Posts Tagged ‘life as an artist’

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


Artists and Other Prickly Creatures

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

GRANDVILLE 2I received an interesting piece of hate mail yesterday. It’s taken me sometime to process it and I’m still working through that. But the bottom line is that I had gone to a group of creative people who were not my primary art interest (we’ll say they were weavers, because they were not), and my selfish self had shown itself. A really dear friend of mine  who the letter was from, cataloged how I had offended everyone, and how I had no interest in being in a group of creative people because I was selfish and driven and rude.

I was pretty much raised in a barrel as a kid, so it’s not impossible that I was. Most of the manners I have I’ve learned from the kindesses of quilters. I do try. I have my failures.

I can’t quite dismiss what she said, although I have a problem with anyone who wants to tell me how I’ve harmed everyone else. There’s no way to fix that. Tell me how I’ve harmed you, and I will, if I can to my best to make it better.  There was so much rage in this.There was no way to back up, apologise, rework it. Which makes the friendship a dead duck on the floor. At that point there’s nothing to do but sweep things up. 

Then I remembered, they do for a hobby. I do this is a part of my job. I take it out in front of people, occasionally sell a piece, occasionally teach with it, and use it in a daily way.  I’m really not sure most of them do, except in this small class in this group.  And I am sure it puts me in a place where my needs creatively are quite different.

I’ve known so many amazing artists and quilters who were loathed in their groups or guilds. They were like an eye in a hurricane. All kinds of chaos swirled around them. And that was usually the complaint. “They’re self absorbed. They’ve very driven. They’re competitive.  They believe that they are geniuses.” I suspect that I am guilty as charged. It takes an amazing amount of courage to put all this stuff in public. And a huge amount of drive. And don’t forget arrogance.

I’ve believed always that everyone is an artist. It’s part of the human condition. We breathe, we dance, we tell stories, we make art. And what that is is imposing order and beauty on the random ugliness and cruelty that often is part of living. We re order it, redefine it, rework it until we make it something we can live with. Talk about selfish. Well, yes. To do that professionally takes immense drive and  compulsion and probably puts you lacking in the social skills. Because everyone will challenge what you’ve done, or what is worse, ignore it.

I’ve never much doubted my abilities, because I am so often alone with them, so often compelled by them. To doubt them would be like trying to breathe in a vacuum. You can. For a very short period only, you can.

I’m sad for this letter, this judgement, this failure of comprehension on their part and manners on mine. But I understand how threatening it can be to stand next to the eye of a hurricane. Even an older hurricane who’s weathered by time and experience. I wish everyone in this group the joy of their creation, and understand that the chaos of my own is probably not group appropriate. And that my own will have it’s own joys. That will come too.  I’m an artist. It’s an isolating process. I’m prickly like that.

This porcupine is another Grandville image I’ve played with on photoshop. He’s my alter ego today. He’s blue, sc^&*^ed and tattooed, which is pretty much how I feel. Ah, the glamorous world of art!

See Making Layers in Art if you’d like more information about how it was done.



Thank you! Come Raid My Fabric Stash!

Sunday, 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

Sunday, 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!



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.





Clairan Ferrono: Windows in Time

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

I met Clairan  in Hyde Park, IL many years ago. She’s one of the most focused series artists I know of. Most of us artists bounce around from subject to subject like kid in a candy store.

Series art demands a lot more control and focus. It also offers a place to explore technique and content much more thoroughly than the mad dash to the newest thing. Clairan has a quiet steady artist’s heart that drives her in one direction, until she’s displayed and discovered all that vision has to offer. It gives her work a rich consistency I envy. And she knows how to make color glow.

Here are some works from her latest series: Windows into  Time, and The Darkness Surrounds Us, and what she has to say about it.

“I create fiber collages by dyeing, painting and printing fabric I then stitch together. I frequently use applique and reverse applique techniques. I have been working on a series of Windows for several years. The form some of this work currently takes is called Windows into Time. I imagine we can peer through powerful currents of energy to see into the beginning of things.

I often like to work on several series at a time.  Currently I am continuing work on Windows into Time, of which Sedimentary 3 and 4 are part.  Each of these 12″ x 12” pieces uses commercial and my own hand dyed and painted fabric, stitched by hand and machine, and stretched over canvas.  I imagine we can look back into the depths of time and see the features of the earth at their beginnings.  The Sedimentary pieces speak to my love for and fascination with rocks, and strata, and striations.  You can see more of this series in the current (Winter) edition of Art Quilt Studio Magazine.


The second series I am still working on, The Darkness Surrounds Us, was inspired by a brilliant and mordantly funny poem by Robert Creeley, “I know a man.”  In it, the poet asks, “. . .the darkness surrounds us. What can we do about it. . . ?”  We can sing, hold hands, create art.”

More of Clairan’s fabulous windows can be viewed at her site

Clairan Ferrono, Fiber Art,

And on her facebook page at

Ellenisms: Judgements: The Things that Can’t Come Out of Anyone’s Mouth in Class

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Bug Jambalaya

This quilt almost never got finished. I put it in a corner 3 separate times expecting to throw it out. Somehow  I didn’t. I cut it up, put it back together, added flowers and dragonflies. And then added big left over bug bits ( and don’t we all have those lying around the studio?) All the while I had this voice in my head saying the damnedest things. I wont’ give them words. The jist was that I was a bad artist and this was a waste of time. I don’t feel that way now. I love this quilt. I loved it all the way through.

