Planet Textile Threads

April 24, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Peridot by Mary Reufle

I awoke in an ecstasy.
The sky was the color of a cut lime
that had sat in the refrigerator
in a plastic container
for thirty-two days.
Fact-checkers, check.
I am happy.
Notice I speak in complete sentences.
Something I have not done since birth.
And the sky responds.
by Mary Reufle; from, which in a review of her "Trances of the Blast" goes on to elucidate the poem:

"A clichéd scene of lyric immediacy, an awakening to ecstasy, gives way to a comic comparison of the sky’s gem-like hue to moldering produce. Jackson cites Michael Warner’s description of lyric as an “image of absolute privacy,” self-contained and inviolate, and it would be hard to imagine a scene more freeze-framed than this one. But the “fact-checkers” throw us off the lyric scent. Self-expression reduced to its simplest emotional form—“I am happy”—becomes a syntactic joke: the injunction “Notice I speak in complete sentences” is immediately followed by a fragment, a dependent clause. Meanwhile, the fact-checkers propel the poem into the realm of public discourse, where they testify to the veracity of the speaker’s recollections about decomposing limes. It is an odd and seemingly trivial conversation, aware of the responses of the readership and the sky alike, with no discernible emotional end."

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 24, 2014 05:45 PM

Who made your clothes?

Fashion Revolution Day is a commemoration of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 - it aims to raise awareness and catalyse change

"Who made your clothes?" is the basic question. The website prompts you to
-Be curious
-Find out
-Do something

It seems important to do "one small thing - today". I decided to Be Curious, and Find (something ... what?) Out.

First I asked google "where are marks and spencers clothes made" and got this answer -
Their clothes are manufactured by Dewhirst, whose many factories were moved to new plants in Indonesia and Morocco to protect margins after many challenges hit the textile and apparel industry.

The company's site has a page on "social compliance", including this information -
"We provide each worker with free nutritional meals and medical support. Via a community health clinic founded in conjunction with Marks & Spencer, we have pioneered projects to cut rates of tuberculosis and to reduce infant mortality through education and support for female employees."

So far so good. Same question about John Lewis ... Seems they are looking to bring back textile manufacture to the UK as part of their "made in the UK" campaign - aiming to increase sales of British-made products to 15% by next year.

(This move to "onshore manufacturing" is as much due to rising labour costs in the far east as to a change in consumer preference, though the clothing factory disaster must have gone some way to raise social awareness. One of the problems with bringing manufacturing back to the UK is a skills shortage... but Jaeger - a very British firm that has been manufacturing offshore since 2000 - too is planning to do so for some garments, moving most of the rest out of China to countries closer to home, such as Portugal and Tunisia.)

All very interesting ... as was the trawl through my collection of labels saved from recycled garments, finding ones with "Made in..." for the photo. The jeans I'm wearing today were made in the USA and the top was made in Austria ... but under what conditions?

Ethical shopping ... what a minefield ... the more you look into it, the fewer easy answers there are...

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 24, 2014 09:20 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Mixed Media - Green

This is the beginning of a piece I hope will be a floral.   I have collaged a map, screen printed text, and painted with fluid acrylic.  I have plans for this one. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 24, 2014 06:00 AM

April 23, 2014

Virginia A. Spiegel

Oooh, Java Art!


The Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange is in progress with 24 artists working with at least 3 techniques and a coffee cup graphic from Lynn Krawczyk’s new book.

CunninghamM400Michael Cunningham was first to send me photos of his 12 completed artworks.  Shown above is a detail. Love the dynamic (dare I say, caffeinated) letters.

BaldwinInProgress400Rhonda Baldwin shared her work table and …

BaldwinDone400 her two completed beautiful artworks for exchange.  Rhonda liked the process so much, s
she also made a piece for her kitchen coffee wall.

VanSoestFabric400One of several complex fabrics for the java-themed artwork that Mary Ann Van Soest created using techniques from Lynn’s book.

VanSoestFinished400The four artworks Mary Ann will be exchanging.

Westcott400Sally Westcott will be exchanging these six high-contrast artworks. The heart print was created with a handmade foam stamp, one of the techniques shared in Lynn’s book.

Stay tuned for more great  artwork as the 24 artists work toward the May 2 deadline for completing their 6-inch square artwork for the Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange.






by Virginia at April 23, 2014 10:51 AM

Margaret Cooter

Colour on a grey day, thanks to Matisse

Within days of the exhibition opening we went to see Matisse's Cut Outs at Tate Modern. It was wonderfully colourful - of course - and quite lifted the spirits on a rainy day!

The famous book Jazz - which was based on theatres and circuses, not on music - was laid out around one room, with the original papercuts above. Matisse was disappointed with the way the printing lost the contrast of different surfaces layered on top of each other; he said that printing "removes their sensitivity", and it's interesting to be able to compare and try to see his point of view. The book has 20 illustrations, and 146 pages - the rest are filled with large script, his hand-written notes, made as he worked -
page-spread from Jazz (1943) (via)
That falling figure appears in other work - for instance my favourite of the prints available in the shop -
The Ascher scarves seen in the Artists Textiles show at the Fashion and Textile Museum were also at the Tate -
L'escarpe (1947) (via)
Matisse would compose his cut-outs directly on the wall of his studio in Vence, southern France, and he originally conceived of this group as one whole composition. In the exhibition they were framed separately, most shown together on one wall.

