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 Textile Evolution

Liz Kettle Artist, Author and Creator of the Stitch Meditation process

Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

Visual Journal Fun!

I just returned from Art and Soul Retreat in Va Beach, VA. It was a great event and the weather at the beach could not have been more perfect! I only got one photo of all my classes! 

mixed media mayhem art and soul va beach

These are some of my Mixed Media Mayhem students before the mayhem really got started. Our tables were covered with color and chaos by the end of the day...I am sure the hotel staff is still finding Angelina fibers and glitter in that room.


I was home for 2 days and then headed up to Ft. Collins, CO to teach 2 days of Visual Journaling with the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters. We had a bit of fun and laughter while learning a ton of techniques and then putting them into play. We scraped, sprayed, stenciled and stamped paint. Glued, glittered and gilded, in addition to lacing, mangling, and distorting. We explored the journal magic of Misty Fuse and baby wipes. One among us earned the crown of 'fly queen'. I am just a tad tired so I will share some photos of the fun and head to bed! Tomorrow evening I get the pleasure of sharing my Thread Lecture with the rest of the Rocky Mountain Creative Quilters. 

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-2 Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-3

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-4Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-6

Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-7Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-8


Visual journaling with rocky mountain creative quiltersVisual journaling with rocky mountain creative quilters-5

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Mark Making Update

I just got home from a trip to the Northwest! 4 days in Portland OR cooking up plans for Art and Soul and then 9 days in Bremerton WA welcoming the newest Kettle boy into the family. I am thrilled to introduce Isaak Alexander...just as handsome as his big brothers. 1391453672392

Babies are a different sort of mark making...more of the eternal passing on our DNA type of mark making.


While I was away I didn't have much time for mark making every day. Some days were just too full of cuddling Isaak and battling zombies to pull out my sketchbook but I do have a few to share with you this week.





I have found that even though I sometimes draw more realistic elements I feel so much freedom drawing the organic shapes and lines that I come across in my daily travels.





Some fun hand stitching!


This last one is just a little silly! We need more silly play in our life don't you think?

Have you been working on fitting art and creativity into your life more consistently? What stumbling blocks have you found?


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Art and Soul Blog Roll + a Giveaway

Only 39 days until the Portland, OR Art and Soul event! Sept 30-Oct 6 2013 That is a great reason for a giveaway! 

ArtSoulOnSafariFINAL 1

I love teaching at Art and Soul because where else on earth can you be completely immersed in doing what you love, surrounded by hundreds of people who also love the same thing, in a beautiful setting on the river? The creative energy is so thick you can touch it.

I also love Art and Soul because it changed my life! I am not trying to be dramatic here. It truly changed me, it touched my art and my soul.

If you are looking for a place to learn, explore and build your wings this is it.

I am teaching three classes this year and they are all so very different.


First up is my gelatin plate printing class Monday Sept 30: Delectable paper and cloth. We use both a traditional gelatin plate as well as the Gelli plate. Total creative abandon in this class. I am always blown away by the energy in the room and the fantastic papers and fabrics that emerge.

gelatin print papers

gelatin plate printing portland a and s

delectable cloth class work

The next day, Tues Oct 1: Mixed Media Mayhem! You better eat a good breakfast before this fast paced stash building class. Before I was half way through the day teaching it in Va Beach students were asking when Mixed Media Mayhem II would be ready for sign ups! We cover a ton of techniques and create unique bits for your stash. this is just a sample of the cool stuff we will make.


My third class is Stitch Dancing on Sunday Oct 6. This is the class that was featured on Quilting Arts TV with Pokey Bolton. Using thread and tiny ephemeral bits of fabric and silk roving we create these luscious embroidered pieces. You will love the process and all it's possibilities.

stitch dancing free form embroidery


Ok, so after I read what I wrote I realize that my three classes aren't all that different from each other. They may be based in the full range of mixed media but they all are about learning techniques, exploring possibilities, asking 'what if' and surrounding yourself with beautiful stuff. :-)


Follow the blog roll and visit my fellow teacher's sites to see their amazing classes and some of them have sweet giveaways!


Aug 19 Serena Barton

Aug 20 Clarissa Callesen

Aug 22 Jen Crossley   and   

Barbara Worth Rainey

Aug 23 Jill Berry Blog:



Gotta have a giveaway!

book giveaway


Post a comment below and you will have a chance to win a copy of First Time Beading on Fabric by yours truly, a bead mat and a collection of beads and sequins from my personal stash including a lovely purple cabochon. I have been cleaning up and out lately so you may find some other goodies to help you get beading right away!


