Monday, May 16, 2016

Registration Is Now Open For Craft Napa 2017!

CRAFT NAPA 2017 Registration goes live today at 1:00 PM Pacific! 

 January 12-15, 2017
Registration for our second edition of CRAFT NAPA 2017 goes live today at 1:00 PM PDT! Join other artists and crafters for an art retreat like no other in world-famous Napa Valley featuring stitching, art quilting, improvisational piecing, mixed media, collage, journaling, paper arts, and more. Plus, don't miss out on the "Blend Your Own Vintage" competition or the “Sip ‘N Sew Wine Train” adventure! Swag bags, good food, wine, and the opportunity for community crafting and relaxing among friends abound.

What you’ll find at this year’s edition:

• 33 workshops ranging from quilting and improvisational piecing to batik and mixed media.
• Newly offered evening workshops (on Thursday night)
• Welcome Reception with lots of swag
• A Panel Luncheon: The Artists’ View
• Expanded Artist Market where you’ll find unique art supplies and treats
• Blend Your Own Vintage competition
• “Sip ‘n Sew” Wine Train excursion through Napa Valley

Book your hotel before the rooms sell out!

Our discounted hotel block is at 60% capacity before registration has opened! Book your rooms ASAP so you secure the discount! Once it is full, it is full.

CRAFT NAPA will once again be held at The Embassy Suites/Napa, January 11 – 15, 2017, with on-site workshops taking place January 12-14, 2017.

Room Rate

The discounted room rate is as follows for each of the four nights:
Single: $159
Double: $179
Triple: $199
Quad: $209

Contact Information

We have secured a limited number of rooms for a group discounted rate. The three letter group/convention code for Craft Napa is CAL. Please mention this code or your group name “Crafting a Life/Craft Napa” when making your reservations, in order to receive your group discount!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Studio update, a workshop results, and what's on the design wall....

It has been a while since I posted any photos of the studio.  Believe it or not I am still slowly moving in.  I've been waiting for my stainless steel work table in the wet studio area and also my window shades for the main area.  I have to have light control before I am willing to move my books into their new shelving as they will be in an area where the afternoon sun can hit them.
See the difference the shades make?!
I chose 5% transparency for the windows facing west, and 10% for the north windows
(behind the sofa).  Can you see the difference in opacity between the left and right ones behind
the sofa?  Oops.  The manufacturer sent the wrong one on the left.  That will be replaced.

Did I ever show you the tile collage inside the remodeled 
shower-rinse space?  I can't remember.  I loved all these tiles so much that 
the architect figured out a collage for them.  The hexagons cover the floor.
We opted for a dog-washing sprayer in here.  No door so it is "splashy" as an 
actual shower but I doubt it will be used for that very often.  I envision that I will rinse 
larger rolls of dyed fabric or even put a short clothesline in here occasionally.

Remember the concrete slab I opted to have poured on the side of my studio wall?
Now the pathway has been put in with flagstone and river rock.
A simple garden is now in place.  I may add to this
at some point.  There is dappled sunlight here because of all our trees so 
I wanted simple plantings that won't require a lot of fuss or water.
I moved a few of my ceramic pots over to this area and planted them with coleus
and potato vine.  The area toward the upper left of this shot has a mass-planting of
ajuga, a ground cover that has a nice purple blossom in the spring.
I have plans to put a couple of raised work tables on the slab
because  I have easy access to this from the wet room.
Other changes:  I removed the overgrown knockout roses from the 
bed located directly out from the back of the living room and the west 
studio windows and replaced it with another Lucca olive tree
underplanted with purple lantana.  This will be able to take the brutal summer sun
and is xeric and a butterfly attractant.  
This strip is under my west studio windows and is like an inferno in the summer, between
the afternoon sun and all the glare from the stucco walls and radiant heat!
Therefore, I went with a very xeric mix of foxtail fern, Texas red yuccas, succulents, and a
fan palm (which has suddenly come to life after the brutality of all the construction last summer).
All these are surrounded by more river rock.  It looks great and it is simple.

