A Fine Time, with Mary Ruth Smith

The Texas Federation of Fiber Artists happened this end-of-February in Kerrville. I had a great time at the events in Kerrville that I attended. (And a wonderful time during the open studio at El Cielo on Friday, with special guest artists Robin Early, Sarah Burke and Mary Lance.)

Tops on the list: Mary Ruth Smith's stitching class. Just to hear her stories and her approach to her meticulous and amazing work was worth the price of admission to the entire conference. (Mary Ruth says take photos, but not of her face...)

Let the photos inspire:


 The piece above is layers of French knots -- Mary Ruth says it takes aabout 2 hours to stitch one square inch, about 200 hours in each of the pieces in this series (and she is FAST).

Mary Ruth says that she works with stitch in three ways: to construct fabric (as with the French knot piece above), to embellish and to draw. Some pieces use one approach, others several. She most often uses only one kind of stitch in a piece -- ie, thousands of seed stitches, thousands of cross stitches or thousands of those knots. Looking at her work, I noticed that quite a few also had maybe two different stitches -- one constructing the surface and one embellishing it.

I've been stitching (by hand) ever since the weekend, and have these observations:

Hand stitiching for me is quite meditative. I think I can give up yoga (no, not really... the shoulders say otherwise).

It takes a LONG TIME. Hand Stitch is the "slow craft" that calls to me. I get antsy with some tedious chores, but not hand-stitching.

I can travel with hand stitch projects -- even walking the Camino this summer, I should be able to carry along something!

I like black thread and the black lines that stitching with it makes. A lot. 

The overlay idea (putting a very sheer black fabric over ones first layer of stitch) is a novel and interesting way to play with value and to tie together bits of small appliqued fabrics -- it serves to hold down all the little threads and edges without fusing or satin stitching the entire edge. Mary Ruth used to buy her sheer Japanese made chiffon scarves at WalMart, but they no longer seem to carry them. She finds them now at (http://www.meinketoy.com/) Meinke Toy. HOWEVER, I think I found a substitute yesterday at the local wholesale florist -- in San Antonio at Travis Wholesale Florist. It's a very sheer, very transparent length of fabric sold as a decor sheer. $6 for a whole lot of cloth. I'm sending a piece to Mary Ruth immediately!

Another great source she shared for yarns, sari strips and paper yarn, perfect for couching: Darn Good Yarn.

She also likes to color her fabric before stitching sometimes with scraps of disperse dye painted papers. These dyes, for polyester and other synthetic fabrics only, are similar to the Crayola fabric iron on dye crayons. She now uses a product from ProChem called Prosperse Dyes. Here's a helpful YouTube with textile artist Mary Gamester that illustrates several ways to use this kind of product. And a helpful one-page sample from a book by Carolyn Dahl.

The picture directly below on the left shows at the bottom of the picture an interesting and simple way to mount these stitched and stretched art works. Mary Ruth stretches her muslin or other fabric around standard sized stretcher boards. When the work is finished, she may remove it and wrap it around another display board, then she nails a smaller by one inch covered stretcher bars onto the back of the piece with the art stretched around it. This gets the hanging hardware, (ie a 13" by 13" art piece is backed with a 12" by 12" stretcher boards stretched with plain muslin).

The Workshop of the Mind

How does your mind work? And what might it look like? Answering these two questions can give any (creative) person (and we are all creative) interesting insight into his or her process of invention, collection and creation.

 Led by my colleague, Dr. Cynthia Herbert, we traveled the road of looking at one's mind at a recent workshop at Ballet Austin. Attending were about 18 arts educators from diverse arts organizations (and/or interests) who took our New World Kids training. This exercise takes adult through a very personal image/collage/sculpture making process based on what currently is known about how the mind perceives, uses and stores information -- and how each of us differently uses that information to create new "products." Products can be as complex as full-blown works or art, as business plans, as research designs -- or as simple as a room arrangement, a lesson plan, a travel plan, a meal.

I'll be leading the same activity in my play and imagination workshop later this summer at El Cielo Studio, and also a parents' version at my weeklong course on creativity for your kids at the Southwest School in August. (There is also a Southwest School of Art weekend course there for teachers on teaching fiber arts, but we will start with this mind=picture activity.) 


July 29-31

Making time to play with odd-ball materials; learning to focus upon artful tasks at hand -- sounds like opposite sides of the coin? At this exploratory and full-of-play weekend, we’ll explore the relationship between the time, play, art and focus. Where does time management intersect with open-hearted fun? Expect bubbles, playdough, sparklers, jello, yoga and seeing the world from new angles and attitudes. Fee $165, including most supplies and meals. (For details, email me through the contact form on the sidebar).


special parent class
on raising creative kids
Susie Monday
Mon – Fri, Aug 1 – 5 | 9:00am – 12:00pm 
Tuition: $140 (Members: $125) | 5 sessions
Discover more about your child’s learning. Explore their world of creativity, and find ways to stimulate and enhance it. With artist-educator Susie Monday, co-author of New World Kids: The Parent’s Guide to Creative Thinking as your guide, find out how to support, direct, and defend your child’s creative thinking at home and in their school setting. Hands-on activities, handouts, problem-solving, and an interdisciplinary approach characterize this invaluable class for the parents of creative kids.

sAug 1 – 5 | 9:00am – 12:00pm Tuition: $140 (Members: $125) | 5 sessions


But here's one little taste that might provide insight (this is actually the final part of the 2 hour experience).

