It's in the Bag: in*ter*face

Mandala made by Austin artist Virginia Fleck from recycled plastic bags; this design (as well as several others) is also a free ecard you can send!


SDA (Surface Design Conference) is holding its conference here in San Antonio. Find out more here. 

I hope you are planning to come to the conference this June. The lineup of speakers and workshops is fabulous. My pre-workshop study tour to see embellished Fiesta gowns -- and a stop by SDA president Jane Dunewold's new studio -- is already filled! But lots of fun is still to be had.

Meanwhile, start making an upcycled bag to share, trade and make famous. The whole upcycling by artist world is a rich one, and you can join in with this little collective -- and social -- project.

IT'S IN THE BAG! from SDA President Jane Dunnewold 
Interface logo
WHAT IS SNAG-A-BAG? We're all very aware of waste in the studio. So I got the idea to take those bags we all have hanging around & up-cycle them to create
re-purposed conference totes. 

Cynics may say it's just a way to save SDA money. But my vision includes inviting you to exercise your talent while stimulating new contact between SDA members AND making every SDA dollar count - all at once.

HOW? Bring an upcycled carry-all to in*ter*face conference & exchange it for a new one. The conference won't even have started and you'll feel good. Feel even better when you see your bag across a crowded room (Some Enchanted Evening?) & slide on over there to talk it up & introduce yourself as The Artist Who Made the Bag. I can hardly wait to see this happening in San Antonio!

LOCAL BAG ACTION! We're already allover this in Texas. So why not PLAN A UPCYCLING EVENT for your local SDA friends & colleagues? SendSnag-A-Bag Conference Totes an invite. Pool your supplies. Rev up the sewing machines. This could be even bigger than the conference! Spend a morning transforming some bags then bring/send them to San Antonio. Your creativity will boost our collective economy. Bags not snapped up by conference attendees will be sold on SDA website - with proceeds going to support member programs. 


For some truely inspired plastic bag art (way past bags) take a look at the work of Virgina Fleck (photo above from her website). I'm hopeing it will inspire my attempts -- using bags collaged on bags!

From her website:

Since 2002, Virginia Fleck has been working exclusively with recycled plastic bags creating site specific, ecologically conscious art works that have been commissioned for several high profile, green building projects including the US Embassy in Rwanda, Whole Foods World Head Quarters in Austin TX, LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis TN and Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin TX -the first hospital in the world to attain LEED platinum certification. Fleck is a featured artist in the book, recently published by Random House:  Craft Activism: People, Ideas, and Projects from the New Community of Handmade and How You Can Join In.

 Fleck was born in New York City. She began making artwork in childhood and eventually studied at two art schools: Portland School of Art in Portland, Maine and at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.  In 1990 Fleck moved to Austin, Texas where she continues her work as a visual artist.


And for more amazing art made from recycled materials, close to home at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio see Anita Valencia's installation inspired by West Texas, completely from recycled stuff. The show closes on Sunday, so hurry, hurry. (By the way, for any of you complaining about your age out there, Anita is 80.)

This week is the final week you can see Anita Valencia's Sun She Rise, Sun She Set & You Ain't Seen Texas Yet; Justin Boyd's Days & Days; and Juan de Dios Mora's Laters! at the Southwest School of Art.

The final day to see Mora's exhibition at the Ursuline Campus is Friday, Feb. 8. The gallery closes at 5pm. The final day to see Valencia and Boyd's exhibitions at the Navarro Campus is Sunday, Feb. 10. The galleries close at 4pm


PS If you are not going to the conference, you can also recycle unwanted conference bags here:!individual

PPS: VIrginia Fleck has an opening in South Austin tonight:

The Power of Imagination

If you have ever doubted the power of imagination, take a look at this video about artist

Janet Echelman

Here are the lessons I took from this video:

Perseverence: Turned down by seven art schools, she kept on her path

Observe: Pay attention to the people, skills and resources at hand.

Just say yes: Did not knowing how to do something ever stop this woman?

and most of all

IMAGINE. Possibilities, solutions, collaborations, successes, the future.


