Entries categorized "I've Been Thinking" Feed

Something's Coming . . .

Driving to work this week, I've played the soundtrack to West Side Story.  I've got a short commute but even small bits of this masterpiece is enough to lift your spirits.  It was a sad week for sure.

We've had small bits of summer this week too - sunny skies and warmer temps, the garden is bursting, the water is so blue (but not warm).  I guess this is where this new work came from.  Still working on it, just like summer is still working to be born, bit by bit. 


Take care,



Hand Quilting Love

I am several hours into new project.  




I've gone back to small stitch quilting.  Big stitch has taken its toll on my hand as I find it hard to do the rocking stitch with a larger needle.  


I'm using a size 9 needle and plain old quilting thread.  


It's good to be back. Like riding a bicycle, once you master a hand-quilting stitch, it never leaves you, and that's a very good thing.  

Take care,


What's Next?

I am starting to think about next year - my goals and plans for living a creative life.

What I'm working on now . . .

I had a good year:  I created a business, I made a lot of quilts that I loved, I sold quite a few prints, I accepted commissions for relief printing and was part of an exhibit of 'underexposed' photographers.  I submitted a quilt to one exhibit but was rejected, but I also submitted samples to lecturers and teachers to include in their presentations.  I continued my arts mentorship program with Jane Davila in the company of several talented artists.  I put myself out on Instagram (@jumpcutarts) and participated in an IG quilt group where I saw work that blew my mind, made me think, and fall in love with the potential of artistic expression all over again.

It's been good.

I work full time too, some times 6 days a week, so there is no way I could have done all of this had I not made one small yet
significant change to my life.  I've always been a morning person who can't resist a beautiful sunrise, singing birds and hot cup of coffee.  Yet on many a morning I'd grab a quilt, some good reading and head for the nearest comfy chair.  Not a bad way to start the day.  I knew I needed to make one significant change if I was going to lead the actively creative life I wanted:  I got to work.  Washing, pressing, cutting, measuring, pinning, piecing, sketching, carving, inking, printing, photographing, editing, framing - for about 90 minutes every morning for the last 2 years.

And that has made all the difference.  So has a supportive husband and family.

Nights are reserved for two other activities, those which would help me transition from a full and busy day to a good night's sleep.  There is nothing like a solid hour of hand quilting to center me.  The rhythm of the rocking stitch is a great way to unwind and process the day.  The other is poring over books: art and quilt history, design and photography, technique and process, life of an artist and how she made it work, or didn't.

I usually sleep pretty well.  

Don't be fooled - the stuff of life, blah, blah, blah. It's always there. I deal. You deal. We all do.

So, what is next?  I'm not sure I want to change much.  A specialty coffee would be nice, a different tea.  I still have not found the right footwear for these cold New England mornings.  

The work?  I wouldn't change it for the world. I know I have a lot to learn, but I am actively honing my skills.

I can't wait for 2018.

Take care,



Take Out/Full Plate (Another Finish)

Things have come full circle.

Take Out/Full Plate is a reflection on a really, really busy time in my life.   Great opportunities came my way, invitations to fun, job offers, big changes that had me saying yes, please, and big changes that did not offer me the option of saying no, thank you.

It was 'good' busy, thankfully, and because of that, I said yes to more than I realized, and that's when I got into trouble.

There was no good reason to say no.  We all have limits and I thought I had a pretty good understanding as to what mine were.  What I didn't know was limits change over time.  It's good to acknowledge this.  Good, but not easy. 

Honestly, there was a good reason, but at the time, I couldn't or wouldn't share it with anyone, but I'll share it with you now.  I was exhausted.   Not an easy thing for anyone to admit.  I felt like a quitter and that really bothered me.  So the more I said yes, the more exhausted I became.  Not good.

