Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Button Quest

Lately I've been on a button quest.  Not just any buttons will do -- they must be at least 1-1/4" diameter -- they must look contemporary -- they must look like they came from the earth, carved or sculpted from wood or stone or any manner of natural material.

Luckily for me - I found some of these treasures locally.  One source was a surprise to me and that was Hancock Fabrics.  I knew they had a lot of buttons there, but they are now carrying some lines that feature larger, natural looking buttons - just what I've been looking for.  Another local source is Waechter's Silk Shop - a wonderful fabric store in Asheville where they have a whole wall of buttons. 

Now that I have this lovely pile in front of me, my fingers are itching to create more abstract punchneedle pieces where I can attach a little 'piece of the earth'.

"If one way be better than another, that you may be sure is nature's way". - Aristotle

Monday, April 25, 2011


In creating "Pathways" I was able to use and experiment with different levels of loops.  I happily went from level 1 to 2 to 3 and even up to 4.  I thought I was being quite adventurous going up to level 4 but as I look at my needle I see that there is the capacity of level 12!  I'll have to do a test of that one just to see what it looks like.

As I worked this piece I was drawn back to all the stitching pathways my life has traveled. Sewing: my grandmother showing me how to use the sewing machine after my mother died.  We made a cloth doll using old sheets. Embroidery: taught to me by my husband's grandmother.  We embroidered tiny night shirts in preparation for my son's birth.  Needlepoint: Stitching at lunch breaks in a room where smoking was allowed (yuck).  Cross stitch:  I did so much of this that I'm sure there were several relatives who groaned upon receiving a package from me ('not another one')!  Primitive dolls and Santa's: For several years I made enough of these to sell at craft shows.  One year I made over 60 Santa's while working full time.  Bookart: I started out using paper but soon went back to my beloved fabric and stitching.  Beading: encrusted beading which involved thousands of teeny, tiny seed beads.  Punchneedle: my latest stitching passion.  My hands have always been busy with some form of stitchery and for that I am so very grateful.  What would it be like to not ever have picked up that first needle and thread?  
Each path has brought me to where I am today and I hope that each day will bring new paths to forge.  Isn't life wonderful!

"I dreamed a thousand new paths. . . I woke and walked my old one". - Chinese Proverb

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

A sunny afternoon - a walk around the yard - the marvel of flowers where it seemed not so long ago snow lay on the ground.

Some are quite showy, others are small and easily overlooked.  

Some look like small lavender lanterns.

Some look like small white orchids.

All of them beautiful and the answer to nature's promise that spring will follow winter.

"Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light". - Theodore Roethke

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Spring Fling"

I'm taking to the skies with "Spring Fling".  I picture this bird floating along, beneath a puffy cloud -- aqua, turquoise and coral against the blue sky.  There are absolutely no grey, drizzly days with this fellow flitting around.

"Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings". - Victor Hugo

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Connecting the Loops

I am beginning another abstract punchneedle.  I have created the design, I have figured out the color scheme and I have transferred the pattern to Weaver's cloth. 

The process of punchneedle, especially abstract, is still new to me and I am just getting used to it.  When I begin an abstract punchneedle piece it is really an 'unknown'.  I can gather up my threads of many colors, I can create and prepare the pattern design but I cannot really 'see' how it is going to turn out.  When beginning a piece of punchneedle the design itself looks awful.  In fact, beginners often ask their teacher 'what am I doing wrong, it doesn't look like anything'.  Until I punch several rows or even a complete section of a design I try not to even turn the frame over because if I do, all I see are disconnected loops just standing there, not making any sense whatsoever.  Until they connect, until they rest against each other they are just standing there looking funny.

This connection makes me think about how I am, as an individual, connected with so many other individuals.  Sometimes, we look like the individual loops - not making any sense and looking slightly forlorn.  When I think about it, I realize how very much we need our connections to each other in order to have our lives make sense and in order for each of us to be a 'complete picture'.  Just some random thoughts as I punch this day...

"Without a sense of caring there can be no sense of community". - Anthony J. D'Angelo

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Into the Woods"

My first truly abstract punchneedle piece.  A larger piece than I've done before -- which was very freeing.  A test of colors and stitch heights and mixing and matching.  Of filling in spaces and running out of yarn and a kind soul rescuing me from delay and frustration.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this picture - drawing the design onto fabric and then changing it as I went along to make a better mixture of color and space filling.  There was no feeling of 'this has to be here or it won't make sense' - there was no sense to be made - just punching my needle in and out.  Sometimes a space was filled with loops only to be removed and replaced by different thread -- sometimes a shape was changed to make it fit better with those shapes around it.

This new-to-me journey is off to a start.  There will be much thought before starting the next design.  There are sketches to make and threads to choose.  I want to achieve a different awareness when I look at the world around me.  Perhaps I am trying to change my own perspective of a world which seems to have gone crazy.  Perhaps I am saying 'this is what a want to see - not necessarily what is really happening'.  If that is the case, so be it -- I highly recommend this type of 'therapy' to everyone!

"I am searching for abstract ways of expressing reality, abstract forms that will enlighten my own mystery". - Eric Cantona

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Into the Swamp!

We took a few days to drive over to an area near Charleston.  Our plan was to explore more of the swamps in that area.  Unbeknownst to me - South Carolina is a treasure trove of black water swamps!  This time we visited Cypress Gardens and The Frances Beidler Forest.  Both of these were wonderfully peaceful places with huge Cypress trees and dark, dark water, which has the color of a strong cup of tea.

I learned that the Cypress tree is related to the Redwood tree - and from the size of some of these I could well believe it.  No way you could drive through one of these however as they are surrounded by water.

This is a happy sight of spring, in these quiet, deep forests.

The Cypress knees fascinate me -- they have such shapes as to look like a person standing or a whole family, perhaps having a deep discussion.  This one made me think of an animal (perhaps otter shaped) which was nuzzling its babies into place.  Can you see it?

The water is filled with tannin and is very, very clean because the tannin removes any bacteria.  Not that I would be dipping my hand in this water - there are snakes and alligators that may not appreciate my attention.

There were shapes and textures everywhere.  These Cypress swamps are exotic and mysterious places.  I am definitely a 'visitor' enjoying the magic.  I send a special thanks to those people who are dedicated to preserving these treasures.

"The goal of life is living in agreement with nature." - Zeno

Monday, April 4, 2011

This Moment

"Music of her World" by Deborah C. Kracht

This image is posted above my work table.  Each day its bright colors welcome me into my little nest of a work area.  The words help me remember to use each day, each hour, each minute, each second to nourish my soul and to help all five senses plus my hands bring forth efforts of gentleness and beauty.

Sometime I actually manage to heed these words as my both my mind and hands keep busy.  Other days I'm not quite so able.  On those days my mind whirls around like a hamster on a wheel in a cage -- all sorts of random thoughts that usually have no significance whatsoever.  On those days my hands move - but not in any direction, doing this and that and that and this.

So here's to more days where I can be 'in the moment' and let the 'music fill my soul' and I wish the same thing for each of you.  After all we're all in this moment together!

"Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it". - Dee Hock


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