Sunday, August 15, 2010


Not only do I love fabric, I am fascinated by the making of fabric throughout history: spinning, weaving, dying. In doing genealogical research, I came across the lace makers of northern France and Belgium. I am impressed with the detail, beauty and delicacy of the pieces, and I always think of the women who made them in the days before machine made lace. When people who are not quilters look at my work common comments are, " I would never have the patience!", "How many hours did that take?". For me it is not a question of patience for that implies that I would rather be doing something else, or that the goal is the final product. Frankly,the result is very often a surprise as the threads seem to lead me down a path of their own design. Making art is more of a meditation. Today's expression might be "being in the zone". I imagine the lace makers of France and Belgium being in the zone with their work. Here is a piece of Antique Valenciennes lace I purchased from Em's Heart:
This lace was hand made in the town where many of my ancestors are from. It is made from very finely spun linen. Lace making became a lucrative industry for the region and there was much competition to make the finest, most intricate designs.  The lace makers of Valenciennes claimed that it was the unique climate of the town that kept the flax at just the right texture to allow the lace makers to achieve such fine detail. Hmmmm.   Stay tuned to see how I work this into a new art piece.
For more information on lace and lace making, check out the Lace Fairy:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

for Madeleine

 A friend visiting my art show in May told me she would be turning 50 in September and would love to have a small piece of my work. This was an uncharacteristically bold request on her part and I gladly agreed to make something for her newly redecorated house. She even gave me a paint chip

Somehow I can't make something until it feels ready to be born. I spent some months letting the idea be there and bringing to mind how I feel in her presence. A while ago I collected some photos of lotuses. Two of the pink ones floated to the surface of my mind when I thought about her so I began with that. It took a while to get them printed to my satisfaction. I think I now have  about 20 pink lotuses of various sizes and shades printed on various kinds of fabric. NEW PROJECT! Egg shape or ovals seem  like a comfortable space to work in so I started with the lotus printed on silk in an egg shape and added other shapes and colours to fill the space. I loved the way this piece of hand dyed turquoise and yellow silk looked with the lotus.
  It took a while before the right shapes and colours found themselves together and there was of course the moment when I hated it.

After a day or 2 the moment passed as it always does and I started to enjoy myself again. As you can tell, I am not a fast worker. It all needs to simmer for whatever time it takes. The finished piece  is 12"X16", photo printed on silk, hand dyed silk, lamé, commercial and hand dyed and batik cotton. I haven't thought of a name for this piece yet. Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Being a foodie in Montreal

I was over 50 when I realized I am a foodie. I didn't really know there was such a thing. I thought everyone loved beautiful yummy food. I assumed that when traveling, the first place everyone wanted to go was the local food market to, fondle, sniff and ogle all the local fare. Also that trying a new recipe,or ingredient was everyone's idea of adventure or that everyone's idea of the most luxurious splurge was a good restaurant meal. Not so. Sadly, some just eat to live.
Well, if you ARE a foodie, Montreal is a great place to live. Of course there are wonderful restaurants of every variety and price all over the city and you can get breakfast, lunch or dinner pretty much any time of day or night. Another side of the food experience of the city is the markets, especially this time of year. Strolling among the flowers, fruits and vegies, sampling the produits de terroir,  is one of my greatest pleasures.

Yesterday's journey resulted in a Mediterranean salad with merguez from the Halal butcher, prosciutto, Greek feta, kalamata olives from the Itallian store, juicy sweet melon, greens, garlic, mint, fresh basil, 3 colours of tomatoes and edible flowers from the farmers stalls. JOY in the summer.
And PLEASE  never buy bottled salad dressing. It takes 5 minutes to make fresh and so easy and good. The key is high quality ingredients.

Best Basic Salad Dressing recipe
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic crushed
pinch or more of fines herbes
salt and pepper to taste
Start with the vinegar. Dissolve the salt completely in it. Add the olive oil and other ingredients wisk with a fork or shake in a jar. Blending is all. Voila.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

collage finished

YAY, finally finished the collage from the show! I embellished the fused piece with holographic threads on my domestic sewing machine then put it on the long arm to quilt and stitch the edges to a purple backing.
What a treat delivering it to Carina. She had the perfect spot for it in her loft. And she gave me a pair of her wonderful feather earnings!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My art is my church

I was so surprised to get a call from designer Katrin Leblond telling me the large crazy quilt piece displayed in her store just sold. Of course it is beautiful so why should I be surprised? Well, it is a fully hand embellished piece and largish. ( 47"X 47" X 47") I wasn't sure there was anyone out there besides me who gets such a thrill out of purple and hand embellishment.

I worked on this piece when I was between hip replacement surgeries. Obviously not very mobile but with still lots of energy and desire to be busy. What a pleasure to spread out all my beauties...
beads, silk ribbons, hand dyed laces I made years ago, embroidery thread...

and some Milagros from Mexico. The tin work done in Mexico is really spectacular and this is only a mini example. Outside churches they sell these small replicas of different parts of the body tied with a colourful ribbon. If you have an ailment you can buy a milagro for that part and bring it with your prayers for healing to the altar in the church. Well, my church is my art, so there are several legs sewn into this piece and well as a heart or 2 just in case.

