Sunday, October 31, 2010


I love love LOVE Halloween!  Always have, always will!
Here are a few vintage photos of my kids, randomly pulled from my digital files:
Halloween 1985:  my 2nd daughter (2nd from left) and my oldest, right, share a bee costume
My youngest, age 6 months
My youngest daughter (center) and friends, Halloween school parade, 1998

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why I love Topstitch needles from Superior Threads.....

After receiving (and reading) the monthly newsletter from Superior Threads, I decided to post Bob's tutorial on Topstitch needles.  If you haven't used Superior's titanium-coated needles I encourage you to try them.  These needles last soooooo much longer than any other brand.  I use MonoPoly thread almost exclusively in my bobbin, so a longer lasting needle is a welcome thing.  The following information is printed with permission:

We learn a lot from associating with professional quilters, piecers, teachers, embroiderers, craft and clothing construction specialists, and thread artists.  From our conversations, it seems like the majority of the professionals and teachers use the same needle style for nearly all their work.  It is not the universal, quilting, embroidery, sharp (microtex), jeans, or metallic needle.  It is the Topstitch needle.  The Topstitch needle is like a hybrid needle, taking the best features from many other needle styles and combining them into one.  Here is why the Topstitch needle is called the magic needle:
1.  Double size eye.  The eye of the Topstitch needle is nearly twice as long as other needle eyes.  This allows the thread to pass through the eye without being stressed.  Think of trying to lace up a shoelace through a too small eyelet compared to lacing the shoelace through a larger eyelet.  Which way works better?
2.  The groove which runs up the shaft of 
all needles is wider and deeper in the Topstitch style than in other needle types. This allows the thread to lie in the groove and the thread is protected, avoiding excess friction which causes fraying.

You really do not need ten different needle styles.  The Topstitch needle is the ideal needle for most sewing projects.  What size is best?  The common sense way of determining the appropriate needle size is to select it based on the thread diameter.
Very fine threads such as #100 silk, Bottom Line, MonoPoly . . . . . . . Topstitch #70/10 (NEW product).
Fine threads such as #50 MasterPiece or #50 So Fine . . . . . . . . . . . .   Topstitch #80/12.
Medium weight threads such as #40 King Tut and Rainbows . . . . . . .  Topstitch #90/14.
Heavier threads such as Poly Quilter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Topstitch #100/16.
This information is printed in our  Thread Selection Guide for Home Machines.
A look into Mother Superior's sewing supplies would reveal only Topstitch needles in all four sizes. 
Most needle manufacturers make the Topstitch style.  Our Superior Topstitch needles are 
made exclusively for Superior Threads by the largest industrial needle company in the world , Organ Needle Company, and these are the only titanium-coated Topstitch style needles in the world.  They last five to eight times longer than regular needles.  All this for just 20 cents more per needle.

Another helpful link is the thread index for the home machine.

used with permission from Bob Purcell.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barnacle Bike, revisited

I believe I posted a picture or two of "Barnacle Bike", a bicycle that was pulled out of a canal in Delft, Netherlands, and left on the sidewalk as sculpture for passersby.  I photographed it last fall during a visit.
I started thinking about it after beach-combing last weekend, for some reason, and decided to pull the images and post them.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Island Inspiration

I drove to Port Aransas on South Padre Island last Saturday to spend the night with two friends.  I hadn't been to the coast in years.  I don't know why:  we live within 3 hours of the ocean and it is an easy, fun drive down there.  We walked the beach, played with their two dogs, and sat on the balcony and watched boats and porpoise playing in the water.
While drinking coffee on Sunday morning I saw a porpoise breach at least 8 times in a row! I was thrilled, as I have never seen that in the wild (only at Sea World).  I guess the porpoise (what is the plural?) were feeling frisky.
Here are some images for visual inspiration:

this is the gps in my mini-Cooper driving across the causeway.
No land in sight!

Halloween/Day of the Dead

There's something about Halloween.  I've always loved it.  It is a chance for kids to pretend to be something/someone else for a day.  I remember how excited I was each year to decide what I wanted to be, and saw the same thing with my kids.  I love skeletons and the colorful decor I find here in San Antonio, so it just keeps getting better!  Here are a few images around my house:

Eye of the Quilter

The second annual "Eye of the Quilter" exhibition will open next week at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.  I was fortunate to have one photo in the first year, and feel equally excited to have two images in this exhibit.
One of my fascinations is to know about the things that inspire artists.  What do we look at?  What shapes speak to us?  This exhibition is a keyhole into that topic.
I can't wait to spend time in this special exhibition!
Here are my accepted images:
"Mossy Gestures"
I snapped this image of my youngest daughter while we were 
hiking through a forest north of Vancouver, BC.
She is known for her physical comedy; a great imitator of facial expressions!

