Friday, December 5, 2014

Mixed Media at Heart

I think I am a mixed media artist at heart. I am also a collector of things and it felt good to use some of the things I have collected over the years. Some of the things I used for "Crow Spirit" I have had for more than 20 years. The clay part has been hanging around waiting for me to have time to finish it. My life is truly out of balance so I decided to stop doing for others and take time for me. I am so glad that I did because I really love how it turned out and I feel lighter, happier.

I am putting this in the ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center's Holiday Open House that is happening this weekend. Not sure I am quite ready to see it go but cash is needed to continue my newest vice--clay. I also donated on of my journals for the raffle. Last year my journal raised the most money. There is stiff competition this year. However, I am happy to support the arts and my community this way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ever Shrinking Art

Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things. -Vernor Vinge

On Saturday, I taught my "Ever Shrinking Art" class at Quilters Quest in Woodridge, to a great group of women. Joy left before I took this photo. I think they did great! We started by making postcards then moved to making ATCs and finally inchies.  I remember thinking that I could never make tiny pieces of art and now I just love it! And I love that I can now get other people to love it too. I hope that I gave my wonderfully creative students an avalanche of ideas and inspiration.

My small group that did trades has disband so I decided to join the Artistcellar ATC Facebook swap. I kept it simple. The only rule was that you had to use an Artistcellar stencil so I wanted to make sure that my stenciling was apparent. Lisa Cousineau, the owner, lives close--Wheaton, but we have never met. I do love her "Art is Not an Option" bag that I use all the time. Isn't that a great message.  I am trading 5 for 5 so obviously I made an extra. I'm keeping the "love" one because I tried using paint with the stencil and while I like the look, it does not look like the stencil. It will become a Valentine. Cannot wait to see what everyone else has done.

Tonight I am off to give my first clay presentation--"Gone to Pot: a Little History and a Few Technique" at the Lemont Artists Guild. I am bringing different kinds of clay for everyone to touch plus a whole bunch of pottery to show including shards that I dug up at an archaeological site (with permission) when I lived in Aruba. I feel it is important for me to continue to do things that push my comfort zone. What are you doing to get outside your comfort zone?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Surround Yourself with Talented People and Grow

I have always tried to surround myself with people who are smarter, more talented and hold a different point of view. It has helped me grow and push myself to be better. I have also tried to move outside of my comfort zone--I call it putting stretch marks on my comfort zone--especially when I am feeling complacent.

I have been very fortunate to have come to know and trade art with Linda Edkins Wyatt for a number of years. This is our last small group exchange. It's called :High Fashion dia de los muertos." I can only hope that she is as happy with my part of the trade. I can only encourage you to find people to trade art. I know that it has helped me grow as an artist and has enriched not only my life but the walls in my home.

How have you put stretch marks on your comfort zone lately?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sono innamorata!: I Am in Love with a Paste

I am truly trying to use what I have and not buy more stuff. I feel stuff overload lately and yet I could not resist trying Coccoinco potato starch paste after reading about it on friend Marie Z. Johansen's blog. She learned about the paste from another mutual friend Kimberly Baxter Packwood. First, I am a sucker for this kind of thing. It comes in a quaint tin. It is nontoxic (only four ingredients) so it would be great to use with children. It has been made in Italy since 1927. It smells like almonds. Yep, I am now a glue sniffer. The brush is just too cute for words AND it works on just about any kind of paper. I did find that it did not work well on a paper used for a wine bottle. Otherwise, it has become my go to glue You can buy it at Kaufman Mercantile.  No affiliation. Just a happy customer and I love all the connections!

