Friday, October 28, 2011


Being an artist is like every other job. You have to go to your "office" every day and work.

Penny Berens stitches 5 hours a day.

Penny's work (detail) is always filled with hand and machine stitching

Judith Martin spends 5 hours stitching, 3 hours in studio designing and 2 hours researching. That's a 10 hour day.

Judy Martin presents her work " Heart to Heart"

Australian artist Dijanne Cevaal dedicates 50 hours per week to her art. That includes blogging, writing articles, teaching, designing, dying and making.

part of Dijanne Cevaal's Sentinelle Series

Before I became a mother and made that my career, I was a student at the National Ballet School and later a ballet dancer in a dance company in Vienna, Austria. I know about self discipline!

Now, I am a textile artist.

I sew every day, even on weekends. I spend on average about 4 hours in my studio creating and doing, depending on my family commitment.

Blogging, taking art classes, teaching, researching other textile artists, curating, writing my book...that is all extra! I fit that in when I can.

Confession: Sometimes I work on quilts unrelated to the quilt book I am writing or projects that have nothing to do with my teaching samples or my art work!! That is the equivalent of playing computer games when your boss isn't around!

wasting time??

I have decided to put aside every Wednesday for painting and preparing fabrics and papers for future works.

My dance training will come in handy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My New Studio

Watching all those decorating shows while I was sick inspired me to redo some of the rooms in my house.

I moved some bedroom furniture from one room to another one across the hall. That is now the new guest room.

I moved my studio from the sun room to that empty room. It gave me an opportunity to sort out and donate stuff I have not been using.

I love my new space!!

I have room for fabric.

I have room for books.

I have room for projects on the go.

I have room for precut strips.

My system consists of 3 swing lid garbage bins. Each bin holds
pre-cut strips of different sizes. All scrap fabric.
They are close to my cutting table.

I have room for two tables- one for sewing and one for cutting and layering.

I have room for a permanent design wall.

I have room for a couch for friends that visit. (and room to hang some art!)

painting on the window ledge done by my daughter, Isabelle

I have a large north-facing window.

I have room for everything- my quilting stuff and my textile art stuff.

I still do all the messy fabric painting in my unglamourous basement where I have good light and a sink. You don't want to see THAT space! Scary!!

Monday, October 24, 2011


I found out this morning via email that my Afghanistan piece was selected to be exhibited at Pfarrhaus, in the city of Hasenweiler, Germany.

 Farida's Garden, 15" x 10"
Farida is the person who embroidered the square on the far right.

My piece is part of a selection of 220 works from 14  countries. From this pool a selection is made for each exhibit as it tours Europe.    

Good news is a nice way to start the week!

Below are 6 of the embroidered Afghanistan squares I bought recently.

Each square is densely filled with stitch and has a border made of over lapping V's to contain those stitches.

Not sure how I will use them yet.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


It is another grey day in Toronto.

I will think of pink instead.

It's a good day to stay home and sew something happy.

(The day turned into a gorgeous sunny day!! I wonder if it was my positive pink thinking. I went out with my photographer and we did some shots for my quilt book.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Cold WIndy Day

This is Lake Ontario on a cold windy afternoon.

This is textile artist, Penny Berens', body of water.... looks way warmer!

"Meeting Place", approx. 13" x 30"

detail, "Meeting Place"

Penny now lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, and her work is influenced by the natural environment she sees every day.

She posts nice pictures of Nova Scotia on her blog.

When she lived in Toronto her work was influenced by symbols.

She has always done lots of hand stitching in her work.

detail, Rockbound, 33" x13"

detail, Rockbound, 33" x 13"

She is one of the artists that has agreed to exhibit a work in the show I am curating for France, 2012.

She spoke at the York Heritage Quilter's Guild last night and I went to see her.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

John Willard's Saturday Class

I took a class from quilter/textile artist, John Willard. He is a very big Canadian name.

John Willard explaining one of his works. He has been sewing since the 60's

What to bring to class? Wild fabrics! Lots of brights, dots, stripes, pattern!

definitely out of my comfort zone!

