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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.

Cooking in Houston

houston skyline

Ruth and I are in Houston for International Quilt Market and Festival.  As we got out of the shuttle from the airport we were stunned to find the sidewalk from the curb up to the front door of the hotel strewn with about a dozen of my postcards. It was as if Houston was expecting me and put out the red carpet! :-) Evidently the UPS delivery person had arrived shortly before us and dropped the box of my postcards and a few had escaped. The postcards were probably so excited to be here they couldn't wait to jump out of the box and tell everyone about my cool new classes that will be on-line soon.


This is the first time we arrived well before our first event which isn't until 3pm today (Fri). We got here at noon yesterday and spent the afternoon walking around downtown Houston and grocery shopping. It was fun to explore the 'big' city.


One interesting discovery for me on our big walking adventure is that I am not very talented at walking on sidewalks! I realized after the third time I tripped on the little edge of the sidewalk joints that I don't normally walk on sidewalks. At home I am walk on the edge of the street or on a trail. It was very funny. I am sure it didn't help that I was looking up most of the time.


houston reflections


We enjoyed the architecture of this busy city, counted the number of oil company buildings and spent a lot of time looking at the ever changing reflections in the windows. We found a beautiful garden around the Public Library that was a quiet magical oasis in the city.



houston construction

We haven't stayed downtown for a few years so it was fun to see all the changes. Our room faces Macy's. Well it used to be Macy's but now it is a pile of rubble...a very big pile. I am totally fascinated watching the big diggers moving all the rubble. They look like giant dinosaurs. It is a bit noisy but most mornings we will be up well before the construction starts.


We always stay at a Residence Inn so we have a kitchen. With our food allergies it is so much simpler not to mention cheaper, to have access to a kitchen. Traveling with allergies can sometimes be difficult so we were thrilled to find that a wonderful gourmet market had opened not too far from the hotel. We were like kids in a candy store looking at all the amazing foods and taking in the fantastic smells.


We found a fig preserve that we couldn't resist so we put our heads together to come up with a meal around it. We decided on sauteed acorn squash, mushrooms and onions with a wonderful garlic infused olive oil. To that we added sauteed pork chops with a balsamic glaze. Not too shabby for hotel room cooking!


Some of our followers have mentioned how fun it is to go to the quilt shows we go to and it is a lot of fun hanging out with people who love the same things we do. However, the travel part is not so much fun. After so many years we have it down to a pretty good science. Our bags are packed precisely to 49.5lbs We always forget the same things (coffee filters) and generally remember to pack the most important cooking tools: a large Teflon skillet, sharp knives, cutting boards, Serranos coffee from Monument CO, Ruth's home made salsa and baggies. We almost always have a TSA search love note in our suitcases.


Let me tell you, it isn't easy getting all our teaching supplies in as well as our kitchen essentials. Sometimes clothing must be sacrificed but we figure no one is paying that much attention to how many times we have worn that same tee shirt. Fortunately, the Residence Inn has a laundry room too.


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Perfect Paper Piecing ~ Choose the right thread



Paper Piecing! I spent the last weekend finishing this quilt top and table runner. Starr Design Fabrics created the pattern and fabric kit. This project has been in the works for 13 years! I know some of you can relate. I purchased it on my 40th birthday so I know exactly how long it has been hanging around. One reason it has taken so long to finish is that I discovered after oh...about...the second star that I really don't like paper piecing. (gasp!)


Fortunately, I have a great friend who doesn't mind paper piecing and she helped me get through these blocks. Truth be told she made most of them. :-)


One benefit to working on a project like this for so long is that it has a bit of my personal thread history in it. I started this quilt before I had embarked on my mission to undercover all the mysteries of thread. So, it is a bit of an experiment on what threads work best with paper piecing.


I started out with a medium weight cotton thread. Nice and strong but it made it difficult to get all the many points to meet where I wanted them to meet. Too frustrating for paper piecing these complicated patterns.


Next I tried a couple different ultra-fine threads. I began with InvisaFil and DecoBob both by WonderFil. These ultra fine threads worked great and gave me totally flat seams and the points all behaved nicely and met where they should. But, these particular poly threads are a little stretchy so when I was tearing away the paper the stitching stretched a bit and had to be repaired in a couple places.


