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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


"As one gets older one sees many paths that could be taken.  Artists sense within their own work that kind of swelling of possibilities, which may seem a freedom or a confusion."  - Jasper Johns

I've been going through my years of archived photos today. It will be 10 years this Fall that Kafuffle Designs was born out of a need to find my creative voice again so that I could survive my failing 16 year marriage.  After my first daughter was born, I had decided not to go back to the 16 hour days of movie advertising.  I continued to do freelance from home, generating all of the artwork for KROQ calendars and events,  hand tinting photography for advertisements and greeting cards, creating logos, and even illustrating a book.  When computers deemed my skills archaic, I stepped away from advertising....a bit sore from being replaced by a machine pretty much overnight, but also a bit relieved because I HATED what I was doing.   I didn't hate all of it...KROQ was great, and they paid quite well, but everything that I created was about reading other people's minds...trying to extract what was in their heads and getting it down on the page.  Ever since I could hold a crayon, my creativity had been my voice, as I was terribly shy, quiet, anxious kid.  I preferred to say things with artwork than with words...and as an adult, that is one thing that hadn't changed.  As my marriage was ending I immersed myself in paint and paper and found objects...I became obsessed with resurrecting broken things and breathing life back into them, and they in return filled my lungs with the fresh air that I needed to find my voice again.  When I look back at my archived photos I am reminded of all of the different stages of growth I have gone through.  It's difficult to describe " what I do", because it kind of looks like a shotgun blast of unfocused creative output.  I find it easier to say what I need to say if I combine a lot of different mediums....I don't like rules very much, which is funny coming from a person who keeps her anxiety under control, not with drugs, but with a ridiculous amount of structure and planning.  Art is my release is the one place where anything and everything is possible and I let my hair down.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Flight Delayed....

"  I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."  - Edgar Allan Poe

I have found it difficult to find anything very interesting to say lately.  These past few months of days filled with phone calls, medical research, insurance companies and all of the bills that follow have left me feeling exhausted and creatively brain dead.  Having a normally incredibly silly child who is suddenly in chronic pain has tethered me, necessarily, in the real world.  For many people, this reality is what they do every day of their child's life.  I have been spending time at the Children's Hospital....I have watched these courageous parents and their even more courageous children.  When your child is ill, you find inner strength that you never knew you had.  For me inner strength and inner peace do not hold hands though.  My peace only comes from my creative voice.  Without it, I lose any sense of balance and other parts of my life ex husband and I were just discussing this the other creative wings have been temporarily clipped, but feathers grow back.  I know that I still have the ability to fly, it just takes patience and more work right now.  This has given me an appreciation for the crazy world of creative expression that I have been allowed and encouraged to live in most of my life.....I have so many people to thank, especially my family, for picking me off of the ground and dusting me off, or at least having the kindness to not laugh too hard when they've watched me trip and try to cover it with a intricately choreographed dance.  Thank you.....for seeing me as a better person than I see myself, and for kicking me in the butt when I've needed it.  I am blessed.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


" Have you ever noticed that when you struggle to hear something, you close your eyes? "

-Marilyn Vos Savant

I haven't written a post in a while.  I made a resolution at the new year to compose at least one new post every week.  It had nearly become a weekly habit.  Some weeks I had more to say than others, but it was something that was always in the back of my mind and I'd always post something, even if it was only a quotation that appealed to me along with an image of one of my original pieces of art.  But life is rarely predictable, and at the beginning of March, it decided to throw me a huge curve ball.  When the map you have drawn out for yourself flies out of the car window, unless you have some idea where you are going, it can kind of freak you out a bit.  At the beginning of March, I had everything mapped out.  I was completing new work to submit to a magazine and had an upcoming show to create pieces for.  It was an incredibly busy time, I knew exactly where I was going and what I needed to do.  My creative voice was singing.  And then Reese came home from school with a splitting migraine headache that would not go away.  Today is May 2nd and she has not experienced a headache free day in 59 new map consisted of pain control, ER visits, entire days spent on the phone trying to find the right people to help her, and doing my own research on the web.  Every day for the past 2 months has been consumed by worry, paperwork and visits to doctors. Our new reality has become a harsh one with the diagnosis of Chronic Daily Migraine Syndrome....I haven't worked out a map for this one.  And yet, while this has all been happening, I've needed to keep the image of the old map in my mind, because I couldn't just turn around and head home....there were commitments I had made to myself and other people.  I have had to strain to hear my creative voice through all of this, which has been a very unusual thing for me.  I was elated to hear the news that all four pieces that I had submitted to Altered Couture had been accepted into the August 1st issue, and I was able to create 21 new pieces for the Hopkins show which is taking place this Saturday....having these commitments saved my sanity and has proven to me again that I am capable of far more than I know.  Reese is beginning a new medication to go along with her drastically modified life.  We are in the process of attempting to salvage what is left of 7th grade, as she has missed 2 months of school through this....our battle is still an uphill, but I'm a runner, so I'm ready for it.  It's still a struggle to hear my creative voice, but I close my eyes and focus on it at some point every day.  My maps are mostly drawn in pencil now, for easy modification and when they fly out of the car window we are getting a little better at just winging it.....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Altered Life....

" Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations."

