Archive for November, 2009

Why use Blurb books?


Inquiring minds have been asking about the pros and cons of using Blurb for publishing a book.  I see only pros for myself and this is why:

First of all, Wild at the Edges:  Inspiration from a Creative Life is a book I wanted to write. I can’t imagine this is a book that would be attractive to a commercial publisher.  There are no projects or how-tos, unless you count a little tutorial on how to write haikus and why writing poetry might be good for your art practice.

The books I stack on my night stand tend to be of the rare breed that tell me as much or more about the artists than their artwork.  I am fascinated by the influences and inspirations of artists. Books that provide a behind-the-scene look at an artistic life inspire me to dig deeper and create more art. That is one reason I created Wild at the Edges:  Inspiration from a Creative Life.

But the book is also a clear statement of my artistic intent.  I tell (through sixteen short essays) and show (photographs of art, nature, my studio) what drives my artwork and my creative life.   My artistic life is woven together by photography, writing both prose and poetry, adventuring, and making art.  Wild at the Edges shows how and why this it true.

A major element of Wild at the Edges are details of my artwork shown beside Boundary Waters’ photos that clearly demonstrate that I work from very specific visual and emotional content.

For example,


I love this photo of a “Mother” rock stranded in the midst of the forest by a receding glacier.  The rock is both surprising and enduring.  The trees create a perfect frame.  It is a photo that can stand alone as art.


But the detail from Boundary Waters 31 (North) appearing on the facing page in the book adds to the power of the image by drawing attention to a small part of the photo, the mosses and lichens growing on the North side of the trees and rocks, and making it the focus of this fiber artwork.

Both the photo and the artwork, on a deeper level, are about about we as humans enduring, about being the rock in the woods, the life forms that can endure even in the cold and the shade.  You can enjoy both works of art as surface image alone or dig a little deeper for a hidden meaning.

In addition to the above considerations, Blurb allows me to create a book and return to my studio where I belong, not become a shipping center, donate part of the profits to the American Cancer Society, and take advantage of a print-on-demand service that has to save a few trees. For this book at this time, Blurb is perfect.


11 2009

Art bra – It’s not as easy as it looks


When I volunteered to make a sample art bra for a display celebrating women organized by my sister for a local hospital, I thought I would whip one out in a day or two.  My theme was the contrast between our nuturing part and the part of us that has to be tough as nails.

I now have a new found respect for anyone who works with any form of art related to the body. Remember my start on the soft side?


That was fun as I had the cat hair already felted with thread, it was easy to sew on with pink embroidery floss and it fit the theme perfectly.

Onward to the “hard as steel side.”  What was I thinking?  I cut embossing metal, punched holes in it and sewed it down.  It started pretty well, but as the bra curved more and more, it looked less and less like I wanted.  Rip all that off.  Now the cup was all torn up, so I laid down a coat of gold paint.

Here’s tip #1:  Don’t be clever and think a black bra will mean than any part that aren’t quite covered will recede into the distance.  That may be true, but mainly it means you can’t paint your bra very easily.

So I thought awhile and dug out my junk jewelry collection. Tried sewing miscellaneous earrings, pins, etc. down.  Too heavy. Time to call out the gel medium.  That REALLY works to secure anything. While I had the gel out, I covered the inside of the cups and the backs of the side panels with little squares of hand-dyed fabrics.  This covered all the hand-stitching on the soft side and the battlefield marks on the steel side.  Good deal.

Here’s what I had at that point.


Tip #2:  Well, duh.  Cover the sides and straps before doing the cups.

On the “steel” side panel, I tried the embossing metal again, but this time with a wash of black paint over it.  Still bad.  Rip that off.  OK, I can do fabric.  But, by this time, sewing anything on the sewing machine was virtually impossible.  But that didn’t stop me from trying.


Oh, that’s right, there is metal in an underwire bra and the straps have metal clips. Total broken needles  – I’m too embarrassed to say.  But I did manage to sew both side panels and one strap.  The “soft” strap is braided and wrapped chenille yarn.


I wish I could do this art bra again and save myself a ton of time, but I’m going to just say that it made me a stronger woman.




11 2009

Wild at the Edges: Inspiration from a Creative Life available now.


Wild at the Edges:  Inspiration from a Creative Life evolved by keeping in mind the kind of book I like to take to bed with me (maybe with a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate) and peruse as the spirit moves me.

You will find encouraging thoughts about life and art, hidden treasures of poems, close-up photos of art and nature and, last, but not least, a very personal view of the driving forces behind my creative life.

Preview Wild at the Edges here.

25% of all profits from this book will be donated to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.  Fiberart For A Cause has donated more than $190,000 to the American Cancer Society.

Art Quilts XIV: Significant Stitching opens this Friday

Hand-dyed cotton, acrylic paint, Tyvek from a lab jacket, embroidery thread.

The opening reception for Art Quilts XIV:  Significant Stitching is Friday, November 20, from 7-9 p.m. at the Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave., Chandler, Arizona . Music will be provided by jazz musician Pete Pancrazi.  The exhibit runs November 20, 2009 – January 2, 2010.  Here is a list of all the artists in the exhibit.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday, noon-4 p.m. In addition, Chandler Center for the Arts patrons enjoy the works before shows and during intermissions.  Call 480.917.6859 for holiday hours.

My artwork subverts the theme as all the stitching, by hand, can only be seen on the back.  The stitching can’t be seen on the front due to layers and layers of screen printing, mainly in metallic paint.  The artwork is my commentary on over-consumerism and waste:

How can we sustain an environment in which Tyvek lab jackets are worn once in a sterile environment and then discarded?  Squares cut from just such a jacket were painted in delicate earth colors, hand-quilted to hand-dyed cotton and then buried beneath layers upon layers of screenprinted paint. Consider all that time spent in hand-stitching which will never be seen except from the back. It’s a small sacrifice made to call attention how the glittery surface of our consumer society hides an ugly truth: our failure to embrace a time-consuming commitment to reduce, reuse, recycle.

You can see the hand stitching on the underlayer in progress of this artwork (when I thought it would be called Discarded) here.


11 2009

We have a winner!

Chicory 2

This artwork is winging its way to Tama Brooks.  Tama was the lucky winner in a drawing held to promote my new and improved art newsletter.

To subscribe to my art newsletter, send an e-mail with SUBSCRIBE as the subject line to Virginia(at)


11 2009