Boundary Waters #22 – Challenge, Inspiration, Fun!


A six-mile lake all to ourselves!

Just back from trip #22 wilderness canoeing in the Boundary Waters along the Canadian/Minnesota border with my sister, Nancy J. Spiegel Rosman.

As always, it was ten days of challenges, sublime beauty, and a whole lot of laughter (calling in the rare java bird is a story in itself as is the truly giant spider).  We paddled 50 miles through 13 lakes and portaged seven miles.  Our journals say rain every day, but we just remember the many sunny hours and the GREAT cloud formations

To start us out with a reminder of what the Boundary Waters is all about, here are two of the best portages going in:

Day3NJUnderCanoewebThis was such a bottomless sink hole that Nancy had to back up and start again several times to find enough rocks to make it through.  Not an easy task with a 17.5′ canoe over your head.


When not traveling and portaging, we went on day trips (always taking our water jugs to be filled along – the water was nice and cold) from our four different camps to check out beautiful sights:


We saw beavers, otters, eagles, ospreys, a loon swimming underwater, and so much more including five moose. Our record holds of seeing moose every year in the Boundary Waters. These sturdy twins waited patiently for over an hour as their Mom ate water lilies:


Nancy and I were both hugely inspired this trip to draw, create and document ephemeral sculptures,


and of course, take many photos. My Coolpix was highly erratic, so almost all these gorgeous photos are by Nancy. Thanks, Seester!

I was especially inspired this trip by the giant (and, obviously, very old) white pine trees:


Their bark patterns were repeated again and again in rock formations, in wave patterns, in rocks under water along the shoreline, and in cracks in the granite that covers all the BWCAW.

A storm or two never bothers us as we use it for Q.T.T. (Quality Tent Time).  The many “BW B&Ws” I created will definitely be influencing my larger artwork:


We both felt it was our best trip ever!  As I said one evening at twilight, “One day like this might last me for a year.”


We feel very lucky to once again journey in such a unique place that reminds us of the power and beauty of nature, the calmness that can be ours, and the joy of being sisters.


As always, we can’t wait to do it again.

PLEASE NOTE:  I’ll be sharing more inspiration from the Boundary Waters in my July/August Art Friends newsletter.  Drop me a note if you would like to subscribe – it’s free!



07 2015

Two by Twenty – I’m In!



Shagbark 3
Virginia A. Spiegel

After taking a long break, I finally entered a Studio Art Quilt Associate’s exhibit and was thrilled to be juried in to Two By Twenty.

Twenty artists each had two pieces that relate to each other in some way selected by juror Dr. Jacqueline M. Atkings.  The exhibit will premiere at the  Open European Quilt Championships, Maastricht, Netherlands – October 2015.

Artists and their selected artwork:

lse Anysas-Salkauskas – Three Old Pals
Ilse Anysas-Salkauskas – Tin Soldiers

Teresa Barkley – A Grand Centennial
Teresa Barkley – The Triangle

Pat Bishop – Gawking Cranes
Pat Bishop – Walk of the Cranes

Sandra Townsend Donabed – Tune In Turn On Drop Cloth 5
Sandra Townsend Donabed – Tune In Turn On Drop Cloth2

Jane Dunnewold – Feather and Bone (right panel)
Jane Dunnewold – Feather Study 4 (Left panel)

Rahel Elran – Primodials  #6
Rahel Elran – Primoidals  #5

Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry – Reflections of Cowichen #1
Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry – Reflections of Cowichen #2

Deborah Fell – Passage of Time:  Braunschweig 2
Deborah Fell – Passage of Time:  Braunschweig 1

Sandy Gregg – Call for Entry 2
Sandy Gregg – Call for Entry 4

Marjan Kluepfel – Forest Fancy
Marjan Kluepfel – Forest Fire

Mary-Ellen   Latino – Travel Muse: El Burro 1:
Mary-Ellen Latino – Travel Muse: El Burro 2:

