Monday, November 5, 2012

The 68 LB. Challenge

My younger sister, who is notorious for her lack of clutter and views me a kind of a crazy ( though creative) hoarder, sent this video to me a few weeks ago.  I meant to share it much earlier, but I've found my time has been spread so thin for the past few months.  I've having a difficult time finding any balance.  I spent most of last Friday composing three new articles to go with my latest accepted work for Altered Couture, so the writing gears are a bit more oiled than they have been for a long time.  I'm attempting to keep the momentum going.

I've been reconstructing, salvaging and altering clothing since my many years in college.  At that time it was about poverty and making a statement more than anything. As I grew older and had a family, this " gift" extended into the sewing of Halloween costumes, baby clothes, and gifts for people.  But it wasn't until I was in my late 40's that all of the pieces fell into place and it became a mission.  I had recently given up my rented retail space when my mother was fighting cancer.  The economy had taken a dive, wall art wasn't selling, and my focus needed to be with my family.  I had begun dabbling with encaustic collage on canvas and had a number of images completed, but I needed to find a new way of marketing them.  I figured out how to scan and print these images onto muslin and began to combine them with salvaged trims and fabric to construct elegant little purses that I could lay out at home and carry with me to sew while I racked up air miles flying back and forth to Minnesota, or sat in hospital rooms.  It was therapeutic  to have something very tactile to keep my hands busy during such a stressful time.  I had accidentally stumbled onto a path that lead me directly to the place I was supposed to be a very long time ago.....wearable art.  Who knew!  Life is funny that way.  I was lamenting my poor education and career choices with my daughter on Saturday, while I was engineering the creation of a wearable soft sculpture snail shell for one of her girlfriend's birthday, ( I know that I'm supposed to be creating new work for the 3 shows coming up, but she presented me with a challenge I couldn't refuse!).  While I was studying graphic design and working in advertising, which I ALWAYS hated, I should have been studying how to drape fabric and make patterns.  Every day, now, I am excited about what I do.  I look forward to being stretched creatively, finding new ways to re-use discarded things.....I'm a bit obsessed.         It's staggering to consider that the average American casts off 68 pounds of clothing every year.  The purchasing of only previously owned clothing and up-cycling is a sensibility that is beginning to catch on, thankfully.  I'm delighted by the number of new books and publications I have run across recently that are dedicated to this movement.   It's more of a marathon than the path that I referred to earlier, though.  There are many of us who are physically running the race, but we would all run out of steam if it wasn't for all of the people who are inspired by us, cheering us on.   Thank you for your belief and your support.  Your voices help me know that I am finally moving in the right direction.      

Thursday, August 23, 2012


" When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity."

-Linda Naiman

It's been a difficult summer spent mostly focused on my daughter's continuing struggle with chronic daily migraine syndrome, working on filling her up with tools to manage her pain so that she could go into the 8th grade feeling empowered in spite of a headache that won't go away.  Normally we would have escaped LA,  to spend some time in Minnesota with my family, allowing her to run free with her friends and cousins, to be a kid in ways that living in a scary city doesn't permit.  In many ways I believe that having that time would have been more beneficial in relieving the anxiety that seems to be the cause of her pain...but we opted for a strict schedule of acupuncture and doctor visits instead.  People who care about me have been commenting on how exhausted I appear....that I need to take a break, suggesting quietly sitting on a beach somewhere.  I am very tired...but I think my exhaustion comes mainly from my brain straining for all of the creative time that has been given over to the stuff of life over the summer.  Now that school has begun again, I have a bit more time to lose myself in my work, which is the thing that sustains and calms me.  Every minute that I am allowed to be creative is a mini vacation for me.  My work is my play.

Friday, July 20, 2012


" Trust yourself.  Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.  Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner spark of possibility into flames of achievement"

- Golda Meir

I received a lovely gift in the mail yesterday...The Fall '12 issue of Altered Couture, in which I have the honor of exhibiting four of my pieces over ten pages.  It's exciting to be included within and applauded by a community of other artists who embrace a like passion and goal.  Altered Couture gives us a beautiful forum in which to not only share our work, but also share musings about ourselves and our creative process....and hopefully inspire others to fan their own creative spark.  Most of my days are spent in relative seclusion, quietly reveling in the sound of a needle and thread being pulled through fabric.  I've never been someone who has needed the sound of hands clapping in my honor, or pats on the back to feel fulfilled by my craft.  I realize that in order to financially make what I do pay off, I need to do what doesn't come naturally and that is to promote myself....constantly!  I struggle with this every day.  The past year, the publishers at Stampington have helped me to explore new avenues of self promotion and I am so grateful to them for that.  I've made some new friends along the way; readers who were inspired enough by my work to contact me in person....the exchanges I have with these people are really the payoff in the end.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


" If a man loves the labour of his trade, apart from any question of success or fame, the gods have called him."

