I’ve had a love of the ocean and shorelines for most of my life.  The tidepools brimming with life, seaweeds washed ashore, and piles of driftwood to climb and explore.  So when I saw a class offered several years ago on “Driftwood Art”, I was intrigued and wanted to try it, not even knowing what it was.  I suppose I imagined that I would make pieces of driftwood sticks into finished wood that I would hand my quilts off of.  Was I ever wrong!

I finally got started in my first class last spring.  It’s an ongoing class; many of the students have been doing it for year.  The Northwest Driftwood Artists are the group behind the classes which I take. They have a specific method (the Luron Method) of taking driftwood pieces and bringing out the inner beauty of the wood, rather than carving or changing the wood’s nature.  

The process is rather painstaking.  You clean and scrape the piece of driftwood, removing all the dead outer wood, until you get to the rich inner heartwood and can see the wood’s grain.  Next, you sand (and sand, and sand) the piece.  Finally, you rub the finalized sculpture with a beeswax-turpentine mixture to bring out the color.  Sound easy?  I’m still working on my first piece after about 10 months!  Maybe I’m a slow learner….

What I am good at is finding some incredible pieces of driftwood.  I probably have enough pieces now to last the rest of my life, at least at the rate I’m going now.

While the photos here are of beautiful raw driftwood (much of it too large to get home to my studio), the exemplify what is looked for in making driftwood sculpture: an interesting pattern and grain of the wood, and hopefully some luscious coloring .

To see some of the fabulous completed pieces, go to the Northwest Driftwood Artists website.  I hope to have my first piece completed in time for the annual show in May.

You might also be interested in:
Sunshine and Sand
Golden Hour at Penn Cove
Skagit Skies

Looking South towards Penn Cove

Have you heard of the photographer’s Golden Hour?  This is the hour right at sunrise and also right before sundown.  With the sun low on the horizon, shadows are either non-existent or elongated due to the sun’s small angle with the horizon to create interesting effects.  The lighting is more diffuse, softer, and a much warmer hue, as the sunlight is traveling through more of the atmosphere and reduces the direct light and increases indirect light from the sky.  The light then appears more reddish as the blue light becomes scattered.

South-west – Hayrolls at Penn Cove at twilight

Yesterday we were driving up on Whidbey Island, WA, right at the golden hour.  Around here, that means about 4-5 pm during the winter, due to our Northern latitude.  The fields with their giant rolls of hay reminded me of some of the paintings of haystacks by Monet.

Monet painted around thirty haystack scenes, at differing times of year and lighting.  He exhibited a group of 15 of these together in 1891 at the Paris gallery of Paul Durand-Ruel, and they were immediately considered a significant breakthrough for Monet.

Hayrolls at the Golden Hour

Monet would work on many canvases at the same time… he’d line them up and switch to another canvas when the lighting changed.  Working from the first light of dawn up until the final hints of light at dusk, Monet sought the essence of how light transformed different objects, such as the haystacks.

Hayrolls and Penn Cove

I like to imagine that if Monet were here at Penn Cove, he would have been just as excited as I was to see the incredible plays of light on the hay, sky, and water.

You might also be interested in:

Dealing with Rejection (more on Monet)
Sunshine and Sand
Skagit Skies

Light is starting to disappear
Monet’s “Hayricks” 1865

End of Day, Autumn – Claude Monet

End of Summer – Claude Monet
Haystacks at Sunset- Claude Monet

OK, it’s time to get down and finish up my goals for 2013… yeah!  But first, that requires me to do a little soul-searching and figure out what I’m doing wrong and right in my artistic life (uh oh.)

