Thursday, December 30, 2010

What Will You Do In 2011?

On our trip to Tuscany, May 2010

Every New Year's my long-time friend Ann and I have a long conversation about our goals and plans for the coming year. We've known each other since we were 18, and our priorities have run the gamut from finding the right man to weight loss to becoming better people. A constant theme for me through the years has been developing my artistic abilities. (I still need to lose weight, by the way.) We never seem to grow tired of this ritual and I have to admit that it really excites me.
Like everyone, I have my personal goals for self improvement, but in my creative life I'm feeling the desire to stretch and grow. Sometimes I feel like the title of my blog belies what I actually do. Where do you draw the line between art and craft (the eternal question) and is what I'm doing more craft than art?
The name of my blog started off as 'Fabric Art and Crafts' and I'm wondering whether I should go back to that to cover all bases. Or, another approach would be to make my work more artistic. Just thinking out loud here!
I'm wondering how many people use the new year as a fresh start and make goals as we do. What do you think you'll be focusing on this year? I'd love to hear about it. By the way, I never worry about not completely fulfilling my goals - there is always the possibility of carrying over to the next year. I did find the right man 33 years ago, but I'll be putting 'lose weight' on this year's list - again!!!

I'd like to wish everyone who reads this a very happy and prosperous New Year!
May you pursue your passion,
and draw family and friends closer.
Wishing you peace and happiness!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The In-Between Days

These are the days between Christmas and New Year that always seem like a combination of afterglow and anticipation to me. Christmas still lingers in decorations and greeting cards set out on the mantle. New Year's Day is right around the corner and already I am preparing a notebook in which to write resolutions and plans for 2011. A fresh start - it seems so full of wonder and possibility to me. I guess I am an optimist at heart, although I certainly have plenty of glass-half-empty days! But a new year can bring unimaginable changes, if we but dare to pursue them!
We have just returned from a few days spent in Toronto and Montreal with our daughter Kate. We started off at Kate's home in Toronto, where we visited her office and lab at OCAD university, had dinner at a restaurant/pub called 'The Queen Mother' and went to a wonderful production of 'The Nutcracker' at the Four Seasons Centre for the performing arts.

The following day, we took a five hour train trip, much of it along Lake Ontario, to Montreal. There is something so relaxing about a train ride, and I spent much of the time reading and embroidering. (I'll share some of that in a later post.) Kate had packed us a lovely lunch and we rode in comfortable companionship, enjoying our time together. 

In Montreal, we ate delicious food, walked a great deal and visited the Planetarium De Montreal, where we saw a terrific show called 'The Longest Night of the Year' about the winter solstice and the origins of many Christmas customs and myths. On Christmas eve, we went to the Basilica of Notre-Dame, which was a short walk from our hotel. (click on photos to enlarge)
Horse drawn carts were taking travelers on a merry ride,
and the front of the basilica was graced by three glowing angels, heralding the festive season.
Once inside, we sat in the front row of the balcony, and watched as the basilica slowly filled with people from many countries, and children dressed in their best finery. Christmas carols in French filled the vast space and, once Mass began, the lighting changed and the huge altar became a warmer and more welcoming place.
Little children in robes reenacted the nativity story
and a huge basilica became an intimate space.
It was a beautiful evening.
When we arrived home Sunday, snow was just beginning to accumulate at Logan Airport in Boston.We were lucky to get an earlier flight than planned, because the storm has left us with about 15 inches of snow!
All's well that ends well. It was a lovely holiday!
I hope that each person who reads this has enjoyed a happy holiday season!
Looking forward to the New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Dear Friends,
I'll be on a blogging break until after Christmas,
but I just wanted to send each and every one of you
sincere wishes for a very happy holiday season.
Whatever you celebrate, may the season bring you peace, joy and love.
See you next week!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Small Miracles

In my dining room, this lovely amaryllis, a gift from my friend  Karen, is blooming beautifully.
Such quiet splendor in the midst of Christmas preparations,
and three more buds just poised to open.

Small miracles are all around -
we have only to notice them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Barbara Malek

I 've been writing lately about some of the very talented women I'm lucky enough to have in my circle of friends. Barbara Malek is one of these ladies and her talents are amazing. First, she is a professional long arm machine quilter who adds intricate, beautifully quilted designs to the quilts of those who prefer to concentrate on creating a quilt top and leaving the quilting, binding and finishing to an expert. Barbara also creates and alters costumes for a local theater company and is an excellent seamstress. But what I love most of what Barbara does is her exquisite hand embroidery and applique. 
The Santa block above is part of a Christmas quilt which she has made. Each block is done in redwork embroidery, and I can't decide which one I like best! 
Here are all the blocks,

and close-ups of my favorites!!