AND, guess what, Janet Echelman is coming to San Antonio as the keynote speaker for the Surface Design Conference. You can attend by joining SDA and paying the conference fee, or wait and see if there are space-available tickets open closer to the date. There will be numerous fiber arts exhbits, events, workshops and all kinds of textile and fiber adventure going on at the conference. Dates, June 3-14, including pre and post workshops. 



For more about Echelman, see these other videos and links:

  1. Janet Echelman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. Janet Echelman is an American artist specializing in public art installations and sculpture. She graduated from Harvard University in 1987 with Highest Honors in ...
  3. "She Changes" Sculpture by Janet Echelman - YouTube
    Oct 16, 2006 - 6 min - Uploaded by jechelman
    This newly completed sculpture commission by Janet Echelman, changes shape in the wind. 160 feet tall, the ...
  4. "Her Secret is Patience" by Artist Janet Echelman - YouTube
    Oct 14, 2009 - 7 min - Uploaded by jechelman
    "Her Secret is Patience" is a new monumental sculpture, completed in April 2009, by artist Janet Echelman ..


Tattly from Made by Hand on Vimeo.


Ah, art is in the air. On the arm.  Art is everywhere.

I'm working on some street art/graffiti art ideas for activities for (of all things) and Air Force Summer Art Camp for teens next summer. In my strollings through the ether, I came across Tattly. I want these. They will be a line item in next month's budget for sure. If I regret anything about my age (and pain tolerance) its that I will never get a real tattoo. 

These temporary ones are even better than the real thing -- all I'm waiting for is a way to do this with my OWN designs!

P.S. Dear friends, I do this blog mostly for me -- recording in semi-public form the life in the studio (and the things that inspire that life). And you'll find odd, non-quilty and on-the-fringe sorta artful, artsy posts here too, like this one. But I am wondering, could you recommend me to your friends on FB or with a Tweet or just in a select email to someone you know likes to read art blogs? I have had the same 100 subscribers more or less for three years, and, although marketing my classes and my art is not the main purpose of the blog, it is one reason I use to justify the time spent.

I'd love to increase my readership, so if you can help and pass along the url (

You and your friends can subscribe through FeedBurner or with your own RSS link by using the buttons and fill-in spaces on the sidebar.

Then leave your name in the comments block (with a way to get back to you electronically), I'll enter your name in a drawing for a package of genuinely delightly hand-designed and printed fabric scrapplets for your own creative use in collages, quilts and mixed media -- and I'll throw in a temporary tattoo, too. (Drawing will be on Jan. 31.)

Artist in Residence: Jack Brockett

Jack Brockett, artist and storyteller extrodinaire visited El Cielo Studio for a couple of days while his wife Anne was in San Antonio to plan the 2013 Surface Design Association conference. (OK, get those dues paid San Antonians!) (And check out the new SDA website that Anne has worked on this past 6 months as interim director -- she's on for another year, too, so expect great energy and member-friendly services from SDA.)

Jack, as many of us know, is a one-of-a-kind vortex of energy, ideas and an eye for excellence --and it was a delight to have him visit (thanks to Mary Ruth Smith who suggested it). Jack just finished with a workshop at Round Top, his first teaching gig of 5 years after a health crisis. The fiber show at Copper Shade Tree features some of his work, and that of other fiber artists  in the annual juried exhibit.

Jack shared the work that he had with him for examples at the workshop -- spectacular pojagi seamed jackets, art quilts emboridered with dragon flies, and a new series started with red ants. I got a private pojagi seam lesson, the steps of which I hope I remember -- I'm headed out to try it a -- I need the required machine foot #10 for the 1/8" tiny seams -- but for now, I'll do a wider version and see how it looks.

 Jack's stories regailed us at table; we feasted. If you have an Texas storyteller in your clan, you'll know what that means -- howlingly good tales filled with cows, Neiman Marcus hats, old bats and hoop skirts. Jack sewed seams for a new piece, and toured the neighbor's house; Pat Schulz and Sue Cooke came out yesterday morning for an art date with destiny. I've been cleaning the the studio and finding things I didn't know I had. It's been lovely and inspiring. We all need artists-in-residence, tribal gatherings, support for our visions and food for the soul. Thanks, Jack, for all that and more!