Archive for the ‘series’ Category

Tools Change Everything: Zigzag Bobbin Work

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

20u singerI believe in tools! 

Years ago I bought this 20U Singer industrial. It was under protest. I had burned the brushes off a very nice 930 Bernina. If you don’t know any of these numbers, take my word. 930 Berninas were war horses in armor.

So they told me that a 20 U was  a tough enough machine. I had mine calabrated to work with embroidery thread, and did a number of zigzag embroidery images on it. 

For a fast machine, it was still a tedious experience. This machine doesn’t really use a foot. So all the fabric needed to be hooped. And unhooped. And re-hooped. Again and again and again.

I simply stopped working with it at one point. I was considering selling it. 


179 The problem with princesBut people have always loved the quilts made through this technique. It allows for so much detail and coloration. 40 weight embroidery thread is ephemerally beautiful, and it shines when it’s laid in color layers.815 butterfly garden detail

Yesterday, I tried it with a felt stabilizer sandwich and a Halo hoop


halo hoopl


The Halo Hoop has been around for a while. I use them for any larger bit of embroidery I’m working on. It’s a weighted metal hoop with a plastic coating that grips the fabric. Instead of clamping it, you simply slide the hoop along.

My favorite stabilizer sandwich is ( from the back tp the front) a drawing in Totally Stable,  a layer of Decor Bond,a layer of polyester felt, and a layer of hand dyed fabric as my top. Anything that doesn’t iron down, I spray glue with 505 spray.



frog in process

I took this frog drawing and stated to color. I worked from the back for two reasons. My drawing was there, and I could tie off the ends.











frog in process  f2I didn’t get done, but I got far enough to know that between the stabilizer sandwich and the Halo hoop, the whole technique had been revolutionized for me.

Things I learned

  • My father’s old saying: if it’s too hard, too horrible or too long, you have the wrong tool.
  • You can use a hammer for a saw, but it’ s hard on the hammer and what you’re sawing.

Rethinking how to use your tools makes all the difference.  

You can work without a foot, but you need to use your fingers and a hoop. And hopefully your brain!finger positiona

And most of all, good tools change everything!

264 As Good as it Gets


Once More with Feeling: Patterns

Monday, March 4th, 2013

774 Fall Flight

774 Fall Flight detail 2I’ll confess this. I really didn’t want to do patterns. I fought it tooth and nail.

Why? Because I believe something truly magical happens when you try to draw. 

Three things I know:

  • Everything worth doing is worth doing badly. If you ever want to do anything well, you need to be willing to do it over and over again. Badly at first. You need to be willing to weather that through.
  • There’s no can’t like won’t. You really can’t do anything that you won’t do. Get over the won’t and then you really can. Particularly if you drop the need to be perfect. 
  • You’re always better than you think. Once people get over the won’t thing and the perfection thing, usually their learning curve is pleasantly steep. But even if it isn’t, if you’re willing to try you can really, really, do anything.

I also thought it was lazy art. Then I ended up in a gallery with a show of Degas pastel tracings.


I’m not Degas’ biggest fan, but he’s my idea of a completely respectable artist. He did brave explorations of art that was highly unacceptable in it’s time.  And created an amazing body of work.

At one point he started tracing over his pictures and coloring them in different ways with pastels. I believe it was a color study. But no one can deny the beauty of them. He took the same image, over and over, to see where it might go.

With that being said, I’ve begun several years ago to bring patterns into class. And in the process, I’ve started using them myself, partially because it was part of demo and partially because it gives you a way to rework things in different ways. Again, another definition of series.

What changed my mind? Well you pick your battles. If I have a lady in class, I’ve already made her work upside down and put weird thread in her machine. It’s sometimes time to cut  a person some slack.

But it also speeds up the process. I will teach stick drawing for animals in class, but I only do it on request or when I’m doing master classes. Most people just want to go boogie on their machine. Sensibly enough. So I’ve consistently handed out a series of patterns from quilts of my own.

So what happens when you rework an image? All the other good series that happen

  • You get to ask, what if?
  • You remove some decisions so you can focus on others.
  • You speedline your work.

Frog 3So with all that in mind I’m in the process of preparing a pattern book for students. You are the people I do this for.  So would you be willing to let me know what you think?

