Planet Textile Threads

April 21, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - medieval gallery, V&A

Downstairs in the medieval section, it was "the lady in the window" that caught my eye - actually a 15th century English alabaster (another such in the V&A is here). The lady is St Catherine of Alexandria, the one represented by the spiked wheel, which shattered when she was strapped to it. So the nasty emperor beheaded her, as well as promptly killing the 200 soldiers who she converted to Christianity while imprisoned - and his wife, who also converted.
The point of maximum frustration occurred about halfway through the morning, when having worked first on the figure on the right, I realised that my hand had obliterated him while drawing the figures on the left. That wasn't such a bad thing really, as the reason for moving on to those figures was the knowledge that Mr. Right(side) was in the wrong position. So out came the rubber and it was on to a second version.
The vignette at bottom is St C. in the window, sideways on. I love the ribbons - medieval speech-bubbles (write your own text?) - and the dove/holy spirit blown down from heaven.
Unwilling to start on anything else of a similar scale, I found an old (1738!) bit of paper tucked into the sketchbook and drew St C. et al from memory. The folds of the cloaks weren't easily remembered. It will be interesting to draw it again from memory today or tomorrow, given that a week will have passed since the first attempt and since writing this blog post.

Emerging into the sunshine on the way to the cafe, we found the courtyard crowded and a multitude of happy tots splashing in the pool -
Caryl had been revisiting a sculpture of St Michael, using watersoluble crayons, but hadn't quite finished nor had she decided whether or when to add water. Sue's focus was a piece from 11th century Spain, each saint in the frieze with individual haircuts and gestures. She had used watersoluble graphite and crayon, and had applied water only to some areas -
 On the way out of the building I saw this chap and was intrigued by the "tassels" on his cloak -
 He's one of four figures in niches on the west staircase -
 From the side you can see that he's got a serious weapon -
 ... which I hadn't seen when sitting down on the convenient bench to draw him.
His colleague, with the elaborate scabbard and different dangly bits on the cloak, is further up the stairs. 

Bristol High Cross, the source of these wood sculptures, is shown in Robert Ricart's map (about 1500), the first such plan of an English town -
Erected in 1373, the cross was enlarged in 1663 to add four more statues of kings. It was moved to the Stourhead estate in 1730, and the statues of kings John, Henry II, and the Edwards (if indeed it is they) were replaced by copies in 1980. A replica of the original cross was started in 1851 and finished in 1870.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 21, 2015 09:35 AM

April 20, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Hawaiian Applique in Florida, Part 2: Ladies of the Lakes, Lakeland, Florida

What fun we had, even if it was a small class!  More attention for everyone that way.  So the past few times I’ve taught this workshop, I decided I really needed to come up with a couple simpler “test drive” blocks in the 6 inch size that aren’t so fiddly.  I had Taro and Turtle blocks.  Everyone loves the turtle, but it really is pretty challenging.  So I thought I needed more options that were easier than the turtle.  I tried a whole bunch of ideas, but not much fits into a block as small as 6 inches (most students like to try one small before committing to one of the larger class patterns from my Nourish the Body, Nourish the Soul pattern, here) and still makes an interesting design while also being simple.  I thought about what is Hawaiian and would also be Florida?  I ended up with two new blocks:


This is the cutout version of Flip Flops–I actually managed to keep one of the new blocks fairly simple.

And the stitched version.  I left one  flipflop unstitched to show what a difference the thread makes!

And the stitched version. I left one flipflop unstitched to show what a difference the thread makes!

The second block is adorable, not as fiddly as the turtle, but not exactly easy-peasy:

The cut-out version of cats.  I liked the whimsy of black cats on bird fabric.  But...those busy little birds kinda moosh into the cats.

The cut-out version of cats. I liked the whimsy of black cats on bird fabric. But…those busy little birds kinda moosh into the cats.

Red thread to the rescue!   I learned when making Under the Bali Sea that thread can save a project--before I added the aqua stitching on the nautilus shells the quilt was SAD.  Here, the red totally pops.  And we LOVE the kitty-circle!  Maybe I should name this the Zeus block in honor of our cat who departed this earth a few days after I got home.

Red thread to the rescue! I learned when making Under the Bali Sea that thread can save a project–before I added the aqua stitching on the nautilus shells the quilt was SAD. Here, the red totally pops. And we LOVE the kitty-circle! Maybe I should name this the Zeus block in honor of our cat who departed this earth a few days after I got home.

The students in both workshops (how lucky that I had the same workshop in both venues, which were–I did not realize this for a goodly while–HOURS apart) did such a great job with the blocks.  I’m honestly not sure which of these photos were taken which day:

Swirly turtles in progress--those little feet and tail are pretty fiddly!

Swirly turtles in progress–those little feet and tail are pretty fiddly!

And another set of turtles

And another set of turtles with dusty pink thread on a pale pink background.

Flip flops in progress--she's doing my colors!

Flip flops in progress–she’s doing my colors!

This student got a lot done.  She did the taro block, cutting the leaves in the + position instead of the X orientation, but used them as "X" on the second block.  AND she got her cats cut out, too!

This student got a lot done. She did the taro block, cutting the leaves in the + position instead of the X orientation, but used them as “X” on the second block. AND she got her cats cut out, too!

This student brought a gorgeous Jane Sassaman print fabric for her blocks and a black-on-grey background, but learned that in these blocks what is a great combination for piecing may present some challenges in Hawaiian applique.  The black background merges with the background.  As with the cats, thread to the rescue!  She luckily had the perfect green.

This student brought a gorgeous Jane Sassaman print fabric for her blocks and a black-on-grey background, but learned that in these blocks what is a great combination for piecing may present some challenges in Hawaiian applique. The black background merges with the background. As with the cats, thread to the rescue! She luckily had the perfect green.


Done! And a great job using the bold straight stitch to accent the outside edge.

Doesn't this flipflop block shout "Florida!"?!!!

Doesn’t this flipflop block shout “Florida!”?!!!

Two more cat blocks...gosh I hope these ladies sent me pictures!  The guild president was in the class and was already thinking up a mini-quilts display with the blocks.  I TOTALLY WANT PHOTOS Debby if you do this!

Two more cat blocks…gosh I hope these ladies sent me pictures! The guild president was in the class and was already thinking up a mini-quilts display with the blocks. I TOTALLY WANT PHOTOS Debby if you do this!

GOOD student--testing thread colors on scraps!

GOOD student–testing thread colors on scraps! Practicing mitering and points!

And this student followed the instructions to bring a wide range of threads--it really helped her pick just the right color!

And this student followed the instructions to bring a wide range of threads–it really helped her pick just the right color!

Despite being fiddly, the cat block was a hit.

Despite being fiddly, the cat block was a hit.

Happy Birthday Marie C.!  Hope you enjoyed the giftie tucked into your bag.  I sure enjoyed driving from Orlando up to Lakeland and having dinner with you, and having you in my class.  Keep in touch!

Happy Birthday Marie C.! Hope you enjoyed the giftie tucked into your bag. I sure enjoyed driving from Orlando up to Lakeland and having dinner with you, and having you in my class. Keep in touch!

So as you might gather, it was a FUN class!  The trip home was relatively uneventful compared to the trip down, although my suitcase got soaked in Boston where it was raining not snowing, and a few things inside were soaked.  Luckily, the quilts in the suitcase were inside a ginormous Ziploc Bag (I swear you could fit the contents of a stuffed laundry basket in one they are so big) and protected!  I’ve already ordered a hard-sided suitcase since the zipper pull also got trashed.  Mo bettah!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 20, 2015 10:41 AM

Margaret Cooter

Interesting shapes - spoons

Seen in a shop in Shoreditch. Collector's items, definitely. Jeux d'esprit? - maybe.

