Monday, 11 December 2017

majestic beasts


Well the York Heritage Quilters Show in November was, once again, wonderful.  Great colours, innovations, but many classic beauties too.  This was my entry for the show. 
As always, I am talking about connections, and how it is so important to be supported by a mother's love.

This project grew from the pink circle out.  I had embroidered many of these circles, absolutely convinced that I would one day, find a good home from them.  I have become very attached to my hand embroidery projects.  Love the slowing down and thoughtful placements that doing hand embroidery provides.  One day I looked at this circle and decided it was the eye of an elephant.  Then the quilt grew from there.

this was my artist statement for the show.

From this angle, you can see that the ear of the mama  is added on her body, it was stitched and quilted separately.  The hope was to create interesting dimension.  I did this with her tusk too, as well as the babe's ear.

All the hand stitching onto the hand dyed fabric was done first.  Then the quilt was assembled.  Then the free motion quilting was done afterwards. 

Onto the background fabric I attempted to create a secondary pattern with the free motion stitching, placing the elephants into a fantastic field of flowers.

another view.  This work is large for me.  Its final size is 62 " long and 44 " wide.

within Mama's body, in amongst the hand stitching lines, I did free motion with the machine, and I tried to create a different pattern in every space.
Elephants are such majestic animals.  They are very caring parents and loyal to their families, staying within their family grouping until they die.  They help each other when there is distress and express great emotion if there is tragedy.  To imagine that any human would feel justified in hunting them for consumer consumption is horrific.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Perching Owl

My Perching Owl
Details:  I created the owl using some of my hand dyed fabrics in a layered applique technique.

The eyes were hand embroidered on a solid fabric.  I had received the news of a brand new baby girl, who's nursery was decorated in a forest theme and who loved the owl mobile over her crib.  My creative juices began to flow!

Some of the elements have extra layers of batting behind them to bring them forward, like the eyes.  I had to shape the batting to the size of the fabric and then hand sewed them to the layers, needle turning.  Then in the background, I decided to create a secondary pattern with free motion quilting using a variegated thread.

The owl is perched on a little branch that I created using multiple fabrics sewn together and then wrapped into a tube shape.  I added the branch last and her little feet wrap around the branch.

One wing is folded open, inviting us into her world.


Here's hoping that she will provide interest and conversation opportunities

the label on the back.

Monday, 23 October 2017

feast of the harvest

Recently we celebrated the feast of the harvest.  Also known as Sukkot.  We were lucky enough to be invited to friends who create a "Sukkah" every year for this holiday.  A Sukkah is a temporary structure where the family eats for this week long holiday.  It is meant to be open to the outdoors, a 'wilderness shelter', and is usually well decorated with branches and other symbols of the outdoors and the harvest.

I thought that pomegranate shapes might work and chose various fabrics of red shades. Two fabrics were placed, wrong sides together, with a stiffening fabric between. I sewed a satin stitch along the perimeter but as I was sewing the satin stitch, I was also laying the cord between the pomegranates down the centre of the shape so that the cord could be one continuous piece. 

I also decided to string beads on the cord between the shapes.  This had to be done before the next shape could be added, so it was a process of machine sewing, hand beading, machine sewing, hand....well you get the idea.  The beads are hand made paper beads from Rwanda that I picked up when I was living there.

The family is very happy with their new addition to their sukkah and plan on hanging it every year.  They are considering placing it in a way that it could be used as a Christmas mistletoe encouraging Sukkot kissing!  I love the multi culture embrace!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Admiring the Glory

Admiring the Glory

This work is 22" high and 31 inches long.  It has been created using a multitude of surface design techniques.  The water is a result of immersion dying using Procion dyes.  The figure and the rocks are elements of my photos that I have changed using an adobe program and then printed on a water soluble product that I stitch through.  Detail below.....

The adobe program helps me size the elements and change the coloration.  Stitching through these elements allow me to emphasize details that are important to the composition.  The canoe was created using a combination of fiber paints and stitching.  I was especially happy with the 'bleed' from the water.

The trees are free motion technique stitching and the shadow of the trees was created with water soluble crayons.

Finally some water detail was created with free motion quilting.

Serendipity is a marvelous thing!  Some time after my canoe was
completed, I was invited to contribute to an event called
"Project Canoe" 
The good people of Project Canoe invite children every summer
to experience camping and canoeing in the wonderful wilderness
of Ontario.  Children who might otherwise, never know anything but
the sprawling urban core.

Hopefully my canoe will land in a loving home and will be a vehicle
to help children 'admire the glory'.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

My latest wedding canopy

I haven't posted in a while but that is not for lack of working, in fact it is quite the opposite.  I was asked to create a wedding canopy for a young couple who met at summer camp, many years ago, and wanted to marry at the same summer camp.  Not the easiest to arrange for their parents but they wanted what they wanted and their loving parents agreed.

I was given very specific instructions: "We want the highlight to be the gorgeous setting of our camp, and we want nothing to interfere with the view".  Essentially, can you please make us a wedding canopy that is invisible!  I didn't take the request as an insult, more as a challenge.  How to make something that meets my aesthetic expectations, but also something that will blend with the environment in such a way as to enhance the view.
I decided to dye silk organza in shades of blues and greens and weave the two feet wide strips together  (as in the weaving of these two young lives together...)  I know a bit hokey.
The size that had been requested was eight feet square, the biggest I had ever made.

