Tuesday, December 9, 2014

strange wisdom

"you have to
be blasé about
she said,
you'd die of
over excitement. "
- brian andreas

there must be an overabundance of barely containable excitement bubbling just beneath the fuzzbutt's surface. he seems to have blasé down to a science. perhaps he is just being considerate and sleeping for the both of us... 

meanwhile, the tall skinny tree is up, ensconced in colored lights, and festooned with precious memories. oh, and littered with gifts! for the first year in too many, i am feeling festive as the holidays commence.


Monday, December 8, 2014

subversive sunrise

"the morning always has a way of creeping up on me and peeking in my bedroom windows. the sunrise is such a pervert."
-jarod  kintz 

stitching did not find my fingers this weekend,  though I did play with cloth fragments for a while. nothing worth photographing. however, this morning's sunrise was awe inspiring! perhaps there is a cloth in this one...


Thursday, December 4, 2014

stumbling through the dance

"the only way
to make sense
out of change
is to plunge into it,
move with it,
and join the dance."
-alan watts

this year has been an interesting journey down new and unfamiliar paths. changes in work. friendships. companionship.  sometimes i forget to stop trying to make sense of it all and simply allow it all to unfold. usually,  this finds me tipped head first into the quagmire of confusion.  but sooner or later i manage to pull my head out my nether orifice and I stumble forward again.

so i pick up a needle. stub some thread through its eye and begin again. these stars have been quietly whispering for snowflakes to join their gentle dance in the quiet sky above the man standing in the snow.  

here's to the warmth that blankets your spirit when you engage in doing something you love again after a long hiatus...


Monday, April 28, 2014

it's what's been keeping me busy

there is nothing quite like keeping up on the maintenance of three vehicles to keep one busier than a lonely, one-toothed beaver during the rainy season! i keep thinking there have been many lost opportunities for impromptu manhandling of cloth...usually after washing my grubby hands. ha!


Monday, April 14, 2014

a most amazing thing

this amazing new concept sewing machine created by british designer, sarah dickens, is the most amazing innovation in sewing machines i have yet to see.  if and when the alto hits the market, i will be camped out over night to be the first in line to get mine! (my mom will be rolling her eyes right about now as i have more sewing machines than i currently know what to do with...but this beauty is a piece of art and functional delight)

in an interview, dickens says, "i want to encourage people to have fun recycling and customizing their own clothes, rather than throwing them away."  where do i sign up??  shortlisted for the dyson award in 2012, though i have not been able to find any further info on this marvelous machine, i am hoping against hope that she finds a manufacturer and the machine hits the market soon. i can already see a myriad of applications for fiber artists and quilters alone....not to mention for me! ha!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

will it never end?

it seems every time spring attempts to assert herself, winter blows in another round of snow and arctic blasts of air.  the upside is that it provides another day or three of excellent stitching weather!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

road trip

"if you don't imagine,
nothing ever happens at all."
-john greer, paper towns

it's a bright, sunny morning and the ideas are percolating for something fun in black. but i don't seem to have much by way of black salvage fabrics at the moment. nor do i seem to have any black dye. guess it's time to fire up the beast and go in search of something dark and wonderful and crow-like!


visual therapy

sometimes i get stuck. sometimes i get overwhelmed. sometimes i get worn out. out of focus. in times like these, i like to spend some time just soaking up color and texture by getting out my collection of hand dyed and vintage threads. nothing particular in mind except to enjoy the color and delight in the texture. this doesn't need to lead me anywhere creatively. it is more a form of therapy. color therapy. tactile therapy. a moment of sheer visual and textural joy amidst the chaotic cacophony of my life!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

morning chill

a frosty morning descended upon the countryside here outside rural billings. the ground is crunchy. so is the air. it's a good day to stay inside by the fire and get some stitching done...


