Labor Day

The other night, the word “incubate” presented itself in a bolt of awakeness.

patch 1

In that flash, it became clear:


why I’ve had no words as place markers on the personal map,

White Windows

why I have been sitting on most of the process work for the last month,

Stitched Cube

why I have been brooding, the kind where trusting and questioning can get frustrating and cause a pall on mood.

Grid Stitch 2
earlier piece

The work is incubating, (has been for quite some time)

Black Circle

gathering strength so it can hatch.




I love creative experiments and designing, but the plans for our move to warmer weather had barely been drafted when it happened, leaving me reeling as the suv slowed to a stop in South Carolina.   There are days when the color of life in this new place is drawn from a rich dye, deep and having developed to its full potential.  Some days, my head is barely above the froth and steam, reading a wishy washy shade of what-am-I-doing-here?  Moves are notorious upsets, this one unraveling the shape of my identity.

shadow and reeds

Days can be up and down even when you stay in one place for a long time.  We’re not the only ones (or things) on the move.  But I need to set roots, however flimsy, as a point of reference for all the activity, in and out my head, as the next “home base” from which to launch.  The colors show truer from a steady vantage point, good or bad.”


Number 9 is a small cottage that sits almost at the dead end of a curvy cul-de-sac, on a pie-shaped lawn, in front of the woods.   The sun rises in my kitchen window and sets in my studio.  My neighbors houses dot the road at neat intervals,  next to and across from mine.  And folks are friendly.


Four months have spun a routine of sorts. I wake to tropical bird sounds, wishing I knew more about birds. *  I take my cup of coffee to my work desk, wishing it were easier to keep my daily journal promise.  I wind floss to a bobbin for morning stitching, then sit a while with the needle, waiting for inspiration.  Email, and sometimes take the dog out to a spot on the turn-around or through the “rabbit hole.”


I usually bring two bags.  Yes, I pick up.  You-know-what goes in one bag.  And the other collects the booty of windfall that I use in my dyeing experiments.  Spring has offered me a variety of surprises in Low Country – unfamiliar trees and shrubs (that I’m trying to learn the names of), and my recent discovery of two types of deciduous oaks, wild roses and a fabulous cache of fern..   I’ve picked up fuchsia poly-noses as winter ended, and now a prolific maple shares its leaves.

2014-12-25 13.32.20

My neighbors might spy me pruning on occasion and I’ve mentioned in passing to the potter at #10, my pension for imprinting color onto paper and cloth on the stove. I had just unbound some freshly steamed bundles when my doorbell rang.  The potter also grows exotic house plants.  She offered a handful of robust philodendron and begonia leaves from the day’s plant-keeping.  So grateful, I invited her in to see what had just developed between the layers of watercolor paper.

feather imprint

As a potter, she has pressed the texture of leaves into clay projects for decoration. Seeing the delicate traces of plant color on the paper fascinated her creative instincts.  I directed her to roll a slab and cut it to my paper size.  We would experiment together.  Two days later, the slab is drying with a coating of mordant brushed on.   We are prepared for failure, but hopeful.

What do you think will happen?


Chemistry and collaboration aside,  when I stand in place, even while wandering,  abundant nature will provide just what I need on any given day.

*(I always make the bed.)

Fallow with Possibility: New Roots

While the new year beckons  “starts,”  i’ve  had a good week 12 sorting some projects that are waiting patiently to be finished.  Now that the move is a short distance behind us, even though there are a couple of “house” projects remaining, I am setting my sights on my real work. “Real,” of course, is relative:  that of continuing my art work, (themed appropriately)

TOM Landscape2

TOM Grow2

making new connections, taking stock and restocking and grounding myself in a concrete way, to the land of the Low Country by signing on to a garden plot as part of the Okatie Farmers.

212 weed wrap

We adopted this bereft patch of ground with great excitement and anticipation on Sunday, like parents adopting a puppy.  We will train it as best we can, its attributes still a bit in question.  It has a nearby hose bib and a dozen stakes that we can recycle as fenceposts when we build up the perimeter of the  garden with more lumber.  It has sun from all sides,  centered on the power-line alley.   We will put it to work to occupy us and feed us,  as our neighboring farmers are successfully working this land.