One of the best classes I had in college was a class on teaching P.E. I hate P.E. I hated that class. It was humiliating, embarrassed and I couldn’t see what I was learning from it. Actually I learned quite a lot. It just wasn’t about P.E.

It did teach me about people.We were supposed to be the children for our fellow classmates to teach. We certainly were. We were the rudest, less manageable, most messed up kids you can imagine. We were ourselves. And every judgement made on us we acted out in full. It’s true. Some of us get taller, but we never really grow up.

Since then, I’ve been in several classroom situations where I was the student, and got to see just what you can do to a well meaning group of adults by simply being unkind or dismissive. You can regress them into a room of 8-year-olds who either hate you or others or worst of all, themselves. I had a choir director in Illinois who was practically a poster boy for this. It resulted in a choir so unsure of itself we called them the “Chicken chokers”. If it sounds vile, you got it.

With that in mind I’ve learned there are things that just shouldn’t come out of any one’s mouth in class. It’s partially an anti bullying thing. It’s largely about judging people and what they do. It’s partially that negative tape that plays when we’re tired, hungry or stressed. All of it is just bent and wrong. I always stop it in a class when I hear it.

Here’s a partial list of things I just don’t let anyone say.

  • Personal negative judgments: “I’m dumb.  I’m not an artist. I’m don’t have an eye.” Fill in the blanks. These are never true of anyone. Art is not about intelligence.  And the gift for art is much less vital than the will to try. Being an artist is part of being human. It’s a part of the human genome, which we share with other related species like apes as well. Who are less bright but still do amazing art too.It’s about sharing a vision. Like a nose, everyone has one.

  • Judgments on other people: These come in so many flavors I don’t know where to start. It usually is a joke at 9 AM. What is unnerving is that the same person who is laughing away at the jokester at 9 AM is in tears in the bathroom at 3 PM when their blood sugar dips. So let’s just not. Who do you really want to do that to? Don’t tell me about “not being able to take a joke.” If it makes someone miserable, it’s really not funny.  It’s really worse if it is your friend. Nastier if it’s to yourself.

  • Judgments on work: We’re back to love your ducks. But it’s so true! Nothing happens to your art if you don’t take it all the way through. It may be appropriate ( and absolutely I do this) to stop a project that isn’t working and go on to something else. But keep niggling on the idea. And a piece you take to the end is a jumping off spot for the next thing. Most judgement on art are made formally 50 years or more after the art is done. That’s because we really can’t take it in at first, or know how it will affect us and others. So make things, make more things, and then figure out how great it is 50 years from now. That leaves you free to explore, try, be, do and all the other things we do as children.

Which brings us to the good news about never growing up. The passion and play that fuels childhood is there forever in us. It dims if it’s abused, humiliated or hindered. But it’s always there. And nothing that comes  out of your mouth or mine is going to harm it in my class.

Which leads us to my final word on it.

  • If you wouldn’t say it to a 5 year old you love, don’t say it to yourself or anyone else. You are that five year old. And you deserve to never be judged, harmed, humiliated, embarrassed, or made fun of. So don’t let it happen. I’ll try too.

We build all our reality in our head. We can refurnish someone else’s reality by what we say and how we act, but we are responsible strictly for our own. Except when you’re teaching and you’re laughably in charge.

Taping for Quilting Arts: Epic Fun and Artful Collapse

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ms. Manners for Public Media

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Law, Like Love

Law, say the gardeners, is the sun,
Law is the one
All gardeners obey
To-morrow, yesterday, to-day…..

Yet law-abiding scholars write:
Law is neither wrong nor right,
Law is only crimes
Punished by places and by times,
Law is the clothes men wear
Anytime, anywhere,
Law is Good morning and Good night….

If we, dear, know we know no more
Than they about the Law,
If I no more than you
Know what we should and should not do
Except that all agree
Gladly or miserably
That the Law is
And that all know this
If therefore thinking it absurd
To identify Law with some other word,
Unlike so many men
I cannot say Law is again,

No more than they can we suppress
The universal wish to guess
Or slip out of our own position
Into an unconcerned condition.
Although I can at least confine
Your vanity and mine
To stating timidly
A timid similarity,
We shall boast anyvay:
Like love I say.

Like love we don’t know where or why,
Like love we can’t compel or fly,
Like love we often weep,
Like love we seldom keep.


WH Auden

I’ m still a product of the 60s. Not the late wild sixties where people burned their bras and burned through their ethics trying to find quivering truth with drugs and sex, although that had it’s moments. I’m a product of Miss Manors.

Why? Truth is not always a kindly house guest. So much  truth is subjective. The fact that it’s true in your life does not make it of necessity true in mine.Kindness and consideration can stay longer than three days in my space. Brutal honesty, not so much. Opinion, not really at all.

This poem by Auden is one of my all time favorites. What is the law? What is appropriate? Who holds the keys? Who decides what is and is not acceptable? And why?

We seem to be more divided lately than ever. The separations are political, rude and come to name calling pretty fast in this campaign season. I normally am oblivious. None of that makes dragonflies. But I have to say I’m as frightened with the future as anyone else. And it has political overtones.

