Stitch Journeys

Exploring life with needle and thread.

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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A Wild Ride!

loving these warm waters



How on earth did it get to be mid-November already? Last I looked it was summer. Actually it was summer when I was in Houston last week! On October 27th my toes were happily splashing in the warm Gulf Waters and I was soaking up the sun with my buddies Ruth Chandler and Deb Prewitt.

Deb Prewitt and Ruth Chandler



We had a great afternoon relaxing before the big show! We all agreed that taking the extra time to rest and relax was worth the added expense. We plan on keeping up with this self care event in the future!

Before



After
After


Then there was the 10 days of chaos that are called Quilt Market and Festival. It always seems amazing to me how in a few short hours the show floor morphs from a cacophonous frenzy of crates, fork lifts, sweaty vendors and trash strewn about to a beautiful showcase of the latest fabrics, books and ideas for quilters and stitchers. I would call it the Greatest Show on Earth if that wasn't already taken.

Here are just a few of my favorite things from Market..

Creative Booth Displays



I really wanted to grab some of those bones to walk around Flinstone style.

Urbanista - love that leaf!



Kokka Fabrics - Prints Charming



I adore Kokka fabrics! This great line, Daisy Chain, in the Prince Charming Collection is awesome! Yes, I came home with some....is harder to resist than chocolate! You can get it soon from Blue Twig Studio.

Jennifer Sampou's newest collection ~ Fiesta



There were lots of great new fabric lines in bright colors. Looks like we are all going to be playing with these fun patterns, designs and modern colors. Maybe the dreary economy has something to do with that...or maybe I just didn't 'see' all the brown and gray fabrics out there.

Coral tree fabrics



One of my favorite discoveries is this new line of fabrics from Africa offered by Da Gama Textiles. These beautiful fabrics have a wonderful soft hand and the patterns and colors are wonderful...I came home with a few of these and you can get your own at Artistic Artifacts right now! You may have to e-mail Judy directly because she probably hasn't had time to get them on the site yet.

Art Gallery Fabrics



I am also in love with the new line of solids from Art Gallery Fabrics. Such luscious colors in their always scrumptious feeling cotton. The solids pair beautifully with their new patterns of course but I know they will blend well with much of what is in my stash.

I am always on the lookout for new products and found some great brushes for surface design from Royal Langnickel. Ruth and I can't wait to get the paints out and give them a workout...will post photos when we do.

I love teaching store owners and other teachers at Quilt Market as well as the time we spend in the Landauer booth talking about our books. It is always a crazy busy fun time. Check back tomorrow for a post about Quilt Festival and a GIVEAWAY!
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Getting Ready for School



Kathy King's Delectable cloth



No, I am not literally getting myself ready for school and my one remaining student gets himself ready for school and doesn't even need help with his homework...they do grow up! Anyway, for me, the summer is always crazy busy and this year we had the amazing Textile Evolution Retreat smack in the middle of August. I looked at the calendar on August 1, took a deep breath, started working and Bamm! the next thing I knew it was September already! How did that happen?


First let me tell you about the retreat. Once again it was an  incredible experience for both teachers and students...a lot of laughter, a few tears, fabulous art and a birthday party! Here are a few photos to make you jealous!Mono-printed messenger bags for each student.


The mono-printed messenger bags made out of Multi-Purpose Cloth (Love this stuff!) were stuffed with goodies from our awesome sponsors!


Judy Gula and Carol Sloan shopping at Blue Twig Studio on-site store.


Oh, yes we had not one but TWO on-site stores full of art deliciousness! Feast on these yummy offerings from Artistic Artifacts.





Evening tutorial



After dinner we had great demos and tutorials...here Laura Cater-Woods, Judy Gula and Carol Sloan share their many different approaches to rust dyeing fabric. There was a rust dyeing frenzy that followed this lecture.

We didn't know we could DRAW!



Students from Carol Sloan's Whimsical Mark Making class...as they shared their class work each one said 'WOW, I didn't know I could draw'.

Fabrics from Delectable Cloth



Just a small sample of the luscious fabrics created in Delectable Cloth with me.

Kerry Cain's Indigo Shibori cloth



Cat Mikkelson's Indigo Shibori show and tell



When the students from the Indigo Shibori class started showing their work it sounded like we were at a fireworks show...ohhhh...ahhhhh.....ohhhhh.....ahhhhhh!

Deb Prewitt's books from Carol Sloan's class



Kathy King's tree book made in my class



I am sad to announce that the Textile Evolution Retreat is going on hiatus. As wonderful as the experience is for the students and teachers (oh my gosh...the surveys made me cry because everyone loved it so much!) and as much as I love putting on this great event I have had to decide on where to spend my time. The retreat takes the majority of my time and I want to focus more on teaching and creating an on-line community of people who love to stitch. So, stay tuned for changes here on the web site.