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Love your photos! Warning: rant

me and judy at va beach 2013I have so many great things to share with you all about my travels the last 6 weeks. Great classes taken and given. Wonderful memories of making art with inspiring people but before I get to those posts I have a deep need to share my views on photos of yourself.


In my travels the last 6 weeks I have had 3 important encounters involving women and photos of themselves. Two hated having their picture taken and one boldly showed her swimming suit clad, approaching 70 year old body, declaring the joy of being at the beach she loves.


The two women who said keep me out of the photo because I hate photos of myself could not have been different! The first a plump middle aged nurse who gives her heart and energy to her patients. The second a young mom perhaps a bit too thin who shares her love of creating with others and encourages them to live richer lives through art.


I am sorry to say that I jumped on both of these two ladies rather vehemently. Not sorry that I shared my views but maybe I was a little tough on them. You see, I used to be like them and I have learned that it truly doesn't matter what you look like. To borrow a phrase from motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols: It doesn't matter what your package looks like! 


What matters is the shine from your eyes and the smile of grace and beauty that lights up your face.


We have this media fed myth of physical perfection that is such a lie. It keeps us down and unable to be the powerful force of creation we are meant to be. It makes us sick and lonely, unable to love ourselves or even be kind to ourselves.


I too hid from photos for years...always offering to be the photographer rather than the photographee. I hated the 40 pounds I couldn't lose after having kids. I hated the 6 inch scar that splits my belly so it will never be flat even if I ever manage to lose that last 15lbs. I hated my big man-sized hands with nails that are soft and broken all the time. I hated my big wide feet with the short stubby toes deformed from too many years of living barefoot. The stretch marks, the scars and the bumpy bits all made me want to hide. And I did.


It took a lot of work and kindness towards myself to change my perspective. I am still a work in progress but I started with my hands. I realized that if I had been born with sweet dainty hands with slim fingers and beautifully shaped nails that they wouldn't be as strong as the hands I have. My hands are perfect for working and making art. I am not slowed down by worries that I might chip my polish or break a nail as I dig in the garden or create art. My hands are perfect for me.


If I still shied away from having my photo taken, I would have missed the opportunity to capture the photo above of me and my dearest friend Judy Gula. This was in the last few minutes before we closed down her on-site store at the Art and Soul retreat in Va Beach. We were both exhausted beyond measure, not well groomed, hot and sweaty. But, we were happy to be there together surrounded by people we love and basking in the energy of hundreds of creative people making art. A priceless photo in my opinion.


The third lady I wrote about? She was using that beautiful photo of herself in a collage book she started in my class. All her friends and family will see it. She told me that while it isn't the most attractive photo of herself with all her lumps, bumps and saggy skin in plain view, the photo perfectly summed up the joy and deep happiness she feels when she is at the beach. We can all take a lesson from her.


I challenge each of you to begin with one part of your body that you don't like and find the reasons to love it. Take time to create a journal page or small art piece about it. Repeat until you love each part of you.


Write this down and paste it on your mirror, your computer monitor, your car! Breathe it in every day.

It doesn't matter what package you got.


What matters is your heart and soul.


You are beautiful just as you are.




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Neverending Spring

I have been experiencing a never ending Spring. In late March I headed to VA and VA Beach to teach first at Artistic Artifacts and Art and Soul...spring was just beginning.

Carol Sloan, Judy Gula and I made time for a sunrise walk on the beach. Art and Soul was amazing as always. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by so many creative people who love the same stuff you do. Every classroom I peaked in was a hive of energy and filled with the joy of creating. I didn't get to take a class so I am treating myself to a trip to Vegas for the next Art and Soul retreat! Happens to be in my birthday week! Come and join me!

I am always wowed by what my students do with the techniques I teach them. Susan is showing off her beautiful needle felted book in this photo. Each student's book or purse was completely different and each exquisite. Look for some more needle felting classes coming this summer. The Simplicity felting machine is so easy to use and I have a few for my classroom.

I was home for a few days before I headed off to Lancaster PA for the AQS show. Spring was just arriving with tiny bits of green on the trees and beautiful blossoms just beginning to peek out on the bushes. I worked this show with the great folks from Havels Sewing. I adore their scissors and it was a lot of fun to share these great tools with quilters at the show.Robyn Reed and I are enjoying a moment of quiet before the show opened for the day.

Back home for a short rest and then I headed off to Barcelona Spain. During our 9 days there we saw the leaves begin to unfurl and blossoms burst forth. AWESOME! Best describes the trip. My friend Cass Mullane went with me to help translate in my classes but we first had 6 days to explore Barcelona. I took about 1000 photos so I will do a separate post with some of my favorites. I was thrilled to be teaching teachers and store owners as well as a few artists. These talented ladies stitched their hearts out and bravely tried every technique I threw at them. Their students are in for a treat as they share their new passion for thread. The flowers above were growing in a yard in Sant Cugat. We passed them on our way to and from the train station. I don't know what they are but they are so cheerful.

