Archive for May, 2016

I was thrilled to be included in the SAQA show that just opened at the Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, Ontario, My Corner of the World.

Here is the review of the show in the Stratford Beacon Herald

The piece that was accepted was the view from my studio in Pittsburgh, PA. I walked those streets, and gazed from my studio window so much, I truly felt that those alleys and old factories were my corner of the world. It is called “Evening in Steel Valley.”

My world has changed since then to one of fields rather than factories.  But the truth is that you can take the girl out of the city, but you can never completely take the city out of the girl.

evening in steel valley21x26.5small


Lately I’ve been rusting fabric for a series I’m working on.

I like to use old linen table cloths or napkins, as well as my dear supply of vintage seed and feed bags.

But any natural fiber fabric will do, such as cotton or linen. I have had success with synthetic fibers, at least once in the past.

I have quite a stash of rusted metal objects to use.  Starting out, the metal doesn’t have to be rusted.  Don’t worry — it will get that way!  And it can be used over and over, until, eventually, it disintegrates completely. Galvanized metal doesn’t work, which, frankly, rules out most nails and washers. Copper doesn’t rust, but imparts an interesting greenish hue to the fabric. Try different things.

Here is my clean, dry fabric I’m getting ready to use.

cloth start

Next I get some salt water ready. I don’t have an exact ratio to give you — I just pour some into warm water and dissolve it. Just use the everyday salt.  You don’t need sea salt or Kosher salt or anything expensive like that. You can use a plastic bowl, pan, or whatever you have handy.

pouring salt

Next wet your cloth.  You don’t have to soak it for long, just make sure it’s completely wet.

wet the cloth

Once it’s wet, take the cloth pieces out, and wring out excess, dripping water, but leave them pretty wet.

Arrange metal pieces on the cloth, layering it as you go. The rust will show through both sides of the cloth.

arrange pieces

I use gloves when handling the salt water and metal pieces. My dry skin thanks me for that precaution! Some folks are able to control images with rusting, but not me. I arrange and layer pretty randomly. I do try to get as much of the cloth in contact with some metal as I can.

Once the metal is arranged and the cloth layered and bundled up, put it all in a big plastic bag and batch it. Close the bag tightly so the cloth doesn’t dry out.


Check it after 24 hours, and then as necessary, until it is done — in your opinion! That’s all that counts.

Here is a piece of cloth that has been batched, rinsed, and run through the washer to remove any little bits of metal that may have adhered, then dried and ironed — ready to use.

finished cloth

And here is a detail of a current art quilt I’m working on, using rusted fabric.

working on a piece

Cheers, and happy rusting!




I visited the opening of Fiberart International 2016 and the all-day Fiberart Forum in Pittsburgh. The Forum is an all day, intensive walk through of the show, with artists speaking about their pieces, anchored by a key note speaker.

This is an exhibition of contemporary fiber art, shown both at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and the Society for Contemporary Craft, from May 6 – August 21, 2016.

Full disclosure: this tri-annual show was the single most important inspiration for me to become a fiber artist. I visited the show in 2004 and 2007 in wordless wonder. I longed to be able to create like these artists did, but this dream seemed far out of reach compared to the reality of my life at the time.

Then, after a moment of profound enlightenment, I changed my life and began a now 10-year quest to become a fiber artist.

By 2009 that road had taken me to membership in the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, the wonderful organization that organizes this show every three years. So returning to “the Burgh” meant reuniting with my dear friends in the FGP as well.

The keynote speaker this year was juror Tali Weinberg, Executive Director of the Textile Society of America, and her topic was “Engaging Injustice Through Textiles.” She caught my attention by making the observation that textiles are interwoven with the history of injustice.  Think: enslaved labor picking cotton. Think: labor exploitation in textile plants.  Consider Ghandi’s movement to create hand woven products in India to counter British dumping of cheap manufactured cotton goods.

Her words echoed in my mind viewing the Best in Show: “THIS Revolution Will Not Be Televised: #13 Protest Series,” by Penny Mateer in collaboration with Martha Wasik. It is a giant (94” x 77”) quilt of the images of 80 unarmed persons of color who have been shot by the police since 1999. The border lists their names, ages, where they were from, and the date of their deaths.

Some other pieces that particularly intrigued me were “Snellandschap Luchtweg (Fast Landscape Airway) by Pauline MM Nijenhuis from the Netherlands. It is a canvas painted then hand stitched, and a statement on time – the fast and slow of it.

Susan Kathleen Doyle’s “Columbia” is a two-piece dress made from an encyclopedia her husband discarded. The muted colors and workmanship mesmerized me, plus I’ve a special interest in the use of old paper.

Margery Amdur’s “Amass #6” transforms cut cosmetic sponges with ink, gouache, pastel pigment into a lush landscape that you want to visually dive into and not leave.

“Mending, Roe v Wade,” is a small but powerful piece by Lori Zimmerman that gives visual, visceral representation to the erosion of the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal.

Patricia Kennedy-Zafred has now made five “Tagged” pieces.  Each one, for me, has had special, personal meaning (my childhood best friend’s father was one of the 120,000 persons of Japanese heritage forced into internment camps under FDR’s Executive Order 9066).  This one, Patty says, is the best. She has learned more about the people pictured, and been able to add more information to the tags.

Finally, Emily Jan of Canada delighted me with her flying wolf adorned with peacock feathers. “Ragnarök” refers to the Norse Twilight of the Gods. A mysterious and beautiful world indeed.

The cooperative gallery of which I am an active and proud member, decided this week to hold a friendly competition among the artists.

As part of our redecorating and re-branding last fall, we bought a comfy and stylish chair —  a place for visitors to the gallery to sit, rest, and contemplate art. It is very red.

The competition is that everyone is challenged to use the chair in their art in some way, any way they please, in a piece of art.

We have yet to figure out how to make money off of this competition. An auction? A raffle?

If you have ideas, please comment!

Meanwhile, here is my entry into the competition, entitled Madame Chairperson. It continues my series of using photos of things in my environment to create a fanciful landscape. In this case, my next-door sister-in-law keeps a pet turkey, Pekkie, who sits on the chair. I’ve used Pekkie before, and probably will again!

The size is 22.5 x 23″, raw edge applique, machine stitched.