walnut magic


The dye pot was waiting for us when we arrived to class. Three days old, filled with simmering walnuts and remnants from dye attempts past. Thick and almost sirupy, ready for the magic to begin.


The walnut pot was of course only one part of the enchantment taking place during the two day long botanical alchemy workshop in Cleveland with dye master and artist extraordinaire India Flint. The class was expertly arranged and organized by Christine Mauersberger, who besides making sure we were well fed and equipped also shared her own useful insights and beautiful stitching. All of my fellow class mates where so talented and energetic. They generously exchanged knowledge, fabric swatches, and plant materials.

My work space.

Walnut marks.

And then there was Ms. India, who made the two days whisk by with lightning speed, while still making sure all of us accomplished many, many things. We learned to wrap cloth directly around the fresh walnuts for amazing colorful patterns. We learned to play with  metal scraps, iron potions, milk paint, and tangerine juice. Her wonderful teachings were carried out with grace, patience, and a great sense of humor.

Magical hands.


The last day we were assigned to make a special piece. Starting out with white on white, layers of cloth stitched together, embellished with thread, fabric scraps, and stitches, lots of stitches, before ending up in the dye bath. The purpose was to create a personal companion piece, that would continue to be enhanced by dye and stitch over time. I am thrilled with the outcome and I will carry my piece along as a reminder of friendship, camaraderie, and the pure joy of making art.

My special piece.


While in Cleveland I also discovered the beautifully curated art museum, the botanical garden, and a great little exhibit of India Flint and Susan Gaylord's work tucked into the midst of the residential neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. And I got to reunite with a wonderful friend from the past. Happy times to be had by all.


Eco printed repurposed book pages by India Flint. © India Flint


Eco printed vintage kimono by India Flint. © India Flint


Spirit book by Susan Gaylord. © Susan Gaylord

preparations


We are preparing for departure once again. In a few days time we will be on our way first to Malmö, Sweden and then to Paris, France... I can't wait to see my family again - my nephews, my mom, my sisters, my brother-in-law, and then  uncles, aunts, cousins, and old friends. These visits to the home country keeps me sane, and anchored. This is where I really belong and this is where my history began. So I will savor every minute, every hug, every laughter. Not to mention every meal, and every glass raised.


Towards the end of the month my boys (all three of them) and I are heading to Paris. We will spend a full week in this magical city; walking, looking, eating, looking, and walking some more. Kind friends have already sent me lists of things not to miss, but more ideas are always welcome. Let me know what your favorite Paris spot might be. I did get my hands on Paris: Made by Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk, so now I am envisioning one or two shopping trips to some of these old fashioned stores filled with linen, silks, notions, threads, and other treasures.



Part of preparing for departure is to make sure everything at home is left in order. I am finishing up work and shipping pending orders. I am tidying up the garden, hoping our house sitters will take advantage of its bounty (the tomatoes are especially delicious this year). The house is gradually being cleaned and the dogs are showered with love. Leaving the pooches behind is actually the most difficult part. I know they will have the best of care, but it is still so hard.



I have listed a few new pieces in the store, including similitude, a new favorite art quilt based on a mirrored walnut eco prints on wool. Both the online store and the etsy shop will be closed while I am gone, so take a quick look now to see if something catches your fancy...



Lastly, I want to brag about my friend Kelly McKaig, and her brand new etsy shop. Kelly is a renowned photo stylist who also makes sachets, pincushions, and other house ware, and she cultivates and sells her own honey. She lives, works, and raises her bees on the southside of Chicago. The image shows the beautiful pin cushion I bought, made from rust dyed and hand stitched linen - handmade, wholesome, and beautiful.

here and there



I spent last week with my wonderful family at Sandbridge Beach, with lots of sunshine, delicious meals, reading, and quiet quality time. This morning I am getting ready for my drive to Sewanee, Tennessee and a week at the Shakerag workshops. I am eager to return to this magical place, to learn (this year I am taking a class with Michel Garcia), and to meet up with some great friends! The blog will be quiet while I am gone, but I will keep up with the weeks activities on my facebook page. Join me there if you like.




crossroads



The crossroads quilt is finished. By tomorrow it will be en route to its owner. I can't wait for her to see it! The colors in the piece are more subtle than they appear here. The harmonious shades of the natural dyes is what I love most about it!




blandy farm





We spent some time in this beautiful place last weekend. Our friends live right next door to Blandy Farm, the State Arboretum of Virginia. In addition to great companionship, and delicious food, we were introduced to a array of farm animals, historic buildings, and unusual trees and plants. The grove of ginkgo trees across the field from their house is most alluring. I hope to return soon.









time flies

blooms everywhere, loved this garden and work brought along  
for idle times.