Home for 4 very short days and then off to Cincinnati for Spring Quilt Festival. I actually flew to VA and drove with my friend Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts to Cincinnati-don't ask why I took this round about route. The drive was spring in reverse starting out in VA with the azaleas in full bloom, snow in West Virginia and the very beginnings of spring in Cincinnati.

We stayed at a hotel near the convention center so we were able to walk to and from the show every day. Cincinnati has some great architecture and we loved these Rookwood tiles in the Carew Tower. I am so happy to be home for an entire month. There is the Mancuso show in Denver in May but I will be able to sleep in my own bed. Spring has finally come to Colorado too.  

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Art and Soul Blog Hop ~ Leslie Brier

I have long been a fan of assemblage art but have not taken the leap yet so I was delighted to be able to introduce Leslie Brier to you. As an avid collector of cool stuff that might come in handy some day I fear for my pending storage space problem after looking through Leslie's blog.  My husband doesn't understand my why I keep bringing home more  rusty stuff but, how can I throw anything away now? Leslie's work has been featured in Somerset, Cloth, Paper Scissors and Inspired Ideas.

What type of classes do you like to take at Art and Soul? When I first went to Art and Soul, I took classes where I felt I could be successful and come home with a nice, finished piece.  Then, I took a class that really pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I realized that I could learn a lot by being brave. I didn’t always come home with a perfect, finished piece of art, but the skills I learned were invaluable, and I found ways to incorporate that new knowledge into my work. The classes I’ve taken at Art and Soul have really helped me to grown as an artist. What aspect of teaching do you love the most? I am amazed that a group of students can start with virtually identical materials, and within a few hours, an amazing variety of work will be created. Each student interprets what you teach and puts their own spin on it. I also love the fact that teaching doesn’t feel like work! I end a day of teaching feeling energized and inspired. That wasn’t always the case when I was working in the corporate world.

Do you work in a planned or intuitive way?  How would you describe your approach? I start out with a plan, but it is rare that a piece ends up exactly as I originally intended. I work with found objects and I find that they once I get them into my hands, the objects themselves will lead me in directions that I hadn’t thought of in the sketchbook phase of the project. What did you do to discover your creative voice and personal style? I did jewelry and graphic design for a long time, but my heart was leading me toward assemblage. I was afraid of ruining the objects I wanted to use in my art. I also was used to charging by the hour for my graphic design work, and I didn’t want to put a lot of time into a piece that might not turn out the way I wanted it to. I had to overcome those fears, and give myself permission to fail.  Eventually, I realized that no time spent in the studio was wasted time Taking the time to develop my own techniques has been invaluable. I learned to trust my instincts, and that’s when my own individual style emerged. What advice do you have for someone beginning their art journey? Dive in! Be fearless! You have absolutely nothing to lose, and so much to gain. Allow yourself the time and space to practice what you are interested in. You didn’t learn to read or write in one day -- it took time. The same applies to your artistic skills. Also, seek out like-minded people. I remember going to my first Art and Soul, and how good it felt to be surrounded by people that were interested in the same things that I was.

You can take a class from Leslie to learn all about her creative creatures at Art and Soul in Va Beach in March!

Pick ME! Pick ME!

We have another giveaway for you! Another chance for one of Artistic Artifacts awesome mixed media prize packs including some fabulous batik fabrics and lots of ephemera.  Leave a comment below...share your favorite place to find awesome stuff for your collection! Come on Share! There is plenty of great stuff for all of us. We won't buy it all!

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Art and Soul Blog Hop-Jean Van Brederode

Welcome to your first stop on the 2012 Art and Soul Artist Interview Blog Hop! I can't wait to read all the artist's interviews...what fun to peek into their creative process. I am excited to introduce you all to an artist I first met in Portland last fall, Jean Van Brederode. I love Jean's enamel jewelery work. It is so fun, unique and almost all of it has some yummy fibers attached! Gotta have those fibers. I received a MAPP gas torch for Christmas so I see some enameling in my future! I just need to decide which class to take now...

Artistic Artifacts-the official Art and Soul on-site store has put together awesome mixed media prize packages for each blog on the hop. leave a comment at the end of this post telling me your current favorite technique. I will draw for the winner next Saturday January 28th.

