Quilt National visit redux

It's nearly a month since I have returned from a whirlwind trip to Athens, Ohio for the opening weekend of Quilt National 2017. What a fun weekend it was! My friend Gail was my copilot as we let Waze guide us along the roads of NJ, PA, MD, WV and OH. The routes were all very scenic, but we had no time to stop for pictures, we had a destination to get to!

I have to say that as much as it was a thrill to see my art hanging in this prestigious exhibit, it was even more of a thrill to commune with all the artists who were there!

There's nothing better than hanging out with fellow creative souls. Sharing ideas, techniques, trials and tribulations and just basking in each others company. I was delighted to meet all the artists that I could, and wished every single one could have attended!

Here's the gallery view with my piece, Iron Spine 5XL hanging between work by Paula Kovarik and Kit Vincent, and then followed by Amy Meissner and Kerri Green

Here's moi talking about my work.... apparently I talk with my hands....
The powers that be took videos of the two minute talks that each artist gave about their work and when those videos become available I will gladly share where they can be seen. I always find public speaking rather nerve-wracking, but I was told that I spoke well and made sense. What more could I ask for?

Upon my return home, there was a lovely surprise in the mail - SDA magazine wrote a bit about the exhibit and used my art to illustrate it! So cool!
I'm still reliving bits and pieces of conversations that took place. So much to consider and enjoy remembering!

stitched paint strokes

Usually I stitch with a plan in mind. Meaning that I have seen in my minds eye what I want to achieve and I am stitching towards that vision. But sometimes.... just for the fun of it I want to stitch with no plan. Just meandering and enjoying the process, the colors and the texture that is being created.

For inspiration I'll pull out a picture and use my stitches to interpret that picture. I don't mean exactly, just the feeling of it. Like a moody autumnal landscape for example. I'll concentrate on the color, the direction of the vegetation.... This exercise is lots of fun to do with painting by famous artists. I'll open up a big heavy art book or print an image from the internet and try to capture the feeling of it with my stitches.

So where am I leading with all this? Well... I am trying to entice you to take a vacation with me. Yes. a vacation. In Ticino, that's in Switzerland. In August. I know it seems so far way, August and Switzerland. But August will be here in a blink of an eye and Switzerland is just a hop, skip and a jump away!
a detail of a Klimt
my stitchy interpretation
Picasso is fun to play with
fun to choose the fabrics and the stitches
Rothko's serenity is interpreted well in silk
simple is best
that's the hotel!

and that's the scenery!
So? Come stitch some paint strokes with me and enjoy the end of summer in Ticino!


That was one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind when I first saw the installation. This summer I got lost in the hallways of the Vermont Law School. I was looking for an art exhibit and got a double treat when I stumbled on the sticks. Yes sticks. But such perfectly arranged sticks. Or reeds. Because first I saw these reeds in the Cornell Library... I wanted to walk through them..
Phragmites by Elizabeth Billings
Phragmites detail
Then as I was wandering the hallways I found the sticks. They were whittled. Perfectly. I thought about the methodical, meditative way the artist must have sat there and whittled for days... I wished I was whittling along with her...

Unfortunately there is no name for this installation. It goes down a very long hallway...
There was no signs anywhere in the hallway or the library to tell me who this artist was. Fortunately once school started a quick phone call solved the mystery for me. Now I'll be on the look out for more serene art by Elizabeth Billings. Hopefully there will be signs. But I may not need them.

back to school!

Are you tired yet at looking at only Wordless Wednesdays here? I am! Summer is very busy around these parts with kid excursions, camps, travel and all other things that summer with children entails... But now it's back to the school routine, the after-school routine and back-to-the-studio routine. Woo hooo!!! As much as I enjoy planned and not, spur-of-a-moment and crazy activities of summer, I also love the dependability of routine.

So back to our regularly scheduled programming here, aside from WW. I have a few blog posts planned to share some delightful sights that I saw over the summer and I'll also fill you in on the goings on in my studio.

If you are ever in upstate NY, north of Albany, I highly recommend a visit to this little gem of a museum. Located on the grounds of the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Monastery, (which makes you feel as though you are in the Russian countryside) it's actually geared toward the non-Russian speaking visitor. The museum contains wonderful artifacts of representing four centuries of books and art in Russia. I thought I'd share with you the few that really captured my attention.
a detail from the Book of Gospels circa 1575...handwritten....
Book of the Twelve Great Feasts from 1825, also handwritten...
Gold-work detail from a Regimental Standard 1875
more gold-work from the Standard
Gorgeous cover of a book titled The Tzar's Hunt 1896
detail of gold-work from an Epigonation from the late 20th century
exquisite gold-work on a Shroud from the late 19th century
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of Russian history..


