Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Step at a Time

An idea is brewing. If I wrestle with it I can only move it along so far. It wants to bite back and then we get locked in a struggle; me pulling and squeezing and it planting it's heels in deep.

I've learned in these instances to release and move on to something else.

HA! Gotcha!

Idea has landed.


I'm headed in a design direction which really pleases me. I'm working with materials I love: silk and beads, and I'm interested in and challenged by the process of creating sculptural wearable pieces. Each step is a mystery and reveals what needs to happen next.

Sometimes I laugh, however, because what I see needs to happen next is that hundreds and hundreds of sterling silver seed beads need to be sewn on to my purposely wrinkled piece of silk.


Hey, don't question creativity.

Just get on with it.


It usually happens when we're not looking.
Sometimes it feels like we've been pushed off the high-diving board into the deep end.
Others it's simply as if we're floating - body and water are one.
We turn around and things are both the same and different.
We've changed but we're the same.
We've let life in.
Now we get to live it.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Collecting and Gathering

Let me collect my thoughts;
small stones, driftwood, bent and rusted pieces of metal -
beads and silk.

I've no need for memories.
I'm interested in the moment as a gathering up of space
so that time can pass gently through it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Here

A big move. A culture change. A new relationship. A shared space. A shift in context. Letting go of almost everything, yet trusting that the letting go will bring what is meant to be next. Anxieties that come in when you least expect them and bite you on the ass. Let them wash over......

Slowly but surely things begin to settle. The space simply takes work --one project at a time. The relationship takes patience and communication and the ability to remember how to play. Love needs trust to build the foundation and time to build the trust. A new rhythm shifts the dance from one done alone to one with a partner, even if sometimes you're both stepping on each other's toes!

My own work continues to grow even in the midst of upheaval. What appears does so because it needs to be. It can stay still and silent for only so long and then needs to speak, to sing, to dance, to play. I speak and sing and dance, and play along, too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who am I?

My mind will never know.
It's tried and tried, but it's tired of creating what will never be there but in it's own likeness.
(and then will probably change it's mind)

Open the gates of heaven.
Let the mind rest.

Immensity is felt through the spirit.

Too much to do. Too much to do. Too much to do.

Do nothing.

Don't move.

Don't speak.

Just listen.

Just see. Really see.

The birds chirp.

The wind blows.

The trees sway.

There's nothing to figure out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Nature of Letting Go

"I'm about to fall." said the leaf.

"Okay." said the tree.

"Here I go!" said the leaf.

"Goodbye." said the tree.

"Yup, I'm going to drop." said the leaf.

"Yes, I see that." said the tree.

"Wait!" said the leaf.

"What is it?" said the tree.

"What if I get agoraphobia on the way down?" said the leaf.

"I think you can handle it" said the tree.

"What if it hurts when I land?" said the leaf.

"I don't think that will happen" said the tree.

"What if I miss you and all my leaf friends after I go?" said the leaf.

"Well, that may happen" said the tree "But that's sometimes part of the nature of letting go"

"I see." said the leaf.

"So" said the leaf, "I guess I just need to let go and see what happens, huh?"

"Yes" said the tree.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Where Soul Meets Body

It's the birth of a dream and the dream is you
Dug up from the earth
Through it
Of it

Rich soil between your fingers and your toes
The scent of the blossom as it explodes towards heaven

It's your place in the world
Your song to sing and dance with delight

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Near Kirkby Lonsdale

I was softened by the landscape.
Unfolded and unravelled amongst the limestone hills.

A tender piece of me left behind like
sheep's wool caught along the grass.

Earthy Longings

It must be said.
It must be written.
I need to be licked, or lightly bitten.

To bed to bed,
Clean sheets, naughty mind.
A partner between them,
We're two of a kind.

Roll me over in the clover.
Stroke me. Make me sigh.

Spring is near.
My heart is clear,
And so is my upper thigh.

Friday, February 20, 2009


You've now leapt and your heart has quickened. Feel it's beat. It's rhythm isn't just in your body but in everything you see and touch and move through.

Let your experience change you. Let it move in and shift the atmosphere, it's rising tide washing away debris that has collected randomly over a lifetime.

Let it scare the hell out of you.
Let it scare the hell out of everyone who thinks they know you.

You're not here anymore.

On the way to London

Thoughts come now - quickly I must write.
"Rachel Getting Married" - the movie on board flight.
It filled my head with wonder at the grace that must befall,
such a simple human heartbeat while one's back's against the wall.
We find our way through step by step,
As each heart beat sets it's pace.
A spark, a bud, a trickle - there really is no race.
So take your 'practiced powers' as Rilke writes with skill.
It's more than human wisdom.
More than mind at will.
Align yourself with God, my dear,
for life is very short.
Then joy will come to life, my dear,
to practice, like your art.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Getting to the branch

This morning as I was sitting and writing, a squirrel caught my eye. She was perched on the edge of a rooftop, across the street, clearly getting ready to jump onto a nearby branch. She had a direction in mind and needed to go that way -- now.