This is a sampling of all the delicious stuff in the blog hop prize packages. Judy at Artistic Artifacts has all the good stuff Be sure to check out the next artist interview on the Art and Soul hop! Sunday features Barbie Saint John's interview on Kari McKnight-Holbrook's blog Now---here is Jean!

What teacher (s) lit your fire to be an artist?   I started taking classes at Art & Soul in 2005 after I retired from teaching 8th grade English for 34 years.  Art has always been my passion, and my goal was to find the art form that would carry me through the rest of my life.  What a wonderful adventure!  The journey was well worth the effort and expense. Instructors who have made the greatest impact on me are Susan Lenhart Kazmer, Jane Wynn, DJ Pettitt, Richard Salley, and Linda and Opie O'Brien.   Enameling teachers outside of Art & Soul include Linda Darty, Averill Shepps, and George Waricher.  Their dedication to their craft and excellent teaching skills led me on a path to enameling which is now my passion and life's work.  The things I learned that impressed me the most are that experimenting is incredibly fulfilling, "happy accidents" happen for a reason, and failures do not exist.  Even if you trash a piece, you still take away ideas to use in your next project.  

What 4 tools can’t you live without?     The four tools that I couldn't part with would have to be the enameling kiln (what a surprise), the Bonney Doon 20-ton hydraulic press, a set of Fretz hammers, and a pencil which I use to create designs in my journal.  

Why do you love to teach?     Since I used to teach 8th graders in another time of my life, it delights me to instruct a roomful of students who are all eager and active learners!  After I retired from teaching, I didn't realize how much I had missed the process of instruction like preparing lessons, gathering materials, creating worksheets, and researching background material.    

Do you have a favorite technique?    My favorite technique was shown to me by George Waricher, a college professor who taught enameling for over 50 years.  One method that he often used was writing and drawing on enameled pieces with enamel-bearing oil.  George can no longer practice his craft due to health reasons, but I am honored to carry on this fascinating technique

Classes I am teaching at Art and Soul in Virginia Beach- March 1-6 2012

VA179 Enameling: Necklace Roulette - Thursday, March 1

VA180 Jewelry Applications Using the Hydraulic Press - Fri Eve March 2

VA181 Nesting Instincts - Thurs Eve March 1

VA225 Bird Nest Enameled Charm Bracelet - Saturday, March 3


More of Jean Van Brederode’s work can be found at: Charmed I'm Sure – The Village Artisans Gallery, Boiling Springs, PA. Jean's Etsy shops - Art Girls Tools - - dedicated to selling jewelry-making tools that I personally recommend. Charmed I'm Sure - - an outlet for my many enameled jewelry pieces. Enamel Warehouse - - As a Thompson enamel distributor, I offer opaque and transparent enamels and enameling supplies and pass on an attractive discount to my customers along with enameling tips and advice. Don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a mixed-media prize package! Just click on the comment link below.

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Art and Soul Portland

I had an incredible time at Art and Soul in Portland. I didn't take any classes this time around but had so much fun teaching that I didn't miss out on the excitement and inspiration oozing through the hotel.

I simply love teaching art and making! Here are some photos from my classes...we made a wonderful creative mess every day!

Camille's delectable cloth

Faythe's delectable cloth

Mary printed fabric until the last possible minute

A journal gathering on Wed night

Ingrid and Lewellyn at a journal gathering

what a creative mess we made in Anthologies of Memories

Judy's Anthology book pages

Janet created pages that are fun and funky...just waiting for her images

Amelia's anthology pages

I totally forgot to take photos during the silk paper class as well as Natural Beauty class! But, take my word for it we made a glorious art mess. If you ever get a chance to attend a retreat like Art and Soul don't hesitate...the energy is amazing and the art and friendships are incredible.

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Salt Spring Adventure

on the ferry to Salt Spring Island BC

Just before I headed to Portland for Art and Soul earlier this month I had a little side trip to Salt Spring Island BC to take a class from Nick Bantock. My husband came along for the adventure and let me tell you...getting to Salt Spring is an adventure all by itself. We spent countless hours trying to figure out the least expensive way to get there that involved the fewest ferry rides. We also made a side trip to Portland to drop off my extensive classroom supplies for Art and Soul. Crossing the border with a car packed to the gills with art and supplies is bound to end up with us in the little back room.

totally lush Salt Spring

We arrived a day and a half before the class so we could explore the island and hike. It was amazingly green and lush. I grew up on the east coast (VA) and my husband grew up in the South (Louisiana and such) so we thought we knew what to expect but we were completely amazed at how wet everything was. The sun did shine for parts of a couple days and of course everyone on the island said it hadn't rained for weeks and weeks before we got there...isn't that always the case?

gerry oaks

One of our hikes lead us to this grove of Gerry oaks. They looked like Colorado gamble (scrub) oaks gone wild! So it was familiar and yet a strange environment we explored. The Gerrys are behind the pine tree in the photo above.