The Blue Nudes have a room of their own. Four were made quickly, but one was the result of lots of experimenting.
Cut 'in a single movement' (via the BBC's review, where you can see a video of the show)
"The Bees" (summer, 1948) though made of little squares, has the sense of captured movement and flow that exists in his freely-cut works -
"There are Matisse miracles here, some of them surprising" says this review
Some of the works are very large, "Mermaid and Parakeet" for example -
All of the works are wonderfully colourful, and the negative space is easily overlooked but crucial.

After getting an eyeful, we headed over the Millennium Bridge, only to find our eyes fixed on the colourful umbrellas among the crowd of black ones -

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 23, 2014 09:20 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Recycled Art

This is a back page of a sketch pad - thick cardboard that was painted with gesso, then painted, screen printed, block printed, collaged.....A work in progress.  As you can see - I am in the middle of a lot of these pieces.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 23, 2014 06:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

the Pilgrim & Roy Exhibit at Boston MFA

Worth the trip if you're within driving distance.  Yes, they allowed photos (sans flash) so I took a ton.

Here are a few of my faves, although the photos don't begin to do them justice. The beauty of this exhibit was partly that the walls behind the quilts were painted to enhance them, and there were contemporary pieces of art that related to some of the quilts.  There is nothing new under the sun.

 Here is a detail of this remarkable quilt.

Came home inspired but have been busy all week with the dreaded apartment clean-out (supposed to have been done today) and trying to fix a closing date with the buyer's attorney who seems to have been abducted by aliens.  

Tomorrow, the retinologist and then - yes, I am going to my studio. Dinner out with friends and a chance to catch up on our lives since we last saw each other.  If all goes well for the rest of this week, I might even be in the studio for more than one afternoon.  Stay tuned.

by (Rayna) at April 23, 2014 01:29 AM

Terry Grant

Earth day, art day

I have been lying low. I had oral surgery yesterday and while it was relatively minor, my mouth is achey and uncomfortable and it makes eating and talking difficult. I have a plastic stent covering the roof of my mouth, protecting the wound where tissue was cut out for a graft. ( I know—gross. Sorry I mentioned it...) so I am thpeaking with a lithp ath well.  Avoiding people contact.  This afternoon I felt up to a little art project.

I have a couple bags of stuff that are the remains, cut from the shirts I have been taking apart to use in my quilts. I intended to toss that stuff out, but somehow have been unable to part with those bags of collars and plackets and the flat-felled seams from all those shirts. 

Today I pulled out a big handful of seams and a buttonhole strip and decided to see if I could come up with something to hang outside. I like the idea of bits of art designed to hang outdoors to be affected by, and eventually succumb to the sun and wind and weather. I made weather grams in a class years ago and hung them in the garden and watched them weather and fade. They are a lovely tradition that originated many years ago here in Portland, by the famous calligrapher, Lloyd Reynolds. You still see them around the city. They were in the back of my mind, as well as Tibetan prayer flags, that are left out to the weather. 

I took my scraps to the studio and, along the way, picked up a couple sticks that I attached some to.

Then I pinned it up on my design wall and used more of the long seam "strings" to weave across the piece. 

I strung some of the buttons I've been cutting off the shirt onto a heavy thread and appropriated a little stitched heart that has been pinned to my wall for several months, and added them. 

Then I nailed it up on the big ash tree next to the bridge. 

I will see it coming and going from the studio to the house. I wonder how the elements will change it. My little recycled Earth Day banner. Maybe I will make more. 

by Terry Grant ( at April 23, 2014 12:51 AM

April 22, 2014

Olga Norris

In order to improve organisation...

... first one must create even more chaos!
Alex on wheelsI found brilliant sets of drawers at IKEA, and bought two - one for my smaller stitched work (great, that fitted in under one of my desks in the sewing room, and is functioning beautifully).  And one to help keep papers pristine for printing etc.  At present in the print kitchen I have a bookcase precariously piled and jammed with precious papers that really need more care.  So, I'm just about to away and cause chaos so that order may - eventually - reign.  I do like order.

by Olga Norris ( at April 22, 2014 02:58 PM

Margaret Cooter

New incarnation for the "museum maze" book

The first version of "Walking the Museum Maze" book was printed on a laserjet printer, and some of the ink (or rather, toner) came off during the waxing process. The photos submitted to the "Inspired by..." show didn't show those particular areas, and my bargain with the devil was that if the work was accepted, I'd remake the book.
First attempt (on the left) was on paper that proved to be too thick, not translucent after waxing. (I'll put it together anyway.) On the right is the second attempt, on an onion-skin type of paper, which became very translucent. Another interesting factor is the ink colour - both were printed on the same printer, without changing any colour settings. 