Think of a metaphor or analogy for your mind at work on a creative project, big or small. For example -" my mind is like a bee hive with bees and different tasks buzzing and communicating," or My mind is an assembly line where sensory input goes in at one end, gets organized and reshaped and comes out the other," or "My mind is story telling stage with lots of storytellers taking turns."

Now create a model or drawing of that analogy or idea! This is even more fun in a group, because you will be amazed at the diversity of ideas and of their expresssion.


Memorial for 72 Killed on the Border

Before I left this week for El Salvador, I participated in a memorial/action to honor the 72 workers from Central and South America who were killed by Mexican narcocartel thugs when they refused to join the cartel as drug mules and enforcers. The demonstration was at Northwest Vista College and was designed to educate the college students, staff and faculty about the impact of U.S. actions on the lives of others 

Here is a link to an online story in this week's Vista Voice, the college e-newspaper.

72 Dead; Migrant Memorial Takes Place at NVC

The Vista Voice

An observer, Susie Monday, said the memorial also sheds some light on those victims who have died as a result of the demand for drugs in the US "The primary ...

And on to the City

I arrived in Houston last night to present two lectures and a one-day workshop for the Houston Fiber Artists, HAFA. Great reception and hospitality so far, and I'm off to the second lecture in a few minutes. The Friday workshop has given me the opportunity to jump back into my planning for my online course test -- yes, it really is coming. On Friday I'll do the "live" version of Words on the Surface, and next week I'll launch the on-line version. So if you missed the Houston workshop, stay tuned for sign-up info about the course coming soon. My test pilot group will receive first dibs on enrollment, since I'll keep it at 15 max for this first venture online.

If you haven't added yourself to my test pilot group, please send me a note through the sidebar email form or just directly. I'll put you in the notification group. Words on the Surface will include creativity exercises and writing, collage, mixed media printing, stamp-making and fabric stamping, sun printing,  ink jet printing and maybe a couple of other techniques -- in a 6 lesson format with one lesson a week. I hope to include video and slide shows, and a lot of links to online resources and examples.

P.S. The completion of the Youth Ambassadors program at Selah and then at Say Si was a great success. The kids are now at Tapatio Springs, for their final wrapup with Georgetown University staff and their mentors, in liu of traveling back to Washingon, DC. An impossible journey given the snow!

J. David Bamberger speaks to the Youth Ambassadors group about his amazing journey to restore habitat in the Texas Hill Country, entreating them to do the same in their own countries -- both for the land's sake and for the economic potential in such activity.


Open Studios Online

Ran across this online invitation today, and I thought it would be fun to participate.You might want to, too.

Be Part of Our Online Open Studios Event

The theme of the Fall 2009 issue of Studios is Open Studios, so we're kicking it off with a virtual tour, and you're invited to participate. Here’s how:

Step 1.  Take pictures and/or video of your studio. Maybe your studio is a large, dedicated space or maybe it’s just a corner of the dining room. It doesn’t matter—we want to see it! And don’t worry that it isn’t perfect. Art is not about perfection. You can clean it up, leave it in its natural state—it’s up to you.

Step 2. Announce the tour on your blog/website and include the cover image of the Fall 09 Studios, linked to our website.

Once you’ve posted image and link, leave a link to your blog/website in the comments section of the In the Studio with Cate editor’s blog anytime before October 2.

Step 3. On October 3, post the images/video of your studio on your blog or website with a little commentary describing your creative spac and what makes it special to you. Leave the post up through October 4, or as long as you like.

The first 25 people to join the tour (i.e. leave a link to their tour announcement on Cate’s blog) will win a door prize from the Studios storage closet (books, fabric, craft bags, art supplies, and more). Everyone who participates will have the opportunity to share their unique workspace and get ideas and feedback from others.

So, join the fun! Any questions? Contact Studios Editor Cate Prato at cprato@interweave.com.

And it will get me to clean up my studio, at least a little, before I take off on the first of three event journeys to Houston.

Here's what's on the agenda:

Federation of Texas Fiber Artists Meeting -- Houston's HAFA hosts this year's events, held every two years among the four member "chapters" of the organization -- Austin, Dallas/FW, San Antonio and Houston. Here's what I'll be doing:

 Studio tour, Workshops on Photoshop and various facets of art business and professionalism and gallery visits -- Gallery stops at the ArtCloth Network's exhibit at Archway Gallery and the Federation's show at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (nope, my entries were not accepted for either show, better luck next time, right?)


International Quilt Festival, the big one at George Brown Convention Center, all four floors!

I'm teaching, demoing, lecturing way more than I expected. I sent in some proposals last spring, thinking that the way they worked would be to pick three, maybe four of my options. I was asked to present seven different programs. Good thing I am traveling up and back to the Houston Federation event, so that I can take some of the supplies then and leave them at a friend's house. I am excited, but a bit apprehensive about all the activities -- suspect I won't be doing much for fun except teaching. But, I am signed up for Ann Johnston's dyeing course, one I've wanted to take for a long time. This will be the lecture, demo version, but I am certain I will learn a tremendous amount. Ann is the dye guru in my book!

Here's my teaching ,etc. schedule, in case you get a chance to join in. Last time I checked I had openings still in all of my offerings. Workshop registration includes one admission ticket to the exhibits, trade shows, etc. For more information go to www.quilts.com.