Take Out/Full Plate (48" x 60")

The title refers to a watershed moment, an epiphany if you will, when I realized things had to change.  We were having dinner, discussing the events of the past week and what was coming up.  Both the past and the future looked a little busy.  I started making a food shopping list in my head when I realized we had eaten more take out in the previous weeks that I care to admit here.  Some nights we ate separately and some night we had different dinners.  I did not like this one bit.  I love cooking so I asked myself what had happened.  I realized that saying yes to all, our plates were full and we lived on take out.  It was time to say no.


I needed to think more.  Since I consider quilting a reflective and meditative process, it was only natural that I turned to needle and thread.  I started putting them together with absolutely no plan in mind.  It was therapeutic.  Each of the blocks is hand-pieced and the top was assembled by machine.  The block name is Drunkard's Path, and it's arrangement most closely resembles Polka Dots (#1451) by Aunt Martha,  according to Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.   

Sewing these curves helped me understand the power of no.  It reminded me of something I've known for along time, but had forgotten:  Saying no is the first step in stress reduction.

The fact that it took me so long to finish is not lost on me.  True, I stole a moment here and there when I could grab needle and go, but over time I had moved into a much better place, and honestly, I did not want to look back.  I put the quilt away.

This winter, I participated in the IGQuiltFest with Amy's Creative Side.  One of the prompts was to show an unfinished quilt so I took this out again, and here we are. I'm really happy that it is finished.  It is not going to be quilt relegated to the back of the closet.  Instead, it is will be our new fall quilt, a fitting reminder during a very busy time of year.  On those days when I need to regroup and think about what my next step will be, I'll take an important step.  I'll get a cup of tea and sit on my couch with this quilt around my shoulders, to think about the power of yes and the power of no.  

Take care,


Midnight Swim - A Finish

I made this quilt top a year ago and finally got around to quilting it now.  This post is edited from what I wrote back then.

Midnight Swim 38" x 60"

    August always brings back this memory.  

    It was a brutally hot night, not a breeze to be had, and not having air-conditioning was putting a strain on everyone's sense of humor.  Someone threw out the idea of a midnight swim (I think it was me).  Actually it was closer to 8 p.m., but when you are little and it's summer and it's dark out, it might as well be midnight.  It was a quick walk to the beach and we were all good swimmers but we made sure to look out for each other.  I sat at the water's edge for a good long time, not too sure that I wanted to go in, but no breeze meant plenty of mosquitos and they were getting to me.  I started splashing around, inching closer to full-fledged dunk, when the water lit up with blue-green bubbles.  I had disturbed some microscopic creatures and they let loose with their bioluminescene.  I fell into the water with a big splash and my arms were covered with sparkles.  It was like having a bunch of shooting stars in you hair.  It blew my mind.  Everyone began to dive and jump and splash and the water just lit up.  The idea of becoming a mermaid seemed a worthwhile pursuit and I'm pretty sure I dreamed about doing so that very night.  It was an amazing experience - a truly beautiful moment.

    A few years later, I saw the movie JAWS and needless to say, never again did I swim after the sun went down, let alone midnight.

      I never became a mermaid either, and we eventually got air-conditioning.  I played with becoming a coastal biologist, but I went to film school instead.  I still go to the beach on hot nights and wonder about the little creatures swimming around my feet.  I think about them when I'm sitting in my air-conditioned living room, which is where the idea for this quilt, Midnight Swim, came about.  I was messing around with some hexagons when the image of a coastline presented itself to me.  From that, it became a tribute quilt to that night on Long Island Sound, when we had turquoise sparkles in our hair and green bubbles on our shoulders, and not having air-conditioning was not such bad thing; it led us outside to a world of wonder.


During the coldest months, this quilt will remind me of that wonderfully warm night.  It will remind me to turn off my phone, turn off the television, put on my coat and gloves, and go outside.

        Enjoy the rest of this beautiful summer.