After cutting and folding and joining, I'll add a line of stitches with thin (linen?) thread along the base of the photos. Given that viewers won't be able to pick up the book, the stitched "footprints" will indicate the twists and turns of the maze.

And after that, it's just a matter of preparing the perspex shelf, and delivering it all to the gallery on the appointed day. 

The exhibition runs from 20 May to 19 June, and the gallery is at 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HT, nearest tube Lambeth North.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 22, 2014 02:00 PM

Cynthia St. Charles

My Print Table

My 3 x 4' print table is covered in Yupo paper - a stiff synthetic art paper.  I have a big roll of it.  It makes a great work surface and when I am finished using it - I plan an using it for collage or some other kind of art work.  Time will tell.  So far - nothing is sticking to it - so I will keep using it.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 22, 2014 06:00 AM

April 21, 2014

Virginia A. Spiegel

Call for Entries: Totem


My friend, artist Louise Barker, sent notice of Call For Entries for this interesting exhibit:

TANGLED, a Northwest Montana fiber arts cooperative, is seeking entries for their annual Fall Presentation Exhibit at The Purple Pomegranate in Whitefish, Montana.

This year, the theme of the show is “Totem.”  Totem, that from which I draw my purpose, meaning and being.  Do you have a symbol that serves as an emblem for you or your clan?  Is there a being or object that reminds you of your ancestry or mystic past?  What does Totem mean to you?

The deadline for submitting applications and photos is August 15, 2014.  The month long show begins October 2, 2014 with an Exhibit opening.  For a complete prospectus please go to the Call for Entries or call 406-862-7227 for more information.

by Virginia at April 21, 2014 07:20 PM

Margaret Cooter

Monday miscellany

"Peacock", a hooked rug designed by Winifred Nicholson (1970; 34"x54"). Found in "Rag Rug Creations" by Lynne Stein (the bent shape is due to the curl of the book page). The caption says the rug was hooked by Florence Williams, and inspired by a mosaic in Ravenna of the same theme, colour, and composition. The flowers look rather un-mosaic like, but very much in Winifred Nicholson's painting style (eg here).


Ever wanted to work in a museum? An insight into the job of being front-of-house staff (on the information desk, say ... or as a gallery warder) is at -

"All I propose is that the big museums in this country cease to see their their front-of-house staff as expendable automata. They are an asset. Hire young people for their enthusiasm and knowledge – they are not too proud to do this job, believe me – and cultivate them rather than alienate them, make them feel that they are part of their museum’s community rather than trapped in a departmental bubble. Help them forge connections with back-of-house departments so they can demonstrate the fact that they are not morons. Make it easier for them to volunteer and they will volunteer, they have paid tens of thousands for their education and they are desperate to learn and to help. My generation accepts working for free as a fact of life, but there’s little motivation to do this when our sense of self-worth is systematically ground down every day. "


Sancaklar Mosque, Istanbul - "its only decoration is the light that washes the Kiblah wall"
Architect Emre Arolat (via)


This cave in China is so large that it has its own weather - including clouds. There are several openings at floor level, but only one near the top - so the weather can't make its way out.
"For this shot, [photographer Robbie] Shone had three accomplices: one standing behind the frame with a large single-use flash bulb, one standing on the rock to the left shining a headlamp at the cave wall, and a third dangling from a rope hundreds of metres away [in the spotlight]. Although the shutter was open for only 30 seconds, the whole operation took four hours, with the team communicating via walkie-talkie because the echoes made shouting unworkable. "


Tchotchke - A small piece of worthless crap, a decorative knick knack with little or no purpose. 

Side note: Chotchkie [the word has many alternative spellings] can be pretty, sentimental, or even occasionally useful though it usually breaks easily if useful. If you are having trouble identifying tchotchke just look around your house or someone else's and whatever you see that a burglar wouldn't steal is probably tchotchke. 

Pronunciation: choch-ka


British Pathe has now uploaded its entire collection of old films to the web. The 85,000 short pieces include many news reels and tourism videos set in the capital [London].
Ride around in 1960′s West End traffic for 20 minutes, see what a 1930′s fog looked like (hint: foggy), or check out some vintage sexism as 18-year-old Candy Scott poses on a massive gun.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 21, 2014 09:26 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Controlling Postcard Wrinkles

Today, I thought I would show you how I manage the tendency of mixed media postcards to buckle and wrinkle as they dry.  I am clamping stacks of postcards in progress between two very stiff sheets of cardboard - cut to size.  I am using the clamps I have been keeping around for years - they are bit rusty from all the fabric processes they have been used for.  They work great for getting and keeping the postcards (made of a variety of materials - most of them recycled mail art - and very unpredictable when exposed to glue, layering, paint, and print.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 21, 2014 06:00 AM

April 20, 2014

Dijanne Cevaal

On the Go

I seem to have been on the go almost non-stop since my last blog post, though the last few days have been quiet- I needed the rest and also to recharge!

