread Magic Garden at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 505 Bullseye Lake Road, Valparaiso, IN 46383.  I’ll be doing a free lecture on my journey as an artist, and will show a number of current works. I’ll be bringing in copies of all of my books for sale.  I promise to let you touch the quilts. I’m also making quiche. So your coming, aren’t you?

St. Andrew’s is a vibrant parish on the outskirts of Valparaiso. It has been my parish home for around 6 months, and I’m delighted to bring in my work to share with them and you.

Please join us.

Any questions? 219.462.4946 for the church or

219-921-0885 for Ellen

Who Believes in You?

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

This little video asks a question everyone doing  artistic things in public kind of has to address. Am I worthy? Is my art worthy? Do I have something to say?

Like most of those horrible 3 AM self-worth conversations, there’s no way to prove anything. Fame is an odd dog. He’ll follow for a while and leave you to sniff trash cans. If you’re waiting for a sign, you may be a while.

Like all those 3 AM self worth conversations I suspect this not what it looks like. First off, 3 AM is a huge sugar dip for me. I’m at my lowest. Secondly, what goes on in my brain when I’m at my lowest is not quivering truth. It’s fear.

It’s fine to be afraid of rattle snakes, mice (although the two together can solve at least part of the problem), sociopaths, spiders, sticking ones hand down the disposal while it’s working. Rational fear, even irrational fear, has a place.

Fear against yourself, maybe not.  I think fear against yourself is a reliving of bullying experiences. That strikes me as something to be fought against.

The only fight I know is to act as if. To decide that what we all do has a real value and to act as if it does. Which means to believe in you and myself, whether I have a sign, a road, a moon to shine down, or nothing but odd fears in the dark.

I’ve done my bugs for years, because they’re my image of my beauty. I was  told all my childhood that I was unlovely. Not for someone’s truth, but because it gave them control over my actions. I do my bugs to remind me that beauty can be very odd and lovely indeed. And so can I.

So who controls you, with their judgments? No one ever tells you no, but you. Take your art and go do it. Whistle at the dark. You don’t necessarily need to believe in yourself. But you must act as if.

Announcing My Computer Radio Show Premier at Creative Mojo!

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

I’m  going to be on Mark Lipinski’s Creative Mojo Radio Show on 
Wednesday, December 14th, at 3:00PM -5:PM EST
 (2-4 CST, 12-2 MST, 11-1 PST),
 Live for two hours with Listener Call ins.

Mark is one of my favorite creative quilting lunatics. He brings immense talent and a wacky sense of fun to us all.
On of his gifts to the quilt community is this fabulous show.I’m so honored he’s asked me to join him!

Go to on your computer and click on the live button on the right hand side of your screen. Or you can listen to it later at

Come and join us. Call in! I’ll answer 

anything (well almost.)

Getting Together

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Normally December would  be a time of getting things into place. Getting them together. Tax receipts. Almost finished quilts. Articles that have to go out. The teaching is done for the year, and all those tasks impossible in the travel have to be done.
This December, add to that I’m getting ready for Thread Magic Garden, my new book from C&T publishing to arrive in January. There’s a flurry of newsletters, articles and new work that has to be in place.
In the middle of that muddle, I’m trying very hard to realize that the best task is simplification. So with that in mind, I’m putting all my blogs into one place. 

I know that some people just want information, some people want stories, some people want a place to check for schedules, and some people just want eye candy. You’ll still find it all here at the Art Outside the Box at blog. I’ve put in a cloud label so you can find what you need easier. And I’m very curious as to what you think. I’m hoping you’ll let me know.

All the blogs have been fed into this one. I’ll still show you wonderful Lunatic Fringe people, color studies, funny stories, fabulous techniques and amazing embroidery. But, we’re getting together. Right now.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Musings: Art Outside the Box: Coming Attractions:The Thread Magic Garden

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

As a gardener I have a love/hate thing with January. It’s a month of frozen tundra, puctuated with ice storms and an occasional  melted mud pit in back. I look longingly at dead stalks and seed pods and live for the seed catalogs that start to fill up my mail box.

But as a quilter, January is one of those best times. Dark nights and snowed in walks make it perfect quilting time. It’s exactly the time to make the garden in the studio bloom.
So I’m delighted that C and T Publications has told me my new book Thread Magic Garden will be ready for release in January.