The International Quilt Festival in Houston will be
held October 14- 18 (earlier than normal this year only).
Catalogs are now available for classes and workshops
from Quilt, Inc. Several Texas artists are included as
instructors and lecturers. Susie Monday will be lecturing
and teaching (# from the catalog): For more information,
visit www.quilts.com
#368, Wed, 4-5pm, $8
Lecture: Nurturing Creative Kids (and Grandkids)
#411, Thurs, all day, $83
Workshop: Rainbow Prints with Water-Soluble Crayons
#540 Friday Sampler, 10-noon, $30
Demo: Zapped (almost) Instant Silk Scarves
#605 Friday 6-9
Workshop: The Sensory Alphabet, $43
#749 Sat. 10-noon, Mixed Media Miscellany, $30
Demo: Rainbow Prints w/Water Soluble Crayons
#756 Sat 2-5, $50
Workshop: Shapes and Silhouettes
#804, Sun 8-11, $45
Workshop:Inspiration is in the Cards
#Sun, 11:30-1:30
Demo: Stories on Your Shoulder

And third:

ArtCloth Network Meeting

This is a group of (up to) 25 artists who have a special place in the repertoire for art cloth. Right now there are only 20 members, so if you are interested, check out the website for the group and send me an email. We will be opening up for applications sometime later this fall. The meeting is largely a Show-and-Tell with some fun gallery visits, business meeting and lots of fun with friends who I've met through this closeknit group.


Intermission #2: Iraqi Bundles of Love

IBOL on site in Iraq

I'm in. Are you?

Iraqi Bundles of Love is a short-duration project, set to last about six weeks, originally intended to surge fabric and sewing (and knitting!) materials into the area around which I live in Iraq.  It is timed to coincide with both Ramadan, and the departure of my units from Iraq. If you’re reading this, well — it’s kind of grown. It’s going to help a little bit more of northern Iraq than just the area around where I live.

It is intended to be a simple project, requiring little effort and little expenditures from those wishing to participate.  It is based upon my assessment that sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters tend to have stashes that far exceed their actual needs, and that sewing fanatics and quilters and knitters are passionate both about sewing / quilting / knitting, and about sharing with others.

I originally though success for this project was going to be measured in tens. Somewhere along the way, after folks like Sew Momma Sew got involved (see this and this), I began to think about hundreds. Now, thanks to folks like you, I am planning for thousands.

The general premise is this.  I am in Iraq, and I can get mail through the US Postal System.  Willing contributors can send to me a flat-rate box of sewing / quilting supplies, all bundled up.  I’d open the box, pull out the fully-contained bundle, and hand it off (with others) to our counterparts in the Iraqi Security Forces (Army and others) or the local police, for them to distribute.  Some of the bundles will also be delivered by US Soldiers. The stated intent of this operation is to put sewing and quilting and knitting supplies into the hands of two types of recipients:  locals who desperately need such things, and local sewing co-ops and other small businesses who have received grants or loans (typically to purchase sewing machines, rent space, etc).

That is it, in a nutshell.  I owe you more on how this came to be, on ideas, on things to do and things not to do.

See the details on Major Art La Flamme's site (he's married to quilter extradinaire Kristen La Flamme) -- those are his words above.

The general info is here on the what to send page.

How to make a bundle is on this page.

You'll need to leave a comment on Art's site to get the address -- that's to control the timing, since he leaves Iraq in a few weeks, and Ramadan begins as well.


FIberart for A Cause Reverse Auction

Pomegranate Cross will be on the auction block for the American Cancer Society--

I'm one of the invited artists this year, and I'm so happy to be in the company of these fabulous artists. (Click here for photos of the donated work, and for more info see Virginia Spiegel's auction preview. Spiegel has the site up and running (while she's in Texas on retreat at Karey Bresenhahn's).

Invited Artists:
Natalya Aikens
Gerrie Congdon
Marjorie DeQuincy
Rayna Gillman
Carol Larson
Linda Teddlie Minton
Susie Monday
Judy Coates Perez
Leandra Spangler
Roxane Stoner

FFAC Reverse Auction - Press Release

Fiberart For A Cause Reverse Auction Set to Raise Funds for the American Cancer Society

Byron, Illinois, December 12, 2008-
Fiberart For A Cause will hold its fifth Invitational Reverse Auction from March 24-26, 2009. Natalya Aikens, Gerrie Congdon, Marjorie DeQuincy, Rayna Gillman, Carol Larson, Linda Teddlie Minton, Susie Monday, Judy Coates Perez, Leandra Spangler and Roxane Stoner have all donated their artwork. All proceeds from the sales go directly to the American Cancer Society.

A preview of all artwork will be posted at least one week prior to March 24. All artwork will begin at a fixed minimum donation. This minimum donation is reduced by a fixed (and very generous) percentage of the original minimum donation each day until the artwork is chosen by a generous patron. Each artwork will show the minimum donation required for each day of the auction. The preview and actual auction will be linked from http://www.virginiaspiegel.com/NewFiles/ACSFundraiser.html

The Big Leap; Learn as You Go

I am one of those foolhearty types who hates to read instruction manuals, dislikes asking for directions, heartily hates following linear to-do lists -- you get the picture. So it's probably no surprise that when I want to master something new, the best way for me is the sink or swim approach. 'Course I try to choose tasks that are intrinsically intriguing and tools that are intuitively operational. (And that, in a nutshell, is why mac is the only computer for me.)