Deda Maldonado – Everglades
Deda Maldonado – Flight at Night

Barbara McKie – Botswana’s Beautiful Bird
Barbara McKie – Kookaburra

Elizabeth Michellod-Dutheil – *AU SEUIL DE LA VIE* 4ème jour de la création
Elizabeth Michellod-Dutheil – *XY* 1er jour de la création

Beth Miller – Hollyhocks
Beth Miller – Sweet Pea

Simona Peled – Plannig
Simona Peled – Tactile Architecture

Donna L Radner – Earth, Water and Stone #1
Donna L Radner – Earth, Water and Stone #2

Maya Schonenberger – Ice
Maya Schonenberger – Ice 2

Virginia A. Spiegel – Shagbark 3
Virginia A. Spiegel – Shagbark 4

Janice Stevens – Urban Jungle
Janice Stevens – Urban Transportation







05 2015

Java and Dark Chocolate


 4.5″ x 6.5″
Hand-painted and screenprinted white fabric, found paper, machine stitching.

Java and Dark Chocolate was acquired at the Studio Art Quilter Associates’ conference silent auction in Portland this past week by Kate Themel.  Kate made a $95 donation to support SAQA’s mission of promoting art quilts. Thanks, Kate!


05 2015

“Form, Not Function” Opening Reception This Friday


Shagbark 7
Virginia A. Spiegel
Photo:  Deidre Adams

Form, Not Function:  Quilt Art at the Carnegie opens this Friday, May 8 with an opening reception from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Center for Art & History in New Albany, Indiana. The exhibit continues through July 11.

Shagbark 7 is a hand-stitched labor of love (hand stitching on screen printed upholstery fabric is a crazy thing to do – believe me) and I’m so pleased to have it shown in this wonderful venue.

I’ve been studying my huge shagbark hickory trees since I moved here ten years ago.  They are amazing trees, always shedding their bark in sheets of texture and color.  A shagbark tree in winter holds the snow in its crevices and cracks. There is always a beautiful tapestry of color ranging from softest white to darkest black.

Materials:  Acrylic textile paint, upholstery fabric, polyester fabric, felt,  cotton embroidery thread, rayon thread, ink. 

Techniques: Screen print with screens from artist’s photos, cut:, raw-edge collage created with machine stitching, handstitch, burn, ink.

Here is an earlier blog post with more photos of the artwork while in progress.

Here is a post about How to Stick with the Stitching as I learned a few tricks as I stitched and stitched.



05 2015

Become An Art Friend Today



Can you believe I’ve had a monthly art newsletter for at least ten years now?   I found an online version from 2005 and I’m still looking to find older ones.  My newsletter started as Art, Nature, Creativity and now it’s Color+Inspiration.

I’ve always had the same sorts of things:  News of upcoming exhibitions, artworks that I’m working on that I’m not willing to share with the “public,” inspirational photos, studio visits, and a short essay about what I’m thinking about that month.

 Why have a newsletter for ART FRIENDS when there’s FB, Pinterest, my website, and this blog?

Well, it’s personal.  There are photos from my personal life and in my studio that I don’t mind sharing with Art Friends, but really wouldn’t want to see out there in the world.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for a little giveaway.  Sometimes I want my Art Friends to share good news first before anyone else hears about it. And I often try to release new artwork to coincide with the newsletter so subscribers have one day to consider the artwork for their collections before anyone else.

This month I tried out a newsletter app which shall remain unnamed, but I just didn’t like how I had to bend how I think about my newsletter to its structures.  So it’s still that I send out an e-mail to subscribers and they click over to my website to read the newsletter.  It’s one click more, but I think it’s worth it.  It’s a quirky little set-up, but it’s definitely all me, personal, and how I want to chat with Art Friends.

However I WAS in the mood for something new this month, so I increased photo sizes, added more color, and kicked off a Tips and Techniques feature, and added MORE exclusive inspiration photos.

If you’re already an ART FRIEND, please let me know what you think about this month’s newsletter.  Feedback, positive or suggesting an improvement, is always great.

If you would like to become an ART FRIEND, just shoot me an e-mail (Virginia(at) with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.




05 2015