Friday, January 11, 2019


The branching sketch caught my eye as I paged through one of my journals--simple but full of meaning. Perfect for the time of many decisions I found myself in last year.

Purple for the untextured part and then all those golds moving through yellows and browns for the layers.

But funny thing about a simple branching: in one direction it is separation--a decision made, a parting, an individualizing. From the other it is a joining, a strengthening, connection, unity.

And are all those layers of gold building up around the purple shape? Or has that moving shape cut through those layers revealing what was hidden, buried beneath our view?

The name of this small piece (18 x 25") is Experience--a word that holds its own contradictions since it means both a single, often memorable event as well as a slow accumulation of knowledge and life events.

And, of course, you may have come up with an entirely different interpretation--the reason I love abstract work.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Tis The Season

Almost every year I make Christmas ornaments and, since I am still recovering from the marathon stitching event this summer,  I was looking for a design this year that wouldn't require a lot of handwork. As I was pondering this problem, there on my cutting table were some perle cotton leftover ends from my current project that had piled themselves into a pleasing entanglement. So I pulled out my bag of thread ends (yes, I save the ends) and began to experiment. And here is my first attempt:

I created a square from my hand-dyes and then piled thread onto a doubled piece of Mistyfuse and trimmed a bit of the excess off around the shape. Then I held the iron on it extra long, hoping the extra fusible would burn away and held my breath as I removed the parchment paper that protected my iron. Most of the extra fusible was gone and I was able to remove the few curled pieces left with tweezers. Then I peeled the shape off the backing and ironed it to the fabric square. I did tack the design down at a few points with invisible thread and, as a finish, added a bead as a focal point.

This is a little bigger, more complicated design but I worried that the fusible on the back would not be enough to hold the layers. So I tried adding a layer of fusible on top as well but again ironing it enough so that it was not visible on the top threads. It took several attempts but the fusible haze was finally gone and the top threads still were held together. This one was double sided as well.

I made several more, some to sell at the Open Studio weekend and some to give as family gifts--the reason I could not post this until after Christmas day since at least one of the recipients looks at this blog sometimes.

Merry Creative Christmas! And may we each find joy amid all the surprises the New Year will bring us!

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Old and the New

Due to the hard work of Alanna Nelson, a historical signature quilt inscribed with many names from Melrose, MA, is on display at the Beebe Estate in Melrose:

Image may contain: indoor

Surrounding the quilt and the research that gives background to those names on the quilt and their connections with current Melrose residents, Alanna envisioned an exhibit of contemporary fiber art. She enlisted the help of five other fiber artists/friends to create "Stitched Connections." Five of my pieces are in the show and here are some glimpses.

Thread stitched by Sue Colozzi

Collage by Agusta Agustsson

Two of my pieces (Influence and Once) below two of Valerie Maser-Flanagan's

My piece ('Tis a Gift) on left and piece by Sue Colozzi on right

Historic homes with all their fireplaces and woodwork and wainscoting are wonderful places to hang fiber art. And this post is a clear example of the serendipity nature of this portion of my life. If I had taken time to plan ahead I would have realized I needed photos for a blog post and taken long shots of some of the rooms and I would certainly have made sure I included work by the other artists as well ( Janis Doucette and Alanna Nelson). But the reception came at the end of a long week and a busy day and I am left with snippets rather than a fully illustrated post. Ah, well. Next time. . .

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays. Check out some other fiber art posts!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Experiment 2

The end of the summer found me playing with scrunching fabric without sewing it down to give my hands a bit of relief from the intense stitching of the Explorations piece. While I am happily back at work stitching two pieces I had begun early last year, I took some time to play with the new technique as well. The result is "Allusion,"

named for the joining of two seemingly unrelated things.

Originally I had planned to lay down a neutral gray background (I began with black on the first two pieces) and then add lots of color, but I liked the way the gray on the heavy texture was so evocative of rock, of stability, but weathered and changed by time that I decided to let that make its statement. I broke the textured background into two parts, which I also painted with several layers and the piece began to suggest the contrast of flow and connection that represents life. I added a circle for focus but also for the cycles of the seasons, the endless return. And to this piece I added stitching, not on the texture but to add texture to the open space--and to see how stitching and paint interact.

As I was figuring out how to wrap all this texture on a wrapped canvas, I began reading The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin, one of my favorite wise women. I had just declared the piece finished when I read these words LeGuin gives to the main character, Shevek: "So then time has two aspects. There is the arrow, the running river, without which there is no change, no progress, or direction, or creation. And there is the circle or the cycle, without which there is chaos, meaningless succession of instants, a world without clocks or season or promises."

Hope this early December week is going well for all of you!

