30 June 2015

baltimore workshop + podcasts

hi there - just a couple of quick FYI's [longer post on buddha hands and letterpress a coming]


i head to baltimore next week !!! crazy chroma installation here i come. i will be teaching an embroidery workshop while i'm there - on Saturday July 11th from 10:00-1:30. we'll be doing embroidered portraits, but we'll also be eating and chatting and at the end i'll show/discuss my work a bit if people are interested. 

tickets for the event are available here. it's $75 and the artist hosting the event in her studio has all the supplies [altho feel free to bring your own floss/fabric]. if you are in Baltimore i'd love to stitch with you !


the very sweet and talented Sandi interviewed me for her podcast... we met at craftcation and she's an amazing quilter/maker. we talk a lot about being happa [she is too] and the social practice aspect of my work and and and.... 

and did i ever link to my other podcast with Meighan O'Toole? [one of the coolest ladies on the planet?] well she just redid her site. so it's a new link... and so i'll tell you about it again. 

18 June 2015

me and my sizzix

i don't know where i've been, but i had no idea what a sizzix was. then i went to craftcation. and there they were.... it's a home die cutting machine that can cut through paper, fabric, felt, leather.... um yeah. coolest thing ever?

especially for people who are obsessed with repetition like myself. they even have shapes like hexes [although they also have circles, clamshells, squares, need i go on?]. maybe i'll actually make a hex quilt??? [maybe. when i have 36 hours a day to work with]. 

the really cool thing is that the footprint of the machine isn't very big - i got the big shot.  it's sturdy - easy to crank, and it's not going to fall apart after just a few uses. i also really like that you can cut through multiple layers at once. sizzix products are perfect for quilters/scrapbookers/crafters, but i wanted to see how else i might be able to incorporate it into my studio practice. i immediately thought of all the time it could save me - cutting out the same shape over and over and over. now i have to just crank over and over - easier on the carpel tunnel. 

i found a cloud/airplane die [remember when i used clouds and airplanes in my work?] and immediately had to cut out a bunch of felt clouds. 

it's pretty neat. there's a base [some of the dies come with their own base], you put what you want to cut on top and sandwich it between two sheets of plexi. you roll it thru the machine and VOILA !

all the pretty clouds in all the pretty colors. 

i've been working on collaborative drawings for the chroma exhibition. christine sent me a stack of amazing "rejects" and "incompletes" and i've been stitching and adding felt to them. this piece screamed for the clouds. 

i played with all different arrangements and glued them down. 

then i cut off the excess 

here's a detail - i'll show more of these works once the show is up. [july 12th is when we start install]

i also got a fortune cookie box die. [yes, i am sure i will be using these for some upcoming event for the little]

the dies are so precise that you get perfect tabs to fold and glue... as well as fold lines to follow. it's idiot proof.  TADA [skittles for size]

what i'm SUPER excited about, though, is a custom die is on the way. i was able to use a buddha hand drawing to have a die made for this machine. i can't WAIT to see how that turns out. [i'm thinking gold paper. yes i am]. 

12 June 2015

art for all seasons

my good friend susan schwake [artist, curator, gallery owner, author] is at it again. she recently published her FORTH book. and it's a good one. i'm one stop on her book blog tour and i asked her some questions....

one of my favorite projects - inspired by heather smith jones 
1.      You've taught both adults and kids for quite some time now. What is your FAVORITE thing about teaching kids? and how does it differ [or is the same] as when you teach adults?

Over the years I have found that there are so many similarities in teaching kids and adults. There are the shy ones, the bold ones, the tidy ones, the messy ones (that's me) and so on. The biggest difference is that most of the kids are almost always willing to jump in and try whatever I ask of them - and usually with little hesitation.  Adults want to try - but often some hold back due to self judgement. Often they giggle a little and say "Oh I wish I had the boldness of a kid' or similar statement before starting. Giving one's self permission to play is not always easy for adults. This is what I stress most in my classes - both online and in the studio - play like a kid and experiment as you go. It's my favorite thing about teaching children - that they will take the leap and try something new and exciting because you invited them to.

2.      OK, let us in on a secretŠ What is your favorite project in this book ?

Hmmm, that's a tough one! I love the embroidery portraits fashioned after your work - a lot because the students were so proud to be using thread and needles! {pictured above} They loved it and continue to make them on their own and bring them in to show me. My favorite project however is the Tin Can Prints. As a printmaker and lover of cheap materials - this project works on so many levels and can be expanded upon easily.  Craft foam is easy for all ages to manipulate with scissors and a pencil or pen  creating tracks as suggested and can be transformed into shapes, flowers, anything the student can imagine.  When putting this lesson together I thought it would be fun to mimic nature with the snowy footprints we see here in New England every winter. It would be easy to create murals with a group or one person could make wrapping paper on a long piece of paper.  i presented this lesson at a teacher's workshop for the state council on the arts and the teachers thought it would be great to try outside with a large barrel and make industrial sized prints! I am getting ready to try it on some fabric as it could be a lot of fun making yardage with this process.