  • Are you interested in a book of patterns drawn from my quilts?
  • What animals would you like to see in it? 
  • Would you be willing to honor my request to use it strictly for classroom or personal use? (Not for contest or sales)
  • Would you want a disk to go with it of jpgs?
  • Would some other format work better for you?
  • Would you want a smaller number of patterns with full color insides or a larger black and white book?
  • Do you want advice and help in coloring and shading?
  • Do you want information about stitching or do you just want patterns?
  • Is there something else that would make this book more useful or desirable to you?

I learned a long time ago that I am not making books for me. They are always for you, fellow artists. So it helps to know, what would help. If you respond ( and leave your email), I’ll send you 6 patterns as a thank you.

You can either leave your comments on the page or email me at

or you can call at 219-921-0885.








Once More with Feeling: Under the Sea

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
159 Secret GArden

Secret Garden

Sometimes it’s an environment  rather than an image. 

I lived in Boston for three years. The best part of Boston was the ocean. I’m a Midwestern girl. I ‘d seen the ocean, in the way you see someone from across a  huge room once. When I lived in Boston, I got to know it as a friend. I regularly went to the beach, looked over piers, sat at the harbor, and found myself in love. 

Secret Garden was about an inappropriate love. Not anything truly wrong. Just terribly unworkable. The feelings were all there but there was no way to make them safe or kind.


162 Coral Sea

Coral Sea

Flying fish are a happier image for me. I love their ability to glide through rough waters.




342 crabby days2-1

Crabby Days

Finally because there are those days, there are crabs.

planet oceanThere’s an amazing book,  Planet Ocean: A Story of Life, the Sea and Dancing to the Fossil Record by Ray Troll  and Bradford Matsen. The illustrations are amazing. But the premise is that we all come from salt brine and carry that in us as our birthright. Watching the ocean roll, I could feel all of that.


Once More with Feeling: Salamanders

Saturday, February 9th, 2013
755 Mooning 2 g


Lizards aren’t every day creatures for me. I don’t find them in my garden. In my wood walking days, I would find them occasionally in the woods.

But I’m still compelled by them, especially Salamanders. I love their colors. And I love their S shaped bodies. They live in both water and on land. I love things that transform and adapt.



Courtship Rituals

Courtship Rituals

I’m also aware of the lizard brain. It’s the part of us that does really primal things. Some of them are stupid and some of them are vital, but either way, it reminds me that being in a body demands certain things. I also consider it a major part of we deal with others of the opposite sex. I was mad enough at the end of a particular relationship to quilt us both as lizards, upside down and not dealing well with each other. Better to get those things out

 Sometimes they are information. Fall Stream was done at a time when a friend of mine had told some amazing ( and untrue) things about me at my church. In retrospect, when I looked at the quilt, I had the information. I just hadn’t processed it.

fired elementalsBut they’re also considered messengers from the unconscious. They travel from the world of dreams, to our ” real world” to the unconscious, bringing information we need, hiding things we cannot face at that point. Fired Elementals was quilted in the middle of my therapy years. I had no idea what it was about but was a strongly compelling idea that I had to address. Later it occurred to me that these were messengers bringing fire and light, pain and comprehension from where it had been tucked away inside.




ReunionReunion was done for my 31st high school reunion. I did not enjoy my high school years. It was a cross between Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Lord of the Flies. So when the chief bully who had sent people to taunt and beat me up asked me to come to the reunion, this was my response. More Lizard brain, I’m afraid. But something useful happens when you face your fears through your art. It transforms, sometimes into something lovely. Sometimes into something you’re simply less frightened of. That is it’s own trans substantiation emotionally. You are different, the fear is different and the thing you are afraid of is either less scary, somehow part of you, or at least smaller. It’s a worthy trip, from the unconscious and back again.

506 reunion detail

Once More with Feeling: The Bad Bugs

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
646 Floral Arrangement 25 - Copy (1)

Floral Arrangement 25

You know the feeling. You find it in the sink or the bathroom and you have to run  and get the bug identification book because you can’t imagine what that beetle is.

Well, none of us look our best sitting in the tub. I have a  Egyptian sort of attitude about beetles because of my father. He loved archaeology and regularly read me Gods, Graves and Scholars as my bedtime book. He read what pleased him. My mother kept trying to insist on things like the Little Grey Squirrel. I may have been only 3 but I knew full well the plot line on the Little Grey Squirrel just couldn’t keep up with the discovering of lost cities and tombs.  And beetles.

This did not extend to The Beatles. That’s a taste I acquired much later. If they’d come in iridescent purple and green, that might have been different. And if the Egyptians had drawn them with wings…..


