Sunflower Scrap Postcard

I remember mentioning the possibility of more sunflower scrap work in my future. I couldn’t resist doing another one, this time as a postcard.

I used a newly learned zentangle design for quilting on the left side of the sunflower. Rick and Maria have named this design Mooka, in honor of the Czech painter Alphonse Mucha who is celebrated for his French art nouveau style work. The arches that fold inward are easy to create and lend themselves to variation in many ways. I like its easy, flowing style and the fact that is it a continuous line design. It also nicely satisfied the goal of having several designs and several sizes of design in this 4″ x 6″ format.

When I started this postcard, I thought that with a format this small I would need to use much smaller beads in the center of the sunflower. Not so — these are the same beads I used on the sunflower scrap quilts that measure 12″ x 12″ and they are the perfect size for the sunflower, regardless of the finished size of the project. After trimming the postcard to 4″ x 6″ it was clear that a traditional quarter-inch binding was the only way to finish it.

I have mounted it to archival museum-quality mat and taken it to the gallery where my solo show is now. The reception is this Saturday from 6 pm – 9 pm at Creative Framing & Gallery.  See details about the gallery in the right-hand column. I hope you can join me.

At Asilomar — Artist in Residence

I was invited in 2010 to be the Artist in Residence during one of the five sessions that Empty Spools Seminars holds classes at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA. I was thrilled to sign the contract and here I am today.

Arrival day was Sunday, June 17. My sister Christy met me here (she is taking class) and was invaluable in helping me to hang my work and set up my work space in Merrill Hall, a stunning Julia Morgan designed building.  The size of the hall allows for ample space.  The free-standing wall behind my space holds Princess Bliss who came along to keep me company and display more postcards for sale.

And here is the opposite side of that free-standing wall. This also captures a portion of the balcony where we hung my Christmas quilt. It is so fun to see the work together in this large, important space!

Across from my work space Carolie Hensley, owner of Cotton Patch in Lafayette, sets up a pop-up quilt shop. Carolie has been doing this for over 12 years now. What a job! But what a necessary luxury it is for the attendees to have those supplies just steps away from the class room.

I wasn’t kidding — it really is a pop-up quilt shop!

The first evening during the conference involves a gathering in Merrill Hall to introduce all of the instructors and the resident artist. A bit of anxiety here, of course.  I spoke about the events that took me from being one who makes bed quilts to becoming a fiber artist, complete with Power Point images. The first minute or so of speaking the tension was high, then I settled down and began to enjoy it. Whew! It seemed to go well — no one walked out of the hall while I was talking.

Here’s the stage, taken from the balcony.

Following the introductions there was a buzz at my work space with lots of questions about the fabric postcards, my book, how I work. Lots of fun! Janine bought a postcard for herself and her friend who wasn’t able to attend this session.

And Thera took away a couple of things for herself.

What a day this was! Time for a glass of wine with friends. Never idle, Christy finished the first of a pair of socks for her 10-month-old grandson, Oliver.

Life is more than good.

Art for Sale

This headline has been true for a couple years now but I haven’t done much in the way of marketing my work. This week I decided to update my Art Quilt Gallery. It now includes more photos of my work as well as some recent work.

I also realized that I had not created a page for fabric postcards, something I intended to do when I started blogging almost a year ago. I have remedied that by publishing a Fabric Postcard Gallery.

In the midst of this flurry of ‘marketing’ I was asked by another artist to join her on-line gallery at galleribba. Scroll to the bottom of the home page to see the list of artists who have a gallery page. Meta lives in the Netherlands. I became acquainted with her and her work through Postmark’d Art, the international group of fiber artists that I trade fabric postcards with. I’m quite flattered by this invitation. The work I have on galleribba is the same as in my Fabric Postcard Gallery for now. Both galleries will be changing regularly in the future. If you are interested in collecting small art pieces you will want to visit the gallery pages often to see new work.

I hope that you will review my work in the galleries. Please keep me in mind when you are adding to your private art collection or considering a special gift.

More van Gogh Inspiration

I showed you half of the van Gogh-inspired fabric postcards I obtained through Postmark’d Art, the international group of fabric artists I am fortunate to be a part of, last week. Here are the other four of the collection.

Debbie Geistweidt of Texas was inspired by Cypresses. Her fabric collage is covered with sparkling tulle and heavily stitched.

