It's nearly November.

It's been quite a while since I updated this blog (so much for my good intentions). We've been working on a tiny bit of remodeling of the house and taken over a great deal of my time. Charles textured the walls and repainted in the kitchen/dining room and I've been working on painting loteria card images on the cabinet doors and sewing curtains. I still have quite a bit of work to do but hopefully, it will be done by the holidays.
I suppose we could finish jobs more easily if we didn't have so many occurring simultaneously. We've been working on the studio as well and have converted one of the bedrooms into the supply storage/my dressing area. So we've been tearing up the last of the carpeting, laying tile, painting and reorganizing, purging and repurposing.

I've also been working on some little projects for C&T Publishing - here are a few of them:

The beads will be coming out again this weekend. I need to finish up the last bits of the Bead Journal Project pieces for this year and get ready for the coming round. Registration is now open for the third round of the project so get yourself over to the website to read the details and sign up!


July page continues

It's been unreasonably hot in the Pacific NW - though I grew up in the midwest, it's been a long time since I've had to live in weather that is in the 90's with 50% humidity. Today the heat is supposed to climb to over 100 which would be a record for this area. I've been thinking about childhood summers spent in Michigan because of this heat and remembering summer vacations that we would take. Quite often we would go 'up north' to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where there were lakes and streams and waterfalls and, my favorite, tourist attractions. I have old photos of me as a child standing next to Paul Bunyon and Babe his blue ox statues, pictures in front of waterfalls and in parks full of cement dinosaurs. One of my fondest memories is the summer we spent at Grand Marais on Lake Superior and walking the beaches looking for agates and visiting places where there were old log slides into Lake Superior and the bowl-like look of the water with their concentric rings in various shades of turquoise, blues and greens. The rings were like the agates in a way. I spent the rest of that summer with my little toy rock tumbler polishing up stones we found on the lake shore. I wish I still had some of the souvenirs from those times - I do, however, have an old silver and turquoise ring with an oval stone quite similar to the one in the upper corner of my July page.

When I started working on the July Bead Journal Project page, I really didn't know where I was going. I hadn't beaded in June and was kind of 'stuck' and remembered what I'd read in one of Robin's books about just picking some fabric, picking and bead and beginning and that's what I did. Now the work is turning into the concentric rings of agates and Lake Superior. I'll have to see where it goes from here, but hopefully I'll finish this weekend.


Bead Muse Returns from Vacation

It appears that my bead muse has returned from her extensive vacation. It's been quite a few weeks since I did any bead embroidery - it just wasn't in me. I puttered with other things but the beads were always in the back of my head. This past weekend as I was organizing some supplies I came across a small bag of various stone cabs and the bead muse suddenly flew into the room and I started stitching again. I'm not certain where this is going but I'm quite pleased with it for now.

The Bead Journal Project is nearly over for this year and a new round will start next January. If you are interested in participating, be certain to check out the website as updates will be posted there. There is also an announcement only Yahoo list that will post updates on registration times. If you would like to be added to this list, just let me know and I'll send you an invitation or go here and join.

I've had a 'little helper' in the studio lately. My baby dog Zakk feels the need to lay on one of the studio work tables so that he can look out the window. He takes over the two cat beds that are there (and the cats are soooo not amused). I think he is jealous of the big dogs because they can just stand at the window and look out but he is so much smaller than them that he prefers to get on the table. He cracks me up.


Missing: Bead Muse

So the bead embroidery fairy seems to have left me temporarily and I can't seem to find her. I have, however, been sewing little fabric collage quilties. Here's another one. This one amuses me to no end. I don't know who the little girl is - I found her image in my 'stash' and loved the little smug look on her face. Someone asked what the number refers to - it really refers to nothing. I found that little ribbon on the floor in the 'art asylum' at ArtFiberFest several years ago and tucked it into my bag. It surfaced again when I was working on this piece. If you knew how much 'stuff' there is in my 'studio' (aka room of stuff), you'd know what a miraculous effort it must have taken for this wee ribbon to work its' way to the top of the heap, so I felt that it needed to be included (along with the odd green safety pin) in this 'badass' quilty.


Happy Birthday Frida (a day late)

I worked on this over the weekend and meant to post it yesterday in honor of Frida's birthday. I'm working through the collage camp videos from KC Willis and learning so much new stuff (I love learning new stuff!). I have about 15 new fabric collages in various stages of completion - most awaiting treasures that are coming in the mail - rhinestones and vintage millinery flowers and hatchets - yes, hatchets - isn't that intriguing?

