Tag Archives: Fiber


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Lately I am keenly aware of anything new we bring into the house.  Our youngest is off to college this upcoming autumn and with that will likely come some simplification to life here at home.  I want quality over quantity these days.  And yet, there are beautiful things to behold in this world, and it’s important to me to support my fellow artists.

Last year, I began to set aside some pennies here and there to engage in the purchasing of some bits art. Some of the finest supporters of local artists, myself included, are actually other artists. And I want to be a bigger part of that system.  I have often purchased small things in the past – greeting cards, little prints, bits of useful pottery, etc.  But I have shied away from anything more than that.  Until lately.

In 2014 my purchases included a ceramic work of art by Katie Swartz whom I know from art school. (Her new website can be found here)  I fell in love with this sweet Fox Jar in a local show and bought it that evening with the money I had set aside for such a thing.

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I love the animated feel of this fox and the arrows that seem to be helping him to find his way. Currently The Hub and I are using our magical little vessel as a wishing jar for all things house/home related as we contemplate a potential move to a smaller property.  Perhaps Mr. Fox and his arrows will lead the way to the perfect place…..

Also in 2014, I finally took the plunge and acquired an original work of art my dear and long time friend Cindy Matyi.  I am so sad to say that very shortly thereafter, Cindy lost her long-running battle with cancer and passed away, leaving a huge hole in our shared community of art as well as music.

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The painting I purchased was actually inspired by a moth that was found while Cindy and I were rooming together at music camp one year.  That was one influential moth, as not only was this painting born, but I now have a tattoo of her on my back!  I never knew the story behind this painting, nor the link it had to me and our shared memory of a big, beautiful, woodland moth, until it was the one I chose from those available in my price range.  A huge added gift of purchasing real art from real artists is the story that comes with the work.  I treasure this painting and think of Cindy everyday when I glance its way.

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And now it is 2015.  I began the year’s savings with a plan.  I decided to acquire a woven work of art from a weaver in England, whose work I found via an online posting by artist Rima Staines, who lives in the same neck of the woods.  And so, I struck up an online friendship with Eloise at These Isles whose lovely online presence and pictures spoke to my wild heart.

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Eloise weaves with only the finest materials and as a lover of all-things-fiber myself, I could appreciate much of the delicious descriptions of her woven wares.  While I enjoy knitting and crocheting, weaving is a magic I have never tried and so I marvel at the beautiful patterning that happens out of nothing but string.  These woves, evoke the very landscape in which they are created, and yet they seem to transcend them as well.  While in Taos this past January on residency, I attended some tribal dances at the Taos Pueblo.  Everyone wore differing blankets and shawls and wraps, no one quite like another.  I knew that when I was eventually able to get my These Isles shawl, it would fit right in among them next I visited the sacred Pueblo.

With some St. Patrick’s Day gig money set aside, I placed my order and waited patiently while my shawl was created.  There was much back and forth as to what colors I tend to wear and what my personal style might be carved of in the day to day.  I had to think about this a lot actually, as I don’t normally think about things like that.  We finally settled on heathery grays and greens; colors of the land on a misty day – whether in the British Isles, the desert of New Mexico, North Carolina mountains, or the coast of Maine.

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Depending upon the quality of the light, the colors of my shawl change.  Like some enchanted garment, it seems to ‘go’ nicely with anything I might put on.  Though it arrived on an unseasonably warm day, that weather has broken and we are graced with coolness again.  I wear it daily.  Thankfully, it’s warm, but not overly so, making it something you will likely see me in a lot during my upcoming travels.  Out of doors, and in….

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Eloise, being a creature after my own heart, is set to begin a mobile life in a house-on-wheels very soon.  She will be taking her loom with her, as well as her lurcher (aka ‘dog’) seeking inspiration for her weaving at every turn I am certain.  Do follow her work and adventures via her facebook page

As for me, I am for the time being, firmly rooted in the fertile soil of this Ohio River Valley.  (at least until I leave for Taos!!) Occasionally I curl up in my beloved shawl and work on my own little bits of fiber art…. most recently this little set of shoes slated to adorn the tiny toes of a baby due this summer somewhere in Wisconsin.