First some photos from Quilts en Beaujolais, which was as usual lots of fun, catching up with old friends, making new friends, Els Mommers from Saba in the Dutch Carribean, Chantal Guillermet, Caroline Higgs, Jane  Rollason, where I will be exhibiting in her village Viville in September and also conducting a workshop.
  So here are my five Chartres ladies altogether and below also faces inspired by Chartres for the Voyage art exhibition which was also shown at Quilts en Beaujolais.

I did spend a day or two in Lyon and in particular in Vieux Lyon after Quilts en Beaujolais where i found this  carved door handle  to an atelier of a young  card/textile artists whose name I did not record.

And a lovely  bookshop Diogene full of second hand books and  old  and rare books to die for, but there is only so much you can carry... alas. I spent a lovely hour or so there regardless.

And last but not least there is still time to join the On-line  Travellers Blanket class starting next week- just email me if you are interested in joining. I am also teaching this class in the flesh in Colac in begin July. And now that I have some moments to reflect on the last few weeks I think I shall make a start on one myself as well- something with a new  twist!

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at April 20, 2014 07:34 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

Amaryllis in Living Colour

At long last I can share!   I still can’t believe that I am amongst those juried in to the Living Colour Textiles exhibit curated by Australian Brenda Gael Smith.

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014.  See the Living Colour Exhibit at

Amaryllis by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014. See the Living Colour Exhibit at

To see the full exhibit, click on the link in the caption.

I knew I wanted to do something big and bold.  At first I wanted to do a lily, but when I began working on this piece it was mid-winter—not the ideal time of year to go out in Maine and snap pictures of lilies.  Then I realized I had the perfect image right in our own dining room:  an amaryllis.  So I waited patiently for the blossoms to open, took a ga-zillion phiotos, then selected the right ones.

I dyed the red fabric as well as the green/yellow in the centers (and used commercial batiks and my hand-dyes in the background).  I thread-sketched the amaryllis onto batting and backing, then cut away the batting/backing underneath the background, added a second layer of batting (Matilda’s Own Wool-Poly, and thrilled that this wonderful Aussie batting gets to visit “home”), quilted the background densely and around the petals and stamens.   Finished size pieces in the exhibit is 40 x 100 cm, or about 16 x 39 1/2 inches.

Here is a detail:

Amaryllis, detail, by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014.  See the Living Colour Exhibit at

Amaryllis, detail, by Sarah Ann Smith (C) 2014. See the Living Colour Exhibit at

Brenda has a full listing of where the quilts will be on display on the website.  You can also buy an exhibit catalog (published by Blurb) directly from Brenda or, more conveniently for those of us in the US, directly from Blurb.  I’ll add that link here, but at the moment I gotta run!  Spring break has arrived and we are heading out the door to take Eli on his first college visits!  Back soon!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 20, 2014 11:52 AM

Margaret Cooter

Hoppy Easter!

The bunnies were made with patterns from the Omiyage book by Kumiko Sudo, which contains patterns for useful little bags -- and some fascinating objects that look best when made from bits of kimono silk. Both bunnies are stuffed with lavender - one is made of rough silk and linen and the other of indigo-dyed viscose. They are entirely hand-sewn ... and I find them rather weird ...

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 20, 2014 09:24 AM

April 19, 2014

Terry Grant

A little break in the rain

There are times when it is cold and gray and the rain seems endless, and I wonder why we chose to live in all this rain. But then I remember what it gives us. Glorious spring and summer, for starters.  It has been raining off and on today— gentle, fragrant spring rain that makes everything sparkle and seems to pump up the color saturation. This view out the back door made me think of Impressionist paintings. (The "Glaze" app helped the illusion along.)

So many parts of the country are in drought. Alarming. I wish we could share some of our rain. 

by Terry Grant ( at April 19, 2014 05:56 PM

Olga Norris

Two blue sleeves

It has been a sunny holiday weekend so far, with interesting blues in the skies.  My thoughts have turned to two blue sleeves which I very much admire:
Titian's man with a quilted sleeve (from here) is glorious - that expanse of blue, I'm sure feels just like the silk I am quilting at present.
I am so attracted to Vuillard's women's clothing.  I can feel all those crisp blouses, this (from here) being a bright well ironed cotton, I'm sure.

by Olga Norris ( at April 19, 2014 03:27 PM

Marion Barnett

The Straight Debate.

Here's the first of the pieces I talked about yesterday, waiting to be worked on ;

And here it is, finished ;
I think it's rather fun.  The cat button was part of a set by Button Mad, which my sister gave me for Christmas, while the boat and duck buttons were left over from clothes I made for my son when he was wee.  A family piece...I think it'll end up with Cara, my granddaughter.  Unless someone makes me an offer I can't refuse...