I could tell she was rapidly choosing between two options: A very sturdy, leafless branch; and about six feet to its left, a slightly less solid landing on a narrow, leafy, pliable one.

Now, normally, squirrels simply leap and go, so it was the hesitation that caused me to observe a little more closely. She was so ready to jump and yet knew that the jump was risky because both landings were further away than your everyday playful branch scurry.

She finally chose the leafy option, and when she leapt from the roof her entire body was thrown into the process. She hurled herself with every intention of reaching her destination. Each muscle strained towards the branch while she was in mid air.

I saw her land safely and go her merry way. Little did she know how her own jump held my lesson for the day.

We all have a destination and sometimes the next step looks a little bit risky. We simply, however, must go. We must take a deep breath and a leap.

Branch 'talisman': Adelaide Shalhope (Found branch, wool yarn, silk, cotton batting, seed beads, thread, citrine)

Photographs: Veselin Cuparic

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Remembrance of things past

A new friend of the blog wrote that she picked up on a 'new-Victoriana' vibe to my work. This really isn't intentional, but she's right.

I am definitely inspired by history, and certainly the Victorian era. Subconciously, my interest could stem from the fact that it was a time of political and social change for women.

Although I'm not making any kind of political statement in my designs, I am acknowledging our connection to the past.......

.....and honoring those women who came before us and 'created the thread' that allows us to speak with our own voices clearly and strongly.
Necklace: 19th c. black lace and jet beads, silk chiffon. Obi: cotton, silk charmeuse, 19th c. jet beads
Photographs: Veselin Cuparic

To hell with it

So what do you do when you've just spent entirely too much time and entirely too much effort trying to draw something a little different, a little out of your comfort zone and all that happens is that it sticks it's tongue out at you?

Tear it into pieces.....

Put on your best "I'm really a 4 year old" attitude.....

....take out a sharpie marker, and GO!

Sometimes a little rip and a tear and a sharpie marker and some 'devil may care' can do just the trick.

Ettore Sottsass has written about how he and his friends started the Memphis group - as an experiment, playing with colors and materials. They wanted to see how they could communicate how they were feeling.

He believes that we should experience the world more like children - through the senses rather than the mind. "What's truly important is to have an open mind and no borders. Then you can do almost anything."

Sounds good to me.

Like the moon rising

It's a silent walk in the woods or a peaceful stroll along the shore. It's seeing a beach stone or a bird in a tree. Something catches my eye. I'm connected.

It's a piece of my fabric sitting on the table, or a random group of beads in a bowl, waiting to 'become'........

.....and all of a sudden, like the moon rising from the sea, I see it and it needs to be.

photos: Veselin Cuparic

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The difference, for me, in the process of drawing, as oppposed to creating textile pieces, is that I have NO IDEA what I'm going to draw before I begin. I don't plan anything out. I don't think "Hey, I'm gonna draw some kind of flower-type thing, man." I simply put pencil and pastel to paper. The pencil makes the first line --the first line takes me to the next and the next, and shapes take form and color emerges, and at a certain point I know I'm done with a drawing.

There's an enormous amount of Trust in this process, and I write Trust with a capitol T because I feel like it's the Big Trust. It's the Trust in one's self, in one's own process, in one's own heart opening up to what it needs to express.

That Trust happens in the first step, and then the next and the next. It certainly doesn't mean that we don't plan. Of course we do, but as John Steinbeck wrote in Of Mice and Men "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."

Perhaps if we paid a little more attention to what is actually happening as the plan emerges, other than simply sticking strictly to the plan itself, we'd fine we were less 'awry.'

Who knows where we would end up, eh?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Simple Gifts

We live in complex times. We want more than we have and we have more than we often need. Yet we think that having more and wanting more will make us, somehow, better.

If we simply slow down and look and listen to what is emerging from simplicity, we'll find that we have all we truly need, and that there is really nothing to want.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Many of you may have noticed that the musical arrangement of this Shaker poem was played at President Obama's inauguration. I think it is the perfect sentiment to move into this new era.

May we all continue to find ourselves in the place just right.

Drawing: Adelaide Shalhope - pastel and charcoal, 19x24"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Silver Thread

This pendant was my first, recent, attempt at working with silver -- a very different medium for me as a fabric artist. I've found that recently, however, I've been 'following the silver thread', which for me means subtly putting myself out of my own comfort zone to explore what I might not otherwise explore, and in turn, unearthing those parts of myself that have been waiting patiently to awaken.