Closer to home, these sleek beauties arrived at xmastime -
and these soup spoons came direct from the carver in Morocco -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 20, 2015 09:23 AM

Gerrie Congdon

Oops! Missing in Action


This may be a record for me! Seventeen days since my last post. I don’t have any exciting reason. I got a really nasty sinus infection with the worst vertigo. Ended up in bed for a few days. Then, this past week, I had a hectic schedule. On Monday, Mr C and I helped to hang the SAQA Oregon Exploring Layers show at the AIR Gallery in Pioneer Place, downtown Portland. It will be there through May 17th. The Gallery is open Thursday – Sunday, noon to 6 pm. That is Walking with Scooter and Mr C hanging at the show.

On Tuesday, I got caught up with some SDA work. On Wednesday, I joined a large group of SAQA members for a docent tour at the Portland Art Museum of Italian Style, a comprehensive look at Italian fashion from the end of the Second World War to the present day.  It was fantastic. I had lunch with friends and then took the street car back home.

On Wednesday night, I went to Trinity for the latest art short course. This month, we are screen printing. I could, of course, teach this class, but it is fun to be a participant. We used torn and cut paper to make our designs. First, I cut craft paper into rectangles in a pattern. by folding and cutting.


Then, I cut circles in freezer paper.


Her is my first print from the rectangles.


Then, I printed magenta circles.


We printed on paper. I am quite happy with this.

On Thursday, I got my neglected hair cut an colored. I felt so much better. Mr C and I took the street car downtown to a symphony concert. It was a one hour free concert for donors, educators and other community folks. It was at 6 pm and and then we stopped at one of the breweries for supper.

On Friday, I got lots of errands done. I found some steel rods to use for my 3-D construction and have started work. Hopefully, I can share some progress tomorrow. I also produced the Constant Contact newsetter for Columbia FiberArts Guild and got it sent Friday night. Whew!

On Saturday, I met a friend at 8:30 in the morning and we drove down to Silverton for our Oregon Critique group meeting. This was the beautiful view of the Silver Lake reservoir from Carol’s deck. So pretty and peaceful.


Our critic was an artist from Salem. I thought she was a bit too complimentary of our work. Didn’t really get much out of it. I did enjoy seeing the work the others have done.

Betty and I left, Silverton and then went to Pioneer Place to set up for the opening reception of the exhibit. Hung out there until 9 pm, when Mr C came and picked me up. Today, I have been trying to recover from the week and to get caught up on SDA work! Here is a shot from the show. It looks great.


So, now we are all caught up. I hope I can get back to my regular blogging schedule again.

by Gerrie at April 20, 2015 05:49 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Petrified Wood from the Yellowstone River Banks

This is one of the nicer specimens of petrified wood that I picked up on the river bank.
We had a lot of fun being out that day!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 20, 2015 04:00 AM

April 19, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Landscape collage

Caterina Rossato, made from postcards (via)
Megan Coyle (via)
Eileen Downes, Stinson Beach Series No.3 (via)
Katherine J, Homage to Tom (via)
Martha Marshall, Collage 041, handmade papers (via)
Besen (via)
Jennifer Tucker, Bush Landscape (via)
Erin Case (via)
Misteldin, made from scanning objects (via)
Sue McKee (via)

Video by Theo Tagholm- at

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 19, 2015 03:10 PM

Terry Grant

On Originality

So here's a little story, pretty amazing in its small-world coincidences, but probably also illustrative of how Facebook has tightened up the degrees of separation between us all.

Last Thursday morning I opened up Facebook and saw, first thing, that a FB friend, who lives in another city, had reposted a post from a Quilt Shop, in yet another city, showcasing the work of one of their customers, "Carol". What surprised and confused me, was that, at first I thought I was looking at photos of my own work, especially this one.

On closer inspection I could see that it was not mine, but a very close copy. Here is my original work, posted on my blog in 2009.

See why I was confused?
And, here's the crazy thing. My friend did not post this because she recognized it as my design, but because "Carol", maker of the top bird, is her cousin. She was just sharing her pride in the shop's recognition of her creative cousin!
I contacted the quilt shop. They were embarrassed and apologetic and, with amazing speed, added a note clarifying that the work posted was a copy of my original design. And that works for me. I have no interest in embarrassing anyone, which is why I have not included names or locations for anyone involved here. I feel quite certain the quilt shop that posted did so innocently believing the work was Carol's. Carol probably did not either think or know to tell anyone otherwise and, by omission, allowed assumptions to be made. It happens. All. The. Time. But it shouldn't.
You may think I am being petty, and what does it matter, anyway? I think it matters. Copyright is a legal matter. Copying someone else's intellectual property and representing it as your own is illegal. More to my point though, is that it is a matter of personal integrity. Can you imagine my mixture of feelings reading the comments left for Carol?

"Beautiful...I especially love the bird and sun. . . .These make me happy. :)"

"She is one talented lady...beautiful."

So, as this type of thing comes up more and more often, and is discussed in the art quilting community, there are all kinds of justifications made for copying, just as there are condemnations, and I understand those justifications—that it is a learning exercise, that it is for private use, that there are really "no new ideas" and on and on, but to me it is simple. If you do not have permission, don't do it. Do your own work. Discover the joy of creating something uniquely yours. It will mean so much more to you. Honestly, it will. If you simply cannot find that in yourself, find a published pattern, made for the purpose of being copied. (And then give credit to the original designer any time you show it anywhere!)

And, while I'm on the subject, see that "Fire" piece above? That photo has been pinned to Pinterest many, many times. At least twice a month I get an email from someone asking if I have a pattern for it, or if they can copy it. I do not offer a pattern. This was an original work. I really don't want to allow copies. I doubt that the lovely woman who bought it wants to see copies floating around the internet either. I am thrilled that you like it that well and hope you can be satisfied to just enjoy it on Pinterest.

Thank you.


by Terry Grant ( at April 19, 2015 01:21 PM

Natalya Aikens

spruce street

And now for the reveal! Presenting Spruce Street home portrait... A portrait of a home and a memory. This house was a sweet childhood home... and now it's time to move on, while preserving the memory of a joy-filled home and a wonderful place to grow up.
I had great ephemera to work with, from hand dyed vintage linens, to upholstery fabric and birch bark! I agonized about how to include that birch bark without destroying it. I think I have succeeded. A book page with a tree was perfect for representing a magnolia and a multitude of trees surrounding the house. Vintage linen took to hand-stitching beautifully to become the azalea filled front yard. Plastic mesh made the most perfect grass and the final step was the suggestion of the red maple tree ready to bud. A maple tree with a wonderful long history that started with a young girl and a seedling...

A bit of a surprise from me was the inclusion of mom and dad in the portrait...
Spruce Street © Natalya Aikens
I am honored to have been a part of preserving such lovely memory. Thank you.

by Natalya Aikens ( at April 19, 2015 09:28 AM

Margaret Cooter

Seeing red

If you're in Santa Fe, New Mexico, before 14 August you can see "Cultural Red" at the Capitol Rotunda Art Gallery, a show by the New Mexico chapter of SAQA that "features interpretations of the many ways in which red has been an integral part of our lives, past and present.