If you’re familiar with Thread Magic, you know I don’t write the traditional, “12 quilts for baby” quilt book. Those books fill a special place for quilters, but I’m constitutionally incapable of it. Besides, I don’t know 12 babies who need quilts right now. Someone else needs to write that book.

What I do write are books that take things apart, show you new ways to put them back together and that focus on free motion, thread work, artistry and expression, so far out of the box that they don’t fit in squares any more.I’m hoping you’ll find that true of Thread Magic Garden too.

I’ve created a simple system for pattern-less flower applique that goes from deliciously simple to  intricately stitched and embellished. And a new way of codifying free motion zigzag stitch that’s changed what I can do with applique.

None of this is done with fancy machinery. I actually don’t do anything that’s hard. Instead, it focuses on simple zigzag and straight stitch to create a world of magic. It’s just time consuming and compulsive. 

There are 25 flowers for you to create, a full discussion of free motion stitching with different approaches for straight and zigzag stitches, 2 step by step teaching projects and over 50 new quilts.You’re going to want to play.

It also means I have new classes and lectures to share with  shops, guilds and groups. Check my web site for the new classes covering this groundbreaking material.

They tell me my book is coming out in January. Email me and I’ll notify you when it’s ready for pre-order.

C and T Publications have my first book, Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy, available in a downloadable and a print on demand format. You can order it from them now.

Art Outside the Box The Care and Feeding of Quilt Shops #2

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

I’ve written about quilt shops before, because I KNOW how vital they are. One of the treasures of getting to visit all over the country is that you get a chance to see all the wonderful little shops.

Now I’m a fan of little shops in general. I believe in small business as the way we hold ourselves together as a society. It’s people taking good care of people and it’s worthy of support. It’s the store where no one tells you that you are the only one that wants an item, that the store only gets what the corporation sends them and that this is just what’s in right now, never mind what you really want and/or need. Corporations are not good at customer care.

More than that, it’s community. A good quilt store creates your place for information, gorgeous fabric, gossip,the latest tools, good advice, a friendly shoulder and an excellent cackle. In short, it’s a place where quilters meet amazing people like themselves.

So a new quilt store, particularly in an area without, is a cause for  major celebration. Thread Benders is a brand new quilt store at 613 Franklin Street, downtown Michigan City, Indiana. It features things for quilters of all styles. It’s just an hour out of Chicago, and on your way if you’re heading up to Michigan for the weekend.Threadbenders will be open from 5-8 pm for the First Friday Michigan City Gallery Walk, July 1st.

For the First Friday Gallery walk, I’ll be at Threadbenders, showing off her new Sweet Sixteen longarm. It turns out to do excellent bobbin work. I’m in love.

I’ll have quilts, my hand-dyed fabric and threads, and books available. We’ll do some raffles of cool things to start out your hot summer sewing. We’ll have plenty of brownies and wine to chill down your evening. We’ll play with her new handiquilter machines and show them all that, of course! Quilts are ART!
Come join me.

Fare well, Jean. And Thanks!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

March 3, 2011 10:25 PM

Jean Ray Laury, 1928-2011

Some sad news: We’ve lost Jean Ray Laury, Fresno’s most beloved fiber artist. She died Wednesday after a long illness. From the obituary in Friday’s paper:

Her most recent local project was an installation at the new headquarters of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust: five 9-foot banners that depict, in alluring colors, the array of plants, wildlife and other inhabitants of the river region. The project took two and a half years.

“I can’t imagine any commission that could be more fun or more rewarding than this one,” she told The Bee.

A graduate of Stanford University, Mrs. Laury developed an international reputation in the world of quilting and fiber arts, and traveled as a guest lecturer, including to Australia, Belgium, France, Norway and South Africa.

In 1999, her work was included in a Houston installation titled “America’s 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.I’ll be putting together an appreciation of Laury in the days to come, so if you have any thoughts on her artistic contributions or personal memories, feel free to share.

Several weeks ago when I was on facebook, I found Jean Ray Laury had died. 

Jean was not one of the names I remember most from my beginning quilting. I watched the “quilt artists” with a lot of interest and passion.  I don’t remember seeing her name that much. 

