Thread Magic Summer School: Color Theory Past the Wheel

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!

Ann Arbor and then Thread Magic Summer School

August 1st, 2013

Tomorrow I’m heading up for Ann Arbor the their Quilting Unlimited Festival, where I’ll be teaching this weekend. I’ve got my usual pile of  thread, books, kits, toys and quilts and I’m ready to go. I’ll be teaching the Stitch Mastery Book, Applique Master, Bobbin work Flowers and Button hole Binding. If you’re anywhere near, come and join us. You’ll find more information on their web site at

QU_2013_flyer898 Dragonfly in the Clearing

When I get back I’m going to start up Thread Magic Summer School Session. If you joined us last year, you know it’s an intense week of blog classes, this time on color theory outside the box.We’re going to talk about how and why color works the way it does. It’s kind of like class camp for grownups, where we focus on quilting, color, art, expression and fiber. The first lesson will start August 12. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s a great way to stretch your knowledge. 

Join me both places! This is going to be fun.


A Box of Rocks: The Kiss Principle in Practice Made Better with a New Fusible

July 30th, 2013

634 Wind over Water 2If you do nature quilts, at some point you’ll want to do rocks.  Rocks do a lot of a quilt. They give a hard edge to a quilt. They give weight to the bottom of the piece. They make an uneven edge that makes for a more natural work. Over the years I’ve embroidered rocks, painted rocks, crumpled fabric to make rocks, used dyed cheesecloth, organza and sheers. Rocks are a case of the kiss principle. They seem to be best if you keep it simple, Sweetie.

hand dyed fabricThe best rocks I’ve ever made have been simple hand dyed fabric. The shading and variation of hand dye is perfect. And it’s the perfect task when you have the brains left of a somewhat tired out ardvark. I can cut rocks when I’ve got no brains at all left.Of course if you stitch around a rock with a solid color it looks like it came from OZ. I use a soft edge applique technique, minimal zigzag stitching around the rock with monofilament nylon, for the best effect.

But, it does help to have a good way to apply them.

Lately we’ve had some problems with available fusibles. So a new product on the market is a special rare treat. I have several things I ask of my fusibles.


  • They need to be paper backed. I’m not accurate enough to cut an unbacked fusible and not make an unholy mess. They gush glue out the edges when you iron them.
  • They need to tack on. I hate ironing on anything twice. 
  • They need to fuse cleanly and thoroughly. No popping up like a jack in a box.


I was over the moon to hear about Inn Fuse, the new tacking fusible from Innovative Crafts. Even more so  after I tested it out. And there’s no better test for that than cutting a box of rocks. It exceeded my expectations. I was working with the 9″ x 12″  sheets.

First off, the film has no texture of it’s own. It’s a slick simple film. That means it doesn’t show through sheers as a texture. The film sticks thoroughly to the fabric before you iron it. It fuses cleanly and quite tightly. I’m thinking I have a brand new favorite fusible. And a good size box of rocks.

fabric rocks

I’ll be very excited to work more with this and will report on it. But I’m bringing it into class next week at the Ann Arbor Quilt in, and I am confident to bring it to students.

You’ll find Inn Fuse on their web site at Innovative Crafts. They’ve got a number of other stabilizer/batt products that are just that, innovative. You’ll also find it at most Bernina stores, and wholesale at Brewer Sewing. And in my studio where I intend to make a whole lot more than rocks.

The Other Parents: Mourning My Other Dad

July 23rd, 2013

It must have been over twenty years ago now that I met my Bosnian Family. I was living at the edge of Rodgers Park near Devon Street. A family moved in and proceeded to bring their whole coffee table onto the back porch.

It was moderately odd but completely harmless. I came to understand later that coffee and hospitality were both sacred to them.



Of course it was the youngest boy who made the first move. Amir was a ball of activity and saw me go out to play with my guitar. But I met them one by one, story by story. Within a year  I had children running in and out of my door for homework and odd crisises, and I would check on the Grandparents at night when the middle adults were off at work. I would sit at Hanifa’s table and she and her husband Mustafa would teach me Bosnian.

My Bosnian never got very good. But I learned so much from these people. I learned tenacity and faithfulness, and the fear and strength involved in living in a new culture. I learned how proud I was as an American to welcome in another group of people, who had, like my own, left their country with death at their heels. I who have had so little family in my life, learned what it was like to be part of a sprawling family, because they took me in completely. I learned what it was to be betrayed and come back faithful, to be harmed and come back strong.

This picture was Alma’s wedding. Mustifa is the handsome older man in a gray suit.

I called Hanifa and Mustifa, Mati and and Tata, Bosnian for mom and dad. And so they were. Today Mustafa joined Hanifa who died several years ago.  I suspect they’re sitting in a kitchen somewhere with two tiny cups of wildly strong cups of coffee, joined by the love of  family they raised in grace, fear, pain, love  and strength.