My recommendation for paper piecing thread is Coats and Clark Dual Duty Fine. This thread is strong, not as stretchy as the others I used and is fine enough to give you nice flat seams. Don't forget to shorten your stitch  length too.


I have gifted my paper piecing hero with all my add a quarter rulers! I won't be paper piecing in the foreseeable future. I hope to get this quilt top quilted later this fall but have a baby quilt to do first! Another boy grandbaby will be joining us in late Jan. Love those boys!!



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The Joy of Finishing



About 13 years in the making but finally finished this weekend!! The good news is that I still love the fabrics and the pattern after working on it for all these years. My only regret is that when I started this the only fusible product readily available was Wonder Under. The center is layered fused fabric applique so it is really stiff in the floral sections.  Misty Fuse would have been so much better to use and would have left the quilt soft and cuddly.


I am very good at finishing projects but have a few large quilts that have been languishing for years...interrupted by quilts for the boys and more recently my grandchildren. I realized about 8 years ago that working on the same quilt (or any project) especially those that are repetitive blocks are just not my thing. I also moved away from making other people's patterns and started creating my own. I got rid of all those projects except for a few that I really loved. Getting rid of those I really didn't like anymore was such a great relief and gave me more room for art supplies. I highly recommend it. Of course finishing makes you feel Great too!





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Looking for July

Anyone seen July around? I remember turning the calendar page to July but the next thing I knew it was the middle of August already! School starting? Really?


Ruth and I both had tons of company...grandchildren on both fronts and a few other house guests too. It was lots of fun and much laughter was heard at both our homes.


We did get some great work done too!

I finished this piece which was accepted into the Standing on the Shoulders of Cowboys exhibit at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in Colorado Springs. That was an honor because of the amazing number of pieces that were submitted. This piece, titled Rust 'N' Dust is composed of rust dyed fabrics and machine embroidery on an organza layer.


rust n dust liz kettle


Ruth finished the final pieces for her new book Modern Hand Stitch the evening before she had hand surgery! Talk about a hard deadline. Her samples will amaze you and we will give you some sneak peeks over the coming weeks. Her book will be out later this fall.


Ruth has a bit of recuperation ahead of her so send her lots of healing energy. I know she can't wait to get back to stitching again.



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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! 

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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

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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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TAP Class with Lesley Riley Giveaway!

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TAP image transfer on metal shim


I LOVE Transfer Artist Paper aka TAP! I was at the front of the line to purchase it when it was first released by Lesley Riley. With this fabulous image transfer paper Lesley ended a lot of frustration for mixed media artists world wide. No more worries about the type of printer ink you had or the endless search for the paper or transparency film that works. TAP solved a lot of problems and took the mixed media art world by storm! It was awarded the coveted Most Innovative New Product by the Craft and Hobby Association in 2011.


TAP image hand tinted before transfering


I use TAP in a lot of my collage work and I have TAPped on tote bags, banners, lutradur, metal, wood, ceramic and just about every sort of fabric you can imagine. TAP is a frequent winner in my classes too. Students always fall in love with it when they see how versatile and easy to use TAP is. Lesley has a new on-line class on CraftArtEdu where you can learn all the great techniques, tips and tricks directly from Lesley Riley herself...right in your own home:  Create with TAP Transfer Artist Paper™ with Lesley Riley. You can even watch a preview of Lesley's class.

 Now for the fun part! Lesley is offering you a chance for a FREE class! She organized a blog hop so you have multiple chances to win. To enter to win the free Create with TAP class just leave a comment on this blog post. Tell me what you would like to create with TAP. I will choose a winner using a random number generator on July 9.

But wait! That's not all (said in my best infomercial voice over) If you head over to Lesley's blog and leave a comment there you might win a 5 sheet package of TAP to play with!


Check out the rest of the bloggers who are participating in the hop. Only a few winners have been chosen so you have lots of opportunities to win.