This past year, I have become a webmaster by intention, building three passable sites, with I admit, not a line of code, just a lot of tinkering with built-in templates, both on the Squarespace site for New World Kids (Squarespace hosts this blog, too -- I love their interface and the support desk is great), for my own gallery website and a new website for Fiber Artists of San Antonio. That's the one that's just gone "live" and, while I hope to tinker and improve over the next few weeks, the basic architecture is up and running and even taking money via PayPal.

I used iWeb (part of the Macintosh iLife suite of tools) to build the FASA site and my gallery site, and with some help from my friends at the Apple Store I know pretty much the ins and outs of using that software. (I do highly reccommend the Apple One-to-One program -- $99 gives you a week of private tutoring from a kid whizbang expert at the Apple Store.)

PayPal and GoDaddy are not exactly what I would call intuitive sites, and I've had to buckle down and actually read instructions, usually about 40 times, before I get the kinks out of using their interfaces with my sites. But, it no longer terrifies me -- that's what jumping in the deep end gets you -- past your fear.

If you've been thinking about building a website, I say, dive, dive, dive. And if that or some other said-to-be-difficult task looms in your new year, consider whether an external deadline or expectation from a (unpaid) volunteer client (like the Fiber Artists were for me) might be that little push on the backside that you need. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, at least on the computer, few errors are actually fatal and most stupidities can be undone. I may never be a "real" webmaster, but at least now I know enough to design and put something up that I like and that does the job for client/s (me, FASA, our book). I certainly don't sneer at templates and WYSISYG editing programs -- they frankly just make me glad I never invested time in learning to write HTML.

I know, I know, my sites won't win any awards for innovation, real techie types will point our their shortcomings in style, elegance and probably speed, but I loved the experience of learning more about electronic media and how to work in some personal style on top of a template.


Holiday Bazaar

Above: Linda Rael, my tablemate, makes a sale.

Fiber Artists of San Antonio artisans turned out on Sunday for a sale at the San Antonio Garden Center. It was a great location, and though we had fewer customers than we would have hoped for, the people who came all seemed to be buying. Just for fun, here's some photos of the event. I plan to upload some of them to the new FASA website --- yes, another cyber project for El Cielo Studio. You'd think I wanted to do web design, given the amount of time I've spent lately doing so. Not my intention, but hey, it may prove a skill well worth having. Just don't expect me to write actual code.

IN ORDER: Lisa Kerpoe's scarves, Sandra E. Taylor's batik painting, Reneta Kuhn's kimono, Sarah Burke's bowl, plastic jewelry by new member Sara Katherine Boyd, bags from Sandy Edsell, scarves from Lori Burnett.

More Houston: Artist's Altar

Well. I didn't win the tiara parade. I don't think my garden glove, yarn, shredded fabic, needles and pins entry was quite tiaraesque enough. But I had a great time all day. I did a "Meet the Teachers" session early in the day -- 10:30 am and believe it or not, people, a few, showed up to hear me (or the person who was next on the list). So I continue to learn a lot. and continue to meet wonderful teachers, quilters, artists, all. Here's the basic outline of my presentation, I hope you can follow along:

An Art Quilt Artist’s Altar

By Susie Monday, artist, coach and teacher
3532 Timbercreek Rd.
El Cielo Studios, Pipe Creek, Texas

Making an artist’s altar is one of the creative exercises suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. I’ve adapted her practice by combining it with the process of art quilt journaling. Art quilt Artist’s Altars start with an acknowledgement of our human heritage of creativity. Episcopal priest and radical theologian Matthew Fox has written, “We are creators at our very core. Only creating can make us happy, for in creating we tap into the deepest powers of self and universe and the Divine Self. We become co-creators, that is, we create with the other forces of society, universe and the God-self when we commit to creativity.” The act of creating an artist altar honors this deep connection to the Source.

Here are some prompts, suggestions and techniques that will help you make your own art quilt artist’s altar. First construct or purchase a simple box or altar shaped frame that will determine the size of your art quilt work. I build simple 1 by 3” frames in a “house” shape for the ones I make, but you can use a pre-made gallery canvas as the structure.

1. Start with your favorite colors. Pull fabrics from your stash that represent your most beloved hues and shades. You can use one or 50 different prints. No rules, here. Combine a rainbow or stick to the subtlest shades of white you can find.

2. What symbolizes creativity for you – is it a person, a goddess or mythological figure, a place, a shape, a sound, an image from nature or from art history? Is it all of the above. Collect, draw, cut, photo transfer or collage a central image for your art quilt artist altar by starting with what speaks the name of creativity the loudest.

3. Use your favorite quilting techniques to assemble the top of your art quilt. I use fusing, piecing, machine quilting and hand embroidery for the ones I make, but you should honor your own favorite techniques. Assemble with batting, but a back layer of fabric is usually not needed.

4. Make the top of your art quilt large enough to wrap completely around the frame, whatever its size. Wrap and staple the top around the frame, fitting and folding the corners neatly. If desired, stitch fabric to the back

Good news of the day: when I went to pick up my art materials for the demo, I found a note from Leslie Riley (she organized the mixed media classes). Pokey Bolten of Quilting Arts magazines. (Cloth, Paper, Scissors, etc.) wanted to talk to me about writing for the mags. That's incentive to get my proposals in to the editors. Hold me to it.