The other gardens show the promise for this orphan.  Organic cabbage, rhubarb and pumpkin waiting for last pick before we begin the new season.  Peas, beets, the more sensitive greens being discussed or just peeking above the ground.

Farmers Cabbage3

Farmers PumpkinJanuary, perfect squash!

Farmers RhubarbFlourish of nature’s compliments

This enormous system of small personal gardens share space and sunshine beneath the power lines that stretch for miles in Bluffton.  I had spied one of the smaller garden plots while driving though on a random day of house hunting.  But it was only when I entered the spectacular rabbit hole beyond my new front door, dog walking and exploring, ( Thank you, Nellie) that I discovered it was literally in my backyard.

2015-01-06 12.36.09

In South Carolina “winter,” vegetables still grow.  There are  two planting seasons,  I’ve learned, that encompass most of a calendar year.  The Farmer “Establishment” offers serious advise and farming expertise.  I’ve had my crop of tomatoes, here a year and there a year,  in past houses, but I expect to learn amazing things about how to get organic food for the table in abundance.

I am also excited to plant and hopefully harvest some Indigofera for dyeing cloth, as well.  According to the club president, she doesn’t know of any other Indigo patches here, but South Carolina is perfect in climate to make it happen.  Sea Island Indigo is the local template. Like my dyeing, farming is an experiment with surprises worth trying.  Here’s to a joyful, colorful and edible New Year!




Move over…

October 24th was a big day here.  The long arm took a ride to the new shop.  It’s up and running – tested before our technician left the building and ready for the first project in its new home.  I must admit, the corniness of my photo narrative was exceeded by the butterflies I got realizing how much my little big machine means to me.

2011-01-06 20.03.16Going for a ride with

2011-01-06 20.03.26Said I’d give them a shout-out.  I couldn’t have done it without them.

2011-01-06 21.19.54Bare naked, but not for long…

2011-01-09 00.16.49It’s kind of like camping out right now and hard to be in two places at once.

2011-01-09 00.44.54Borders go on the next quilt up.

2011-01-09 02.03.06Quilt’s on…without skipping a beat.

Loose Ends and Beginnings

Day off…or not really, but the relaxed coffee sipping and vintage patch pressing have serenity built in.  And so I have been gathering my thoughts about the pile of stitching that needs to be given a moment of serious appreciation for having taken the time, for having the opportunity to honor the quiet amidst the noise of days.

I rarely, can’t remember the last time I brought a work-project home so that I could get it done.  Too many interruptions at the shop – some days .  This restoration deserves my undivided attention.   The more patches I repair, the more frayed cloth I discover.  Sad to see fabric disintegrate with time and loving use. But joyful in it’s story of worn edges and recycled secrets.

So today I will

press a few more diamonds
sew the remaining repairs


DSCN0566  DSCN0569 DSCN0570

put backs on some stitching
     DSCN0582 appreciate slow work
remember patience and my stories
love old cloth
celebrate possibility
celebrate possibility




Why dye?

There is something so magical about not knowing.  It’s a metaphor for life.  I wish I could always keep this in mind.

Today at the Quilter’s Alley, we dyed some cotton in a workshop that emphasizes color theory and color accident.  The results were glorious shades of autumn.

Soda ash and salt mordants

Ready to dye.

What colors do with each other

A quick color wheel lesson about mixing dye

mixed and ready

We used three different “reds” two “blues and an “off” yellow and avocado.   My previous workshops, focused on color theory.   This one was pure fun.

autumn in the air

My student was brilliant.  She had no fear of the outcomes, and the results were more than glorious. We missed you, Harriet.  (It’s always better with more minds in the room.)

Ombre surprises from fuchsia to carmine

Direct dye

I wanted the wrinkles to do the work.  I had this piece of muslin all tangled and twisted in the wash cycle.  Those peaks and valleys yield great texture.  I can’t wait until it dries.

bundle revealed

Last week’s bundle with gunmetal dye was opened today.  Hints of brown show from the twigs and leaves I wrapped.  More will emerge/oxydize in the next couple of days.  Can you say “metamorphosis?”   Oh, joy!

Want more on how to do this?  Comment!