Gilding in the Lily- Embellishing Novelty Prints

July 21st, 2013

Gilding the Lily Class Sample detailMost of the time, I don’t use prints for quilting. I love them. But I don’t want to necessarily do what they want me to do. And I don’t want to fight them. This batik makes a fabulous start for embellishment. It’s a large, lovely simple print perfect for embellisment.




print for embellishingBut a great print can be a great springboard for embroidery, and a great way to build free motion skills. Pick an exciting oversized print with clear lines and great design and you can dress it up with your stitching like a dolly.

I took this print and some metallic threads and got stitching.



  1. stabilizer sandwich  Make a sandwich: Stabilize your fabric with a layer of felt, and pellon  sandwich underneath. This amount of stitching needs stabilization to keep your piece reasonably flat.



  1. threads   
  2. Pick some great threads. These are metallic Supertwists from Madiera. They’re 30 weight, and somewhat transparent, so they won’t completely obliterate the print when you stitch over it.


  1. stitching feathers2Set your machine for a straight stitch. Use a top stitching 90 needle and a polyester embroidery thread in the bobbin. Use a small darning foot, preferably for straight stitching.



Trace the print with your stitching. Cover as much or as little as feels good.




Pick a contrasting thread to stipple around the print elements. This is a metallic thread called FS 2/20 by Madeira.

thread for stipping






A little stitching glitter can make a delightful print simply magical. Add some stitching to wearables, to your quilting or to make a small wonderful hanging. It’s worth gilding a lily.

You’ll find great prints everywhere, but I have some for you in my Inspiration Kits at my Etsy Store, Raid My Fabric Stash. You’ll find metallic Madeira threads at Gilding the Lily is also a class that I offer to students for guilds, stores and groups. It’s a great way to build your stitching skills!
gilted piece

Couching: Adding Wonderful Yarns to Your Work

July 14th, 2013




We all live and die for thread. But sometimes thread simply isn’t enough! Thicker yarns and cords are the natural extension for a more dramatic line in quilting and surface design. We can use them in a number of ways to accent and accentuate our work.



1Perhaps you’d like to decorate or cover a seam. These yarns are perfect for that.


Light Japanese Lunch

Light Japanese Lunch

Or you might want to create a line that helps complete a visual path through your piece. The small bit of yarn carries your eye right across the surface.



3Or it can function as an element within your design. Here I’m using two thick twisted yarns as branches hanging down from a tree off the edge of the quilt.


Thick threads and yarns are easy to include in your designs! But it isn’t as simple as simply sewing them through the machine. They’re too thick or uneven to put through either the top or bottom of your sewing machine. But they can be couched. The options and possibilities are too wide for simply one foot to handle all of them, but there are all kinds of feet that accommodate different yarns, ribbons and threads so you can use them all.


4All yarns can be couched by hand. But some of us don’t hand sew well. These are methods I find work well with machine couching. In general, couching is usually done with feed dogs up. You can use either a zigzag stitch,a broken zigzag stitch, a straight stitch if it’s aimed carefully, or a joining stitch that catches the middle and both sides. Monofilament nylon will make the stitching invisible. But you can always use a bright colored polyester to add an extra color and texture.



Your Regular Pressure Foot





Thin and bumpy threads: Many thick and thin threads can be couched on with your regular pressure foot
Your regular pressure foot for most sewing has a groove down the center that you can run light yarns through.






Couching Feet
Much thicker yarns take a thread escape.


A foot with a large channel underneath lets the yarn pass through. Again any zigzag or joining stitch can be used to attach it.
 This couching foot with a wide thread escape that let’s you couch on all kinds of thicker threads.This foot also has a small hole through the top to guide medium yarns. Medium yarns pass through both holes easily for excellent control.For much thicker yarns, you can just run them through the bottom of the foot. 


All these yarns run easily through your machine because of the large thread escape in the foot. They were stitched with a joining stitch.


The Braiding Foot


This braiding foot arranges 3 smaller cords or threads into a braid. The yummy pearl cottons I showed you last week are perfect for this. There’s another foot set to braid 5. The Braiding foot with 3 thread channels loads from the top and has a bar that closes to hold the threads in place. You can use either a zigzag or broken zigzag to stitch down the cords. The effect is a flat braid made of your threads.

Sashay yarn

19©2012 Bubbly, Ellen Anne Eddy, 18” x8”>>


Sashay yarn is a new fiber we’re seeing in the yarn shops. Its loose open weave can be stretched and shaped in all kinds of ways. Because it catches on the foot, it helps to have a cut away foot that clears the yarn as we sew it. This foot originally set up for cutaway applique with its single toe makes it easier to stitch down.





It can be sewed straight or in waves, down either one side for a more textural effect or on both sides for a more controlled look.
Couching is a way to put extra fiber in your fiber!  And its sew much fun!