I don't take many classes these days mostly because my schedule is so full. I almost didn't sign up for this class with  Nick Bantock but am so glad I did. It was incredible. I have long admired his collage work and of course am completely drawn in by the way he weaves his art with story. Our two day class was split evenly between his philosophy of making art, what it means to be an artist and techniques. Nick has that rare talent in a teacher to ask the questions that need to be asked in order for you to grow as an artist or even as a human. My fellow students were a great bunch and everyone created wonderful work but I am sad to say I didn't get any photos! My piece is not ready for prime time is still evolving. I will share it when it is finished.

Be sure to check out Nick's new blog: Wasnick and if you are in Spain or Italy this next year you may want to take one of his workshops there. It is not in my budget at the moment but maybe 2013...
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Introducing Self Care Whenever

Dream Collage by Liz Kettle

One thing I want to do on my blog this year is talk about something that has become very important to me...self care and nurturing your heart. I thought about calling it Self Care Sunday and post every Sunday because Sunday is generally a great day to slow down a tiny bit and do a little self care..Right! BUT, all of you who know me well, know that doing something on a set schedule is just not part of my genetic make up! So we will call it Self Care Whenever! Which may actually be better because so many of us need to fit self care in whenever we possibly can.

papers waiting for an artist's hands

This last weekend I attended KC Willis' Collage Conference. I really waffled back and forth about should I go...could I justify spending the money on myself and my January no less...right after Christmas spending! I would have to get a hotel, meals out, be away from my family...etc! All those reasons we can easily come up with when we aren't sure we 'deserve' to take care of ourselves. Now isn't that a stupid thought? Who else deserves our love and care more than ourselves?  So, after much dithering about I finally decided to go. KC has a lot to share about art marketing in addition to her unique style of collage. I thought maybe  starting the new year with a conference would be a good kick in the pants to get focused on my business and art goals. The weekend ended up being a great investment self care!

We were so in sync we even color coordinated!

I was delighted to find a classroom full of great artists and new friends. The speakers, Sarah Fishburn, Jenny Doh and KC were inspirational and heartfelt. There is something magical that happens in art workshops and retreats...magic beyond learning techniques and making art. That of course is why I started Textile Evolution, why Jacki Hefty started Whispering Woodlands, Jenny Doh is starting Crescendo workshops and why KC started her series of retreats.

Creating Collage Magic

This magic is hard to describe to someone who has never participated in an art retreat but produces knowing smiles from those who have and creates retreat addicts. I love retreats and wish I could attend one a month. I love teaching at retreats for that reason too. Connecting with others who share the same passions as you do, have the same fears as you do and have similar struggles and successes as you creates a magical environment. An room full of creative swirling energy, love, sharing, support and fairy dust. There is so much joy! Retreats fill my creative well whether I am student or teacher.

I have heard discussions from those who don't like to work in class settings. I think this is because they may think they are supposed to be creating big...real...serious art in class. Classes are not for serious art creation. That has to happen in quiet...alone in the studio. Don't get me can make meaningful art at a retreat but classes are to remind us that art is first and foremost a conversation...a connection between the artist and viewer. Oh, yes, classes are also to help us stretch, learn, try new things, see a different point of view and as KC so elequently said...get out of our tiny tent so we can count the stars. Connecting with others allows us to connect with our own hearts.

Sarah Fishburn and me...gads I need a hair cut!

Have you gifted yourself with a class, workshop or retreat lately...ever? There are so many retreat options from the energetic Art and Soul, the more intimate Textile Evolution, the focused Whispering Woodlands, KC's and many more. Workshops are taught in quilt and art stores as well as private studios. If money is tight...don't use that as an excuse for lack of self care! Create your own retreat. Invite some friends over and have everyone teach a technique or simply make spontaneous art out of a pile of the good stuff while you laugh and play.

I want to share some photos of our weekend...there were smiles and a few tears, laughter and joy, snorting water, chocolate adoration and an adorable dog named Fiona. I hope you will consider the self care loving gift of connecting with other artists sometime this year.

Diana shares her incredibly fun circus collage book

Jackie working on her Dream Big Collage

Rachel's beautiful book of Angels

Laura discussing her western book

Julia and Jenny working on Dream Big Collages

Jory and Sarah Fishburn during the daily art show

Betty and her awesome Western Girls book

Sarah Fishburn in a burning moment

Jenny Doh sharing her Dream Big Collage

Julia and Sarah exploring ideas

Our final day...lots of hugs as we friends

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