On other quilting fronts: check out Ragged Cloth Cafe's last month post by Kate Themal,  food for thought as we look at the amazing variety of quilts here in this venue: traditional, antique, contemporary, cutting edge, stange and digital.



Fiber Arts Exhibit at Gallery Nord

This art cloth of mine received second place honors;
In the Midst, In Memory of Dr. Israel Cuellar

Fiber Artists of San Antonio opened its annual exhibition last night at Gallery Nord on N.W. Military Hwy. The space is really a wonderful venue and the work is up to the arena this year. I am amazed at the beauty and power of the show, and feel so blessed to be part of a group with so much creativity, skill and imagination. Linda Rael and Lisa Kerpoe were the co-chairs and worked with diligence to make the event run smoothly. Taking top honers: Mary Ann Johnson with a bearutiful surface designed and stitched wall piece. Sorry MA, I don't have a picture of it yet! Lisa Mittler, Laura Beehler, and Laurie Brainerd also won awards.

Janet and Linda Rael during the awards ceremony. Linda and Lisa, too.

Janet Lasher stepped in as juror after Kim Ritter had to bow out after suffering damage to her home and studio during Hurricane Ike. We were fortunate that Janet was in town and had all the credentials a group could desire in a judge. Her task was not an easy one, but the show she selected is quite a good representation of the breadth of work being done in the organization.

Rather than chatter on about the work, I'm just going to post some photos, and let you see for yourselves. I think I have all the names and some of the titles down, but even without that info, you'll see the breadth of work. Forgive me if I didn't get your work on the blog yet, I need to return to take some more photos when fewer people are in front of the work! 

Suzanne Cooke's The Girl in the Mirror
To the left, one of Linda Rael's art dolls and on the right, handbags by Diane Barney.

Two more of my pieces, Shaman/Crucifixion and She Steps.

Diane Sandlin's art quilt Sunset at Chaco Canyon

Sarah Burke's Jagged Edge Bowl (Sarah has been one of my students and this is the first show she entered!)

Dian Lamb's Heavenly Flashlight (sorry this one is a bit blurry --  I'll reshoot it)

Laurie Brainard's Dance, one of the award winners.

If you are anywhere near SA this month, take the time to see  the exhibition. You won't be sorry!

Catching Up or Starting Fresh?

I find myself getting back into the blog after nearly a month away. Not even an intentional vacation from the page, rather a retreat from on-line life in favor of a packed August -- between exhibits, deadlines, workshops, and designing several new web-based projects, my calendar suffered a meltdown.

Perhaps more to the point, I've taken a vow to leave the computer in the studio -- or packed up in its tidy little briefcase -- during early morning and post "work hours," in the interest of sanity and domestic harmony. If this (blogging, et al) is important as part of my work, of my bigger picture of self in the studio, of the business of being the artist and teacher I want to be, then its worth doing as part of my work day. Frankly, the laptop was taking over my living room -- even the bedroom --  at all kinds of inappropriate hours. Inappropriate, because, well, live people deserve my undivided attention when I am in the same room with them. In order to step back from the brink, it seemed necessary to just shut it off for a bit, and decide how and when and what was most important to continue.

So we will see what that means. Exactly.

One issue, as I've come back online with the new month, was whether to try to catch up the record and my readers with all that's gone on -- two shows, three workshops, two trips, new art cloth projects and techniques, new classes planned and promoted. Yikes. No way. So we start fresh with today. With what's right now, as I sit here in the University Inn at Rutgers, a day early into town (New Brunswick, N.J.) for the Art Cloth Network meeting.

I have a visceral "new year" reaction to the first week after Labor Day, from 16 years of school calendars (back when schools still started after LD). The month has that new pencil, new notebook, new box of crayons feel and energy, so what better time to start on a virtual new slate. I've always considered myself lucky to have this second fresh start during one calendar year, don't you?

So here, besides the blog, are my fresh starts:

1. More time for just doing nothing. Letting quiet and peace make a space for what's new.

2. Saying "I'll think about it. Let me tell you tomorrow" before I automatically say "yes," to a request, no matter how important or  how much fun it intimates.

3. Take a yoga or NIA class weekly -- I need the class structure to move myself into fitness. The sweets of summer have gone to my waistline.

4. At least two "no drive days" each week. With planning, I can do that. Without planning I spend way too many hours in the car.

That's enough. See number 1. And number 2, even when I am the one doing the asking.

Texas Museum of Fiber Arts


The second annual Texas Museum of Fiber Arts exhibit at the State Capitol was this past Memorial Day weekend. Here are a few pics from the Preview Party, a grand and fun cocktail event in the Lt. Gov's reception room. My FASA colleagues Rachel Ridder Edwards (above with her first prize "Ode to the Majestic"  jacket) and Laura Beehler (below with detail of one of her amazing art cloth pieces) were among the award winners. I didn't get back to see the entire exhibit but hear it was well received. I guess you'll figure out by the pictures I took that I often have trouble feeling at ease at cocktail parties, no matter how good the food! Lots of floor pictures in other words! But what struck me most in this lovely room was the textural riches, the real materials and the kind of Texas pioneer honesty that the room and space embodied. I love that it is well-tended and true to its history, not all gussied up with a 2008 sense of luxury and glamour.