Summers are tough. Tough for me to spend any real time in my studio that is. But I do get to spend lots of time in nature, so that compensates.

Here are few views that I enjoyed recently and inhaled deeply.....

Hope your summer is going well!

what the fiber

There is a wonderful exhibit that I can recommend for you to see if you're anywhere near New Jersey. It's called What The Fiber and it's on view at the West Windsor Art Center in Princeton Junction. Some great art representing terrific women artists whom I honored to be among! It's up until May 2nd.
My work on the right is in awesome company with Diane Savona

Another one of mine on the right, in company with Judith Plotner and Judy Langille

Me giving a two minute speech at the opening last week...eeek!
It's lovely large, well lit gallery that does great work, totally worth a visit!


A whirlwind trip it was... to the suburbs of Chicago and back in one short week. Seemed so long in coming and so quick to be over! I had the pleasure of teaching at the North Suburban NeedleArts Guild this past week. I presented a lecture on my artist journey and taught a two day workshop that had everyone playing with Photoshop, printing and stitching...well.... we had to much fun playing in Photoshop that we hardly got to the stitching! This could easily have been a five day workshop! I barely remembered to take pictures till the very end, so involved we all were..

Here are a few shots of student work and me with my lovely host Cindy. Thank you NSNG!


decorative arts

Russian decorative arts have a long and storied tradition. There is weaving, embroidery, wood carving, ceramics... the list goes on and on. Just the decorative painting alone can be broken down into quite a few different styles, here is a small list from my book shelf: khokhloma, zhostovo, permogorskaya, mezenskaya, and gorodetzkaya. A scholar I am not, thus the links to each of the styles. Hard to find detailed information in English, so if you'd like more and want to play at translating online, here are more links in Russian: khokhloma/хохлома, zhostovo/жостово, permogorskaya/пермогорская, mezenskaya/мезенская, and gorodetzkaya/городетская. By the way, most of these styles break down into even more styles.

I am currently fascinated by the decorative painting inside Russian churches. Not the icons, but the decorative paintings on walls. Right now restoration efforts are in full swing in many Russian churches, especially those that were desecrated during the Soviet rule, which are innumerable. So there is quite a bit of new eye candy to look at. Unfortunately not all allow photography, so here my meager findings:
This "little" cathedral is a symbol of Moscow and has been in the restoration process for most of it's life.
I adore the before and after details at St. Basil's.
the vine motifs are supposed to replicate the glory of heavenly gardens
sky at St. Basil's
leafy swirls at St. Basil's
door trim at St. Basil's
This is a brand new wall in a St. Petersburg church that had NONE of it's paintings left, it was actually a skating ring for a long time. Now this is where the icon embroiderers work.
Another detail from the same church.
I also could not resist a few stone details, these are from St. Basil's
newly restored Kazan Church at the Novodevichy Convent in St. Petersburg
more from the Kazan church
and for comic relief the Russian Buddy bear painted in the Khokhloma style
my personal little Russian decorative collection: Khokhloma and Mezenskaya
If you'd like to read more about Russian decorative traditions the Museum of Decorative-Applied and Folk Arts in Moscow has quite a bit of information. You can see the influence this tradition has on my work when you look at this piece here.

golden threads

Edited 9-24-12
A few readers asked about the silver instrument seen the pictures below. It is an awl, used for aiding the placement of the needle from underneath the fabric. A very detailed post with illustrations is here, although in Russian. 
There is a wonderful little studio in St. Petersburg, Russia that I enjoy visiting whenever I get a chance. The women working there are very gifted artists and ultimate craftswomen. Their specialty is embroidering items for the Russian Orthodox Church such as Shrouds of Christ, clerical garments and vestments, headdresses, covers for sacred vessels and the like. Their attention to detail is incredible, to the untrained eye their work looks like it was done by machine. But each and every stitch is taken carefully by hand. The larger pieces are worked in groups, smaller are usually by one artist. 

They also offer classes in church embroidery during the summer. Perhaps one day I'll be lucky enough to be able to attend, not because I want to be able to embroider icons (although that would be very cool too), but because I would love to sit and stitch with them and steep myself in the atmosphere in this wonderful place.

When I visited them this summer unannounced, they very generously showed me around the studio, happily pulled out works in progress for me to see and asked me about my work as well. Luckily I had a work in progress with me and pictures on my phone. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon of sharing and mutual admiration. One of the ladies gave me a wonderful book as a gift after seeing my work. It is called The Architectural Flora of St. Petersburg, only in English, sorry. I know I will be referencing to this book again and again, comparing my own photographs and looking up addresses.