I’m a firm believer in multiple view points. I appreciate the differences, because it allows for a correction point when we really are off track. If I have the wrong answer, maybe you have a better one. As long as all of that is functioning, it’s harder to do something that’s deadly extreme. As long as the process is allowing other voices, then no one get’s ignored. But where do we post those? Where to we get to say?

In this day of public media, it’s possible to say it almost anywhere.  But there are those who haven’t noticed that they are not just in their living room when they’re on their computer. What we say on the computer is about as public as Madison Square Garden and 500 times as lasting.

Lately I’ve had a run of experiences where people wanted to use either my facebook wall or blog for their viewpoint. In each  case it was an alternative view I really don’t hold. Yet there it was, associated with me because it was in my space.  And I wonder what Ms. Manners would make of  that.

I had one woman tell me in 7 separate emails that if I asked her opinion  through a group email, I was honor bound to publish it on my blog. It was three thousand miles away from my own thoughts on the matter, and pointed negatively at someone else who had written in. She had a blog of her own. I checked. It hadn’t been entered in for over 6 months. By the time the shouting stopped she’d hit the point of name calling. I had another woman post three negative comments on a facebook post. I unfriended her, because I think it’s inevitable I will offend her. Probably  as we speak.

We view social media as a leisure media. But it isn’t strictly. For any one in business it is the face of their business. It has their name, their brand, right on the top corner.  I get dozens of emails a day telling me how I can maximize facebook, my blog, my pininterest, myspace and my face, all on those social media. It is a business presence. 

So at the risk of being digitally egged, just this once I’m going to ask. Are you obliged to post negative comments  on your site? With your name and picture on it? Do you have an obligation to post stuff you really disagree with? These posts form people’s images and ideas about you. The comments are there as loudly as whatever you originally said. I am all for freedom of speech. I just think that if it’s your voice, and your opinion, your face should be on top the the article.

It’s not like we change people’s minds with these comments. I’ve found that at a certain point, we simply state where we are and they state where they are. Instead it’s a cementing of differences. I just object to it being on a site or space that’s mine. I wouldn’t have posted or printed my original statement if I didn’t care about it. And I would never have gone on their site to post a cheap shot against their viewpoint. I don’t think Ms. Manners would approve.

I will post people’s notes on this. But I’ll only give you one shot each. And after that, I’m claiming my sites as my own.

So I’m back to Auden. In  a world where right and wrong are at best under review, what is wrong with personal space? Much of what we disagree with is fine, as long as it’s not in our spot, defining us. So,  Ms. Manners, what do we do? “Like love I say.” Whatever happened to live and let live?

Of course, perhaps the old saw that you don’t discuss politics or religion needs to come back into vogue. This desire to wash it all in public is, in my own case, perhaps a nervous tick.

Both Blogspot and WordPress offer great free blog spaces for all views.Facebook gives anyone a page. If you need to argue your point,  perhaps it should be said under your picture.

Cara Speaks from the Dog House: Gardening Projects:The Big Hole

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012


Cara Candis Canis

Every dog wants a special sitting spot this time of year in the garden. With a little stealth and effort you can dig a lovely hole that will cool and soothe you all summer long.


  • Look for a place where the ground is soft.
  • Watch closely to see that your mom isn’t looking. She’s not broad minded, and she probably won’t approve.

  • Dig a large luxurious hole that fits you even when you stretch out.


Refuse to sit in it in front of mom. No need to let her know for a certainty you dug it. There are other dogs in the house. It could have been someone else, right?


  • Don’t let her fill it with plants or chips. Training people takes years. You need them to understand you are in charge and that, in the end, you’ll get your way.

Ellen’s not over bright, but we all take care of her. I regularly garden with her, digging holes that are lovely structures and making sure that they stay perfectly fresh, for the perfectly fresh dog.





Experimental Art by Accident: Plumbing

Sunday, May 6th, 2012



All of life is an art form. I’ve always maintained that how we live our lives, structure our stories, organize or not organize our space is in it’s own way a creative act. Sometimes it features beauty, or courage, or growth. Sometimes it’s a rare moment of survival in the midst of craziness. It is, however a creative act in response to the world we live in.

Several weeks ago, my neighbor Liam told me he wanted to make a volcano. Not  a problem. Got a soda bottle, vinegar and some baking soda. Mix and explode. It was a lovely afternoon.

Yesterday,  I recreated the LaBrea Tar Pits pit in my kitchen. Honest to God. I can barely wait to show Liam.

We wash dishes here every six weeks or when we run out of forks, whichever happens first.This time I decided I’d have a clean kitchen for my birthday which was yesterday. At least it’s a novelty

I had a very slow drain and thought it was risky to run the dish hider ( I haven’t noticed that it washes dishes. But it’s very good at hiding them.) I knew it was a dicy situation, so I went and looked up drain cleaning on the internet. As always, every product had at least one one star review and five five star reviews. Thus equipped, I went over to the hardware store and picked up a product I will not name. It was buffered sulfuric acid. Should cut through anything. Right?

Not exactly. Home again and we put it down the sink. Looked good. Made significant noises. ( I always find those encouraging). I waited 15 minutes and ran cold water. Out of the depth black bubbly goo started to rise. And take over one side of the sink and then the other. I went to the living room and started to pray for a faith healing experience. That didn’t happen. Two hours later I had everything from the black lagoon in the kitchen sink except, thank God, the creature.

