Hidden 2018

It being the final week of the Hidden Sculpture Walk, Joanne and I journeyed out to Rookwood Cemetery in western Sydney. Things would have gone much better had I been brave enough to drive.

Remembering full well the struggles I encountered two years ago when I went to Hidden 2016, I still chose public transport over driving in the city. My (ir)rationale was that I’m in better physical shape for the long walk from the train station, across the vast continent of Rookwood, and then back again, and also thinking that I had a better grasp of the public transport routes than I did two years ago.

When I came back from my recent trip to the US, I was overly eager to return to my gym routine. Having spent a sedentary ten weeks, I just wanted to feel my body move. I overdid it and ended up hurting myself, making my first assumption about walking a complete fairy tale. And while my understanding of train routes has improved, I still underestimate walking distances and what I’m capable of.

Rookwood is one of the oldest and largest, operating cemeteries in Australia, and covers over 314 hectares. We entered the cemetery in the northwest corner, somewhere near the end of the sculpture walk. But where? The tiny map on my phone, pulled from the website, was a snapshot of the area of the exhibit. Hidden was truly hidden from us, but we stumbled about until we found the tail end of the walk. I will admit, it took entirely too long for it to register with me why the arrows were pointing the wrong way.

I should have taken my real camera, but couldn’t be bothered, plus I worried it was going to rain. The wonderfully tempestuous sky hanging over the crumbling gravestones deserved better than my i-Phone camera.

I was beyond pleased to get to the end that was the beginning of the walking tour. The uneven ground meant I was in a good deal of pain. Add that to my full bladder and worrying about my dying phone battery, and I’m afraid I was a poor exploring companion that day. Unable to figure out the disappearing bus schedule on Google maps, and too exhausted to walk the twenty minutes back to the train station, I gave up and called an Uber to the rescue.

Seed Stitch

I *recently* (ok, ok, it was way back in March) had the opportunity to indulge my love of textile art. When I saw the open call for Seed Stitch Inaugural Contemporary Textile Exhibition I could feel that old tug to submit something, but having no finished work with me and not even a WIP, I decided to just go to the show. The theme was one dear to my heart: the re-emergence of textiles and its transformation from a domestic craft into a genre of fine art. Soraya Abidin curated the exhibit, which included artists from around Sydney. From this group, the Seed Stitch Collective was formed; they’ll go on to make this, hopefully, an annual exhibit.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (14 of 18)Gunung Sari by Soraya Abidin

Soraya‘s works are “born of a love for the primitive practices within [her] Malay cultural heritage,” and is informed by spiritual and ceremonial practices, Islamic arts, and crafts of the Orang Asli (the indigenous people of Malaysia).

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (15 of 18)She embroiders in natural raffia and embellishes with gold leaf. In her artist statement, she says her “artworks are in response to the absence of nature in the digital world.”

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (7 of 8)Avenger by Soraya Abidin
Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (6 of 8)It Rained All Summer by Carole Douglas

Carole Douglas works with found objects, natural dyes, reused cloth. In her artist statement, she states,  “…I am inspired by old textiles and the honouring of lineage that is imbued in each piece,” the hand of the maker and the stains left through use.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (10 of 18)Wandering through the exhibit, I found myself drawn to the lines of hand-stitching central to several pieces. I am always in awe when I see the detail, the careful spacing, and the uniform stitches. It makes me want to grab a piece of cloth and get lost in the meditation of needle pulling thread.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (4 of 18) Symphony by Jessica B Watson

Jessica B. Watson creates her stitched collages by painting onto translucent silk, then cutting out the shapes and stitching them onto a larger piece of linen or hemp. Her piece, “Symphony” came about from a summer’s evening wade at the beach, and finding herself standing in the midst of a school of brightly coloured fish.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (3 of 18)You can see how her hand-stitching contributes to the overall movement of her design.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (5 of 18)Pelican Party by Jerome Speekman

And of course I loved this panel of stitched pelicans! Jerome Speekman got into his ex’s embroidery basket one day and discovered he was really good at this! Since then, he’s been creating beautiful “needle paintings” like this one.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (6 of 18)Just amazing! I wish I had such patience.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (12 of 18)Topology of Memory by Emma Peters

Emma Peters works with raw and local materials and natural dyes, and incorporates new technologies such as digital printing into her pieces that draw on the tradition of heirloom quilting to tell stories and hold memory.

Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (13 of 18)Detail from Topology of Memory series.

 Seed Stitch textile art exhibit (3 of 8)Exhale by Suzanne Davey

This piece by Suzanne Davey makes me feel like I could spread my wings and fly.  “Exhale” is created using fabric, steel, resin and thread, and explores qualities of light and movement in textiles.

The Seed Stitch Collective will be having another exhibit in November at Barometer Gallery in Paddington. I’ll be there for sure!

Some Art Happened

juju stick (7 of 7)
I was motivated to make a little mixed media art this week.

juju stick (6 of 7blessings)
I took a piece of driftwood that was found out at the lake.

juju stick (light)
It’s been sitting in my studio for too many years, waiting for me to do something with it.

juju stick (spirit)
So I did this.

juju stick (1 of 7)
We are heading off to Iowa again tomorrow for a big 4th of July family reunion.  I am thrilled to see my kids and their partners, and I’m looking forward to lots of fun times with my granddaughter!  I’ll be back in a couple weeks, with my granddaughter in tow.  So I promise of overload you with pictures of her and tales of our shenanigans:)

Have a safe and happy 4th of July wherever you may be!

Traveling Art Journal Kit

traveling art kit 4
This huge pile is what I decided I wanted to stuff in that pouch I made!  I was worried that it wouldn’t all fit.  I found a bunch of fun things: twinkling H2Os (little pots of paint are fun:), glue stick, a white Gelly Roll pen, and a black Pigma Micron, a water brush, tiny letter stamps and stamp pad, washi tape, and some little scissors.

traveling art kit3
I filled an empty tin with cancelled postage stamps, and punched hearts, owls, and other shapes.  The scissors and washi tape fit in there just fine.

traveling art kit2
I added a few small sheets of drawing paper.  Oh!  This is going to be a close call!

traveling art kit
It fits!  I was so thrilled to find out that my daughter was thrilled with it!  It’s always good to hear that you did something right.  I think I need one of these too;)

Polar Vortex

It is cold.  We left the relatively warm Utah last week, to escape the inversion and to come to Iowa to visit family and friends.  I don’t think the term “polar vortex” really sank in until we got here.

We ran up to Wisconsin to the wedding of some dear friends.  She wouldn’t tell me what they wanted for wedding gifts, so I drew this picture.  She’s a fan of Día de los Muertos.

This morning I woke up to some visitors out the back window.

I was trying to frame her with the frost on the window.  I wasn’t quite awake enough to figure that one out!


I’m worrying about their diets in these frigid temperatures, so I left a little treat.

I was only out there about 7 minutes before I had quite the brain freeze!


There is no doubt that the landscape is beautiful.  The added bonus of course is that we can breathe this clean air.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even colder:)

New Work

red and green christmas bunting
I went missing again, I know.  I have many more Uganda photos and thoughts; I’ve just been busy thinking about what else I have to say about the trip and what it meant to us.  That and I’ve been busy getting ready for a holiday market that was a complete bust.

woodpecker and midcentury textile design painting
It was the Christkindlmarkt here in Salt Lake.  For three days I sat in a very frigid hut and listened to people say, “oh you do decoupage!”  WTF?!?!?

white breasted nuthatch midcentury textile design painting
Really?  Decoupage?

cardinal and midcentury textile design painting
It’s my own fault.  I told the woman last June when she asked me to be in the market that my stuff does not sell in Utah.   She assured me that this was a “high-end” market and that people came “expecting to spend money”.