 DetLTGOV1.jpgterrazo.jpg  rug%20lt%20gov.jpg





ATCs in the Mail


For those commentors who were the first to add their suggestions to the post about little changes and keeping things fresh, the ATCs are almost to the mail box. I'm waiting on addresses for a couple of you. But here's a preview and a little sharing with the others who added after number 5. It's fun to read comments, and I always enjoy the conversation.

On other studio fronts: I presided over my last meeting of Fiber Artists of San Antonio (not the last I'll attend, the last as President - presiding is the operative term). It's been a great ride  (hey, take a look at the great story about  the Runway Show on May 3) and all of the boardmembers, committee chairs and members who were active, engaged and participating have enriched my life immeasureably. As we become more connected internationally and nationally through avenues like this blog, like video conferencing, some experts point out that we (the big we) are becoming more isolated from civic participation, the in-person volunteering, politicing, even soft ball teams are losing membership in many communities.

I like both kinds of communication: the internet connects me with  those who inspire from afar. The local fiber artist group inspires me in a whole other sense, toward the do-able, the in-person contribution, the personally present. And of course, I come down on the side of  active communication and active creativity over the passive partaking of hours and hours of video, gaming, music etc. that increasing fills the space inside our heads. 

Reminder: Art Biz Coach is Coming Tomorrow



The photos above show my "booth" just before the Fiesta Arts Fair at Southwest School of Art and Craft opened for business. I think I had the best spot in the entire fair -- shade, historical ambiance, music, margaritas within a shout, lots of traffic, memories (I was once actually married right here in this very courtyard) and friends happily tripping through opening Fiesta weekend.

Just a reminder -- while I take my breath, count my blessings and get it together for a full report on the Fiesta Arts Fair.
 Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield is stopping by tomorrow on her Blog Tour to promote her new and VERY helpful book: I'd Rather Be in the Studio.


 In case I don't get back to this space later this afternoon, I wanted to make sure you all knew about the tour, and tomorrow will check out her answer to my art business question: Should I have a separate (from my new Gallery website), dedicated website for my teaching and workshops? (And what do you think, loyal readers? Would a separate site make sense? Should I beef up the link on my blog site or develop a separate set of pages within the new Gallery site -- www.susiemonday.com)

Tomorrow, you will also find out how to win a free copy of Alyson's book, and find some links to some of my favorites of the many  blogs, podcasts and other resources that she offers through her on-line teaching and coaching.

Here's the view during the Fair, in a rare quietish moment! Thanks to all of you who stopped in the browse, to Jennifer who took some great professional photos for me, to all of you who purchased aart work rom me or from another artist -- the most direct way to support the arts -- feed an artist! We know you have many choices about how to spend your time, money and energy. Buying art, while certainly not a survival necessity, is, I think,  both a financial and spiritual investment in the future of the planet.

Word Play for Artful Cloth


Last minute warning: This  Saturday brings a new and different workshop to El Cielo, one involving writing and art making. The seesaw of words and images is one that I teeter along with all the time (that's one reason I keep this blog, to keep my hand in on the adjectives).

First, on Friday evening participants will meet at Gemini INK near downtown San Antonio (right around the corner from my old neighborhood in King William) for a writing workshop I'll conduct. Each person is bringing personal photos to work with during the writing exercises. Then we'll meet the next day out here at El Cielo from 10 to 4, take what's been written and turn it into a fiber art work. Some of the techniques explored will include sun printing (weather permitting), stamping and stenciling, thermofax screenprinting, and printing on fabric with inkjet and transfer methods. 

I've got room for a couple or so more participants, so if this sounds good, call Gemini Ink to register --

Gemini Ink
513 S. Presa
San Antonio, TX 78205
Toll free: 877.734.9673
Fax: 210.737.0688

It's a little different structure: the workshop at Gemini Ink is $75 payable to Gemini Ink. The workshop at El Cielo is $70 plus a $15 supply fee payable to me. If you'd like to just come to the fiber arts portion, that's an option, too. Just email me at susiemonday@gmail.com for details and directions.

Bring to the Friday evening workshop at Gemini Ink four or five photos of people, places, and experiences that are important to your life: images from childhood, a memorable vacation, vintage photos of ancestors, your quinceañera or bat mitzvah, anything that moves you. You’ll translate the photos into powerful moodscapes, capturing even intangibles that don’t show up in the pictures. Next morning, pack a sack lunch and come out to El Cielo Studio near Bandera. There you’ll combine your photos and your writing with textile dyes, paints, photo transfers and other surface design techniques to create your own unique fiber art piece ready for hanging. Fee to Gemini Ink: $65/member; $75/non-member. NOTE: Saturday, April 12 fiber art workshop at El Cielo Studio is a separate fee payable to Susie, 10 am – 4 pm, is $70 & $15 supply kit.


ReThreads: How to make your own altered jacket!



Jean Jackets pinned to an art quilt -- no other model around today! 


Here's the quickie HOW-TO for my method of artful recycling:

Purchase, swap or otherwise acquire a jean jacket or vest. I like the darker denim best, it seems to show off the frivolous fabrics well. Selecting for color and textural interest, a narrative tale of your own telling or any other criteria you like, select three to four coordinating embellishment fabrics. (Everything I use on these, except the fusible is reclaimed from thrift store and flea market finds) Some of what I use: embroidered and/or painted Indian sari cloth, Guatemalan skirt or shirt fabric, embroidery from Mexican dresses, commercial fabrics, etc., bark cloth, patchwork quilt top scraps, crocheted lace and commercial lace and trim, interesting vintage buttons, metal milagros.