This is the information that is available on their website that was fun to read:

"... When Coccoina, the solid white glue in the aluminum tin, was first introduced, Italian commercials promoted the trademark with this campaign: "It is not a drug, but a solid glue that amazes and arouses enthusiasm in all who use it.”
One of the principle features of the glue was that, aside from its adhesive quality and light almond scent, you could safely eat it. A thin spread of the glue works well on paper, photos, clothes, labels, and any art project you can get your hands on, and perhaps the most welcome feature is the tiny brush that comes tucked away inside. Any surface where you need a smooth spread of paste can be achieved with this miniature aluminum paintbrush and its tiny bristles of pig hair.  It leaves no clumps that need to be smoothed with a finger. Though the glue is considered a solid, it has a consistency that's neither wet nor dry, and the container provides mess-free use and storage that lasts up to a year. It's safe for children too. Not that they should eat the stuff, but if they do, NBD. All the ingredients are non-toxic, solvent-free, and not dangerous. Use this glue on any paper-related task, from keeping photos together in an album to scrapbooking to pasting receipts for accounting records. If the glue hardens a bit in its tin, it's easy to soften up again. You can scoop it out and gently heat in a saucepan with a small amount of water. When it's slightly liquid, pour it back into the tin, and when it sets, it will be good as new, without any effect on the adhesive qualityFor longer usage, replace the cap tightly after each application. Maximum period of storage should not exceed 12 months."

Friday, October 24, 2014

With Deepest Gratitude

Good things keep arriving in the mail. Today came a check for $500 from the Northern Lake County Quilters Guild  to help with my Georgian Quilt Group. I gave my lecture "Connecting Cultures:An American Quiltmaker's Pilgrimage" at their May meeting. They were a delight and engaging group and now they have a piece of my heart. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Turning Tides: Thanks Liz

On January 30th, I did a "Give Away with a Twist" that was inspired by my friend Kathy Schmidt. I did sign up with a couple of people that were inspired by my posting. Well I got a package in the mail from Liz Lystra who received one of my give aways. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful art with me. It bought more than a smile. The message on the card especially spoke to me. The more artwork that I share, the better I feel about creating. I do not have enough room to store it all or even to sell it all so that is the next issue to decide. What to do with it all? Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vertigo and Life- I Am Back!

On August 4th I got out of bed, took two steps and fell down.   I spent the next three days in bed with bad vertigo so I spent time reading. The vertigo still comes and goes. Two weeks after the vertigo, I was back in bed with a crashing sinus headache. No reading this time just restless sleep for three days. Thought all was well until I started having a runny nose and intense sinus pain. Finally decided a trip to the doctor was needed. Couldn't get in to see my regular doctor so I saw someone I hadn't seen in 14 years. Because I had not been in to see a doctor except for an annual physical, I was prescribed amoxicillin. Got worse. Back to the doctor for a stronger antibiotic. I am not a good sick person. Thankfully the antibiotics worked but I lost a lot of time. Still playing catch up!

There is some good news. On September 22, my granddaughter Zora was born. I have been trying to help out by playing with her big brother Tyler. I look forward to getting to know her.

I can tell you that I have spent a lot of time thinking about things like why I can get so much done for others but put myself last. Trying to change. It's not easy. Thanks to everyone for their kind emails of concern. I promise to get back into the habit of keeping my blog up-to-date. More tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Inspired by the Gift of a Feather

The juvenile Cooper Hawk continues to visit. He now likes taking baths in my small pond. He sits on a brick that holds the pump down and I can watch him undetected from my kitchen window. I have watched him become bolder and more vigorous as he becomes more comfortable.  I discovered a feather floating in the wind on Friday shortly after he flew off. Since I committed to Kimberly Baxter Packwood's 60 day Crow/Bird challenge, I was feeling a little stressed on Saturday because I had not posted a piece to the Facebook page. So I went back to doing what I do when I feel the need to create but don't have much time--I created two cards. I will share them with a friend or family member.  Simple, low stress and yet satisfying which is how expressing one's self is just what is needed sometimes.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mixed Media

There is something about mixed media that makes my heart go pitter patter. I started a new series of sculptures with the intent of using my vast supply of things that I have collected over the years. She was well received at ClaySpace today. The piece deals with trying to find calm in the craziness life so often brings. The second piece which I am working to complete has to do with what we keep inside. The work makes me excited.