Where am I stuck? 
            One area where I’ve made some incremental progress on is in my studio clean-up and organization, however, I’m still stuck to a certain degree with this.  Most times, I find it difficult to get into my studio to work.  In the past, I frequently have had it so disorganized and messy in my studio and my dyeing room that I can’t work or I just don’t want to go in.  I have so many things I’d like to do that I’m overwhelmed.  I sometimes feel as though I should finish projects I’ve already started. I don’t know whether to consider it a blessing or not, but I have enough space in my home to spread out… so my sewing gets moved out of my studio to our rec-room and the dyeing can also end up there.  Anyone else struggle with being overwhelmed with their stuff and their space?  
            I’m also somewhat stuck with not being certain how much I should be attempting to show, how much time to devote to just increasing technical competence, how much time just creating for my own artistic pleasure versus trying to fit into a show theme, or whether my work as CQA (The Contemporary QuiltArt Association‘s Exhibitions co-chair will actually serve my artistic career.  I’m not sure whether taking a break from showing will serve me, however.  I think having a full artist résumé looks good to those interested in your art work.    
            Another area in which I’m struggling is in my definition as an artist.  While I’m comfortable with the definition of “fiber artist”, I’m unsure whether I should still focus on making quilts or whether I should or am moving beyond them.  This is a big dilemma for me.  Do I stop doing “quilt” art?  If so, does that mean that I’ve moved beyond CQA (which has become a rather big part of my life at this point.)  I know I love doing embroidery, but does it have even less potential for artistic recognition as art quilts?  If I focus on other areas than quilt art, where would I show?
What is working?
I am feeling like I’m in the process of moving on to the next level in my art.  I’ve increased my technical competence over the last year.  Specifically, I’m much more skilled in machine freehand quilting as well as dyeing.  I’ve gained a lot of knowledge through my working on the CQA Exhibitions.  I have a good strong understanding of color.  I have a strong work ethic and desire to be successful.  This helps me fit in time although I have a lot of demands for my attention… husband, two teen boys, work, CQA exhibitions, SDA (Surface Design Association)  steering committee and small group leader in WA state, and numerous hobbies and passions beyond my fiber art.

One of the thousands of photos I’ve taken for design inspiration
I’m very excited to have been able to work with Gail Harker this year and to be starting the Level 2 of her diploma program in May 2013.  I’ve come to recognize that most classes and teachers don’t have much more to offer me, unless I need to learn a particular technique, since the majority of classes just teach you to quilt in that particular teacher’s style.  The difference with Gail is that she teaches techniques and design in such a way that all of her students end up developing their own style and their work looks uniquely their own.    

Processes I have used/done quite a bit and am comfortable and confident with:
  • Sewing, piecing, quilting, free-hand embroidery, machine applique with my Bernina 730
  • Fabric painting (using brushes, syringes, spray bottles, stamps, stencils, silkscreens) with Jacquard textile paints and Lumiere and using resists with fabric painting (freezer paper or objects)
  • Printing on fabric with ink-jet printer
  • Intensive and in depth study of color, including color mixing, making tints/shades/tones, color theory, and color combinations (dyads, equilateral and isosceles triads, tetrads, hexads, monochromatic, analogous, complementary, near-complementary, complementary triads, modified triads, adjacent-complementary tetrads, and analogous complementary color schemes.)
  • Highly proficient with Adobe Photoshop CS5 Professional
  • Immersion dyeing (Procion MX)
  • Multiple dye-baths
  • Using different methods to create pattern in immersion dyeing (pole wrap, clamping, bunching, folding, pleating, shibori)
  • Making printing blocks from found objects
  • Stamping and making my own stamps from found objects
  • Stenciling
  • Making thermofax screens and silk-screening with them
  • Photography (digital SLR) particularly nature scenes and macro photography (See Skagit Skies and Sunshine and Sand)
  • Drawing/sketching
  • Monoprinting

Technical Skills I need to develop:
 I think there are a lot of skills that I should develop, but I’m not particularly worried about them.  I think as I continue to work with Gail, I will have lots of practice and increase competency over time.  I do, however, feel I need to get more intentional about my design process.  My understanding of design elements while strong, is not necessarily intuitive in my working in fiber art.  I think I often am so driven to get going on a project that I don’t put the thought into it that could make an okay design into something with much more impact.  Or I’m pushing to get something made for a deadline, so I don’t end up with as good an effort as if I were to just be making it for my personal artistic pleasure.

I’m currently working on hand embroidery techniques, which I’m enjoying and expect will work its way into my art pieces, rather than just a samples.
And another.
Although I have a long list of potential topics I could make art about, as well as thousands of images for inspiration, I’m not particularly worried about my being too overwhelmed with possibilities  I feel confident that my work with Gail will help me narrow my focus over time.

More to come:
I’m not 100% certain that I’ve covered everything in these categories yet, but will revisit and think about it more over the next few days, in case there is anything to add.  I’ll look more at my specific successes over 2012 have been as well as my 2013 goals tomorrow.   
I’d love to hear about where you’re stuck, what’s working for you, and what you feel you need to develop this year in the comments section below!

You might also be interested in:

Questions to Ponder for Writing Your Goals
Goals for the Upcoming Year
The Art of Organization

Christina  in Winter White Cape
at Snowflake Lane

Randy and I finished up our shopping at Bellevue Square where they have “Snowflake Lane” each night during the holidays. He’s now entertaining us playing an assortment of Christmas music, Broadway show tunes, and pieces from the 20’s to the 50’s. I’m at a distinct disadvantage with “Name That Tune” for that era, since I wasn’t even born yet, but my Mom is having a great time!

