Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Appreciation and Renewal

This process we call art -- and life -- can sometimes be treacherous. In order to see and feel and express what we need to we must often take ourselves to vulnerable places. We must grapple with our own fears. Sometimes those fears are so obvious we can almost laugh at them. Sometimes they are subtle, taking the form of self doubt, judgement, etc. We must remain open in spite of them in order to allow what is silently present within us to come forth and show itself creatively in a world that needs us.

At the end of a year we can reflect. We can appreciate what we have accomplished and what we have created. We can appreciate the support of our friends and family. We can appreciate what courage we have mustered in order to be present in our own lives. And hopefully this appreciation will bring about a sense of renewal and a peace that will carry us onward.

I would like to take this time to express my appreciation to those of you who are 'following the silver thread'. Thank for your thoughtful attention this year. Even though you don't see too many posts from me I am grateful to know that you are out there.

I hope you are able to take some time over this holiday season to appreciate and renew. I look forward to seeing you next year.

Many blessings,


Kilchoan, Scotland 2010

Friday, November 18, 2011

Needle In. Needle Out.

Yesterday was one of those days when after several cumulated hours of effort and general failed attempts at a new project an idea easily fell into place. I'm even able envision the completed project, which believe me, doesn't happen all that often these days.

It's a strange feeling to see where a project is most likely going to end up and to know that the process of getting there is going to take hours and hours of slow detailed work. Hand stitching, for some reason, is my chosen technique, or rather the technique that has chosen me, and try as I might to figure out a way of creating in a faster, 'more efficient' way, my project is having none of it.

So I'm doing the work and taking the time that is necessary. Shortcuts, although they have their place, aren't always the solution. Sometimes slow is just the WAY.

Enjoy it and see what comes of it.


wool, silk chiffon, cotton thread. Needle felted and hand in progress. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Afternoon Fragments

Larger projects (unfinished bits of which you've seen posted here) have been demanding my concentrated attention  - so I've not quite felt what to blog.

Stupid anxieties about where it all is going and how it will go and how I make it get there have been draining my energies and I simply didn't want to bore anyone with angst-ridden creative wallowing.

This afternoon I decided to let go of both [the concentrated attention and the creative angst].

Ten minutes of purely spontaneous play did the trick.

Quickly choose, and quickly stitch. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. It doesn't even have to be any good. It just has to be.

And that, my friends, is really enough.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here In the Center

I began this piece several months ago and like many of my pieces it is in process. 

As is often the case before I start to work I got a 'directive' and it was something about circles, the colour green and the number seven. So I chose a beautiful greenish blue silk I used to use quite often and cut and laid out seven circles. I then thought it would be interesting to look up something about colour and number symbols and my first 'hit' on the web was something from the Cherokee tradition.

According to Cherokee beliefs, seven is one of the most sacred numbers. It is the height of purity and represents the seven sacred directions: north, south, east, west, above, below, and "here in the center" --the place of the sacred fire. Green is the colour that represents the seventh direction; the Self - the heart - to be dedicated to purity and honesty. And lastly, the circle is the symbol of Mother Earth, representing endless time, the living world in balance with no beginning and no end. 

I haven't worked on this piece in quite a while, but today I pulled it out again and re-read the information about the Cherokee symbols. I think perhaps I could use some re-connecting with my sacred self. The last few weeks have found me a bit low--chest cold that won't seem to let go, grey rainy Northern English weather, some life stresses that have felt overwhelming. So to be here in the center of the sacred fire feels like a really good place to be.

I'll end with the Serenity prayer, which I had forgotten is part of the Cherokee tradition:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

May you find some serenity in your day today.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Untaming the Tame

It was a phrase that spontaneously came into my mind the other day while sitting quietly in the studio. It was a rectangular piece of upholstery weight silk which has never quite inspired me --too domestic --too 'interior decorator.'

Like so many things in process, I'm not quite sure where it's going, if it's finished, etc. but I can rest assured that it no longer is the bland neglected silk it once was.