red and green christmas flower garland
That’s another thing I heard a lot of, “that’s nice, but we didn’t bring any money with us.”

red crochet flower gift embellishment
That’s if they weren’t saying, “oh crochet is easy; my grandmother used to do that.”  Just because your grandmother did it, doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Perhaps you should have given your grandmother a little more credit.

birds and midcentury textile design paintings
I sound bitter you say?  I am, but like I said, it’s my own fault for falling for her wooing and pretty lies.  This is just one more wake up call to listen to my gut.  Anyway, these guys are all in the shops now, and I do promise to be back soon with more on the Uganda trip and some crafty things I have up my sleeve.

Art Journaling Therapy and Depression

pumpkins and art journal_2
I’ve been a bad blogger lately.  The truth is I’ve been struggling with depression since early August.  While depression is something I’ve battled all my life, usually it comes in much shorter spurts.  Usually it comes in late winter when I’ve been buried under a Utah inversion, never in autumn, my favorite time of year!  This bout has been tough.  First I came down with a horrible summer cold, then my cat got sick.  The next thing I knew, I was in a deep dark funk and couldn’t pull myself out.   I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner though and just in time!  I was going to be very angry at myself if I was depressed the entire time we were in Uganda!  I have hope;  I’ve had five days of feeling good and even managed to feel happy and positive while sitting in traffic today.
pumpkins and art journal_3
One thing that has really helped me, is I’ve been using art to work through the darkness.  Awhile back I talked about wanting to do art journaling again.  I start most days in the studio allowing myself to just play with pretty colors and old paper.
pumpkins and art journal_4
I’ve been very drawn to Halloween imagery.  All of these archetypes represent a shadow side; through these symbols I’ve been able to work through my own darkness.
pumpkins and art journal_5
Just allowing myself to play, creating work that is only for me, is not only fun, it’s freeing.  My creative juices are flowing strongly.  This is definitely a practice that I am going to keep up.
felted pumpkin bowl jack o lantern trick or treat candy dish
This is probably the last blog post for awhile.  We leave for Uganda on Monday.   Thank you to everyone who has donated or made a shop purchase to help support our volunteer work.  We appreciate you so very much.  It warms my heart to know that there are such wonderful, caring people in this world:)

While in Uganda, I will be posting to my Facebook page – hopefully every day.  The hotel does have wi-fi, so cross your fingers that all will go well.  If I am able to, I will post here.  I will most certainly be bringing back lots of photos and stories to tell!

The Dangers of Too Much Inspiration

art journaling_1

I was digging around in my studio this week.  I pulled out some old, old, art journals and altered books and had one of those ah-ha moments.  I’ve always been a big fan of writing in books, especially cookbooks, so making the leap to drawing and gluing things in books was a natural progression.  The first altered book I made was about 10 years ago, before I knew it was a thing, and before I knew what a blog was.  The first one was a gift to my sweetheart.  Then after some major upheaval in my life I started using altered books as art therapy journals.  I got over the upheaval, had some more, life mellowed out again, and I kept up my art journal/altered book practice.  For awhile.

art journaling_5

Fast forward a couple years.  I started looking at magazines like Somerset Studio.  I discovered blogs and all the craftiness out there.  The more I looked at this “inspiration” the less I was able to creatively, and satisfactorily engage in this kind of art play myself.  Where I used to just sit at my desk with some paint, glue, and paper, and create in a very organic, intuitive way, now I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how to do it “right”.

art journaling_3

Prior to this freezing up, I used to make little mini collages almost daily.  That stopped.  It all stopped.  Now, I’ve been sitting at my desk for days trying to do a new page in one of the altered books and I spend more time just staring at it than I do creating imagery.

art journaling_2

When I first sat down to play on Monday, I felt a thrill come over me that I haven’t experienced in ages.  Then after awhile I started making excuses to get up and go do this and that.  I’m trying to push through, but it is rather painful.  I feel so blank inside.  I’m floundering.

art journaling_4

I want to make this a daily practice again.  One without so much outside stimulation.  I think I can get there, to remember how to find what is uniquely inside of me, to put that on the page.   I keep telling myself that nobody has to see this but me.  If I don’t like the page I can do another.  And another….until it starts to flow again.

art journaling

Prints Available

I’ve added some prints of my bird paintings to my Society6 shop.

