fiber and art

Generally I try to keep things beautiful and upbeat here. But lately I have found myself increasingly disgruntled about the art world and the role fiber art plays in it.

While on vacation, I visited my favorite modern art museum Louisiana, beautifully situated on the waters edge north of Copenhagen in Denmark. It is a large museum, with a vast collection of contemporary art. When we were there in July, there were no fiber art on display, with the exception of a piece by Pia Arke that was included in the main theme exhibit about Scandinavian architecture.

Pia Arke's work Soil for Scorebysund, consists of a collection of coffee filter bags from her native Greenland. One of the few fiber art pieces at Louisina museum of modern art.

Recently the amazing exhibit Disintegration and Repair, at Warm Springs Gallery, which included several nationally and internationally renown fiber artists, was received warmly by the public, but generated few sales and little attention or reviews from local press and art establishments.

Work by Barbara Wisnoski and Kathryn Clark at Warm Springs Gallery.

I am just using these examples to illustrate how fiber art is met with hesitation, if it is included at all, in more traditional art venues. I think there is an ingrained suspicion towards fiber among art curators, art critics, and art audiences in general. Somehow textile art is considered fragile, fleeting, and flimsy. Then there is the debate whether it is really art, or fine craft. Where do you draw the line? Do you have to draw a line?

Work by Karen Henderson at Warm Springs Gallery.

My wish is to garner a greater respect for the medium itself. Fiber art is no more precious, or insubstantial, or folksy, than any other medium. It is what the artist does with the medium that gives it meaning. Textile art can be good and bad, just as any other art form. I think great fiber art deserve a place alongside great paintings, prints, and video art.

In general (of curse there are exceptions) fiber art is most successful in venues where buyers, curators, collectors, and gallery owners have an interest because of the medium. Most of us probably fall in this category. Our love of fiber, makes us seek out good fiber art via specialty galleries, online venues, and exclusive fiber shows.

But my passion for the art form wants me to promote it in a wider sense. Not just to advance my own work, but because I truly think that fiber art belongs on the big stage. I would love to hear your thoughts about this. Do you have ideas about how to make this happen? How to further the understanding about fiber art and its qualities? I suggest that you visit these amazing artists, who all deserve a place in the most prestigious galleries and museums; Barbara Wisnoski, Karen Henderson, India Flint, Judy Martin, Roz Hawker, Dorothy Caldwell, and Beverly Ayling-Smith. The list could go on...

a special quilt

Prior to the natural dye workshop I was teaching last fall, I made this sample quilt to illustrate the beautiful range of colors that can be achieved by using natural dyes from plants growing in our region. The quilt ended up in the blog post about the event, where one of my readers spotted it.

I was honored and thrilled to received her request to make this quilt into a wall hanging for her home. Her initial inquiry has now led to a budding friendship, and a project that is taking on a life of its own. The stitching (done with silk/cotton thread and a wool yarn) makes each square come to life, and unifies the piece in ways I could not imagine. It will take a few more weeks to complete and I know I will miss it when it is done. But this is a special quilt going to a special place, and the privilege of working on it makes my heart sing.

giving thanks

I have much to be thankful for. Health, family, happiness, friends, work... but without my boys, life would just stop in its tracks. They continue to amaze me with their accomplishments, compassion, smarts, and love. I am so lucky.

And my girls makes me to wake up every morning with a smile, whether I am ready for it or not.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

new home

Some things are just meant to be. For years I have admired the quiet, elegant, and delightful design style of Maria. She is an interior designer and purveyor with impeccable taste and the loveliest persona. She shares her work and beautiful home on her blog vintage simple. Maria recently bought my textile collage whisper, for her new home in Ashville, North Carolina. I am honored and thrilled and I can't imagine a better place for this piece. Thank you Maria for your trust and encouragement!