Snowflake Lane

Knotted Blanket Stitch

Since I always like to keep my hands busy, I’m working on an edging stitch for one of my embroidery samplers. I decided to do a Knotted Blanket Stitch, which I’ll show  how to do here:

Step 1- Make a loop
Step 2 – Needle through loop and
above the lower thread from last stitch

Step 3- Pull loop tight around needle
Step 4 – Pull thread through, making
sure that loop stays tight to form knot

You might also be interested in:
Stitchwork Samplers
More Embroidery Samples

Merry Christmas from our family to yours and wishing us all Peace on Earth.


My husband Randy and I were driving up in the Skagit Valley yesterday when the sun broke through the weeks of grey and rain.  Many people can’t understand the appeal of the Pacific Northwest or couldn’t imagine living here with our weather.  One of the things I enjoy is the changes both in the seasons and our weather.  While we don’t have extremes, neither with snow nor heat, we have enough variety to be interesting.
And when the sun breaks through, it’s glorious!  We are surrounded by mountains and water, both freshwater lakes and rivers and the salt water of Puget Sound.  With the higher rain level and temperate climate, our native species include many which have given us our “Evergreen State” name.
The Skagit Valley is just one of those magical places… with both pastoral settings and areas so gorgeous that they attract tourists.  During the winter, bald eagles congregate along the banks for the Skagit river.  One year we took a river rafting float trip to see them and counted over 100 eagles in the bank-side trees.
In Springtime, the Skagit Valley tulip festival attracts people from around the world.  With acres upon acres of tulips (or earlier in the spring, daffodils), the beauty is legendary.  
Our environment can be so inspirational.  I love to take photos out in nature, although I’m not great about then taking them to use in my fiber art.  I guess I’d like to think that by exposing myself to beauty, I will be more inspired and will continue to create.

I hope you enjoy these beautiful skies and the Cascade Mountains as much as I did!

Sunshine and Sand
Pacific Madronna
Finding Inspiration Every Day

Caverna Magica at SeaTac airport

We had a little snafu when we went to set up our “Journeys” CQA show at the SeaTac International Airport earlier this year.  The schematics for the cases which they had sent to us were wrong!  So, not all of the quilts our jury had picked out fit into the cases.  One of mine, Caverna Magica, was left out of the initial hanging and then switched in half-way through the show.

There are two areas in the airport with our displays.  The first is in a hallway leading from ticketing near the Southwest Airlines ticket counter to security and entrance to the gates.  This section has the large cases pictured here.  Each piece in this exhibit has an accompanying “educational display” which teaches something about either how the piece was made, inspiration, or materials.

The educational display for Caverna Magica reads as follows:

Caverna Magica Educational Display

“The Caves of Nerja (photo 1) are located in Andalusia, in Southern Spain.  Filled with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, these caves were discovered in the modern era in 1959 and stretch over 5 kilometers.  As a major tourist attraction, sections of the caves are lit with colored lights.  Having visited these magnificent caverns in 1996, I immediately thought of them when I completed the first dyeing of the fabric for this quilt.

Starting with a piece of 100% white cotton fabric, I poured several colors liquid Pro MX dyes onto the piece, which lay with numerous ridges and folds on a flat surface.  These folds created the interesting patterns which are reminiscent of stalactites (photo 2).    Much of the white fabric was still showing through, and I wanted to create more crystalline structures within the piece.  This was done with a second dye bath, using a snow-dyeing method. 
Close-up of some of the machine quilting on Caverna Magica
Snow-dyeing is basically like making a snow-cone… you crumble your fabric up in a container, pack snow on top of it, and then pour several colors of dyes over the snow.  As the dye trickles down through the snow, it hits the fabric and slowly starts the color transformation as the temperature rises.  Due to the unusual nature of this process, the results are one-of-a-kind and typically form beautiful crystal-like patterning in the color.  After 24 hours and the snow completely melting, you can wash out the excess dye.  The colors were intensified and additional details representing the rocky caverns came out through this additional dye process.
The final layer of this piece was to add more detail through densely quilting the fabric.  I do my quilting on my Bernina 730 home machine, free-hand guiding the fabric in the directions I want to go.  With this piece, I wanted to emphasize the feeling of stalactites and stalagmites with the stitching lines.  I continued using a wide array of colors of thread, to match the feeling of the wonderful lights shining on these incredible natural structures.
Part of the Contemporary QuiltArt Assocition’s
Journeys show at SeaTac
It’s always exciting to see your work on display.  Since I had to pick my husband up at the airport this week, I finally got to see my piece now included in the exhibit.  If you’d like to see some additional shots of this show, see my post “Designing for a Theme.”
Part of the Contemporary QuiltArt Assocition’s
Journeys show at SeaTac

I’ve spent some evenings working more on hand embroidery.  Let me know if you want instructions or thread types on any of the stitches!