One of the  new Quilting Arts tutorials has a couching video on it. Check it out for more information.

dyed threadsYou’ll find all kinds of cool yarns every where that can be couched. You’ll also find dyed pearl cottons on Raid My Fabric Stash, my new Etsy Shop.



Lost and Found! New Tutorials!

July 11th, 2013

The resurrected vacuum Cleaner

The resurrected vacuum Cleaner

If there’s been a word for this year, it might be purge. It’s been my year for learning what color the carpet is in the office. It’s been my year for finding the top of the dining room table. It’s been my year to discover the recycling schedule and use it. 

All of that is a bit brutal, but it means several good things. One is that I’m clearing out things I really want to lose. I live in dread of the  Horders show truck pulling up to the front.

The other is that there are treasures between the garbage and the flowers, to quote Leonard Cohn. This was one of those. I found the tapes from  last year’s Quilting Arts Show.

Pokey asked me to show several things, We have that very cool buttonhole binding. And I showed some couching techniques you may not know about. I also did a show on the mysteries of darning feet. So now that they’re found, I can put them up for you!


You’ll find these, and other tutorials on youtube and also on my web page at

Are you ready for  Thread Magic Summer School? We’ll learn this year about color, contrast, and drama. Coming soon!

Dyeing for Threads

July 8th, 2013

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday I threw 288 threads into the washer. I had to. I’d dyed them

dyed threadsI’ve never gotten over dyed threads. I started dyeing threads 15 years ago. These are #5 weight pearl Cottons. They work brilliantly in an adjusted bobbin case. And they. dyed like champs. Someone asked how I dye thread, and how it washes out, so here you are.

Of course you have to wash them out. There is no trick at all to dyeing thread. Add color. There you are.

Washing them out. Not so easy.

lumps in the washerEnter the less than lovely lump. These threads have been twisted into lumps and stuffed in black nylon stockings. Once they’re tied, they’re going no where bad. Throw them in the washer with synthropol and softener on the last wash, and you get.

Thread lumps!thread lumps

Once you cut away the stockings, it get’s much more exciting.




thread on shower hook wOnce the thread is out of the stocking, you control it with a shower curtain clip. These are getting hard to find, but they do show up at Lowes. Put them on a hook and hang them up to dry.

Altogether, this is what this batch looked like.




Most of these are for me. But I am putting a small quantity of them on sale at Etsy as kits of three threads in  dark, light and shocker/shader collections.  You’ll find them on my Etsy shop at

Ellen Anne Eddy's Dye Day Workbook cover front for web tnWant more information about dyeing threads? There’s a section on thread dyeing in my book, Dye Day Workbook, available on Etsy as a pdf and available on my web site and on as a paper book. 

Here’s what the threads looked like.



I put them in packages of threes, perfect for embroidery, bobbin work, couching, crazy quilting and hand stitching.

They come in

  • Stone Grey
  • Growing Greens
  • Blueberry Blue
  • Aqua Waters
  • Ripe Reds
  • Tangerine Dreams
  • Glorious Mud
  • Olives
  • Sunflower Yellows

I’ve dyed for thread. Wouldn’t you?

Thank you! Come Raid My Fabric Stash!

June 23rd, 2013

829+jazzed++rice+petals+I ‘ve always been amazed at quilters. I’ve had many people over the years who have told me that what I do is art and I should strictly teach it to artists. That’s only partially true. What I do is art. What we all do, in our own way in creating our lives and worlds is art. And quilters are the finest community of the creative world I know. They also have, over the years, created the best education system for themselves that I know of. Quilt guilds are the only group of creative people I know who have an education system where you can learn from the best  experts in the field directly, in short affordable subsidized classes. Or that support the artists in their field.

Last week I went to you as quilters for help. You overwhelmed me with your kindness and your generosity. I’ve sold a number of small works and am in the process of destashing my studio to pay for my latest batch of medical bills. 

886 Bubbly

It continues on. I’m still in process. There’s still mountains of fabrics in the studio. And the bills are still being figured. I’m not out of the woods yet. But I feel so much better knowing how kind and decent the people I’ve worked with are. 

I’ve continued to put up more work at deeply discounted prices on the Etsy Shop. Those prices will be reflected on the web site as well.

I also have some amazing kits and scrap bags I’m putting together.

Most people know I’m a hand-dye junkie. I’ve dyed fabric for years and prefer my own because it gives me the light sources and landscapes I  find vital for my work. I do dye fabric for people, when asked.

But I also have a mountain of collected sheers and prints. The prints are largely from my apron collection. I have, surprise to no one, a serious need for Kay Fasset and Alexander Henry prints. And a passion for Halloween fabric.

So all of that is reflected in the bags of scraps and kits I’m putting up on my new Etsy Shop, Raid My Fabric Stash. If you’ve ever wished you had my fabric, this is that time.

Please come visit. I’m putting up new things each day. 

And thank you for the support and love you’ve always given me as a fellow quilter. You are the best people on earth.