I've been teaching a lot this first quarter of 2016 and my students continually amaze and inspire me!
The following are some shots from my recent class for Quilting Adventures.  This year the 
event was held in San Marcos but my understanding is that it will move back to its usual location 
at T-BarM in New Braunfels next year.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the luxury of a 5-day
workshop.  It was my first-ever as a teacher and it was such fun!
I stepped in for the late Yvonne Porcella, at her request, when it became apparent that her cancer was going to prevent her from traveling.  I was honored to teach in her stead.  My challenge was how to conduct the workshop in the spirit of her work and yet offer my own aesthetic to the mix.  I hope I was able to succeed.  I know I certainly enjoyed the process.

My messy work/demo area and the paint station

A student stitches her collage (made with fabrics printed in the workshop) in place!

Sara's collage, ready to stitch

Jackie printed some incredible pieces!

Brenda's beautiful painted quilt, deconstructed and re-pieced!

Debi's design wall.

Brenda's design wall

Jackie's design wall

Dee's design wall

The first of Sara's two walls...

Wall #2

We made accordion books with a variety of the things we printed
during the workshop.
Here are mine:  one partially unfolded and the other folded and tied with more ribbon.

Back on my own studio wall:  an ongoing project involving the "Tessellation" pattern
by Alison Glass and Nydia Kehnle.  This is a paper-pieced project.  My goals in working with this:
defamiliarize myself with paper-piecing, and view it as a value-study.

I went from this...

Here is what it looks like as a tonal image....

to this....

and finally, this.
Now, to stitch it all together!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Announcing the Speakers for Quilters Take Manhattan 2016!

Joyce2016 QTM speakers announced
Ticket sales open to members March 14 
The 6th annual Quilters Take Manhattan will take place September 23-25, 2016 and we are so pleased to announce our speakers:

Our QTM Add-On offerings on Friday and Sunday include more museum tours, fun garment district tours, and a scavenger hunt!! and more. To ensure that we have everything ready to go when we begin ticket sales, we are changing the launch date for Quilt Alliance members to Monday, March 14, and nonmember registration will start on Monday, March 21.

All members will receive an email on Monday, March 14 by 6pm EDT with a link to the QTM 2016 information and registration page. QA members not only get the chance to purchase their QTM tickets first, but also receive a significant discount!

Be sure your membership is up to date by emailing or calling Debby Josephs at or 828-251-7073.

You can start or renew your membership online here:

Kaffe Fassett
Brandon Mably

Dr. Carolyn L. Mazloomi
Mark Lipinski
Marie Bostwick

Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy Creative New Year!

How is everyone doing?  After a VERY busy January with loads of travel and teaching, I'm finally in the process of moving into my finished (double YAY) studio space.  I'm allowing myself the luxury of taking my time to do this.  Interestingly, I find it tough to figure out how to transition back in here and get to work because the space is so radically different!
I moved my sewing table, work table, couch and a couple rolling shelves first.

Below are some stills with my artist friends who come annually to an independent study with Jane Dunnewold at Art Cloth Studios.
I purchased this beauty from Jane LaFazio and it
summarizes perfectly how I feel.

Here we stand in the main design area.

This is the wet studio.  Note the new door to the outside!
I have a wonderful and huge new stainless sink, a stackable washer dryer 
that used to belong to my mother.  
Eventually I will have a 48" square stainless table in the center of this room

After everyone toasted the new studio we cooked dinner outside
in the wood oven.  Such fun!

Here is a night-shot of my husband walking through the studio.
He brought his spectrometer to look at the light in here.
Verdict:  not too bad!

I'll be posting more frequently (I promise!) as I get up and running in here.  Suffice it to say that I think this "new" space is going to change my work flow for the positive and I think it will be very interesting to see what the impact of the space has on my work.  Stay tuned!

In the spirit of this post I thought I would share a recent Huffington Post that is applicable to all artists.  