163 Growing between the CracksLady  bugs are, of course, beetles, but if you dress up in black and red you[‘re already a buggy fashion statement that even Margaret would have considered stylish.






I’m talking about the beetles that are almost ornaments. They were often done as art deco pins.

They’re elegance is undeniable.

beetle bookSo I’ve gone in search of beetles. There’s a book called An Inordinant  Fondness for Beetles. It will give you the most amazing bug images you’ll ever see.

Here are some of my favorite beetles and bugs.

Sapsuckers. How could you not? They’re pink! And they look exactly like the blooms on the  branch. They are just too much fun.

382 Fallen Petals Rise - Copy (1)

Fallen Petals Rise


Brave Little Bugs

758 Bugs in Bloom (1)

Bugs in Bloom

And the Beetles that attend the garden. I so love these. Their shiny crunchy carapaces just please me.





Then there are the beetles that are too wild for words.

Beetles in Blossoms

Beetles in Blossoms


Light Japanese Lunch

Light Japanese Lunch

I have a love hate thing with Japanese Beetles. The hate thing is completely understandable. They eat everything in sight, but they specialize in roses.

The love thing… They’re iridescent purple green brown. How do you beat that? I’m completely torn. Usually I let them alone.

And how can you be sillier than rhinoceros beetles?

Stag party

Stag party


You’ll find An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles at

You’ll find fabulous beetles all over your garden. Look for them there.





Once More with Feeling: Mantis Mania

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013
756 Dancing in the light (1)

Dancing in the Light

The first time I saw a praying mantis was in a Dover book called Animals. This great copyright free book of older etchings is a go to bible for animal imagery.

I was astonished. I am an arm chair traveler. I was sick much of my childhood and early adulthood and spend most of my time put together with spit and chewing gum. Except that we don’t chew gum. Art gum spirits? Perhaps.

So I’ve lived in books most of my life. And what I see as images fills my heart, mind, soul and senses.

I instantly loved the mantis shape, the almost alien eyes and the weird way they moved. I’ve been captivated ever since.

When I got my garden, I purchased and placed a praying mantis egg in it. There may have been thousands of mantises hatched. I only saw one. It was three quarters of an inch long. And it fulfilled my favorite truism. You don’t have to be big to be mighty.

Mantises are one of my strongest alter egos. They’re good gardeners. They’re quite lovely. They’re definitely odd. How close can you get?

Oddly enough, they’re the quilts that seem to end up in major collections. Dancing in the Light is in the National Quilt Museum.

Twilight Time

Twilight Time

Twilight Time is in the State of Illinois Museum. It was my first larger mantis quilt. Rondo Redoubled ended up in a prominent private  collection. There’s just something about praying mantises. So I do them, over and over. I love their very odd,exquisite beauty. And their help in the garden.


Rondo Redoubled







But they’re really all portraits of me.

 On the fun side, any time I’ve needed to to a college lecture ( full of 18 year old guys who think they’re hearing a standard quilter) I like to put up something like this on the stand. It seems to create instant respect. And a self portrait teaches you about yourself.

What have I learned about myself?

  • That I am beautiful. It just might not be in your taste.
  • That I love my garden.
  • That I am small but mighty. My size is irrelevant to what I can accomplish.
  • I’m fierce. I will and do protect things I love.
  • My appetite is just part of the bargain. But I’m hungry for many things. Green leaves, Sunlight, joy, beauty, wild pathways. A certain amount of hunger is simply life.
Fall Confetti

Fall Confetti

animalsYou’ll find Animals on Perhaps one of the best source books I’ve ever seen. Hopefully you’ll find your own alter ego in the mirror and in your own art. There’s nothing like a self portrait for getting to know yourself.



Once More with Feeling: Moths in Moonlight, Butterflies in Sun

Monday, January 28th, 2013

765 Luna (1) What is it about the flutter of moth wings? I cannot resist them. The best part of summer is to open the door at night, look up through the tree to see moths flying moonward.

I am mostly a moon child. I sunstroked as a child on the lake and have never been able to take strong sun. So much of my outdoor life has been in early morning or late evening. Or, at night when the dogs take their last run. So moon creatures are my special companions, and I always look for them.

675 Snails Pace  detailNot that I can leave butterflies alone either. One way or another, I really want to flutter over the garden.