-Robert Louis Stevenson

I've been struggling to quiet the noisy marching band of thoughts racing through my head this week.  It's difficult to write when my focus is scattered in so many different areas. I've come to the realization that a lot of the tension I feel is because the manner in which I work is in conflict with the sensibilities  of the world that I work in.  In a world where nothing can be completed quickly enough....instant gratification at the push of a button, fast food, 30 minutes or less....the way that I work is archaic.  I prefer to hand stitch nearly everything.  Listening to a needle and thread being pulled through fabric is like a gentle reassuring whisper in my ear telling that there is still one place left that I can hide from the rest of the world that is trying to pull me apart at the seams.  It can take me weeks, months or years to finish a single piece, which is why I work on several pieces at once.  I become very emotionally attached to nearly every piece that I work on as I pack them up and take them with me to continue working wherever my day takes me...they are like my children; little parts of me that I am coaxing along, preparing to send out into the world when they are ready.  I have the most difficulty when a piece is finished and it is time to release it, not because I've become too attached ( although there are some pieces that work their way into my own closet...I'm a walking billboard after all!), but because I need to put a price on my work.  It's difficult to compete in a world where quantity often wins out over quality, where hand made isn't as valued as inexpensive and " good enough".  Other artists urge me to raise my prices, because they understand the time that I've put into every piece.  But if pieces don't sell, because the world is gauging everything according to Walmart pricing, I'm lost.  Trying to work out a price somewhere in the middle is the challenge.  I rarely am paid for my time with dollars. There are sacrifices that I've had to make because of this.  But what is my time worth?  I am paid by not having to fight traffic on the 5 freeway every day, by having the experience of raising my own children, as well as other peoples'.  Being paid daily with the peace that I receive from the whispers of a needle and thread make me very rich...I wish it could also pay the rent....

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Journey

" There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives."
   -  Josephine Hart

Discovering what you feel passionately about....something that defines who you are and drives you forward every single an adventure that I urge everyone to take in their lives.  For some people, this is an easier task than others.  For me it has taken hitting bottom, repeatedly, before the smoldering embers of my creative spirit took hold of a warm breeze and turned into a roaring flame.  It has taken patience to quiet the voices in my head that were screaming at me about the work that I 'should' be doing,  so that I could really hear the more gentle, nearly silent voice of my soul.  I can honestly say that  fire has saved my life....saved me from some really dark places that I have needed to travel through, and stood as a beacon of hope in a calmer harbor.  Everywhere I look I see little landscapes of what inspires me.  I am always aware of the dark places, but my mind is filled with color....and the beautiful sound that a needle and thread make as they are pulled through layers of cloth calms me so that I hear more clearly where my soul wants to sail....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


" Good friends are like stars...You don't always see them, but you know they are there."


The end of the school year is a strange time for me.  I am excited for having survived all of the car pool time and the homework and at the same time I feel an ache in the pit of my stomach for the friends that I  rarely bump into outside of the school setting.  They are writers, animators, poets, fine artists and teachers...ridiculously creative deep thinking people with wonderful stories and interesting, humorous perspectives about life, art and parenting.  I have never thought of myself as a very good friend.  I watch how other people keep friendships; meeting for coffee, having dinner, throwing parties, going shopping....spending real time.  I'm not very adept at spending time that way....I am easily overwhelmed by the  demands of my "real world", and when there is any time that isn't filled with requests, I take a running leap off of the end of the dock and cannon ball into the world of "my head", which at this point is beginning to look like an episode of " Hoarders" for all of the unfinished work that is stored there.  I lose track of the real world when I'm in my head....being forced to resurface from this peaceful coral reef of color, texture and possibility with a chorus of, "I'M BORED!" , quite frankly makes me want to throw a shoe !  I hope that my friends know how much I feel blessed in every moment that we spend together.  How much they mean to me.  How much I miss the texture of our conversations and the impact and influence they have in my life.   I think about you every day, and look forward to and treasure when we happen to run into each other while racing through our days.  I am comforted to know that we look up at the same night sky....

Friday, June 15, 2012

" I work in a meditative manner.  My visual language is pulled from my unconscious and I express in my work what I cannot express with words."          - Pat Gentenaar-Torley