Here's an embroidered pillowcase in progress

and a wonderful handbag Barbara made and embellished.

and back!

And here is a lovely embroidered block that is part of a quilt I showed a while back.

I've barely touched upon the needlework, quilting and creative sewing that Barbara does. I can only say that I'm a bit in awe sometimes when I sit across the table from her, watching her work as we chat and sew. What an inspiration!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Comfort and Joy

Lately, Angus and Rosie have been keeping warm by sleeping together 
in a bed on the sofa. I caught them in this sweet pose, along with this one

and this one!

Bill and I went to his company Christmas party Friday night
and won the centerpiece on our table. Lucky us - so beautiful, with 
white hydrangeas, roses and berries!!

Have a lovely week, everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For Love of Children's Literature

Recently I went to a wonderful exhibit at the Concord Museum in historical Concord, Massachusetts. The exhibit was called Family Trees, a celebration of children's literature. Throughout the museum, trees were decorated to celebrate the spirit of various illustrated children's books. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed in the museum, so I can only tell you how enchanting these trees were.
In the main hall, a large tree was decorated with felt ornaments made by Clare Beaton, the author and illustrator of One Moose, Twenty Mice. The ornaments were delightful, embellished with buttons, beads and sequins, which make the illustrations in the book look temptingly tactile! I couldn't resist buying the book!

Some of my other favorite trees were decorated to celebrate the books The Fabrics of Fairy Tales  (a book I already own), retold by Tanya Robyn Batt and illustrated by Rachel Griffin,  In Grandma's Arms by Jayne C. Shelton, illustrated by Karen Katz, and My Garden, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes.

I think my avid interest in children's books comes from my years as a primary school teacher, as well as the love of books my daughter Kate and I read together when she was a child. To this day, she has sealed plastic boxes of her childhood books stored in our attic, waiting for the day when she settles into a permanent home with a large wall of bookshelves. 

And I have a small collection of my own of kids' books illustrated with fabric or cut paper. I love, love, love to take them out and pour over them! Here are two of them:

I confess that it has long been on my wish list to write a children's book of my own, with fabric art or cut paper illustrations. There are so many ways to self-publish these days it is becoming a feasible dream.

Perhaps in 2011.....!!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Preparing for Christmas

This year, our home decorations will be minimal, partially because we will be away for the holiday, partially because our two little kitty hooligans consider anything sparkly to be toys and theirs for the taking. I've been draping garlands over the doorways and curtain rods, and this weekend I will take out the simple, sweet manger my mother gave me years ago and set it up on the mantle. Perhaps some candles, but no tree this year. (too tempting for kittens!)
More and more, I'm becoming turned off to the commercialism of Christmas and looking forward to quality time with my husband and daughter.  The most important element of the season, to me, is love. Love of family and friends, and appreciation for the blessings that are ours.

Hope your holidays and holiday preparations are going well!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I'd like to introduce my friend, SooKhim Eriksen. We met several years ago in a beginner's  class at our local bead shop and she then came to some meetings of our local fiber arts group. Since then, she has become a good friend whom we all admire.

Each time we girls go out together, SooKhim seems to be wearing a new hand crocheted sweater, shrug or shawl which she has made since our last get-together. She often adds interest by embellishing her creations with beading, and always chooses beautiful yarns.


     (click on images for more detail.)                                              

And, even though we met at a beginner's class, SooKhim has far surpassed me at jewelry making!! She is a master at chain maille, beading, bead crochet and design. Here are two of her creations in silver, and a bead crochet necklace she made for me!
It's a pleasure to know and be inspired by such a talented lady!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Artist Pam Perras

During the month of December, I decided that I would like to write about some of my favorite creative people. I've met many interesting artists online through blogs and websites, but I'm also inspired by people I'm fortunate enough to know in my everyday life.

                                                          "Two Yellow Apples on a Plate"  by Pam Perras                

I'd like you to meet a good friend of mine, artist Pam Perras. Pam is an oil painter who does beautiful landscapes, still lifes and studies of people. I really admire the rich palette Pam uses and the way she captures light in her work. To me, there is a stillness, a beauty and a real sense of a moment in time that shines through in each painting.  Pam has a blog which you can find here, and, if you visit, I guarantee that you will enjoy her work!