Of course what many people miss is that you cannot have moths or butterflies without caterpillars.815 butterfly garden detail



So I treasure them all. The moths, the butterflies, the flutterbys and the caterpillar  all part of their passion play. And the occasional cocoon that shows up hanging from the odd bit of bee balm.

Some moths in flight.


Some butterflies



Once More with Feeling: Arise a Rose

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMy very first flowers were roses. The day I was born, my father sent my mother a dozen roses. And sent one for me.  It’s still dried and pressed into my baby book.

Roses aren’t the queen of flowers. Lilies are. But roses are the courtesans of the garden, because they court everyone with their softness, their scent and their exquisite presence. They also smartly have thorns. The rose in the Little Prince reminds everyone that they had best have respect for her, because, after all, she’s armed.

I grew up thinking of roses as the only flowers you gave to people because that was how my father viewed it. In his mind, you gave ladies roses, for all occasions. And only Abe Lincoln roses, with long stems, blood red blooms and velvet scent. I am spoiled forever.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI also grew up thinking you only got flowers if a man gave them to you. A huge part of my therapy was buying my own flowers for a solid year. Now I plant them and pass on the middle man.



223 (2)As a species roses have been cultivated for so long that there are a million kinds and buying them is a trip down Alice’s rabbit hole. So I spent a winter studying roses out of catalogs  and books. Turns out I love my Hansa roses best. They’re a bush rose that blooms twice a year, smells like cloves and has a dinosaur like habit of putting out thorns everywhere. They are blissfully unkillable.

When I studied to make roses, I discovered that, unlike most flowers, it really didn’t help to mimic the petals. There were just too many of them. Instead it was more useful to follow the growth of the petals. Which is in a spiral.

The petals are cut in spirals and whirled around each other. Then, I put the points of folds into the petals as I stitched them. Notice the change in colors. Roses are never just one color.

Of course, the other thing about a courtesan is that everyone wants to be a part of her world. I noticed every garden creature out there, especially tending roses.

865 Rose whiteWould you like a Rose from my garden? When people come to my garden, I usually cut flowers for them. Most often it’s roses, because they do bloom so long. In case, like myself, you know that you have to be your own valentine, I’ve put some delicious little rose quilts on sale for you. Of course, if you’ve got someone who give you things, that will give him a break too.  Check them out on my web site!

LittleprinceYou’ll find The Little Prince  on Amazon. If you’ve somehow missed this delight, run, don’t walk to find a copy to read it. It’s about growing, being, and  caring for the things you love.

Once More with Feeling: Sunflowers. Drawn to the Sun

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

555 Drawn to the Sun 2 bg (1)Once you acknowledge that you are never alone in a garden, you become aware of the life around you. The squirrels, the bugs, the robin that arrives in late March and the hummingbird that visits each July. In the cycle of things, you come to expect their arrival. And plan for it. Your garden is their home. They may be good neighbors or bad, but they are your neighbors, and you come to accommodate their schedules and needs.

vincent-van-gogh-vase-with-twelve-sunflowers-art-print-posterI love the ragged shapes of sunflowers. They’re the dinosaur of the plant world. Not because of their age so much or lineage but because of their huge rough presence. I’ve seen circles of them grown as a play house for children. I saw a wedding where someone created the isle for the bride with them . Van Gogh knew what he was doing.  He painted them over .You just cant beat them.

But better still. They are the ultimate bird, squirrel, mouse, and bird feeder. And you don’t have to do anything but plant them and ring the dinner bell. You’ll find your serving dinner for  a cast of thousands



This sunflower volunteered in my front yard while I was  writing Thread Magic Garden. When I went to break down the shapes it was simplicity itself. It’s simple s shapes with an oval center. Depending on how you’re viewing the flower, the petals either radiate out from the center, or spread out from one side and fold over the center on other side. Either way, YUM!

So I’ve regularly documented the many creatures that come to the banquet table in my garden. And one of their favorite dishes.

thread+magic+gardentnThread Magic Garden documents embroidering sunflowers, step by step. You’ll find it on my web page.



Once More with Feeling: From the Garden

Friday, January 25th, 2013

646 Floral Arrangement 25 (1) There’s a truth that we can’t envision what we’ve never seen. I lived for so long in an apartment in Chicago that I’d lost the rhythms. There was an Easter Vigil were I walked out into the church garden and saw the daffodils. And an odd voice in my head said, “Why did they put plastic daffodils out?” Of course they hadn’t. I was that out of touch.