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


"the little dissatisfaction
which every artist feels
at the completion of a work
forms the germ
of a new work."
-berthold auerbach

when i came across auerbach's quote (above) some quiet self inside whispered "yes". another pondered "hmmmm". though i have always asserted that the reason i have so many unfinished projects going at one time was because i get bored so very easily and it allows me the freedom to change things up a bit, i'm now beginning to wonder if perhaps it is more an avoidance of dissatisfaction? could it really be....ooooh, a puppy! ha!

some stems to plant the flowers firmly on the ground, and leaves giving wings to those in the air and this little spring cloth is completed. in a way. it has no backing as i haven't decided what it will become as yet. perhaps a simple little smile of fiber all on its own to find its way into a frame or a book or some empty space somewhere. though i seem to recall having a couple other bunny cloths hopping about in the studio that may now seek completion and perhaps some unifying force to form a larger cloth of bunnies. only time will answer this small mystery.

in the meantime, little dissatisfaction over completions aside, it feels good to actually finish something for a change. perhaps this year will be one of completions? this is not to say that i won't start new journeys in cloth and thread, but rather that interspersed between the emergence of new cloths i shall begin to see more completions than in the past.  i rather like this feeling of completion.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

flowers, stargazing, snow

so begins the task of planting a gazillion blossoms (okay, well, maybe not really a gazillion...but a whole pile of them in any case) for the happy little bunny to be dancing in...

the big sky was filled with stars tonight, though the air was chilly and crisp enough to freeze your breath at a moment's notice.

after teasing us with a few days of warmer weather reaching up into the low 50's, winter descended again with some surprise snow for the past couple of days. good thing i have all those flowers to stitch to keep my mind off of how cold and snowy it is outside!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

rabbits and folk

a false spring settled in around us here in montana. a few hesitant days of relative warmth and melting snows. the rabbits have been out celebrating. seeking tender greens peeking through the top soil. the community of folk seem to have been doing the same. open windows and the odd door could be spied. folk tentatively meandering about in yards, poking at forgotten implements revealed by the retreating ice.

a little ink sketch on cloth. some tacked bits of scrap to suggest highlight, shade, color, and motion. then a retreat from my perch on the porch as ice showers appeared and pelted winter down the back of my neck. and a realization...where did i put that basket of threads?

time to scurry about in search of color and thread to add...

while i'm searching for the errant threads, take a look at what captured my attention this morning here.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

turning to the sunlight

"you can cut all the flowers
but you cannot keep spring from coming."
-pablo neruda

it's been a long winter here in montana. who knows? it may prove longer still. but we are finally getting the odd day of sunlight and warmer weather (if you call the 40's "warm"...but still, it is indeed warmer than the minus numbers of last week). in spite of it all, brave seedlings here and there are daring to turn their heads to the sunlight and push through the vestiges of snow.

grow you little bastards! grow! i'm tired of winter snows!

these past couple of weeks i've been feeling rather like these stoic little wonders. pushing my head up through the gathered "snow" of too muchness.  pushing aside over-abundances of cloth. salvage and otherwise. finding new homes for some. new spaces for others. or just combing through still more and arranging them in some semblance of order. it's amazing what chaos creativity can make of what was once an orderly studio!

perhaps i'll find some new friends whispering their stories amongst this slowly ordered chaos?


Sunday, March 9, 2014

right under our noses

it's amazing what people are doing right under our noses and we are never aware...until one day we are.  actor and artist, greg lauren (ralph lauren's nephew) has quietly entered the couture market with what one might call a frankenstein-esque style and daring.  when asked in an interview about his rather unassuming journey into fashion, greg replied by saying, "i'm still looking for my story to grow organically at its own pace, even if it is a bit beyond the beaten path."  his resources are generally military surplus (army tents, duffle bags, wool blankets, etc., with the odd bit of purposefully weathered cashmere and leather tossed in for good measure). i first stumbled across this work in an old article here where you can see many more examples of his inventive style of men's wear (he does women's wear as well, though for myself, being a man who has often complained that there just isn't enough interesting clothing being made for men, i'm much more interested in his men's wear).

granted, the article (and most likely his designs) are a few years out dated at this point, i can see i may have make a journey or two downtown to scope out the local military supply shops cuz i would love to fashion a jacket not unlike the one above for myself...outdated or no!


Friday, February 28, 2014

just looking

"just looking"...that is just a jude-ish thing to say. it's amazing how the people you admire have a way of weaving themselves into our lives in subtle ways, isn't it?  while looking today, i noticed the texture and color changes of the leather on one of my favorite pairs of work boots. and then i noticed that they were looking back at me through brass-rimmed eyes.

leather resides in various places in my home. work worn boots. battered vintage suitcases re-purposed for storage. belts for wearing....and those re-purposed for other uses and embellishments. scraps collected in boxes for dollmaking....or bookbinding....or whatever other use presents itself.

funny how things begin to notice you when you notice them...


