The creative and spiritual journey of a (textile) recycler. . .

I have thought about starting a blog for a long time now. I just couldn’t seem to get started. I thought. . what would I say, what would I do and really . . . . . who would care.

Last year I had the great fortune to witness a ‘happening’. As a spouse at a reunion (I know, groan) I was both an observer and participant. This reunion was attended by some of the most creative and talented people on the face of the planet. Really, no exaggeration! But many were holding onto life long insecurities. They didn’t think they were talented enough and embarrassed to perform in front of each other for fear of . . who knows . . . finger pointing, whispers, laughter, ridicule of some sort for sure. Once it was revealed that many shared the same feelings, the healing began. And I was the lucky one. I got to witness it all and benefit as well.

So, the message is that we all think we are not good enough compared to someone else, but we are. Don’t let your fears and insecurities stop you. We can’t measure our own success by someone else’s talents.

This revelation and the kindness / support of strangers has propelled my creative journey to a place I had given up ever getting to. Tho I thought my creative juices were dried up forever, they have merely been reawakened. Many thanks to all involved in my process, including in-part . . Victoria B, Mrs. W., Charles Mc., Claudia H, Mary B, Cindy G, Sandy B, Traci B., Kat C, and my IAA family. So, thank you. I dedicate this blog to all of you!

Friday, September 30, 2011

More spiritual growth

On my path for spiritual growth is a crazy story I never thought I would write. At the Sewing Expo I saw my buddy Barb Callahan on Thursday afternoon. She asked if I could help her on Friday. Sure. I'm always happy to help Barb. She is fun and kooky and roles with the punches. My kinda gal. So, sure. I'll help her in her booth. I'm a former retailer after all. I can do that. Then something made me feel like I should ask questions. So, I did. I could not get any solid info out of her. Hmmm. What's up with that??

So this whole thing took on a life of its own during the course of the day and evening. It went from just a few minutes helping at the demo stage holding garments, then wearing the garments, then it turned out it was helping her on the runway. WHAT? Not me. I tremble and shake if I talk to more than 3 people at a time. Yipes. She hoodwinked me. In actuality she wanted me to walk the runway with her wonderful jackets  . .  for an hour! I was pretty nervous but tried not to think about it.

The next day, Friday, the day of the show, I'm thinking. . . 'This is a first. Something I never ever thought I would do. I am a behind the scenes kinda gal. .  not a center stage kind'. Well, I got pushed out on stage first. Luckily I saw a friend of mine sitting in the audience. Her big smile settled my nerves immediately. Then I saw a few others and I was ok. Let's not mention the fact that they were all taking to me, so I did what any great model does. I talked back . . . while walking the catwalk. Oops.

It wasn't soooo bad. Oh jezz, she asked me to do it again on Sunday!

You know, I really surprised myself. I never thought I could do anything like that - ever. So I guess being challenged without time to chicken out is a good thing. This was a real confidence booster for sure. Will I do it again. . . well, let's see if I get hoodwinked twice.

Happily there is no photographic evidence. Whew!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Thank you Universe for the kick in the butt

This blog is about sharing my creative and spiritual experiences in hopes that you will benefit from my journey. So today's post is to say that sometimes we learn a lesson and slip backward. We get all ooey gooey and backslide. It happens. We are human. When it does, the Universe will come along and reinforce the lesson so it eventually becomes part of who we are. Here is mine:

While at the American Sewing Expo, sitting doing a Make & Take*, from my peripheral vision, I saw 2 ladies walking toward me. Didn't think anything about it. I was in an aisle wide enough for plenty of folks to shuffle along looking from side-to-side waiting for something to catch their eye. Then I heard a loud "you bitch" as a lady was coming toward me. At first I ignored it. It couldn't be directed at me. The figure kept coming closer, then stopped right next to me. I looked up and there was one of my long time buddies standing there giving me the evil eye.

As you can imagine, I was pretty stunned. What the heck had I done??? My mind raced and I couldn't think of anything that might have warranted that comment. So with my best quizzical look, I asked. 

Her response was "I had no idea how talented you are and how fabulous your work is". I was shocked again. HER work is fabulous and SHE is extremely talented. Then we both laughed and saw the horror melt off the faces of the strangers standing around us, who by-the-way took in a collective gasp at her original comment. 