{that project is actually one of my favorites and is pictured below.}

3.      I love the idea of art for every season. What is your favorite season and why?

I love summer here in coastal New England. It's short and intense but it's our reward for the long winters we endure. The ocean, swimming holes on the rivers and the lake regions are a true treasure here and to spend time at either is one of the most single refreshing experiences I can think of.  Being a life long swimmer, water is where it's at for me. The White Mountains are also most beautiful to me in the summer. I feel like a traitor not choosing Autumn....

4.      You have 2 kids of your own. Were they the ultimate testers for this and your other books? are they both creative or pursuing creative endeavors?

When my girls were school aged, art was an integral part of our life. We painted, drew, crafted and sculpted many times a week and of course they were part of the studio classes as well. Many of the lessons in Art Lab for Little kids were projects we did when they were little - the crowns comes to mind !  (chloe age 3 with a crown she made)  As they grew up my eldest daughter became more interested in creative writing and kept a journal from age 8 . She also had a knack for foreign language and loves books more than anything else. After college she became a children's librarian and runs the children's room and young adult room now in a local library. She creates programming for their activities and is very happy with her job. My youngest is a creative art dynamo - making beautiful art with whatever media she touches. She has settled with fashion design and is a junior at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She loves surface design and has created beautiful fabrics and garments already - as well as keeping her hand in working with clay.  Having both girls and the 1000s of students over the past 20 years has informed my work as a teacher and author for sure. Bonus! It has been an endless supply of inspiration and joy for my own work as well.

susan has graciously offered a GIVEAWAY of this book. i'll be hosting it on my instagram account. to win you'll have to follow her on instagram [and me]. leave a comment on the photo and share it with someone else you think would like it. for an additional chance to win - repost the photo with the hashtag #artforallseasons - the winner will be chosen by random next friday the 19th. good luck.

10 June 2015

hello neglected blog

i have had big plans. i have wanted to write manifestos on teaching. on doing too much. on doing to little. on the gorgeousness of peony season. 

on the sutro baths and the beauty that is amazingly so close to where i live. 

on the pure joy of seeing ducklings meandering across our paths. 

on what it means to be the parent of an almost FIRST GRADER [blink of an eye i tell you. blink of an eye]. and the parent of a child who seems to looooovvvveee flying through the air. [so fearless. so bold. i love the look of determination on her face when the teacher gives her notes. and the pride. the pride of job well done]. 

on the importance of keeping up with a sketchbook. of just looking at something. of slowing down enough to move a pencil across a page. of finding that line. the right one. and letting it appear. 

on the chroma installation and work for that show [coming up so very soon]. on doing crazy 15' wall installations just for the heck of it and on artists talks where someone asks if artist statements are still relevant and you emphatically say YES they are. just because you don't like something doesn't mean you get a pass. [this seems to be a reoccurring thing w/ the little as well]. and where someone else talks about marketability and a little part of you just cringes and wants to re-assert the idea that it can be done authentically, but you instead just keep your mouth shut. simultaneously wondering if that last newsletter you sent out was ok. 

on summer. on summer. on summer. on how there might just finally be a moment to breathe. classes are done. grades are in. crazy 3 day online class filming is in the bag. it is time to do the work that feels the most like the "real work" [no offense to teaching. which is incredibly REAL and demanding, but...]. to be in my studio. or in this case, this summer to also print at kala.

i don't think people read blogs the way they used to. and that's just fine. i still plan on writing occasionally because truth be told i like the writing. i like the way it organizes my thoughts. in the end this has always ultimately been a space for me.

i make no promises. but i'm hopeful that i might just find a bit more time to be present here. i for sure will be back on friday w/ a book to talk about !

15 May 2015

where do you stand

oh hello. i disappeared for a bit. just too much going on round these parts.
the end of school... and what you see above.
with the generous and amazing help of a former student [jen] there are now 1000 buddha hands on a wall in an office in san francisco. 

there's more to it than what you see above. so if you are around. come tomorrow night [i'll be there at the beginning for sure.]

there is also going to be a closing and an informal talk June 3rd - so put that in your calendars/hats [especially if you can't swing on by tomorrow]. 

"where do you stand", with Rodney Weiss, curated state / avenueSF

28 April 2015

alcatraz and ai wei wei

i have lived in the bay area for over 20 years and i had never been to alcatraz.
the ai wei wei exhibit @large was going to close and so i felt like i should really really go. 

it is a hauntingly beautiful decaying place. the buildings are literally falling apart. the island feels like it's being decimated by sea air and taken over by birds. 

so the most impressive thing about the exhibit was it's scale, the use of materials and the fact that ai wei wei basically conducted the whole thing from overseas. he's not allowed to leave china. configuring something of this mass w/out actually being in the space is a pretty dramatic feat. 

the exhibit is full of nods to the idea of prison, political prisoners, freedom etc. TRACE is portraits of political prisoners or those in exile made out of legos. 