I am packing my bags again. This time I am heading home with my youngest son to visit family and friends in Sweden. It has been two years since last and I am looking forward to many things, including eating new potatoes and strawberries (they taste much better over there), sipping gin and tonics on my mom's patio, hugging my nephews, and meeting Roxy and Rufus, the new family pets... I will try to post during my trip so stay tuned.

random ramblings

The past two weeks have gone by in a blur as I finished up a large order for Terrain. Even though I am excited about the work and love how everything turned out, it was an enormous undertaking for me, and it left me feeling a bit guilty for abandoning other aspects of my life.

In the meantime I realized that over 5000 kind individuals now favor my shop on etsy. No. 5000 was MonkiVintage, which is a great little vintage store with beautiful well priced items, stunningly photographed. 5000 is a big number. Thanks to all of you!

large metal L, from MonkiVintage

Lastly, I have a blogger question. Everyday I run across new wonderful blogs, and I have a long list of old time favorites, but I have yet to come up with a good way to keep up with everyone. I know I can seek out blogs I follow through my dashboard, but it still requires logging in and I just don't do it often enough. Do you have ideas for how to easily get updated when there are new posts on your favorite blogs?

I wish everyone a wonderful week ahead!

natural beauty

February Visit, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper with chine collè. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Every once in a while you come across art that just simply takes your breath away. These beautiful prints from 88editions are solar plate etchings where the artist's photographic images, pressed plants, and other items are positioned on the plate which is exposed in the sun. The artist's handmade paper adds another dimension to the prints. I find the result hauntingly beautiful. I love the texture, the layered effects, and the muted colors. These prints are all available, along with several others, in the 88editions etsy shop

Winter Walk: Lyric, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Moonrise Charmed Medow at Dusk, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper with monotyping. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Branch Silhouette, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.

Seed Head: Dill, polymer gravure solar plate printed on artist-made paper. © 88editions. all rights reserved.


It is time for my annual appreciation holiday sale. Everything in the etsy store and the big cartel store is 15% off from November 26 to November 29. Just enter the discount code HOLIDAY2010 during check-out. Thank you for your support and for considering handmade gifts this season!

giving thanks

There is much to be thankful for in my life. My boys, health, love, happiness, passion, friendship, dog kisses, creativity, and majestic trees in my back yard... all gifts of enormous magnitude. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's feast, with my beloved family. I wish all of you the best of times this holiday season. Happy thanksgiving!


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.

soft hues and gratitude

This past week I finally did some more dye pot experiments. I simmered black walnuts, in various stages of decay, and added pieces of whole cloth linen as well as some bundles. One of the bundles incorporated architectural iron stars that I have collected over the years, another included large mimosa leaves. The overall result did not yield the dark brown color I had anticipated, but I am still pleased. The softness of the hues achieved with natural dyes is fascinating.

My work was featured in three different blogs this week. I am grateful for the attention. Thank you Illana for the interview (don't miss the giveaway), and Jenya for the beautiful photo collage and kind words, and last but not least Erin for including my towel in her Canadian Thanksgiving inspiration.  Happy weekend everyone!

life of privilege

Ever so often I stop to think about the life I lead. I am married to a lovely man, 22 years almost to the day. I think we are as much in love as the day we met, but more seriously now. We have two fantastic boys who continue to marvel me with their accomplishments, compassion, and  demeanors. We live in an old, quirky, but beautiful house, with a large garden. Several precious dogs and cats have come and gone, all of them endearing. I have the best extended family. My mother and sisters first and foremost, but I also adore my in-laws, niece, and nephews. Then there are my friends, always at the ready for a stroll, a run, a chat, a meal, or just to be. And lastly, I wake up every day knowing I get to do what I love the most - tinkering with fabric, plants, colors, patterns, and stitching. We have no big financial wealth, still I am living the most privileged life. It is a gift not to be taken for granted, and I am grateful.

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.

all white

The world is blanketed in snow outside my studio window. Inside I am sifting through my vintage treasure box. Most of its content relates to my family. Every monogram and piece of lace has a history. I come from a line of seamstresses. Not the professional kind, but the kind who sewed, stitched, and embroidered out of necessity and out of joy. Weaving, knitting, quilting, tailoring, crocheting, mending, and altering were my grandmother's and my mother's artistry. Their passion and appreciation were passed on to me. Some of their skills (not all) were as well...

