Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I make Anti-War Art. I am passionate about this pursuit.

Believe it or not, I’ve had a delightful past three weeks, starting two days after surgery to have my hip replaced. Sound strange? Perhaps. But I’ve had all this time to myself at the hospital, at the rehabilitation center, and now at home with all kinds of precautions keeping me from doing “housey” and other things which normally seem to take up so much time. And I can’t drive for another couple weeks.

So, I am voraciously reading many of those WAR books that have been waiting and making extensive notes about ideas I want to consider. I am doing research online and making sketches and trying new techniques and processes for my next ANTI-WAR ART pieces which sit in-waiting. It’s wonderful. It’s luxurious. I have nothing to do but focus on my art and the visits from my physical therapist.

In developing my ANTI-WAR WORK, I use processes and materials designed to generate discomfort, sadness, disgust, and shock on the part of the viewer. I intentionally use discordant colors. I use beautiful colors to create an awkward juxtaposition with a deadly weapon or other horrific war image.

Let me talk about my process for making a recently completed piece called Letters Home to Mom . I started by talking to some veterans at a local meeting of Iraq Veterans Against the War. A few meetings later, I had an opportunity to ask them what kinds of things they wrote home to their mothers about when they were away at war. I used many of these thoughts along with several ideas garnered from the many war books I read and began composing more than 25 of these ideas into letters.

Next, I began thinking about what other imagery I might want in this piece. And I remembered one soldier telling me how much his mother liked to knit. I then imaged the many ways mothers spend their time while their children are fighting at war. And the vision of mothers sitting in a circle knitting items of clothing for their soldier children came to view. This led to my beginning to knit more than 40 white patches using different types of yarn and different stitches. And this led to my needlefelting these patches together into a “beautiful” crazy quilt in the form of an AK47 gun embellished with lavendar shiny yarn. To complete my imagery, I developed some other AK47 guns using black dyed organza.

So I then had about 25 letters painted with white paint on dyed pastel organza pieces, a large knitted AK47 gun and some other black organza AK47 guns. What to use for a background? At that point, I quite accidentally spilled some india ink on white fabric. My daughter thought it looked like splotches of blood. My grandson thought it looked like shrapnel falling from an exploded IED. And it reminded me of one of my grandmother’s dresses (the grandmother who knitted a lot.) That was it. I developed a large 50” x 74” piece of white fabric by painting india ink splotches on it. And finished the piece.

Which brings me back to Creative Process. How does it happen? On the one hand, it feels easy when you are in the flow. On the other hand, it can feel really tough and challenging and hard to keep pressing on. Or it might feel as if I just learn enough new techniques and theory, it will just happen. But in the end, for me, it requires digging down deep into the painful part of a lifetime of experience and developed awareness. It’s complicated.

What is your creative process?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is Your Approach to Creating?

I have two ways of approaching the creative process.  Sometimes I have a vision for a series of pieces. I have a message I want to communicate (or more often, it's a feeling I wish to convey). I work deliberately to create that vision.  This often means that I do samples to test colors and even create a mini-version of the composition. This tends to be a slow process and sometimes I get bogged down in the detail.

The other way in which I work is to do what I call "intentional play".  I'm playing, in the sense that I have no pre-conceived vision or expectations for the cloth. I take it one step at a time and let the cloth "speak to me" to build each layer.  It is intentional in that I choose a surface design technique, a certain approach to color or a compositional style and focus on that as I work on the piece. The spontaneity is a nice complement to the more planned approach. 

What is your approach?  The first, the second, or something completely different?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Text on Textiles

I've recently been teaching my first on-line course through Joggles, and thanks to Barbara's easy instructions, its been a seamless and enjoyable experiment -- though I would have liked a bit more feedback from the troops. But, I can just send it out there and hope that the info is landing well!

The photos above show a few surface design techniques, and prints on fabric, that put text on textiles. This summer I'll be teaching another 4-week on-line class with additional techniques and ideas for how to incorporate text into textile design.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lines and Numbers exhibit and Fiber Philadelphia

Hi everyone,

Several members have just returned from a great weekend at Fiber Philadelphia 2012. We had a very positive response to our Lines and Numbers exhibit and lots of people came to the reception. The space was terrific and every piece was shown well and with space around it to really see it. One of the people who has already followed up with me after the weekend was Vivika Hansen DeNegre who is the Editor for Quilting Arts magazine. She was very impressed by our exhibit and wanted to know even more about art cloth. This is the same magazine that just had the article about our group! So we are making an impact on people out there in the world!

Judy and Brian Langille and Dianne Hricko did a great job  hanging the exhibit and getting things ready for the reception and it is much appreciated.

Russ, Mary Ellen, Judy, Joy, Connie, Barbara and Lisa were at the reception so we were each able to spend time with viewers and explain about different techniques.

Here are a few photos from the reception. I also sent these as an email to everyone so one way or the other you should be able to see something