More later. . .


A very cool thing

As I've written before, I'm participating in K.C.Willis' Collage Camp and Mixed Media Mania classes and am learning a ton and have lots of fun (finished projects coming soon, I promise). Well KC is beginning to offer Studio Retreats right at her very own Lipstick Ranch in Colorado. How cool is that? I'm starting to save my pennies right now because I don't want to miss out on this opportunity. What a great way to have a vacation - I can't think of a better one - KC provides everything you need - no schlepping the sewing machine and a suitcase of supplies across the country. I can tell you from personal experience, that can get to be a real drag. At the Studio Retreats you just show up and make art. Like I said before, how cool is that?

If you want to learn more just go here. Tell KC I sent ya'. And to temp you even more - here's a sample of her amazing work!


Paper and Fabric (and beads?) Oh My!

This is one of the projects that I'm working on in that on-line Joggles.com class with Jane LaFazio. When I first started the project I got a little overwhelmed. Do WHAT? and then huh? - but I plugged along, following the directions (sort of), the whole time thinking "well this is a bunch of crap" and then lo and behold, when I got to the final step I liked it. This is fabric and watercolor paper and a lot of gel medium. I think that I would like to do this again but BIG and in just fabric with a lot of Steam-A-Seam instead of medium. I also think that this needs a few beads? What do you think?


May is finally completed -

It took a good long while but my May Bead Journal Project page is finally completed and I can move on to my June page (though I doubt it will be completed during these last few remaining days in the month). I'm also participating in Collage Camp, taking a class with Jane LaFazio at Joggles and am getting geared up to participate in the shrine segment of Mixed Media Mania. My plate is full, it seems like all the sewing machines are running at once (oh if only I could really accomplish that) and the studio is a giant heap of fabric and trim and beads (with the occasional cat napping in the middle) so I should have something completed soon to share. There are numerous projects in various stages of construction and I need to simply sit down and finish them. I did finish the May page, so there is hope for me.


Speaking of beads . . .

My old friend Kelly is an amazing jewelry artist. When I first started accumulating beads I thought I'd make jewelry but I just don't have the eye for it. I look at a pile of beads and wire and findings and say "hmmmm I wonder if I could somehow sew that together instead?", hence the bead embroidery came to pass. But Kelly has been making jewelry for years and she keeps getting better and better. I hadn't stopped by her website for awhile and when I did I was blown away, not just because of her great jewelry, but because of the amazing contest she is having on her blog. She is giving away her stash - yes - her stash. You know - those odds and ends that you have little bits of or you know you'll never use but someone else would love? Yes, those. Giving them away. Want to find out how you can win them? Go check out her blog - Silver Parrot.


Gone Camping

Well my idea of camping - since 'roughing it' in my book is a hotel without room service, the thought of actually *camp camping* is the furthest thing from my mind when I think of a summer vacation. Instead I've discovered a most wonderful camp experience that I can enjoy in the privacy of my own home (or back yard if I use the laptop) Collage Camp! - how amazingly cool is that. KC Willis of Lipstick Ranch fame has opened an art camp on line - with videos and a community and your own page to post your work, you learn new things and have the opportunity to share and get feedback from all the other amazing folks that are there. We share tips on finding supplies and there's even a section on errors others have made so we can avoid them (like wait for glue to dry before you sew - I've done that one myself a few times). So, if you are interested in fabric collage, check it out.

KC also has some new mixed media classes starting as well - Altered Book Workshop, Altars and Shrines and Works on Paper. I'll probably be taking one or two of those later in the summer - they look amazinging fun.

I really encourage you to try one of the on-class class experiences. I learn a lot and really enjoy these experiences - in a different way than say going to ArtFest, but I learn every bit as much, plus there's the added advantage of working at your own pace and on your own schedule (and not wearing shoes - that helps too). With so many people facing financial uncertainty and not going on a proper vacation, taking one of these classes can be a relatively inexpensive way to have some special 'me' time. Plus there is the perk of meeting new people on line who share the same interests as you. Give it a shot - I know you'll like it.