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Gifts that keep giving

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I arrived home from The Day Job yesterday to be greeted by a package addressed to me.  I wondered, very curiously, whatever could it be??  So I took it upstairs to my studio and opened it, ever so gently, to discover what was inside.  To my delight, there was a collection of the most delectable fibrous tidbits.  Delicious roving, hand painted all the colors of the desert and blessed by a hermitted Buddhist nun living and working (and spinning! ) just outside of Taos.

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There were also some raw locks of wool that I shall make into a rough and tumble sort of yarn in which to bundle myself in time for next winter (not that I even want to think about winter just yet after this most recent one!)  I’ve even dug out my old spindles to figure out how thick the roving’s eventual yarn might like to be…

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Other treats in the box were a card, created by my old Taos friend Kate Cartwright (now living in New Hampshire!) and a gorgeous bit of silk ribbon, the colors of which are that of the sunset.

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Call me old fashioned, but I get a little thrill from a bit of beautiful ribbon.  Once upon a time a treasure such as this would have been only possessed by the very rich, royal and fortunate among us.  Suffice it to say, I am feeling rather rich, royal and fortunate.


But who could have sent this glorious box of treasure??  Inside the card was a note from two of my former sketch-journal students, now dear friends, who had recently returned from Taos where they celebrated their birthdays.  In it they wrote “This is a small token of our appreciation for introducing us to Taos and to Mabel.”  I am so humbled by this.  One of these two women took my local class here in Ohio when the Taos trip was just a baby of a dream.  And both of them attended my inaugural offering of a week at Mabel’s in 2011.  They have been cheerleaders in my growth as an artist and a teacher, (along with countless others!) and have, over the years, become friends.

With the passing this week of the beloved and wise Maya Angleou, beautiful quotes belonging to her have been cascading across my computer screen and one in particular has of course, been shared by many, multiple times:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  ~m.a.

In the midst of the logistics of day to day life, combined with all that goes into putting a workshop such as this one together, it is easy for me to forget how important this journal-based work and my place in it truly are.  Yes, the workshop is about learning to sketch what we see while on a trip to a beautiful, soul-filling place, but it is so much more.  Growth happens on these trips.  Both in myself and in most of the workshop participants.  Keeping a visual diary of what comes across our paths in this life is more than just a lovely legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren; more than just a keeper of details from our travels.  This practice enables us to build our own lives as we see fit.  By opening up to the work in a sketchbook, we can open up to ourselves, the beauty around us, and to each other.  It’s powerful stuff.  And perhaps I don’t write often enough of the deep, deep work I do in these workshops, and in my own sketchbooks.

I saw another quote recently, by psycho-analyst Donald Winnicott:

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate, and the desire to hide.” ~d.w.

There is such truth to this, and it may partially explain why I don’t publicly delve deeper into the Big Work that this journaling stuff is.  But it is.  And this is not lost on me.  My dear friend and right hand woman Julie and I leave for Taos in a matter of days.  And we are ready.  Ready for the big work.  Ready to midwife those who are also ready for the big work.  To notice this world in all it’s delirious detailing can be overwhelming.  But in the vessel of a little book, with the tools of some color and a pen or pencil, it doesn’t have to be so daunting.

Keeping an illuminated diary is a gift that keeps on giving.  Teaching is a gift that gives even more, as through this vocation, I have earned dear friends who seem to know me in a way many don’t.  I am deeply thankful for these gifts.  And for the earthly treasures that occasionally show up in my post box.

I’m fairly certain that there will be a small space set aside in my travel bag for a spindle and my beautiful roving whilst on my travels this summer.  Then I can work up yarn of a gypsy-journeying sort from which to knit a cloak of summer memories to keep me warm next winter.