June 26 - Christine Urias - Scraptime

June 27 - Karen Watson -- The Graphics Fairy

June 28 - Judy Coates Perez - Judy Coates Perez

June 29 - Theresa Wells Stifel - Stifel & Capra

June 30 - Lynn Krawczyk - Fiber Artysta

July 1 - Claudine Hellmuth - Claudine Hellmuth

July 2 - Gina Rossi Armfield - Joyful Purpose

July 3 - Carolyn Dube - A Colorful Journey

July 4 - Liz Kettle - Stitch Journeys

July 5 - Jane LaFazio - Janeville

July 6 - Joanne Sharpe - Whimspirations

July 7 - Pam Carriker - Pam Carriker

July 8 - Theresa Martin - Theresa Martin


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3 Artists + 3 Days = Creative Frenzy


I just spent 3 amazing days with fellow artists, Judy Gula of Artistic Artifacts in VA and Jamie Malden of Colouricious in the UK. We convened in VA at Artistic Artifacts to create, experiment and wreak creative havoc. Judy provided the space and access to her truly amazing stash. Judy's mom Pat brought us chocolate for fuel and her entire family welcomed us and tolerated our creative take over.  Jamie brought a new batch of wooden printing blocks from India and I brought thread and some pieces I had started.



Jamie Malden of Colouricous wood block printing a pieced quilt



Judy Gula and Jamie Malden discussing piecing techniques


Often when artists get together they bring their own piece to work on but we decided that we would love to create jointly. Wow! What a great experience. We completed 5 pieces and have 3 more in various stages to finish as soon as we get a chance. We created a glorious mess, shared laughter and stories


I learned so much by working side by side these fantastically creative women. It was such a great challenge to have one artist start a piece and hand it off to someone else to do the next step. Then it could be passed back to the first person or on to the third. and back again. Something I would never have thought to add to a piece was now mine to figure out the best way to incorporate it and then how could I make it even more than when it came to me? It was exciting, frustrating and challenging.


I also learned more about my own working process which is always a good thing! I came home with lots of great ideas for projects of my own. Judy recorded some videos about the different techniques we used so you will want to be sure to sign up for her newsletter so you don't miss them. I highly recommend this type of retreat for your own creative journey.

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6 Miles of Seperation

I once again find myself living 6 miles from the edge of a major wild fire.

Yesterday the fire spread 8 miles is a few hours.

6 miles is too close.

6 miles is scary.


There is nothing between me and the edge of the fire but hundreds of acres of trees. Trees stressed by years of drought.


This is the photo I took yesterday at 3:30 just a couple hours after the fire started.


This is the photo I took when I picked my son up from his colleg class. Just 3 hours later.


Of course when disaster strikes close to home you make plans for evacuation. Photos and family history are packed. Actually, they have been packed since the Waldo Canyon fire last year. We didn't get enough snow or rain this last year to warrent unpacking. My art work is at the studio in Colorado Springs. We have talked about what things are the most important to bring. We have a plan.


A plan doesn't help with the helpless feeling as you watch homes being turned to ashes in minutes.


I went down to my basement studio to finish up some packing for a trip to the mountains this weekend and I had such a wave of sadness hit me. Sadness that all of my 'stuff' my art supplies, vintage fabrics, vintage papers, art papers, bits and bobs could all vanish in an instant. Totally out of my control. There would be no way to replace any of it. Insurance wouldn't even begin to cover the precious bits I have collected over the years. 


My sadness didn't last more than a couple minutes. I started sorting through some fabrics and quickly realized that it is all just 'stuff'. What is


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Spring Quilt Market review-Art Gallery Fabrics

Spring Quilt Market review-Art Gallery Fabrics

Ruth and I both adore Art Gallery Fabrics! The hand of these fabrics is simply amazing. The patterns are unique, cutting edge and the colors incredibly yummy! We did a video--correction LIZ did a video Ruth will not be held responsibile for this---of the beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics booth at Spring Quilt Market in Portland.


Vendors spend an incredible amount of time, energy and money to create a unique booth at quilt market. We thought you all might enjoy seeing it. Apologies for the video! Liz kept thinking she could re-orient the camera. She blames it on her enthusiam for showing you all how awesome their booth is.