We are back from our adventure. It was a wonderful time filled with sunshine, friendship, delicious food, and beautiful vistas and experiences. San Francisco is a magical place and the weather was perfect. I can't thank you enough for your ideas and suggestions. I managed to fit in a few, but need to go back for more lengthy excursions. Here are but a handfuls of glimpses from our trip.


even the expected was spectacular. loved dining overlooking the pacific on our last night.

wandering the neighborhoods is one of my favorite things to do
 in any city.

we did see some amazing art. pier 24 photo exhibit and the de young museum were two  favorites.

can't travel without making a few acquisitions. linen cord, silk ribbon, and vintage kimono remnants from britex. the pleated linen zip pouch was a gift from my dear friend Carol of yorktown road whom i met up with for coffee. thank you.

arrival

A few birds landed in my mailbox, along with a sweet note from their creator Elaine. A simple message and a gift, that caused me to pause, smile, and think in the midst of the frantic work activities that dominate my life. Thank you!

I have been dreadfully absent on my favorite blogs lately. There has been no time for visits, and even less time for comments. I will return. I promise. Staying in touch with my creative friends, and sharing your experiences feed my soul. I miss you.

fall color


Brightly colored leaves are starting to cover the ground in the garden and along the city streets in our part of the world. Intrigued by their beautiful hues and how they might might work as eco-prints, I have collected bunches of them during recent walks in our neighborhood.

This weekend I bundled them up, trying to be somewhat scientific by adding nothing but pure water and a couple of pieces of copper piping to the dye pot. The results were amazing, but not in the way I imagined. I was thinking I would get leaf impressions in red, burgundy, maybe orange based on the colors I started with. Instead the imprints on the linen fabric were vivid green, yellow, soft bluish gray, brown, or tan pending on the species. On silk the same leaves printed pale pink, peach, and mauve... I am totally infatuated with this dyeing method. Unwrapping the bundles is like unwrapping a treasure, always with surprising results. And each time I recall the wonderful time spend learning during India Flint's workshop this summer and the friendships that were forged in the process. Bliss.

I have listed the leaves I used, and the stunning pieces of cloth that resulted below.







gift of giving




My friend Lily wanted to honor her friends recent wedding with a gift from her own garden. The result are these napkins, printed with Japanese maple leaves picked from the tree outside her front door. I enjoy working on projects like this, when the process of giving becomes a gift in itself. Lily is an amazing gardener and garden historian, and therefore these handmade napkins have an extra meaning for the newly married couple.

I want to send a special thank you to Susie at Flower * Press who wrote so nicely about our recent swap. I got the most beautiful linen towels, a custom print, and some of her rick rack fabric, in exchange for pieces of my handprinted fabric now destined to become pillows in her home. Check out Susie's etsy shop which is stocked with her stunning, garden inspired and  hand crafted linens, fabrics, prints, and cards. I love surrounding myself with work by creative friends!

 Chalk filigree unbleached tea towel by flower press.


The next few weeks will be hectic, as I am gearing up for a group show at Warm Springs Gallery in August, while finishing up a commission for the University of Virginia also due next month. I'll try to keep up with posting, but if I am not you'll find me in the studio happily but frantically dyeing, printing, and stitching.

learning

Seventeen women, six days, one bucolic setting, plentitude of laughter, a bit of poetry, several botanical excursions, and lots of simmering dye pots. That pretty much sums up my week at Shakerag. Add scrumptious meals, heartfelt conversations, book making, evening swims, contemplation, yards of plant colored fabric, some more stomach cramping laughter, and the experience becomes almost life altering.

I had a fantastic time and learned many things, way beyond the mysteries that occurred in the bundles and in the dye pots. India Flint was a great teacher; soft spoken, funny, beautiful, and incredibly generous with her knowledge and talent. I feel privileged to have been there, and am inspired to adapt my new wisdoms to work and life.

