Monday, December 10, 2007


A couple of posts back I mentioned that I was considring giclee prints of my bonsai trees. I did go ahead and have some done of two of the designs. Although I am happy with the quality of the prints they still struck me as somehow unfinished. I matted them with black mats and it improved the appearance but still something was missing. I pondered it for awhile and I finally hit upon what it was, I really wanted to show off the pattern featured in each print. My solution was to mat each of the different trees in the same print that is featured on the pot. I'm happy with the effect it seems to set the print off much better. This is the first of them, now listed at Etsy. The next will be coming in a few days. Funny isn't it? When you just sit back and let it the answer presents itself...I wonder where it comes from?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Heart Space

This piece represents a realignment of my energy.
The end of November brought the resolution of a difficult decision for me. I have decided to let go of my rented studio space.
I began renting a studio two years ago. Doing dye work in the home is a risky proposition. Dyes are messy and have a tremendous capacity of finding their way into the most unexpected places. It has been a terrific luxury to have a space dedicated their use that doesn’t have a second function (like a laundry room or garage). I also like to be able to make a mess without guilt.
The downsides to this are the money and time factors. I maintain a room in my home for sewing and all computer related tasks. I work a full time job. The harsh truth is that I haven’t been using the studio enough to justify the expense…and that weighs on me. I’ve been trying to divide my time between the three locations: job, studio and home and the one that keeps losing is the studio. I do artwork at home but getting to the studio, even when I try to make it a priority, doesn’t happen enough to justify the expense.
I’ve also found that all too often I find myself basing my artistic/business decisions on how I will pay the rent rather than on what my true artistic inclination is.
This isn’t the direction I want to head in.
Like most people I have a relatively small amount of time each day to use on my art/business. I have been thinking about the sort of work I want to spend that time on…I enjoy experimenting with dyes, experiments that may not necessarily work out. I enjoy designing new work both digital and analog using the textiles I produce … What I don’t particularly enjoy is huge amounts of production work. I’ve done enough of it over the last twenty years to know it isn’t where my strength or my heart is. I would prefer to focus more on the things I love in the time that is available to me.
I have the choice between a physical space to work in or the mental space I need in order to produce my best work…I’m picking the mental space.
Releasing the studio will free up time and money that I intend to reinvest in the work I love best.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I am still working with the labyrinth designs, this is my latest take on it...

I'm trying meld the textures of the fabrics with the labyrinth design without it getting too busy. I am interested in creating something with a meditative quality. this seems to be the most successful so far.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

bonsai 2,3,4

This is the rest of the bonsai series, I'm considering fine art prints or cards of the designs...

I have a couple other unrelated designs to finish before I make a final decision.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


bonsai-tree-1 Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

This is a new piece of virtual piecework I've been working on. I have three more companion pieces that are nearly finished. I've been wanting to use the pattern that is on the pot for a while I created it nearly a year ago and never really found a use for it until now.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Itajime Shibori Dyed Rice Paper listed on Etsy

I'm trying something new at my Etsy store. I've decided to list some of my Shibori paper for sale. I'm putting them up as single sheets or coordinating sets.

I love this stuff and I have been experimenting with it for awhile now. I've successfully used it with archival glues, resin and acrylic mediums so I figure why not share the wealth? My absolute favorite way to use it is in my virtual piecework...

this piece was created as a part of my japonisme design group

and this is one of the designs in my Hawaiian Quilt card set (also on Etsy)

So we will see if there is any response!