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Wabi-Sabi Tarts

How about a chance to win this amazing piece of art by Serena Barton? Details at the bottom!


giveaway pic


My friend Serena Barton has a new book out that you are going to LOVE! It is titled: Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop and it is full of fun mixed media techniques that embody the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi or embracing imperfection.


I decided to put one of the exercises in the book to the test by trying it out on my Tuesday Tarts group. We are a bunch of textile based mixed media artist who meet once a month to try out a new technique. This month was my turn to teach so I picked one of the projects in Serena's book: Acrylic Paint and Re-Inkers (page 28). We ended up with a larger than normal group because it is summer so I had to stand on a chair to be seen and heard. It was pretty funny.

Liz teaching at tarts-2


Of course finding the exact same re-inkers Serena used proved to be a problem but we went with the assortment we had. I did experiment with the Adirondack Color Mists and they worked well although the color may be slightly less intense. This group is good with going with the flow. Actually, they are excellent at just playing and not worrying about the final product!  One member experimented with using alcohol inks and we had a lot of different brands of re-inkers. The re-inkers are available on-line if you don't have a store near you that sells them.


Here is the series of photos I took as we worked through Serena's excellent step by step instructions. I had created a sample but just read the directions to everyone as we went along. We only spent a little over an hour on these and everyone created a great piece and had a lot of fun just playing.


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Look how clean and neat it is...didn't stay that way long.


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At this point paint was flinging and I had to get out a bull horn to be heard over the chatter and laughter!


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The layers and depth we were able to get using Serena's techniques is great...though hard to tell in the group photo. There is a lot to explore in this book and everyone in the group loved the possibilities between the covers.


I am just one stop on the blog hop so you will want to check out these other blogs for their projects and interviews. Jill Berry has a book to give away and is drawing on June 10.


6/1: Sara Naumann
6/3: Jill Berry
6/4 Carol Sloan
6/5 Liz Kettle
6/6 Joanne Sharpe
6/8 Seth Apter
6/9 Alicia Caudle
6/10 Pam Carriker


Now to enter to win the beautiful piece of Serena's you need to go visit her new wabi sabi art workshop blog. Leave a comment to enter. She is drawing on June 8. If you win you might want to remember that my birthday is on the 16th! :-)


Last little goodie! You can find Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop on-line and at book stores but Serena has a special offer!!


You can order a signed copy from Serena with a bonus of a little packet of collage materials for your own wabi-sabi work. Use the Paypal button under the book listing on her Classes page. Shipping in the continental US is 4.00. and from.
To purchase the book from Serena:

Now, go make something!
















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Angels In My Studio 2013

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I am thrilled to announce that I am a participating teacher for this year's Angels in My Studio on-line workshop Series!

This workshop is about

cultivating your creativity

connecting with your intuitive core

nurturing your inner artist

learning mixed media art techniques

having fun and playing

Guess what else? I have a spot to give away in the class ~ details below!

This amazing 5 month workshop series is being taught by 11 talented mixed media artists. Just look at this line-up! 

Tamara LaPorte -- Healing mixed-media inner guardian angel

Chris Zydel -- Something super magical is in the works, guaranteed.

Havi Mandell -- Deeply meaningful Angel Book

Cheryl Irwin -- High vibe Angel/Goddess Mandala and Intuitive Spirit painting

Claudia Olivos -- Glorious angel painting on a large canvas

Kristen Powers -- Brilliant Al fresco angel painting (and a carved rubber stamp mini-lesson)

Liz Kettle -- Powerful protective talisman for you to carry/wear

Melissa Muirhead -- Sweet, sweet angel pendant on a Scrabble tile!

Rachel Payne -- Playful, free-form, intuitive Spirit Doll

Justine Van De Weg -- Magical Fairy painting

Galia Alena -- Profound, Sacred Art journaling

Why Angels? I think that Sheri Ponzi who is the creator of this course says it best

"I realize that it doesn’t really matter if angels are “real” -- what matters is the very real experience of clarity, ease, calmness and support we feel once we invite in the possibility.