Since I committed to the 60 Days of  Crow/Bird challenge, I wanted to try mixed media too. The piece I did for it is approximately 6" h x 9" w. It includes interfacing, three different kinds of paper- tissue, watercolor and commercial paper, hand dyed fabric and hand dyed pearl cotton. It's not easy to see but the paper with the squares punched out has the words "everything is possible." I also wrote on it which is had to read but being able to read what I wrote wasn't important. I have been exploring handwriting for a while. Mostly to overcome all the negative remarks about my handwriting while in elementary school. I shared another crow fact- "A group of crows is called a "murder," a designation thought to date to the 15th century." The term is more literary or romantic than scientific. Crow experts usually refer to a flock, pair or family group of crows. Anyway, I painted the interfacing and the tissue paper. I want to do more because it was so much fun!

I am enjoying stretching myself in new directions. Today I was complimented on my fearlessness which made me happy. It is not that I don't have fear, because I do, it is that I no longer fear failure. I just want to keep learning.  What is on your list to learn? What makes you come alive?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Leonardo, Observations and Bird Challenge

Every part is disposed to unite with the whole, that it may thereby escape from its own incompleteness.
                                       Leonardo da Vinci

I have been rediscovering Leonardo da Vinci thanks to my sculpture class and watching the television series Da Vinci's Demons (made me crazy in the beginning but then I embraced it as fantasy and it became enjoyable). One of da Vinci's principles of life is connessione- a recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all thing and phenomena. Today was a wonderful day for embracing interconnectedness as I sat on my patio eating lunch. First I was entertained by a young cooper hawk taking a bath in one of my pots of water. He was quite reluctant in the beginning but eventually embraced the experience fully with water flying everywhere. Shortly after he flew off (caused by my laughter) I was greeted by two swallow tail butterflies and a hummingbird (too quick for my camera). "The earth is moved from its position by the weight of a tiny bird resting upon it." was what I was reading when this all took place. So I am thankful that I took the time away from work and my computer to go outside and take a break because if I had not I would have missed so much. What have you experienced when you have slowed down and taken some time to just looked around you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I will be teaching a class at Quilter's Quest this fall called "Ever Shrinking Art"so I decided to revisit an ATC that I made in paper and recreate it in fabric. I actually like it better in fabric but it also took a lot longer so I am glad I am not making multiple ones for a trade. Hopefully this will inspire. This also makes another piece for the 60 Day of Bird Challenge which is already incredibly inspiring. Now to think about what to create on theme for tomorrow. Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Simple Crow Collage

Crows pair for life, but they fool around a bit.

Over thinking is my worst enemy so I made myself move quickly. It's hard to believe that my relationship with a female crow began four years ago. It was then that I began studying them and collecting fun facts. I used some of these facts in this collage which was created on a watercolored background. Fast, fun and not too serious, I am happy. Think I will try to create some other pieces that use the facts that I have learned. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

60 Days of Crows/Birds?

For anyone who has ever read my blog, you know i have a fascination for birds and crows in particular.  Kimberly Baxter Packwood just suggested a 60-dat crow/bird challenge. Not sure I can do 60 days. We shall see. Here is my latest bird sculpture fresh out of the kiln! I love the texture created by the grog in the clay. It also reflects my interest lately of cracks and altars. Guess I was combining all my interests in one. Of course, this was suppose to be an assignment about crisp, straight edges. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and know that your teacher just has to understand. Now to figure out something to put into the altar part. Any suggestions? Anyone up to a 60-day bird/crow challenge?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Tradition Show with a Contemporary Interest"

On Sunday, July 20th, at 2:00 p.m., I will be giving a program on my book, "Quilts in the Attic: Uncovering the Hidden Stories of the Quilts We Love," called "Quilts in the Attic: The Journey" at the quilt and textile Show in Batavia, Illinois. This is all part of the "Traditional Show with a Contemporary Interest" presented by the Batavia Depot Museum which runs from Friday, July 18 through Sunday, June 20th. Admission is only $6 with children 10 and under free and seniors (60+) get in for $5.00. What a bargain! I am looking forward to sharing.