A special thanks to India, Kelly, Michelle, Marianne, Christi, and Janet, who warmed my heart so much, and to Celeste, Judy, Judilee, Vicky, Sharon, Patricia, Andrea, Ilsa, Catherine, and Anna who's spirit, kindness, experience, and sense of humor made this week so special. New friendships were forged and I know we will meet again.

knitted beauties

I love to trade with other artists. Recently dear Elena of Tickled Pink Knits and I exchanged treasures, and this is what I received – a super soft alpaca scarf in a beautiful bluish green shade, and a generously sized shawl in a deep brown, wool/alpaca blend. I know that the chilly season is coming to an end, but I will carefully stow these beauties away, layered with some lavender sachets, until the first crisp fall evenings return. Can't wait to wrap myself up. Thank you Elena!

toronto


We have returned from a few delightful days in Toronto. Despite cold, rainy weather we had a blast in this vibrant city. We spent one afternoon at ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) lingering over dinosaur bones, art deco furniture, Wedgwood ceramics, and African Canadian quilts. We also visited the newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario, enjoying the King Tut exhibit, the contemporary art collection, and the exquisite ship models.


One of the highlights of the trip was my visit to Bookhou, Arounna Khounnoraj and John Booth's beautiful store and studio on Dundas Street. We had a wonderful time sipping hot tea, chatting about linen, dyes, business, and art. Thank you for your hospitality, inspiration, and friendship!


Lots of our time was spent walking around the Toronto neighborhoods. We lunched at St. Lawrence market, braved the winds along the waterfront, and some of us ventured up in the CN tower. I also visited the Textile Museum of Canada, a small gem and a must visit for anyone with a love for fabric and fiber.

Photo no. 10

Last week I was tagged by Hannah with the challenge to post and tell the story behind the tenth photo in my first picture folder. Here it is. This picture of the back of our house was published in Metropolitan Home's January 2002 issue as part of their reader's house renovation competition. We had finished a major kitchen redo the summer before, and were so happy with the result and to have survived the project (3 months with a microwave and a hotplate, dishes done in the bathroom sink), that we decided to enter the competition. We did not win the grand prize, but we were finalists and our kitchen and the house was featured in the magazine. The kitchen still looks good, and the bad renovation memories have faded by now.

I am supposed to pass on the honor. Here are the rules for this fun tag:
1. open your first folder of pictures
2. scroll to the tenth picture
3. post the photo and the story behind it
5. tag 5 more people

and here are the friends now on the line:

blogging reflections take two

My pondering about blogging continues. Right after my last post I learned that my friend Leah Hennen is discontinuing her blog More Ways to Waste Time. She will leave many sad souls behind. Leah is a stylish decorator, and expert ebay treasure hunter, and she has compiled the most amazing list of galleries, stores, and museums to visit, mainly on the west coast, but also online and abroad. Leah you and your stories will be missed.

This past weekend our local paper ran an associated press story about blogging, focusing on Julie Powell's writings about cooking her way through Julia Child's recipes in Mastering the art of French cooking. Her blog led to two books and now a movie Julie & Julia. The article discusses what a makes a blog successful and how success is measured. Of course this varies from blogger to blogger, for some it is number of visits, for others the amount of comments, and sometimes it is all about self expression. The key still seems to be passion for the topic you write about. If your heart is there it will resonate with others.

While visiting miss Molly's blog, I learned about the nie nie dialogues, written by Stephanie Nielsen. Almost a year ago she and her husband Christian, was in a plane crash that nearly took their lives. Stephanie was a devoted blogger before the accident, and now continues to share her thoughts about her burn injury recovery, her adorable children, her love for her husband, and living a life that is no longer what it used to be. Her writing is warm, funny, engaging, heart wrenching, and very inspirational. This is blogging in its most powerful way. I encourage you to visit the nie nie dialogues, and to support the Nielsen family in any way you can.

It is time to put my blogging anxieties to rest. I truly love what I do, and my life is rich and fulfilled in so many ways. With that in mind I will follow my heart and continue my musings about work, life, nature, creative people, and all the beauty that surround us.

blogging blues

Why? How interesting is it really for others to learn about my likes, dislikes, work tidbits, and habits? Is the world always as beautiful and perfect as I want it to appear in my blog? Is it just self promoting hoopla?