In the meantime, my plate is pretty full. I'm taking another amazing class from Jane LaFazio at Joggles.com. I had such a great time and learned so much in the last class I took from her (even though I never finished my projects), I had to take another when I saw it posted. The first week was all about painting backgrounds for our little art quilts - I had a BLAST-A-RAMA! I love love love splashing paint around and dug out some stencils and stamps and played with those too. I knew there was a reason I kept so many of my supplies from the old rubber stamping days - you never know when this stuff is going to come in handy. Here are a couple of my backgrounds - if you want to see the rest, journey over to my flickr page

And of course last, but never least, the project most dear to my heart - the Bead Journal Project page for May is still in progress. It seems like I slow down the beading in the summer and summer has amazingly come to the Pacific Northwest. But I am plugging along on the May page and since I have a brilliant idea for June (okay - it's brilliant in my mind, we'll see how it goes), I have new motivation to finish May and begin June. Here's how the May page looks at the moment. Not much more to go and I can put the purple and gray beads away and take out something more colorful


My Studio Wall

We've been doing lots of renovating/redecorating at home lately. Charles has been out of work and between looking for a new job and practicing his guitar, he's been tackling chores around the house - boring things like re-caulking the bathroom and the windows and fun things (well fun for me) like texturing and painting walls. He even rebuilt my range and painted it black. His industriousness rubbed off on me and I've been doing a ruthless purge and organizing of the studio. While most of the projects aren't ready for viewing quite yet - one wall of the studio is ready and I'm so pleased with it. It features art from some of my friends and some of my own as well. It makes it a pleasure to step into the studio, even when I don't think I have the energy or enthusiasm to work. The wall makes me all warm and tingly - reminding of good times with friends and sipping on a cup of coffee and looking at the wall for a few minutes usually gets my muse fired up to get out the supplies and work - even if I only have a short time available. Like Martha would say 'it's a good thing'.


Slow but steady

I've had a summer cold - or allergies - or something that has made it difficult to sit and bead - having my head bent down at 'beading angle' causes incredible sinus pain so I can only work for short periods of time. I've been working on the May Bead Journal Project page a little bit every day for the past couple of weeks and am finally nearing completion which is a good thing because I already have a plan for the June page.


And on to May

I was stumped for the May Bead Journal Project page. Sometimes the most difficult thing is just beginning. I fondled many beads many times looking for inspiration, remembering what Robin Atkins writes in one of her books about just picking some fabric, picking a bead that speaks to you and sewing it on. But it just wasn't happening. Due to many forces the beads weren't singing to me - the only ones I gravitated to were dull, gray, sad little beads because my world seemed pretty gray and dull. And so, I brought out a little pile of sad gray beads and found the little slab of cut stone with some gray in it. Then I of course needed fabric and as I went through my stash I realized that I don't really have any dull, gray, sad fabric but I did find a fat quarter of some dull lavender and grabbed that. I set about to prepare my surface, pre-washing and ironing and tacking on the wool felt backing and began to sew the focal bead when I read the words printed on the fabric "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid". I hadn't really even noticed the print on the fabric before I sat down to work with it. But the words 'be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid' began to make perfect sense for this piece. I started with the knotted up, enclosed focal bead and then started to 'be bold'. It will be interesting to see where this goes.


My April ArtFest Bead Journal Page is done!

And just in the nick of time, seeing as it's the last day of April - oh how I hope Spring really is on the way.

This page was a total departure from the norm for me and was a lot of fun - once I got over the 'it all has to be color-balanced' I had a lot of fun. As I wrote last time, there are many things on this page that were collected during ArtFest, so if they don't make sense to you - well that would be because they really aren't connected in any other way.

Now I'm off to think of what to do for May.


The Dogs

Some of you know that I'm owned by four dogs (well there are six cats too but they aren't quite so demanding). I've updated pictures of them on the sidebar. Irie is my old grumpy bossy girl. Every time I think she's on her last legs, she surprises me by chasing Zakk up the hill. Zeke is the same age as Irie, but since he extends very little energy (i.e. he's a slug) he doesn't seem quite as old. Zeke's best trick is laying down to eat and grabbing everyone's food bowls with his paw and pulling them over to him so he can finish their food as well.

When we got Mushu, my son and his wife were VERY concerned. She's a Tibetan Mastiff, Rottweiler, Pit Bull mix - they were certain she'd be quite vicious - she's anything BUT - she's the sweetest girl in the world and loves to be brushed and to snuggle up with you in bed. Like I always say 'punish the deed, not the breed'.

Zakk? well Zakk is another story - a wild boy - still not totally housebroken but are terriers EVER totally housebroken? He's very smart and very inquisitive and very cute and he totally loves Charles - they are two peas in a pod those two.

