Monday, December 29, 2008

What have I been doing lately?

Wow, the holiday rush is already over! Here are some photos of what's been keeping me from blogging lately. At least I had the presence of mind to photograph a few things along the way...
Here are most of the lavender sachets I managed to get done as gifts or additions to gifts. I started with a piece of lavender fabric and used bonash fusible powder to adhere on scraps of yellow, green and purple fabrics as well as Angelina fibers. I covered parts of it with tulle or netting and fused everything together, then free-motion stitched over the top to hold it down better. Then I sliced the piece up into about 12 rough squares (about 4" square) with a pinking rotary cutter. I embellished each square individually with flowers, lace, and additional stitching, then sewed a backing on like a pillow and stuffed in the dried lavender I collected in August. I just finished the last two last night...who
will I give those to? I think I owe one to my youngest daughter...
Next, here is a sample of some
of the baking I've been doing. As teens, my sisters and I used to start baking after Thanksgiving and freeeze each batch as we baked them. By Christmas, we had four or five varieties of cookies to eat and give away. This year I also managed to get in four or five batches, only two of them being particularly labor intensive (the thumbprints and the gingerbread). The thumbprints (the recipe calls these "Jewel Brooch" cookies) are my family's absolute favorites, as they are mostly butter and melt in your mouth. The recipe (which I usually triple) is as follows: Mix 1 cup plus 2 T flour with 1/3 c sugar. Add 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter and mix as for piecrust until coarse crumbs are formed. Add 1 egg yolk and 1/2 t. vanilla extract and mix with fingers or pastry blender until dough holds together. Form into a ball and refrigerate 20 min. or until stiff enough to handle. Using a measuring teaspoon, put pieces of dough 1" apart on cookie sheet, the shape into balls with floured palms. Make an indentation in the center with the handle of a wooden spoon (or the little finger). Press garnish into the center and bake at 350 for 15-20 min or until golden brown. Garnishes include raspberry jam, semisweet baking chips, an almond half, candied cherries or other fruit etc. (The raspberry jam is our favorite by far, but chocolate chips and nuts are also delicious!) I usually use the egg whites leftover from this recipe for a coconut macaroon recipe (also a family favorite!).
Here is a photo of one of the kittens we got in late October. We are earnestly trying to keep them indoors and they are full of energy so of course they climb. Here is Tigger in the small artificial tree we keep downstairs in the family room.
Maybe I'll use this for Christmas cards next year! Tigger and Honey are loads of fun and extremely soft and cuddly. I managed to get a decent shot of them snuggling together and printed it on an iron-on sheet to make sweatshirts for my daughters.
This was sort of like three blogs in one, to make up for my lack of posting this past month.
I hope to get back into some creative work soon. Meanwhile, Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here come the holidays...

Even though I haven't blogged in a while, I have been anticipating the busy season ahead. I completed these little quilts last week, photographed them, and ordered prints for our Christmas cards! It took a while to research an on-line printing service that was affordable and easy to use and I chanced upon when an ad came in our local "Money Mailer." I just hope the quality is as good as the prices and website...those of you who receive Christmas cards from us will see the proof in the pudding, I guess! There are little words in some of the snowflakes in the quilt on the right, if you click on the image to enlarge it, you should be able to see them. It's kind of interesting that the Nativity scene shows the side of me that plans everything out, draws everything, measures, and proceeds in a rather left-brained way, for an artist, but the trees show more of my right-brain tendencies: more spontaneous, intuitive, and experimental. When it was almost completed, I realized I wanted to add in words and wished I had planned it out better from the onset, but I think it all worked out alright in the end. Most, if not all, of the materials for these pieces were leftover from previous projects. It's nice to finally have enough of a stash to be able to throw some things together without having to run to the store! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Don't eat too much...!

Friday, October 24, 2008

A walk in the woods...

Here is another piece I finished recently. I am only showing a portion of the whole because this may end up as a Christmas gift for a relative! I call it "Watch Your Step." It was inspired by walks in the woods near our shared vacation home in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I actually started it about two years ago and got bogged down in some of the hand stitching. I recently came across it again and decided to change the original plan (thus eliminating some of that pesky hand embroidery) in order to get it finished more quickly. It still incorporates all the forest elements in the original plan, and despite the "cheater" ferns, I think it evokes the lush dampness and shade of the forest floor. It is currently displayed in our hall bath (will I be willing to give it up come Christmas...?)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I finally finished another piece! This is "The Cartwheel," with a corresponding poem. I think I will send it to some children's magazines and see if I get any bites. Does it look like it belongs in a children's book or magazine? I hope so. Any suggestions for improvement? Here is a snippet of the poem (don't want to give too much away!)

"I threw my hands down in the grass
and kicked my legs up high.
I whirled around, upside down,
as clouds went whooshing by."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Autumn in the Hudson Valley

I am still finishing up two works in progress, but meanwhile, here are some other ways I spend my time. We are lucky enough to live in NY's Hudson Valley region and here are some photos of fun fall activities. Saturday was our annual apple-picking day. This year our nephews joined us in the orchard. Sunday, our family tried canoeing and kayaking in the Hudson - a first for us. (We kayak often, but never before in the Hudson). We were supposed to explore some marshlands, but because it is hunting season, headed out into the river. The weather and colors were just prime!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Other creations...