The oddest thing about buying a house, is that with it comes a garden. I was 44 and I had the first garden of my adult life. I had a terrifying case of constipated gardening. I planted everything everywhere. I even planted the hell strip in front of the street and got in trouble with the city fathers. I put in roses of Sharon, roses of all kinds, quince, five kind of lilac, day lilies everywhere, bee balm, Russian sage, pinks. dogwood, I couldn’t pass a garden center. I planted or mulched every square inch. I brought in a weeping juniper and white cherry tree. Eventually I ran out of land. And began to simply watch it happen, season after season   382 Fallen Petals RiseAll time is spiral in a garden Time is measured in one season after another. The season of tulips, of alliums, of lilies, of blackberries, of tomatoes, and the dreaded zuchinni. They cycle through faithful, every year. So the flowers themselves sudden began to pop up in my quilts.


I discovered that sheers made the best flower petals because petals are see through. I discovered that no petal is the same shape size or color as any other in the flower Which meant I needed to use easily 20 c0lors for a larger flower. learned that every flower is potentially a bird feeder. I learned I could be outside in a yard and not be attacked. It was a time of intense learning. Then I had to learn to let it go. The first October, I lost Gabriel, my big golden cat the day the leaves fell from the maple. Fall had fallen and all I could do was weep at the base of the roots. I cried until after Christmas. Then the garden catalogs started to arrive.

There’s a wonder a bout cycles. You watch things die. You watch things come back. I believe in resurrection for many reasons. But my garden is perhaps the most tangible. The cold came and went and then the cycle came back.

I walk through my garden in the winter and can see all of the dead waiting resurrection. Some things, like helborus rose, just refuse to go down. But even the tenderest roses poke their head up. I 

I also came to realize I wasn’t the only gardener. There were bees, humming birds, praying mantises and frogs all carefully tending the plants. I came to love and look for their hands in my garden. It’s there’s as much as mine. After all, we all live there.

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.

Once More with Feeling: The Wisdom of Owls

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013


658 Hunter's Moon (2)


I love owls! They’re sleepy fluffy deadly predators. It’s the dichotomy that pleases me.

658 Hunter's Moon 2 detail (1)We all have the soft and hard edges that war within us. The part of us that is cute, sweet, somewhat cuddly gets more and more edges as we grow older. We learn we can bite. If we’re lucky we learn we don’t always have to.  It’s like the edges calcify. But what makes owls fascinating to me is the balance between the too.

I love that owls aren’t not exactly a forest animal. There’s a population of  owls living in cities. Supposedly they are territorial and love skyscrapers. They tend to keep the pigeon population down.

 I lived for years near Devon Street in Chicago. Devon Street is a united nations consisting of blocks that blend  from Assyrians, Russians, Bosnias, Pakistani, Hindustani,  and European Jewish cultures. It’s the shopping version of the world done by Disney.Without anyone singing it’s a small world after all.  There was a photography store called Hoots, I believe. It had a plastic owl on the highest ledge of   the building. It was high enough that I couldn’t tell if it was real or not. In the end, I decided it didn’t matter. Plastic or live, I want my city to have owls.

When the FACET group did a show called Chicago Blues, I couldn’t resist it.

I had the Hoots owl, singing the blues. Of course I called Chicago Blues.

Once More With Feeling: Lady Bugs Series

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

781 Forrest Floor 14 bMy mother had a lot of pretenses in her life. The largest one was that she was a lady. That was patent nonsense. 

756 Dancing in the light detail 3Margaret was larger than life. She was the kind of Irish of which it is said, “We were lace curtain Irish as soon as we could afford the lace.” That didn’t cover it.

 She danced and did choric reading competitively. She went to college where she ran ramshod over household and school rules in a ruinous and hysterical effort to go to every dance and party in the school. She taught English and History and passion. She ran the teacher’s union and the library board with a very delicately gloved fist. She married my father at 38, both of the the only left over singles in their social circle, after the war. All of that she did with courage, power, ability and steel will.

Not a lady. Not exactly.

861 Arise a RoseBut amazing.

She also, in the manner of most people at the time, drank gin like a fish. There was a ceremonious moment once a year when we walked the vermouth bottle by the gin making all gin a martini.

Margaret’s whole social world was female. It was the society of other teachers, librarians, and educated women. My father watched it all swirl around it and headed for his hiding place in the basement. 