One quilt in the show is "Dolce - Sweetly" by Katie Pasquini Masopust, and I don't know what to make of it -
The title is at odds with my first impression, which is of violence - but on second thought, is that title ironic? The composition, the tonality, the choice of fabrics, the enhancement by quilting, the way the eye keeps moving around, the speculation on what it references, what it means - all these mean that looking at it is an art pursuit. And yet, it's so ambiguous, I'm left unsatisfied, unable to decide "what does it mean". Yet more, it's that sense of the unresolved - along with my aesthetic pleasure in it - that makes it memorable.

I'd love to see the other quilts in the show.

To get back to the subject of the exhibition, the colour red and the role it has played in culture. In 2010 the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam had a wonderful exhibition, ROOD, about the colour red, which seems to be available as an app. At the exhibition I took lots of photos (in "interesting" lighting conditions). To "save film" I didn't photograph the captions, which may have been a false economy - though on the other hand, the lack of information leaves us free to make up our own meanings for these objects.

"The objects are displayed in a transparent, flowing setting created by designers Maarten Spruyt and Tsur Reshef, The colour red means something different to everyone, but it also has universal associations. These meanings are numerous and contradictory. Red can stand for happiness, fertility and love but also for power, violence and danger. Red can be romantic, but it can also be deadly. All of these associations are included in the exhibition in themes such as life cycles, energy, power, identity, deities, demons and love" says Antenna International.


by Margaret Cooter ( at April 19, 2015 09:21 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Yellowstone River Agates

 The shores of the Yellowstone River from Pompey's Pillar east to where the Yellowstone joins up with the Missouri are rich in agate deposits.  These deposits are reportedly 20' deep in places and extend for many miles.  The time to look for them is late fall, winter or early spring before the water rises. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 19, 2015 04:00 AM

April 18, 2015

Margaret Cooter

Book and Bard

It arrived on Wednesday, much anticipated - yet I've hardly had a moment to look at it.

Flipping through, I'm struck anew by Franz Kline - love those dark lines, the resulting negative spaces -
and near the end is -
yes, a stitched work! - and it plays with the idea of people always needing to see the back of stitched work...
Dredging the photo archive a while back, I found a photo of that page, taken while looking at the book in the college library, and tried to find information on the artist, Joellen Bard. She was active in the 1960s and 70s, in the predigital era, so there was very little to find, other than what is in the book -

"Joellen Bard (Contemporary American). Sewn Xerox Series #1, 1979. Xerox print with hand-sewn thread (Number 6 in a series of 7), each 8 1/2" x 11" (22 x 28 cm). Courtesy Pleiades Gallery, New York. Photo: Mort Greenspun.

"Bard has experimented with a vast array of materials and means for making marks, from drawing on acetate with ink to this current series in which her lines are not drawn but sewn with needle and thread on canvas. [Note the need for clarifying what sewing is, and that it's on "canvas" so within the realm of art!]

"Her 'image' is generally rows upon rows of horizontal 'lines,' but to create this photocopy print, she turned the sewn canvas to the reverse side, which contains all of the ends of her thread. These ends create a completely different and accidental or 'found' image unlike the intentional one she had produced on the other side. A print was taken of this reverse side and then six rectangular areas of the paper were hand stitched with real thread (which in this reproduction appears slightly greyer and more solid). [You can just about see the solid areas in the photo above.]

"Bard also took photocopy prints of the 'correct' side, the character of which is completely and totally unlike this one. 207 Hours is the name that she gave to another free-hanging, 4' x 6' (1.2 x 1.8 m) field of canvas she had sewn horizontally with row after row of tiny black stitches, because that is how long it took her to complete this compulsive project."

Bard, born in 1942, put together an exhibition, "Tenth Street Days: the co-ops of the 1950s" - after 1953, the second and third generation Abstract Expressionist artists came to live and work near Tenth Street, New York City, and founded and ran a number of co-op galleries. Pleiades Gallery, source of the Xerox Series image, was one of them and is still going. The records of the exhibition, shown in Dec 1977-Jan 1978, are in the Archives of American Art, Smithsonial Institution.

Back to the book, which was published in 1980 ... it was Katherine Tyrrell's review of it - or rather, of the reissue, the 30th anniversary edition, that got me ordering it. So far I've read just one page, the foreword, in which Kaupelis says -

"If a student does not know the meaning of values or how to produce a broad range of them with a variety of materials, I thoroughly believe that he [or she!] should acquire this knowledge at once."

This will have to be a little project, producing a range of values with a variety of materials, and then the reading of the book can continue.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 18, 2015 12:12 PM

Cynthia St. Charles

Yellowstone River Time

 The Yellowstone River is a great place for an outing on a warm early spring day.  We headed east about 30 miles from Billings to the Captain Clark Fishing Access, where we explored the river banks for agates and petrified wood.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 18, 2015 04:00 AM

April 17, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Insalata, a Food for Thought Quilt

A short while ago I shared with you a first peek at my new quilt, Insalata:

Insalata, (c) 2014  Sarah Ann Smith.  Premieres April 10, 2015, at the Food for Thought exhibit at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky, USA.

Insalata, (c) 2014 Sarah Ann Smith. Premiered April 10, 2015, at the Food for Thought exhibit at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, Kentucky, USA.  Size:  40 x 42.5 inches.  For sale.

When I made the tomato quilts that were the featured project in my workshop DVD for Quilting Arts, From Photo to Threadwork, including fabric collage and machine quilting (see here for the DVD or here for download), I knew I had one more tomato quilt in me.

I grew up in a town called San Anselmo, California, and mom lived there until she moved to Maine in 2008.  She and two friends would go out for lunch once a month, and often went to a restaurant called Insalata.   So she took me there, too, when I visited.  I LOVED the Chicken Fattoush salad, inspired by Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean cuisine!  I also loved the artwork.  The restaurant is in a building that, when I was a kid, was the Crocker National Bank.  If you were alive in the 60s you remember those banks with the really high (like 2-story) ceilings!  What to do to decorate the place?  She painted the ceiling a dark brown, used something warm colored on the walls (don’t remember what) and had some over-sized paintings made including some of persimmons that were each larger than a beachball.  The canvas wasn’t stretched, but hung from gromments/hooks on the wall; these pieces were easily 4-5 feet tall and over 12 feet wide.

Detail of raffia "roots" on the shallots. Insalata by Sarah Ann Smith. (c) 2014

Detail of raffia “roots” on the shallots. Insalata by Sarah Ann Smith. (c) 2014  Click for larger view.

Detail photo 2, Insalata, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014.  Click for larger image.

Detail photo 2, Insalata, by Sarah Ann Smith (c) 2014. Click for larger image.

Each of the tomatoes is about the diameter of a beach ball!   So now I think I’ve finished with tomatoes.  For the time being.  Hope you enjoy!  And if you like this one, please be sure to visit the slideshow on the SAQA website of the entire Food for Thought exhibit, here.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates.  Available to order here.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates. Available to order here.

My pages in the catalog.  Great layout and design on the pages--love the enormous detail photo on the left.  The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.

My pages in the catalog. Great layout and design on the pages–love the enormous detail photo on the left. The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 17, 2015 10:57 AM

Sabrina Zarco

Cultural Red SAQANM exhibit opening

You are invited! Friday, April 17, 2015 to the Santa Fe Capitol Rotunda Gallery. The Studio Art Quilts Association of New Mexico SAQANM artists' opening reception is free and open to the public from 4 to 6 pm. Over 60 amazing works by NM folks. My three works below are in this show. Please stop by and say hi and join our celebration!