In addition to making art quilts, I occasionally foray into the field of stuffed animals and hand puppets, especially when it comes to my current job in the children's department of my local public library. Here are some samples of things I've created in the past two years. The taller light blue bird you may recognize from Mo Willems' "Pigeon" books. His "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" won the Caldecott Medal a few years ago and I decided he (the pigeon) might make a nice addition to the Toddler programs I do at the library. The green furry guy is fondly known as "Dewey" and was quite the popular character around the library this summer. Every week he was hidden in a different spot in the library and when a child whispered his location to a Youth Services librarian, they received a special sticker with Dewey's picture on it. (If I could manufacture these quickly and sell them...!) The other hand puppets include a blackbird and a turkey, both used in my "Mother Goose" library programs for children ages 13 mos to 23 mos. The puppets really seem to add a lot to the little rhymes and fingerplays I use in the programs and the kids get really excited to be able to see and touch these furry little critters!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lavender Sachet

Wow, two weeks since my last post! Things have been so busy with back-to-school etc. I always think that I'll have more time once the kids get back in school but somehow all my personal time gets taken up with grocery shopping, house cleaning, and errands! But I have managed to finish one project I began last spring and am currently hard at work finishing another one. The second is an illustration for a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson titled "The Swing." My grandmother used to sing this poem (to a pretty tune that I don't know the origin of) whenever my sisters and I played on our swings, and I did the same when my own girls were swinging. My oldest daughter reminded me of it recently and how much she liked that song, as did we as girls. I have never seen it published in song form anywhere, and decided a nice fabric illustration may be in order. Most of the background work is done but I am still working on some details, as well as the child on the swing! I hope I will be finishing and photographing it soon. In the meanwhile, here is a lavender pillow I finished last week (another 5"x5" journal-type quilt, only stuffed with lavender). The top is layered with burlap (stained lavender with watered-down acrylic paint) and two sheer fabrics and hand stitched with floss to make the flowers, leaves, and stems. The back is a sheer lavender fabric that allows the scent to come through. I like the fact that the burlap fringe eliminates the need for binding. I will have to find a quicker way of putting these together if I want to make a bunch of these for the holidays. Maybe some kind of quick piecing, like a log cabin or something, embellished with free-motion stitching, lace etc. (I wonder if I'll really have time to do this...)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Waning Summer...

The summer is quickly drawing to a close. The trees and shrubs along the roadsides seem to be tinged with rust, a precursor of the coming fall. I always look forward to the change in seasons, while also regrettably letting the old season go.
I harvested some lavender last week! What an enjoyable and relaxing task that is! Out in the sunshine with the scent of lavender on the breeze, the drone of bees in the background and butterflies fluttering nearby! It was my second go-round among the four plants we have growing in the front yard. I have been very pleased with the amount of lavender they are producing, as well as the fragrance of the plants and seeds. I hope I have time to create little sachets this fall to give as gifts this winter.
I also created a 5"x5" journal piece incorporating that distressed bottle cap I found a few weeks ago. Here is the result, similar to the previous journal piece:
As you can see, I do enjoy using that burlap! I also used some tree bark, wooden beads, embroidery floss, and the fringed selvage from a striped piece of something shiny. Again, I am just enjoying the contrast in colors and textures.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Journal Quilt 8/11/08

Last week I read Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: the Road to Cana. I started out making this journal quilt just as it is here, but I intended to incorporate this cool distressed, smashed bottlecap I found in a parking lot. It's so distressed that it didn't look appropriate as the center of this piece. It needed a more formal and meaningful focal point. Reading Anne Rice's book, I guess I had Christ on my mind, and was inspired to fashion a cross out of copper foil. I like the way it shines against the rougher weave of the fabric behind it. I used two upholstery fabric scraps I picked up recently. I love the contrasting textures! (If you enjoy reading about the life of Christ, you may enjoy this Christ the Lord series. The first one is called Out of Egypt. I find them very intriguing because they are written from the point of view of Jesus Christ, and it is interesting being inside His head and imagining along with the author how He thinks. I am looking forward to the third book in the series.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Day 2...

I was all excited about finishing this latest seahorse quilt and adding it to my website, until I photographed it and put it on the computer! I thought it was going to be so vibrant and bold and I'm not sure it is having the effect I expected. I was so excited about the background fabric and so sure I wanted to make my whole book using it that I drove all the way back to JoAnn's fabrics for whatever was left on the bolt! I did have a lot of luck (and fun!) fabric shopping today, but now that I see the collage here, I'm not sure it's what I wanted it to be. If you haven't seen my other seahorses, visit my website for a comparison,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


I began blogging at my website,, a few months ago, but I found the format to be limiting and didn't post consistently, so I thought I'd try blogger! So here's my first post! I suppose I intend to use this as a record of my creative growth and progress in fabric collage, with the eventual goal of writing and illustrating for children. I sometimes do journal quilts, but again, not on a consistent basis, but when I do, I'll post them here.
I suppose one of the main reasons I am inconsistent with my creative work and blog postings is because I am a working (part-time) mother of three girls and I have difficulty consistently setting aside time. It's more of a grab-as-you-go prospect and I work creatively when I can. Another reason for my sporadic work is that it's summer and they are all home with me for another month, which is a blessing and a challenge at the same time. And summer is also the time I love to spend immersed in a novel (but, I do that in winter as well!) and I'm kind of like an addict when it comes to a good book - can't put it down until I'm done! I just finished the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer so maybe now I'll be able to focus on some of my own creative work! But first, I have to get the kids some dinner!