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

...and another thing

...and another thing hunkering in during rampaging winter storms is good for is to get those creative vibes bouncing all over the place!  i always have a wagon load of ideas floating around in my noggin...most of which will probably never realize manifestation. but every once in a while one or two will push through like a hope filled seedling on a cold early spring morning.

for some time i've been entertaining focusing on the "mixed media" part of my creativity...something that has not been prominent of late as i continue to explore the fiber filled avenues of my musings. somehow, these cold winter days and nights have been inching me closer and closer to those mixed media roots once again. i've been digging through my old jeweler's bench, re-acquainting myself with the tools and possibilities that have been laying dormant in their own creative winter for some time.

some of the things that have caught my eye are metal alphabet stamps like these; random pieces of assorted metal sheets and scraps from past projects; etching supplies; and various tins of random adornment fodder.

ideas are beginning to form amidst the whispers. unfinished cloth art dolls have found their way to the top shelf of the jeweler's bench. as have tiny baskets and minuscule boxes of beads and vintage buttons and other bits of riff raff just begging to be used somehow. to the left of the bench appeared a tall wooden hatbox sort of critter, overflowing with scraps of salvaged cloth and fibers.

something is lurking just outside my peripheral vision... i can see piper fixing his feline eyes intently upon it. but, as usual, i still can't quite see what it is that has captured his attention.  so i will continue stitching open seams on community and allow this silent lurker to watch and perhaps grow more comfortable with his new surroundings. comfortable enough to reveal himself in due time...


Monday, February 24, 2014

not hand stitching

a new storm front moved in yesterday and we've had another 12" of snow blanket the countryside so i've been staying indoors as much as possible. at least whenever i'm not shoveling snow...

a month or so ago, i remember mentioning that i was going to play with strips and squares for a bit but i never really got around to it. i needed a little break from all the hand stitching i've been doing on community, so pulled out my old sewing machine and a basket of scraps from old quilt projects and started cutting and sewing.  i've ended up with a roughly 24" square comprised of 2" strips and 2" square sets in predominantly greens and browns...with a few other colors tossed in because, well, let's face it, they simply got in the way. ha!

i'm just sort of allowing this quilt to manifest in whatever manner it chooses. though i think, at this point, that i will alternate the orientation of the blocks so that i end up with a sort of a woven effect. but we will see what happens when i get a few more blocks done (i have 3 pieced together already, and strips/squares pulled together for another 13 or so). in the spirit of not hand stitching, i think i may end up machine quilting this one with cotton batting and a backing in a somewhat more traditional manner. sometimes, there is something to be said for instant gratification. ha!  though i don't think i'll take this over to laurel and rent a longarm machine. i want to try out a stylized technique of "quilt as you go"...only instead of quilting each block and then having all that endless hand stitching on the backing (remembering the spirit of not hand stitching), i'm going to assemble the blocks into rows and quilt them a row at a time. i think i have figured out a way to avoid hand stitching the back seams on the rows, as well!

more as i get a little further along...


Saturday, February 22, 2014

half-way spot

the first few rows of community are stitched. the half-way spot. the hand stitching is going as slowly as this year's winter.but the rich colors stand in welcome counterpoint to winter's somber greys. they bring warmth and cheer into the house.

there is a basket of squares and circles cut from the same stack of salvaged garments and linens that are waiting patiently (more patiently than i) to be stitched in place. creating the second layer. to add depth. to break up the linear quality of this cloth. perhaps even to begin to set the stage for the beasties whispering in the wings...chomping at the bit to populate the community of this cloth. but hand stitching is a meditative process. a slow process. a growing, organic process. there is no desire here to rush...


Monday, February 17, 2014


the snow continues to wrap the countryside in its icy embrace. sometimes falling. sometimes melting. sometimes blowing in the wind. but ever present.

i try to stay inside as much as possible. to stitch. to make music. to cuddle with the purr-full kitty. to indulge in drowsing by the fire.

it's been a relaxing week. even when work intrudes...or when i find myself too busy to pursue more desired activities...


Monday, February 10, 2014

the road unseen

it would seem that winter is not going anywhere soon here in the wilds of montana. while it may not look like it, there is a road under all that snow. somewhere. or, at least i think there is. hope there is. since i just drove 3 miles along what i thought to have been a road and not some farmer's field. ha! thank goodness for four wheel drive!

once overcoming the madness that convinced me i needed to be out plowing my way through the additional 6 inches of snow that fell yesterday (following 8 inches a few days before that and 6 inches a few days earlier still), i settled back in by the fire and the purring cat to cover a few more miles of needle chanting with community.  i really ought to finish the background before populating this cloth with its family of beasties...but i may have to give in and allow one or two to emerge on the first row before i get that far along...