When you allow the possibility of angel magic into your life, everything shifts. Everything.

When you allow the possibility of creative play into your life, everything shifts. Everything."

My class is all about trusting your intuition. We are going to create a really cool talisman to wear. I am so excited about this project!

You can learn all the details about the workshop, teachers, projects and register on the main Angels in My Studio web site. If you find out about the class from me please use the link here to register so we know where students found us as this is how we are paid.

Ok, so on with the giveaway! You will have to leave a comment to enter of course. Tell me which of the lessons you think is most out of your comfort zone and will help you stretch your creative and intuitive muscles. I will use a random number generator to choose the winner on Sunday June 2.

Stitch Happy!


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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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Spun: Textile Art at the DAM


I am so excited about this comprehensive exhibit coming to the DAM. I have been hearing rumors for a few months and if you click on the Museum link you will get an idea of the scope of the exhibit. It is one not to be missed! I love this piece in the photo above. It is a woven wool Rain Cloak (charkheb) from the early 1900's. I just can't wait to see it in person. Be sure to check out all the great programs and classes that support this exhibition.

Cultures with Texture

Spun: Adventures in Textiles at the Denver Art Museum

 The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is gearing up to unveil its summer exhibition, Spun: Adventures in Textiles, on view May 19–September 22, 2013. The museum-wide exhibition blends ancient traditions and surprising innovations in textile arts. It will be home to an extensive collection of artworks that range from pre-Columbian weavings to modern fiber art, Navajo blankets to an examination of clothing in paintings and photography. From wool to recycled plastics, embroidered silk to buttons, a variety of materials and mediums will emerge in a rich and colorful spectacle.

In celebration of the DAM’s new textile galleries, its inaugural show, Cover Story, harnesses the essence of Spun. Featuring approximately 60 objects, Cover Story provides an intimate lens into the ways in which textiles have permeated human life across time and space. Exploring further, delve into other cultures through Irresistible’s intricately dyed Asian textiles and the elaborate Navajo weavings in Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840-1870. Examine how blue jeans inspired the iconic images of the Wild West in Western Duds: How Clothing Helped Create an Archetype and witness the telling stories of social change through the photographs in Common Threads: Portraits by August Sander and Seydou Keïta. Or push the boundaries of textile art in Material World’s subversive social commentaries and hover between textile and technology in Transposition, among many others.

An interwoven medley, Spun is held together by a common fiber—a shared humanity in textiles. The DAM’s diverse collections explore the ways in which textiles enrich and encircle human lives, as textured and vibrant as the cultures themselves. For more information, visit

Image descritption: Rain cloak (charkheb), Bhutan, early 1900s. Woven wool. Denver Art Museum; Neusteter Textile Collection: Textile Art department funds, by exchange.

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Winner Winner!!

In the crazy rush to get packed for two back to back teaching trips I totally forgot to pick the winner for my book giveaway last week!  First Time Beading on Fabric!


Thanks Sandra for the reminder. We thought we had that all caps thing fixed too! Technology is great but...


Now for the winner of a copy of First Time Beading on Fabric!

So....drumroll please....the winner #3



Oh dang...Carol has a project in the book so she already has a copy!


New drumroll....

Lets work from the last comment forward.


Margaret Wilburn


You are the WINNER!

Send me your snail mail address and I will post it as soon as I return home this weekend.


I hope to see some wonderful beading from you Margaret!

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ForeWord Book of the Year Finalist!


I am thrilled to announce that First Time Beading on Fabric is a ForeWard Book of the Year Finalist in Crafts and Hobbies! Woo Hoo!!!

Don't you think this deserves a giveaway? I do! Leave a comment below by Saturday March 30th to have a chance to win a copy of First Time Beading on Fabric. I will use a random number generator to choose a lucky winner on Sunday March 31.

I have been under a spam attack! Sorry to make you register to enter the giveaway but it only takes a moment! Thanks for understanding.

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Slow down to Speed up

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I spent the weekend immersed in words. I love words! I love writing them, reading them, thinking about them, understanding them...if you love words you understand. My purpose for this word absorbing session this weekend was to slow down and making time to think about my students and customers. How can I help them, what do they need, what do they want, and how can I best share my knowledge with them.