Ellen Anne Eddy

Raid My Fabric Stash: A New Etsy Store

June 16th, 2013


The resurrected vacuum Cleaner

The resurrected vacuum Cleaner


New Etsy Store

New Etsy Store





I have just risen triumphant over my vacuum cleaner again.Those who know me know there is a ritual vacuum cleaning in my house once every seven years, if needed. It’s not quite that bad but close. I have to have a task I really don’t want to do do get around to vacuuming first. Say like cleaning out the basement cat pottie. Digging out the 85 rogue dock plants on the side yard.  Finding what really is in the refrigerator.

I got all the dogs into the yard to avoid attack mode on either side. And turned it on.

The noise was astonishing. The response, not so much. The little tornado inside simply didn’t step up. So I turned it on its head and went about a game called “What’s your mechanical perversion?” Usually that’s a one to five minute round  exercise.

Not this time. It didn’t take long to discover the cloth bedroom slipper stuck in the rotor. Pulled that  out. Fired it up. More non-action.

So we attacked with a screw driver to find the busted belt and there is was.  A trip off to the store and back, belt in my pocket. Got the belt on and still no action.

So as a final act, I took the broom handle out for a walk and jammed it up  the hose. All the way.

Out popped an odd and awful thing that I think once was a chunk of wood. It’s now sucking in a much more acceptable way.

ellen webThe point to all of this is that it ought to easier. Sometimes it simply isn’t. It isn’t like there’s a simple fix. There’s the round after round of hits and answers to those hits that in themselves should be small, but as a group, they’re devastating. And one fix alone won’t do it. 

I’ve just had this happen in a medical way as well. Two months ago I ended up briefly in the hospital for what looked like a heart attack. It turns out I have massive high blood pressure which can easily be medically controlled.  But, because of the medical systems in place, my only option to discover this was an emergency room visit and an overnight hospitalization. 

I’m healing and my meds are regularized. But the financial consequences are overwhelming.  I’m in the process of negotiating that, but in that economy it may still be career ending.  As a working person with a small amount of money, there is no chance of medical monetary aid. As a single self employed person there is no way to purchase meaningful insurance. I am uninsured and pretty sure that the hospital will demand what I have, even if it impoverishes me and takes my studio.

eddy class brochure_Page_01webSo, like the vacuum cleaner, I have a few simple tools. I am still able to teach and am delighted to continue that. It’s been my life. I hope it continues to be my life. If your guild, group or store would like me to teach, that would be wonderful. You’ll a find a complete list of classes on my site  and a full class catalog on  on




I have a mountain of fabric that I’ve collected over the years. I’m going to begin to destash, and I invite you to Raid My Fabric Stash, a new Etsy store started by my truly desperate self. And remind you that I have the mother of all stash of sheers, hand dyes, and other wonders. I invite you to raid my stash. We’ll have new offerings up every week. We’re starting with some fabric/fiber inspiration kits. More will be coming soon.

If you’ve ever wanted a quilt of mine, this is the time. Check the web site,  see if there’s a piece you would like and contact me directly. I can offer a 30-50% discount depending on the piece. Call me and we’ll make that happen. I’ll also list some pieces on the Etsy site just to see what happens. 

It really should be easier. But it’s not. I don’t like to ask for help. But I’m trying every way I can, to figure my answers out.

Bless you!



Spinning the Color Wheel: A Photoshop Journey

June 9th, 2013


I’m obsessed with color studies. Of course, my favorite present, even as a child was a color chart. I still feel that way. But what I’ve found over the years is that it’s the relationships between the colors that set my heart pitter pattering.

Once you get past the physicality of how you do your art or craft, you find yourself needing to expand somehow. Usually that takes a question. What if? How? Why do we always? Most great or even mildy interesting art asks a question and works through the answers. You can see artists of all kinds ask questions. What if it were really bigger? Upside down? My dream view? My nightmare? Blue instead of yellow? All of that changes our perspective on what we’re doing. And I think, personally, that the change of perspective may be the basic reason for it all. If we see our world as different, then it is. If we can get someone else to see the world differently, then we’ve really changed them at least.

The hard and exhausting thing about this is that often it takes years of work to ask and answer those questions within your work. Sometimes that’s worth it. Sometimes it’s a way to avoid doing anything important while you play in a corner.


Enter the computer age. Instant spelling, communication and in some ways, instant art. One of the coolest tools on the computer is  the computer program Photoshop. Even in it’s lighter versions, it’s the go to program for digital Phototography. It’s a golden oldy. I don’t know anyone who knows Photoshop. But I’ve been learning what I call tricks with Photoshop. Within it is an endless set of tools to manipulate color and shape. Sound like anything we know? As I’ve worked on books for myself and others I’ve needed to know more than just how to size my pictures.