You see, I'm in a number of quilting/fiber groups and rarely show my work to anyone. If I do, I select who I show it to and never ever on public display . . . or at least with my name on it. I am pretty shy even tho no one seems to believe that. And, am still growing as a quilter-fiber artist, so I feel intimidated most of the time to show what I do. Everyone in all of my groups are very talented and accomplished, some famous, some published. . . you get the idea. . . . then there's me.

All of my various groups have show n' tell and every so often I will show something, but rarely. It's that insecurity raising it's ugly head, then hearing the voice inside that says, 'everyone does better work than you. Don't let them see how bad you are and they might consider you an equal. Show your work and they will know you are not.'

So you say "yah yah yah, what's the lesson here?" As I said in my opening statement, measure your talent and success against yourself and be proud of what you do. We all have to start somewhere. I encourage everyone to join various groups of interest, even online groups. The support, skill building, and growth really take you on a path that you may not have walked otherwise. Your accomplishments and compliments are so much more significant when the praise comes from your peers.

Well, I had several such incidents over the long weekend with people gushing over my work and each time it was someone that I aspire to be as talented and prolific as. So the high praise was that much more meaningful. I was really choked up, almost to tears. I felt validated. Like I fit in. 

Thank you Universe for the kick in the butt.

~ Make & Take*, some vendors have little projects at their booth that you can make in just a few minutes and take with you. Sometimes they are free, other times a small fee. You get to try out techniques and products to see if you'd like to make a purchase. And they are usually fun!

This is one of my Make n' Takes, a metal embossed heart

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Metal Embellishments

This is American Sewing Expo week in Novi.  This is the once of year time where creative types can take all day workshops and one hour seminars to learn new techniques to add to their sewing, painting, designing arsenal. . . .  and of course, shop . .  all under one roof.

One of the many many classes offered was learning to make metal pieces to wear as jewelry or add to any variety of quilts or artwork.

Check out the trees! A little twist here and a little twist there. . . here a twist, there a twist. . .  poof. . . it's a tree.

Every tree in the room looked totally different. The right piece of metal embellishment can really enhance your art work.

Then there were some woven options. Weave it tight, weave it loose, push, pull, bend, twist and look what you can create. . . .

Then there was Barbara Callahan and her way cool knitted jackets. As I walked passed the room I was invited in to see what was going on. Wow! Each and every jacket looked spectacular. Barbara offered precut pieces of knitted garments to her students to play with resulting in a composite of colors, textures, patterns . . just-a-mixin' & matchin' away. The ladies all left the room with the biggest smiles I have ever seen.

Tomorrow is another day at the Expo. Let's see when I find. . . whatever it is, I am sure it will be colorful and creative.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Inspiration from art fairs

Today was day two for 2 art fairs in town. Art fairs are a great place to find inspiration, whether it be color, texture, or subject matter  . . . and it's great for people watching, too. For me it's always a time to run into and catch up with folks I haven't seen in the last year. 

First I started at the DIY fair which is basically a Motor City 'pride' show. It focuses on all kinds of cool items recycled and upcycled from lots of different materials, such as silkscreens, beads, torn, graffitied, hand dyed and more. I love this new show because much of the work is crazy creative, well done and affordable. Ideas are fresh, use of materials creative, colors are bold. What more could an arsty craftsy person ask for??!!

Then I went across the street to the the fine art-fine craft show. There was glass, lots of wonderful 2D art: paintings & photography, some awesome mixed media stuff, some dolls, and of course our fave - jewlery!

The ladies from Detroit Dollface had some of the coolest from both fairs. Their handmade jewelry and clothing were way cool, kooky, boldly colored and highly graphic. Two thumbs up ladies!

I liked to bold use of chick images. Who can't resist Elvira or Vampira after all!

And check out the diva necklaces!

Next time you are noodling around on Etsy, look up Detroit Dollface.

Then I saw my buddy Kenyatta. He has been a fixture at the high level shows for more than 25 years. He has spent a lifetime traveling the world, shooting photos, and creating some of the finest art work you will ever see. I particularly love his Afrocentric themes. 

