Monday, March 31, 2008


Designing around a specific theme or subject is my most common work style.  Why??  Well, basically, I have way tooooo many ideas pin balling around in my brain.  So, to help me focus, I narrow them down to a specific subject and then see how far I can take it. 

Several years ago, a beautiful oak tree that grew just off our wall of windows, overlooking the Sugar River in Brodhead, WI got my attention.  I recreated this mighty oak to reflect the 4 seasons.  Each piece is 22"wide X 27" high.

All are hand appliqued, hand & machine embroidered, embellished, and heavily hand quilted. The series is for sale, please email by using the link at the upper right if you wish to discuss details.  I'd prefer to keep them as a group, however I haven't ruled out individual sales.


Spring (detail) -   leaf buds were created with silk ribbon embroidery

SUMMER - silk leaves are dimensional

FALL - leaves were created using machine needle lace techniques

WINTER - Ice Storm 

Winter (detail) - heavily beaded

Sunday, March 30, 2008


The Foothill Quilters Guild in Sheby, NC have Southern hospitality down to an art form.  My visit with this small guild was splendid.  It was evident the members truly cared about each other and were eager to learn new techniques.  

Shelby, NC is located along the rolling foothils of the Blue Ridge and South Mountains.  The drive was spectacular.  The white blossoms of the Bradford Pear trees, mixed with the pale pink flowering redbud trees were awesome.  This photo was 'grabbed' from the internet as I was too busy driving and gawking to stop and shoot pictures myself.  The trees here at our higher elevation are just beginning to start their show, I'll try to get the real thing documented this week.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


It may go from cold spring temperatures to summer.....overnight.  Today it got to nearly 70 degrees, time to begin planting!

Yikes....this looks like work to me!

DRAT!!  we purchased two huge saucers to go beneath two really big pots and in the latest round of cold....they cracked.

Last year we had several smaller stoneware crocks, filled with flowers, next to our back door on the back deck.  They looked silly....the scale was way too small.  This year we are featuring large holly bushes instead.


Tomorrow I'm off to spend 2 days with the Foothill Quilters Guild in Shelby, NC.....If the internet gods are with me, I'll be chatting with you again soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


The feathers I find on our daily walks have been an inspiration for my work recently.  Last fall I picked up some insect eaten leaves and wondered if I could recreate their lacy look with beads.

I decided the bottom leaf would provide the best design.

After sketching the leaf, I traced it to a stabilizer which was basted to the wrong side of the main piece of my felted wool project.  Machine stitching transfers the design to the right side for beading and helps to stabilize the material.

Once the beadwork was finished, the piece hung on my design wall for what seemed like months.  The edges of the tan fabric frayed too much to clean cut them.  Additionally, I was looking for a different design approach to cover them from my past projects, so I was stuck.  I auditioned a bittersweet berry wool for the border but felt it was too strong.  (Though frankly, in this looks better than it did on my wall!)

Finally, I resorted to using brown felted wool.....deciding to cut it as one would prepare a mat for framing a photo.  The inside edges were cut straight, the outside would be wavy cut.  YUCK! Next I tried using a machine 'jeans' utility stitch, double YUCK.  Both seems to detract from the leaf that I'd spent so much time beading!

As usual, I have trouble capturing the true color of my work when I photograph.  The sparkle of the beads and all the texture of the piece, I'm told, doesn't allow the lens to properly focus. Either the beadwork shows up well, or the fabrics, not both.  

This detail should provide a better glimpse of the beadwork and a truer sense of the color.

Monday, March 24, 2008


So many of my Midwest friends have endured a terrible's hard to complain and yet....I will!  Where has spring gone??  It's really chilly here today, temperature not even 30 degrees during our morning hike, and yes I whimpered!

This is the view from my studio window which overlooks the East side of the forested mountains that surround our valley.  Yes, it's snow that you are seeing, happily it's so light that it simply disappears as it hits the ground.

In the spirit of upcoming 'outdoor fry' season (a Wisconsin term) and due to numerous requests for more info, I'm posting a link to the Big Green Egg

It's an American designed Ceramic cooker, derived from an ancient clay cooker called a Kamado.  The idea is 3,000 years old.  It can be used to smoke, grill, and barbecue.  We have the model above.....they call their carts 'nests'.....very clever marketing.

This is an adorable small one....toooooo cute!

'The husband' always cooks with charcoal chunks , not the familiar briquets.  His favorite brand Cowboy Charcoal  now available at Lowes.  This company has been manufacturing charcoal for nearly 100 years.  It began with their great-grandfather in the early 1900's who was a community collier in Southern Ohio. (Ya, I thought he should be from Texas too.)  A collier was an individual who burned charcoal.  It was common in those days for farmers to cut and clear trees on their land.  This wood would be stacked or placed in pits for burning into charcoal. The process was an art form, inexperienced burners would return to just a pile of ashes.