They were formidable  Whenever they were against anything they all got together, arrived in their black dresses and pearls to stare against the town council until the council backed up. Since these women were their first, second, third, fourth and fifth grade teachers, you can imagine how these men felt.  It had to be like 70 years in the principal’s  office.  They were never victims.  They weren’t ladies. They fought like women. The council never had a chance.

I see my mother in the lady bugs. “I’m a lady. Never mind that I’m a fierce predator of all aphids and don’t try to stop me.” It’s actually a disguise. She wore it well. I find myself peaking out behind it every so  often, too.

So often  we forget the power of women who know what is right and make their stand. Like the ladybugs, they protect their own, fight their battles. Aren’t exactly ladies. And to whom does that matter?

783 Hopscotch Boogie (1)

Once More with Feeling: Herons, and other Dinosaurs

Friday, January 18th, 2013




I Love dinosaurs. I do. Sorry about that. I never outgrew it. I was taken to the Field Museum in Chicago where they had the grand dioramas of dino life and had to be restrained from climbing in.

fantasiaThat’s still true too. Fantasia had a fabulous bit in it where they swam, lunged along, ate and died.  I’ve made them as stuffed animals and quilted them from time to time.

hot blooded dinosaursBut one book took me to another place entirely.  Hot Blooded Dinosaurs came out it 1977. It was a rage book for a while and then you didn’t see it. I’d borrowed it from a friend.

No more dragging your butt along allosauruses. These were quick moving, wild predators that deserved to rule the planet for a good long time. It was mind blowing. Jurrasic Park was such an amazing movie because no one said it, but that was the whole point. These were not cold blooded creatures. The dinosaurs weren’t jumped up lizards. They were real, tooth and claw. I, for one, was thinking of the dragging tails in the dioramas and saying, “Nope. You’re wrong. They’re  HOT blooded.”

Crocodiles, sharks, turtles and dragonflies are a slam dunk as modern dinosaurs. The fossils are quite clear. They were here then. They’re still here now. But birds.The premise is that birds ‘are direct descendants. And if you’ve seen a heron hunt or look at the skeleton, it’s pretty evident. 

ladyblue (1)So when I quilt herons, I’m playing with my plastic dinosaurs. Again. No apologies. They’re too cool not to. Of course sometimes they’re people I know.


book (1)It was no surprise when the editors insisted on Lady Blue as the cover for Thread Magic. Maybe they liked dinosaurs too.

You’ll find Thread Magic on my web site . It’s a print on demand version. All of the text and pictures are there, but the print suffers from less glossy paper.


Hot Blooded Dinosaurs is on I just ordered myself a copy.


Also on Amazon you’ll find Fantasia, perhaps the most influential art cartoon every made. Thank you, Mr. Disney.



Once again with Feeling: Squirrels and Other Fuzzy Things

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

703 springing (1)This is in honor of my new co-tenants. I have a happy family of squirrels living in the downstairs studio ceiling. They’re a quiet bunch. I wouldn’t have known they were there until they chewed the drain pipe for the furnace. Twice. Now the pipe flushes around a half cup of water every hour onto the studio table. Yes, I have a bucket. Yes the plumber will come again. Yes the squirrel trapping guy is coming this morning. No, I’m not happy, particularly about the flooded fabric. Two bolts of cotton are going to need some special dyeing.

I’ve often been asked why I don’t do fuzzy creatures. It’s simpler than you would think. Almost everything I do is a portrait in some way and I rarely see myself as fuzzy. If you’re 5 foot tall, just about that wide and have a pug nose, you fight an anti-cute campaign constantly. At my mother’s funeral, I had grown people grab me by the cheek pinch and pat my head. Where I come from, that’s legal cause to bite someone. I used to cuss like a some people paint in oil. “The undertext is “I am not a child. I am not a child I am not a child. REALLY!” Of course if you need to say it, you can’t ever ever prove it.  So portraying myself as something fuzzy, just doesn’t happen often. 



I’d never done fuzzy creatures until I did this commission. It was an education! Fur actually does have a nap and its not all that hard to create that. These were my first fuzzy babies. They were fun and they were a reason to try it again. They just weren’t as personally connective.


When Birdy had her bunny experience, it was necessary to do some bunny quilts. Bird found a bunny in the garden and sat down with it in a companionable way for around a half hour. Bird has really no prey instinct. It’s one of her nicer qualities. She found the bunny fascinating, but she just sat with it. It hopped into a bush and she looked at me, with her very short attention span as if to say “What was that?” Too funny. Had to quilt it.