Jan Johnson of Nebraska was drawn to Sheaves of Wheat. I’m sure her part of the country had an influence there.

Janet Hartje of Minnesota used a fused-raw-edge applique technique and Pentel dye sticks to mimic Sunflowers.

Debra Svedberg of Minnesota said that she is intrigued by van Gogh’s use of the impasto paint stroke. She used embroidery floss to ‘paint’ Les Alyscamps. Her focus was to capture the trees as van Gogh did — vivid with autumn brilliance. I’m sure you’ll  agree that she was successful!

There are ten themes to choose from each time we trade. Among the theme choices for our next round of trading are Chagall, Klee and Monet (we seem to be on an artist kick). I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! Now can you see why I’ve been creating and trading fabric postcards since 2004?

van Gogh Inspired

Postmark’d Art, the international group of artists I trade fabric postcards with, just completed a trade with the theme Vincent van Gogh.  I now have a fabulous collection of eight pieces of fabric art inspired by a master painter. Here are four of them.

Meta Heemskerk of the Netherlands created two thermofax screens, one from a Dutch postage stamp and a second screen using Dutch words that she associates with van Gogh. She used the screens to print fabric which she then stitched.

Sarah Ann Smith of Maine was inspired by Willows at Sunset. For her, van Gogh is all about color, spontaneity and line.  In the fall of 1888 he completed the painting and wrote to his brother

My dear Theo, . . . Everywhere and all over the vault of heaven is a marvelous blue and the sun sheds a radiance of pale sulphur, and it is soft and lovely as the combination of heavenly blues and yellows in a Van der Meer of Delft. I cannot paint it as beautifully as that, but it absorbs me so much that I let myself go.

Suzanna Bond of California painted an old linen tablecloth using acrylic paints. She then  cut it up, stitched it and mailed what she called “A Piece of Art.” Here is the full painting before cutting

and here is the piece of art I received

Even here you can see the thick strokes of paint she applied. Can you make out which slice of the portrait I have?

I created a single piece inspired by Starry Night which I cut up as well. I kept #1 of the nine pieces. I wrote about the process here and here. This was actually the second time I have felted a large piece and then cut it up for postcards. I reminisced about the first project — also inspired by van Gogh — here.

I am so fortunate to be a part of this thrilling art community. Postmark’d Art has been going strong since 2004 and, frankly, I think we’re getting better with each trade.

This poem appeared as the daily reading on the Writer’s Almanac May 14th.

On Mondays

by Marilyn Donnelly

On Mondays when the museums are closed
and a handful of guards
look the other way
or read their newspapers
all of the figures
step out of golden frames
to stroll the quiet halls
or visit among old friends.
Picasso’s twisted ladies
rearrange themselves
to trade secrets
with the languid odalisques of Matisse
while sturdy Rembrandt men
shake the dust
from their velvet tams
and talk shop.
Voluptuous Renoir women
take their rosy children by the hand
to the water fountains
where they gossip
while eating Cezanne’s luscious red apples.
Even Van Gogh
in his tattered yellow straw hat
seems almost happy
on Mondays when the museums are closed.

I’ll share the remaining four postcards next week.

Starry Night Done

I swung into action last week working on my project for a Postmark’d Art trade and posted about it here.  The process for me is always one of adding, viewing on the wall, and adding.  It began to look more painterly to me here.

One of the lovely things about felting on the black batting is that it’s easy to steam with the iron and have it come back to almost 100% full size. I steamed from the wrong side to avoid melting the tulle on the front. I’m getting closer to being satisfied with it here.

Beads were in order, then I trimmed and cut the final piece into nine 4″ x 6″ pieces.

And here they are ready to mail.

I used clear MonoPoly filament on the edges because I didn’t want to disturb the design by creating a formal border. I think it’s appropriate that one of these postcards will be headed for the Netherlands. I hope all of my trading friends will enjoy their piece of this larger work.

This is not the first van Gogh project that I’ve done. When I bought my felting machine in July 2008 I was eager to get acquainted with it. I dove straight into creating a swirling sun in the van Gogh style.

As you can see, this was a much larger project creating 21 postcards.  I placed snips of cotton fabric onto white felt, covered it with tulle and needled it. I have traded and sold all but one — the very center.