Then I heard the drip. I looked down to see a streak of black goo on the pipe. Ran to get a bucket from the studio. Ran some more cold water to dilute it.

This situation is what we call a busted comode. Full of something and going no where. When I though again about plunging and plungers, I remembered that we could have sulfuric acid and black goo everywhere.

Back to Liam’s volcano. I got the box of baking soda and started to pour it in. Black bubbles rushed up one side of the sink. The other side burbled in response. An odd black greasy crust formed on the surface, broken temporarily by more bubble action. It went on all night.Blump. Burbble burbble, blump,plip,plip plip. Grirrrirrrgle. A symphony in black tarry substances. More baking soda in the other side. More blurble sounds. It was the symphony of the swamp.

I plunged at 10:30. At 3 am. More burbling noises but no other changes. The swamp is still extant and bubbling at nine am.

Why is this art? It’s too funny to be anything else at this point. But in the middle of this, when I called a friend to ask what to do about it, she said” Have you seen the moon?” No, it wasn’t a non-sequetur. If you’re going to have the worst plumbing night of your life you might as well have the best moon too. And I bet there was a spectacular moon over the tar pits as the dinosaurs went down. You’ve got to enjoy what’s there. And it’s a new form of surface design. But you might not want to try this at home.

So I hope you have a super moon to light your plumbing disasters. I’m also hoping the plumber works on Sunday.

You’ll find more information about the super moon at

Update: The plumber doesn’t work on Sunday. And he thinks it’s the whole drainage system. Anyone wanting to buy a quilt today, contact me and we’ll have a half off sale. 



Bird Speaks from the Dog House: Studio Miracles

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

As always, it’s my job to care for the social well being of all people who come to the studio. I think they lack proper dogs who kiss them enough. I always help with that.

But I also get to see the miracles that happen when you have a creative space. A creative space doesn’t just make objects. It makes people creative. And bless them, we know they need help.

Liams machine

Several years ago, a lady left a sewing machine for my mom. It was an  awfully old Pfaff, before the walking foot mechanism. She said at the time, she’d find it a home. It’s home seemed to be under the counter.




Then her neighbor Liam, who is 11 told her he wanted a sewing machine. Liam is a great neighbor. He comes over, tells great stories, rubs dog tummies, watches Mom sew and has helped make a great new garden bed for Mom. He even helps her find camera and glasses.

There’s a readiness to learning to sew, just like there is for reading. When a kid wants to, that’s the time. Thank God we had that machine ready and waiting. It’s perfect. It’s all metal, tough, strong and solid. And Liam loves to oil and maintain it. To make him feel better I stuck my nose right up his back while he was stitching. You know, I think he needs that kind of support. But it was good his foot was off the pedal.

But that’s what a good studio does. There’s a lady who needed a place to give her machine to. There’s a little boy sewing his heart out. There’s Mom with great and lovely people around her. A studio is a place to create things. But it also creates happy people.

Can you come to our studio? Well, of course. Call Mom first so she knows or you may find her upside down in a dye sink. If you wish to see a clean studio you can make an appointment for 3 years from now. If you to come play, well just come over.

Where are the Guerilla Girls When You Need Them?

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I didn’t start out a feminist. I wasn’t even a tom boy. I read a lot and sewed a lot. Now I write a lot and sew a lot. My life isn’t really much different.

But as a girl I was kept waiting for it to be ok for me to be myself. Being a traditional girl only works if the people around you are willing to be traditionally supportive and kindly. If they make it open season on girls who are socially awkward or not pretty or just a bit over educated, then it really doesn’t pay that little girl much good to cling to traditional roles. I think I had that mostly figured out by the time some guy threw me into the bleachers at a high school dance as a joke. He thought it was funny. Imagine that. I didn’t quite get the joke.

But I have learned that when folk really would like you not to think, have opinions, or God help you, a brain, you’re about to see someone try to throw you to the mat. It doesn’t do any good to say, “I’m just a girl. Why are you doing this to me?” The why’s are impenetrable.  And yet, if you get up and toss them back, you’re a monstrous angry woman. Imagine that.

I like to think that fiber art which is largely women’s art has come into it’s own. Imagine my surprise. The person organizing a show for me advertised my lecture by saying, “And she’ll talk about needlepoint.” When I explained that it wasn’t needlepoint, he said” Needlepoint, fiber art, all the same thing. It’s all thread.” He thought that was funny. Again, I missed the joke.

It doesn’t really matter that I’m an established artist with a 3o year career behind me. It doesn’t matter that work of mine hangs in galleries and museums. It doesn’t matter that over the years I’ve taught thousands of women to follow their own art or that I’ve written over 50 published articles. I could be doing my first book signing, and I would deserve not to have someone diminish my work by saying it’s all the same as all women’s work.  With no disrespect to needlepoint, when men allow that attitude to go passed and unquestioned, do you wonder why women ask what men are for? Once you’ve been consistently dismissed by a group, you lose the ability to care about what they think.

In the 1980’s the Guerilla Girls made a huge statement about how women’s art is viewed. and more important, respected.  What made me a feminist is years of men who have decided to dismiss me and what I do because it’s not useful to them or supportive of their egos. The heart is not a stone. But it can become like one.

The joke here is that as women have money, and jobs, they get to have their own say about what is art. That joke I get.

You’ll find more information on the Guerilla Girls at They’re doing a current show of their many posters. As far as I can tell, we truly need them still.

