Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stealing Like An Artist

First off I want to thank Austin Kleon for giving me and all Artists permission to Steal Like an Artist. If you haven't read his manifesto please do, and then come right back.

I am fortunate to have the charming, talented and prolific Mary Elizabeth Kinch (ME) in my small quilt group, affectionately known as the Squeegees.

Every time I see her I am inspired to try whatever handwork she has brought with her. On our most recent visit she promised to schedule a workshop to teach us how to make her felted work basket. She always has great pointers about needles, thimbles and anything else you could possibly want to know about handwork.

ME told us about a Sue Spargo hand embroidery workshop she had just taken. ME says "I am so indebted to her for what I have worked on that piece.  I never would have produced it without her talent and inspiration.  It was her kit for the workshop that I started with.  Below is her blog link for lots of other "droolingly" wonderful examples of stitching delight!  

The link to her webpage is:

The link to her yummy blog is:"

ME was having so much fun playing with layering fabrics and embroidery stitches as we sat chatting around my kitchen table that I immediately started fantasizing about working on my own project.

Photo by ME Kinch all rights reserved
ME was kind enough to send me a picture of her WIP. Isn't it gorgeous?

When I went to my workroom to start pulling fabrics I got sidetracked by an idea for a wallhanging for Eyal's birthday. It ended up incorporating some elements from ME's project: repetition, grid, layering, embellishment.

When I was ready to get back to ME's project I thought of the Jacobean inspired shapes, the layering of fabrics and colours, the touches of robin's egg blue, teal and turquoise. I returned to the stash of interior design fabrics Kate Zeidler gave me and started pulling fabrics, floss and beads.

Where ME hand turn appliqu├ęd each piece of fabric I have attached them with a raw edge machine zigzag. I am teaching myself embroidery as I go along. Turning to Judith Baker Montano's Elegant Stitches for guidance. I'm having fun embellishing each design, choosing which pattern or colour to layer on top, deciding how I feel about each imperfection in execution. Sometimes I love the frayed edges and pull them out a little bit to enhance the look. In other places I snip off the extra bits, preferring a clean edge.

Eyal gave me the ultimate compliment when he saw me working on it for the first time "I hope that's for us. Please don't give it away". He also wants me to use the same idea and colour scheme for a large scale wallhanging.

ME warns me there's no 12 step program for recovering from this but I still thank her for introducing me to this new addiction!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Birthday Breakfast

Sounds of the coffee grinding and percolating, 
Family chattering while they wait
Smells of coffee, croissants 
Tummy grumbling
Elbows on the table
The remains of last night's colourful cake weigh down the counter

Friday, November 25, 2011

Standing in Line at Costco

The folds on the back of her shirt catch the light.
The strings dangle down her back, swaying as she works.
Head turning to and fro, jaws working the wad of gum, a quick smile lights up her face.

Thanks to  and  for the inspiration and encouragement to write a Small Stone.

Standing in Line at the Beer Store

Pink red green silver
Holiday colours entice the happy shoppers to drink a toast
Bundle up the wine bottle
Bag the booze and printed mug
Every eye chooses their own reason to celebrate

Monday, November 21, 2011

Zentangle for Charity

With this Zentangle tile I am dipping my toe into yet another online challenge and supporting The Red Thread Promise at the same time. 

I love contributing to group projects and I'm looking forward to seeing the poster that will be made with all the tiles. To find out how to make your own tile and participate in this project click this button:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Only Connect

Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
E.M. Forster

I've been playing with Social Networking for years now. I keep up with the lives of my friends and family on Facebook and find out what's happening in the world as it happens on Twitter. Updates from Artists, gardeners, yoginis and other interesting bloggers are delivered to my inbox daily, and I am approaching my 100th blog post here at

Lately I've been spending more time on the internet. I check regularly to stay absolutely current on all the trending topics. Last week I joined and my personal stock is soaring. Today I'm adding BlogLovin to my profile to make reading the blogs I love even easier. I'm also hoping that more people will add my blog to their reading list.

I couldn't possibly begin to catalogue everything I've learned online. I appreciate the articles people write on Wikipedia, on personal blogs and on news sites. I want to say Thank You to the Tweeters, and Facebookers and Bloggers who keep me informed and entertained. I also thank the commenters and ReTweeters who go out of their way to express interest and appreciation and to help spread the words, photos and videos that are being posted.

I feel very lucky to have only encountered the kind and loving on my journey through the cybersphere. I've heard of the horrible comments that people leave but in my experience people live by "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all".

Social Networking gives us the opportunity to wed passion with prose as never before. The friendliness and support that I experience online enhance my real life relationships. 

I'd love to connect with you and hear what you have to say about this or any of my other posts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Preparing to Play with Colouring My Fabric

The one piece of my own printed fabric I've ever used graces the bottom of this Tzedakah Box
Being a process person I need to know the steps involved before I can get anything done. Maybe this is why I love taking classes. I excel at learning the steps as presented by the teacher and quickly working through them. What I may not excel at is continuing to develop the skill I learnt in class once I get home.

 Take the class I took with Pam Woodward on colouring your fabric for example. I loved this class. I love the samples I made and have been loathe to use them in projects for fear of running out. I bought all the materials I thought I would need to keep playing with colour and pattern and texture on fabric once I got home. I labelled an old plastic bin "Fabric Dying Essentials", put all the stuff in the bin, shoved it in the cupboard and proceded to feel guilty about it.

 I can feel guilty about just about anything at the drop of a hat. I felt guilty that I had: not used the skill I learnt in class, not used the materials I went out of my way to purchase, not used my creativity in this way that really spoke to me, and that I had hoarded the fabric samples I had made for fear of using them up.