The embroidery studio's website is here, only in Russian, but do click through to see all the pictures, and here is the blog post about the last time I was there. Enjoy the pictures from this visit:

mosaically speaking

I have always been fascinated by mosaics. The idea of these wonderfully complex scenes of gorgeous pattern and color being created from tiny pieces of glass, is breathtaking. Russian cathedrals are filled with these amazing mosaics, at least the ones that were important enough to survive communist era of destruction.
Demetrius of Salonica from Mikhalovsky Monastery in Kiev
Most icons of value were lucky enough to have been spirited into museums, such as this antique beauty now residing at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
walls of the Cathedral of Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg
Others were important enough to survive and even be restored after the destruction of WWII. The Cathedral of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one such amazing example.
detail of mosaic from Savior on Spilled Blood
I am always fascinated by the subtle gradations of these seemingly precise stones. To think that stone can so beautifully evoke cloth.
When I got up close to this mosaic I noticed all the different color glass used just to create the wood beam. Note all the blues and yellows and pinks to create the sky. 

I really loved getting close enough to see all the colors used for skin in the mosaic below. 

Sadly the mosaics above and below are only few surviving from the Cathedral of Savior on the Waters in St. Petersburg. They were designed by Viktor Vasnetzov, one of the most prolific Russian artists. The cathedral was destroyed in 1932 and these mosaics survived because they were dragged away and hidden by some very brave parishioners. I consider myself quite lucky to have been able to see these.
 After looking though all my photographs of mosaics I realized that some of my new small pieces are somewhat mosaic like in their construction. It maybe absurd to compare my work to this magnificence....but I think there is a slight connection.
work in progress
work in progress

the graffiti report

You know how sometimes certain things catch your eye for days at a time for no reason at all? That seems to have happened to me this summer... I don't know why, but graffiti has been attracting my eye lately. I have been photographing all that has snagged my attention and analyzing why...here is a selection of my favorites.
funny characters
adorable creatures
lacy light handed doodles
soft and delicate/rough and raw
love elephants!
excellent lettering!
 Ready for some deep analysis? It's the combination of colors, the juxtaposition of shapes and the layers of intriguing imagery....OK, so no deep analysis here... just enjoying the artistry of it all!

Chicago - my kinda town...

Last week I had the good fortune to be teaching at the Create Retreat in the Chicago suburbs. Of course as usual, I was so busy teaching, I totally forgot to take pictures of my class room, the students or their projects. Sorry.... 
Portion of the Marc Chagall "America Windows" at the Art Institute of Chicago
How about I make it up to you with some lovely pictures of Chicago?

Column and ceiling from the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room from the Art Institute of Chicago
I taught both my classes on Wednesday and on Thursday I had a day to play hookey. So I took myself and my traveling buddy Irene on the town. I have never been to Chicago before and thoroughly enjoyed playing the tourist, taking pictures at every corner, walking around looking up, stopping short and generally annoying the natives!  

Feast you eyes and enjoy!

Millennium Park entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago

Looved! The tree shape on this building.

Gardens of the Millennium Park

Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park

Cloud Gate aka the Bean aka Blob aka totally cool!

Painted Forest in Lincoln Park

Lake Michigan harbor

Rainbows in the Crown Fountain

Portion of the Healy and Millet Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center

Ceiling at the Chicago Cultural Center

Book display at the Chicago Publishers Gallery and Cafe

Create Retreat in Costa Mesa California

Was so much fun! I just wish I was better at taking pictures during class.... I remembered at the last minute to take a few photos in my Hand Stitched Jewels class and that is what I will share with you here.. I had several beginners and several experienced stitchers in the class and it was wonderful to work with a student at every level (one student confided that she only learned to thread a needle a few weeks ago! she made great strides!)
The Mix Your Media with Photoshop class was busy busy busy! The students loved discovering what they can do on the computer screen and then seeing it in real life printed in the afternoon. Sorry not a picture....we were all too busy! 

leaving on a jet plane...

...do know when I'll be back again...(sorry can't help myself with that corny line!)
I am on my way to Costa Mesa, California to teach at the Create Retreat this week. I am so looking forward to being in sunny Cali and participating in this cool and fun creative endeavor! 
I'll be teaching two classes: on Thursday May 19th it is Hand Stitched Jewels at 6PM where I will show my techniques of adding hand-stitching to your small art quilts, a three hour class; 
and on Friday May 20th at 9AM is Mix Your Media with Photoshop where I share tips on how to play in the Photoshop program, learn the basics that will get you started in a whole new medium and we'll experiment printing on fabric, paper and recyclables. 
Just in case anyone has been thinking about it, but haven't signed up yet, there is still time if you are local! See you there!