To Kill A Mocking Bird. To Shine a Light.

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Bleeding Heart from Thread Magic Garden

I’m always astonished by media that changes who we are. I’ve always maintained that we are artists simply by our human birthright. It is simply part of a human soul to sing, dance, draw, write, tell stories, and share the state and circumstances of your life.  If you are a person who lives by and with your art, you hope that is resonates with others. When it does, it is transformative.

I was nine when “To Kill a Mocking Bird” came out. I know I didn’t see it as a small child. I grew up later with it. And this incredible scene has always been my favorite part. Where Atticus, who has just made himself a poster boy for every ugly name a  white person in a small town could own, gets ready to walk out after an epic fail and everyone he has fought for knows what he did, and honors it.  It’s become, in the way of good art, a symbol for me of the cause you have to fight, win or lose. It still leaves me in tears, but tears of pride.

Good art makes symbols for us. It takes us past ourselves. It reminds us of our similar humanity. It can take sides, but it’s real side is someone’s honest face in full light. It’s the illumination of someone’s truth.

Last night I stood in church at the Easter Vigil. It too, shines the light on truth. It’s done, wisely enough, at the change of the year when the cold and bitter time transforms itself into warm breezes and green new growth.

So my prayer and my hope for us all is to find a spot in the sun and grow with the new life, and to find a way to reflect that truth in the art that simply springs out of who we are.

Happy Easter!

The Secret Handshake: New Toys!

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I hate recipes for cakes that don’t rise. You know. The ones with one  absolutely essential element left out. It really offends my sense of fairness. There you are looking at your  very flat cake and wondering  what is wrong with you.  I hate it as a student. I abhore it as a teacher.

I don’t suppose there’s a quilter on earth who hasn’t tried paint sticks by now. I certainly did. Several years ago I bought some rubbing plates and some paint sticks and made a god awful mess on several pieces of fabric. I stuffed them into a box and they went into the archeological project pile, perhaps never to be seen again. 

And it would have stayed that way if I hadn’t been to the Shaumburg Expo. I wandered into Laura Murray’s booth and she very gently told me “You’re doing it wrong.”

This was not an offense. This was a grace and a revelation. She had two gadgets up her sleeve that made paint sticks work for me. I’ve been playing all week since.

My dad had two saying about any task at hand. “If it’s too terrible, too hard or too long, you have the wrong tool. “And  “you can use a hammer as a saw, but it’s awfully hard on the hammer and whatever you are sawing.” So true. The right tool always makes it better.

In this case the two right tools were the Grip and Grip mat, which holds your rubbing place firmly in place.




The second object  was a temporary spray glue. I’m using 505 spray to hold the fabric in place. It makes sense that if either the fabric or rubbing plate are moving around you’re going to get a messed up rubbing.








Now that I know the secret hand shake, I need to figure out where I want to put it and how I want to embroider it. That may  take longer.

Summing up:

If something isn’t working right, go ask someone who knows. There may be a new tool that makes it all better. Or at least possible. This is the moment for moral guidance, information and a tutorial or two. Take it, be glad, please pass it on. And support the people who are generous with their information. They’re pure gold.

You’ll find paint sticks and rubbing plates at both  Laura Murry Designs and at Cedar Canyon Textiles. You’ll also find that great Grip-n-Grip mat that makes it work so much better. And  on both sites you’ll find tutorials and help that will give you the secret handshake.

The Land of Giants

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I’m vertically challenged. This is, at this age, no surprise for me. The tallest person in my family topped out at 5 ft 4. I realized I’d lost a half inch ( they count if you’re short enough) at the doctor’s office. At least I think I lost it at the doctors office. It was there we noticed it was gone.

So much of the time I live in the land of Giants. Most people seem to be so over tall. When  I came out to teach there was a very catchy and unfortunate little song going around called Short People. It was about acceptance but you really had to listen to the lyrics to catch that.  Every room I substitute taught in had a kid who sang it and I developed a tap dance to it I would do as I entered the room.

It’s no surprise that important people have  used short people as fools, buffoons,  jokes and oddities. What is cool about that it alternatively gave them a voice within the power structure. How cool can your king/leader/president/guru be if he can’t listen to what a short person says? They’re little. Are you going to beat up on someone who’s little? It’s really poor pr. And so, we short folk  can speak the unspeakable truth.

Do I speak the unspeakable truth? Not very often. Mostly I stand as the cheering section. Because that, too, is a fool’s place. The part of us that refuses failure as anything but a resting spot, that believes in one more time, that believes that it’s perfect even if and especially it means we do it differently next time, that’s my unspeakable truth. I spend a lot of time shouting it, largely because the people I’m speaking to are actually very high up. I’m also shouting against my own fear.

I went and taped several weeks ago at Quilting Arts. It’s an honor to do that kind of thing. It’s also incredibly humbling. If nothing else, it shot any theory of mine about personal organization in the foot. I tried to find a picture of myself with my mouth shut. There were none.

So when I was in the green room for the Quilting Arts show I was seeing giants. Wonderful Giants!Not just Pokey Bolton, who has opened creative doors for all of the fiber art community in fabulous ways. People with gifts and voices that deserve a cheerleader’s  best. Just don’t ask me to do the splits.



So I snuck in between Judy Coats Perez and Michele  Muska, partially because they were both so tall and it was funny, and partially because its my job to cheer all of us on. Giants all.