I showed it to Robin who said, it's nice...but the edges aren't right.  To me, the edges are Just Fine.  Most people, he said, would want them to be straight.   Now, I can get them to do flat, which is important, I think...but I'm not so sure about straight.  I like the country, primitive, sketchy feel that the frayed edges if this piece was a fragment of a larger piece.  It adds texture and visual interest.  What do you think?

by marion barnett ( at April 19, 2014 12:04 PM

Margaret Cooter

Watching paint dry

Yet another layer on "the landscape" - it wasn't meant to be a landscape, in fact it started in portrait format but quickly got turned round.

This is one of three pieces I'm adding paint to, day after day. Half an hour is about the right amount of time - enough time for deciding what to do next, and then doing it. And not thinking about it between times. Though  I'm noticing more when looking at paintings ... along the lines of "oh that would be something to try, a shape to add, a colour to use".

The idea is to start again completely when it gets stuck, and to enjoy mixing colours and loading the brush and dabbing the paint here & there. To get used to handling these things. To notice what happens.

Some days I take several pictures, some days just the one. It evolves -

Bad little habits I'd like to shed: (a) being mean with paint; (b)getting fiddly; (c) being dull.

Hmm, let me rephrase that! I'm trying to be liberal with the paint squeezed onto the palette, and any moment now BOLD things will appear.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 19, 2014 09:44 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Work in Progress - 10 x 15"

Here is another work in progress.  I am really not happy with the silver marker lines, but I am sure I can turn it around.  I just need to work intuitively and not overthink it.  Stay tuned!

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 19, 2014 06:00 AM

Rayna Gillman


Leaving for home  tomorrow after a lovely time teaching, dining, and being treated to a visit to the Boston MFA to see the Pilgrim Roy quilt exhibit.

First, I promised a few class pix.  One of the exercises was to use a visual as a jumping-off point to create a piece that captured the feeling/essence without replicating the original.  Rita picked this picture by Leger
and interpreted it like this.

Marla based her piece on a phrase she picked that said "up the walll."

There were lots more, but no room to show them all.  Today, students were free to bring in non-art quilts they had started and wanted to turn into art quilts, or at least less tradtional looking pieces.

This block became something else more interesting.

And the rest of them will follow suit.

The above beauty is on the way to beecoming sometthing better.  Here is a very preliminary look at a  bit of progress:

Tomorrow, I leave for home and will post pix of the don't miss exhbit of the Pilgrim Roy quilts.
Nite - I am going to gear up for tomorrow's drive back to  NJ

by (Rayna) at April 19, 2014 03:05 AM

April 18, 2014

Marion Barnett

Negative Thinking...

affects us all, whether we admit it or not, whether we're depressed or not (though depression does make it rather worse...).  One of my favourites is that I'm lazy, that I don't work hard enough.  And then, as I did today, I go to tidy the studio and realise that it's not strictly speaking true... I just get diverted a lot.  There is, however, a lot of work around...  I picked up these five pieces that had been kicking around the studio (out of a Rather Substantial Pile), waiting for something... In this case, I think they had been waiting for me to get back into hand sewing.

Clockwise from top left is a piece of silk, with yarns and other pieces of silk needlefelted onto it.  Then there is a piece of Evolon which has been printed using one of my hand cut lino blocks, then transfer dyed, then stitched.  Below that, there is a piece of transfer dyed lutradur, fused onto crinkled paper (I think that one is probably upside down in this image).  Fourth, is a piece of shibori painted nylon beneath a piece of transfer dyed lutradur, with a lot of stitch, and finally, a transfer dyed monoprint. All of these pieces need more stitch, except the fourth one, which needs embellishment, I think with tiny lutradur flowers, and maybe some three dimensional leaves... we'll see.

I like all of these pieces, but have a sneaky preference for the first one...though I'm fond of the monoprint, too.  Guess that's my Easter weekend sorted out....what with warping up the peg loom, and starting the rug, and possibly buying a couple of plants (well, it's traditional, right?).  If you celebrate it, have a very Happy Easter.  And don't worry; a girl (or boy) really can't have too much chocolate!

by marion barnett ( at April 18, 2014 03:29 PM

Olga Norris

Blink, and you are missed

Time is interesting.  Listening to the radio the other day I heard the theory that we experience time speeding past when we are older because we are familiar with what we are doing.  Time seems to travel more slowly when we are younger because we are exploring through unfamiliar territory.  And therefore the way to slow down time in later life is to try something new - plunge into the unfamiliar.  Nice idea.
I like to take time.  I like an art or craft magazine for instance to present articles which provoke thought, contemplation beyond what is there on the double page spread.  I am not fond of magazines which dazzle superficially with luscious photographs which sell a kind of blink bling.  Show but no tell.  No time.
I like the way I work because time is taken.  Ideas percolate, drawings show different sides even after the first use in one setting - with time and contemplation they sometimes demand many more settings.  Ideas persist, but are sometimes incomplete until time brings more ingredients - and it often takes time to realise that they are incomplete.  The physical making takes time, stitch by stitch, and now that my hands begin to ache from gradually increasing arthritis, longer is taken.  But I love that I can think, I can listen to the radio, I can even watch some television while stitching.
Changes over time can be delightful, especially in observing the plant world - but we also seem to be drawn to a beauty seen in the gradual disintegration of buildings, paintwork, the fabric of our surroundings ... the quaintness of rust.  The rusting takes time, but our cameras blink at it, just as we blink at our friends and ourselves with our phones. Next!
Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy from here
This week I received a card from a friend who knows of my passion for the work of Georgia O'Keeffe.  This appreciation has lasted over time - from before a time when so many greeting cards of her work were available, and it was wonderful to be brought back to that joy again, to think once more about the quality of that persistent attraction.
We may take time to produce our work, but we makers seem to live in a world of blink, of the fleeting: we decide instantly, subliminal brand recognition rules, and in competitions we are afforded but a glance of time to catch the good opinion of the gatekeepers.  Hey ho.  Time to take out my glorious big Georgia O'Keeffe books again for some savouring.