Linking with Off the Wall Fridays!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Show and Tell--with a Bit of Selling

Last week I got to try to make pieces that were not created to go together look like some kind of coherent whole in a small space. Since my studio is not exactly accessible to hordes of visitors, I participated in the annual Amesbury Open Studio Tour by setting up work on three panels in City Hall along with twelve other artists, always a challenge to those of us who don't work in tight series that produce closely related work.

The layout I worked out on the floor at home --

did not translate exactly when I put it up on the panels, but most of it worked:

Since I had done this before, I set off Saturday morning confident that I knew what to expect--always  a bad sign when you think you know the future. The predicted sunny morning became cold, rainy, and windy and a problem with the heating system in City Hall made most of the day uncomfortable for those who braved the weather and downright unpleasant for those of us who had to stay there. By Saturday evening I was asking myself why I was doing this. But Sunday showed me why. The day was brisk but sunny and I ended up selling a few things and having a number of significant conversations about my art and about art and life in general.

Making art is often a solitary experience because, for me, quiet encourages creativity. But on Sunday I was seeing glimpses of threads  of connection as people reacted to my work, I was strengthening the threads that form the community I now call home even though it still feels new sometimes, and I was creating new threads in the community of artists that inspires and encourages me. Like the spider I watched last summer who was diligently and accurately creating her web, I was working on those webs that connect us all in so many ways. It feels good to measure the success of the weekend in terms of making instead of selling.

And if you are still reading, thanks for the company!

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Wandering a New Path

After a summer of intensive hand stitching I was ready for something new. As I caught up on my reading, I came across Sue Bleiweiss' article, "Faux Metal Fabric," in Quilting Arts. It involved lots of scrunching of fabric, something I love to do, and then lots of paint. Since I had two small wrapped canvasses sitting in my studio reminding me I needed to do something for the upcoming 8x8 show at the Newburyport Art Association, it would be a small investment in materials to see where this technique might lead me--and I would perhaps fulfill my commitment to have something to enter in the show.

Sue's instructions called for silk habotai, which I didn't have, but I did have some silk organza earmarked for some dyeing experiments but it might work for this. So I began scrunching and ironing the silk until it was pretty thoroughly wrinkled. I added Mistyfuse to two background cotton layers sufficiently large to wrap around the canvasses and then placed the scrunched silk on top and ironed once again. All that texture was looking good!

Sue then slathers lots of black paint on the surface. I found a bottle of black acrylic that I had "won" at the end of a Jane Dunnewold class and that I thought I would never use; it worked perfectly! Another round of ironing followed. Sue's next step covers the surface with several layers of metallic paint so that it flattens out and begins to look indeed like metal. I couldn't let go of all that haptic-ness so I left Sue's path entirely and struck out on my own. I began to envision the metallic paint not covering the surface but highlighting the texture. And all that black was leading me to a question about whether there was hope in all that darkness. So I began adding suggestions of colors here and there and highlighting it all with glints of gilt.

The finished two, now named Hope Regardless 2 & 3, referencing an earlier piece I made in 2016, are meant to hang together:

They also work as single pieces and were hung separately at the Newburyport Art Association. The lighting in these photos highlights the texture a bit more:

And not a single stitch on either of them! My hands thanked me.

Linked with Off the Wall Fridays--check out what's happening there!

Saturday, October 27, 2018


October has been a celebration of a long journey. Last March I was juried into the regional SAQA exhibit Explorations, which required that I create a 50 x 30" piece in my hand-stitched heavily textured technique, the largest piece I had ever attempted in that technique. By the end of May, the date of my last blog post, I was completely immersing myself in stitching in order to finish the piece by the August 1 deadline. I made it! and then managed to put together a lightning talk (another first for me) for the opening reception in October.

Explorations is now hanging at the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, MA, and I am honored that "From the Stillness" is part of this very strong show.

And I could sing the praises of the show for many a paragraph but I would like to spend my brief blog time praising the art behind the show. The main curators of the exhibit, Nancy Turbitt and Allison Wilbur of SAQA, along with Pam Weeks, the curator of the NEQM, were the masterminds and the master artists, designing and organizing and then encouraging and reminding all the artists as the months passed and enabling each artist's space on the wall and in the extensive catalog to be consistent so the exhibit became a coherent whole and yet allowing the information about each artist to reflect her own unique style and contribution.

A panel outlining the highlights of each artist's process accompanies each piece. Dixie Walker and Jeanne Holtzman volunteered hours of their time, as did several other SAQA members, to make this show the success it is. The exhibit is as much a product of their creativity as their own fiber art is.

Twelve fiber artists comprise the current show that runs until December 30 and the works of twelve more will be exhibited in April. If you can't make it to the show itself, the 150 page catalog is available from Amazon under Explorations: Journeys in Creativity

And now on with the rest of my life.

Linking with Off the Wall Friday.