"Urban Comfort"
This is an image of my oldest daughter, taken on our patio.
She is roasting marshmellows in our fire bowl.
I love the sharp relief the firelight casts on her profile.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wedding Banners

My oldest daughter visited last week.  She was on her way to attend the wedding of friends and fellow-classmates from the Rhode Island School of Design.  She graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Textiles.  She was commissioned to do the decor for the wedding, and spent part of her time finishing two huge (16 feet wide by 24 feet long) pieced banners.  The venue was in an outdoor amphitheater and the banners were to be suspended from two large columns.  I'm anxiously awaiting photos of the event, but here are a few images of the process of construction.  Once she sends me photos from the wedding I'll add them to this post.
laying out the banners for cutting (one on top of the other)

pieced banners were cut in arcs, sections switched from one to the other

banner transport system (to and from the sewing machine)

finished banners, end-to-end in the garden

The humans, and Bizzi the Schnauzer (who "helped")

the dog has the tough job of supervising the humans

Folding the banners (Bizzi says, "My job is done.  I'm outta here!")

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Images from the Fiber Artists of San Antonio juried exhibition opening

I was thrilled to have two mixed-media pieces juried into the annual exhibition by juror Maggie Weiss, from Chicago.  A special thrill for me was that one of the pieces is a length of art cloth using laminated shredded paper.  The best thing of all was that I had my husband Tim, my oldest daughter and one of my dearest friends from Kansas, Billie, attend the opening!  This was a rare moment, indeed.
The exhibition is hanging until the first week of November at Gallery Nord in San Antonio.  If you are in the vicinity of San Antonio I encourage you to check out this wonderful exhibition.  I'm honored to be a part of it!
Father and daughter

My small mixed-medial "mail art" piece, "Love Me Tender"

My oldest daughter and I pose in front of "Heartland:  A Scattered Landscape"
I was thrilled that the piece, which is two-sided, was hanging freely in the center of the gallery.
Dimensions of the piece are 24 inches by 80 inches.
The piece is hung from a hollow-core acrylic rod, which allowed monofilament to be fed through it.
A view from the upper level of the gallery.
My friend and daughter are standing just left of my hanging installation
Left to Right:  exhibition chairs Linda Rael & Lisa Kerpoe, juror Maggie Weiss
(Please click the links to visit each of their websites)

The upper level of the gallery

My daughter poses in front of "Heartland"

Gallery Nord is one of the most beautiful galleries in the city of San Antonio, and a PERFECT venue for fiber art.  The vaulted ceiling adds the perfect note of drama to undulating cloth, garments, and the lush colors and textures of all that is fiber art.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Gift To Myself: A Book about John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent is one of my favorite painters.  He captures an ethereal, elusive element in his subjects that is endlessly fascinating to me.  This book jumped into my amazon "cart" this morning.  I can't wait to hold it in my hands!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Birthday Fundraising Event

Each year in honor of her birthday, Virginia Spiegel has a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society.  One hundred percent of the monies raised will go to ACS.
Dinner at Eight Artists have donated an exhibition catalog of "Beneath The Surface".  This small, but mighty, book features a full page photo of each quilt in the special exhibit, along with a set of questions and answers for each participating artist.  Be sure to check out her website today and tomorrow!
The auction is open today and tomorrow.  
Auction closes at 3:00 pm CST

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Orange You Inspired?

You may have noticed:  I like orange.  A lot.  Luckily, I'm not alone:
Cluster of saffron-colored umbrellas on the patio of a restaurant 
in Kansas City

San Jose bike

Planter on a San Jose sidewalk

Friday, October 1, 2010

New acquisition from Laurie Brainerd

Laurie Brainerd is an artist friend, former gallery partner, and someone whose work I greatly admire.
Her work has a clean, rich aesthetic that I enjoy gazing at.  She recently discussed her work at a monthly meeting of the Fiber Artists of San Antonio, and I fell in love with this piece as soon as I saw it!
Please enjoy.  I apologize for the less-than-perfect image, but this is where it resides in my home, in the kitchen breakfast area:
This piece is comprised of two separate parts, closely installed

Images from San Jose

Guerilla knitting

The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Public art project:  embellished pianos grace a number of public places 
throughout the city.

Exotic silks (in San Altos)

stacked chairs