Though this photo is not in color.....the charcoal looks something like these rough wood chunks.  We think the flavor is superior to the typical charcoal briquets.  

Sunday, March 23, 2008


It occurred to me this morning that 43 years ago.....yup 43!!! years ago, on Easter Sunday, I got in my twin sister's car (borrowed for the first week of my adventure) and headed off from Sheboygan, WI to Chicago to begin my job with TWA.  I can't get over it.....43 years ago!! 

We had our Easter meal planned for over a week.....why not?  We love good food and take these milestones as reasons for over indulging.  I'd been thinking lamb for days, we took our morning 'forced march' up the mountain road my taste buds turned to Honey Baked Ham 
I listen to an ipod as we walk....makes the workout seem to go more quickly.  We were thrilled about a year ago to learn our favorite Chicago area talk show host, Steve Dahl, now podcasts his morning show. (Subscribe via his website.) 

He's a true radio icon, and no matter what my mood, I'm smiling and laughing within 2 minutes of airtime.  Friday's show turned to talk about Honey Baked Hams and the more he talked about it, plus on air sampling, the more I yearned for it, a credit to his descriptions!  It's on our grocery list you can be sure.

Only a few short years ago in 2004, we celebrated Easter Sunday with our son, his wife Kelly, and 'the husband's sister, Ann Marie and her family.  We had such fun hiding plastic Easter eggs filled with dog treats for the 4 legged attendees.  We adore Nali, our son's first rescue as always it didn't take her long to catch on.....gathering her eggs and popping them open!

Today we celebrated with a quiet day and good food.  Friday morning I married fresh lemon juice, white wine, olive oil, and herbs and boned leg of lamb into a heavy duty zip lock and let the combo marinate in the refrigerator until this afternoon.

David is such an expert at grilling (or as we say in Wisconsin.....'outdoor frying'...whether it's fried or not....all outdoor cooking was called 'outdoor fry")......  We now use a Japanese ceramic grill called a Big Green Egg which can heat up to 700 degrees to sear a steak or 250 to slow cook Pork BBQ.

Can't you just taste this???  It momentarily made me forget the craving I had for ham.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


While searching on the internet for photos of antique Penny Rugs in preparation for an upcoming lecture, I found a terrific website.  The Quilt Index

It was conceived and developed by The Alliance For American Quilts in partnership with Michigan State University's MATRIX: Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online and the Michigan State University Museum.

This site has an amazing 13,601 quilts currently in their index.  The following photo is an example: Princess Feather is from the DAR Museum, vintage appx. 1800-1850.  

If you are looking for inspiration or information, check out this site.  Unfortunately, I'm still searching for photos of antique Penny Rugs! 

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Another bonus of our move to the Asheville area is the proximity to my good friend Judy Simmons.  Her new website is under construction....but I'll be linking to it when it's up and running.  Judy is the author of two books, published by Martingale & Company.  She's a very accomplished fiber artist and a great instructor.

Judy's work often features nature themes, hand dyed fabrics and utilizes creative photo transfer techniques.  These are three of her amazing quilts, displayed in her INCREDIBLE home studio.

The design wall is huge, about 9' tall x about 16' wide.  This view is less than half the available space, most of it filled with designs in progress.  Some of Judy's beautiful hand dyed & stamped silk fabric is displayed.....and she was lucky it was still there when I left!

This section of her studio is devoted for her nifty microwave dye techniques.  Currently, Judy has been creating scarves (everything from lightweight wools, to silks) which will be available for purchase at the Asheville Quilt Guild Show in August and through the Southern Highland Craft Guild shops.

Her husband, a master carpenter, has made most of their great is that!?!  This is one of the 3 or 4 cabinets/tables in her space that he's made in addition to many book cases. (Notice...there are more dyes stored here.....and on the other side, deep drawers contain even more, plus other painting/stamping supplies.

If you ever get a chance to take a workshop from this talented, don't'll love it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arboretum Exhibit

The small group (PTA) that I was recently invited to join, has an exhibit at our local Arboretum located in Asheville.  It will run until May 5, 2008.  The members are all incredibly talented and  it's a privilege to be in such good company.

I love to feature buttons on my work.  These are dyed wooden buttons from Primrose Gradations, who also dyed all the fabrics.

Most of my quilts now includes beading motifs on the bindings.....I love how it frames the work!

If you are in the area, please come and enjoy this very special exhibit and of course the Arboretum which is lovely.   Most of the quilts are available for purchase.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Tomorrow (Monday) I head back home after a rewarding 5 days with the Gulf States Quilters Association.