    Quest For Red © Sabrina Zarco

Calling the Four Directions © Sabrina Zarco

Spirit of El Corazon © Sabrina Zarco

These works are currently hanging in the Santa Fe Capitol Rotunda Gallery as part of the Cultural Red Exhibit by Studio Art Quilts New Mexico SAQANM from April to August 2015. And in 2016 in Ruidoso Downs NM at the Hubbard Museum of the American West. For more on this work visit

by Sabrina ( at April 17, 2015 10:55 AM

Margaret Cooter

Art I like - Fiona Robinson

Prelude, Thrown Notes (2013) Graphite, charcoal, chalk, wax; 56cm x 76cm
Echo (2013) Charcoal, chalk, wax; 56cm x 76cm

Fiona's current work is directly related to music and had its genesis in exploratory drawings made whilst listening to John Cage’s pieces for prepared piano. Strings soaked in Chinese ink were plucked repeatedly and the sound of them snapping against the paper was a significant element of the process. 

After this, she turned to exploring the deeply emotional charge of Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello, pursuing "a deeper engagement with the music, creating an interaction of sound, vigorous movement and mark-making whilst listening to the differing interpretations of the suites."

Her website is She lives and works in Dorset and France, and also writes about contemporary art from an artist's perspective.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 17, 2015 08:31 AM

Cynthia St. Charles


 I am so glad I planted all these daffodils last fall!  What a wonderful sight to see in early spring!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 17, 2015 04:00 AM

April 16, 2015

Sabrina Zarco

The Spirit of El Corazon

El Corazon in Mexican Spanish has a totally different meaning than heart in the English language where it is often separated from knowledge and often reduced to sentimentality. El corazon is a physical organ with a magical quality. The heart integrates and informs all aspects of a person, mind, will, emotions. El corazon is the core or center of a person and the source of ultimate understanding. To understand the dynamics of Mexican spirituality is to understand el corazon. Spiritual transformation emerges from el corazon. In this work are symbols in fabric and found/repurposed objects that represent the various aspects of el corazon.

This work is currently hanging in the Santa Fe Capitol Rotunda Gallery as part of the Cultural Red Exhibit from April to August 2015. And in 2016 in Ruidoso Downs NM at the Hubbard Museum of the American West. For more on this work visit

by Sabrina ( at April 16, 2015 01:09 PM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Loves Songs in Age, by Philip Larkin

 "Once in the dear old days ..."; published in 1910 (via

Love Songs In Age

She kept her songs, they kept so little space,
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had seized her,
And coloured, by her daughter -
So they had waited, till, in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentionned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard, without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

-- Philip Larkin (via)

The poem may well be about Philip Larkin's mother, Emily Eva Day (1886-1977), who by all accounts was a nervous and passive woman; married in 1911, she outlived her domineering husband by 29 years.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 16, 2015 11:24 AM

Sabrina Zarco

Calling The Four Directions

The Maya tell us that we came from the stars and that humans are made of corn. It is prophesized that when the four colors of the human race, just like the four colors of corn: red, yellow, black, and white, blend together like Indian corn on the cob, we will have reached the desired state of oneness consciousness.

Each direction on this work is represented by a color on each of the four sides. The sun and moon are the sprit of the corn and also depicted in the work. The central figure features a Two Spirit healer in ceremony reverently calling to the directions. Special thanks, gracias, tlazocamati to Jaysa for the use of your image. 

This work is currently hanging in the Santa Fe Capitol Rotunda Gallery as part of the Cultural Red Exhibit from April to August 2015. And in 2016 in Ruidoso Downs NM at the Hubbard Museum of the American West. For more on this work visit

by Sabrina ( at April 16, 2015 12:04 AM

April 15, 2015

Olga Norris

Tulips, and so much more

We decided that this year we will try to get to our favourite nearby garden West Green at least once a month.  Today the temperature felt as if August was upon us - at least 23 degrees C, probably more in the walled garden which has a red and green theme, capitalising on the beating sun!  What attracted my attention however was the clematis armandii in full white blossom.  I would love to have one of these, but it is far too vigorous for what we are trying to make into an easily maintained garden.
The tulips were in all stages of flowering, from bud to almost over.
Leaves and blossom were the other themes - with Spring flowers to remind us that it is still but the middle of April.
And in the Edible Hedge Garden it was grass laying day.  Nut trees have been planted here, and soft fruit hedges, as well as edible fruit climbers.  We have watched this area develop from scratch, and are amazed at how relatively quickly it is taking shape.
The Edible Hedge Garden above was based on a design for a previous Chelsea Flower Show .

by Olga Norris ( at April 15, 2015 05:01 PM

Natalya Aikens


I have one more major step to go before I finish the Spruce Street home portrait. And since I have not been very good with updates, I thought that I'd share a few close ups now before the final reveal.
so happy to have played with vintage hand dyed linen in the flower garden
tree printed in a book transforms into tree in portrait
I do so love birches!
some stitched rocks on the chimney
more azaleas from vintage hankie
I think I will be ready for the final reveal by the end of this week. If you'd like to be first to see it, sign up for my newsletter as that's where it will be seen first. Thanks for following the home portrait updates!

by Natalya Aikens ( at April 15, 2015 01:04 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

A little bit of Art

To jump around in time and take things out of sequence, the day after I returned from Florida I got together with my older son’s girlfriend, Ashley, to work on an assignment for her college art class (I LOVE getting to share in my son’s and her assignments and learn stuff).  I lent Ashley some art supplies to save her the expense since I had plenty.  I hadn’t used my gouache much, so when that assignment came up, she asked if I would like to do it with her.  YES!

Ashley's finished self-portrait..isn't this fab?  This beginner has great potential!

Ashley’s finished self-portrait..isn’t this fab? This beginner has great potential!

The assignment was to take a black and white photo of yourself–a head shot (or color and then remove the color) with good contrast.  Size:  about 8×10 or a little larger.  You were then to trace/copy the shapes in various values onto bristol board (a card-stock weight paper with a shiny finish) and use black, white and one other color to create a monochromatic self-portrait.  Ashley did the assignment as given (good decision–see above), but I decided to muck around a bit (see lower down).

Here's Ashley's in progress.

Here’s Ashley’s in progress.

At first, I thought I’d do the portrait as a “grisaille” or toned underpainting, then go over it with a single color.  But once I got it done, since I don’t really know what would happen with the gouache–likely it would either lift the grays underneath or just cover them up–I left it grayscale.

My first effort.  Clearly I need a bit of instruction in handling gouache, but not too bad.

My first effort. Clearly I need a bit of instruction in handling gouache, but not too bad.  I kinda messed up the eyebrow and lid crease on the left, but it could be a lot worse.

I finished a bit earlier than Ashley, so decided I’d do a second, much faster, and be more loose in my application of utterly non-realistic colors.  You could scare a child into blindness or nightmares with this!

My two self-portraits.  The upper one isn't bad.  The lower one, just plain freaky!

My two self-portraits. The upper one isn’t bad. The lower one, just plain freaky!  But they do look somewhat like me.  Just hope I don’t look as saggy-chinned and jowelly and scary as the one in color!