Work in Progress: Starry Night

Today is the 159th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s birthday. Happy birthday Vincent! The words to Don McLean’s hit song Vincent has been swirling around in my head for several days now and, unlike other times when I’ve found it annoying to have a tune linger this long, I’m enjoying its calming effect.

Postmark’d Art currently has a group making and trading postcards inspired by van Gogh and I’m part of that particular group.  At first I thought I would use one of his sunflower paintings as inspiration but when Janet Hartje sent her postcard with sunflowers I knew I’d jump on my second choice — that wonderful swirly night sky.  And (drum roll) this is another opportunity to use my needlefelting machine. I say it’s Kismet!

Focusing on the top right corner of the sky — it has plenty of drama — I’m using a piece of black batting as my surface to needle wool roving into. I covered the first layer of roving with a very fine netting that has flecks of sparkle on it. Most of it has been removed here.

Hum along with me and stay tuned.

Starry, starry night.

Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,

Swirling clouds in violet haze,

Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue.

Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,

Weathered faces lined in pain,

Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

I was looking through my collection of fabric postcards the other day to create a slide show for the Postmark’d Art site when I came across this lovely postcard that Sherry Boram sent to me in 2006. Sherry is a charter member of this international group of artists who have been trading fabric postcards since 2004. She has a wicked-funny sense of humor, an always-original way of interpreting a subject in fabric and, though we have yet to meet in person, I consider her to be a dear friend.

Don’t over do the corned beef, and, by the way, Happy Spring!

G is for Gray

Not so long ago I was distracted by dryer lint and started running amok. That first sidetracked adventure turned into a successful (by my standards) landscape postcard — affectionately known as the Lint Landscape. Well,  the adventure continued and here I feel I should explain. My fabric postcard trading group Postmark’d Art is in the second round of a trade series based on the alphabet — each round for trading we’ll be using 6-7 letters of the alphabet, members sign up for a letter which they use as inspiration, they create postcards to send to each person in the trade group and keep one for themselves. After four rounds of these trades each member will have a full set of the alphabet. We’re into the second round and the letters available were G, H, I, J, K, L and M. I chose G. While I was felting that first bit of lovely gray dryer lint I hit upon the idea of using Gray as a theme for creating a series of postcards. Not wanting to repeat the same postcard seven times, I began to let my mind wander about the possibilities as I created landscapes. Here’s the second one

That was fun. How about orange?

And gold?

Okay, time to move on design wise and use up the lint. Circles anyone?

And more circles. . .

Fewer circles and the last of the lint. . .

And now for something completely different

So there it is. The creative process beginning with cleaning out the lint trap on laundry day, selecting the letter “G” as inspiration and three different design ideas.

More Lint

Remember the lint landscape from December? I had some lint left over so I felted it. This time I tried something new: I felted it directly to fast2fuse, the double-sided fusible stiff interfacing I use for my fabric postcards. One of my postcard-trading buddies in Postmark’d Art mentioned that she does this.

It worked very nicely! I felted wool roving circles. Next came cotton embroidery floss for hand stitching and last, but never least, beads. Rules to live by: You can’t have too much hand stitching and beading. Because the fusible web on the address side of the postcard was now pretty covered, I decided to add some WonderUnder as insurance for attaching the fabric.

This little project was a lot of fun, I learned several things in the process and I now have a series going.

P.S. My gray dryer lint is gone. Don’t save any for me. I’m moving on.

The Chop Challenge

Last week there was quite a buzz among the Postmark’d Art group about Chops. No, not the kind you eat, the kind you use to sign your art. Jane Davila had a wonderful story she shared about obtaining one while she was teaching in Korea earlier this year. That prompted the question of where one could find someone to make a chop right here in the United States. Sherry Boram found an on-line source which she shared; Kay Laboda found an article on-line with great history and how-to information and a second site which details how to carve your own Chop. Then Sherry remembered that Marjorie DeQuincy uses a Chop to sign all her fabric postcards. “So Marjorie,” wrote Sherry, “do you know any place on your side of the country for Chop-hungry artists to get their fix?”

Well, that did it for me. Marjorie lives near me so I picked up the phone and had a long chat with her about obtaining a Chop in China town in San Francisco. As always, Marjorie had all the inside skinny for me.

Armed with her insights, my husband and I headed to San Francisco last Wednesday morning. We landed parking on the street (unheard of!) and walked by these charming sea creatures. Not there strictly for aesthetic beauty, they keep the skate boarders from battering the cement structure they are on. Note the more blah fixtures on the cement structure just beyond the turtles.