So I’ve been taking classes on, which is a tutorial service on the internet that offers a mind boggling range of videos on anything you might want to learn. This is what happened when they showed me the slider bar on the hue menu. I’m not going to show you how to do this, because it’s simply sliding the  bar around. I want you to see what happens to colors when we change the hue, but the relationships stay the same. And it does an instant abstract just by being colors you don’t expect.

Remember that peoni?


I could have spent the last 6 months making this peonie in these colors. It might have been worth it to me. I still may. But I got to see the changes without that time spent. I picked the  colors directly from the photographs rather than matching them to the wheel. The orange and lime ones are the ones that send me moonward. But then again, I’m always ready for orange and lime. But it’s the relationships that stay pretty constant. What would happen if I did that to the same bug? 

I’m not sure if I learn as much this way, but it seems that I do. I don’t think we know exactly how it works to learn something intellectually and visually, but not through the manipulation of materials.  But it’s six months of experimenting in 20 minutes. That was worth it.


Howard Schatz wrote an amazing book called Botanica, which I believe are a number of photoshop like images slid through different color waves. It’s mind blowing and very good for getting you out of the notion that roses are red and violets are blue. is also mind blowing. I invite you to check it out and see what neat thing you can learn today.

And I hope to see you on the journey.


Ellen Anne Eddy



Lessons from My Garden:Color Musings

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.



Dyslexia and the Modern World- How You Do What You Can

May 15th, 2013

Fall Confetti Detail

Fall Confetti Detail

One of the horrors of growing up a teacher’s child is that everyone expects you to be good at things. And to be good. Good luck!

I made a best effort try over the years being a goody two shoes mixed with just a bit of a smart Alec. But I never could write or spell. At all. My spelling was practically Shakespearean ( meaning any way it could be phonetically guessed at.)

 I was in grad school studying dyslexia when I realized I was one. Is it a gift? Absolutely. It’s a born way to see the world differently. If you can actually show someone else a different world, they are richer by far. If you can show the world that, you can change it. I’ve taken far more joy from my dyslexia than sorrow. You just have to make it make sense to everyone else.

This does not mean it’s not a complete humiliation when you spell the world catalog incorrectly on the cover of your new catalog.

Enter the modern world.

Spell check! Online ( and therefore instantly correctable) publishing! And hopefully a forgiving world of people who know they hired you as a teacher and artist and not a English  teacher.

My mother is surely rolling in her grave. But I hope the rest of you can celebrate this moment of creative dyslexia, corrected by some much appreciated modern science.


New Class Catalog!

May 14th, 2013

eddy class brochure_Page_01webEveryone who teaches wants to find a way to show you all the cool classes they offer are.

 I’ve taught for almost 30 years. And you would think that would be tired, but it’s like the old history joke. The history teacher is asked, “Did you change the test?”  and he says “I don’t have to. The answers changed anyway.

The answers change as you teach. So do the questions. But the best question always is, ” What cool thing can I learn today?”

You also learn that people learn different ways. Do they want to make something? Learn a skill? Work on color theory? Work on design? Just do something silly for 3 hours? Create their masterpiece?

Over the years I’ve crafted classes to fill all those needs. Because I believe in teaching people where they really are and what they really need now. I’ve put together this catalog to help you figure out what you really want to learn and how you want to learn it.






So here’s a fun list of all the classes and lectures with all the materials, supplies, class outlines and available books.

class finder webThere’s even a cool feature called the class finder.

Ask what you’d like to learn and how you’d like to learn it, and there’s a list of classes that will meet your needs.

I’ve done tutorials and on line sharing. But the truth is that nothing is like the synergy of a classroom where you’re energy and that of everyone in the room is focused on what we’re making today. I invite you to experience that by going to all kinds of classes. There’s nothing like the real thing.

I teach anywhere as long as my travel costs are covered.  The way classes happen is if you ask your group for them. Please share this with your guild, favorite store, retreat or art center. Share their information with me. Tell them what you want to learn. I’ll see you on the road.

Find the full catalog at


Redefining Mothers: Past and Present

May 12th, 2013

ellen and zekeI remember the time I was in an airport and a man walked up to me and said, ” Happy Mother’s Day.”  I almost told him I wasn’t a mother. But  he was a total right. If it’s mother’s day, you best enjoy it.

Mothering is not exactly biology. It’s loving. It’s caring. It’s nudging into place. It’s standing in odd places to protect the people we care about. As the family has fallen apart, we have found other ways of being family. It’s just too hard to be alone. But the language hasn’t caught up yet. So in the way we had to redefine friends, lovers and spice, we came up with significant, we need to redefine the word mother .  We don’t have the verbiage yet for other mom’s.

But God bless them all. My mother was screamingly funny, fiercely attached and deadly when she went on the rampage. She taught me to read poetry and quote it, social rules that were mostly socially unacceptable everywhere but in her head, how to do lectures and how to sell ice to Eskimos  If you wanted warm and fuzzy, it wasn’t on the menu.

Enter my neighbor, Mary Annis who taught me to be late, messy, and honor my art. And who spilled love and crafts every where.