The meaning of blogging is a huge subject and I know that there are no simple answers. After a year plus of doing this I still feel like I am struggling to find my voice and purpose. I wish that blogging was more effortless. I always labor with my writing, even when I know what I want to say. I feel stressed if I don't post often enough, and even more stressed when I can't keep up with the many blogs that I love to read. The pressure is of course internal, nobody ever leaves comments like "nice blog, but you should post more often..."

Despite the difficulties I know I am hooked. Blogging has brought me tremendous joy and connected me with the most wonderful people. I can't imagine not blogging. But I want to do it better and differently, in a way that is truly mine and not just mimicking something else.

I will snap out of my blogging doldrums, do some thinking, and figure out which path to take. In the meantime I want to celebrate a few of my favorite blogger friends, all of them have a clear voice of their own. Visits to their blogs always makes my heart sing.

bundles of joy

I am a sucker for vintage fabrics. Remnants (or even better yardage) of cotton prints from the 50's or the 60's makes me weak in the knees. I spend lots of time tracking these treasures down, and sometimes end up in an online bidding war that forces me to pay way to much for a piece of orange floral print. By now I have stacks piled up in my studio, but there is always room for more...

When my friend Jenny Mitchell of Frecklewonder started offering some of her fabric remnants in her shop I knew I was in luck. I love these prints. They are delightful and whimsical, just waiting to line a purse or partake in my next quilting project.

Jenny's store is a treasure trove for many other things as well. She specializes in vintage clothing, shoes, household items, and children's books, mixed up with some of her own hand crafted work. Her Frecklewonder blog was my inspiration when I first started blogging. She is a skilled photographer and writes about children, work, and daily activities with a great sense of humor and life affirming spunk. To top it all off, her equally wonderful husband Matt is my web guru, who has helped me with my website for ages and never tires of my silly questions about order reports, RedCloth, and slices.

Here are a few of the items currently in the Frecklewonder shop. If you see something you like, hurry over because these finds never last very long.

happily home

We have returned. Four weeks away seemed like no time at all despite being filled with family fun, explorations, food discoveries, walks, and other adventures. I am glad to be back in Charlottesville, reunited with my lovely husband, who could only join us for part of the trip, and Freja the dog, who seems confused and slightly depressed without her companion.

I am also eager to start work again, my mind and my sketchbook are filled with ideas. I look forward to settling in to my creative routines, exploring new prints, and delving into embroidery, my newfound passion. The etsy shop is up and running and the inleaf site will follow shortly.

I'll leave you with some more Scandinavian goodies.

Small boat harbor and traditional street houses in Roskilde.

Birthday lunch with my mom in Malmö.

Overnight trip with the boys to Copenhagen.

Viking ship museum in Roskilde.

Anemones and wild strawberries in my moms garden.

beach bound

We are heading to Sandbridge beach for a week long family vacation. Can't wait for the slow going mornings, daily delicious feasts, and evening strolls by the waters edge. I am bringing a pile of books, fun games, and my camera... No blogging this upcoming week, but I'll return with photos and other impressions. 

I invite you to visit Sofia Barao's beautiful blog this week. She has initiated a wonderful series called creative ones, and this time I am the featured artist. There is a giveaway involved as well... 

Lastly i want to thank Leah of more ways to waste time for making my pillow part of her revamped living room. Leah has such great sense of style, and I am flattered that my creation now is part of her lovely home.
 

reclaiming the garden

Gardening has always been a big part of my life, but for the past few years my own garden has been woefully neglected. Family, work, art, and life has gradually encroached on my precious gardening time and lately I have been too embarrassed to face the weeds and the decline.

This is about to change. This weekend I met with Tracey, (blogger friend, horticulturist, garden consultant, artist, and almost neighbor). We had a wonderful time walking around my yard in the warm morning sun, discussing options, admiring the good, noting the bad. Tracey's positive attitude and practical advise, made me see the garden and the practice of gardening with new eyes. I am truly inspired! The daunting job of caring for our acre of our overgrown land, will be broken down in small manageable projects. I have promised myself to stay on task and to rediscover the joy of digging in the dirt and stopping to smell the roses...


and the winner is...

By old fashioned random selection, the inleaf gift of appreciation goes to cindy of quaint handmade. Cindy is one of my earliest blogger friends, and I love to read her posts, learn about her life in the big city, and admire her beautiful photography. Thank you Cindy! Thanks to all of you who commented and showered me with kindness. I appreciate every word and hope that you will be back to visit. I will make sure to say hello to all of you in the next few days.