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 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?