But it was there. What I do remember is seeing her quilts. Advice from Your Mother. Cowgirls. Political statements. They represented a  huge change in the art quilt world. They centered around her printmaking skills and wacky sense of humor.They were strictly about women’s work, ideas, lives fears and hopes. They were an education. I was at a conference several years ago with her and had the time to see her lecture. What I found was that I did know mountains of her work. Year after year, piece after piece, this quiet woman with a loud artistic voice made an astonishing  statement about art, femininity, and self expression. Her work had lifted me to a level where I was brave enough to begin my own.

So many of us as quilters have a trick, a tool, a viewpoint of our own that makes us unique.Perhaps that was the beginning of the movement from quilt to art. I think Jean may have been part of the first of that. Her prints, so unlike quilts, but clearly  quilted showed us that path. Now she shines on. 

Do we have quilting saints? I hope we do. People larger than life, full of a path and vision that changes us all? I think we do. Saints are legends, not necessarily holy, so much as they are wholly what they are. Their lives illuminate ours. Their clarity clears away our clutter and confusion. Do they watch us to see what we do in their wake? God knows, we learned from watching them.  I think she’s a grand Saint Jean, of the quilt.

Fare well, Jean. And thanks!

Print on Demand: Confessions of a Book Junkie Wandering the Printing Industry

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I can’t help it. It’s a disease that runs in my family. My mother was the president of the library board, and my father read me Gods, Graves and Scholars when I was three.We kept books in the same quantities my mother kept gin and extra undies. The answer was simple. Are there more books? Then we need more books!

One of the odd things within our current financial world is the book out of print. I didn’t believe it happened when I was a kid. A book was a book forever. You could always find it. It wasn’t until Ms. Driscoll, my junior/senior English teacher sent us scattering to find a bunch of out of print 1920-50s plays that I even knew a book could go out of print. My mother, president of the library still at that point, hunted each of those books down. They might have been out of print but our library had them.

Now it’s a constancy. Fabulous books go out of print. Buy it now. You may never see it again. Or you may find stacks of it at Books a Million. It’s an unpleasant crap shoot.

Publishers make their most money out of the first flush sale. A book that is classic does not make the kind of cash a best seller does. It can’t. And it will, unless someone protects it, go under. A new book itself is a huge investment for a company. They sensibly go for the main chance, and that limits what gets into print.

Enter into that the print on demand publisher. This is probably just one step above the company that will print your loving-hands-at-home book in a beautiful leather binder, and post it on their web site with other titles like My Amazing Life as a Hardware Salesman or How to Bronze Baby Shoes for Fun and Profit. Shall we say, it’s a limited market.

But for the cost of upload, and printing a hundred books, you can print on demand. And post it on the major book sellers market. I’ve done it. More than once.
Because in the same way I crave books, I crave putting out books. I love working with a professional book company. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again if allowed. But for small books that I think people need, and that I need to put out, it’s an answer.

Here’s the rub. They always cost more, for you and for your reader. You’re not having 15,000 run from China. Instead you’re paying an American company for a much shorter run. And the wonderful wheels of promotion that every publishing company has will not roll out for you. It’s all your own.

In the end, it’s your consumers who decide if it’s worth it. Is it worth a bit extra to have the book that wouldn’t get published otherwise? 

So I’ve done it again. The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily is arriving today, according to ups. I’ll start shipping them out to those who’ve ordered. We’ll see if its a companion piece with the book on bronzing baby shoes.

The Town of Torper is a little cautionary tale about small towns, gardening standards, war and peace.You can order it at my site at

Thread Magic is Back!

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Twelve years ago, I wrote Thread Magic. That’s not really true. I wrote it over a period of 10 years before that. I wrote about the many quilts I’d made. I told why and how. I tried very hard not to offer it as a cake recipe without all the ingredients. I knew I’d done different things than other quilters, and I wanted to document what I’d done. I was more than a little shocked, after 12 rejects, when it was accepted.

It wasn’t the best selling book of that year. But it struck a cord. When, 7 years after, it went out of print, it began to sell first for $50, and then for $150, and finally settled out at $450 per copy until it was reprinted. 

