Great Exposure!

PigeonbitsImage from the delightful Melanie Gillman of

As this lovely year comes to a close, I want to thank each and every person who has written me from the We Are $ew Worth It posts. Every story, be it a win or not, has resonated deeply with me, and because of that, I have some big plans for the campaign for next year. Watch this space, keep the stories coming, and have a wonderful new 2014… you really are worth it!

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!




A day with Calder

All images courtesy LACMA’s site… no photography was allowed in the gallery.

A couple of weeks before I moved away from SoCal, I took a day off from packing to spend with a dear friend, and we caught the latest special exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – one of smaller works by Alexander Calder. LACMA’s group was a wonderful portion of work – enough to be sated, and not so much that it overwhelmed.

Calder 3

Most people meet Calder on a larger scale than can be exhibited in a gallery. His work graces a lot of big public spaces (hello Grand Rapids!) and are most easily identified by their ORANGE color, organic shapes, and their ever-so-slightly-spidery stances. The standing works are known as “stabiles” as counterpoint to the hanging “mobiles” that Calder also made.

This exhibition had a mixed group of smaller stabiles, a lot of mobiles, and several pieces that had elements of both – grounded but with parts that balanced in the air, and that moved gently with the currents made by we shuffling patrons.


While Calder’s large work can feel solid and serious, the small pieces are delightfully playful. They are perfectly balanced in a way that looks utterly effortless, each blade in a mobile perfectly placed in space. Some of the pieces felt quite refined, and others felt like they were perhaps early attempts at a concept, and showed more evidence of working out the puzzles of the design. My fellow viewers and I surreptitiously wafted our exhibition brochures and blew at the sculptures to get them to begin their dance for us. Several of the pieces gave me that great feeling of childlike wonder – when you’re a grownup, you’ve seen so much that awe seldom visits. I found myself happily grinning like an 8 year old as I watched the mobiles move. My favorite works were the ones that felt a bit like fish skeletons (I have an affinity for skeletons born of studying anatomy in a former profession). My friend Sandy was more taken with the pieces that were inspired by plant life (a topic close to her heart).


Just to note – none of Calder’s wire portraits were included in this group. If you get a chance to see some, take the time. They bring the linear aspects of drawing into dimensional space, and some of them have kinetic elements that add so much to the character (the portrait of Josephine Baker dances in space!)

Sculpture presents its own special problems in installation. Most of the time you end up with a large box of a room to work with, and the works get dotted around with hopefully enough space between them to walk. The difficulty in this is that there is seldom a way to look at one work by itself in isolation – there is always another work or people in the picture. This installation, however, was beautiful (LACMA’s images of it here). Each work had room to be enjoyed by itself, and most were installed against undulating backdrops that removed the delineation of “room” from the visual plane. I later found out that Frank O. Gehry designed the installation (read more about that here) – no wonder it was finely a finely tuned marriage of art and space! Several of the pieces were lit to emphasize the shadows cast by the moving parts. While all art interacts with its space, sculpture’s third dimension often brings shadow into play as an element that can also be used as part of the composition, and in this case it was beautifully shown.

If you want to learn more about Calder, I would highly recommend the American Masters episode on him, released as a documentary DVD that you can probably get from your library. The Calder Foundation also has film clips on their site. It’s worth seeing a little bit of the man in action to see his impish sense of play and whimsy.

And a last word about “no photos in the gallery.” Usually I find this utterly tedious… why not let people have that snapshot to jog their memory? Yes, yes… the establishment wants to sell their book… I get it. But really, I’m more for sharing the art far and wide – we make art to touch people. If the establishment wants to make some extra money, offer high quality postcards for a buck apiece… they are more likely to get a few dollars out of me that way. A lot of people can’t afford the book, or don’t want to read all the academic writing, and many tourists don’t want the weight of it in their suitcase. As for someone “stealing” the work? Thieves will steal no matter what – forbidding cameras won’t stop a determined thief. And having said all that… in this age of the smartphone, it was delightful to be in a space of people who were looking at the work and trying to interact with it, rather than documenting it (if you are trying to capture the moment, you are not IN the moment). Sandy and I had some lovely snippets of conversation about the art with other strangers, conversations that might not have been had if we were all snapping our phones. Food for thought…

Book Winner! And a little chaos…

BeforeBehold! The “before” picture! This is my new studio-to-be… in my new apartment! Since I last wrote I packed my stuff and upped and moved to the Portland, OR area (from downtown sunny Burbank CA!)