I’ve  mothered (or maybe smothered) batches of children who have come through my doors. And batches of dogs and cats, all of whom needed a meal and a lap  in a regular way.

Now my 13 year old neighbor has started mothering me. ” Did you lift your luggage”? 

“No. I just tilted it” You know that didn’t work.

Perhaps one of the jobs of mothering is to give the people and creatures you love, something to push back against. To define you as you have your small rebellions, so that they don’t get so large as to put you in jeopardy. To remind you where safety is and that someone cares.

I hope you had dozens of mothers. I hope you have dozens of children that are yours to love. I hope they love you back. I hope we all learn how intertwined we are, in spite of a language that cannot define it.


As the Stomach Churns

April 29th, 2013

891 By the StreamDo listen to this bit of John Prine. It’s one of my favorites.

I’ve not been blogging for a while lately. I make it a practice not to tell a whiny story until I’ve figured out what’s funny about it. Not that I don’t whine. I just try really hard not to do it in public. There are time when I like my whine with cheese. But I do try to wait for the flip.

This time around I’m still waiting. So I really can’t tell you about the phantom squirrels in the studio ceiling. That’s coming soon. By the time they’ve been there 6 months and you’re having the discussion with the squirrel guy about whether they’re demonic or not and should you call the priest, I think that’s an indication. This should be cooked soon. 

I’ve had some money issues that have piqued my interest in cooking spam for fun and profit because I don’t know that I’ll be able to afford much better. And some medical issues that are mostly resolved but have caused the money issues. I’m waiting for the flip.

What is the flip? It’s that moment when the world goes around. When the horrible and disgusting offerings that come round finally become funny. Or make us strong. Or different. Something.

So I’ve sat in silence trying to find my way out. Sometimes that’s strong. Sometimes that’s constipation. I can’t really tell.

zeke 2I do know that there’s always a flip. Not the one you expect. Not the one you even hope for sometimes. But I came home to find someone ( I suspect my kind neighbors) have put up my porch screen and that Ezekiel the new dog has found his personal calling. It appears he can jump over his four foot xpen with the crate door shut. From a standing position. Which really begs the question, what can he do with a baby gate? Time will tell. The flip can’t be far away.

I’m going to go fight with numbers and take my anti-depressives. It’s a happy enchillada, as they say. And maybe we can flip it over, add chimmichanga sauce and serve it for lunch.



Once More with Feeling: A Series of Your Own and a New Pattern Book

March 11th, 2013



 I’ve spent about a month sharing my series with you. Now I’m going to ask you to share yours.

So, what’s stopping you? Whatever media you work in, be it doodling on envelop backs or marble carving, you can stretch into a series, just like stretching into new jamies. It’s not hard.

If you’re waiting for the golden day when you paint your masterpiece, you’ll wait forever. Here is here and now is now.  So take an idea, run with it, do it again and again, not in search of perfection but in search of new pathways,  ideas and passions. 

Here’s some ways to start working in a series

  • Take an image or an idea you’re passionate about.
  • Do it over and over again.
  • Change the angle.
  • Change the size.
  • Do it in primary colors.
  • Do it in black and white.
  • Do it in every color in the rainbow.
  • Do it in a color you really hate.
  • Do it upside down.
  • Get really close to your image.
  • Make your image really far away.
  • Do three of them in your piece.
  • Do five.
  • Make just pieces of your image.
  • Create your image. Cut it up and put it back together.
  • Do it in colors you don’t think go together. Make them go together.
  • Pick a complementary pair of colors on the color wheel that you love. Move it over two spots. Use those colors.
  • Draw it with really thick lines and no detail.
  • Draw it with tiny lines and immense detail.
  • Segment the image parts and color them differently.
  • Segment the image parts and color them so they shade progressively.
  • Put sheer layers  over your image to put it in sunlight, water, or mist.
  • Try it in a brand new media
  • Try it in a media you tried before but didn’t work then.
  • Cut it instead of draw it
  • Draw it instead of cut it

I hope you’re getting the punchline. Draw, put, try, create, take, do, change: these are all action words. Do something to it. Do something different to it. The world is wide.

eddypatternsforembroiderybookcwYou all gave me the best ideas for a pattern book. It went places I hadn’t thought of and I am very grateful.
This is not the pattern book I want to do that includes color clues and stitching advice. It is just an assist, to act as a springboard, if you wish.  If you’d like a free copy,  you can get your copy  of Patterns for Embroidery, at 

I’d also like to show you off. Would you like me to post your work on the Lunatic Fringe thread? Send me a series of 4 pieces of your work (any media) and a picture of yourself with a paragraph long art statement. Tell me how you’ve explored your series. I’ll  post the ones I find most exciting on my site and link them to your web presence. If you gave me book advice please go to scribd for your free ebook. And thank you!

Send your images and statement to

I can’t wait to see what you’ve done and what you’ll do!