The first change is that my friend and co-author Ruth Chandler has joined me in this quest to bring the full dance of joy in making stuff with fabric and thread to all of you! Our book studies are going strong and if you are thinking of a back to school educational event for yourself come and join us! It is FREE! You have to have our books but there isn't any other cost. Everything is in the forum section of this web site. We have lots of great info and some video tutorials...best of all you can start where ever you are and go through the workshop at your own pace! You are never 'behind'! Don't you love that? Who needs guilt added to having fun? OTOH if you need an excuse for the family to get into your studio, you simply tell them you have a class you are taking and must get your homework done! Great modeling for the kids and you get to play!

Kyle Gula's photo from the top of Pikes Peak



Judy Gula's family arrived right after the retreat and so I was 'forced' to show them around our fabulous state. We included a quick trip to Breckenridge where Judy and I scrounged the Sally Barber mine site for bits of rusted metal laying around...of course this resulted in another frenzy of rust dying. They headed up Pikes Peak on their own and were treated to an amazing display of Colorado weather...sun on the peak and storms surrounding them in every direction.

No wonder I lost all of August...it was full of fun, friends, art and laughter! Life is good!
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Fabric Nirvana: vintage finds new life of color

I love color...doesn't everyone? Intense, bold, almost pure colors that emit an energy all their own and slightly greyed colors that look like you know cool jazz sounds.  I also love vintage fabrics which are usually found in pale shades and tints evoking a gentler elegant era. Yes, I am a Gemini! I seem to be attracted to things that are seemingly opposite to each other. When I first met Judy Gula I was stunned to find that this cheerful woman had looked into my fabric and vintage stash, thrown it all into a blender to create this:Perfection! The most wonderful combination of vintage fabrics and amazing color I had ever seen.The tale gets worse for me...or at least my pocketbook anyway....Judy owns a store, Artistic Artifacts and she teaches people how to dye fabric to achieve incredible results just like the fabric she sells. Fabric nirvana!

a selection from Judy's dye class 2010



For you, the story gets better because Judy is bringing her class on dyeing and collage to Textile Evolution this August! Not only will she share her dyeing expertise so you can create a big pile of incredible fabrics but she will also show you how to create silk paper and fabric paper and how to combine all those delicious beautiful things into a fabric collage that can hang with the best of them. Judy will also teach you how to use all those little bits and bobs that you have been saving but don't exactly know what to do with. Even if you have never made an art quilt before Judy will lead you fearlessly down that path and you will have a blast doing it.  Judy rarely teaches away from her store in VA so don't miss this chance to learn from one of the best!

I almost forgot to mention that Judy is also teaching a charm necklace class that eliminates the torch, solder and stress of jewelry making. Judy brings her eclectic style to her  jewelry as well as her fiber art and combines them when ever possible.

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Can't Judge a Store by its Cover

This scarf is created with hand dyed laces and frippery...how fun is that?



I am back in my old stomping grounds this week...Northern VA. I grew up here and it is always strange coming to visit...familiar but not the same. There is always construction around here and things have changed so much I can't quite connect what I see in front of me with the memories from my youth. High rise luxury apartments where the train and junk yards used to be...who could have guessed??

Who could resist these hand-dyed vintage fabrics?



I am at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria VA working on some great tutorials and videos for you. This incredible store is housed in a very unassuming exterior....solid brick and businesslike with a parking lot full of BIG trucks. But, once you open the front door you know you have discovered something unusual and delicious. Judy Gula the creative genius behind Artistic Artifacts has turned a showroom that used to house a Porsche race car and high end after market auto parts for those who are connoisseurs of speed and style into the ultimate playground for mixed media and textile artists...we connoisseurs of paint, fiber and cloth!




Judy had gathered together unique and hard to find supplies, hand dyed fabrics (both vintage and new), embellisments, charms, trims and bits of things that simply make my heart sing. This is a very dangerous place for my wallet!! Everywhere I turn there is some luscious bit of treasure that must come home with me...good thing I have an extra suitcase! I regularly shop on Artistic Artifacts's web store for supplies but being surrounded by these incredible trinkets every day for a week has eliminated any sense of will power I had. Judy will be teaching her dyeing and collage techniques as well as how to create some of her distinctive mixed media jewelry at the Textile Evolution Retreat in Aug.


As if this wasn't enough to break the bank Judy and I visited a tiny little bead store in an unlikely location and similarly unassuming exterior. Rosalie, the owner of Beads Ltd has created a jewel box inside a townhome turned store. Every wall and window is covered with beads...lets just say I had really great time and will probably have to ship stuff home! I found a huge selection of rondels which can be hard to find. Rosalie had a plethora of sizes and colors...I bought them all. Unfortunately, Beads Ltd does not have a web presence so you will have to trek to VA to visit.


I am actually working not just shopping! Judy and I are developing some great tools for you! We are creating a series of YouTube videos and companion written tutorials that we think you are going to love. There has been much laughter and sillyness as we stumble our way through learning video taping and a tiny bit of editing...emphasis on the 'tiny'! We won't have 'perfect' videos...they would never get done if we waited for perfect. But, they will be informative and fun. I will let you know as soon as the first one is ready for you.

If you are in the area I am lecturing on thread on Sat. 2/19 at 1:00. Check the Artistic Artifacts web site for details and address.

I just posted another tutorial on the Havel's Scissors blog today too! Be sure to check it out for some thread painting zen!
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