Next post:  More Hawaiian applique in Florida!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 15, 2015 10:30 AM

Margaret Cooter

A Victorian Dream Palace

After the maximum number of online renewals, it is almost time to take all 507 text pages of John Piper, Myfanwy Piper, Lives in Art back to the library - only 56 pages left to read! It's been a great help having the ipad handy to look up people and especially artworks mentioned in the book. Harlaxton Manor, for example, which John painted at an unspecified date and made screenprints of in 1977  -
Harlaxton, 56 x 77 cm, edition of 100 (via)
Harlaxton Through the Gate, 715 x 534 mm (via)
The book mentions it in the chapter on John's editorship of the Shell Guides and his abiding interest in topography and the English sense of place. In 1977 he exhibited works based on grandiose late nineteenth-century architectural fantasies under the title "Victorian Dream Palaces and Other Buildings in Landscape", the building of which had peaked a century earlier, and many of which were struggling to survive.

Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, "much pinnacled and encrusted, rises dramatically on the horizon as the visitor heads down the dead-straight, mile-long drive" -
"This exuberant pseudo-Jacobean pile, built in 1837, owes its continuing life to American money, for it became a European campus for Stanford and now [2009] belongs to the University of Evansville." Also, it's available as a fairytale wedding venue - the internet provides many photos of draped, sashed, and bowed chairs set ready in the chapel, which need not concern us further. Back to the art...

"Its improbable, fairytale quality was still further enhanced by John's decision to paint it an unnatural, near turquoise blue, using a tube of new paint which Winsor and Newton had sent him to try out."
oil on canvas, 42"x 72" (via)
The Tate gives the dimensions of the "blue" screenprint in its collection as  5846 x 1016 mm -
Harlaxton (Blue), screenprint (via)
The blueness in the online images varies greatly!

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 15, 2015 10:11 AM

April 14, 2015

Olga Norris

Always looking

There are some places that I wish were nearer.  Ruthin Craft Centre is one of those.  The centre has bold large advertisements for its exhibitions further to entice me.  It has excellent publications based on exhibitions, and those have provided some consolation.  Once we set off to see a show of contemporary baskets - brilliant - but the trip was otherwise a disaster as a large white van smashed into our car.  This, with the distance, and the awkward journey has meant that longing is as far as it goes.
Ruthin is in Denbighshire, Wales, and now I have been given another reason to think about that part of Britain.  Once more an article in Craft Arts International has introduced a subject of interest: in this case Rebecca Gouldson and her etched metal work.  (image below from here)
I was immediately attracted to so many aspects of this work - and one in particular again had me longing to make a journey to North Wales, to Denbigh.  As someone who enjoys seeing attractive street furniture, utility covers with interesting designs are a definite draw.  And here there are seven commissioned from Rebecca Gouldson.
The image above is from Rebecca Gouldson's blog, and here many others can be seen.
There is also an interesting site here which has more photos of her work at an exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers, as well as a little film and a podcast interview. Here is another link to the Industrial Shift exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers.
But perhaps I should stick with just looking and learning from afar, from my workroom - so that like now, I can click off and get back to work!

by Olga Norris ( at April 14, 2015 12:09 PM

Virginia A. Spiegel

Coffee and Collage – What a Combo!


Simple 17

It started as a weekly challenge to myself to participate in the Junk Mail Art Collective on Facebook and has now grown to include over 45 six-by-six inch collages created from junk snail mail.

I’m currently on a roll with the same coffee cup motif I have used from the beginning, but going for a very clean look. The challenge is to make it interesting at the same time. See all the collages here.


Since we’re talking about coffee craziness – - do you use a Keurig or similar single-serve coffee maker?  I need LOTS of the cup boxes for a big mixed-media project.  Above is a sampling of what I’ve already received, but I need about 60 more.  I’m happy to reimburse your postage or send a small thank-you gift.  E-mail me (Virginia(at) for all the details and my snail mail.  THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

by Virginia at April 14, 2015 10:40 AM

Margaret Cooter

Tuesday is drawing day - British Museum

Last week's drawing session was in the Islamic gallery at the British Museum - a return visit for me, and there's still lots there to choose from, so this will be on the list for the future.
 Those glass shapes are marvellous - Caryl caught the way the glass catches the light -
 This 12th century water pot from Afghanistan, with its stamps and lumps and strange handle, intrigued Michelle and me  -
Result - two renditions -
After placing each little bump in relation to the ones near it, I wanted something freer and more varied and tackled the shapes of vessels on different shelves, getting different perspectives; the dark outlines are an alternative to erasure in terms of getting the shape balanced - or, in the case of that water jar, accurately asymmetrical -
Michelle used colour in an interesting way for this cat-shaped pitcher (sorry about the fuzzy photo) -
 and Mags rendered amulets, feeding into a theme she's working on -
 She also produced this week's Most Desirable Tool - the pocket-sized watercolours  -
and after comparing the darkness of soluble pencils, we were all tempted to head off to Cornelissen's (which is very near the British Museum) to stock up on yet more "drawing stuff".

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 14, 2015 09:14 AM

April 13, 2015

Dijanne Cevaal

Pour L'Amour du Fil- Nantes

Firstly the good news- the book Musing in Textile: France is finally out of customs and were delivered to my friend Margo Bimler in the South of France last  Wednesday- she has been busy parcelling books ( they need to be in protective wrapping so they don't get damaged in the post) and finally  books will be posted to all the outstanding  Pozible supporters. My most sincere apologies for all the delay but much of it really was beyond any logical control- they were stuck in customs in Marseilles for 6 weeks... and they took their own sweet time to do what they  did  and no amount of jumping up and down was going to change their time. Very frustrating but in the end I am extremely relieved the books were safely delivered. I hope you will enjoy the book when it finally gets to your door.

Meanwhile I had arranged for some other books to be delivered for sale at L'Amour du Fil from 22-25 April 2015 where  the Medieval Project will be launched ( I shall be  blogging about this in the next few days- so many fabulous inventive  rich gorgeous pieces- I thought women had outdone themselves with the Sentinelles- but the pieces that have been arriving daily are simply marvelous!) Those books arrived in 3 days.... so no rhyme or reason. But I am glad to say the boxes passed the "cat inspection"!

I am also teaching at L'Amour du Fil-  Transfer  Painting/Printing and Stitching on the Wednesday 22 April and Tifaifai on the Friday, 24 April. There are still places available and details  are on the website

Teaching in Mons was fun- it was part of the 20 year Celebration of the Embroidery Centre in Mons which also has a wonderful exhibition of work on display. A great variety of different textiles, some of them stunning and well worth a visit. The exhibition  is being held in  what was once a  nunnery- so very atmospheric in Mons Centre.

I love the onion shaped domes on many of the churches in the town.

 Mons itself is a charming town with a central square boasting some medieval buildings and a monkey which adorns  the Hotel de Ville. No one knows from whence it has come, it has been there for many years but the story is you must rub  it's head with your left hand in order to attract good luck. Of course this was duly done- I need some in my quest to find an affordable house in which to live ( I am afraid that whilst travel seems exotic and wonderful and it often is, that the lack of a permanent abode is playing with my mind a little especially as the bureaucratic nightmare surrounding my block of land which I had hoped to sell by now will continue for at least another 12 months at a conservative estimate, so it feels like the only thing I can keep doing is keep moving- peripatetic)