Take care,



Light The Fires

I started sewing these half-square triangle blocks on a  dark and dreary March morning.  I needed to work on something summery.  Within a moment of putting  just a few blocks IMG_6473together, I knew this quilt would be for my sister who was born on the Fourth of July.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember when I posted this picture.  It reminded me of when we would watch Chiller Theater, a local television program which featured scary movies.  The opening of the show featured a cartoon hand coming out of the ground.  So I laughed when I took this picture - obviously it was a sign.

I continued sewing every dark morning until the square measured 45".  It wasn't done and it needed something else so I thought I'd just go ahead with a border, but that was pretty blah.  Bonfires popped into my head.  I mixed up the old adage - where there's smoke there's fire - and started a little deconstruction.  The quilt changed direction  just a bit - just like smoke from a fire - and that's when all the memories of July 4th past came flooding back and I knew what had to be done to make it complete. 

Our family lived on Long Island Sound - the body of water between New York and Connecticut - during the summer.  Our Independence Day ritual included building a bonfire from driftwood and beach chairs that did not survive winter, and lighting the fire just as the sun had set.  On a clear night we could see the fires and fireworks on the Connecticut shoreline.

IMG_7028Sometimes you couldn't.  Even the darkest July sky can can get a little pale with all that smoke from all those fires. I felt I had to add lighter blocks to the upper left corner to indicate this.  Only then did I feel the top was complete.

I took a gamble with machine quilting.  I think between that and the all-cotton fabrics and batting that I used, the quilt shrank quite a bit. 

The top measured 55.5" square, but after washing and drying, it is now 53".  Still, it is a good size to cover yourself if it is a freakishly cold July.

Like all that smoke from a the bonfires years ago, the quilt made its journey across Long Island Sound this week to my sister.  She called to thank me today and we had a nice talk about all those fires years ago.  Now, I have this vision of her sitting with her one-year old grandson, watching fireworks, and wrapping him in the quilt if the noise gets too loud or the night too cold.

So here's a funny story.  When I was due to arrive the same day but a few years later, my parents decided not to light their fire until I was born.  Apparently my mother went into labor on July 4th and our neighbors went ahead and lit the fire.  It was a false alarm.   IMG_7596 (1)I made my grand entrance a week later when my mother was having her hair done.  No fires or fireworks for my arrival, but every year on my birthday, I feel like I should get my hair cut or have a manicure.  One year I got my my drivers license renewed.

Every quilt has a story, whether we realize it or not.  The story may begin when you cut that first piece of fabric, or maybe before you were even born.  Quilts make great memories live again, and they can make new memories too.

Have a safe and happy July 4th!

Take care,


A Few Finishes

I'm so happy to show you two quilts. 



Day For Night, #1 

42" x 50", 100% cotton, machine-pieced, hand-pieced, hand-quilted

The idea behind this quilt came out of one of those nights where I just couldn't get to sleep.  I had so much stuff on my mind - not big stuff, just A LOT of stuff, random stuff - and I knew that I was going to need a nap the next day - highly unlikely in reality.  I am one of those people who needs a solid night's sleep or I just feel funky the next day.  The piecing on this was completely random . . . just like all that stuff that keep popping into my head.  It took me only 26 hours to hand quilt.  I am so happy with this quilt and really enjoyed putting it together.  I absolutely love it and want to try another.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 




Bleach Blanket Solo #1

46 x 60" machine pieced, machine quilted  

This top has been laying around for way too long and one day I just decided to go for it.  It is based on Ruth Finley's pattern, Streak O' Lightning (1929), and made with Jennifer Paganelli's gorgeous tropical cottons and Kona Chartreuse.  Working on this gave me new respect for machine quilters, particularly those of you who do it on a standard machine.  

I have a vision of laying on this quilt on a beautiful sunny day, with the perfect summer read and a cold drink by my side.  I'll wash it every time I use it and by September it will be the softest thing.  I'll probably fall asleep on it, the book unread and the drink, warm.

I guess I better bring both quilts - and the sunscreen.