I wrote about my own artist’s journey. I showed what I had done and did the best job I could of documenting it so that other people could go there as well.  I didn’t do it because I thought my journey was so important. We are all in some way on that journey. What else can we do, but chart the ways we’ve taken?  Somewhere, maybe 50 years from now there will be a young girl who discovers the art quilt movement. We’re the only art movement run almost entirely by women who are old enough to have some wisdom, some savvy and something to say. It’s a grass roots movement. It came really out of no where. It’s supported its artists as teachers, and made unique opportunities within guilds where you can, as a quilter, learn from the very best. What will that young girl find?

My suspicion is that she might have to really dig to find out what we did. Why. How. Women’s history tends to disappear.  But if we all write about our artist lives and selves, we will be there for each other now, and for her later. Who knows what she will do, if she knows what we did? Who knows what we will do, as we watch and cheer for each other?

C and T is now reprinting Thread Magic again. I’m shocked Thread Magic is back in print. But I’m grateful to be part of a movement that has said it’s truths over time. I hope my journey illuminates yours.
You can order your copy at my web site at  I’ll sign it for you.

Changing the Rules Can You Outgrow Fairy Tales?

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Do we ever outgrow fairy tales? I don’t think so. For one thing, it’s arguable that we never really grow up. We get older, we get wiser, but somewhere inside we are all the ages we ever will be. There is a  four year old who sits next to a wise old lady in my head. They both respect each other’s strengths and knowledges. They don’t necessarily believe the same things or know the same things. But they both support each other endlessly. We need that child and that crone. They are both who we are, and are never the whole picture alone.

So this little skit warmed my heart. Who hasn’t run from the world as it unravels? What I love is that she changes the rules. She stops running, takes it on with what she has and knits a blanket. How fabulous!

We too have our days where it unravels. Where the wolf sits in the forest in wait. Where it gets darker much earlier than we planned and we find ourselves sitting in the woods, afraid and unclear as to where the bread crumbs went. There was a study in a country where they stopped reading fairy tales to children. The kids got quite strange. You really do need to know what to do when you’re lost in the woods. 

My grandmother self knows better. She’s cautious and smart. But she has no idea where the wildflowers are. She doesn’t know that the mushrooms on the stump are an amazing pink. She does remind my four year old self not to put them in her mouth.

Butterfly Garden was done in response to my garden woes. In many ways, it was changing the rules. I still think that’s the best way to float over and above so many of the heart’s hurts. The flowers are nothing but lollipops. They’re the flowers of my four year old self. They also echo flowers I had on my favorite dress when I was 16, and the floral prints coming out lately that just turn my heart over.

I changed the rules. Do I have to be real? Accurate? Embroider them onto my quilt surface? Use real colors? I’m so sorry. Those are your rules. I don’t think they apply to me. Not unless I say so.

Now my caterpillars are as real as I could make them for the most basic fact: YOU CAN’T HAVE BUTTERFLIES WITHOUT CATERPILLARS.

So I pick my rules, just for me. I told this story to clear my head and to entertain. Like all fairy tales, it is not what it seems.

 I believe in  fairy tales. I believe they’re vital to our hearts and health. I tell them to adults as well as kids and watch my grandmother and child inside nod wisely. 

Today I sent The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily off to the printer.
I expect it ready to ship in two weeks. You can order your  signed copy at
The Town of Torper on my web site at

It’s the best garden fairy tale I could tell.

Telling Stories_The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily

Friday, February 4th, 2011

My mother was 3rd generation Irish. She was truly the best story teller I knew. Sometimes that’s a wonderful gift. Sometimes it was crazy-making. She wasn’t overly honest when  she told stories. Often there was a loose and wild rape of reality.
Eventually I came to understand that she told the stories in ways that made the world work for her. Once I came to understand that, even if I was her go-to villain (and I often was) I learned to use it as a measure of where her hopes and fears were. The child with a monster under the bed isn’t necessarily wrong. Often there are terrifying real monsters all through that child’s life. We can talk about the one under the bed because it’s safely “not real”. 
Somewhere in our modern world we’ve lost the ability to tell stories. We even sometimes view story telling as a kind of dishonesty or a case of bad reporting of the facts.

I never was a Dragnet fan. “Just the facts, Mam,” doesn’t always tell the story. Sometimes there needs to be a fiction in the place between us.

I’m Margaret Eddy’s daughter, more than I ever care to acknowledge. I indulge myself in creative story telling because it heals my heart. Like my mother, I know that it helps if the retelling is funny, if the victim is silly and clueless, if the villain has their own reasons, and if the fight is over small mole hills. 