As an artist, designer, and generally 'tuned in' person of a large amount of sensitivity, I often times get 'directives', subtle phrases or images that inspire a particular design idea or simply cause me to pause and think on a subtle, yet deeper level. "Follow the silver thread" was a phrase that literally popped in my mind randomly one morning as I was sitting quietly. Hmm, I thought, how interesting, and what does it mean?

Silver, apparently is symbolic of a number of things:

Single-ness of Purpose

It's a subtle strength because it can withstand all sorts of abuse, including weathering and even heat, yet it can still be molded into desired forms.

I like the message that we ourselves can be flexible enough to be molded into something better, but strong enough to keep our core integrity in tact.

So, I'm following the silver thread of my own life, and this blog is part of that thread. I hope that the postings and photos you see here will somehow inspire you to follow your own silver thread.

photo: Veselin Cuparic

Monday, January 19, 2009


I've recently begun to 'recycle' old cashmere sweaters. Picture the above as a long sleeved, simple turtleneck sweater worn so much that there were holes under the arm. Throw it out? Give it to Goodwill? How silly. Cut off the sleeves. Cut up the middle, and sew small ties of black silk charmeuse, which can be un-tied if you wish.

Now, picture, if you will, a large man's crew-neck cashmere sweater. Your dad or your granddad may be wearing one right now while sitting in front of a fire smoking a pipe.

Now imagine cutting the sleeve to the elbow, cutting it up the front, and sewing the scraps on to the front to create 'ruffles'.

Oh, and don't forget the back.......

Okay, now we're getting a little tricky. Two cashmere sweaters. One very heavy ribbed Banana Republic turtleneck and the other a wrap around. Wash and dry them and ask them to dance together......

photos: Veselin Cuparic

Branches and leaves

I never met a tree branch I didn't like......

or a falling leaf.......

or a dancing one, for that matter......

Images to inspire during a cold and snowy New England winter. Pastel, oil pastel, walnut ink, and graphite...and a little bit of love :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Several years ago I found myself at a crossroads. I needed fresh inspiration for my design work. I wanted to create something different from what I had been creating. I wanted to follow a new direction. My aesthetic was changing. I was changing. I went to London, where I will always go when I want to feel in 'my place' (one of several) and to feel instantly inspired. As I spent the week wandering about my favourite (sorry, had to inject a British spelling) shops, streets, and galleries I kept hearing the phrase "underwater."

I listen attentively to these subtle directives, because they are the 'silver threads.' This one led me to change my design work quite pointedly, and although I'm not going to show you my old work, this is a recent drawing (pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, graphite, gouache) which continues to inspire other pieces.

So, go to the places you love. Wander and listen.

A gift from the sea

Handmade of silk organza, crystal, vintage faux pearls, citrine.
Inspired by the phrase 'underwater', and solitary walks on Squibnocket beach.

photos: Veselin Cuparic

One person's trash

For some reason, this piece of scarred rubber caught my eye during one of my Martha's Vineyard beachwalks. It fits perfectly and naturally around the neck. When I added a touch of blue silk chiffon, a vintage faux pearl, and a citrine gemstone, it became a treasure. How's that for recyling?

photo: Veselin Cuparic

Washed ashore

I spend as much time as I'm able walking alone on the beaches of Martha's Vineyard. The solitude combined with the beauty of the beach, the freshness of the air, and the peaceful rhythm of the crashing waves inspires me and connects me more than almost anything.

I find beautiful pieces of driftwood, stones, shells, and other natural and unnatural items that have washed to the shore. This silk and beaded neckpiece was first in my 'washed ashore' collection.
photos: Veselin Cuparic

Berries on a vine

A year ago, I took a full-time administrative job after working for years on my own to develop a custom textile accessories business. Clearly I don't have the long stretches of unstructured time as I used to, so I've adjusted my creative process to include drawing. I've found that putting pencil or pastel to paper allows an instant satisfaction, a relief almost, that I'm still able to create something even though I have less time.

One morning, on my walk to work, which I use as a time to connect with what's growing in my neighborhood, I heard the phrase "berries on a vine" and heard it several times over the next few days. I'd been working in pencil, for about a year, but for some reason the phrase 'berries on a vine' helped me move out of pencil and into pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, and walnut ink.

More berries

Part of the 'berries on a vine' inspiration, my drawings have begun to morph into more undefined organic forms....leaves? Berries? Little creatures just hangin' out?

A closer look

I like how this looks cropped for a closer view. I can see it imprinted on a large fabric panel, or as a design for a set of dishes, etc......ahhh the design possibilities from a simple form.....