Friday, November 2, 2007

30 Day Experiment (more than 30 days late) review

I have dragged my feet trying to describe how the experiment worked out. All around I think it helped me to become more productive and far more aware of the habit of sharing too much. However I was unable to completely follow my own rules. I tried to be much more circumspect regarding upcoming projects, and I think I succeeded in not discussing them for the most part but it was hard to do. I had a number of events that put me in a position to discuss my work and I find it very difficult to limit those conversations to the present or the past, they kept spilling over into possibilities for the future. I definitely couldn't help myself in the morning pages... I truly think that that is one of the ways my brain sorts itself out. I do think that just becoming more aware of the behavior was constructive, and I am continuing to try to keep my head in the present.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

finally finished

Hooray we did it! This has to be the largest outdoor project we have undertaken and it was absolutely worth the effort. When we moved into this place there was a 45 degree slope covered with gravel that had to be negotiated in order to get to the front door. Now we have actual stairs and a nice clear path that won't grow weeds, I feel deeply satisfied. It's true we still need a railing and some lighting but hey a little bit at a time...kaizen!

Rasta our dog definately approves!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jerry the Sheep at Fresh Purls

I’m pleased to announce that I now have some of my appliqué tapestries up at Fresh Purls in East Providence on Hope Street. Jerry the Sheep, Black Ewed Susan and a number of other pieces are on sale at one of the best knitting stores in the city. If you have the chance stop in and say “Hi!” The shop is lovely, bright and absolutely stuffed with wonderful yarns, accessories and tools. It makes me want to take up knitting…but I know I simply don’t have the time to do it in…happily I do have friends who knit!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Maki Age

Still working on the finishing of my first Maki Age experiment so in the meantime

I decided to try some more discharge experiments using the Maki Age technique. This time I chose a denim twill to work on it is a very dark blue and appears to be 100% cotton (I often buy mystery fabric at the local fabric store) I'm planning to discharge the color and then to re-wrap the resist and go back in with an over dye, lets see how this works out...

I've decided on a branch pattern

Here is the starting pattern stitched:
And pulled,

OK first problem with the plan, this fabric is thick and when pulled my shapes are actually too small to be wrapped effectively, so rather than take the entire thing out I will discharge it and see where I land. I ended up using a 10 bleach to 1 water solution which is really strong, but I wasn't getting much out of a weaker solution, and I left it in for about a 1/2 hour keeping an eye on it and mushing it around a couple of times...

I actually like what I've got here and I want to add some medium range tones back into the piece using actual Maki Age. In order to do this I will need to make the shapes larger so I can wrap them. I'm stitching back into the design following these lines:

Then it is wrapped in a waxed cord:

and submerged in a Procion Fiber reactive dye solution (warm grey color) for 1/2 hour, taken out, left for another 1/2 hour or so and washed out.
Here is the end result:

I really like the look of it. I was trying for a thicket sort of look and I think I achieved it, the addition of the mid tone created a nice sense of depth and added some complexity to the color which you can see in this detail:

The end result isn't very traditional but I really like the effect. I think I got to the place I wanted to go in the end.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

maki age shibori and flexible thinking

I have been working on the Maki Age Shibori challenge on Flickr and it has been a lesson in staying flexible when things do not go as planned. Entwinements has a lot of info on the process and definition of Maki Age here, so I won't go into long explanations...

I decided to try a discharge process on some mystery fabrics I've had around forever, I have no idea what the fiber content of this stuff is but it is definitely not found in nature. Often black polyester can be discharged (bleached) and it will turn a nice golden color, if that happened I thought that it would sit nicely next to the pale golden beige and I could try piecing the two treated fabrics together, good idea no?


I don't know what is in this black fabric but full strength bleach makes NO impact on it whatsoever, The beige discharges nicely but the black is exactly as it started, except wrinkled.

(Here is where flexibility comes into play)

The wrinkles are really neat looking...Tinctory does wonderful heat-set Shibori Poly jewelry...I wonder if I could heat-set those shapes?

Next test: tie up some shapes and run 'em through the microwave when they are damp.

Cool! it works! Umm... now what?

Can my original design concept use the sculptural shapes, rather than the bold graphics?