You’ll find Judy Coats Perez’s fabulous work and blog at

You’ll find Michele’s amazing felt work on her Facebook page.

You’ll find Quilting Arts at

And you’ll find giants everywhere.


In Praise of Speed

Friday, March 2nd, 2012
Quilting with the Sweet

Quilting with the Sweet

I never cared about fast cars. A little bit about fast guys.  Never about fast bicycles, or the many drugs under that heading. Speed has always just been trouble in a  box.  But fast sewing machines……………….Well, Yes!

One of my pet peeves is sewing machines that are just too slow. There’s a moment for that. The first time you show a five year old how to  do free motion, yes, I do put the machine on slow. Its not likely to happen any other time.

Why? There’s an illusion that if we sew slowly we’ll have more control. Boy, is that an urban legend.

Imagine yourself on a bicycle for the first time. That first time when you are so scared that you pedal slowly. Wobble, wobble,  wobble. Once you really start to pedal faster you find you have so much more control and stability. It’s true of free motion too.

I’m so enjoying my experiments with the HQ Sweet Sixteen. The speed on a long arm/ mid arm machine is what makes the smooth and excellent stitching possible. Slower is wobbling along on my bike.

Nicer than the machine speed is the ability to stop on a dime needle up or down. Fast starts, fast stitches and fast stops make for excellent free motion.

But here’s the really cool thing. I just quilted 7 little quilts in less than one hour. Wahaha!!!!!  My mother would have called that seven in one blow. Take that, Green Giant!

There are things you didn’t know you needed, you really need. 

How Long is your Arm?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

My studio has a new toy in it!

I’ve worked for years with home machines but this is a brand new day. Why am I working with a mid arm?

Well, it’s not like it’s easier to stuff a big quilt through a little hole, but I’m wildly excited about working with long arms and bobbin work.

Bobbin work? YES,  BOBBIN WORK!

Why? There’s a number of reasons for using a long arm/mid arm machine for bobbin work. The extra big bobbin, the speed and the straight stitch only capabilities are all in your favor.

I’m very excited about the Sweet 16 because of it’s size and its sit down capabilities. I played all yesterday, snow and all at Threadbenders in Michigan City with one and took it home.

Wow said backwards.

The home sewing industry has always made multi-purpose machines. But the sewing industry itself has always considered them silly. For good reason. Most of the time you want the machine that does something excellently. If it does one thing excellently, then that’s better than doing thirty things fairly well.

The mid arm is basically a long arm machine without the large frame. But the thing both of them offer is excellent blazingly fast straight stitching. And room to move. And much bigger needles.  Which is the beginning of all kinds of stitched line art. Can you say, Zen Tangling? Bobbin Work? Lily Guilding? I can’t wait.

Moving Day

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

No one ever believes I’m organized. That may because I’m not. I live simply in howling chaos. I also know where mostly everything is. Unless it’s my camera, my scissors,my glasses, or perhaps my wallet.

Perhaps you can see the hole in that theory. I’m trying to be organized and that may well be the best we can do.With that in mind, I’m moving my blog over to my web page at It’s easier for you to find and easier for me to share with you.You’ll find all my blog posts here now at, in one spot

We’ll see you here!

Bad Raps, and Bad Wraps

Friday, January 6th, 2012

I grew up reading the Jungle Books by Kipling, so I’ve always loved wolves. The wolves take this baby in and raise him as one of their cubs. Like most adoptive processes, there’s a bit of cognitive dissonance about the whole thing. He doesn’t fit in well. 

So this video touched me.  It’s about perception and reality. For all of her obvious concern when she sees the wolves, they scatter when she says “Git!” The wolves are not evil. They’re just wolves.

This last year I’ve been working on the issue of bullies. I really don’t want to go to my grave grieving over things that happened when I was seven. And like all really good emotional issues, the opportunities come back again and again until I can find better solutions. There’s two schools of though on this. “Oh no! Not another learning experience!” And, “There you are again!”

Bullies function on a wolf perception.Someone has to be perceived either as a wolf to be driven away or a wolf who will probably eat you. Like most binary systems, it has some serious limits.

It occurs to me that two things have to happen to create a wolf perception. We have to give someone a bad rap. We give ourselves reasons why they’ve done what they’ve done. Maybe it’s true. Often enough, that’s a fantasy too. We just convince ourselves of their bad action and intent.

And then we dress them as villains. Give them  a bad wrap to wear: a black hat, a swirling evil cloak, an evil glint to their eye.

I’ve had it happen to me as well. I’ve had people hand me my black cloak and hat and tell me why I’m a danger.

It’s not that I believe there is no evil in the world. It’s there. Nor do I believe it my job to change people’s choices. I wouldn’t take someone’s path away from them like that. If we don’t walk our path as best we can, we won’t learn from it. 

But after years of dressing people in bad wraps and giving them bad raps and being dressed in the same, it occurs to me that they might just scatter if I said, “Git!” My perception is power I give or take, all by myself.

You’ll find the Jungle Book at Skip the Disney copies. They’re cute but a completely different story.

You’ll find people who want to dress up in funny black cloaks and be icky and people who want to dress you too in all kinds of odd places. I hope you can say “Git!” to them too.

Thread Magic Garden Is Ready for Pre-order!