The workshop was very "free". Nothing was sketched or planned. We just went with it.

I went from this:

To this:

To this:
Mine is not quite done. I would like to add a strip of orange.

None of the students' works were the same (how refreshing!). Everything depended on their choice of colours and fabric.

I liked following John around the classroom while he advised the students. He has so much knowledge and experience.

I learned about fabric and pattern and colour and how to mitre borders properly and a new way to finish the edges for my art work.

I made a new friend.

Plus it was a really fun day!

Thanks John!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Printing and Stitching

Dorothy Caldwell is a very well known textile artist.

She was born in the USA but lives in Ontario, Canada.

Silent Fog and Following the Sound of Birds

I went to see her show today at David Kaye Gallery in downtown Toronto.

In Place: new landscapes

Cotton printing and stitching.

1092 Queen Street West, entrance on Dovercourt

She received a Canada Council grant and travelled to Australia and the Canadian Arctic for inspiration
for this series

Resting Place

Following the Sound of Birds

Wet Lake/Dry Lake

My pictures do not do any of her work justice. There is so much detail my camera does not pick up.

detail, Wandering Times
I love her stitching.

detail. Wandering Times

The show is on till October 30. Go see it if you can.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

shadow boxes

At the end of last year's guild meetings, there was a sale of miniatures raising money for two local charities. The organizing committee decided to add shadow boxes to the list of items for sale. This is the one I bought for $70. It was used for the poster for the sale.

made by Gail Marmoreo
She decided to frame it upside down!

This is the piece I submitted. It sold for $60.

"Impact", 4 1/2" x 4 1/2"
paper, plastic, thread, hand dyed and commercial fabrics

A few weeks ago the Yorkshire Rose Quilters Guild hosted a show in Toronto. They had more shadow boxes for sale. By the time I got there the ones I wanted to buy were sold.

detail, Karen Howes contemporary work.
I would have loved to buy her shadow box! (not shown)

I bought this quilt top instead.

It was made by Karen Howes

I will be showing it when I teach my beginner 9-patch course.

Our group has a lot of talent!

Monday, October 10, 2011

How Many Have I Made?

I was wondering how many quilts and textile art pieces I have made over the 20 years I have been sewing.

When I started doing textile art, a friend (installation artist and prof at OCAD) suggested I get all my work professionally photographed. I thought that was much too extravagant. My work photographed? I am sorry I did not take her advice. I wish I had them all photographed and documented.

Some are sold and are out of the country.

Some have been given away as gifts. One was given to somebody and before the recipient could send me a photograph, his house caught fire and burnt to the ground. The hand-appliqued, original wall hanging went with it.

Some are here in my home.

Not all of them have titles.

I don't have the measurements for all of them.

I don't even remember when some of them were made.

This is my very first "art quilt" I ever made.

Running in the Rain, 2005
19"x45", 48cm x115cm
commercial cottons, organza, assorted fabrics

I got the idea while sitting in the car. It was pouring rain that afternoon. Through the water dripping on the windshield I could see my son's soccer team running. The colours were fractured as they ran.

I like the irregular edges.

I like the dense quilting.

I like the chunks of colour.

I like remembering that day.

detail, Running in the Rain

It will be exhibited in Vicenza, Italy, during their 4-day Fiera in October.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Market on Saturday

I am feeling a little better. Thanks for all your emails!

We went to pick up a few ingredients for the Thanksgiving menu. We celebrate it this weekend in Canada.

I love all the colours at this time of year.

fresh Ontario cranberries in the front corner

It's nice to have some of the kids home in Toronto for the weekend.

A view of downtown Toronto for one of my daughters who
 lives in Paris, France, and won't be with us this weekend.

After the market, we had a huge family breakfast together.

french toast, raspberry treats from the market, oranges,
apples, juice and maple syrup!

This post has nothing to do with textile or my studio but I have not been sewing since... 10 days ago when I got sick. I still feel like my head is under water! The sound is very strange.