by Olga Norris ( at April 18, 2014 02:39 PM

Margaret Cooter

Kwang Young Chun's wrapped accumulations

They are presented framed, like paintings - but a more accurate description is paper sculptures. The irregular shapes (foam blocks) are wrapped in Korean mulberry paper, tied with paper string. Some works on show at Bernard Jacobson Gallery, Cork Street, were small - you could just about tuck them under your arm, had you been allowed - but most were large -
and the wrapped parcels were set in various configurations and colourways. These are details -

The New York Times said: "Chun’s preference for using natural dyes and handmade mulberry paper was born from childhood memories of his uncle’s pharmacy, where small medicinal herb parcels that were similarly wrapped with paper and hung in tight clusters from the ceiling in order to protect them from insects. ... [he said in interview] "When I started the Aggregation in late 1980, I wanted to express and take forward the spirit of Korean traditions using mulberry paper, which used to be indigenous to every Korean household ... Then in 2004, my work started to look more like lunar landscapes and dry desert as I wanted to express my anger and criticism toward modern society and how it is destroying environment.""

Outside, the one in the window takes its context - reflection of the building across the street - to make an inadvertent "criticism toward modern society" -
His website is

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 18, 2014 09:58 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Three Square 9" Collages

Here is another group that is a work in progress (I think).

This group began with the a torn strip of foil from a chocolate bar wrapper.  If I turned all these pieces a quarter turn - the foil strip would line it's way across all three boards.

Next, I screen printed the recipe in black.  Then, I printed the circles, bubble wrap, and more recipes in gold.  After that, I painted the red lines and circles with crimson paint.  Lastly, I washed the boards with fluid acrylics.

Are these done?  I am not sure.  These are waiting for a decision.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 18, 2014 06:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

!New England warmth

The weather may be chilly, but the New England hospitality is warm and the class group had a very busy, intense,a and fruitful day.

We started with exercises designed to stimulate those creative juices and give us a  springboard for talking about color and composition.  One of the exercises was to make a small piece based on a phrase picked randomly.  Another was to use a visual as a takeoff point. Etc.   how is this for a visual takeoff point? Anybody care to capture the essence without reproducing it?  

Will have pix of class work tomorrow.

by (Rayna) at April 18, 2014 02:01 AM

April 17, 2014

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Rising Five by Norman Nicholson

"We never see the flower / but only the fruit in the flower"
(watercolour by Katrina Small, via)

Rising Five 

I’m rising five” he said
“Not four” and the little coils of hair
Un-clicked themselves upon his head.
His spectacles, brimful of eyes to stare
At me and the meadow, reflected cones of light
Above his toffee-buckled cheeks. He’d been alive
Fifty-six months or perhaps a week more;
_____________Not four
But rising five.

Around him in the field, the cells of spring
Bubbled and doubled; buds unbuttoned; shoot
And stem shook out the creases from their frills,
And every tree was swilled with green.
It was the season after blossoming,
Before the forming of the fruit:
_____Not May
But rising June._____

And in the sky
The dust dissected the tangential light:
_____Not day
But rising night;
_____Not now
But rising soon.

The new buds push the old leaves from the bough.
We drop our youth behind us like a boy
Throwing away his toffee-wrappers. We never see the flower,
But only the fruit in the flower; never the fruit,
But only the rot in the fruit. We look for the marriage bed
In the baby’s cradle; we look for the grave in the bed;
_____Not living
But rising dead.

Norman Nicholson (from Complete Verse, Jonathan Cape, 1999)

This poem came my way via the BBC iPlayer, perhaps on "Something Understood" but more likely on "Words and Music" - both are eclectic and always interesting programmes. In an engaging, vivid way, it reminds us to pay attention to today, rather than always hurrying ahead to tomorrow.