This is as far as I've gotten so far. I have created the fabrics and I now I'm going to see if they can't be used in something based on my preconceived ideas.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mokume Shibori Ginko trial

Mokume Shibori Ginko trial
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

Shibori is teaching me to think on my feet. As much testing and planning as I may put into a piece of work the results are often surprising. Sometimes this is pleasant other times not so much. This is a project I have struggled with. I went into it with a very strong image of what I wanted it to look like, and it did not perform as expected. My original idea was to create a ginko leaf motif using a mokume (wood grain) shibori technique. The results were not what I planned for and less than successful in conveying my original design idea. The line that defines the motif is obscure and the color contrast between the ground fabric and the dye was not as strong as I wanted it to be. I made other attempts at it and remained frustrated with the results there too. I recently shared the project at the All Things Shibori pool at flickr and I am now reconsidering the piece. I think I may have been too tied to my preconceptions of how the piece should look and not as appreciative of how it does look.
I am beginning a new design for the Maki-age shibori challenge this month and I’m going to try to keep in mind that flexibility is a virtue when it comes to this art form. I have already had to change my initial concept due to the unexpected performance of one of my materials! I will be posting on this project and the ways I’m having to adapt for the results

Friday, September 28, 2007

CWE Open House

Back in January I took a number of classes for women entrepreneurs at the Center for Women and Enterprise (CWE) an extremely supportive group here in SE New England. This month I was invited to set up a booth at their Open House Event to promote my business. It was a nice way to catch up with people I had met before and meet some new folks, exchange ideas and, as always, learn a little more about myself
The upshot of these three very different experiences is hard to define but I think I am learning to trust my gut a bit more with regard to what I want to pursue. I know I am most excited when I am talking about my piecework weather it is virtual or sewn and that excitement is conveyed to others. This affirms for me that those are the paths I should be focusing on.

Burriville Arts Festival

The second event of the month of September was the Burriville Arts Festival. This is the second time I have attended this festival. This is much more of a craft fair type of event... two days, outside, nice crowd. I did well with t-shirts and socks especially socks the first day (cool and a little rainy) I definately enjoy getting to meet people and getting the feedback from my customers.
This is the complaints!

Here is my booth (my dog Rasta and Larry are on the right)Another good experience for me.

Pawtucket Open Studio Event

Well this has been a very busy month. In addition to getting my Etsy store up and running I have been involved with three different events.

The first was the Pawtucket Open Studios. During the month of September the city of Pawtucket has a month long Arts Festival featuring everything from Dragon Boat races to theater openings. Many of the old mill buildings in Pawtucket have been converted to artist studios and an Open Studio weekend is a part of the Arts Festival, this year I attended as a visiting artist (my studio is in Woonsocket, close but no cigar). A few of us offsite artists got to set up in a unrented room, it was a terrific opportunity to meet other artists and people who are interested in the arts in Pawtucket.

It was hot for September so turn out was light on Friday and Saturday many thanks to the intrepid who made it up to the third floor! Sunday was cooler and we saw a few more people come through.

My roomates for the weekend were Anne Cerullo (gorgeous wheel thrown pottery) and Norma Anderson (scupture and cool stoneware whistles).
This was my booth:

Some of Anne's Pottry:

Norma's WhistlesThis is the whistle I got for my husband we have named him Oscar:

Overall it was a good experience for me, I am still developing my creative identity and attending these sorts of events seems to be helping with that process. I received positive feedback on my cards and my piecework and that means alot to me since those are the things I do that are closest to my heart. I also got an invite to become one of the artists represented at Mia's Gift Shop in Scituate another affirmation that I am on the right path.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Etsy Store

Hooray its up, its active and I had my first sale!

Approximately a year ago I learned about Etsy and began to think about setting up a store. Back in the spring I took my first tentative steps and set up an account. I finally got serious toward the end of August and began to work out the difficult details (shop policies, shipping paypal, etc.) I finally got it up and running the first week of Sept. and lo and behold a sale!

This was a real accomplishment for me. Making business decisions is not something I'm very comfortable with and being a bit of a perfectionist I sweated every last detail like it was the end of the world. I'm still coming to terms with the idea that its a work in progress and if something isn't working I can change it so it does work

The store is going to cover many bases: jewelry, shibori, paper goods, art...whatever my little heart desires. Like I said a work in progress something that will develop through trial and success.