You might not be aware but the Quartro Publishing which includes my publisher Voyageur Press, "rebranded." New people were brought in including Jeff Serena who is now Voyageur Press's publisher. Jeff came from Lark Books so when he told me that the first thing he did was stop publication of all quilt and craft books, I was sad. He did great things for Lark books so hopefully he will do the same for Voyageur and bring back quilt books. My book has continued to sell but whether or not there will be a second one (I have a two book deal) is still to be seen. the decision will be made at the end of the year. I hate missed opportunities. There were so many with my book. However, I am always heartened when people find me and want me to share the journey of my book. Hope to see you Sunday.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Poetry to the Rescue

...Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

-David Whyte, Sweet Darkness, from The House of Belonging, 1996 Many Rivers Press

I have been a lover of poetry my entire life. Life often brings me a poem that helps me during a difficult time. This is true of David Whyte's poem Sweet Darkness. I think it will become my new anthem.  Do you have a favorite poem that you would consider your anthem?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Passing of Time and the Necessity for Change

When Franki Kohler shared that Postmark'd Art had turned 10 years old in June, I was surprised. As a charter member (there are only 6 of us left), I had not realized that 10 years had passed. What does that say about me?

Postmark'd Art provided me with a wonderful opportunity to grow in a supportive community. I also made some wonderful friends and was treated to some pretty incredible art.

For this round, I signed up for the "symbols" group. It will be my last trade with the group. Leaving was not an easy decision but a necessary one. I realize that I need to focus on making meaningful art and that I am not going to live forever so it is time to let some things go. I highly recommend getting involved in some kind of trading art group. Have you belonged to one?

I rust dyed the background fabric then lightly painted some of the areas to make the tone-on-tone checkered pattern more noticeable.  The palmistry hand is an old wood block print which I used TAP (transfer artist paper) to apply (text too). The two additional fabrics are a batik and a piece of blue linen. It was fun to make and I hope all who receive the card are happy. Now I will work through my bittersweet feelings.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

More ABC's of Life

Thanks to everyone who asked to see more of my ABC's of Life books. These books have been so much fun to make that I am now doing a series with quotes. These books have also allowed me to use different bits of things that I have saved- birthday cards, parts from the calendar I made a couple of years ago, junk mail, etc. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dealing with Bad Reviews- Amazon

What I really like is an intelligent review. It doesn't have to be positive. A review that has some kind of insight, and sometimes people say something that's startling or is so poignant. -Patti Smith

Other writers, friends and family all told me to be prepared for bad reviews. I never thought when I was writing Quilts in the Attic that it would be loved by everyone. However, I have had two one star reviews on Amazon and both of them made me crazy. I could not just "let it go."

The first review stated that I had not done my research which simply was not true. She also had my name wrong. I decided to see if I could track the person. I did and I called her. This shocked the crowd and the other authors at the On the Same Page Literary Festival. Why? This is my problem with anonymous reviews. It's not fair. Anyway, I called the woman and asked her to explain her review to me. It turns out she had not even read my book! When I explained to her that I did not take the story that her family member gave me as fact (family feud), she removed the bad review. Success!

The next bad review happened just a week ago. This time it had nothing to do with my book or even Amazon. It seems the guy had bought my book as a gift and it arrived damaged. Really? This time I contacted Amazon directly asking them to remove his review since it had nothing to do with my book. I was shocked at how quickly (less than 15 minutes after my email) that his review was gone and an apology from Amazon arrived in my inbox.

So my advice when asked about bad reviews is to accept them if they have merit (too few and too small photos is one I have gotten and actually agree) and challenge them if they do not.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

More on the ABC's of Life

When was the last time you were really excited and engaged in something? For me it has been quite a while so it has felt so good to be playing and creating the ABC's of Life accordion books. Thanks Marie for making this one of our trades! I have actually completed two! The first one helped me learn and figure it all out. The second opened me up to more possibilities. Can't wait to see what the third one brings.

It has been great doing something that I want to do instead of something that I should be doing. I think my long period of navel-gazing is over. I continue to clear the crap that has cluttered my life. There are still plenty of things that I could clean out and I will.  I know that this is a lifetime endeavor. Dealing with so much loss in the last year and a half, my bereavement forced me to be still, giving me time to reflect and reconsider every part of my life. I still feel fragile. I do feel lighter and firmly believe that art heals.