I haven’t been to The City to explore for some time so I detoured to stop by the Ferry Building to see what they had that I couldn’t live without.

Bingo. . . I found a bottle of Sherry vinegar that I’ve been searching for. The trip was already a success! The Ferry Building is such an icon of this city. And so is the view behind the building — the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Onward…Marjorie was explicit about walking straight up Grant Street, the tourist entry to China town. Here we are at Grant and Bush Streets.

Just two blocks up the street I came across Vincent Zhao seated at a card table in front of 555 Grant Ave. He was working on a painted name piece for a woman named Colleen. His sign said $1 per letter but when he finished he announced, “Three dollars, please.” She got a deal! My turn. I told Vincent what I was looking for and selected the Rooster blank from his inventory on the table. I paid $30 for the Chop and a dragon’s blood stamp pad and agreed to return after having some lunch.

Just a little further we came across the Four Seas Restaurant. The menu looked interesting — Chinese cuisine plus dim sum. When I stepped inside the entry to the steep stairway that lead to the restaurant I saw this plaque and decided it was worth a try:

It was Wednesday so we assumed that the hubbub from the rear dining room was the Rotary Club. Another sign at the reception area said that the restaurant has been there since 1960. How could we go wrong? The food and service were good. And there was a delightful group — 40 elementary students plus four adults — dining when we arrived. The whole dining room joined in on Happy Birthday when it was sung for one of the students. When they left, they were in single file and alphabetical order, making it easy for the adults to ensure everyone was accounted for. Amazing.

When we were done with lunch I was eager to get back to Vincent to see what my Chop looked like. And here it is:

and the set:

and Vincent:

As we were leaving China town I noticed this window display:

I know that the color red is considered good fortune but sleeping pigs? I’ll have to look into this.

I’m glad I took the Chop challenge and I can’t wait to use my Chop!

A Clean Slate

This is the time when so many make resolutions, only to set themselves up for disappointment. My friend Suzanne Kistler makes two lists at the beginning of a new year: the first list is of the quilts she completed in the previous year; the second is a list of goals for the new year. I think this is an incredibly healthy approach to the clean slate we’re all given on January 1st.

I’ve come to understand that my one-sentence journaling, and even this blog, are my attempts at living my primary goal: Staying in the moment.

“This — this was what made life: a moment of quiet, the water falling in the fountain, the girl’s voice. . . a moment of captured beauty. He who is truly wise will never permit such moments to escape.”  Louis L’Amour

Here are a couple of my recent moments. The Buddha Hand, almost ready to pick.

Some French ribbons turned into a fabric postcard.

What are your goals for 2012?

“Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed.”  — Corita Kent

To success!

Lint Landscape

The Lint Landscape is done! And I’m quite pleased with it. It seems to have a nice structure, movement and a bit of whimsy.

Whodathunk that a mundane weekly task like laundry could lead to the creation of art? I’ll admit that needle felting has been on my mind lately — but this little landscape would not have come into being if I had not be observant enough to notice the great color of the lint. This has been a great reminder to keep my eyes and ears open to the possibilities that are at hand every day.

In what unlikely place have you found inspiration that drove you to your studio?

Distracted by Dryer Lint

I cleaned out my lint trap the other day and couldn’t throw it out. You see, I usually toss the lint so frequently that I don’t have much to toss. Thanks to my recent slovenliness in this area, I had a nice 1/4″ deep pile of lint in an interesting shade of gray. Well, one can’t just leave lint lying about. I did the only thing I could do….I hooked up the felting machine.

This is rather like punching room-temperature butter. In no time I had a nice “background.”

A simple landscape is developing.

It seems to be calling out for some additional thread work and beads. I’ll be able to get back to this in a day or two. I’m not going to feel too bad about letting this interrupt my threadpainting project — this is a small piece and I’ll be back to the sun print next week.

I’ve felted dryer lint before, but it has been quite a while. I created some bark postcards that were a lot of fun. I never know when inspiration will hit. Perhaps I should let the lint trap fill up more regularly.

More Needlefelting

Yum! I am loving the hand of these needlefelted pieces. Here is the second half of the crewel-embroidered snippet I found. The cording on the edge was tied around a Christmas gift last year. It’s so fun to repurpose things that come into my life — especially in unexpected ways.