Thought and creative practice converging as they will.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Silence Emerges




The soul steadily speaks

Work in progress: cotton gauze, silk and cotton thread, hand and machine stitched

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gift for Sivert

One of my favourite pastimes, as many of you know, is collecting bits of seaside flotsam. When I'm able to use these treasures in the form of a gift, all the better. My new friend, 2 and a half year old Sivert, is the recent recipient of a mobile created from bits I gathered while walking along the fjord where he lives, in Norway.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Silence Continues to Move

"Silence Continues to Move"
paper, ink, pencil
8 1/2"x11"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trust Simplicity

'We've Always Been Here' 
6 1/2" x 11"

When I return to simplicity I experience Grace.
Quiet expansion.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Going with the Flow II

Today I finally set aside time to do a full day's artwork. Bills paid, house clean(ish), loads of laundry done, etc. In general lots of household things that needed tending to were taken care of and I felt clear to really delve in.

I was even ready to incorporate, if not mentally put aside, the noise of the hammers the workmen were wielding to repair our roof. My studio is on the top floor of our house and they are working directly outside my window and above my space.

So, while busily working away - noise relatively under control - I began to feel small bits of plaster and large chunks of very old paint falling on my head and began to see them falling all around my desk. Urgh..... Eeeek...... Stop!

Victorian house. Top floor directly under the roof. Paint and plaster are likely to crumble, and I must admit I too felt a little bit like crumbling. What happened to my art day? What happened to my tranquil, creative space? Why me?

The best thing to do in those 'why me' moments? Move the projects to a safe part of the studio, transplant yourself in another room in the house. Take a moment to create your new space and get on with it.

Just try to go with the flow.

Textile piece: 10"x10" linen, velvet, silk

Friday, July 22, 2011


On a recent trip to France, I showed photographs of my work to some new friends. They were interested in seeing what I did since I had told them I was an Artist. My laptop was with me so I obliged them with a short viewing. As one of my new friends was looking through the photos he commented -  "Isn't is Handicraft? Do you think it is Art when you are making it?"

I wasn't quite sure how to respond. It felt as if his question arose from his disbelief that what I did was Art and the way he phrased his question seemed to somehow belittle my own process, as if I was somehow fooling myself into thinking I was an Artist. I did respond that yes, it was 'Handicraft' (as he put it) and it was also Art. As far as I'm concerned there is no difference.

My friend's question is one I grapple with (when I'm in the position of needing to explain myself to the general public) and I'm sure it is one that many artist/designer-maker/craftspeople do as well. The notion that we must somehow identify ourselves within a socially constructed -narrow- definition, frankly, annoys me.

I like the way the question of Art and Craft is explained, below, by David Revere McFadden, Chief curator and vice president of the Museum of Arts & Design in New York (from the Victoria and Albert Museum web page What is Craft?).

Craft, art, and design are words heavily laden with cultural baggage. For me, they all connote the profound engagement with materials and process that is central to creativity. Through this engagement form, function, and meaning are made tangible. It is time to move beyond the limitations of terminologies that fragment and separate our appreciation of creative actions, and consider the "behaviors of making" that practitioners share.'

Well said. Thank you, David.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All Dressed Up and Not Sure Where to Go

Travel has once again taken me away from my work, so today I am re-acquainting myself with my studio. I find that when I put things away and move things around I clear the way in both my physical space as well as my creative space.

As is often the case, I'm not sure what's next. And I'm not quite ready to dive fully in to a new project....I have to ease in, test the waters, feel comfortable in the discomfort of not knowing what I'm doing.

Thank goodness for the pieces of driftwood I collected on my recent journey. Picked from my favorite beach on Martha's Vineyard I brought a little bit of 'home' back with me to guide me forward.

All they needed to urge me creatively forward were a few cuttings of silk they happened to be resting near.

I feel better already.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Work in Progress

Permission to use pink........Silk, gel medium, silk thread.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sea Foam Dream

She dreamed she was at the seashore. Almost dusk, the fading light from the setting sun shone softly all around her as she walked along the empty beach. Ohhhh, the sand felt so nice on her feet and in between her toes! Bits of driftwood, rocks and shells looked content nestled in the sand. They were just as she felt; at home. As she slowly stepped her way towards the water's edge something mysterious and elegant caught her eye as it was washed ashore by a gentle wave.........