I have decided to create some other smaller books filled with quotes that I love. A continuation on the theme but not tied to letters of the alphabet. It feels good to be in a creative zone again!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The ABC's of Life- A, B, C, D

I am not planning and that is definitely causing some challenges. Obviously, I must like challenges.

It is fun! It should be interesting to see how the second book evolves. From experience, I know that practice usually creates improvement, but it doesn't always create enjoyment.

The young man (early twenties) in my sculpture class dropped out. It was his first art class and he seemed to enjoy it. We only heard positive comments from him during class. Jon, the instructor, spent more time with him than anyone in class and yet the young man didn't feel it was enough. I have seen this happen when I teach. Some adults seem to think that they should be able to have perfection right out of the box. That learning something new shouldn't involve being uncomfortable and failure is out of the question. I try to embrace putting stretch marks on my comfort zone. I have learned that even when I fail, I can always make something new. It is liberating. It is even better when the recipient of your efforts is kind and appreciates your efforts even when they fall short.

What have you done lately to put stretch marks on your comfort zone?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The ABCs of Life

I love when inspiration strikes! The next trade with Linda Edkins Wyatt and Marie Z. Johansen is to create something based on "The ABC's of Life." Each letter starts a message about life. I decided to create a simple accordion book. Each page is 3" x 5." The rules I have made for myself is to one- keep it simple. Two- just do it! No planning. If situations are created that don't work at first, just keep playing. Three- no shopping! I have to use what I have on hand. I have to say, I am excited. I haven't felt this excited in a while. The plan is to create three different books. I have until August to finish so I plan to do one book at a time and a little each day. Hope you enjoy my adventure!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Indigo Dreams and the Gratitude for Exchanges

Last year I played often with indigo dyeing. I did not just dye fabric but bisque fired clay and a small piece of wood. In all the cleaning out that I have been doing, I just could not bring myself to throw away the small 3" x 3.5" piece of wood. Ever just know that someday you're going to need something even though it seems silly?

Last night I was really happy. Linda Edkins Wyatt, Marie Z. Johansen have been doing bi-monthly exchanges this year. This month's theme was "indigo." It is a color that all three of us love.

I did not want to altered the wood piece too much so I added the words, some cardboard hearts, a little paper and some paint dots. I added carpet tacks with beads to the top and trim around the sides. A bone bead hanging from the bottom completes it. Happy for not only the challenge but the exchange with two incredible artists and people. "Always Dream Big!"

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crow's Nests

All the trees at the Oak Park Art League have "Crow's Nests" made by one of the members. It was too crowded and too dark to get a photo of my favorite one (maybe when I return to pick up my work), but these photos give you an idea. I love the painted clothes pins. It has me thinking about what I could do with my trees. It is good to get out and be exposed to new things.

Friday, June 13, 2014

It's About Time

I inherited a lot of the family things that no one else wanted- a box of old photos, button jars, etc. I have had some things for years and other things more recently before my dad died. My children never knew these people and I know that they would not care to keep these things so I decided to create some altars/shrines using the things that I have inherited. The actual altars were created out of clay then I painted them (instead of glazing) to give them a worn look. At my show at ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center, I met ceramic artist Gina Lee Robbins who creates incredible organic sculptures. When Gina contacted me about the Oak Park Art League's show It's About Time, I was deeply touched. Her comment that my altars were perfect for the show and that the community was filled with "wonderful, caring artists," convinced me to give it a try. However, I had to push through some fear to actually wall through the door. The welcome I got nearly made me cry. The executive director raved about my work, called it "perfect" for the theme and wants to showcase my work. Wow! I cannot wait to go to the opening tonight. A new adventure.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More Clay Dyeing

I am looking forward to clay dyeing aprons which are suppose to be arriving on Friday. Guess you know what I will be doing this weekend! This piece was dyed with a brown stoneware clay. At first, I was underwhelmed, but the more I look at it, the more potential I see.  The next clay will be a black clay. Although, it does not turn black until high fired so this should be an interesting experiment. Definitely fun without a lot of work!