And that is the update on the dogs.


April Page

Every year I come home from ArtFest with all sorts of little treasures - mostly gifts and trades. I usually put them in a box and never give them another thought until I'm doing a major studio clean/renovation and come across the boxes and think "well I can't really throw this wonderful stuff out but. . . ". So I close up the boxes and put them back in the cupboard where they stay until I come across them again. This year I decided to incorporate some of my favorite ArtFest treasures into my April Bead Journal Project page. This entire page is quite a departure from the norm for me. Everything about it is pretty random - the color scheme, the 'theme', and again, as always, I don't know where I'm going with it. The orange button with my name on it was my name tag from the event. I cut the back off of it and did a rather free form peyote stitch around it. The square collage in the center is by Randi Feuerholm-Watts. She didn't come to ArtFest this year but participated in a collaborative project that I was in and sent her pieces along with some one else. The 'theme' of this years' ArtFest was "sea monsters" and I really liked Randi's interpretation of that. The slumped glass is from Nancy Drew (yes, that's her real name) and the little button with the painting of the girl is from Sunny Carvalho who taught one of my classes. The small beaded button is from a woman named Sage and all the little polymer clay women remind me of my friends that I only see once a year at ArtFest. My friend Suz made us all 'sea kelp' fuzzy knit scarves - the ruffle is symbolic of the scarf I chose in pastel colors.

I have a whole bag of treasures I gathered at ArtFest - It will be interesting to see how I incorporate them along the way.


March BJP page is finally completed.

I have been sick with a bad cold that I brought home as a souvenir from ArtFest and have been stitching away on my March page which is now finally completed. I also have begun work on the April page - it's a real change from me, incorporating several fun items I received as gifts/trades at ArtFest as well as being another color combination I don't frequently use - orange/peach, light blue, lime green and brown - we'll see how that works out. But for now, here is March 09.


Home from ArtFest

I had a wonderful time, playing with all sorts of media that I don't normally play with and having some bead time as well. Thursday's class was with Sunny Carvalho and while the subject matter wasn't terribly appealing to me initially, I wanted to learn how to use the Genesis Heat Set Paints that she uses for her faces. It was a wonderful class and I even grew to like the little big-eyed girl when I was done. Sunny is an excellent teacher - I just wish the class had been two days so we could have gotten a bit more in-depth about portrait painting.

The second day of class I took another class from Karen O'Brien. I took a different class from her last year and really enjoyed her class and thought I could learn a bit more from her, which I did. The other great part of this class was sitting with my friend Lelainia Lloyd as well as meeting a delightful married couple. The four of us chattered away all day whilst painting and gluing - It was really a fun day.

My Saturday class was with Keely Benkey (previously Barham). Keely is the best teacher, bar none - My friends and I say we would love an ArtFest where it was 'all Keely, all the time' and this class was no exception. Though there were several people in the class who quite possibly had never held a beading needle before, Keely managed to have everyone work at their own pace. I'd never done bead weaving before, in fact, I must admit, I didn't even know the simply peyote or square stitch before this class, but I had lots of fun (with the help of my buddy Sarah) and anticipate using some of what I learned in future Bead Journal Project pages.

As much as I enjoyed myself at ArtFest and laughed until all hours of the morning and survived on far too little sleep and saw friends I only see once a year, I was happy to be on the ferry boat coming home early Sunday morning. And I'm already looking forward to ArtFest 2010!


by the skin of my teeth

I managed to start the March BJP page during the actual month! This page is representative of St. Patrick's Day - the historic perspective of this day that is really a day of religious intolerance in many ways. The driving of the snake from Ireland being symbolic of driving out the old pagan ways. I'm trying to learn more about the world and so did some reading on the history of Ireland and its' long history of discrimination against the Irish people - both in their own country and when they immigrated to America - not all that long ago signs saying "No Irish need apply" were commonplace - can you imagine that happening now? Okay - enough with my history lesson - here's the beginnings of the March page.

I'm off to ArtFest in the morning for my annual battery recharge - lots of eye candy upon my return.