WITH WIND was a giant traditional kite that filled a room. 

for me it was actually more interesting watching people interact with the pieces than viewing them. 

particularly from above. this narrow corridor walkway spanned both pieces. you could look through broken glass to view the works. 

the island is pretty incredible. walking around there are a lot of interesting, old nooks and crannies. 

and honestly really strange color combinations. 

the prison itself is pretty darn scary. and cold. i felt like it was full of ghosts. so much history and terrible stuff.

there was also a bit on the audio tour about how there was a contingent of prisoners that started crocheting. i really really really want to see examples of what they made. i emailed the national park service to see if they have any documentation. i haven't heard anything back yet.

the most moving area - and the piece that i like the most of ai wei wei's was the hospital. 

in BLOSSOM the fixtures are filled with white porcelain flowers. white for peace? white for death? an offering to the prisoners? subtle and quite and in multitude the flowers were beautiful and also a bit daunting. they aren't soft. they aren't just pretty.....

i took some polaroids while i was there too. 
every time i ride a boat in the bay i'm amazed at where i live. 

14 April 2015


i've publicized this other places, but in case you didn't know.... in the spirit of craftcation, the publisher of my monograph is offering 25% off my monograph... just use the code CRAFTCATION2015... for a limited time only [and for only my book]


textileartist.org has featured me a couple of times [including a 2 part interview]

they have just released a new e-book all about 3D textile artists. i am one of 50 artists featured. there are some really really interesting artists. i'm honored to be a part of this publication. you can order your digital copy here

07 April 2015


this was my first craftcation. i had heard great things, but you never know right? well let me tell you - it really was a perfect experience. hotel on the beach? hundreds of craft/art minded people? classes and panels galore?  what is NOT to like?

the ventura pier

the life towers are stunning. 

on the way down i listened to johnny cash - this line from the man comes around stuck in my head. when i arrived and was given some gold washi tape in my welcome kit, i made a little sketch. 

the first class i taught was color theory. i was a little nervous to condense what can easily be a 15 week course into 3 hours. but somehow we made it work ! 

i think part of it was the amazing enthusiasm of the students. they are gung ho and ready to go. 

here's a post from kimberly ;) the student who wins the prize for the most organized color chart ever. and i got to meet ashley in that class too [and a whole host of other great students whose info i didn't manage to gather properly] with whom i later had a wonderful conversation. 

part of what was so amazing was meeting people face to face... some i've known for years... some i had just met... some i'd secretly kind of stalked... some i missed because they moved away - like meighan - just our talks alone would have made the trip worth is. 

i got to take an indigo dye class with karri meng from french general which was SO much fun. 


this is what i made ! [such dark indigo. and now i know more tricks !]  cathy was her assistant and she was SO much fun to chat with. and she lives in summerland - minutes away from santa barbara where i went to high school. i also got to meet karri's sister molly meng who shares a studio with another friend robert mahar [who couldn't make it - waaah].

i also took cathy callahan's  ombre dye class. her techniques are really going to help me with a studio project i have in mind. in that class i got to know shaerie who runs sew-la better - i've taught classes there, but we never really HUNG out. and it was pure joy. we bonded over small children and surviving the first couple of years of motherhood. also met and laughed with rosalie [with whom i share many a mutual friend]

i roomed with courtney ! and pup charlie [drawn below] ! and i finally finally finally got to meet blair face to face. this was a huge thrill ! it's been like 10 years in the making. 

i got to see abby for second...

my good friend nichole drove up from LA for the night and gifted me robert kaufman kona bundles that i covet and will treat like sculptures. 

i taught a block printing class to an overcrowded class, but no one seemed to mind. that summed up everything about this conference. it felt so generous, so open, so genuine. nicole and delilah said that this year they didn't want a keynote speaker because we were all each other's keynote... and that rung really true. 

from this class i got to know emma [who works for fiskars!], christine from chocolate and steel [her prints are above], my instagram friend parabolic muse, and jennifer crowe who makes jewelry.

i also made it to superbuzzy. dangerous dangerous store !

and i laughed. so many good friends. many close friends from here and near that i don't actually get to see very often. we laughed. we ate. we drove to ojai and had ice cream. we swapped stories. and we laughed some more. 

so thank you elizabeth and christina for hosting the creative live breakfast that got so many of us together one morning [and for hanging out]

to jen - who so aptly said we have to go to so cal to hang out? yes we do, but it was so worth it. when else can we get mati, tiffany, diana, alexi, christine and the afore mentioned shaerie, megan, meihgan, and courtney in the same room [or bright red bathroom in mexican restaurant as the case may be]. 

thank you craftcation. i really really had a good time. you've made a magical conference and i'm so glad i was invited to participate. 

see all the photos from everyone tagged #craftcation15 on instagram for more insight into the weekend. i have a sinking feeling i've forgotten to mention someone or link to them. i apologize for this. it was SUCH a full weekend i feel like i can't remember it all.... xo