I don't usually make the time to spend two whole days on planning. But, I realized that with my word of the year ACTION I could benefit from some planned action instead of just reaction. Reaction usually just has me putting out fires and making more chaos in my life. Do you ever take the time to step out of your normal routine and focus on your goals? I felt totally energized and ready to take on the world after my introspective weekend. How does it make you feel?

One idea that came out of my brainstorming session was simply to ask you! What do you need? What are you looking for? What sort of classes do you want?  Leave me a comment or e-mail me.

A lot of other ideas came out of my quiet day of thinking and writing. I have lots of ideas for new classes including video classes and some new books. Now, I have to gear up into production mode so I can deliver all these fun ideas into the world.

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Speaking of classes, I am back teaching on-line at Fiber Arts Mixed Media with my Layer it Up! collage class. Lots of fun techniques and some solid guidlines to teach you how to create great collage stories. Plus you get to learn at home! You can learn more about it or sign up here.

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Order out of Chaos?

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I am surrounded by studio chaos! That is how it is when I am fleshing out a new class. Creating a new class often takes up to 6 months of thinking, experimenting and talking to the dumb little scoundrel that whispers in my head. I thought I might share with you my process for developing a class.

I start out with some great ideas

I research, experiment and play

I think, ohhh what if...

I get distracted by more ideas

I get overwhelmed by ideas

I can't possibly fit all this in one class

Who the heck wants to learn this weird assortment of techniques anyway

no one is going to like this class

but, this thing is really cool

and maybe this one

a new round of research, experimenting and playing

how can I make this all look good together

why do I do this

this is never going to work

no one is going to like this class

oh, wait, what if I do it this way...

that's a great idea

just how much can I fit into 6 hours ~ can I make them skip lunch

ohhhh that is really cool ~ they will love this

what if...

and so it goes......




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What's in a Name?

I have had a horrid cold, the sort of cold that gives you 'break your ribs' coughing fits. Yuck! I am not too sad though because I think this means my immune system is getting back to a more normal baseline. The only benefit of a Wonder Woman immune system is that normal colds just don't have a chance. LOL As much as I love Wonder Woman I would rather have a non-superhero immune system. So please forgive me if this post is a bit rambly. 

Modern quild challenge quilt

Since I can't get much computer or studio work done I have spent more time than usual reading. I spent quite a few hours checking out reviews of Quilt Con and I came across thisblog postby Thomas Knauer. I have never heard of him before that but found that his post really resonated with me. Basically, he writes a 'mini manifesto' about the words we use to describe what we do. Does it really matter if we name what we make traditional, contemporary, modern or art quilts?

If you have even been to a modern quilt guild meeting you mght be surprised to see english paper piecing-by hand, quilts that look more like contemporary art and traditional patterns being done with 'modern' fabrics. As someone who has been hanging out in the quilt world for more years than seem possible, I am always amused when the modern quilters act like they have discovered something totally new. I amuse myself when I peruse old stitch books and find that what may be called contemporary hand stitching or embroidery has been done before. And, do you remember the hoopla the first time a machine quilted quilt won first prize in Houston? As if quilters hadn't used their tredle machines to quilt before. It is always great to be reminded that just because something is new to you it doesn't mean it is new to the universe. 

Now don't get me wrong. I love the modern quilt movement. It is bringing energy and enthusiam into the quilt industry like a breath of fresh air. I love the new highly graphic asethetic of the new designer's fabric. I love the colors, and wish I could snap my fingers and swap out my stash of muddy tones for all those yummy bright new fabrics. I remember when solid fabrics were 'in' the last time round. I just wonder why we feel the need to distance ourselves from each other. I have made quilts in all these styles, and love each quilt faction equally. I have heard negative remarks from all the different quilt camps about all the other quilt camps as if it were better to belong to one over the other. When you get right down to the bottom line we are all just making stuff!

That is the clincher. What is really important here is the 'making' not the end product. Making connects us with our selves, with our soul and with each other. It doesn't matter if you are making 'fine art' or a quilt that will be drug around by a toddler. The magic, the juicy goodness, is in the making. 