Pelican painting bird art
I call this painting Pelican Dream. This is my favorite painting I’ve done.

White breasted nuthatch
The original of this cheeky little guy sold a few months ago, but you can still get a high quality art print of this white breasted nuthatch.

brown creeper bird art_2
This brown creeper crawling up the wall paper is also in the shop.

All proceeds from print sales will be going to support our volunteer work in Uganda this coming October.

Let’s Try Joomchi

Earlier this year, at a Utah Surface Design Group meeting, I got to watch a demonstration of Joomchi. Joomchi is an ancient Korean paper felting technique.  It is an obscure craft, originally passed down through oral traditions,  that is just now enjoying a resurgence among handmade paper artists.  The earliest written record of joomchi is during the Choson dynasty (1392-1910).  There was a time in Korea when woven fabrics were too expensive, so people made garments from joomchi.

I’ve been wanting to try this myself, but didn’t trust my handwritten notes from the demonstration, so I went looking on the internet. I could not find a single tutorial, or even much information about the craft at all. There is a highly recommended book by Jiyoung Chung who is a leading contemporary joomchi artist. I’ll get that when I can, but until then I decided to rely on my memory.  Be forewarned, this was an experiment, and it didn’t turn out right actually.  I’ll show you what I did anyway.

joomchi 1
You start with mulberry, or handmade, paper.  You can buy this in huge sheets at art supply stores.  I remembered that I had some small sheets, and decided that would be good to practice with.  This is messy, so I did it in the kitchen.  You put down your first sheet of paper and thoroughly soak it with water.  The artist doing the demo used a spray bottle, but not knowing where mine was hiding, I just used a sponge brush and a bowl of water.  Lay down your next sheet and wet it.  Carefully smooth out all the air bubbles.  Again, the artist had a special tool for this.  I used my hands and the sponge.  Keep doing this; you should have at least 3 or 4 layers.  On the top layer I placed some punched flowers.

joomchi 2
Next, accordion fold the stack of wet paper, then roll it like a snail.  Now go play with this ball for about 20 minutes, squeezing and squishing.  I just checked my notes again, and found one of my mistakes.  If my handwriting were more legible, perhaps I wouldn’t have missed this!  After the first 20 minutes, unroll it, roll it up the other way, and do another 20 minutes.  Ahhhh!  Now I get it!

joomchi 3
Now, carefully unroll the paper and flatten it out.  Wet it again (I wonder if you’re supposed to wet it a second time between the 20 minute squeeze sessions).  Pinch fold it with your fingers.  Twist it to ring out the water.

Lay it out flat to dry.  I took a rolling pin to it at this point to really flatten it out.  I do remember her saying that when it was felted enough there should be pinholes.  I don’t think there were really any pinholes in mine.  To be honest, my hands hurt and I didn’t want to squeeze it anymore.

This is what it looks like dried.  The final product should be soft and pliable like fabric.  Mine is pretty stiff, and one of those flowers keeps trying to come off.  I also remember the artist saying that there was some kind of “handmade” paper that you buy in craft stores that doesn’t felt because of the way it’s processed and chemicals that are in it.  I don’t really know where this paper came from or what it’s made of.  I do plan to try again and this time do the second 20 minute squeeze, along with some battering with a rolling pin.  That should do the trick!  In the meantime, I do plan to make use of this piece for my Arthouse Co-op Random Spark project.  More on that later:)

Have a beautiful weekend!