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Universe Had Its Own Ideas

Saturday I quickly finished all my errands so I could go to ClaySpace. I have started a new sculpture that was calling my name. Unfortunately as I was pulling up to my house, there was a fire truck in front of my house and a fire marshall's car in my driveway. The roofer working on the house across the street had set the roof on fire with a torch. Thankfully no one was hurt, but I could not leave my house for nearly three hours. I had to carry my groceries from my car which was parked several houses down from mine. Melissa and Joe, the owners of the home, were incredibly calm. Melissa even joked about how the saga of the fallen tree (put a hole in their roof last year) was never going to end. At one point, I think every boy in my neighborhood was standing in front of my house watching all the activity across the street. Exciting times but not much creativity.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Clay Dyed Fabric: The Journey to Get All My "Vices" in One Room

As many of you know, I took up ceramics in September 2013 as a way of getting outside my comfort zone. For the last six months, I have been experimenting with different types of clay which. has created small amounts of clay being leftover. What to do? Since I am also trying to get all my "vices" in one room, I decided to try dyeing with the leftover bits of clay. This is my first attempt and I have to say, I'm hooked! I used PFD fabric and terra cotta clay to create this piece. I want to thank Kimberly Baxter Packwood for sharing on her website how to do it. The next clay that I am going to try is a brown stoneware from California. This is just too much fun and I can't wait to use the fabric.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Path to Enlightenment?

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. -Hans Hofmann 

When I came across that quote in one of my journals, I realized that that is what I am doing. When my dad died, one of my jobs was to clean and organize my parents' home. I did curse my dad more than once because he had promised he would not leave a mess for someone else to deal with like his legal guardian did. Well, he did. My dad loved his label maker and had neatly labeled files but we could not find for two days the important papers (found under copies of Handyman magazine). I came to realize that most of us don't want to admit that we won't live forever.

Dealing with mouse droppings, mildew, and clutter has made me want to clear out more things from my life, to take a deep look into other areas of my life that I need to clear out, too--a narrowing of focus. I have been spending time writing and deep cleaning both areas in my home and in my mind. It is a journey.

I am also thankful that this weekend I was finally able to spend time in my garden. There is something about playing in the dirt that feeds me in a special way. I do think that every maple seed that dropped last year germinated in my yard including an entire forest in my lawn! I have become a tree killer.

Thanks to everyone who has written me concerned. I promise to post more often. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Women Who Broke All the Rules- Denver

I started Crossing the Line: Artists at Work (CLAW) because I wanted to educate people on the power of quilts. For more than a year, I have tried to get into university galleries with no luck. It has been a major frustration. It goes to show how much work still needs to be done to get people to understand that quilts are not just for the bed.

Women Who Broke All the Rules was at the Denver Quilt Festival IX (May 1-4). The Daily Blog (Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims) had a slide show about the show. The sign for our exhibit is the first image which I find confusing because only two of the quilts were shown- Kathy Schmidt's "Bloomers" and Vivien Zepf's "Behind Barbed Wire"were shown and at the end. Regardless, I am thrilled that Lilo who reported on the show like our exhibit which deals with women throughout history who made a difference. If you know a place that might be interested in showing these quilts, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Northern Lake County Quilters' Guild

Travel is like a good, challenging book: it demands presentness --
 the ability to live completely in the moment, 
absorbed in the words or vision of reality before you. - Robert Kaplan 

Giving my lecture "Connecting Cultures: An American Artist's Pilgrimage" to the Northern Lake County Quilters' Guild tonight at 7:00 p.m. at the Antioch Township Center located at Grass Lake Road and Deep Lake Road. If you are in the area, I would love to see you. I am excited. It is great to be lecturing often again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The world is but a canvas to the imagination. 
                            -Henry David Thoreau

Life is still in crazy mode for me. Too much to do and not enough time to get it done. I had the best time in Rockford. It is where I discovered these upside down trees decorated with the changing seasons and time. I was told that when the road was under construction, the trees wore hard hats. How cool is that! I truly want to thank the Sinnissippi Quilters for their kind embrace.  

