Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

Photo from Google Images
Morning has broken, like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlight from heaven.
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetnes of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning.
Born of the one light Eden saw play.
Praise with elation, praise every morning;
God's recreation of the new day.

Morning has broken, like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.
Happy New Year to one and all!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Tale


When I was a child, many of my gifts were homemade.  A wooden wardrobe for my doll clothes, built by my father.  Always a new doll for Christmas but with it came doll clothes that my mother made.  The traditional roller skates and bikes were of course part of those exciting mornings.

One year, as my mother tucked me into bed she told me that Christmas might not be as 'full' as it had been in past years, that because she was ill she hadn't been able to 'do as much'.  She then told me of her childhood Christmases, during the Great Depression, when all they got for Christmas was pajamas and an orange.  She said that the orange was always the best one she'd ever tasted.  That explained to me why each year my brother and I always had an orange in our stocking and got a new pair of pajamas, which my mother had made.

The next morning my brother and I approached the Christmas tree and its wonderful gifts.  There were twin dollies which my Mother had crocheted outfits for, there were the roller skates that I had wanted... I loved everything and told my Mother later in the day that it was the best Christmas I'd ever had.  Sadly that was the last Christmas we had with her as she succumbed to cancer the following summer.

As a young mother myself I kept up the tradition -- my son always had an orange in the toe of his stocking and always got new pajamas (whether he needed them or not).

These days for me, it is the holidays that surround Christmas which touch me most deeply.  Thanksgiving for its pause for thankfulness and New Years Day which says goodbye to yesterday and looks ahead with promise to the coming year.  Today I hope you are all making Christmas memories that will remain within your heart forever.
"I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year." - Charles Dickens

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

Look to this day for it is life.
The very life of life.
In its brief course lie all the verities
and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action.
The splendour of beauty.
For yesterday is but a dream,
and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well-lived,
makes every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day.
The Salutation of the Dawn
from the Sanskrit

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Waters

Photo by Tom Baugh
A recent trip to Looking Glass Falls and we found winter all about us.  No leaves on the trees, colors of brown/grey/slate and the white foam of the falls. 

Photo by Barbara Shadwick

This is the time when we wrap warm cloaks around ourselves and savor a hot cup of tea.  When layering sweaters and coats and mittens and hats begins before we venture outdoors.  When the skies threaten snow - and some of us wait for it eagerly while others await with dread.

Photo by Tom Baugh

Its stark beauty is in such contrast to the lushness of spring, summer and even fall.

Photo by Barbara Shadwick
My heart is filled with sadness these days with the recent events in Connecticut.  This is a time when I have no words that can capture what I'm feeling...

"When you do things from your soul you feel a river moving in you, a joy. When actions come from another section, the feeling disappears".  - Rumi

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"A Ten O'Clock Scholar"

" a diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar!
What make you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o'clock;
Now you come at noon."
    old nursery rhyme

Here's my 'Ten O'clock Scholar' - all decked out in flannel and corduroy for the cold days ahead.

He is reading so much better these days, since he got his glasses.

Just so he doesn't forget his ABC's!

"There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book." - Marcel Proust

Monday, December 10, 2012

Comfy Cozy

This is 'my' time of the year.  Its cold outside, but the sun still shines.  I find myself building my studio nest - with supplies and ideas to tide me over the long winter months. 

 During my childhood, when I had colds, my mother would rub my chest with Vicks VapoRub (I don't even know if they still make it) and I lay warmed with flannel cloths on my chest.  I would then snuggle down and fall alseep - safe, warm and cared for. 

Ever since then I have always loved flannel fabric.  I often wear a flannel shirt in my studio on cold mornings - loving the touch and feel of it - and of course there are flannel sheets and flannel pjs.

These days I'm moving the flannel out of the bedroom and the closet by collecting a batch with which to sew.  I  can see doll dresses and shirts, vests and hats -- all manner of 'cold-weather' doll clothing lies before me. 

"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." - Jane Austen

Thursday, December 6, 2012


 Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all...