Each time I visit my mom in Sweden, I bring a few more pieces back with me. My promise to her and to myself is that they will be used for a special project, a heirloom of heirlooms of sort. I don't know what shape it will take, when it will be done, or how, but hopefully it will be worthy to pass on to a few more generations.

A few belated thank yous are in order. Gay over at I dreamed I saw, included my geranium sachets in her sweet smelling post this weekend, and Elaine at nestingblog recently featured my queen anne's lace art quilt. Tusen tack! I also want to thank Denise from Hamburg, Germany, (lieblings.weerke) who picked my market tote as one of the items in her beautiful fig post.

slow cloth

Images above courtesy of Glennis Dolce. All rights reserved.

Slow cloth is the fiber worlds equivalent of the slow food movement. Slow cloth was branded and initiated by Elaine Lipson, artist, writer, editor, and one of the supporters of the slow food idea here in the US. Slow cloth is not a project, technique, or some kind of exclusive club, but rather a philosophy and an attitude, characterized by joy, skill, contemplation, beauty, and expression. The Slow Cloth philosophy embraces teaching, community (global and local), diversity, and responsible sourcing and use of materials. You can find a more detailed outline of the slow cloth initiative here.

For me slow cloth emphasizes the fact that making things from fiber is a blissful experience, and that is is ok for things to take time, as long as we cherish the process. On a larger scale slow cloth takes on issues such as sustainable, and fair manufacturing of fashion and home goods, respect for the environment, the importance of making things that last and doing more with less.

The slow cloth group on facebook, spearheaded by Elaine, with the help of Jude Hill, and Glennis Dolce, now has close to 600 members from all over the world, all sharing a love for fabric, fibers, stitching, and handcraft. The slow cloth group has ongoing discussions about varied topics such as artistic process, books for fiber makers, favorite needels, and "ugly" work. There is an adjacent flicker group where members can post photos of their work, and all members are encouraged to post links and comments on topics related to the slow cloth philosophy. I find this to be an increadible inspiring place and I encourage everybody who work with textiles, and who embraces the slow cloth ideas to join the group. Thank you Kit for helping me find the way, and thank you Elaine, Jude, and Glennis for setting things in motion!

Images above courtesy of Jude Hill. All rights reserved.

special gift – special request

My friend Mia gave me this delightful bracelet the other day, as a belated holiday gift and thank you token. I am especially enthralled with the fig leaf charm, which is a silver replica of my leaf print. Mia is a talented goldsmith and jewelry designer, specializing in beautiful wedding and engagement rings and elegant pendants. Last year she also introduced an adorable line of jewelry that can be customized from your child's drawings. Thank you for my treasure Mia!

Have you heard about the poppies, a fun and lighthearted series of awards initiated by poppytalk? The awards are not meant to be a true competition, but rather a way to highlight and celebrate talented crafters, designers, and artists. I usually don't fish for compliments, but if you feel inclined, I would love your nomination in the homemade housewares category. While there check out the other award categories. The nomination process ends on January 12, so hurry over and let the world know who your favorite creative people are!

first snow

The first snow of the season arrived this weekend, coating everything in fluff and ice. It will not stay for long as temperatures are rising, but it left this Sunday morning feeling especially serene. I want to send big thanks to Jan over at poppytalk, who wrote so nicely about my work this week, and a belated greeting of gratitude goes to Rachel of elephantine who also featured my work recently. Tack!

thousands of hearts

Early this morning I discovered that my etsy shop now has recevied over 3000 hearts! I am thrilled and flattered that so many visitors have decided to make my little etsy corner a favorite. A big thanks to all of you! The most resent heart came from 13 threads in Edinburgh, Scotland. I am so glad she found me, because I have now discovered her expertly made and stunning dresses, robes, and tops. I have already made several of them favorites of my own.