Once More with Feeling: Patterns

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.








Dragonfly Sky Class at Smith Owen’s in Grand Rapids, MI

February 15th, 2013

Even though it’s unreasonably early, we expect a dragonfly sighting at Smith Owens Sewing Center in Grand Rapids.802+Dragonfly+cloud on  February 23rd. You could even take one home!

Here’s the information on my class!

Ellen Ann Eddy is coming to Smith-Owen to teach her most popular class, Dragonfly Sky. It focuses on soft edge applique, angelina fiber, and bobbin work with fabulous thick threads.

dragonfly sEllen Anne Eddy is an internationally known fiber artist whose wall art goes beyond the traditional concept of quilting, and now she is coming to teach you her specialty techniques using bobbin work, soft edge appliqué techniques and more.

Join us for this 6 hour workshop and leave with a beautiful finished wall art and the confidence to do more.

  Saturday, February 23, 2013

Time: 10:00 AM – 4PM
Location: 4051 Plainfield NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525
Phone: 616-361-5484 800-383-3238
Smith Owen Sewing Center is a fabulous Viking/Pfaff store with a magnificent thread and fabric collection that has been a legend in Grand Rapids for years. Join me there for this very fun class day!

Once More with Feeling: Abstract by Accident

February 15th, 2013
815 butterly garden

Butterfly Garden

The best thing about working in series is that it’s fertile ground for all kinds of wonderful accidents. When you’re working on one idea, other ideas pop up. And best of all, there are left overs.
Now left overs for dinner are only as good as dinner itself. If they’re good their gold. If they’re not, it’s likely you’ll find them three weeks later in your fridge covered with light green growth. But when they’re great they lead to great discoveries. And when they’re fabric, they wait patiently for their time, without going moldy.

I’ve struggled for years to abstract my work. It’s not a natural thing for me. But while I was writing Thread Magic Garden, I quilted Butterfly Garden while I was exploring what made a lollipop flower (every child’s first flower) a recognizable flower. It’s either a saucer shape, a group of shapes circling a center or a bowl shape. 


817 Grotto gem detail lI had a left over. It reminded me of those great spring drop flowers like trout lilies and checkered fritillaria
817 Grotto GemSo I put it into a green wet background with spring mist. I like this quilt but it’s not abstract. It’s fantasy. 
824 jazzed c stalk tnWhat brought me into abstract, was breaking down into just petals. When I broke things down into their shapes, I was past just the flower. I made a pathway and put the petals on the path. Instead of making a specific flower, I’d made a shape that was past that.
831-daylily-dance So when I went to do Daylilies, I made C shapes that reminded me of dragon claws.
dd2I put them into bunches that made my flowers and nailed the centers with an elegant spiral. Then I placed them along a pathway,

SAQA Journal just printed my story about Daylily Dance. It could never have happened if I weren’t working in a series, and following blindly where it went.

Thread Magic Garden

Thread Magic Garden

You’ll find all kinds of ideas for creating abstract and real fabric flowers in my book Thread Magic Garden. It’s not just my journey. It’s the beginning of yours.

You’ll find more about working in series on my blog at
Watch for a special offer and a special gift this weekend!

Once More with Feeling: Under the Sea

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: Hummingbird Visitors

February 10th, 2013

Homing Instinct

The seasons pass through with different studio visitors. But my favorite are the summer visitors. If nothing else, they  get to see the garden in bloom. Some of them consider it a ritual seasonal visit. They come year after year, for their pleasure, for my joy.

702 Homing Instinct Detail 1

Homing Instinct detail

I especially love my hummingbird  visitors. Actually he, and his wife, are both emerald green. But I dressed him up with a red head, just because I though he’d like to be formal for his portrait. Why do I know it’s a he? I didn’t look under his skirt. But if it’s a day glow bright bird, it’s a boy.

I was afraid I lost these visitors when my neighbors insisted I take down the day lily garden.  They had come back year to year to those flowers, and I’d never seen them anywhere but in front in the day lily strip.

 Floral Arrangement 24

Floral Arrangement 24

Of course, if one buffet closes, you look around for what’s nearby. They found the back sun garden without any trouble the next year. I was delighted to watch their visit from the back planting rather than from the front porch.


We forget that the things we grow for our pleasure, are survival for the other beings that live in our worlds.  I am honored they keep coming back.



The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily

The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily

If you missed the entertaining and cautionary tale about my garden wars, The Town of Torper and the Very Vulgar Day Lily , you’ll find it on my web site  at or on, 

My hope is that if you cannot avoid your own, you can at least laugh at mine.

You can read more about the Town of Torper at

Changing the Rules. Can You Outgrow a Fairy Tale

And  Telling Stories

Once More with Feeling: Salamanders

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

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.





Now for Something Completely Different: Ellen Goes Crazy

February 5th, 2013
Me and my altar ego

Me and my altar ego

I know. I know. I’m just noticing this now. Well that would be unobservant, wouldn’t it?