Mice are companionable too. I only object when they want to move inside. Of course when they moved into the studio and started to poop crayola colors, it needed in some way to be documented.

So the cute thing keeps me from doing a lot of fur. Although now that my hair is a lovely silvery grey, I don’t worry about it so much. A cute 30 year old gets treated like a 3 year old. A cute almost 60 year old can do pretty much whatever she wants.  Just because they can’t figure out whether she’s old or young. I do like that,

You’ll find information about Frank Hayes, the writer of Little Fuzzy Animals, on Wickipedia. He’s a filker ( A science fiction folk musician) of great renown. He and I played in a contra band four thousand years ago. His hysterical music can be found at   Firebird Music.

You’ll find Birdy’s comments about mice at Studio Dogs, Studio Mice in an earlier blog on the subject.


Once More with Feeling: Frog Series

Monday, January 14th, 2013

264 As Good as it Gets (1)Our personal perception is an odd thing. Years ago when I was doing my student teaching,  I watched the 6 year olds mirror themselves as the colored in the presidents, the pilgrims, and all the biographic social science coloring sheets. It mostly divided on racial lines. If they were black, everyone was black, or brown. If they were Caucasian, everyone was pink, yellow or orange. In a way, I approved. I want every little kid to think that they are just  like  all our heros, from George Washington to George Washington Carver . There were two exceptions. One was the child of a mixed family who colored all his pictures blue. The other was an adopted child who was over 100 lbs and on a restricted diet. He colored everyone green. I made two rag dolls for my class. They were raggedy ann dolls, but one was in blue flannel. One was made in green.

An odd thing happened. A six year old boy doesn’t want to be caught dead with a doll. But those dolls were part of every game and adventure those boys had at school. Being blue and green, they walked outside of the limits of being a doll. They became perfect companions carried all over the playground and included in every fantasy. 


Somewhere in my life I realized I didn’t fit either. There was something about frogs. That odd spot where you realize that you’re really not much like everyone else. Somehow it’s easier being green. So I find my self often doing my self portrait as a frog

179 The problem with princes (1)

 The Problem with Princes was myself, encircled with the zinnias my dad always grew.

In Imagio Dei means In the Image of God. If I am in the image of God I am a creator. And as He creates so do I. The fabric runs through my hands and becomes birds, fish frogs and flowers.

398 In imagio dei



Sometimes, I do frogs simply because I love the ways that they move. I’m fascinated by their leaps, belly flops and grand ballet moves. 






Then there are the personal frogs.

This was a portrait of my god children, Tom and Sarah at their engagement.

Somehow frogs have become my own way of accepting my odd and different self and the equally odd folk I’m graced with. It’s easier being green than not being easy with who you are.

Once More with Feeling: Koi Series

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

721 in the reeds w (1)My father went to the first church of fishing. That does not mean that he was fishing for men or that he went to church. If he had a free day it was spent in a row boat on the river or lake, fishing for bass. It made for a much nicer sort of person than my Catholic mother, so  I had much more respect for it. It was his passion and his peace.

Being a good dad, he took me along from time to time. We had a few tearful moments about worms on hooks and the use of the tin can ( there is no pottie in a row boat).  We solved that early. He took me ashore when needed and he understood I didn’t want to catch fish. I just wanted to watch them.

So I would lean out of the boat with my head right above the water, watching the swirling water and the swish of fins. I’m still there. I’ll be there forever.

The fish in the stream series is all about that. And it’s about swimming through the waters of your life. I’ve gone  back to it repeatedly because it’s so vital to me.

The earlier ones were less filled in, somehow less active.

92 Father of All FishesFather of All Fishes was my first real Thread Magic Quilt. It was nature based, done in pearl cotton bobbin work. The transparency of the images, and the nature of seeing the fish under and over leaves fascinated me.

Here are some of the more formed fish I did after I learned how to fill them in with thin thread and a zigzag stitch.








I soon learned after that how to control my water better. When you walk into water you can feel the cooler and warmer currents in layers. You can make that happen with layers of organza and lace.

Finally I learned to use hand dyed pearl cottons and Angelina Fiber for water. It’s funny to me that the techniques change and my ability to render get’s better. But the fish still make me quiet and happy as a girl leaning out a row boat, reaching for the illusion of underwater life.


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