 Yesterday I had a most enjoyable afternoon at the YHQG Show. I visited with lots of quilting and fabric artist friends. I oohed and ahed over the quilts. I bid on lots of little quilts in the silent auction in support of SKETCH. Most importantly I plied Gunnel Hag with questions about colouring fabric with her Colour Vie (TM) Pigment System. I needed to be reminded about the process, and I needed to figure out what my roadblocks were and why I hadn't been doing it at home. As I spoke to Gunnel I realized/remembered that there are two thing holding me back. I don't have the nice sturdy straight pins that Pam used for our class and I don't have the soft board that you pin your fabric to before you print on it. Gunnel assured me that any pins will do. I'm a quilter, pins I have!! She also showed me how to make my own light and portable board.

I came home and made a board from this stuff I had saved for a rainy day: Piece of styrofoam left over from insulating the house, pieces of batting trimmed of of quilts before I put the binding on, square of cotton ripped from an old sheet, plain old straight pins. Now I'm ready to start playing with colouring my fabric at home. I can't wait!!!

I'd love to hear your comments. What's keeping you from getting on with it? What steps have you missed out that are keeping you from enjoying your artistic process?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Believe, Joy, Create

I love a challenge. I see the challenges posted on blogs all over the web and think That's for me! Sometimes I even follow through. Like this on one:

GPP C56 Believer

I had a blast making the page and thinking through some of the words and colours that speak to me. 


Why do you create? What keeps you from making Art?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planning a Staycation

As the holidays approach my thoughts turn to how to celebrate them. We love creating traditions for our small family and creating memories that will last a life time.  Usually our holidays revolve around our extended family. Our children are lucky to have loads of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents to spend time with.

Every year Saba and Safta have a First Night of Chanukah party at their house where each family lights a menora and the children get loads of presents from everyone. Not this year. This year we'll have to wish each other a Happy Chanukah by Skype since the grandparents are studying in Tel Aviv for the year.

Every year my sister Judy and her family throw a huge latke party. A stream of hundreds of revelers crowd through her kitchen demanding more and more latkes from my nephew Daniel, the expert latke flipper. Not this year. This year we'll have to make our own latkes since Judy will be vacationing in New Zealand and Australia with my niece Rachael, who will finally be on her way home from her year down under.

Many years we've gone south with Eyal's brother and/or sister and their kids. Other years we have gone to local ski hills and skating rinks with them. Not this year. This year his sister will be in California celebrating the marriage of her husband's Little Brother, and Eyal's brother and his family will be vacationing on the beach in Florida.

I'm sure we'll still get to enjoy a holiday dinner with each of the local relatives before they hit the road, but for the most part we'll be on our own.

What to do?

Sometimes it's nice to have some quiet time at home. Here is a short list of some of what we'll be up to as we hunker down and Roll Up the Sidewalk:

  • Stay in PJs all day
  • Play lots of cards and boardgames
  • Jam on some of the dozen or so instruments we have lying around the house
  • Watch movies on Netflix and at our local theatre
  • Hope for cold weather and snow so we can go toboganning, skiing and skating and come home to make hot chocolate
  • We might even try to get rush seats to the Pantomime or the Nutcracker
  • Spend lots of time together in the kitchen cooking up some of our favorite comfort foods like Blondies and Roasted Root Vegetables

Those are just a few of my ideas. What do you think we should do to make memories and enjoy some quiet time together?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Waxing Poetic About Hairdryers

My computer is in the sunny front window of my kitchen. I love to be able to look out at the kindergarteners coming home for lunch after a busy morning at school. Asher the Yorkie sleeps in my lap, waking up only occasionally to bark at a dog being walked by the house.

For the last while however my view has been marred by unsightly candle wax on the panes of glass. As I contemplated getting to work to clean away the wax and write a blog post about it I started trying to remember how long the wax had been there. Perhaps I had put a Chanukah Menorah in this window last year?

When I took out my box of Halloween decorations and wondered where I should put the candlesticks with the orange candles to beckon trick or treaters it all came back to me. Last year, or maybe even the year before, I put the candlesticks in the front window. The constant opening and closing of the front door as I handed out candy caused the candles to sputter, splattering the window with candle wax.

I know I should have cleaned it up when it happened. It would have taken far less time than I've spent worrying about how hard it's going to be and how long it's going to take.  I'm finally ready to tackle this task so here we go:
  1. Clear off the space in front of the window so you'll have lots of room to work. This will be a challenge for me to do because I'm trying to use the computer at the same time and it's right in front of the window. I'll just shift it to the side.
  2. When I Googled "remove candle wax from glass window" I came up with two opposite approaches.The most recommended method is to let the wax harden and then scrape it off carefully with a fresh razor blade, box cutter or paint scraper. Washing the window with warm soapy water when you're finished. On the other hand you can get the wax really hot, wipe it off with a soft cloth or paper towel and then wash the window. Since I have two panes of glass to work with I will now attempt both methods.
  3. Gather your supplies. I'll use an exacto knife for the left side, followed by windex and a soft cloth. For the right side I've grabbed a hairdryer to melt the wax, paper towel to try to soak up the melted wax, and the windex and cloth to finish up. Don't forget to lay out a dish towel to catch the wax scrapings.

Mummy's little helper

The results are in! 

Scraping the window with the exacto knife was messy, time consuming and left an unacceptable amount of residue even after scrubbing with Windex.

Heating the wax with the hairdryer was quick, easy and 100% effective! In fact, it was so easy that I'll be putting the candles back in the window next Halloween and not worrying if they sputter!