Trace patterns of each part of the jacket that you wish to embellish, using tracing paper or even the release paper from fusible web (WonderUnder for example). I usually trace off the yokes, the panels above the pocket, sometimes the panels down the front, and the large back panel, cutting my patterns up to  but not over the double stitched seams. Iron fusible to the back of selected fabrics and cut out using the pattern as your guide. Iron to fuse, then machine quilt the pieces using free motion zig-zag stitch around the edges and straight stitch for embellishing textures, lines and emphasis. I usually use coordinating colored thread as my topstitch and denim colored thread on the bobbin.  

After the machine work is done, I usually spend a few hours adding hand stitching, buttons, sewing over the seams with embroidery floss or craft threads (most often while watching Project Runway or Top Chef). I add a ReThreads label, signing and dating my work, and its ready for the sales rack or runway.  

If you'd like a complete step by step design and construction 'HOW TO" course, consider signing up for my soon-to-come e-workshop including all instructions in detail -- supplies, design tips, construction tips and more. If you'll leave a comment or email me at susiemonday@gmail.com, I'll put you on the list for the course notification.

And meanwhile, here's a book that might help


I've been a bit stalled out on the Sirena series, although there is a mammoth pile of fabric on the design table, but with theFiesta Arts Fair coming up in just a bit over a month, April 19-20, and the Fiber Artists of San Antonio art-to-wear runway show on May 3, I've got plenty of smaller projects yipping for attention. Here's the first of this year's ReThreads, my occasional interlude into altered, recycled jean jackets and other thrift store finds. I only make a few of these each year -- but they are a great way to use all the amazing fabrics I've gathered and hoarded for just such frivolity and fashion. If you'd like to make your own, keep reading, the instructions for my method are at the bottom of this post.

Meanwhile if you're within reach, the Fiesta Arts Fair is one of my favorite Fiesta San Antonio extravaganzas. I'll be setting up the market stall in the second courtyard, near the food booths in the Convent Garden and on the way to the Children's Art Garden. This family-friendly arts and crafts market features some fabulous artists, artisans and craftsmen from around the country and I'm honored to have been selected for this year's group - the jury process is one that keeps the standards high and make the mix an interesting one of locals and national artists. There's also wall-to-wall entertainment and the usual Fiesta food-on-a-stick. 

 And, meanwhile, I'm making two or three other one-of-a-kind jackets for the FASA runway show -- only 60 tickets of 370 are left, so if you haven't bought yours yet, surf over to Fiber Artists of San Antonio where you can purchase one spot or a table full (12 NOT 10 AS THE WEBSITE SAYS),  $40 per ticket. The staged and choreographed show includes a seated luncheon, and, best of all, most of the fashionable art on the runway is available for sale in a post-show sales room. We also have a silent auction (I'm looking for some donations!) and a raffle of some incredible wearable work donated by members.

Playing in Plano

 This art quilt was juried into the DAFA sponsored Federation of Fiber Artists exhibit in Plano -- with about 58 other works, it will be on display through the month at the Plano Art Center. The link will take you to a gallery of all the work in the show.


The title is "Floating Above It," and the work is inspired by the song by Talking Heads song "And She Was"
The lyrics:

“And She Was”

“And she was lying in the grass
And she could hear the highway breathing
And she could see a nearby factory
She's making sure she is not dreaming
See the lights of a neighbor's house
Now she's starting to rise
Take a minute to concentrate
And she opens up her eyes

 “The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)
The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

“And she was drifting through the backyard
And she was taking off her dress
And she was moving very slowly
Rising up above the earth
Moving into the universe
Drifting this way and that
Not touching ground at all
Up above the yard

“She was glad about it... no doubt about it
She isn't sure where she's gone
No time to think about what to tell them
No time to think about what she's done”


Hard at play with a bunch of Babylocks. Theralyn Hughes, Pat Schulz in front, Jack Brockett and Ruthie Powers can be spotted in the back.  

Just like in the quilt, the wind is whirling up the ridge after a couple of wonderfully warm and sunny days.  Alas, I've been stuck deep inside the studio shuffling papers, filing forms, putting my month in order after playdays with the Federation of Fiber Artists (the Texas coalition of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and now, Austin) fiber arts groups. The every-other-year conference, hosted by Dallas Association of Fiber Artists, was in Plano this past weekend. I took a couple of half-day workshops -- 3-d shibori techniques with Carol Lane Saber and needle felting with the Baby Lock embellisher with Sara Moe. What I learned: 1. instant set dyes work great for hotle room dye workshops, given the water, batching limitations and 2. I am not immune to the seductive appeal of the needle-felting embellisher.

But I resisted (for now) given that the winter's equipment budget went for a new laser printer and ink jet printer. I figure the Babylock will still be there when I get around to it. I certainly understand why its the toy of the moment for fiber artists. I had believed myself to be immune because I am not particularly interested in adding a lot of fuzzy texture and random frays and textural tornadoes or 3-dimensionality to my work. I like the flat plane of fabric and I prefer to develop a sense of visual  texture with patterned layers of imagery. BUT, when I found out I could actually create fabric out of little bits of other fabric, and that I could quite subtly add an element of pattern hither and yon, I was a goner. This is too much fun. Three hours barely gave us enough time to see Sara's examples and to put a few needles into action. The only downside I can see is that I will break way too many expensive needles figuring out what and how to use this machine, when I do  spring for one.