Seafoam green silk chiffon 'necklace' with handsewn copper seed beads. Spontaneously and decorously machine stitched.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Little Unexpected Gifts

Lots of what I'm working on currently is, to be honest, a bit painstaking. Not painful, mind you, but very time consuming, intricate and slow. I don't mind this kind of work. It's a meditative practice. Needle in. Needle out. It just means that each piece takes a while to complete.

Every once in a while, though, I get a little gift of creative immediacy. Yesterday afternoon was just such a time. 

While looking for something in a long forgotten box, a small piece of wood looked up and said 'hello!'  I picked it up, looked up from the box and a small wax covered cotton leaf, stuck of its own accord to the side of a bookcase, chimed in. 'May I join you?' Of course, I thought, and gently took them to the other side of my studio. As I sat them down on my worktable, a string of recently knotted green wool appeared and got in on the act. A little trio was born.

It's small, no more than 6 inches high, but it was made out of a powerful little burst of spontaneous creative energy.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Monday Offering

I offer myself.
Whatever that is. Whoever I am.
I ask nothing but to grow in Your LOVE.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Out of the Box and Up the Wall

I'm pleased to say that I have a fresh perspective on my work. Up to now, I've found it quite necessary to complete pieces in such a way that they are neat and organized, usually within some sort of a frame - whether it be an actual frame, or a quilt a pillow, etc. Thanks to my artist friend, Erin, I've realized this 'aint' the only way to go.

I've tried for weeks to figure out how to finish these leaves....put them on a bed panel? In a quilt? Frame them? Nope. They're done and happily climbing their way up a wall in my studio (next step in an exhibition!)

Sometimes joy just can't be self contained. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Growing Up

Soft silk chiffon and wool yarn have 'grown up' up this simple piece of white cotton muslin. I'm usually of two minds at this point. I feel that it's done. Why would I want to do any more to it? And yet, the power of its need to grow beckons. It's an idea in the making, gently yet strongly awaiting my ability to relax and synthesize.

In the meantime it now 'IS' and that's enough for me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Heart is as Tender as the Earth

I have found the source and it is the beating of my own heart.
Tender as the earth its rhythm is the rhythm of life.
Love moving one beat at a time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Internal Compass

Things in the studio these days continue to feel like a new journey. Silk fabrics that have been languishing in wicker baskets for years are strongly whispering and gently drifting towards my muse. Where they want to go continues to remain to be seen, as they are calling the shots. I'm just the navigator.

I read something related to journeys a few years ago. I came upon it the other day and it still resonates:

At the start of a voyage, prudent sailors write in their log, "From A toward B", not "A to B." That's because they know all too well that conditions may change dramatically during the course of the voyage, so they have to be prepared to reconsider their goal. Survival may depend on their adaptability.

Although working with fabric certainly isn't a matter of survival, it is often a matter of adaptability. The exploration can't be so single minded that we aren't open to new directions.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Into the Woods

I make a new solitary journey into the woods.

Dark and cold, I am encouraged by the sun sparkling through snow covered branches.

Things begin to emerge;
Lichen on the bark of a tree.
Fungus on a rock.

Even though I see no trail I know that I am creating my own path.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Re Emergence

I am re-introducing some earlier work today. This pastel and pencil drawing was posted a few years ago as part of several images and I thought it deserved a new posting of its own. It is currently providing some information for a textile piece I am 'stalking' so it is very present in my mind these days.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Focus and Exploration

Today I was curious to see what happens if a completed piece of work is explored a bit more closely.  For this exercise I chose a very small sketch I drew years ago, which up to now has simply been tacked on my bulletin board providing general visual information.

I played around with it in Photoshop (a first for me!) and was pleasantly surprised at the results.

I'm picturing silk screened fabrics, embroidery, applique, felting. Although maybe not all at once.

Focusing and exploring in this way helped me discover some new ways of seeing.

I encourage you to try it :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't Ask Me Why

Don't ask me why.
I have nothing to say on the matter.
Let it simply be.
Let me simply be.
I need no explanation.