Top Row:

  1. Herringbone stitch
  2. Herringbone stitch
  3. Cretan stitch – similar to herringbone, but with a twist
  4. Cable stitch
  5. Laced running stitch – simple but looks nice!
  6. Pekinese stitch – while this isn’t very difficult, you need to work at keeping loops the same size
  7. Laid trailing stitch – very thick raised couched cording
  8. Feather stitch
  9. Heavy Chain stitch- this is almost a braided stitch
  10. Twisted Chain stitch
  11. Chevron stitch
  12. Open chain stitch -this fine wool (DMC Medicis) is a bit tough to see- looks like a ladder
Bottom Row:
  1. Double Chain stitch
  2. Feathered Chain stitch – nice vine-like look
  3. Crested Chain stitch
  4. Top: Rosette Chain stitch  Bottom: Buttonhole Wheel
  5. Two Color Chain stitch – this is done with two threads in your needle, but just catching one each stitch
  6. Rope stitch
  7. Raised Stem stitch
  8. Blanket stitch
  9. Whipped Blanket stitch
  10. Long & Short Blanket stitch
  11. Closed Blanket stitch
  12. Up & Down Blanket stitch – make a nice little knot along with two strands to side

The build-up for the end of the world has been building for over the last year. Based on the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar, there are people who predict that Earth will cease to exist after Friday (12/21/2012.) So, here are the things I want all of my children to know… just in case:

Christina with Ryan (right) & Coleman at cub scouts in March 2002
  1. There is nothing I treasure more than you. Forget any frustrations, anger, disappointments. They’re just part of day-to-day living. Be secure in the fact that my love is with you regardless. 
  2. You are not perfect; nor am I. No one is. You don’t need to try for perfection, just doing your personal best. Be generous and forgiving of Yourself. 
  3. At the heart of all happiness is forgiveness. Resentment and bitterness only perpetuate unhappiness. 
  4. Trust is built by being trustworthy. When you demonstrate time after time that you are honorable, honest, and reliable, you create a foundation for trust. 
  5. The “Golden Rule” (treat others the way you would like to be treated) will serve you well throughout your life. 
  6. Don’t surrender to negativism, despair, or cynicism. Get help. There are people who love you (I’m at the top of the list) and will be there to support you with whatever you’re going through. 
  7. Be present. Listen carefully to what is being said (or unsaid) by others, rather than an internal monologue at the same time as when someone is speaking. Live life in the moment, rather than regretting or holding anger about the past or being anxious about the future. 
  8. Who we really are is our thoughts, words, and actions… they need to be congruent for true happiness. If you say you’ll do something, do it or renegotiate. If you’re thinking something different than what you say, your integrity is out of alignment. Hold yourself accountable to your promises and commitments. 
  9. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it, ask for forgiveness, and, if needed, atone for the failure. 
  10. You are responsible for being generous and loving in your close relationships with family and friends. Caring is shown by listening attentively, forgiving, having patience, granting dignity, showing interest in them and their endeavors, and consciously working towards being heartfully uplifting to them. 
  11. Choose to create your relationships through reconciling, being merciful and forgiving, being magnanimous, cooperating, easing tensions, being ethically persuasive and truly listening to others. When you are antagonistic, criticizing, tearing down, being petty, demoralizing, retreating from others to an internal dialog, or making meaning where it doesn’t exist, you damage both the relationship and yourself. 
  12. Be unique… there is no one else like you and your uniqueness makes you shine. At times, it’s a struggle to be accepted and it’s easier to try to fit in. Don’t give up your individuality… find people who accept and love you as you are. 
  13. Developing yourself as substantive person will give yourself freedom, happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind. Through becoming more worldly, learning to understand different viewpoints, developing marketable skills and cultivating interests, you’ll find your place in the sun, so to speak. Shallowness, immaturity, and ignorance will only lead to pain and needless suffering. 
  14. The primary place in my life that I expect perfection of myself is in my mothering. I suppose this is partially due to talking to myself over my disappointment that my marriage did not turn out successfully and the guilt I feel towards my children for this lack of providing them with the “perfect” (i.e. culturally accepted mean) family. Therefore, I strive to live up to my expectation of the perfect mother and consistently fall short. The times when I am closest to the ideal are when I am being the most autonomous—when I listen attentively, show compassion and interest, be empathetic and caring. However, I often feel my biggest regret in life will be the time I have missed with my children. (Refer back to #2- forgive yourself.) 
  15. Be empathetic. Put yourself in other people’s shoes. If you can’t understand and be compassionate to how someone else is thinking and feeling, you’re going to have difficulty with that relationship. 
  16. Don’t fear embarrassment! Yes, the feeling of heat sweeping over your body is uncomfortable, but it is fleeting. If you can free yourself from this fear, you’ll be willing to try more things and build a tolerance to the discomfort that accompanies embarrassing situations. Trying more things leads to being more substantive (see #13.) 
  17. Finally, don’t fear what you can’t change. So often we get ourselves worked up over imagined futures. Live your life to the fullest during the time you have. By the way, the world isn’t going to end on Friday. Just as our calendar ends on December 31 and it doesn’t mean that the world will cease to exist, the end date of the Mayan long-count period will just turn over to another long-count period. 