back to Russia for just a minute

I saw a wonderful exhibit while in St. Petersburg this summer. There is a fab space called Manege/Манеж right in the heart of the city with intriguing exhibitions through out the year. This is a view of just one end of the gigantic exhibition hall.This time it was an exhibit commemorating Derevnya Khudozhnika/Artist Village. Unfortunately they do not have a website in English, try clicking through this and see if the google translator can help.
The basic premise is this - various artists through out the eighties have made a home for themselves in the villages of Ozerki, Shuvalovo and Kolomyagi. This a run down area on the outskirts of St. Petersburg where studio space came very cheaply as there were hardly any amenities, most of the homes where built the early 20th century. Eventually some or most of these artists have made names for themselves, their art became known and their area became known. Many have had exhibitions throughout Europe. So now they hold art festivals there, master classes/workshops and open studio days. (One day I'll make it out there for the real deal!)
In the last 10 years the government of St. Petersburg has started helping out the artists and they are melding the city life, nature and modern art. The artists work in many mediums, there are sculptors, ceramicists, painters, quilt artists, textile artists, graphic artists, photographers, actors and musicians. So this exhibit was sort of bringing the village into the heart of the city.The concept and the execution of the exhibition were spectacular, I thought. The space was transformed to give a hint of the village inside the white marble building. They actually put down turf in the middle of the whole thing and you could walk on it but only in bare feet!
This what this sign says - walk on the grass, in bare feet, thank you! We saw the exhibit the day before it closed, so the grass was a bit on the dry side, but still....

Here is some of the art that made an impression on me... Lets start with a quilt artist shall we? This is the work of Larisa Dergachyova. Holiday Mood is the name of the happy red quilt. St. Petersburg Rain is the name of the blue piece. Here's a detail. I really enjoyed the humor in the work of Oleg Zhogin. His assemblages where a wonderful example of recycling at it's best. This one is called ArcheoFish. Dinosaur Egg was a delight!The details in House were just wonderful. These beautiful over sized ceramic veggie slices are by Vera Noskova and they are called Breakfast on the Grass. I loved this delicate installation by Polina Shvetzova, it was called Disappearance. There were many ethereal weaving's by Elena Tkachenko, one of my favorites was this one called Water and the City, from her Venetian Series. I think these garments were meant for performance art as there were photographs of the artist dancing and twirling in her creations. I adored these wooden sculptures by Gelya Pisareva. This one is called The Legend of Boris and Gleb and this one Angel Protector. There was a very prolific textile artist represented with a gazillion works through out the exhibit space, she is Marina Spivak and most of her work is simply titled Collages. She used old clothing and textiles in their actual size and makes huge.. collages. This is a view of just one of her installations. This piece is is titled.. you guessed it... Collage, fabric. I love the simplicity of the titling, perhaps I shall do that too from now on... Here's another. This one actually has a title - Morning Coffee, and it's a collaboration with the artist Alexander Posin.
I have tried to find and link to as many sites of the artists as I could find, unfortunately many of them do not have them or they are just CVs in Russian. So as my girls say - you get what you get and....
Sometimes I wish I could live in an artist village too....


Ready for some picturesque shots? good! there is a LOT of them in this post!This summer we made a visit to one of Russia's oldest cities. Actually it's name, Novgorod, or Velikii Novgorod, means New City or Great New City. It was only established around 862 or so... You can read all the details here.I remember fondly my first visit there in 1991, that was the first time I went back to visit the former USSR. It was just as perestroika was happening and the country was becoming more open. There was something very intimate and warm about the city, especially in and around the Kremlin. That's the oldest part of the city, essentially where it began. Of course the city is filled with churches, monasteries and open air museums.Novgorod has had a somewhat of a rebirth recently in the celebration of it's 1150 anniversary, it was freshly painted and there where signs everywhere calling Novgorod the Motherland of all Russia. Although I loved that some churches were not fully restored and some parts were left as they had been for ages.I just enjoyed walking around with my family, drinking in the beautiful ancient sites. You can literally feel the energy of the past as you walk around... or at least I did... maybe partly because the calming feeling of Russian Orthodoxy is so strong, every other church is an important religious site, and the faithful make pilgrimages here.We had very dramatic weather while in Novgorod, a very stormy day with thunderstorms was followed by a day with stunning blue skies and perfect fluffy clouds. What more could a camera happy gal like me ask for?

the doll museum

This summer my girls and I made our annual pilgrimage to the St. Petersburg Doll Museum. It is always such a delightful place to visit, they always have new dolls and puppets on exhibit and we always manage to find something new in the exhibit we have already seen. And it helps that they have a lovely shop to entice children with... Enjoy the pictures from this summer's trip!