If you ever have a chance to see his work, I highly recommend it. You will surely want a piece to adorn your walls and/or give as gifts. Plus, he is just a cool guy to talk to. . .

Here is a link to find out where Kenyatta will be next:

Kristen Barr is a fantastic illustrator (no relation to Glenn Barr by-the-way). Her work has a whimsical look with depth and layers of color, something that everyone who works with fabric can understand. The backgrounds all look like manufactured and hand dyes!

I especially liked the eyes in her pieces. Everyone is wide or sleepy eyed. I shared with Kristen that I have been doodling those eyes for many many years. I guess that was why I was drawn to them.

She shows her work occasionally at the Rust Belt in Ferndale, Mi. Look up her website to see the vast selection @

Flossa's handwoven accessories were pretty fab too. I especially loved the shredded hanging things off all the scarves. The pops of color and earthy colored flowers applied strategically to scarf ends and hat sides added a nice touch.

Check out this Zentangle inspired art. It is way cool!

Maria Oliva Tyra adds shapes and images into her Zentagle type art then puts the cherry on top with a wash of color. The work has a lot of depth, is very clean and sometimes meditative.

See more of Maria's work @

I just have one word to discribe Nicole Ray: sweetheart. I love her work because it is fresh, clean and whimsical. It makes me feel good when I see it and brings a smile to my face. What more can you ask for . .

Her work can be seen on Etsy and her website:

Sadly, the crowds seemed down this year. Much more so than in years past. Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's that fact that promoters are now taking anyone with booth fee, whether they have good art, bad art or manufactured items. This is so bad for the future of events. The event looses its credibility as the junk starts creeping in. It has happened to some of the finest over the years, so I hope the current promoters get it together before it is too late. . . .

Friday, September 16, 2011

Have a Play Date for Inspiration

A few days ago I spent the day with my wonderfully creative friend Kat. We had lots of materials to play with, but where oh where to start.  . . It took me a minute to get started. Since I had a bunch of disjointed materials with me, I did not have a clue. What I would do or want to do? Remember, I am trying to work with intuitively with what I have and not overthink.

So I started cutting into a hunk of fabric, aimlessly tearing some pieces, then cutting other pieces.  There was no thought at all as to size or shape. .  just aimless dismembering. I started seeing flower petals amid the shapes, so I went with it. Yipes. It was awful. It was pretty ugly and embarrassing, too . .  I know I can do better than this! I set it aside and went back with fresh eyes a few minutes later, then added paint via stamps.  . . the photo shows what I went home with. It needs more work.

Working with the stamps was big fun, so I cut more hunks of fabric and stamped away. The 2 pinkish peices were from the hand dyed collection. I wasn't pleased with the outcome so they landed in the over dye or discharge pile. In other words, nothing I did to them today could be worse!

I was rather pleased with the flower shapes and paisleys all lined up. It's a great start to something that calls for more embellishment.

More flowers and paisleys!
I wish I made more of this. . .

So the lesson is not to panic if you find that you have materials that don't speak to you or each other. Start a conversation, sit back and listen. They always tell you what they need.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Weekly Quilt Journal Project: week 3

I am dedicating my weekly journal quilt this week to a friend of mine.

Last week I was stunned to learn that my closest friend of 18 years died suddenly. We didn't always see eye-to-eye on things, but that was rare. We had lots of great times with tons of laughs. Just about daily, whether on the phone or together, we laughed till tears ran down our faces. The crazy thing was, generally it was at nothing at all.

 After absorbing the news I sat down and just wrote from the heart. In the spirit of a quilter and true fabric addict, I put my words to fabric with an image of Jimmy and the Mexican flag in the background.

~ R.I.P. Jimmy: Ido, pero nunca se olvida, mi amigo ~


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fortune Cookie

I grabbed another fortune cookie last night. Wow! It had not one, but two little paper fortunes in it!

Hmmmm. Is it one or both of the fortunes that I should pay attention to . . . . . .  or the lottery numbers on the back? 

In addition to a package and an opportunity, I see two lottery tickets in my future. . .

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekly Quilt Journal Project: week 2

After assembling the pieces in a way that I liked, I felt like a flower was trying to bloom. Look at the printed fabric piece at the top near the center. See what I mean? Doesn't it look like a scribbly flower of some sort?

