Last month I had a vase filled with gorgeous tulips.

04-04-16 Tulips

I took many photographs of the flowers as they opened. This photo inspired the piece I am working on now. I chose to use a method that I learned from Denise Oyama Miller several years ago — she calls it broken color. I like the method and the results I’ve gotten using it before.

First, create a pattern. Transfer the pattern (reversed) onto fusible web, then cut the pieces out. Select fabrics and fuse the pattern pieces to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the pieces slightly inside the pattern line. Place the pieces under the pattern on a piece of background fabric. Here is the pattern with my fabric selections already underneath. Click on an image for a larger view.

05-11-16 Tulips, pattern with fabric under

When all the pieces are in their proper place, fuse the pieces to the background fabric.

05-11-16 Tulips, fabric fused

Notice the lines of background fabric which peek between the pattern pieces — hence the technique name broken color. Now for the stitching.

05-17-16 progress

My progress is slow but steady. This is the first work of this kind I’ve done since moving to Portland last summer, so I’m a bit rusty with my execution. I’m doing more warm up exercises to get back into my rhythm with free-motion work. I also like to tie off my threads as I go — say, every 2 – 3 pattern pieces. I find that I get into less trouble this way. The back stays uncluttered so I don’t have to spend time getting those loose threads untangled in the stitches I’ve done for another section of the work.

05-17-16 progress back

Of course, one has to have the right tools at hand but when I stopped to do the finishing work on the first few pieces, I realized that mine were not in their usual spot on my work surface. Now then, where did I pack those things last year? Happily, it didn’t take too long to find them. And here they are:

05-17-16 tools I use

I found this needle threader on line years ago — don’t ask me where, I can’t remember. But this is the only needle threader that I have on my work table while I do thread work. I’ll be back with progress on this work soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve completed the final notebook cover, the one I’ve made for myself. 05-17-16 notebook done


05-17-16 open


I enjoyed doing the hand stitching on this piece. This one sits in my desk, waiting for the day when I need it.

3-Year Anniversary

Today is the 3-year anniversary of my first blog posting. Keeping a commitment to this blog — really a form of journaling — is part of my sincere wish to be a person who lives in the moment.  Being mindful of what is happening  — the big events as well as the tiny ones — on a minute-by-minute basis, brings a lot of joy. When I am truly living that way, I see so much more.  What some think of as serendipity I think of as being open to seeing possibility and opportunity.

Today is also the 14th birthday of one of my best friends, Mendelssohn. Click on image for larger view.

Happy Birthday MendelssohnHis hearing and sight are not as keen as they once were, but he still brings joy and comfort each day. And inspiration! Did I forget inspiration? See for yourself here.

Today I am wishing for the kind of mindful living that will allow me to recognize the grace I receive in my life.


I think it’s not so much a problem of lack of inspiration for sketching, it’s more a matter of being overwhelmed by everything that could be sketched. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it for now.

For this sketch I played with creating the background wash first. When it was dry I simply put my feet up and sketched. Click on image for larger view.

05-30 SketchThe Sketchbook Challenge uses themes as prompts to get the sketch going. I liked the theme HIGHLY PRIZED and sketched this in response.

06-01 SketchWhen the sketch was done I began jotting down — stream-of-thought — things that are part of my highly prized list.

What will your creative muse be today?

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.

Inspiration Leads to Precious Metals

Remember those postcards I created using the themes of gold, silver and copper? Making those little gems inspired my putting the three together into a larger format. Thinking about all that glitz naturally led to beads. It sounded like such a good idea and then I started beading — that’s 39″ of beading on a 12″ square. This could fall into the “What was she thinking?” category, though, now that it’s done, I’m very happy with it. Here is Precious Metals, hot off the needle.

I literally just finished stitching the label and sleeve on, photographed it and took it to the gallery to hang in Borrowed From Nature, my solo exhibit at Creative Framing & Gallery. It finishes the wall nicely.

Mendelssohn – Creating an Art Quilt

People often ask how long it takes me to create an art quilt.  That is a very difficult question to answer: Each quilt has a unique inspiration and execution time. Some small pieces have taken a few hours or days. Others have been in the making for much longer. Mendelssohn is an example of the later timing.

In March 2009 I took Ruth McDowell’s  class “Designing From Nature” hosted by Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA.  Ruth teaches her method for creating a unique pattern from a photograph or drawing.  I needed this skill in order to make a quilt from a treasured photograph I had of my then 8-week old puppy, Mendelssohn (b. June 15, 2000).  My sister Christy took this photograph in August 2000.  The moment I saw it I knew I wanted to turn it into a quilt.

It took me the full 5 days with Ruth to complete the pattern.  When I got home I put it up on my design wall and admired it.  Then it was rolled up and set aside so that I could complete other work.

I unrolled the pattern March 18, 2010 (Yes, a year later, I know.  The truth is I was intimidated by the pattern and the process.  I hadn’t done this kind of work before and I had to muster courage.) and started working.  The first step was to create the freezer paper pattern that would be cut up and fused to the fabric.  Then — choose the fabric.  This process took a while.  I needed a lot of just-the-right whites.  I thought I would find everything I needed in my stash, but not so.  Shopping was in order.  I went to several stores, then I shopped several friends’ stashes.   By late May, I was finally getting somewhere…

This was a complicated pattern!  The solid yellow lines on the paper pattern indicate the sections.  The dashed lines are sections of pattern pieces that must be stitched together before they can be joined to the pieces next to them; solid pencil lines are individual pattern pieces.  Each freezer paper pattern piece was fused to fabric, then stitched to an adjoining pattern piece.  The freezer paper allows for stability of the fabric and very accurate piecing.  Quite an ingenious method actually.  There were 5 sections to create, then the sections were pieced together.  It was slow work.  I completed the 3rd section on June 3:

Five days later I had the fourth section in hand:

At this point, I remember thinking that I was having more of a success than a failure with this process.  I could actually imagine completing the quilt.  A big “Whew!” moment was savored.  I pressed on, now with a smile.

Almost there June 24:

The quilt top is completed June 28, 2010.

The celebration time was short. I wanted to enter “Mendelssohn” for an October exhibition in Mill Valley. I had to press on to quilt, bind and get it photographed. Once marked, the quilting was rather straightforward. I used metallic thread to bring out his eyes. Quilting was completed in August 2010. Having a goal with a firm deadline is always a good thing.

I am very pleased with this quilt. And “Mendelssohn” was featured in Art Quilts, A Group Show, juried by Jane Przybysz (then the Director of the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles) at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts the month of October.

So, from inspiration to completed art quilt a full ten years flew by. Thank goodness all my art quilt don’t take this long!