I did go and see the Van Gogh- The Birth of an Artist exhibition at the Borinage - Mons is the European Cultural Capital for 2015 and is hosting many exhibitions and festivities and in fact opened 5 new museums whilst I was there- so culture can be a drawcard! I must admit I went ,not knowing what to expect as after all Mons is not a big city and to attract a big exhibition is a big ask for such a small place. I also suspected that the  beginning years would prove insufficiently interesting to sustain an exhibition without the luminous work of the later years. I have to say you should not arrive with expectations or unexpectations- because this was a thoughtful beautifully displayed eye-opening exhibition which did indeed play close attention to the title- the Birth of an Artist.Van Gogh spent 2 years in the region when he transformed himself from failed theology student, into lay preacher and ultimately artist. There are some letters to Theo of course, Early awkward drawings, then  the immersion in the work of artists whom he admired and copied and copied and somehow managed to emerge with his own tweaks and emotion of the later work. He had seen the work of Millet in Paris whilst he had worked as an art dealer but his copies of Millet are remarkable as they were made from engravings and his memory of the colours he would have encountered in Millet's original paintings ( which would not have been beautifully displayed in Musee Orsay as they are now). Already there is evidence of the brushwork the emotion and  his adoration of his subject matter- the ordinary every day things encountered by working people. At this time Van Gogh still thought he was going to be an illustrator rather than a painter- so the exhibition contains many drawings also done in emulation of artists/illustrators he admired and indeed some of his collection of  engraved images sourced from  the papers of the time ,when  newspapers still had real journalists and iillustrators to elucidate the articles,( Oh how I wish some of the money that is made in  Van Gogh exhibitions could have made it's way to Van Gogh's pocket whilst he lived) In the end I enjoyed this exhibition very much and came away with  food for thought! And I mentioned the radiance of the later work- I will comment on that some more a bit later in this post.

Then back to Soissy- sur-Seine, and Saturday I went into  Paris to brave the crowds and tour groups at the Bonnard Exhibition- Painting Arcadia at Musee Orsay. I hope the link works as it seems to be impossibly long. If you click on the further information ,10 pages of information about the different periods of Bonnards' painting life comes up.  Bonnard has been a favourite for a long time as I find his use of yellow to be simply the best there is. The exhibition was an eye opener in that the early work had little yellow and indeed surprising amounts of green and blue green and even turquoise- which  had not been readily  been apparent from books I have seen simply because turquoise does not print well ( turquoise is often a difficult colour in dyeing and transfer  painting as well)- and then Bonnard moves to Cannet- and literally the work becomes an explosion of yellow- it is so powerful and strong that I felt as if I was in the middle of a yellow blast and I felt incredible joy- it was wonderful- oh to be in that room without all the other viewers.... But it brings me to luminous- that explosion of colour also occurs in Van Gogh when he moves south and Dufy and Matisse. I have no photos of course so please do look at the website!

Later that day after a brief interval snuffling around a Brocante in Place St Paul  and some irresistable books( why is it that I encounter so many books that simply have to go into my luggage and when I have no bookcase to put them in). The Cahier is dated 1922 and seems to have been written by someone called Katz , who refers to some of the observations as Katzismes and  the introduction creating no less of an enigma. It continues for about 12 pages of Katzismes in conversation with  several different persons and with some diagrams of body positions whilst suffering from certain contagious diseases....well who could leave that behind??

And then onto  the Indigo  at the Bibliotheque Forney. Again difficult to take photos and it was packed with visitors. A wonderful exhibition of  indigo in its many myriad presentations across many cultures. The space, 5 rooms  is not big and in all reality not big enough for the  rich contents  of this exhibition- with many many examples of woven, printed and stitched textiles. It was also difficult to read some of the etiquettes because of the space limitations. Indigo seems to be the new must have experience so I feel lucky to have had such first hand experience with it at the Creative Arts Safari Creative Camp in India earlier this year and to hopefully go back and immerse myself some more later this year.

The entrance to the exhibition with various shades of indigoed umbrellas ( I am afraid my flash did actually go off and I was duly told, but unfortunately without a tripod it was impossible to take any decent photos and my phone was flat as it always seems to be when I put it in my bag)

And then my own  little effort on indigo cloth bought from the Stitching Project ( Creative Arts Safaris) using the technique of Sujuni embroidery taught to us by Sandju whilst I was on the Creative Camp.

 And last ,after what seems to have been a full on essay, as I said I have been a little down in spirit lately- the worry of the books in customs and meeting the  Pozible campaign commitments and the lack of a home ( I use home rather than house- there is a difference) seem to have played  on my mind. I have also applied for many residencies over the years , but have not been successful- though have ranked highly some of the time, even missing out by one on two occasions.So I have decided to create my own experience of sorts. So, as I am in Europe for the month of May with no teaching, I decided I would go and research for the next book Musing in Textile:Italy  by spending a little time in Florence. To my surprise the cost of accommodation to go for a month, cost almost the same as going for 2 weeks  ( and I used a french speaking accommodation  site rather than an english speaking one which seems to inflate the prices)and is much cheaper than living in Melbourne for a month ( in similar abode), plus I get to experience all the glorious art of the Renaissance in one of the lovely cities of this world. I may even do a print making course at Il Bisonti all things going well- immerse myself in something other than textile, but if that does not happen then there is plenty of other things to do and see. In my search for information I came across this very informative website the Florence Web Guide.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at April 13, 2015 10:50 PM

Terry Grant

Feeling Spring

Ray and I have been trying out different walking trails. Between rain showers, it is such a great time of year to walk. The smell of the earth and the green and the flowers, washed clean, is divine. Warm sunshine, chilly shade, mud, moss and birdsong. Sunday we explored the trails around the Jenkins Estate, which is quite close to where we live.

It is a beautiful 68 acre estate on a hillside, out in the countryside. The main house, above, was built as a summer home in 1912 and it is a woodsy, Craftsman beauty. That deep shady porch was made for summer teas and wedding parties. Makes you want a floaty pastel dress, big hat and parasol. Eventually it was purchased by our local Parks and Recreation district and it is used as an events venue for weddings, quilt shows and all sorts of gatherings. The guild I used to belong to once had our quilt show in the wonderfully rustic old stables just down from the house. It was great—probably the best quilt show venue I've ever seen. The quilts were hung in the stalls. It has become a favorite place of mine. The grounds have gardens, woods, a farmhouse, a playground, a gazebo and several miles of walking trails. The Rhododendron garden is especially spectacular this time of year. Though we have attended a number of events here, we had never walked the trails until yesterday.

I think these are Oregon Fawn Lilies.

I am lucky to live here.


Back home, I spent some good hours in the studio, starting a new piece for our Making Our Mark show. I got this far.


Then I opened this photo in my drawing app and played with ideas for stitching this, using a heavy white thread.

I don't think this is quite what I want, but how cool to be able to try ideas out before I actually stitch.


by Terry Grant ( at April 13, 2015 09:27 PM

Margaret Cooter

Tree tunnel coincidence

 It must have been the angle of the light - the spread-eagled shapes of the branches, stretching themselves over the wire frame of the tunnel, forced me to stop and take some photos, but the intense three-dimensionality of the trunks and branches got flattened by the camera and by distance.

Later that day, this photo appeared in an old file (Nov 2011) that I was searching through for something else - have they grown much is three years?
This is in a corner of Russell Square, on the way from the tube station to the north entrance of the British Museum.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 13, 2015 09:28 AM

April 12, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Hawaiian Applique in Florida! Part 1

With the ladies of the Gold Coast Quilters of Boca Raton.  I was so busy I think this was the only photo I got that day!

With the ladies of the Gold Coast Quilters of Boca Raton. I was so busy I think this was the only photo I got that day!  Because my Nourish quilt and the machine appliqued Haleakala Sunrise are touring with the 500 Traditional Quilts exhibit put on by Quilts Inc (the wonderful folks that bring you International Quilt Festival in Houston and other  locales), I made two new, pillow size Taro blocks.  This one will fit a 26″ Euro Square pillow.