- Faith Baldwin

Today marks a milestone of sorts. One month ago, my twelve year old daughter came home from school at the end of the day with a monster headache. It has been a frustrating month of struggling with doctors, insurance company red tape, phone calls ( Five hours one day), emergency room visits, and experimenting with medications. Prior to this, I had happily been preparing for a wearable art exhibition/sale....the first I have been part of since venturing into this altered clothing endeavor. But this month long migraine has altered our lives. It has beaten us to a pulp really. Instead of excitedly finishing her last week of school before Spring Break and planning a birthday party with friends ( Reese is 13 on Monday), my daughter has spent a depressing, painful month lying in bed in her darkened room, briefly venturing out to doctor appointments and the occasional brief errand to try her sea legs. Before this happened we had an idea of what our every day was going to it's a mystery to us. I've continued in my preparation for the upcoming show, but it has been with much less joy, in between bouts of pacing while composing the next message for a doctor in my head. I have felt blessed to have this show to look forward to. The tunnel has felt very dark and lonely and filled with peril lately...but if we squint in order to blur all that is immediately surrounding us, we can faintly glimpse a faint light at the end.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Giant Pain....

" Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define YOURSELF."

-Harvey Fierstein

This post is being channeled through a mother of a 12 year old girl who has had a constant migraine since March is the 23rd today. You do the math because I'm a mess. Matters of the brain of a nearly teenage girl are complex (an understatement), and when you are attempting to discover the root of chronic gripping cranial pain, every stone gets kicked over. We've been assured that it isn't because of anything life threatening ( thank God), but so far there hasn't been a single medication that has made more than a dent. I want to thank all of the people who have been coming out of the woodwork with suggestions based on what they themselves have done for similar pain....I will listen to anything. Dancing around naked in the moonlight wearing a goat mask, though.....really? It was really cold last night.....

Is it emotional, psychological, are there things going on at school that I don't know about. People can be horrible ( I prefer to use the word' shitty' actually, and I'm really there ya go) to one another. Girls are the worst offenders. Boys punch each other in the face....girls are terrorists. Reese is very much an individual ( don't know where she gets it) very strong in her convictions about being her own person. She is very well liked by nearly everyone. To have made it to school two days out of three weeks because you've dragged yourself there, headache and all, and be met by a table full of other 7 th grade girls who used to be friendly to you, having a full on disparaging conversation about you when they are seated right behind you, and you can not figure out how the dynamic changed so drastically while you were away.....Reese says it doesn't matter, but I know it does. She has really big beautiful wings, but wings are funny things. They give you the power to reach great heights, but they are also extremely delicate and easily injured. So, you group of horrible 7th grade girls, I don't believe that you are the cause of my daughter's headaches, because your opinion doesn't hold enough weight with her. But be warned, if this behavior continues, I will go through the proper channels to have all of you verbally punched in the spine ( to coin one of Reese's phases).

We are off to the emergency room right now for the second time in a week....because we have permission....thanks HMO. I'll keep you all posted. Please send up happy thoughts for my wee girl ....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

" Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."

- Albert Einstein

Monday, March 12, 2012


" Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time"

-Thomas Merton

I've been feeling very unsettled lately, exhausted emotionally and physically.....and unable to string together enough thoughtful words for a blog post last week. I've been delighted to have an invitation to exhibit and hopefully sell my work along side my sister's lovely creations at a Wearable Art fashion show and sale in May in Minnesota. It has given me a purpose for all of my frantic creating, which at some times can seem manic. I can't seem to turn it off. My hands need to be busy creating something all of the time. I carry work with me in the car wherever I go. I can't remember not being this way. Today while I was sewing, I began thinking how, at times, the way I work is similar to how Sarah Winchester built her sprawling San Jose mansion, with workmen building around the clock for 38 years. Her belief was that as long as she continued building, ghosts wouldn't haunt her, and she would continue to live. Sometimes, my continuous activity is like this.....when ghosts haunt me my work gives me a place to quietly hide and contemplate and work things out in my head and my heart. It does make it difficult to hold my hand however, because there is always a needle in it.

Friday, March 2, 2012


" Creativity is the result of the choice to shut out the screaming world around you, in order to precisely document your mind's relayed message. The gift is not the message itself; rather it is in the means of it's discovery."

- Summer Jeirles

Sunday, February 26, 2012


" Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backward, or sideways."
- H. Jackson Browne Jr.

People accuse me of never relaxing. It's true that I always have a running list in my head, that I am always problem solving, as most of my work is experimental in nature. I will always be the first person to confess that the older I grow, the less I feel I know for sure. I never know what will be popular. So, I'm always creating new pieces, rarely taking a day off even working when I'm supposed to be on vacation. Often, the pieces that speak the loudest to me, leave other people scratching their heads. I enjoy receiving feedback from people. Some of my pieces take months to complete, and I can get tunnel vision. I love releasing a new work into the wild and seeing how it fares. Many times I need to drag a piece back into the studio for revisions, which can, in the moment, feel like a step backward if I allow it to. In reworking a piece, more often it ends up being a step forward, and a period of growth as a human and as an artist. My greatest desire is that by throwing as much of myself out there into the world, I will leave my mark by inspiring other people to do so as well. Other elements in my life are always shifting, but the need to create and finding a means of doing so will always be the driving force for me opening my eyes every day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


" Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. "
- Charles Dudley Warner

This is something new that I am trying....simplicity. This dress was constructed from two men's dress shirts. It is part of my new line of altered men's wear.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lost and Found

" Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."
-Thomas Merton

Someone asked about the collages that I've been publishing with my posts lately. They are from a collection of encaustic collages that I created a couple of years ago. Most of them are on 5x7 or 8x10 stretched canvases or canvas boards. Here are a few more.....