Take care,


Out Of The Fog, Came A Roar

Sometimes words fail me, so I depend on art, either by creating it or viewing it, to articulate what I'm feeling.  I started working on Out Of The Fog, Came A Roar shortly after my family and I walked in The Women's March (D.C.) on January 21.  

When the Threads of Resistance exhibition was announced, I knew it was a tremendous opportunity for quilt artists to create work relating to our current political atmosphere.

Though my work was not chosen for the exhibit and probably won't be seen by many people, I thank you for reading this and am grateful that I can share it with you.  I encourage you to visit the site and see the work submitted as well as the work chosen for the exhibit. 

My statement is below the photo. 


Out of The Fog Came A Roar

27" x 45" 

In the days following the Women’s March, I had a hard time answering the question, “How was D.C.?” While I had words to describe the event, I was unable to explain the experience. Transformative only scratched the surface.

I needed to quietly process that day. Unfortunately, with the new administration in office and the bewildering sequence of events that followed, moments of quiet reflection were rare. Just as I felt the glow of the March begin to fade away, an image appeared in my mind. I could not connect it to anything, so I just let it stay there, hoping to interpret what it meant.

As part of my processing, I turned to a quilt I started in November 2015, High Road To the White House. Working with the base block, Many Roads to the White House, (a pattern attributed to the Kansas City Star, 1955), I wanted a quilt that would commemorate the election and perhaps send a vibe to the candidates to take the high road, something I have always taught my son to do. Yet no sooner had I started the project did I abandon it. It became clear that this campaign was on a different trajectory, one that often left me speechless. I shuddered at my naiveté. While handling the abandoned blocks, the haunting image reappeared; a enormous moving shadow of black, grey and white, squeezed and re-emerging as a stunning, multi-colored shape. I grabbed my scissors and began to cut the blocks I had tossed aside thirteen months earlier. Everything fell into place.

I remembered that on the morning of the March, we walked to The Washington Monument, which significantly stood cut in half by fog. It felt like that same fog that had shrouded me since the election. I stared at in sadness for a few moments and when I looked away, I realized that the casual group we had walked in with had grown into a large, cohesive, committed assembly, dropping their own shrouds, eager to have their voices heard.

Things began to get loud, and then came a roar.

I will never forget it - I felt pulled in by the roar. As the passage to the stage became smaller, I lost sight of my family, but I knew they were safe. I raised our green and purple protest quilt, Save Our Democracy, hoping that they would see me. As the crowd got bigger and distance between each of us smaller, I found it difficult to take a deep breath. With my camera clutched tightly to my chest, I could not even move my arms to take a picture. Instead, this powerful, peaceful, determined and committed group, became part of me, and I became part of a movement.

In that moment, we made history. We came out of our collective fog and we roared.



The Early Bird

I have always been an early riser.  Hand-quilting at sunrise, especially in the hot summer months, was a beautiful (and sensible) way to start the day, and I'd piece at night.  I'm doing the opposite now.  I've committed to getting up very early, putting the kettle on and going to my machine.  It has paid off tremendously in my productivity and I go to my day job feeling  ready to go.  It's my morning meditation, as hand-quilting is in the evenings, and I can't recommend it enough.

Here's the latest.  If you follow me on Instagram (@jumpcutarts), you know that I did a bit of a makeover on this top and I'm really happy I did.  It looked good at 25 blocks, but it needed to be bigger for a lap quilt.  Running out of dark blue fabric - I kid you not - and not wanting buy any more - I kid you not - put me in a different direction.  The top took on a life of its own.  I went along with it, even if that meant some special time with my seam ripper.  It was so worth it and honestly, it wasn't that big of a deal.


Light The Fires (working title) is a gift for a family member.  It measures 54" square.

If I had gone into the project knowing that I had to cut 638 half-square triangles, I would probably have given up before I started.  Jumping in with a vague idea in mind and working on it for 90 minutes every morning made a huge difference, not just in the brief time it took to get this together, but in how I think of my own creative process.  


Take care,