So there’s a reason why I haven’t been blogging much–I’ve been too busy!   First I had another kerfuffle with the person who made the apparently derivative copies of my A Sense of Place art quilts (blogpost a couple of posts below this one in early March).  She sicked an attorney on ME (!!!) for saying that she appeared to have clearly copied my work!  She made all sorts of demands, only one of which I agreed to:  I removed the letter she wrote to me from my original post.  I had to spend two full days, right before the trip to Florida, dealing with this nonsense because they wanted a reply within  8 days–days when I would be away teaching!   Sheesh!  Anyway,  I refused all requests other than the one above, such as I refused to retract my assertions that her works were derivative, refused to request the removal of the discussion of copyright from both of the closed art quilt groups on which I mentioned it (without EVER mentioning her by name or identifying her site!), refused to retract my requests to Etsy and Pinterest to remove her apparently derivative works.   I wrote the attorney a LONG letter, starting with images of my works, a photocopy of a widely distributed book in which one was published (500 Art Quilts), and basically said “can you see what the problem is?  Can this end now?”  So…no reply to date from either of them so hopefully she will go away and learn  her lesson.  And I can get on with FUN STUFF!  Like Florida.

The trip began with a flight delay leaving Maine (after getting to the airport at 5:20 am):  the previous day there had been yet another snowstorm that messed up travel up and down the  Eastern seaboard.  There was no problem, however, because I had a four HOUR layover in Boston which, thanks to delays on United, turned into a six hour layover.  Luckily, I was easily re-booked onto a later connecting flight and only got in about 90 minutes late, and didn’t have to teach or lecture until the following evening.  AND my luggage showed up!

I had down time the first day--we had me come down a day early just in case, as it turns out we needed, there were weather delays.  That meant I had several hours on Tuesday to tootle around Boca Raton.  So I went to an area called Mizner Park after my gracious hostess gave me a quick driving tour of downtown Boca.

I had down time the first day–we had me come down a day early just in case, as it turns out we needed, there were weather delays. That meant I had several hours on Tuesday to tootle around Boca Raton. So I went to an area called Mizner Park after my gracious hostess gave me a quick driving tour of downtown Boca.  Thank you Marlys and Chris for taking me around!

This was one of the most bizarre things I’ve seen…yes, that is a ROLLS ROYCE Pick-up truck.  One has to ask WHY?  The guy wandering buy seems as confused as I was!

So I saw this pick-up truck and figured I'd never seen anything like it.  It looked to be a Rolls, but do they make pick-ups?

So I saw this pick-up truck and figured I’d never seen anything like it. It looked to be a Rolls, but do they make pick-ups?

Here's a shot of the front--yes, that's the winged lady on the front with the RR.  One has to ask WHY?  I googled, and no, they don't really make them, but people "convert" them.  WHY?

Here’s a shot of the front–yes, that’s the winged lady on the front with the RR. One has to ask WHY? I googled, and no, they don’t really make them, but people “convert” them. WHY?

After months and months (literally) of single digit and below zero air temps and colder wind chill, it was lovely to sit in the air in shirtsleeves!

After months and months (literally) of single digit and below zero air temps and colder wind chill, it was lovely to sit in the air in shirtsleeves!

I’m also taking an online photography course with Ricky Tims, so I was on the lookout for “texture” photos, and loved these palm fronds:


No idea why the (C) didn’t show on this image, but it’s mine!

The first day I had a light supper with the guild board at QuiltStitches in Boca Raton (FB link here) owned by Johanna Felderbaum.  It’s a great shop–stop in if you are in the area!  She has a great range of fabrics.  Waving hullo!   That evening I gave my “How did she do that?” lecture, followed by Hawaiian Applique the next day.  Then on Thursday, I flew from there (well, Fort Lauderdale airport) to Orlando where I was booked with the Ladies of the Lakes Guild in Lakeland, near Orlando.   More on that in a few days!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 12, 2015 11:07 AM

Margaret Cooter

Ceramics, before and after

Gathered and steamed organza and metallic organza, dipped into porcelain

Paper clay "chimneys" with texturing

Paper clay, with metallic organza snippets (left) and without

Organza  with various colours of metallic organza (very fragile)

Organza with metallic stitching and clear glass beads (magic!)

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 12, 2015 09:42 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Old Montana Farmstead

 We recently visited the Captain Clark fishing access on the Yellowstone River.  The access is large and includes an abandoned farmstead.  We were curious, so we took a self guided tour.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 12, 2015 04:00 AM

April 11, 2015

Margaret Cooter

To Margate, for the art

The seaside out of season ... lured by the recent sunshine and a self-portrait exhibition at Turner Contemporary (it's on till 10 May), we took the high-speed train and walked toward the gallery.

Mist lay over the water and the sea-breeze was chilly -
 And the tide was out -
 The gallery's terrace, and the token deck-chairs, had no settlers -
 Whereas inside, for 15 minutes every hour, there's the chance to interact with "We will see how everything reverbrates" by Carlos Amorales.
Photography not allowed elsewhere, so out came the notebook in the exhibition -

I was interested in the self-portraits mainly of the women, and plan to write about that aspect, but "the best-laid plans" etc, so in the meantime here's a short review that talks about some of them.

Unfortunately I took too long looking and note-taking, so to avert a major international incident I had to leave a final few exhibits for another time (or not) and scurry in search of lunch. We found some sort of ambience with a sea view -
and peace was restored over some local pale ale, though we perhaps didn't choose too well from the menu.

The tide had come in and the sun had come out, so a walk to the lighthouse was called for -

 Going back mean walking into the wind - brr!
Even though the mist was rolling back in, kids in swimsuits were building castles and frolicking in the waves -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 11, 2015 09:43 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Marsh Marigold in my Fish Pond

I started this plant in my pond a few years ago.  It has never bloomed this early or this long!  Such a bright spot outside my kitchen window!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 11, 2015 04:00 AM

April 10, 2015

Olga Norris

I have just finished

reading Margaret Atwood's Stone Mattress: Nine Tales, and very much enjoyed the collection.  (image above from here)
I love the short story form, I always enjoy Atwood's writing, and especially enjoyed the mix of humour, and horror - both realistic in that she concentrates on old age in this volume, and fantastical.  These are cautionary tales, not about children in the forest, but about the elderly and their everyday travails - and adventures (!) too.  Perhaps a bit near the bone for a reader in her late 60s, but I recognise the voice, and the truth of the tales. 
Here and here are reviews.
Some years ago I read and equally enjoyed Atwood's Negotiating with the Dead, a collection of essays on writing.  The essays were written for the William Empson Lectures in Oxford.  Essays, like short stories present another form which I relish.  I am now about to embark on the first of two further collections of essays which originated as lectures (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, Harvard).  The first, Six Drawing Lessons by William Kentridge is an object of beauty, even before I have begun to read.

by Olga Norris ( at April 10, 2015 10:58 PM

Margaret Cooter

Exploring art & medicine - at The Old Operating Theatre

The Old Operating Theatre is upstairs of a church, open to the public, and doesn't disallow photos. And it's full of quirky things - quite a change from the pathology museums of past weeks, and a good finale to the course.
At the entrance
I tucked right in to an artificial leg from early last century - lots of straps and buckles -
The notes are from the lecture in the theatre itself, during which curator Karen passed around some 19th century, pre-anaesthesia instruments used for removing bladder stones and demonstrated the need to be quick in amputation -
In a cupboard, a bandage winding machine -
In the museum, sections of bladder stones -
... and those fearsome tools (different shapes for men and women) -
Elsewhere, less frightening things -
Couldn't resist the "Maggot Wash" packet in the case; on the left is early anaesthetic equipment -
Morandi would like this grouping of bottles -
On the right, a child's cot, into which a small girl placed her doll, and insisted it needed to be left there; now it's been joined by a small teddy and children rearrange them in the bed -
 Miscellaneous bottles, and a set of cupping equipment -
It was interesting to see how the others' drawings had developed throughout the course - mine didn't develop, I felt ... I was floundering around in terms of subjects and approach, though being confined to using a pen did help.