Friday, December 30th, 2011
Thread Magic Garden will be arriving for shipment around January 20th. You can pre-order your copy today!
You never really know what a project will take until you see it done. Perhaps that’s good. A good dream well done should take your whole heart’s effort and give you your heart back in return.

When I started this book, I had no idea it would take 2 years to finish. Part of that is that I had to learn so much to do this book.  Part of that is the meticulous process C&T puts into every book.  I got my premier copy a week ago.I’m still scraping myself off the ceiling. It’s past my expectations. I’m hoping you’ll feel that way too.

When I started this book, I wanted to continue what I’d accomplished with Thread Magic. I wanted to show folk ways of adding wild free motion to quilts that set things hearts and imaginations on fire. I wanted to set up instructions that would take you through your own process with this. You’ll have to let me know how I’ve  done when you read the book.
But for those of you who’ve known me in class or in print, you know I don’t give recipes for cakes that don’t rise. I tell you everything I know. I also don’t do anything really hard. I just do things that are time consuming and compulsive.
So here is what we have.
  • Fifty eye popping new quilts in the gallery
  • A patternless approach to design
  • Intuitive applique that makes creating flowers  easy and fun

Tutorials in

  • Color theory for flowers
  • Corded buttonhole  binding
  • Angelina Fiber
  • 6 Free motion zigzag stitches
  • Machine Beading
  • Globbing
  • Sandwich stabilizing

I’m hoping I’ve done a good job of opening doors, traveling a new path, leaving good bread crumbs for anyone who wants to follow, and breaking the best rules I could find to break. See you on the trail.

You can  pre-order your copy of Thread Magic Garden at

The Sprinkles on the Donut

Monday, December 26th, 2011

After years of drawing bugs and frogs it has occurred to me that I’m a bit odd. All artists are, mostly. The ones who look normal pass well.
I’m not that good an actress.

I was at church for Christmas day. The choir at this church takes off for Christmas. I could have sat in the choir pews, but I ended up in the general congregation.

I’m not an alto as a show off. It’s simply where  my range is. I can’t sing the high notes reliably. It happens occasionally, but like Tuesday, anything could happen. So I was singing the alto line, against the bulk of the congregation on the melody.

It’s different within the choir. You expect to hear the part above and below you. The blend is planned and it’s where you belong.
This was much more separate, and more isolating. 

At the end of the service it occurred to me that much of my life is that way: a counterpoint to melodies I can not reach. My plans for the holiday collapsed and I ended up  more alone than was comfortable.

I was speaking afterwards to the choir director who said, “You know, you’ll never be the donut. You’re the sprinkles on the donut. And that’s why we want the donut anyway.

Now the nicest thing about the sprinkles on the donut is that they come in a range of color. They’re practically an edible color chart.

I don’t get to eat donuts either, but I’ve learned to appreciate allergy foods as a visual experience. And I’m an edible color chart! There are worse fates and worse goals.

The Wizard of Odd

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Having fun being weird today? Thank an artist!

Lately, they’ve been playing the Wizard of Oz again. It occurred to me just how much of our language comes from that amazing movie.

Most movies are a cultural moment at best. They expand on a moment in time. What is a classic changes with the wind, but I think we can say that it’s about how it changes the way people think. 

I was going through the number of phrases that the Wizard cemented into my verbal landscape:

  • “If I only had a brain.”
  • “Ding, dong, the witch is dead.”
  • “Over the rainbow.”
  • “And your little dog too.”
  • “I hope my courage holds out. I hope your tail holds out.”
  • “I’m melting.”

And of course,

  • ” Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Frank Baum, the author, had a rather unsuccessful life outside his books. He bounced from one thing to another until he wrote this odd and lovely tale, largely about politics. The politics have disappeared in time leaving a wonderful story about friendship, challenges, appreciating weird and very kind help, and finding your heart. Who would any of us be without it?

That being said, I take heart in this. When someone says, “You quilt, right? Can you make me a bed quilt? In beige?”

I remind myself that my glory and my crown, my hope and my consolation is that I be as gloriously odd as I am. And that if I do it well a small part of the world will shift for it.

Those of us doing our art shift the archetypes. Not purposely, or with cause, but simply by bringing our vision to the world. It’s not something one picks and chooses. It’s simply an act of trust to bring what your heart demands into being. We bring it all to the table and let time sort it out.

Silent Night: Waiting for Wonder

Monday, December 19th, 2011

The season of Christmas is hard and fast, a vicious wild river of people and vehicles vying for more gifts, more money, parking spaces, more immeasurable and impossible holiday glee.

I’m convinced this is a reaction to the dark of the year. I can’t speak for any one else. It has an addictive edge to it I don’t trust. When I try to strip myself down each year to the celebration of Christ’s birth and basic kindness to the people in front of me, without the endorphin pump of extra shopping, sugar and alcohol, I find myself facing all kinds of edgy truths about myself. Much of what runs through your mind in the dark.

Not that I’m a stick about sugar and extra spending. They’re just not good for me. There’s an old saying, “Up like a rocket. Down like a stick.”, which pretty much covers my mental health after any Christmas-New Years week. Since I don’t have the family obligations, I can and often do choose to opt out of the commercial aspect. And anything that takes extra vacuuming, or must be put away unless it’s up next spring. Ick.

I’m an escaped Catholic. I go to an Anglican Church largely because I love the rituals and can think what I like. They don’t green the church (translate: put up the tree) until the Sunday before Christmas.