Pretty much everything I own landed in this room, and I’ve been working my way through putting it all where it belongs so that I can rebuild the studio. I’m getting close, and when I do, there will be prettier pix. In the meantime, I seem to be living at either Target or the hardware store as I buy all the things a new home needs (why do I always need to buy different trash cans every time I move???)

While I was on the road, the deadline to pick a winner for Quilting Isn’t Funny came and went, and when I landed I didn’t have internet (I am quite disturbed about how disturbing it was to be disconnected, if you know what I mean!). So now that I have internet, and a computer, and it’s on my desk and I have a chair to sit in, a winner has been chosen! chose number 39 of a field of 58 – Kathryn, who wrote: “Most frustrating.  It’s got to be squaring up the quilt.  If all the blocks measure square I”ll never understand why my quilt measurements are off.  But I still struggle with this more than I want to admit…………”

Kathryn – watch for an email from me!



Blog tour + giveaway: The Bitchy Stitcher Wrote a BOOK!

If you’re anything like me, every time you read one of The Bitchy Stitcher/Megan Dougherty’s fab essays, you leave happy to have had your daily dose of “OMG I can’t believe she went there!” while being utterly pissed off about having to wait for the next installment!

Well, we must wait no more! Megan pulled together the best of her ramblings, with guest appearances by her fictional mom and other judgmental biddies from the local guild – you know them… same biddies, different quilted name tags. It’s a full-on feast of Bitchy Stitchery! My fave story? The one about figuring out binding…


So why am I excited about this? First up, Megan is a dear pal. Really dear pal – as in the kind of pal that sends me a care package filled with ORANGE things! We met through other dear pals (the Gen Q ladies) and somehow managed to fall into pal-dom without having set eyes on each other. When we did, we almost needed to get a room.

IMG_2761She has been a source of constant calm and encouragement through some of the tougher spots I’ve gone through writing my own due-next-year-book… and even made a really rockin’ quilt for it. Which I still can’t show you a picture of yet. Dammit.

Anyhoo… Megan made this book all by herself – soup to nuts, every word, every drawing, the cover, the layout… all of it. She is a self-publishing goddess. And herein lies the true story: such feats take a bunch of courage… and Megan, like the rest of we-who-make-art faced that creative fear and stared it down, put on her big girl panties, and got it DONE. It’s not easy putting yourself out there in the sometimes mean anonymity of the interwebs. But she did it, and in my eyes, that inspiration deserves a super-heroine cape. Or knowing Megan… perhaps one with George Clooney on it.

So go buy Megan’s book. You might need two because you’re going to want to gift one to a friend, and it’s kinda rude to gift the one that’s covered in the tea you snorted out your nose while you were taking a teensy-weensy peek before you wrapped it.

Her book is blog-hopping for a few weeks from now through January with a break for the hols (yay for something fun in January!) – for the other stops see below.

And leave me a comment (how about you tell me what the most frustrating part of quilting was for you when you began?) if you’d like to win a copy. I’ll choose a winner on Friday!

Dec. 2 – Maddie Kertay  – Bad Ass Quilter’s Society

Dec. 3 – Sam Hunter – Hunter’s Design Studio

Dec. 4 – Carla Crim – Scientific Seamstress

Dec. 5 – Scarlett Burroughs – Craft Gossip

Dec. 6 – Jill Dorsey – Made With Moxie

Dec. 9 – Victoria Findlay Wolfe – Bumble Beans Inc

Dec. 10 – Lynn Harris – Little Red Hen

Dec. 11 – Teresa Coates – Crinkle Dreams

Dec. 12 – Joshua Helms – Molli Sparkles

Dec 13 – Liz Kettle – Stitch Journeys

Dec. 14 – Leah Day – The Free Motion Quilting Project

Dec 16 – Lisa Sipes – That Crazy Quilty Girl

Dec. 17 – Charlotte Newland – Displacement Activity

Dec. 18 – Teri Lucas – TerifiCreations

Dec. 19 – Cheryl Sleboda –

Dec. 20 – Kelly Biscopink – Stitchy Quilt Stuff

Jan. 6 – Generation Q

Jan. 8 – Rose Hughes – Rose Hughes – Quilt Artist

Jan. 9 – Janice Ryan – Better Off Thread

Jan. 10 – Flaun Cline – I Plead Quilty

Jan. 13 – Heather Jones – Olive and Ollie

Jan. 14 – Meg  – Without A Stitch On

Jan. 15 – Laura Lochore – Quokka Quilts

Jan. 16 – Elaine Wong Haselhuhn – Dashasel Sews

Jan. 17 – Kim Lapacek – Persimon Dreams