It would be a good course to do again, either choosing new subjects or revisiting the same ones, and building on the work done so far. I'd like to get beyond worrying about "technique" or accuracy and start to be able to communicate what the objects are saying to me.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 10, 2015 10:05 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Reticulata Iris in Bloom

 I saw these little Reticulata iris bulbs in Costco last fall and thought I would give them a try.  I am so delighted with them! 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 10, 2015 04:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

studio time:-))

Finally!!  It's been so long since I have been there that I had forgotten what chaos lives in the storage bins.  Lots of ideas going through my head, but unless I actually try them, I won't know what works.
Of course, before I can do anything, I have to sort.

The benefit of sorting is that you find things you had forgotten you had.  So this gave me the chance to look with fresh eyes at a few pieces of fabric I unearthed.  I found three of these butt-ugly nine patches
just in time to redo one and bring the other two originals to my upcoming UFO class.  What was I thinking??

On the other hand, I also came across some printed pieces I had forgotten about. Maybe I should think about doing something with them?  Quite a variety -- and this is the tip of the iceberg
This was deconstructed screen printing.
Clamped shibori.
Have no idea, but think this might have been soy wax batik that I then discharged and screeenprinted on.  It's a mystery to me.
Oh, yes. This was a demo piece from a class I did eons ago on screenprinting with freezer paper stencils and who knows what else.  

Another piece of shibori.
Maybe it will work with this fabric. Or not.  I really like this piece of cloth - screenprinted with thickened dyes using tape and then thermofax.  Since I never write down my process, I can never remember what I did.  But I see some discharge here.

It the meantime, I have my sorting/ironing/organizing work cut out for me.  And it's the best way for me to become inspired.  Today was a start.

by (Rayna) at April 10, 2015 01:36 AM

April 09, 2015

Sarah Ann Smith

Food for Thought! A SAQA Exhibit

The Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA)’s newest touring exhibit of art quilts debuts this month at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky, just in time for the annual AQS Quilt Show in Paducah.  I’m thrilled to be among the 34 artists in this exhibit, and equally thrilled with the exhibit catalog (which just happens to be available for sale here on the SAQA website–thank you to Deidre Adams for doing such a great job on it.)  More information about the exhibit is here on the SAQA website.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates.  Available to order here.

The new Food for Thought catalog from Studio Art Quilt Associates. Available to order here.

My pages in the catalog.  Great layout and design on the pages--love the enormous detail photo on the left.  The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.

My pages in the catalog. Great layout and design on the pages–love the enormous detail photo on the left. The booklet is about 8.5 inches square.  Click to view larger.

When visiting my mother we would often go to a restaurant called Insalata, housed in a building that had been a bank when I was a child. The chef/owner met the challenge of the enormous ceilings by commissioning oversized artwork of fruits and vegetables scaled to fit the soaring walls. I loved the persimmons, especially, and remembered it as I made another quilt in my tomatoes series.   As I worked on these salad ingredients, I recalled the flavors of our food and the company of my mother and her friends as we lunched there.

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  First major presentation in public at lecture, Tuesday, How Did She Do That?

Insalata, (c) Sarah Ann Smith 2014.  For sale.  40 x 42.5 inches.

My first tomato quilts became the basis of my Quilting Arts/Interweave video workshop which teaches my collage process.  As Helen Gregory, VP of content for F+W said, the title may be the longest ever:  Art Quilt Design from Photo to Threadwork, with Fabric Collage and Machine Quilting (link here, also available as a download here).  But as she also said, there is just so much in it!  Here’s one of the early tomato quilts:


Insalata is made of Artist dyed and painted fabrics, commercial batiks, poly-wool blend batting, textile paint, Mistyfuse, crisp interfacing, Superior Threads 40-wt poly and 60-wt poly thread, raffia.  Techniques include dyeing and painting fabric. Fused collage. Intensely machine quilted.

The exhibit will travel to Great Britain (England and Ireland) next year, and additional venues thereafter. Sure hope I get to see it in the cloth somewhere!


by Sarah Ann Smith at April 09, 2015 11:00 AM

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Tides by Jenny Joseph


There are some coasts
Where the sea comes in spectacularly
Throwing itself up gullies, challenging cliffs,
Filling the harbours with great swirls and flourish,
A theatrical event that people gather for
Curtain up twice daily. You need to know
The hour of its starting, you have to be on guard.

There are other places
Places where you do not really notice
The gradual stretch of the fertile silk of water
No gurgling or dashings here, no froth no pounding
Only at some point the echo may sound different
And looking by chance one sees ‘Oh the tide is in.’

- Jenny Joseph (found here)

Born in Birmingham in 1932, Jenny Joseph was publishing poems while reading English at St Hilda's College Oxford, then had a variety of jobs: newspaper reporter, lecturer in language and literature, and landlady of a London pub.

Her first book, The Unlooked-for Season, appeared in 1960. In 1992 the bulk of her first four books of poems was reprinted in Selected Poems by Bloodaxe Books. Her varied output includes poetry for children as well as adults, books that combine prose and poetry (Persephone) and different forms of prose fictions (Extended Similes). She has collaborated with photographers (Beached Boats), painters, musicians, actors and dancers, and worked with speakers of poetry and voice teachers to encourage the learning and speaking of poetry.

She is the author of these famous lines, in the poem "Warning" -
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

Hear her reading some of her poems here.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 09, 2015 09:27 AM

April 08, 2015

Olga Norris

The extraordinary ordinary

When I was a child and visiting my Scottish grandparents in Aberdeenshire, being sent to bed while it was still light meant that I was far from sleepy.  I would stare up at the ceiling, and wonder what the room would be like if we lived upside down.  I took this thought to other ceilings, and it meant that I was immediately drawn to this photograph by William Eggleston (image from here).
I don't know if there is a category in art for the Extraordinary Ordinary.  There should be.  Still Life is a portmanteau expression.  It is meant to be the equivalent of Nature Morte - but I have them clearly distinct in my mind with death being spelled out unequivocally on the one hand, as in this Jean-Baptiste Oudry (Nature Morte avec oiseaux morts et cerises image from here)
while on the other, the death is glancingly dealt with - either with a Memento Mori, as in the case of this Cezanne (Still life with skull image from here)
or not mentioned out loud as in my favourite Winifred Nicholson still life (image Cyclamen and primula image from here)
There are squillions of painters of still life, but the other day I encountered one which made me stop and look closer.  Nathalie Du Pasquier's website lays out her paintings in a wondrous development over the years from examples of still life,
the atmosphere of which reminded me of de Chirico below:The dream turns image from here
to a formalised presentation of the extraordinary ordinary.  
But for me the painter who matches the way that Eggleston captures what is there in front of us and presents it straight in its own compelling beauty, is Altoon Sultan (image below from here)
whose blog Studio and Garden is also a delight.

by Olga Norris ( at April 08, 2015 04:37 PM