February is finished - I don't know why it took so long but it did - Time to put all the beads away and start on March though I think that I may start April and take it to ArtFest with me to work on there.



plugging away on the February page - I came very close to finishing it on Saturday - I sat and watched "A Streetcar Name Desire", "The Corpse Bride" and "Frida" while I beaded. I always cry at the end of Frida - you'd think I'd know she dies. Anyway, I beaded while I watched movies and long into the night but when there was maybe another hour or so of work to be done - I just couldn't go on. I was soooo tired. Hopefully I'll get some time after work this week to finally finish. Here's a photo of the 'scene of the crime' - the mess I develop when beading. I have a giant studio with tables and countertops that my beloved built for me but do I use it? NO! I work at a tiny tv tray table. He (the beloved) screwed a larger piece of wood onto the top of it because he got tired of seeing me work in such a small space.

This past weekend I also finished up with the seed bead organization. It is so nice to be able to actually *find* things and it's ever so much easier to put everything away when I'm finished. This process helped me to learn that I have far too many blue-green/teal beads and hardly any brown or gray ones.


Still plugging through February

I'm still working on the turning in circles February BJP page - I've never been this tardy before - I feel like I work on this page all the time but it never seems to get done - I know I'm making progress, it just doesn't feel like I'm making enough progress. Hopefully the March page will go faster - I already have an idea for it but I don't want to start it until February is finished.


slow progress

First off - let me say I am so tired of snow - It snowed again here in the Pacific Northwest, the place where it doesn't snow - remember? that's why I moved here from Detroit?

I've got too many irons in the fire - the Bead Journal Project, a class on Joggles.com, getting ready for ArtFest, a collaborative necklace project. . . and making slow progress on each of them.
Here is the work to date on the February Bead Journal Project page.

and updates on progress on 2 of the six projects for the joggles.com class - I'm so far behind on that one - thankfully my boss at my day job is going to Mexico next week so I'll have more free time. (yay!)

I really kind of like the back of the painted quilt - I might try doing something like this in the future - just free motion line drawing on muslin - pretty fun huh?

So that's where I'm at this second week of May - behind on a lot of things and just rather discombobulated - If I owe you a phone call or an email response, I'm sorry - I'll get to it as soon as I can - life is just rather annoying right now.


My poor neglected blog

I have too many projects in process at one time. The class on joggles.com involves a different mini-quilt technique each week. Somehow my 'mini-quilts' have turned into larger projects and those coupled with my Bead Journal Project page, working on a couple of round robin projects I'm participating in, getting trades ready for Artfest and oh yeah, my day job that is 40 hours a week with an added 10 hours of commute time and I've really felt like I'm burning the candle at both ends. Hopefully, now that the days are longer I'll feel like working more when I get home from the office rather than just curling up with a good book. Speaking of good books, I just received The Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing and is really is a fun read and true candy for the eyes. Everything Kathy does is so bright and colorful. And she quotes ME in the book! What better recommendation could I give you than that?

Now on to the works in progress. I finished a second landscape quilt. It was really fun working on these and I hope to do a larger one in the future.

Another class project was a painted quilt - I selected my puppy Zakk as my subject (and no he didn't hold still, I used a photograph). The painting process was really surprisingly easy once I got the hang of it. The quilty is pinned together now, waiting for some machine (and possibly hand) quilting.

And yet another class project was a felt applique quilt - I got a little carried away with this one - la Catrina is very big - about 20 - 30 - Since this photo was taken, I've removed those pink leaf sequins, added a turquoise felt 'flounce' to the brim of the hat and a garden of bead and sequin embellished flowers - I'm thinking la Catrina might be done by the end of the month. After the surface is done, I'll still need to quilt her and finish the border. Now you can see what I mean when I said I got carried away with these projects - the class format was to do 8 x 10 inch sample quilts - I should have followed directions.

And last but not least is the little applique bird quilt - I came closer to following the size suggestions this time. I think I'll finish this one with some hand embroidery and free motion machine quilting - all in yellow threads. And maybe some shiny black buttons to finish it off.

Work also continues on the 'turning in circles' February Bead Journal Project page, though I've been remiss about taking in progress photos of the page. I'll try to do that soon.

So what have YOU all been making?

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear comments and/or suggestions for my quilties.


something new

I'm taking a break from the circles, letting my finger heal up while waiting for a leather thimble to come in the mail (who would have thought it would be so difficult to find one locally? certainly not me).

I'm taking another on line class at Joggles.com. I love taking these classes - they give me a sense of structure that I can still work on according to my own schedule. The current class is being taught by Jane LaFazio who is an amazing artist and the topic is art quilts. The first one was a 'landscape' quilt. This was the lesson that least appealed to me when I looked at the class description, but I'm really glad now that I went ahead and did the project (and of course I added a few beads).