I love these words.  What keeps us going when things are bad?  What helps light our way each day as we wake to greet the world?  What strong sense, somewhere deep within, allows light to break through when everything seems quite hopeless?
This little doll shows the bird in the cage - who certainly must sing in hope that one day the door will be open and he might fly free.  Perhaps Hope's key can open not only the birdcage door but that door that sometimes seems closed to each of us.

With hope comes our strength - that wellspring within that keeps all of us alive and aware of who we are and waiting for whatever miracles and magic might come our way.
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
and on the strangest sea;
It asked a crumb of me.
Emily Dickinson

My very special thanks to my friend Phyllis who sent me all of the fabric that I used to make this doll.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Our yard is filled with native plants -- I have had to almost lay myself down in front of a non-native plant to save it from withdrawal.  Each year, more and more of the introduced plants get reintroduced some place else. 

One of the last remaining non-native trees is the Asian Crabapple.  It sits directly in front of our house.  To remove it would mean leaving an empty hole - visually.  And so this 'foreigner' lives another year to show us lovely blooms in the springtime and these wonderful 'berries' in the fall. 

How nice to have a couple of branches in the house - the berries are such a perfect holiday compliment, almost as if they were created for just this purpose.

"A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked." - Anais Nin

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Can You Read My Heart?"

Let me introduce a new member of my family.  After going through a list of possible names, I made the decision not to traditionally name this particular doll but to use a spirit driven phrase - "Can you read my heart?"

This phrase came to me last month while helping a dear friend as her husband lay dying.  The words I spoke to her just didn't seem to be enough.  I wanted her to know how deeply I felt her loss.  As I thought about my frustration, this question came to me -"Can you read my heart?" 

I scribbled these words onto a piece of paper and laid it on my desk.  As I completed this little one I decided that with the writing on her arms and legs and her rusty, old heart sitting quite boldly on her breast, she deserved a very special name.  And so it is... "Can you read my heart?"

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart." - Confucius

Monday, November 26, 2012

Just a little bit smaller


After preparing six new dolls - ready for dressing I did a u-turn and went back to the drawing board.  The idea of a somewhat smaller doll - with 'jointed' legs was calling me.

I wanted to consider a little bit of a difference in design.  While the basics of the doll are the same -- a few things have changed, along with a reduction in size.  At this point in time I'm planning that each of these dolls will have 'patterned' arms and legs - a pattern that either reflects their theme or 'goes well' with the rest of her dress.

What is going through my head while I create these smaller ones?  Vintage, simple, themes.  What design components will I use? Dresses, hats, hanging dolls, perhaps even some 'staging'. 

We'll see what happens - but here is my first effort. 

"Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door." - Emily Dickinson

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks and more thanks

My thankfulness for the wonderful world I find myself in these days is boundless.  I can't even count the many blessings that I have around me and within me.  How wonderful to be at a time of life when being thankful is a daily, positive process.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone -- so many of you have become very special to me and I hope to 'meet' even more of you in the coming year.
"If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. - Gerald Good 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Contemplation and Exploration

These waning days of fall make me want to cocoon - to curl up where its warm and cozy.   I'm finding that with the past month being so hectic and disjointed (for several reasons) I feel the need to nurture two things in my life.

The first is contemplation [contemplation to look at; to view thoughtfully; to meditate on; to have in view.]  I need/want time to let my mind wander into magical worlds where anything is possible.  I need/want time to myself with no distractions from the 'outside' world. 

The second is exploration [exploration to visit and search through; to examine throughout.]  To spend time searching for ideas; to explore thoughts that might translate into my work; to experiment with new techniques/colors/designs.

How fortunate I am that winter is coming - it the time of the year that is quieter, calmer and less demanding from the outside (unless one has to shovel snow).  Over the next few months I hope to spend a little bit of each day in both these endeavors.   

"You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you." - James Allen

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Process

Before going on holiday I drew, cut and stitched bodies, arms and legs.  At least I got that far.

Upon returning home I spent many quiet hours stuffing all the 'parts.

Then came the fun of painting - first with off-white and then aging by using watered down acrylics.

And soon the true fun begins -- creating identities and fashions for each and every one of them.

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a butterfly." - Proverb

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Red

The last red sits just outside my studio.  All around it the leaves have turned their various colors and finally dropped crispy and brown to the ground while this beauty remains a lucious autumn red.