It leaves time for waiting in the darkness. To push back against the darkness, and it’s nastier little whispers and say, “The Light is coming.” There’s a value in saying that before the light arrives. It reminds us that good and bad, broken and whole what we need is there and right for us.

That all said, I think I’m going to put up an origami bird tree. One I don’t have to take down after the season. There’s nothing wrong with lighting a candle in the dark.

All of the best of the blest for you and yours for the holiday.

Lauren Strach: A Botanical Lunatic with a Plan

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Lauren doesn’t look like a lunatic. She looks like a pink cheeked soccer mom. Look out! Stand back! 

She’s an emerging art quilter who attacks new approaches and techniques with gleeful ferocity. And masters them with passion. Every time she visits me, I find myself flying to my machine, inspired by her intensity.

Lauren says,

“My inspiration, like so many other quilters, comes from nature. 

As a life-long biologist and Master Gardener, I thought I saw nature, but it wasn’t until I embraced my artful journey that I began to really see.  My inspiration is found in the whorls of snail shells, the miniature worlds of mosses and lichens, the rugged nooks and crannies of the bark of the fallen tree, and the intricate shading and nuances in the early spring wildflowers. And, the more I see, the more I see.

The act of translating that vision in line, pattern and color into textile recreations introduces the next level of AHA!  It is an ever fascinating challenge to take the experience of seeing with eyes wide open, to shape it into form. From the fantastical realism of exaggerated insects, to the abstracted likeness of the quintessential flower bud, I seek to uncover the universal codes, to bring them to life with fabric and thread.  Tactile, textile translations of the mysteries of nature, celebrating the wonders of life, that is where I find my inspiration.

Lauren’s work has been showed at both Paducah and Houston. She was a finalist in the $100,000 Quilt Challenge. Where will she show next? It could be anywhere. If she doesn’t send it in, it’s likely 
to fly in on it’s own.

The Distraction Faction

Thursday, December 1st, 2011
I live in dread of distraction. So it is with serious fear that I face the holidays. I have a really low attention span, and I multitask unmercifully, but I know I will leave three out of five of those tasks in the dust. So when the holidays come, I know I really ought to find the floor. 
This year we had a particular reason why that was vital.
This is Tom and Sarah.

This is Tom and Sarah with munchkin. It’s astonishing how something so small can hold your whole heart that tightly.

Keira is at seven months, a bright sunny soul who likes soft boiled eggs, bee bop music, and is working on toy tossing as an Olympic sport. We had visions of what she’d do when she found the dog bones so we at least had to clean that much up. After that it became the search for more suction in vacuum cleaner land.

The weirdest thing has happened to me.   It was bad enough at the baby shower. I actually made a baby quilt. Since it’s out of all my apron prints, it includes ghosts, tigers, hawks, spiders, and beetles. We thought we ought to start her early on those things.

But I’m knitting………………………….!
I was really worried about having been distracted in this way and then it came to me. I won’t really have to have someone pry the knitting needles out of my hands. They come in pairs and I’m bound to lose one sooner or later.

Either way, I’ve been given the ultimate  delight of a tiny hand waving wet spoons and toys at me as I sing her bee bop. Pretty good for a maiden fairy godmother.

Keira lives in Austin with my God kids, Tom and Sarah, They better bring her back soon or, God knows what I’ll knit.

The Lunatic Fringe Rampant

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

It’s official! The Lunatic Fringe is back in  action.
If you are a former Fringe member you know it never goes away. 
If you were in class with me and I gave you your badge, it’s good for ever. Like every sign and symbol, we really wear them mostly inside ourselves.

The Lunatic Fringe Badge is 

  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • Your Purple Heart
  • A Green Lunatic Fringe

Although I make these for people who take my class,you are completely welcome to make one for anyone who needs one, most especially yourself.

How do you know if you’re a member of the Lunatic Fringe?

  • Do you do your art at odd hours and in odd ways?
  • Are people always asking you “What’s that for?
  • Do you neglect housework, yard work, dinner, and paper work to do your art?
    Do you see wonderful inspiration in really strange places and at odd times?
  • Does your heart hurt if you can’t do your art?
  • Do you sew, paint, sculpt, write or whatever like a mad person?
  • Have you ever been rejected from a show or publisher?

These are just some of the signs that you are a member of an elite group referred to as the Lunatic Fringe. They are the artists, writers and crazy people out there doing something wonderful and weird only they can do. Great art comes out of the margins. It comes from people following their dreams in strange and wonderful ways.

Of course they need a red badge of courage. That kind of art takes guts. Of course they’ve earned a purple heart. Creative people  like that get shot at. Of course it’s lunatic. It’s lunatic, brilliant, fun, wild,real, healing, scary and personally vital.

This is not just for artists. All life is art and your lunatic fringe may be in how you garden,  arrange your life, cook your food, write your stories. The lunatic fringe is about acknowledging the art within your life.
I’m putting up a page on facebook for the Lunatic Fringe to strut their stuff. Your fringe is hanging! SHOW US YOUR FRINGE!

If you would like a guest blog on the Lunatic Fringe, email at and tell us how your part of it all.

We’ll welcome posts both on facebook and guest blogs. I’m starting a new blog for the Lunatic Fringe for you to show it all off.
Check out the  Lunatic Fringe Blog 

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