Students in my "Funky Rooster' workshop awed me (and each other) with their creativity......I only wish I could post the projects of all 18 students.....grrrr....this site (or my knowledge of how to post on this site) limits me to 5 photos (actually nearly the number of quilts that I managed to capture in focus with my camera!)

These projects are based on my Funky Rooster design....where all the motifs will ultimately be attached to the background using various beading techniques.  Isn't it great to see how our individual spirits show up?

After another fabulous meal at a local Baton Rouge's time to put my feet up and turn the light off....see you all soon.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


With years of teaching behind me......I have to say, Southern hospitality is alive and well at Gulf States Quilting Association.  It's heaven for us lucky instructors on this year's faculty in Baton Rouge, LA.

The following photos are work of  just some of the very talented students in my Wool Collage Embellishing workshop.  The focus of this class is 'bead applique', (motifs attached with beads). During the morning we create the design, and in the afternoon, students begin the beading process.

Sadly, I'm limited in the number of photos I can post (and of course with the quality of photos I managed to take during class) but I want to share the work of these energetic, fun, and eager to learn quilters from whom I heard so many heartbreaking Katrina stories.  

Friday, March 14, 2008


On my way to teach at Gulf States Quilting Seminar in Baton rouge, I traveled thru Atlanta's airport on Wednesday.  My layover was over 3 hours so I decided to explore the massive terminals.  I was rewarded when I spied this fascinating display of 'found objects" in terminal T.

Several vessels were created by Karyl Sisson, amazingly they were made entirely of cloth measuring tapes.

This pig sports all sorts of recycled items, ties, keys, plastic toys.....I loved it!

Fiber art was represented by Susan Shie's work.  It was a pleasure to view her piece, (even looking through glass display cases!)

Tina Fung Holder comes from Wisconsin.  Her work features beaded safety pins.  I found it to be far more sophisticated than the materials imply.

The Gulf States Organization certainly is one of the best organized groups I've worked with in some time.  Southern hospitality at its finest.  With one lecture, 1 full day workshop already completed, I have 3 more full-day classes ahead and am looking forward to working with the eager, friendly students.  This show celebrates it's 25th anniversary.....tonight we will be treated to birthday cake......yummm.

I'm teaching my new wool collage workshop today and already have my camera in my travel case to snaps photos of students work  to share with you dear readers.......stay tuned..... 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've been having a terrible time posting to blogger these last two days.....not sure why, but glad I finally got logged on since I'm leaving for the Gulf States Quilt Seminar in Baton Rouge, LA - BEFORE the crack o'dawn tomorrow. I'm presenting the opening night lecture tomorrow night, which has caused some stress the last 7 days.

Last week during a demo, I realized my digital projector and camera were not interfacing properly and since ultimately, I didn't have the time for repairs, I had to purchase a new one.

My replacement projector arrived quickly, so the next step was to learn how to use it! With my lap top and camera connected......sitting in any available space to reach the projector, which needed to be positioned to project onto my wall so I could navigate the menu. (meaning, learn what the heck this thing does!) Note, the owner's manual close at hand.

So, you ask, what's the big deal? Look at all this is supposed to make life easier. I hand carry all this equipment, plus the actual projector and my laptop since it's too delicate to be packed in checked baggage. My arms are 2" longer after every trip.

The packing process for every trip takes at least 1 day. I'm teaching 4 full-day classes, so this is just the beginning of the workshop materials that need to be packed. The guest bed is already loaded with quilts that must accompany me as well.

Yup, the suitcases are nearly full, and guess what? I have yet to pack any of my personal items.....such as important things like clothing! Note, I even have to pack my purse in my checked luggage because passengers are limited to two carry on bags. A few items such as my wallet are transferred to my computer bag which is one of my two carry on bags. (seen between the two larger suitcases which are checked baggage.)

The smaller roller board suitcase is my other 'carry on'. In it I carry any workshop kits, all of the projector cables, tripod, remotes, etc. and as many quilts as possible. The quilts are safely stored in a water proof bag. Seriously, I can't even carry any toiletry items, or even a change of clothing, there's not room. I just have to pray my checked bags arrive when I do. More and more flights these days are commuter planes, and in that case, this bag is 'gate checked'....which makes me a little nervous. I'd rather have it where I can see it.

This packing routine has been repeated so many times now after 16 years travel teaching, you'd think I could do it in my sleep. But, each trip is unique with different class and lecture combinations, so there is no short cut for this important task.

I hope to be able to post during my travel, however the conference is being held at the Marriott Conference Center where free wireless is unlikely. My camera will be at hand though, ready to report news from what I'm sure will be a great seminar.