When I crawled into bed at 8pm I had run out of novels to read and my Kindle was being glitchy so I dragged out an old book by Michael Gelb. It is one of my favorites, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci. The first part of the book takes you through the Renaissance (quickly) and I was stopped dead in my tracks by the following:

"we owe it to ourselves to ask if we can afford to let the authorities of our time---whether church, goverment, or corporation----think for us."     Michael Gelb

Wow, I would have smacked my head but it already hurt! This is what I have been talking about! Who cares what the quilt police, the modern guild or the art world thinks about what I make. Labels can help us define our tribes, find our friends and our place in a huge world. Labels can also fence us in and allow us to let the group tell us how to think and create. Creating and making are too important to let anyone tell us how we should do it. The flip side being everyone's creative expression should be honored and accepted...even when we don't understand it.

If we choose to let what other people create open doors to conversations that connect us more deeply does it matter what we call it?


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Creating for Pure Pleasure

Creating for Pure Pleasure

When was the last time you created something for no good reason?


ATCs Feb thermofax

I love creating Artist Trading Cards aka ATCs so much that quite a few years ago I started a trading group here in town. ATCs are made for the pure fun of it. There are no rules except the size. There is no reason for them to exist except for personal pleasure of their creation. I haven't been able to attend much the last couple years because of my busy travel schedule. But, this Saturday I was in town and made the commitment to myself to make ATCs to trade.

I had so much fun and it only took a little over an hour! Often it is difficult to give ourselves the precious gift of time to create and play but the rewards are so much more than the 'thing' we end up with. I felt happy, energized and relaxed all at the same time.

To create these cards I started with some gelatin plate printed tissue papers I had made. I stamped the tissue papers with half circles using Colorbox Mica Magic stamp pads. Then I screen-printed the flower seed image using one of my thermofax screens and black paint. I added one more layer of screen-printed flowers with a pearlescent paint from Stewart Gill. I cut the tissue papers into the 2.5" x 3.5" ATC size and fused them to Peltex stabilizer. For the backs I used some of the remaining tissue paper or some dyed paper towel fused to the back of the Peltex. To finish the edges I rubbed on the same metallic ink from the stamp pads. Signed and numbered them and done.

I challenge you to carve out an hour to play this week. No need to create a finished product or even strive for something beautiful; just play. You will be so glad you did.




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Remembering to See

Remembering to See

Quite a while ago I wrote a post about Seeing. See was my word of the year in 2010 and it was a good guiding word for me. I did pay more attention to what and who was around me. I became more mindful and my art work benefited from that.

dead trees in Breckenridge

In January I was in Breckenridge for a long weekend and I realized on the way home that I hadn't really taken time to 'see' what was around me. I didn't even notice the millions of dead trees in my vision. You see, I had become accustomed to them. They had become the new normal in my visual field so I no longer saw them. I no longer mourned their loss or savored their sad beauty.

Today, a month later, I looked out my front window and discovered a huge pile of bird feathers from some unheard battle. Tiny down feathers were attached to all the bare branches. How long had they been there? When did this altercation take place? It could have been could have been a week ago. I had no idea.

bird feathers caught in bush

No blood was found and I imagine a bird was trying to snack on one of my plentyful pocket gophers and met a coyote intent upon the same purpose. Hope one of them got a few of the gophers. Don't think poorly of me...those gophers have killed my garden and my passion for it. Grrrrrr..

At any rate...these two incidences combined to give me pause to consider if I have been taking time to 'see' lately? When I haven't been on the road these last 6 months I have been living in my head. Reading marketing, business and how to make video tutorials. Way too much time in my left brain. I have not made anytime for art. I have not taken the time to slow down, breathe and be mindful of my surroundings.

feathers from yard battle edited-1

I need to bring 'seeing' back into my life as a daily ritual again. So, I have added it to my calendar and task list. I have also added time for the studio. I will be down there all weekend exploring techniques, asking 'what if' and most importantly of all playing. Perhaps these feathers I have collected will find their way into my art.

What reminds you to slow down, be present and see?

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