I enjoyed working with the silks, satins, sequins that don't usually go into a quilt. And, yes, I admit it, thanks to my dancing friend who makes her own costumes, I came home from a trip with an entire suitcase full of fabric scraps, some no larger than a few inches. This is an obsession that must be controlled, but I digress.

Every bead is sewn on by hand. I learned many embroidery stitches as well as silk ribbon embroidery. Tiny silk roses...very fun. This piece is a lot to look at all at once and so interesting to explore all the little details. I have had it with me for a while now and am happy it has found a new home. It is wonderful to know there are people out there who still appreciate craft and hand made beauty. A big thank you to Katrin Leblond, queen of colourful fashion and her wonderful staff. See all the beauty she creates on her blog:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tequila Sunrise

Can you tell it is summer?

I know I have been absent from this blog for a while. It is my style to connect intensely and then retreat inside for a while. After the show in Montréal, I traveled to British Columbia where I assisted the final seminar in a training in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy. This is the very deep and gentle form of body work I practice. It was profoundly moving to see the students complete this part of the journey. I also took some time to be with colleagues explore the astounding beauty of Vancouver Island. I am a slow mover and one who likes to take time and space. It was an intense and deeply nourishing journey.
And it is good to be back in my home studio making things again. Here are some photos of a piece I just finished. I have been working on finishing the collage from the show here in Montréal. I am embellishing it with metallic threads. There is a lot of fusible and the needle kept getting gunked up. I changed needles a lot. I was trying to figure out if I could quilt through all those thicknesses. I had another UFO here that is also fused so I went ahead and put it on DEEP ( my INNOVA quilting machine that is purple, hence the name) NO PROBLEM. So here is the new piece, Tequila Sunrise. I will get the collage on the frame today and post some photos when it is done so stay tuned...

Nature inspiration from Beautiful BC

View from Oyster Bay

Blue and Yellow


Eagle Mountain

Who says orange and purple are not nature colours?

Low tide

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Collage Winner!

Well, first ever art show was taken down yesterday. What a journey it was bringing the inside out. I loved the quiet times in the gallery simply being with the pieces in light. Friends and strangers wandered in. The weekend was very grey..SNOW even... and people loved coming in and being with all the colour. It was refreshing, inspiring and uplifting.

AND the collage was a lot of fun. Some people just placed one thing and walked away. Some spent a longer time creating a motif.

The children who came in had a great time.

SO (drumroll please!)The winner of the collage is......Carina Rose

I will sew it all together, probably add some lace, yarn, beads...we'll see. It will be finished and ready to deliver by July 1.

I am off to British Columbia for the last seminar of Biodynamic Craniosacral training I am assisting. The group has been together for 2 1/2 years. These are always bittersweet moments. I look forward to being in that beautiful land and filling my eyes and heart with all those blues and greens. I will post photos of the process of finishing this piece and delivering it to Carina Rose so stay tuned.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Opening like a lotus

I hope you had a wonderful OPENING....last might a lotus !!!!!

A poetic friend of mine sent this message this morning. The gallery opening was indeed like a flowering for me. The first time my creations came out of my house/studio into the world.

Friends and family came from near and far. One friend took a 2 hour bus ride from the country to be there with me. People I know from very different times and areas of my life and some who wandered in off the street all were together enjoying themselves.
The evening started with a family coming in. At that point the
collaborative collage was blank. The 2 little boys went right for it adding and building. It is amazing how creativity is so natural for children. They broke the ice for all the grown ups who were too shy to play in public. Just as the energy slowed down, someone would come in with a child and things got going again.
My daughters invited their friends so the 20s crowd was well represented in all their fabulousness. Thanks girls!
There were a few university students of textile arts in attendance. One young woman told me about struggling with an assignment to let the work build itself. She was looking at Purple triangles which is crazy quilted and HIGHLY embellished. She said I would get an A in that class.
I had a long discussion with an artist (painter) about how the designs were created. Most people wanted to know how long it took me to make each piece. I don't know how to answer that. How long did it sit on my design wall while I worked on other stuff until just the right fabric came into my hands?How long did I hide it from myself because I was in the hating it stage? Does time frogging count? ( for those of you who don't sew, frogging is when you have to un do stitches with a seam ripper; rip it rip it rip it) Another comment is,"boy that must take a lot of patience!" Again I don't really understand this one. Raising kids, now THAT takes patience. Driving through city traffic takes patience.
Spending the hours it takes to produce a piece I feel is a luxury. Placing colours next to each other, drawing a design and stitching, stitching, stitching are all deeply satisfying experiences.
Many people told me about their experience with sewing or creating. They felt inspired to get back to painting or embroidering or making jeweley
This stage of life is bringing deep changes for me; some long term projects are coming to an end, some doors have been closed. So I have been wondering what it is that life is wanting of me next. This experience has reconnected me to my mission: Helping humans to recognize their inner beauty.