And here is the first of two postcards using wool roving. That is variegated silk ribbon embroidered.

I must acknowledge a strong influence from Beki Ries-Montgomery, a Oregon artist I trade fabric postcards with through Postmark’d Art — just one of many artists that have taught me so much.


I’ve turned half of the crewel-embroidered fabric I needlefelted into a postcard. The fabric included a metallic thread stitched around much of the individual motifs, however, after needlefelting the metallic thread was cut too much to leave hanging here and there. So I removed the tidbits of broken threads and added my own bling with some beads. It still looks rich and exotic.

I am beading the second piece of this fabric now and I’m thoroughly enjoying the hand work. Even with the felting treatment, the pile on this fabric is deep enough to bury the beads into it, making handling a very pleasant thing. And what fun it is to use the felting machine again! I will get it humming again soon.

Creative Living is a very good thing

In the past week I’ve received email and phone requests to purchase my book. The interested parties had seen me on TV and were excited about making fabric postcards! A bit of history here…please bear with me.

In January 2010 my publisher, C & T Publishing, alerted me that Sheryl Borden, Producer/Host of Creative Living for KENW-TV, in Portales, New Mexico, was looking for guests. I contacted Sheryl and she replied that my book fast, fun & easy Fabric Postcards and the work she saw of mine on-line looked interesting. We settled on a date in late September for my joining her at the studio to record four segments for the 2011-2012 season.

I had written a book, yes, but I had never done anything for TV. The four 8-10 minute segments I was to prepare would each be recorded in one take. Was I nuts? I was nervous but I figured “Just go for it.” I started working.

I flew into Albuquerque on September 29 and drove 250 miles east to Portales. I arrived just before Sheryl was leaving for the day. She showed me around the studio. The set consisted of a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room and a small sitting area. Guests on the show chose the most appropriate set for their segments. When I teach, I’m usually standing, so I chose to demonstrate at the dining room table. Next on tour: where I would be able to change clothes, meet the cameraman and the receptionist. Then Sheryl told me about the choices for dinner in town — a short conversation there! Sheryl was recording sessions with three guests the next day. I was first so I had to be at the studio ready to shine by 8 a.m.

I was a bit early the next day and went straight to the table provided for my preparations before recording. Nothing fancy here. Watch your step please!

The lead cameraman and Sheryl were the pros; the rest of the staff were students from Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). They all worked very hard at what they were responsible for and did their best to make me feel at ease. Here I am sharing a laugh with Sheryl

Then the cameras were rolling! Here we are talking about the basic tools needed for creating fabric postcards

And in the segment devoted to the techniques one can use to create the postcards I explain what Angelina fibers are

When the recordings were done I drove back to Albuquerque.  My nerves from the day’s events and the high temperatures meant just one thing — I had to reward myself with a swim before dinner. I remember feeling the tension flow right out of my body.

What a great opportunity that was! Thank you Sheryl Borden. Thank you Creative Living.

Postmark’d Art Has a New Face

Postmark’d Art, the on-line community of artists creating and trading fabric postcards through the mail, has a new face! The new site, which now includes a blog, went public  Sunday, October 16th. Karen Musgrave of Illinois and Lynn Chinnis of Virginia, both charter members, are working with me to fine tune the information and ease of navigation on the site.  I’ve moderated this group since its inception in July 2004 (when we became a group and first appeared in cyberspace) and I can tell you that the group is as lively and fun as when we first formed. As fiber artists who are sharing our art and skills with each other, we continue to learn and grow. And we’re all very jazzed about the potential for sharing this infectious form of art making with everyone who clicks on by.

Part of the appeal of making fabric postcards is the opportunity to experiment with new techniques and/or materials in a small format, and to know that these “experiments” will go to an appreciative audience.  A second plus is seeing the techniques and materials used on the postcards we receive.  Many of our members have graciously shared their techniques and those articles can be found on the FEATURED TECHNIQUE page.

I signed up for a trade called “alphabet” this round: Six members, six letters (A-F), each person creates a postcard using their letter as inspiration.  Place your cursor over each image to see the title and name of the artist:

Will the new face for Postmark’d Art launch a thousand ships? I don’t know. But I’m going to continue focusing on the #1 rule we’ve held dear from day one:  Have FUN!