Here is the first item I listed My Shibori Beetle card set:

Its also the first sale I had on Etsy!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Shibori Paper Process

The paper has been unclamped

Here you can see the pattern emerging almost done
Ironed what?

30 Day Experiment

I found a link to this article on Robert Genn's website through Lisa Call's blog.
First let me say I am in awe of Lisa Call, not just for her work which is extraordinary, or her productivity which is humbling, but also for her thoughts on creativity and process and well, lets just say I admire her as an artist and secretly deep in my heart I aspire to be just like her (except y’know me)…
Anyway these posts got me thinking about how well I do or do not guard my energies… I have come to the conclusion that its not as well as I would like to think.
I talk far too much about my plans for projects and my business and I write about my plans in my morning pages ad nausem. Now yes morning pages are a dumping ground for whatever is clogging up the brain, but to quote Professor Farnsworth (Futurama) “ Oh no! She’s caught in a closed loop and he’s an idiot!”
I’m seeing a loop in my behavior, my MPs are the same every day, and I haven’t been getting much done…which leads me to the 30 day experiment.
I’m changing this behavior for 30 days to see what happens.
The Ground rules are:
· I may not discuss or write about future plans
· I may jot down ideas or sketches for my own use
· I may use a to do list (because my head might explode without one)
· I may catalog the experience as it happens, daily observation is encouraged
· I may discuss or write about completed work
· The future is mine; I don’t talk it or write it I realize it.
· 30 days, if it sucks I’m allowed to let it go and resume old ways
Today I completed 2 sets of paper Shibori making a total of 3 altogether. I really love the results I’ve gotten. It was also the very first thing I did when I got to the studio. Opening and heat setting the rice paper is so exciting because the results are so unpredictable, like little presents! Some are more special than you ever thought they would be and others are like the ???? Gift from a secret Santa (who thought I would want this?)
Here are a couple of pictures of the process from my first set

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another Step

Its been a little while since I 've posted. I ran into a bit of a bump because I'm not entirely sure of how to work this blogging thing. Bumps tend to knock me down. My frustration stems from being unable to figure out how to manage my "groups" as well as some difficulty with posting multiple images per post. I have decided to just break it down and try to figure out one step at a time...
Tonight: How do I upload an image directly from my computer??

Ok that wasn't too tough...
And then: How do I upload a second one to the same posting??

Hey I did it! Sweet!

Both of these are images of a Daffodil piece I did that is on exhibit at Day One a counseling center in Providence RI. It is made of hand-dyed fabrics, fused and stitched with contrasting threads, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out especially considering how quickly I had to turn it around for the exhibit. From pencil sketch to finished piece it took about 36 hours.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shibori fabric covered buttons

Shibori fabric covered buttons
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

Shibori dyed Fabric covered buttons, not completly happy with the result, next time I will use fabrics with a more complex pattern and some sort of base fabric, the metal button kind of shows through the thin cotton. all the blue and gold fabrics were made for Fresh Purls

Blue Shibori selection

Blue Shibori selection
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

3 blue shibori fabric swatches dyed using clamping process and 2densities of dye

Gold Shibori selection

Gold Shibori selection
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

3 fabrics dyed using a clamping method and 2 densities of dye

latest garden pics 008

latest garden pics 008
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

This bed was dug and planted last fall, I'm pleased with the contrast between the plants, features: Purple smoke tree, 2 kinds of weiglia, coriopsis "moonglow", basil, and varigated sedum (sp?) I'm hoping to make the one I just dug resemble this someday

latest garden pics 001

latest garden pics 001
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

Started digging this garden bed back in April, finally finished it last weekend, all those rocks from the bed made a nice border! Eventually I will put plants in but I may wait until fall and hit the sales.