I’ll tell a story in two ways, sometimes in words, sometimes in images. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I had an unpleasantness with some neighbors over the garden.I often quilt my garden. It’s where I live in my head. I come home to my house, but I live in my studio and garden.
So in the way we create our space, I’ve written a fanciful tale about  garden wars. It’s called The Town of Torper and the  Very Vulgar Day Lily.
I’ve put in some of the pages so you can have a peek. It’s been loving illustrated with my garden quilts and is as silly a story as I could make it. We’re planning it’s release at the end of February. If you’d like to put your name on the pre-order list, email me.

Broken Clocks

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

It would help if I were better at ladders.Like my cat Momo, I have gravity issues. I can get up there but there’s no grace getting down. And if I ask the dogs to spot me, it’s much worse if I fall on them, rather than just splatting myself on the floor.
So a stopped clock is a real problem. And I have three of them in the house and studio at this point.

That makes time an internal process. It’s interesting when your time is wholly internal. Time is always elastic. It stretches through moments and flies in odd ways. Without a clock in charge it can’t be trusted. I slide into this laziness that isn’t watching the clock. The time creeps and runs at the same time and I find my time eroded in irrelevancy.

Except for the moments when  time stops and bathes in creativity. These pieces were several I designed in an afternoon where, for reasons I don’t understand, I sat down to one of these and had 6 of them planned when I was done.  And I’d only blinked thrice.

Some days I tie myself to my machine with stories and songs, to keep in in a grid-like process. The clock reminds me that if this is my job, I should put in the time to do it. 

Then there are those moments when time stolen and stopped, makes all the space art need.

Does it happen if I don’t hold the course? I still need to find my way through the studio door, over to my machine or cutting table. But every so often, my broken clocks measure the time in the only way creative time can be measured. In what pours out.

Musings: Art outside the Box: Working and Reworking

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

This is the time of year when I hunt for the studio floor. I’m not a bad housekeeper. You can’t be called bad if you don’t do it at all. So at this time of year we have what might be called an archeological dig in the studio, looking for what has been lost in the stratta. Things get flung to and fro in the process of creation and at the end there are large heaps of fabric, stabilizer, clippings, thread ends with small inclusions of scissors, bobbins, and dog cookies, strewn through the studio floor. I don’t exactly clean it, but I do sort of sweep through, usually trying to find a path to the iron or to the door.

This is when I find the undone. I always have at least 6-12 projects in different states of doneness. There’s the large quilt, ready to bind and I need a back for it. There’s the small quilt ready to stitch, and I need a day to just sit and do. And then there’s the stymied quilt: the one that didn’t quite work. It’s waiting for a miracle of some sort. Either I need a new skill or fresh eyes or to decide it just isn’t happening. 

I found this lady languishing there.
This series of dancing trees was a challenge I started for myself several years ago. It’s particularly a challenge because I really have some difficulty living in my body. I tend to live in my hands and my head. The rest is a lump I drag around with me. So it takes some courage and a bit of extra love to look at bodies at all. But I wanted trees that danced. 

I’ve found a couple of good tools and an ally. It’s interesting to me that my camera sees things I just can’t. I’m regularly photoing  unfinished quilts ( particularly quilts I can’t take time with ) and viewing them through the lens. It’s astonishing how clearly the camera shows me what I’ve got. My friend Rebecca Dorian Brown is a fabulous art ally. Through Team Viewer (this very cool program that lets you look at each other’s computer screen in live time) we’ve been checking each other’s work and been able to see what needs to happen next. It’s invaluable to have another set of eyes on something, and Rebecca has the best eyes I know.

Thank God for allies and tools! My tree’s not done yet but she’s in process again, because I can really see where I’m going.

This is good because she has a date. My tree is  going to be shown at Trinity Episcopal Church on the First Friday Gallery Walk in Michigan City, IN on January 7th.

All four of these pieces will be on display at
Trinity Episcopal Church
6th Street and Franklin
Michigan City, IN
 5PM through 7PM
January 7th
6th Street Entrance
call for info

The First Friday Gallery Walk is something like River North for Michigan City. There’s a number of excellent and edgy galleries, all open and on display each first Friday of the month. Wander, eat, see wonders and dream of art! Please come and see them there.