(Addendum: Deborah Boschert also posted some great photos and information about the Federation conference here.) 

On another front in Plano, we had the Federation exhibition at the Plano Art Center, a wonderful repurposed space with character, tall ceilings and a nice ambiance. Juror (and keynote speaker for the conference) Joan Schulze chose 6 awards of merit, among them Laura Jeanne Pitts, Leslie Jenison and Leslie Klein of FASA.  (Was there another San Antonian awarded an honor -- I can't remember!) Anyhow, I counted myself among good company.

Below: Leslie Klein, Leslie Klein and Martha Grant, Leslie Jenison, group shots of happy artists Rachel Edward, Yvette Little, Jean Peffers and my  art quilt amid a crowd.








MORE at the show: Pat Schulz's piece inspired by her travel in Guatemala, Pat, husband Gerald and Rachel; Laura Jeanne Pitt's stunning art cloth and Lisa Kerpoe's layered art cloth is peeking out behind the talkers.




Deconstructed Screenprinting with Kerr Grabowski


One of Liz Napier's deconstructed pieces in progress-- stitch to be added! 


Kerr with a workshop participant Laura Jeanne Pitts' work behind her.

FASA sponsored an inspiring and energizing workshop this past weekend with Kerr Grabowski. Kerr is known for her lively and creative  art-to-wear, as well as her well-honed techniques -- in particular what she calls "deconstructed" screenprinting. Her methods for using a screen to transfer textural images are fun, freeing and allow for lots of personal expression. All of the participants made wonderful samples and yardage, and I won't be surprised to see how far each person takes the ideas. Kerr is a generous and supportive instructor, willing to share what she has learned from years of experimentation, so that we all benefit from her experience and expertise. Take one of her classes if it ever comes your way! All of us at this one (in the perfect venue at the Southwest School of Art and Craft) were clamoring for another next year -- and plans are already underway to make that happen.

Here are some additional pictures of the workshop and some of the work -- sorry if I get the artist name wrong, just send me an email for corrections. I don't have time to upload all 50 photos (and that might task your interest), but Kerr promised to publish others on her site as well. 


Mary Ann Johnson's exploration of texture and shape.


Diane Sandler's yummy piece of work using deconstructed screenprinting and drawing with dye. 

Beading Workshop in San Antonio

bof.jpgAn exciting opportunity for fiber and bead artists in the San Antonio area is coming up. Larkin Van Horn who (literally) wrote the book about using beads as an embellishment on fiber art will teach a day-long workshop sponsored by Fiber Artists of San Antonio. Here are the details from the workshop flyer:

 Vessels, Shrines and Reliquaries


Larkin Jean Van Horn of Whidbey Island, WA will present a six-hour workshop on Saturday, November 10, 2007 at Alamo Heights Christian Church (near northside San Antonio), sponsored by FASA, but open to the general community.                                                     Workshop Fee: $50.00         Kit Fee: $15.00

Larkin is an internationally known author, lecturer, and fiber artist known for her wearable art and beading. She has been a  designer at the Bernina Fashion Show (International Quilt Festival in Houston) and is the author of Beading on Fabric. She will be teaching at the Quilt Festival this year. FASA is pleased to be able to take advantage of her proximity to bring her to San Antonio. This is an exceptional opportunity to study with a fiber celebrity at a very reasonable price.

The focus of the class in one day is on the actual decoration and construction of the shrine or vessel.  Not everyone will  finish during the class, but should  be well enough along to complete the project  at home with the information provided . Larkin will expect students to arrive with some idea of what they wish to make the vessel to commemorate - that is, if one wants to include pictures of Grandmother because the shrine is a tribute to her, one must  come with those pictures already printed on fabric.  If one wants to make something about the Day of the Dead, one would bring the appropriate fabrics and baubles.  Alternatively, one can just come and play with fabric collage and learn the construction method to apply to other things at a later date. In other words, this workshop can focus on either Process or a Product depending on the student's intent. As part of the kit fee, students will all receive a copy of  Larkin's  vessels pattern, which will serve as a printed reminder of what was done in class.


How to sign up for the workshop:

Make out your check for $50.00 to FASA .
Send to
Caryl Gaubatz
19818 Lloyds Park
Garden Ridge,TX, 78266

The kit fee will be paid directly to Larkin on the day of the class. A materials list will be sent to you upon receipt of check. Please include your email address(if applicable) with your check. Cancellation Policy: A refund of $45.00 will be given if Caryl is notified  by 31 October. After that date, NO refunds will be given. Questions? Call Caryl at (210) 651-0208 or email her at slothcloth@earthlink.net.

Larkin will also deliver a lecture, open to the public and free of charge, hosted by Fiber Artists of San Antonio:

TOPIC: Fabric and Beads: A Winning Combination
WHEN: Monday 12 NOV 2007
WHERE: Alamo Heights Christian Church
The church is located on  the corner of Primrose and N. New Braunfels directly across the street from Sunset Ridge Shopping Center. To access the church parking lot, turn onto Primrose and park behind the church. There is a limited number of handicap only spaces directly in front of the church.