This spark of color heralds the coming winter -- it acts as a beacon of Fall  by staying behind its cohorts with its lovely show of color.

Winter will soon be here - the ground will turn white and the branches will be covered with snow  -- thanks heavens I have this memory of what is to come again next year.

"Listen -- are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?" - Mary Oliver

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Big Picture

I never feel as free as when I am surrounded by 'BIG'...

...open vastness before me...


...around me and above me.

There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness." - Emily Carr


Monday, November 5, 2012


Its truly Fall here in the western North Carolina mountains.  The trees are all showing off their warm, rusty, yellow colors.  The leaves are drifting down into piles, piles and more piles.  The air is cool and crisp and the sky even seems a bit bluer when seen behind  the colorful trees.

Someone is out on a collecting trip.  Although this little basket won't hold a whole lot, I guess its the thought that counts. 

This little 'devil' knows that he gave me no end of frustration during his creation - but he thinks he's worth it!

"And now, this is the sweetest and most glorious day that ever my eyes did see." - Donald Cargill

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Around Me

A beautiful week spent in the western desert.  Cottonwood trees in all their golden glory.

Mountains surrounding the Carson Valley with a blue sky background.

Trails to walk, streams to view, textured desert foliage.

Dunes around Washoe Lake...

...with painted faces to greet us.

My thoughts today - coming back to a safe, warm, dry home - are with those in the northeast.  Having been through a few Mother Nature temper tantrums I know that they change more than just the physical surroundings but our whole feelings of safety and security, of home and hearth.  Know that my heart is with any of you who can read this.

"A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand.  I think, I too have known autumn too long." - e.e. cummings

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flying Machine

                                                        "Design for Flying Machine" - Leonardo da Vinci

Going back to the desert - flying high in the sky.

I'll try to post along the way - just to let you know that I'm thinking about you as I breathe in the clear desert air, spread my arms in the openess and feel the sunshine warm my skin (even though it is supposed to be rather cool).  And of course loving our family!

"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return." - Leonardo da Vinci

Monday, October 22, 2012

An "InVESTment"

Who would think that design of a small lined vest would be so complicated?  Who would think that after several practice pieces the 'investee' would want to tear these bits into scraps and throw them all away?  Who would think that after 'three strikes and you're out' a successful prototype would be accomplished?

Meanwhile someone is waiting patiently, with a slight smile on her face, as her creator goes through all sorts of gyrations.  And we haven't even gotten to the shoes yet!

"Practice is the best of all instructors." - Publilius Syrus


Thursday, October 18, 2012


In my creative life I find myself drawn to symbols - some of them over and over.

Here are my 'most used' symbols:

Bells, stars, the moon, birds, circles, dots, spirals, letters, music, metal, time.  I'm sure there are many others -- but these are the ones that usually end up in my work no matter whether I'm beading, punching or doll making.  These symbols represent comfort and joy.  They put the world to rights for me.  I never get tired of them and often read multiple meanings into them.

Here's the official definition for the word 'symbol'.

sym·bol - ( n.)

1. Something that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention, especially a material object used to represent something invisible.

2. A printed or written sign used to represent an operation, element, quantity, quality, or relation, as in mathematics or music.
How about you -- do you find recurrent symbols appearing in your work?  I know that many of you have some of the same symbols list that I do, because I see these same symbols in the work I love to look at.
Isn't it wonderful to have a treasure trove of images flitting through your mind -- images that please you, bring you peace and make you want to flaunt them in your handwork?

"We are symbols, and inhabit symbols." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, October 15, 2012

Lots of Stitches

Some thoughts on the recent quilt show that I visited...  Remember the story about the Blue Ridge Parkway and the tunnels?  Here is one tunnel represented in fabric and stitch.  It looked like one could just walk right into that tunnel.

There were traditional quilts...

...there were fantasy quilts...

...and there were contemporary quilts.

I later thought about the numbers -- the teeny, tiny stitches (both hand and machine); the fabrics - in all the colors of the rainbow and beyond; the shapes and patterns.  Last but not least the hours, days, months of stitching.  It was an honor to be able to see all of this beautiful work in one place at one time.

"I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way -- things I had no words for." - Georgia O'Keefe


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