Well, if you haven’t checked out by now, know that I want the best for you. I have a deep longing for you to be happy in your life. I hope to always be a part of your life. Please be patient and forgiving with me when I make mistakes. All my love to you, Mom / Christina

I wrote this poem on June 24, 2001 and want to share it with you:

     Sweetly, sweetly, I gaze down upon your little head

     Nestled up to my breast

     I feel the love swell and know of nothing more precious.

     Tantrums, burgeoning independence,

     As you grow, we dance with closeness and pushing each other away

     Yet, I still feel the joy of just looking in your face.

     There are times that I struggle

     Times of disappointment, anger, worry-

     Yet not truly over you, my darlings.

     You’re growing so quickly – our time is so short

     How can I impart to you all that I wish – all that you’ll need?

     How can I be…?

Coleman and Ryan dressed up for “College Day” this year
Son David and his partner, Valori

Daughter Kayla (right) with her partner, Ryli

This weekend I took 6 teenagers to “The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey.”  Parenthood can certainly be described that way (and I’m not talking about unexpectedly becoming a parent.)  The stages and changes you and your children go through take one by surprise.  I love being a Mom and getting to watch my sons (and their friends) on their live’s journeys.

I’m taking a bit of time to get ready for the holidays now, so my art and stitch are slowed down.  I’ve been practicing my hand embroidery stitches in the evening, as well as working on design ideas for the “Salsa!” exhibition at Mighty Tieton.  If I slow down in writing my blog over the next couple weeks, know I’ll be back with my 52 week 5 x7 challenge at the start of the year!

Our dogs playing in the water at Moclips, WA, Pacific Ocean

Is there anything as wonderful as a beautiful ocean beach?  There are so many aspects and differences between beach types and we have some truly marvelous variations on the Pacific coast.    I took these photos for design inspiration, when on a trip to Moclips, WA.  The waves carve out intricate patterns in the sand and the incredible play of light brings out fascinating textures.

As design sources, the sand has many possibilities.  Line and shape are represented with rhythm and repetition.  Due to the brightness and contrast, there is very little color, making the images great for playing with a monochromatic color scheme.  Value contrast can be studied and played upon.

When in nature, I look for these types of elements.  Pattern, shape, line, repetition and variation, symmetry, contrast, and texture all create interest in a composition

While I may never make a composition from one of these particular photo, using a camera to train my eye toward good design has become a habit for me.

 At the same time, using these photos could make an interesting series.

The process of just getting out into nature and seeing, REALLY seeing, can help infuse your creative well with more life, giving you the inspiration to bring forth new ideas in your chosen artistic endeavor.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I struggle with getting out.  I tend to get a little insular, wanting to hole up in my house (especially on cold, rainy Seattle days!)  I always have too much I want or need to do, and I can get caught up in wanting to have time making, rather than gathering more inspiration.  But the process of looking for inspiration can help keep you creating.

Perhaps getting out with my camera each week should be part of my 5 x 7 challenge….  I’ll have to think on it.  What do you think?  Would you like to see design inspiration photos each week?

You might also be interested in:
Skagit Skies
Pacific Madronna
Finding Inspiration Every Day