Thursday, February 6, 2014

and miles to stitch before i sleep

"we choose what attitudes
we have right now.
and it's a continuing choice."
-john c. maxwell

as i've been adding to the thousands of stitches already in community, i've been thinking about attitudes. there are attitudes of cloth. and of clothmaking. of anything...and everything...really. these attitudes can help or hinder. can evoke or collude. they are what propel us forward in our discovery of the world around us...or give us excuse to sit back in our armchairs and let it all pass by.  i see this in the way i founder at times. allow my creative endeavors to languish while i tell myself that i have no more ideas. or that i am overwhelmed and must retire and repose.  but it is my choice. in that moment. no matter what i tell myself. and it feels good to be needle chanting once again. to hear the whispers of a whole herd of beasties clamoring to crawl out of the depths of my imagination and onto the backdrop of the cloth i am making. here. now.

be patient, my beauties. your turn will come. but first i must create the corners for you to play in....


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

mathematical cats

just continuing is a good practice to be doing. i started doodling various and sundry felines this morning while sipping a hot mug of chai to ward against the inversion temperatures dropping outside. a couple of them are quite "jude-ish" in style, aren't they? it's always fun to recognize elements of people you admire. ha!

i may not be able to control myself long enough to finish the endless miles of seam stitching before these felines sort themselves out on my cloth. but isn't that the way of felines? mine are always making themselves at home right in the middle of any cloth i am working on...whether or not they were invited. such entitled little buggers.


old cloth, new direction

in an effort to simply start doing, rather than thinking about doing, i've picked up community and begun top stitching the seams on the first row. just continuing on. though i have the thought that the name will be changing soon. i'm still listening for the this new name, so until the whispers become loud enough to hear, i will still call it community.

as some of you may recall, community began as a human wrapping cloth comprised of various salvaged scraps from discarded and unwanted clothing from the community in which i live. some garnered from local thrift shops. others from yard sales. still others donated to the project from friends and strangers who heard about the endeavor.

now, as i enter into the last year or so that i will be living here in montana, my thoughts about this cloth have begun to evolve. grow. enlarge. it is no longer content to be a series of squares and rectangles quilted in a more common manner (i had been contemplating even machine quilting this one). it wants to have more story to it than this. whispers of beasts and words are becoming coherent. insistent. so between bouts of stitching the seemingly endless seams with vintage variegated threads, i will begin exploring visceral, almost totemic, illustrations of beasts. lions. tigers. leopards. bears. who knows what all else? but these are foremost in thought at the moment.

with the riotous color already present in what will now become the background blocks of this cloth, i shall have to get somewhat inventive to keep the new beastie population soon to appear from disappearing into this cacophony of color!


Monday, February 3, 2014

for no other reason

not sure who created this gif, but it is from an amazing video
by nicolas deveaux which can be found here:
(many heartfelt thanks to morna for finding this!)

this inspired me today.  it evoked not only the obvious chuckles, but also tugged my mind in a different direction. offered distraction. perspective. i am stitching again. this is good.


a place of no thingness

there are places in the dark, empty corners of my mind that i am inexplicably drawn to roam. to wander. aimless drifting. seeking...for some thing i can't ever seem to wrap in a frayed cloth of understanding.  it is a place that compels me to venture further into the depths of...no thingness...for there is not even darkness there to cloak my restless in.

a place a part of me believes...or wants to believe...harbors great creativity. hidden somewhere amongst its vast emptiness. if only i could just open these eyes enough to see it.

a quiet, rasping chuckle shuffles across the landscape of my breath as i hear jude observe mirthfully, "joe has gone into story mode again..." her voice tinged with crisp winter apples. and smiles. the glint of her glasses reflecting worlds of creative vision that taunt and tantalize artistic souls near. and far alike. a welcome, inviting sound...

striving to touch the fragile, frayed edges of the muse who drives me deeper into this place, i search deeper. wandering a vastness that only frightens with its emptiness that is filled to bursting with things i just can't quite perceive beyond knowing that they are there. just out of reach. leaving me frustrated. thirsty. yearning.

yet still, my fingers are idle. resting in nests of thread. and scrap. they itch to commence. to embark. to manifest. but they just lay there...

what are they waiting for?