Norman Nicholson (1914-1987) is known for his association with a town on the edge of the Lake District, Millom - and for four books of poems, two novels, four verse plays, criticism and an autobiography, Wednesday Early Closing (1975). His work is characterised by the simplicity and directness of his language, and deals with "ordinary" things, whether the industries in his area, religion and faith, or quotations from everyday life. He worked outside the poetry mainstream, and is also known for his social awareness as a champion of the working class.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 17, 2014 09:33 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Works in Progress - 10" Squares

These two are works in will give you an idea of my process. 
Steps shown here:

1. gesso the illustration board surface and edges
2. screen print text (Grandma's recipe) in black
3. block print circles with metallic paint
4. collage found images
5. collage tissue paper
6.  ? 

I am not sure where these two are going, either.....I know I will figure something out.  I will be sure to take pictures as I proceed and will post them here.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 17, 2014 06:00 AM

April 16, 2014

Margaret Cooter

"Boro" underfoot

After yet another visit to the Boro exhibition, I'm seeing "mending" everywhere -
Stair boro
Path boro
Pavement boro
Road boro
Window boro
Wall boro
More wall boro

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 16, 2014 02:22 PM

Virginia A. Spiegel

In the Studio: All About the Stitching


First up today is a salute to the changing of the seasons.  I have this artwork up all winter in the bedroom, but have taken it down for something lighter. It’s HEAVILY machine stitched and was created from a variety of materials including velvet, a tweed-type fabric, black felt topped with polyester fabric and burned out, commercial zebra print, my painted fabric, duck cloth, and more.  It is 24×36 inches.


Second is the hand-stitching I am doing this week for the Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange.  This is one of the 6″ square printed and stiched artworks I will be exchanging.


And, of course, stitching continues slowly on Shagbark.  It’s especially slow because I am bit-by-bit taking out all the stitching I did in the beginning which now seem to be going in the wrong direction; e.g. the blue stitches in the photo above.  Taking out handstitching is really a bit heartbreaking, but I just couldn’t ignore something that no longer fit my vision for the artwork. More and more I am learning that I am an artist who continues to evolve an artwork as long as I’m still working on it.

by Virginia at April 16, 2014 11:58 AM

Marion Barnett

The Helpful Cat

...always knows when  a job is boring, and tries to help.  Mollie being who she is, meant a lot of leaping up and down, trying to catch the warp pieces as I cut them.  Given that they are twice the length of a large, three seater sofa, and there were, at the end of it, twenty six of them, she had a very happy time catching and attempting to chew them.  Sigh.

Now, all I have to do is thread each one of the twenty six onto a peg, ready for the fabric strips I tore up earlier.

This afternoon, though, I'll be out in the garden, collecting these fellows (no, not the insect, the flower). They are scattered through the grass; a better gardener than me would dig them up, but I want the flowers for dyeing.  You can use the roots, too, so doubtless a bit of digging will be done later.

I've got a list of plants I'd like to add to the garden this year, purely for dyeing purposes, starting with a eucalyptus.  Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, will know that at one point, there were several full sized trees in the garden, but high winds brought them down.  My intention this time, though, would be to keep chopping bits off, to dye with the leaves.  I'd like some St John's Wort, mainly because I like it as a plant, but it is useful too... not that I'm obsessed... yet... or much...

by marion barnett ( at April 16, 2014 12:50 PM

Margaret Cooter

Versatile garments

Traveller's friend, the Kooshoo shawl can be worn in 12 ways. Made from Tencel and sourced from sustainable eucalyptus trees, it's very eco-conscious.

Even more bang for your buck - the Versalette has 30 configurations! It also has an instruction video, and an interesting story of how this idea led to formation of a company,, that makes all its garments from deadstock fabric, ie. fabric discarded by other manufacturers.

by Margaret Cooter ( at April 16, 2014 09:13 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Mixed Media Steens Wild Horses - Work in Progress

This one includes photographs I took of the wild horses in the Steens Mountain Herd.   This piece is not finished and I am only showing a portion of it here.  More to come, as I make progress.

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 16, 2014 06:00 AM

Rayna Gillman

speechless, but not wordless


Do you believe this?? Yesterday I had the a/c on in the car and the windows wide open in the bedroom to let in some air. In about 10 hours I am leaving for New England -- by car. Yahoo weather assures me that it will  be sunny and 50F degrees. But not where I am going.

by (Rayna) at April 16, 2014 04:35 AM

Terry Grant

The Crow

Maybe you remember the birds I made a few years ago? I started making little stuffed birds, then I tried some more stylized birds using paper and/or fabric fused to a stiff backing and hand-sewed. I have had an idea of trying to design a crow, using the second technique, and I finally started working on it last week, and finished the prototype yesterday. Here he is.

I started with a flat drawing, working from crow photos found online as my reference. I pulled out one of my earlier, unfinished birds to refresh my memory of how I had used contour lines to start building components. 

Using those preliminary pieces I started giving the body dimension by slashing and spreading the pieces and then using bits of blue masking tape to fit the pieces together to create a three dimensional model. 

The masking tape is easy to remove and reuse as the pieces need adjustments. Little by little the paper model takes shape. 