Pat Winter and I are opposites in a lot of ways. She works strictly by hand. I work by machine. She has a busy family. I live with cats and dogs. She stays at home. I wander all over the place. But she’s a dear friend and an amazing artist. We delight in each other’s work and world.

patwinterphotoPat is a majorly inventive crazy quilter with a gift for teaching and sheltering beginners. That’s lately been expressed in her Crazy Quilt Magazine. I’m writing a column for her on machine techniques that crazy quilters will find fast, fun and cool.

634 Wind over Water 2The world of crazy quilting is largely a hand stitched world. But there are a lot of reasons for adding in the amazing things your machine can do for you. I’m strictly a machine quilter for one simple reason: my hands don’t work for hand stitching. Don’t feel sorry for me. This is who I physically am.  This is who I’ve been all my life. It’s not a limit. It’s a feature. Instead, it formed me as a machinist. I can do things with my machine you may not be able to replicate by hand, no matter how long you have to work on it. And visa versa. Machine and hand quilting are both incredible tools, neither of them better or worse. But they do have their advantages. Pick and choose your techniques to make your life and art work for you. And never let anyone tell you one technique or another is right or wrong.

We’ve been working to make all quilting an art form for around 40 years. That’s demanded a lot of redefinition.  One of those definitions is about whether things are good or bad technique. Instead of that bold and, in my humble opinion, limited judgment we need to look at the work it self and say, “Is this cool? Does it open new doors? Does it make us all stronger? More able? More capable? How does it expand who we are and what we can do?

There are differing advantages between hand and machine work. I’ll state some of them, but remember that  they’re not global. A hand technique may give you exactly the stitch you want for a piece, but not for another. Look at each work and decide for yourself.  Use what works for you. Ignore anyone who has to make comments from the peanut gallery  

Hand stitching: Pluses

  • It’s quiet
  • Can be done anywhere you can bring it (Car, in front of TV, sewing group,etc.)
  • Relaxing:
  • Inexpensive for set up: all you need is needle and thread


  • Slow: most techniques take a fair amount of time
  • Can hurt your hands (Carpal tunnel, tightened shoulder muscles)
  • Needs high skill level: much of hand stitching improves greatly with practice.

Machine Stitching: Pluses

  • Fast: what you can accomplish is amazingly faster
  • Most techniques are easily learned and take less skill
  • Put’s you and your work in the protected environment of your sewing room: do you want someone in the room asking where the orange juice is?
  • Protects hands and shoulders from repeated action stress
  • Allows people with hand disabilities to do amazing work


  • Takes a machine and the cost of a machine. But not necessarily an expensive machine
  • Has to be in your sewing space. It’s not easy to move it into another room
  • Most people don’t consider it relaxing, although I do

I’ll be providing some machine techniques for Pat’s Crazy Quilting Magazine. The world is wide and we want to you all kinds of ways to accomplish the things you want to do most. Pick freely, try everything, and choose wisely for yourself.

12 couching thin yarnThe current issue has  an article on differing methods for couching yarn.

Next issue , we’ll talk about machine beading.



Check out these earlier posts about Pat Winter

Technology and the Dye Cup Fairy

Pat Winter: It’s Always the Quiet Ones

You’ll find Crazy Quilting Magazine on Pat’s blog site at

crazy quiltingor at

Once More with Feeling: Turtles

February 3rd, 2013
285 Twilight on the Isalnd (1)

Twilight on the Island

My very first pet was a turtle. Margaret decided that since it stayed in a bowl, you could always rinse out the bowl if it went terribly wrong. She was mistook in several ways. I was five, so things did go wrong. But she didn’t understand that turtles do wander. Myrtle the turtle escaped regularly from her bowl. We found her in the bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and the basement. Fortunately she seemed to be unable to complete her escape by going outside. But it was my mother’s living dread was that she might climb up some woman’s nylons during Kalerie Club, my mother’s reading group. My father always hid in the basement for these events. I went over to the neighbors. But I did hear the screams  from there when Myrtle joined Kalarie Club. Myrtle was replaced by other turtles and eventually I was allowed a cat.

Turtles are another form of dinosaur. They’ve been around since then and are such wonderful living rocks. I love the dichotomy. I also wish I could pull my head in and be done with certain social situations. “No, that’s not Ellen. That’s a rock that walked in on it’s own power. ” You can see the appeal.

Here are several turtles I’ve done over the years.

But they are also an exercise in texture. The necks and extremities are full of folds and soft  texture. The shells are hard formations of plates. My favorite technique for this is garnet stitch with thick thread. Soft tiny circles make the skin, and huge bulls eye circles make the shell. I usually use my own hand dyed thread for these.

You’ll find more information on doing garnet stitch on my post A Gift and a Wish, and a tutorial called The Stitch Vocabulary on

Once More with Feeling: Mantis Mania

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.



View Cart | Check Out