We arranged to have Lucite poles made, again with the notion of something that would seem light.

The family was very pleased with the result.  The canopy moved gently with the breeze throughout the ceremony and worked with the colours of the sky, lake and the trees that surrounded us.  The setting was truly magnificent, a gorgeous example of what Canada has to offer, and the day was picture perfect.  The bride and groom asked for something ethereal, and the feedback I received was that my mission was accomplished!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

teaching the next generation


                    Personalized booties

Here's the back story:  A very dear friend of mine just lost her father.  During the shiva (when the family sits in mourning) I was chatting with her daughter, who had flown in for her Papa's funeral, but was on her way to her friend's wedding, and she let me know that she had come up with an idea to 'do embroidery' and was reading all about it on google.  She wanted to buy the bride and groom camping booties and personalize them by embroidering 'his' and 'hers' on them.
So...we came up with a plan and I taught her how to do a stem stitch and then a blanket stitch, and this is the result!
She is so very proud of her work, and there were so many unexpected results, not the least of which was that her grandmother supervised the whole process, admiring her granddaughter's handiwork, and reminisced about the handiwork that she used to do.  We all agreed that it would be great to get her back into this kind of activity as she moves into this next phase of her life.
I love the juxtaposition of the new world cutting edge fabric and manufacturing of these booties with the very old world of the hand stitching!


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Peaceful Tidings

This is the finished work. ( process shots were in my previous post). This began as a photo I took while visiting Newfoundland. I "grew" the photo with some of my hand dyed fabric after free motion quilting over the photo. 
This work now has a new home in Emsworth, England, a beautiful coastal community I recently visited. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

work in progress

Working with a photograph I took while on a trip to Canada's east coast.

After printing the photo onto water soluble paper, my intention is to "grow the image" with some of my hand dyed fabric.   The photo is covered with silk organza so I can free motion without shredding the paper.

 auditioning a fabric.

 Another consideration of fabric

 Here's the plan, for now.  Stay tuned for the finished product!

Saturday, 25 March 2017


Here is a simple project that is a good one when you don't feel you have the time to launch into a full blown quilt. A great keepsake for a new (or not so new) babe. 
I cut out the letters and satin stitch them to the background fabric. This can be done before it's layered up or after, to have the letters puff up a bit. 

If you attach a sleeve to the back the child can hang it over a bed or on a door. 
I did some hand embellishments with embroidery thread because I am doing lots of hand stitching these days.  Like the comfort and the "slowness " of it, but anything goes, beads or appliqué....

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Nature inspires contemplation

Nature inspires Contemplation

This work was inspired by my cottage in the woods.  I am lucky enough to have the time and opportunity to spend lots of time in the summer up there, in the gorgeous Laurentian Mountains of Quebec.  Many loved ones have grown to love this special place as much as I do.  I began this piece with the drawing of the canoe, and then worked the composition around it.

The figure is taken from one of my photos, changed in Adobe and printed  on to water soluble paper.  I find this is a great way to add elements to work easily.  I add a layer of silk organza, and then I can stitch on top of that. Easy as pie!

The trees are created with a completely different technique.  Free motion stitchery, and then I used wax crayons for the reflection.    This work is inspired by my home away from home, and has elements of this place, but doesn't actually reflect the lake or the mountains.  I am not able to compete directly with mother nature.  You will need to come and see it for yourself!                                                                                                                                                        

Where are we going from here?

Where are We Going from Here?

 This is the finished work, (my previous post is this piece, in progress).  Thoughts the germinated while I was working on this were primarily about our political world.  How we seem to be so confused about priorities and threats. 
This is a shot on the angle.  I did free motion stitch inspirational thoughts into the lower half of the work.  One cannot necessarily read the sayings, unless truly motivated to get 'up and personal' , but then the words just 'read' as another design element (I hope).

detail of some of the figures.  As previously noted on some of my other work, these figures are inspired by photographs I have taken during my travels.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Work in progress

Lately I have been preoccupied with the developments in our world. In an effort to express this concern in a visual way, I have been working on this piece which has as a working title "where are we going?"
Stay tuned. 

Saturday, 7 January 2017


After painting, the fish are much more vibrant, but I wasn't satisfied with just creating a painted underwater scene, since, after all, my preference is inserting a sewed element!

I decided to add vertical wavy free motion lines in a light grey tone to suggest the movement of the water.  There is just a layer of felt behind the fish so this is technically, not a quilt.  shhh...don't tell the quilt police!
Normally I would create horizontal wavy lines but these fish are down deep....
To create the shadow effect, I used a watersoluble wax pastel crayon called "Neocolor II".  I love this crayon!

Not being able to leave the stitching to just the wavy water lines, I also accentuated the details of the water creatures with free motion stitching in variable coloured threads.
another detail shot, this fish is caught in a fisherman's net.

This is an over-all view of the whole piece.  It is quite long, but I have installed it on the wall in a wavy pattern, it undulates like waves on and off the wall.  There are pieces of fishing net and plastic overlayed as the message is our sea creatures are suffering due to too much human interference.  It is called S.ave O.ur S.eas