18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently

 03/04/2014 07:48 am ET | Updated Mar 26, 2014

Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process. 
Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don't have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works. 
And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they're complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it's not just a stereotype of the "tortured artist" -- artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.
"It's actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self," Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity, told The Huffington Post. "The things that stand out the most are the paradoxes of the creative self ... Imaginative people have messier minds." 
While there's no "typical" creative type, there are some tell-tale characteristics and behaviors of highly creative people. Here are 18 things they do differently. 
They daydream.
Creative types know, despite what their third-grade teachers may have said, that daydreaming is anything but a waste of time. 
According to Kaufman and psychologist Rebecca L. McMillan, who co-authored a paper titled "Ode To Positive Constructive Daydreaming," mind-wandering can aid in the process of "creative incubation." And of course, many of us know from experience that our best ideas come seemingly out of the blue when our minds are elsewhere. 
Although daydreaming may seem mindless, a 2012 study suggested it could actually involve a highly engaged brain state -- daydreaming can lead to sudden connections and insights because it's related to our ability to recall information in the face of distractions. Neuroscientists have also found that daydreaming involves the same brain processes associated with imagination and creativity. 
They observe everything. 
The world is a creative person's oyster -- they see possibilities everywhere and are constantly taking in information that becomes fodder for creative expression. As Henry James is widely quoted, a writer is someone on whom "nothing is lost."
The writer Joan Didion kept a notebook with her at all times, and said that she wrote down observations about people and events as, ultimately, a way to better understand the complexities and contradictions of her own mind: 
"However dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable 'I,'" Didion wrote in her essay On Keeping A Notebook. "We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind’s string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with meaning only for its marker." 
They work the hours that work for them.
Many great artists have said that they do their best work either very early in the morning or late at night. Vladimir Nabokov started writing immediately after he woke up at 6 or 7 a.m., and Frank Lloyd Wright made a practice of waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. and working for several hours before heading back to bed. No matter when it is, individuals with high creative output will often figure out what time it is that their minds start firing up, and structure their days accordingly. 
They take time for solitude. 
"In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone," wrote the American existential psychologist Rollo May
Artists and creatives are often stereotyped as being loners, and while this may not actually be the case, solitude can be the key to producing their best work. For Kaufman, this links back to daydreaming -- we need to give ourselves the time alone to simply allow our minds to wander.
"You need to get in touch with that inner monologue to be able to express it," he says. "It's hard to find that inner creative voice if you're ... not getting in touch with yourself and reflecting on yourself." 
They turn life's obstacles around. 
Many of the most iconic stories and songs of all time have been inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak -- and the silver lining of these challenges is that they may have been the catalyst to create great art. An emerging field of psychology called post-traumatic growth is suggesting that many people are able to use their hardships and early-life trauma for substantial creative growth. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people to grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, spirituality, appreciation of life, personal strength, and -- most importantly for creativity -- seeing new possibilities in life. 
"A lot of people are able to use that as the fuel they need to come up with a different perspective on reality," says Kaufman. "What's happened is that their view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered at some point in their life, causing them to go on the periphery and see things in a new, fresh light, and that's very conducive to creativity." 
They seek out new experiences. 
Creative people love to expose themselves to new experiences, sensations and states of mind -- and this openness is a significant predictor of creative output. 
"Openness to experience is consistently the strongest predictor of creative achievement," says Kaufman. "This consists of lots of different facets, but they're all related to each other: Intellectual curiosity, thrill seeking, openness to your emotions, openness to fantasy. The thing that brings them all together is a drive for cognitive and behavioral exploration of the world, your inner world and your outer world." 
They "fail up." 
Resilience is practically a prerequisite for creative success, says Kaufman. Doing creative work is often described as a process of failing repeatedly until you find something that sticks, and creatives -- at least the successful ones -- learn not to take failure so personally. 
"Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often," Forbes contributor Steven Kotler wrote in a piece on Einstein's creative genius.
They ask the big questions. 