Friday, June 29, 2007

lab stitch detail 002

lab stitch detail 002
Originally uploaded by alsokaizen


Sat- Bought 6 plants for entry garden
Sun- Sold Sheep piece and Heart Triptych
Discussed possible contract fabric dyeing job for Fresh Purls
Began topstitch on 2 Labyrinth pieces
Mon- Continued topstitch work
Karate class
Tues-Dyed sky blue fabric for future sheep pieces
Continued topstitch work
Dug 3 buckets of rocks out of back garden site
Rough draft 1st Blog post and prepped picture for same
Weds- Initial Blog post
Continued topstitch work
Matted and framed 3 prints of Owl drawings for retail outlet
Thurs- Visited Its My Health and delivered prints
Discussed possible project development ideas
Studio time: Began working on dye work for Fresh Purls
Continued topstitch work (almost done 1st color!)
Fri- Karate Class
Dealt with icky IRS stuff
2nd Blog entry
There that’s a week of Kaizen acts for me…
June has been a good month. I’ve managed to keep chipping away at some projects, finished some and even sold some pieces. I now have work in 2 venues on the East Side: Day One and Fresh Purls and 1 venue in Natick: Five Crows. All of this feels like its pointing in the right direction.
When I look at the list up there it strikes me how powerful this tool is not so much because of the accomplishments but because I avoided Overwhelm.
When I started using Kaizen I focused on 1 small creative act a day, now I usually manage 2 or 3 depending on the circumstances. Previously I would head home from work wanting to do something to achieve my Big Goal in an evening,
Immediate Overwhelm.
(As well as a great way to end up playing Freecell all night)
So nothing would get done at all I’d end up feeling guilty and like a failure and then I would gather myself up and start the cycle all over again
Pressure to succeed-Impossible goals-Avoidance behavior-Guilt and recrimination-Resolution to do better-Repeat cycle until dizzy or sick.
I am now breaking free of that cycle. I am now actually achieving some of my goals. If I find I’m getting overwhelmed then I just have to break it down into smaller bits. My ego wants the Big Goal but for me to function with any consistency its gotta be the little bits. It’s a balancing act I have yet to master but I will keep chipping away at it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by alsokaizen

the Daily Kaizen Journey

I’ve decided to foray into the Blogosphere after lurking for a very long time. I’m planning to use this forum to explore Kaizen. That is Kaizen in the personal growth sense rather than in the business sense. About a year and a half ago my friend Anna turned me on to a book called “One Small Step Can Change Your Life – The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer, Ph.D. I read it and began to institute the ideas as I pursue the development of my art career. As a person who has been frozen in place by fear for many years it was a hopeful thought that I might be able to overcome it through small painless actions and begin to change the aspect of my life that I am most unhappy with. So far so good, change is occurring in small increments and mostly I don’t get too stuck!
The BIG GOAL is:
To become a fully functioning artist who is self-employed and able to support a comfortable lifestyle as good or better than the one I enjoy now.
This goal of course requires that I make money through art, craft or concepts, enough to quit the full time job I maintain now. I’ve been at this job for twenty years and I do believe this fits the definition of “Lifer” AKA “Hopeless” I could spend some time here beating myself up for this failure but life is too short…
As it stands at this moment I don’t have what it takes to make the big leap my goal requires, I’ve struggled over the years to find a means of escape. I have repeated the same comfortable actions to very little effect (I’m a champion Cont. Ed. Class taker) still there is a wall around my comfort zone that I have been unable to scale.
“Leap and the net will appear” is a wonderful idea but I’m not built with such faith innate to my nature. Enter Kaizen the idea is to break the large problem up into increments so small that they don’t trigger the overwhelming fears that hold one in stasis, so small they are painless and success is guaranteed.
To that end I’ve instituted the Small Act of Creative Realization Each Day (SACRED) a commitment to manage one small act of creativity each day.
Sometimes that is studio work; sometimes it’s about the business aspects of being an artist: networking, promotion, or finances and sometimes it is about play because that’s important too!
On this blog I want to share the process, the small acts and the big accomplishments and explore the ideas that are a part of it
Feel free to with your own goals, big or small, or just to lurk at will!