First Friday at ClaySpace was also a lot of fun. I invited a group from a nearby retirement community and they came. They were so much fun- lots of great questions and great stories. I hope they come again.

On Saturday, I traveled to Batavia for the first Chicago Suburban Arts Conference. I was able to network with organizations and businesses from three counties. I hope some meaningful relationships were made. I am so thankful to Water Street Studios in Geneva/Batavia for organizing the conference. Janet Carl Smith's keynote speech on collaboration and advocacy was full of food for thought. She has agreed to send it to us electronically which will help greatly in my processing of all the information that she imparted.   El Puebla Modern Mexican had incredible guacamole. I look forward to participating in next year's conference. How have you collaborated? 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sinnissippi Quilters Here I Come!

On Thursday, I will be giving two lectures to the Sinnissippi Quilters.

1:00  - “Everything You Want to Know about Quilts in the Attic.” I will share the stories and quilt history in my book about the writing process, dealing with reviews, etc.
7:00 – “Connecting Cultures: A Quiltmaker's Pilgrimage.”  I will share about my travels to former Soviet Republics and sharing American quilts in an effort to make meaningful connections.
The group meets at the Bethesda Church, 118 Washington St in Rockford, Illinois.
I am also excited about spending the night with Robin Gausebeck who just won Quilting Machines Best Miniature Quilt Award at the AQS show in Paducah. Congratulations Robin! Do check out her quilt.
If you are in the neighborhood, I would love to see you!

Monday, April 28, 2014

One Just Doesn't Know

I find life so interesting. The very first piece that sold during my part of "Calumet" at ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center's gallery was a piece that I considered not including. I had gathered the goat bones used in the piece when I lived in Aruba. It was time to use them but I was not at all sure that I could make it happen. This piece was made more than a year ago when I was truly clueless (now I am just moderately clueless). The challenge (given to myself) was that I would create a three sided vessel and figure out the shrinkage (not an easy task even for a veteran) so the bones would work. I remember the day day when I put it together and it worked. I danced around the block. A couple bought this for their daughter. How cool is that! And I get to meet her! Life remains interesting.

Friday, April 11, 2014


First thanks to everyone for your kind condolences concerning the death of my dad. They have truly helped me during this difficult time. 

I do not know about you but for me either I have too much going on or nothing. This month has been too much. I am pleased to announce that my show,"Calumet," with Ken Maloney will be running for the entire month of April in the Gallery at ClaySpace Ceramic Arts Center in Lisle, IL. I loved watching the gallery transform over the three days it took us to get it all together. I had forgotten just how much work putting up a show can be. 

Ken invited me to join him so the concept of the show was his and deals with us both growing up in Northwest Indiana. Here is the show's statement to help you understand.

The northwest corner of the State of Indiana is often referred to as the Calumet Region. Most Hoosiers simply know it as “The Region.” It is a gritty area of immense environmental change and great contrasts. It is the home of working class families and oil refineries. It is a land marked by steel mills and smoke stacks and stunning biodiversity—incredible prairies, dunes, and forests —coexisting with EPA Superfund sites.

The river that divides the hometowns of Karen S. Musgrave and Ken Maloney (Highland and Hammond respectively) also bears the name Calumet.   Although they no longer refer to this area as home, both artists are unable to deny the influence the area has had on their work.  Themes of family, landscapes, texture and disparity are evident in both artists’ work. Karen and Ken met at ClaySpace in 2012 and were both a bit surprised to realize they shared so many common visual experiences.  The glow of the night sky caused by the blast furnaces of the nearby steel mills, the odd assortment of businesses on Kennedy Ave, and large Catholic families sharing two bedroom homes, et al. The Region is clearly not the sole source of their inspiration, yet their shared experiences cannot be denied. 

We will be celebrating with a closing on April 25 at 7 p.m. I hope you can join us. I think the juxtaposition of our work makes for an interesting show.