I hope this year brings you new tools, fresh eyes, true allies, and places to let your work shine.

You’ll find Rebecca’s amazing work at Rebecca Dorian Brown Art.
You’ll find more information about Trinity Church here.

Silent Night

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

I’m in complete rebellion  this Christmas. I can’t quite get it. I don’t want a tree. I will not shop. I’ve sung carols with my church but I won’t put them on at home. I’m not doing it.

This  Santa boy represents everything I would prefer to miss. He’s actually a Japanese vending machine for Christmas. I’m sort of waiting for the Easter bunny version and the Jack-o-lantern issue.Talk about Christmas out of the box. Yuck.

It occurs to me that maybe I just don’t understand Christmas. Christmas was utterly changed the year my Dad died. My father was the hearth of our home. When he died there was not much there but gin, literature and cold ashes. I desperately tried to put up a tree and make everyone presents. I annoyed everyone mightily. They wanted a steak dinner, gifts out of a catalog,  a stiff drink and to fall asleep in front of the TV. I’ve been pretty sour on it ever since.

But the one thing that has made Christmas work for me is the kids in my life. I never had a child, but that never meant I didn’t have children. For reasons I don’t understand, they seem to creep through the cracks in the door. They stay as long as they need to stay, all for different reasons.   To be fed cookies  at your table , or to dye fabric, or hear stories, or play with your dogs, or to have someone hold down their rage while they learn to do that themselves.The price of all that is the price you pay for every child in your life. You need to be willing to let them go as easily as they come.  The love is all there, but their path is not. And it’s cruel to mess with that.

This year, I have children gone again. They’re healthy and brave and well. There’s no reason to grieve. But I hate the loneness of Christmas eve.

People who say art is your child, don’t really do art. Things are just what they are. Your art is your art. It’s not ever going to run to you with it’s arms open. Or show you a kitten, or bring you a song. It can’t be asked to do what it cannot.

In process Daylily Quilt

It is your creation, in a way a child can’t be, although it has a life of it’s own. So I’m in the studio, pouring life into a new piece, building day lilies out of dragon claw shapes.

Creation is a love. A dry love often, but a love.And it strikes me that that too is Christmas. For Christmas we get a baby. Not a baby who can love us yet. No baby can. But a baby that coaxes our love out of us. It’s a baby that demands our care, our involvement, our concern. It invite us to love and teaches us how. Its advent demands our attention. And flays us open to a heart available for the love that is always there.

I’m making a huge pot of soup for Christmas eve. I’m taking it to church and I’m feeding whoever asks.  Hopefully, angels unawares.

Art Outside the Box: Hunger is a Sauce

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Like most red blooded American women of my age, I’m not used to hunger.I learned my clothes making from the Amir the tentmaker design school. My mother described me as a pork chop in my baby pictures. If somehow I became miraculously thin, I would be in a massive identity crisis.

This is not to say I haven’t tried from time to time. But after 15 years of therapy, I’ve learned there’s little that can’t be soothed by a half gallon of Breyers in solitary splendor.
So hunger is basically a stranger. I’m very careful not to be hungry, and really only get in that spot when I’m traveling in the back of the beyond. It’s just as well. I tend to faint and bite people’s heads off. Since neither of those things get you where you’re going, they’re best to be avoided.


It’s interesting when you’re put nose to nose with your fears. I had a health scare where my acupuncturist put me on an eleven day cleanse that had 4 fast days in it.

I haven’t fasted since I fainted for my first four communions at church. The last time I woke up with the priest standing over me saying, “Don’t even try.”
But I love my acupuncturist. I even trust her. So I did it.
It’s interesting to find that hunger isn’t all about food. 

I found myself desperately hungry for companionship.
I found myself hungry for color and sound, stimulation.
I found myself desperately hungry for parts of my art on hold while I work out necessary practicalities.
I found myself desperately hungry for people I haven’t seen.
I found myself hungry for love I can’t quite give.
I found myself terrified to be hungry for what is holy in my life.

    Isn’t it interesting how much of your real self you can hide in an ice cream container?

    So, if I’m hungry enough to feel those other hungers, maybe that hunger is the sauce, the luscious topping that launches me out of myself and out of hiding, in search of what I really need. 

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