Creative people are insatiably curious -- they generally opt to live the examined life, and even as they get older, maintain a sense of curiosity about life. Whether through intense conversation or solitary mind-wandering, creatives look at the world around them and want to know why, and how, it is the way it is.
They people-watch.
Observant by nature and curious about the lives of others, creative types often love to people-watch -- and they may generate some of their best ideas from it. 
"[Marcel] Proust spent almost his whole life people-watching, and he wrote down his observations, and it eventually came out in his books," says Kaufman. "For a lot of writers, people-watching is very important ... They're keen observers of human nature."
They take risks. 
Part of doing creative work is taking risks, and many creative types thrive off of taking risks in various aspects of their lives. 
"There is a deep and meaningful connection between risk taking and creativity and it's one that's often overlooked," contributor Steven Kotler wrote in Forbes. "Creativity is the act of making something from nothing. It requires making public those bets first placed by imagination. This is not a job for the timid. Time wasted, reputation tarnished, money not well spent -- these are all by-products of creativity gone awry."
They view all of life as an opportunity for self-expression. 
Nietzsche believed that one's life and the world should be viewed as a work of art. Creative types may be more likely to see the world this way, and to constantly seek opportunities for self-expression in everyday life.
"Creative expression is self-expression," says Kaufman. "Creativity is nothing more than an individual expression of your needs, desires and uniqueness." 
They follow their true passions. 
Creative people tend to be intrinsically motivated -- meaning that they're motivated to act from some internal desire, rather than a desire for external reward or recognition. Psychologists have shown that creative people are energized by challenging activities, a sign of intrinsic motivation, and the research suggests that simply thinking of intrinsic reasons to perform an activity may be enough to boost creativity. 
"Eminent creators choose and become passionately involved in challenging, risky problems that provide a powerful sense of power from the ability to use their talents," write M.A. Collins and T.M. Amabile in The Handbook of Creativity
They get out of their own heads. 
Kaufman argues that another purpose of daydreaming is to help us to get out of our own limited perspective and explore other ways of thinking, which can be an important asset to creative work. 
"Daydreaming has evolved to allow us to let go of the present," says Kaufman. "The same brain network associated with daydreaming is the brain network associated with theory of mind -- I like calling it the 'imagination brain network' -- it allows you to imagine your future self, but it also allows you to imagine what someone else is thinking." 
Research has also suggested that inducing "psychological distance" -- that is, taking another person's perspective or thinking about a question as if it was unreal or unfamiliar -- can boost creative thinking. 
They lose track of the time.
Creative types may find that when they're writing, dancing, painting or expressing themselves in another way, they get "in the zone," or what's known as a flow state, which can help them to create at their highest level. Flow is a mental state when an individual transcends conscious thought to reach a heightened state of effortless concentration and calmness. When someone is in this state, they're practically immune to any internal or external pressures and distractions that could hinder their performance. 
You get into the flow state when you're performing an activity you enjoy that you're good at, but that also challenges you -- as any good creative project does. 
"[Creative people] have found the thing they love, but they've also built up the skill in it to be able to get into the flow state," says Kaufman. "The flow state requires a match between your skill set and the task or activity you're engaging in." 
They surround themselves with beauty.
Creatives tend to have excellent taste, and as a result, they enjoy being surrounded by beauty. 
study recently published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts showed that musicians -- including orchestra musicians, music teachers, and soloists -- exhibit a high sensitivity and responsiveness to artistic beauty. 
They connect the dots. 
If there's one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it's the ability to see possibilities where others don't -- or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect. 
In the words of Steve Jobs
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things."
They constantly shake things up. 
Diversity of experience, more than anything else, is critical to creativity, says Kaufman. Creatives like to shake things up, experience new things, and avoid anything that makes life more monotonous or mundane. 
"Creative people have more diversity of experiences, and habit is the killer of diversity of experience," says Kaufman.
They make time for mindfulness. 
Creative types understand the value of a clear and focused mind -- because their work depends on it. Many artists, entrepreneurs, writers and other creative workers, such as David Lynch, have turned to meditation as a tool for tapping into their most creative state of mind. 
And science backs up the idea that mindfulness really can boost your brain power in a number of ways. A 2012 Dutch study suggested that certain meditation techniques can promote creative thinking. And mindfulness practices have been linked with improved memory and focusbetter emotional well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity -- all of which can lead to better creative thought.