When it finally looks right I carefully remove the blue tape and trace each pattern piece onto heavier paper. I keep a stack of old file folders for patterns—just the right weight. Then I trace the pattern pieces onto my fabric, which I have fused to a stiff backing. Here are all the pieces (except the wings), cut out and ready to assemble.

I sewed the pieces together, using a decorative joining stitch, by hand.

I need to work out a better stitch for this step, as this one allows the pieces to gap and move, so I had to add some hidden whip stitches on the onside. It was a lot of difficult stitching. 

In this photo you can see the legs and feet, made from wire, wrapped with florist tape. 

This is my prototype, from whom I have learned what worked well and what didn't. I'm looking forward to making another one. I have some changes in mind. Thinking the beak might need to be a separate piece from a different (shiny?) fabric. 

by Terry Grant ( at April 16, 2014 12:01 AM

April 15, 2014

Virginia A. Spiegel

Last Day! Sign-Up for Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange

JavaLoveStitchI love hand-stitching with threads from Laura Wasilowski’s Artfabrik!

Today’s the last day to join an exchange of java-themed art based on Lynn Krawczyk’s new Intentional Printing book published by Interweave/F+W Media. It is available as an e-book also with both version currently on sale.

All the details of the Intentional Printing Java Art Exchange are here.

The Exchange group, as of this morning, with participants from the U.S., Canada, and Australia:

Lynn Krawczyk
Virginia A. Spiegel
Jamie Fingal
Janice Novachcoff
Bethany Garner
Mary Ann Van Soest
Rhonda Baldwin
Von Biggs
Jay Dodds
Gisela Towner
Deirdre Abbotts
Michael P. Cunningham
Gordana Vukovic
Anne McMillan
Marissa Vidrio
Gwen Maxwell-Williams
Marie Z. Johansen
Eileen Hallock
Sylvia Weir
Sally Wescott
Liz Berg
Jeanette Thompson
Rebecca Buchanan
Margaret McDonald

by Virginia at April 15, 2014 01:17 PM

Sarah Ann Smith

On the Glorious Color Blog

WOOT!   My quilt for Joshua caught the eye of the Glorious Color Blogger, so of COURSE I said yes they could include it in a blogpost!  Glorious Color is the source of all things related to the Kaffe Fassett collective, so you can buy fabric (and more fabric), books, and all sorts of goodies.   Anyway, they’ve done an entire POST on diamonds, starting with Marilyn Monroe–check it out here (PS…you have to scroll down a LONG way to see the quilt!).  Here’s a photo I took and shared not long ago:

It's a's not even a full year after Joshua graduated and got his GED and his quilt is DONE!

It’s a miracle…it’s not even a full year after Joshua graduated and got his GED and his quilt is DONE!

As you might guess by my silence, I’m madly working away on a quilt for a deadline.  As soon as I surface I’ll be back.

Thanks Glorious Color for liking my quilt enough to feature it on the blog!

by Sarah Ann Smith at April 15, 2014 10:54 AM

Cynthia St. Charles

Four Five Inch Squares

These four five inch pieces might be done, but I am not sure, actually.  The picture is kind of funky because it is possible to see the surface between these small pieces.  I am thinking I may do some ink work on these - I feel like the circle block prints need a bit of emphasis. 

by Cynthia St Charles ( at April 15, 2014 06:00 AM

Terry Grant

Digital Drawing day - Snack Time

For the first time since we started this we missed our Sunday deadline. Or, more accurately, I missed the deadline. It was a brutal week, is all I can say.  To give ourselves a little breathing room, we are skipping a week and will be back on Sunday, April 27 with our next challenge. Now, on with this week's theme, Snack Time.


My favorite snack—a glass of wine and a handful of almonds. I started with a photo of the background cloth and gave it the Glaze treatment. It seems a little like cheating, but is such a slick way of creating a complex background. Once again, those semi-transparent shadows on their own layer proved the unifying piece. 

iPad, Sketch Club and Glaze apps, New Trent Arcadia stylus



Terry is determined I will do still lifes. It does not come easily to 
me, particularly when I'm hurried. Nevertheless -- I would call these 
healthy snacks: an apple, grapes, pear brandy.

I didn't control my layers, although I'm getting better. I'm learning 
how to blend without using a smudging tool. I haven't actually found one 
in ArtRage yet.

This was done in a great hurry, ill-advised when one is doing still 
lifes. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the grapes. And the brandy.

ArtRage, Laptop, Wacom stylus.

Next week's assignment: "Put a bird on it."

by Terry Grant ( at April 15, 2014 12:35 AM

April 14, 2014

Carol McFee

Alice Fox course

I was lucky enough to get a place on the Alice Fox course on our annual weekend with the North Wales Embroiderers Guild at Plas Tan Y Bwlch, Maentwrog.

To see what we got up to, go take a look at the Croesew Blog

It was one of those weekends when you wish you could be on all three courses at once.

Plas Tan Y Bwlch is a wonderful venue, lovely food and the legendary bread and butter pudding with our Sunday lunch.

by Carol McFee ( at April 14, 2014 08:33 PM