Since I still had so much to do to get my sewing room organized, I set aside the quilt top and kept on trying to finish getting that room together. As luck would have it, I found a piece with the same colors and scribbly look. So I dropped everything. Then immedealty cut a slice off and set it on the little quilt-to-be. I liked it!

But it needed something else. So rather than hurt my brain trying to figure out what, I went back to cleaning. Oh geez. .  here we go again. I found a scrap that already had fusible on it. Hmmm. My lucky day. The little wonky squares added just the touch it needed. Week 2 quilt complete.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Do as I say NOT as I do!

OMG! I did a baaaaaaad thing last night. It was around 6 o'clock or so, too close to dinner time. I was going thru fabric, organizing, cleaning and rearranging, when it happened. I hadn't given it much thought at all. I was just workin' away... in the zone so to speak. When it was done, I was in horror and disbelief. I only stopped because I was dripping in sweat and my heart was pounding, but I could see that the damage was done and it was pretty horrific. And I am not exaggerating. I thought about freaking out but managed to remained calm. I didn't want to give myself away or have a heart attack!

It was really mind boggling how everything that had been in my sewing room just a few moments before was now piled up in various other places. . . like the bedroom . . .  the hallway . . . the bathroom . . . the kitchen. . .  you get the idea. Fabric, shelves, boxes, books, and bags of stuff were piled up so high that they were sliding over into each other and truly everywhere. There was no room to walk and I was blocked into the corner. Oh-oh. It seemed highly dubious that my husband was going to get to sleep in the bed that night unless he flew over everything and landed in the bed. . . which again. .  . had mountains of stuff piled up on.
I really did it this time. I was getting scared and sick to my stomach. I just don't have time to deal with this catastrophic mess and it was a mess. I had to work quickly and efficiently since it was just a few hours till bed time. I have torn this room apart before, but started first thing in the morning and at that, it has always taken at least a week to put it back together. Luckily, with my nose to the grindstone, I was able to clear a path for bed time. Phew!

So today I worked a bit toward making it better and no surprise, I came across a few pieces that were at one time going to be a quilt but just seemed too disjointed to be appealing in any sense of the word. 

I set aside the pieces and during a clean-up break tonight, I gave 'em a look over. I think I can do something with these now, but it won't be medium size as originally planned, but a 'small' as I like to call them.

When I first cut and stitched them together a few years ago, I was still a bit skittish about cutting randomly into anything already sewed together.  . or even my hand dyes for that matter. Happily I got over it. . . with some prompting from others of course ( and you know who you are). So tonight I made a few cuts without any pre-planning which is part of my journey. I'll stitch them up tomorrow and see what I get.

The top photo shows the 4 pieces I found. The photo to the right shows a few random cuts and some strategically placed pins. Give me few days, let's see what happens.

In case you wonder, no matter how fabulous or not this piece may be in the end, I don't recommend tearing a room apart at night just to happen across something to work on. no... no. . . no. . .

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Creative Organization

One thing that recyclers have in common is thinking outside of the box and always seeking new ways to keep our treasures organized . . . of course with other recycled items! After all, it's important to be able to find the bits of 'whatever' easily for quick and easy access. Recyclers have the ability to see usefulness in objects that others think are . . . . well let's be honest . . . . . trash. Sometimes our treasures come straight out of the garbage, rummage sales, and other times we are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. 

Well, I was gifted with a big shoe cubbie. I thought it would be perfect to use to organize my 'in progress' projects, stack up folded fabric . . . or whatever better idea came along first. So, it's been sitting in the basement, just waiting.

I've been at this a long time. Even as a kid I was aware that I never used anything for its intended purpose. When making clothing, I just dove in and started cutting, never following the directions, when baking I added the ingredients in the order of my choice - not the recipe. And, to my husbands' dismay, when I get a new electronic device, I just dive in and start playing with it. .  never ever reading the directions. So its no shock that this shoe cubbie will never see a shoe.

Today I got it, the stroke of brilliance I had been waiting for. While rearranging the basement to better organize my collected treasures, I realized that this shoe cubbie would be a perfect way to organize my rolls of lace and trims. So I began to experiment. Hmmmm. Happily, I love it!