Announcing a new blog

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…and I’m groovy like 70s pinball

Oh, wait, what? Woohoo!

Mr X Stitch screenshot

Holy crap, cocoaeyesthestitcher works fast! She asked me a handful of questions for the Mr X Stitch blog last month, and I think I only sent her my answers to the last couple of questions on Saturday night.

Browsing my feed reader tonight, I did a double-take to see that the interview was up and live already.

To be featured by the totally hardcore, cutting-edge, crest of the wave, stuff-of-the-moment embroidery website Mr X Stitch is a HUGE honor…it’s like acceptance and acknowledgement by every über embroiderer on the internet. I am flushed with pride.

Olisa, in particular, is a marvelous interviewer in that, before she threw me any questions, she first took the time to actually look at my work and read my blog. It is wonderful that she is also a perceptive museum goer and reviewer who can actually discuss craft and making critically and theoretically. I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it was to be asked questions relevant to my own work, and not just a handful of pre-made questions that run roughshod over my own practice and ideas like a steamroller, mashing everything I say to fit into a limited and ignorant set of misconceptions. A sensitive and intelligent correspondent, she was, and the fact that she is an über embroiderer, herself, made it so easy to communicate ideas.

She was also very patient with me, as I think I rambled on for waaaay too long!

I will forever be grateful to her for the attention she paid to my answers, and the care she took to craft the follow-up questions. Pure gold.

Un abrazo grande y fuerte (como un oso!), Señorita Olisa. Mwah!

Inspired to Stitch – Nat Uhing.

10 Inspiring Bookshops around the World | Messy Nessy Chic

Just too yummy not to share.

10 Inspiring Bookshops around the World | Messy Nessy Chic Messy Nessy Chic.

Get thee to a bindery…


Got my bookbinding groove on last weekend and put together a diverse bunch of journals (some orders, some for the ETSY shop, and some for the shelves at Jackson’s).

There are two things I am excited about with this new batch of journals:

The paper.

Last weekend I cracked open the first pack of my new paper stock, Bianco Flash. I bought a thousand A0 sheets of this luxurious paper, which means that my next 250 journals or so will be of this stock. This heavy (120 gsm), creamy, smooth paper is made in Italy by the Favini Crusallo mills…the same mill I used to buy my beloved Shiro Alga Carta paper from (Alga Carta replaced up to 30% of regular paper pulp with algae that was choking the canals of Venice…saving trees and lagoons at the same time) when I first started binding books in 1996. My Manila supplier had discontinued Alga Carta by the time I was ready to buy my next batch of papers (although Favini still produces it), so I chose Bianco Flash, instead.

It’s a wonderful paper to write on. I took a juicy dip pen and strong Rouge Hematite ink (by J. Herbin of France) to it, and the ink didn’t seep into the paper…it dried sitting crisply on the surface of the paper, slightly raised, making it look like a print made from an engraving. I turned the sheet over and there was no bleeding through to the back of the paper. I could hardly see the blood red writing on the reverse. It should be good for pencils (graphite, charcoal or coloured), inks, pens, maybe even small touches of wash, though it’s not a paper for wet media.

The second thing I’m excited about is Spoonflower’s cotton-linen canvas. This is the first time I’ve bought fabric from Spoonflower, though I have stalked their blog for years. I ordered some fat quarters (other people’s designs) just to check the quality of this print-on-demand fabric…whether the designs are still crisp, and what the cotton-linen canvas would be like to make cases for journals with. I have to say that I was delighted on every point. The canvas is strong and full-bodied without being difficult to turn, to mitre, or to glue; the designs were every bit as gorgeous in the cloth as they looked on the website, and the canvas texture makes the surface of the journals more rustic and lively.

I had been hemming and hawing about getting my own fabric designs printed for bookbinding, but seeing these fat quarters has finally convinced me to jump in and do it. I also really like the way the Spoonflower company handles orders, the personal touch of a note from one of the staff when your order arrives, the down-to-earth language they use on their site, the fact that they try to find shipping solutions that are affordable. Their products are awesome, and I wish I was as adventurous as many of their regular designers, who seem to churn designs out by the dozens each week, for everything from gift wrap and stickers to fabrics and wallpaper. Maybe it’ a confidence that grows with use, and I’ll get the knack of it when I’ve uploaded a few designs and printed fabrics of my own.

The three fabric designs I used (click the thumbnails below to visit their pages on are:

Dragonflies by Bettina Pedersen

Aztec Armor by spellstone:
Aztec Armor

Tropical Fronds by cricketnoel:
Tropical Fronds

Dancing for Yourself via New Art

“Awesome, isn’t it?
Dancing for yourself is the best, and we all (?) know the feeling of something that is so good it should really be changing the world….

Now that we’ve gotten this far, you need to know something: this event was staged. The person dancing is a performer, and what you have just seen is an art project.”

Provoking thoughts about experience and performance, art and self, the public, the commodity, and the private, the everyday, the contrivance, and the sublime. This is the latest post from New Art, who does not write often, but is always worth checking out when he does.

Discuss with your favorite dance partner, or with a reflection of yourself in some large mirror.

Spirit Cloth

I am doing Jude Hill’s “What If?” textile workshop this year. If you aren’t familiar with Jude Hill, she is the author and maker behind the blog Spirit Cloth.

I have followed Jude’s blog for years and years…drawn to it by the photos of Jude’s powerful, storied textiles (she dyes, weaves, embroiders, and layers bits of raggedy, salvaged, vintage or distressed cloth into works that seem to embody so much more than aesthetics and a set of skills. They aren’t flashy, slick, or neat cloths, and you don’t see many of the gaudy commercial printed fabrics in her pieces. Instead you find these rich, frayed layers of earthy colors, and hand-worked stitches that are more like the sensitive, exploratory marks made when drawing, rather than the frilly, showy, vivid, loud stitches of, say, today’s crazy patchwork creations.

But more than Jude’s works, I am drawn to her words (and to the silences that pool, gathering like moon or morning light, around her words). She seems so earthy, and yet so unaffected by the frantic energies of the world. For me she embodies the archetype of the wise woman who lives in a forest outside of time…there she sits, dyeing her cloths in copper pots, stitching her beasts and her moons and her paths and her stories, watching the seasons change, feeding the stray animals that circle her home (drawn perhaps by her serenity and openness) and taking that Life, and incorporating it, so simply and yet so, so wisely, into her spirit cloths.

On her blog, she doesn’t screech her own ego all the time, doesn’t blow her own trumpet, doesn’t pull stunts to draw attention to herself. There are no blogger awards badges. There are no giveaways or product endorsements. There are no animated GIFs of pulsing hearts (thank God). There are no OMGs or LOLs in her posts. She doesn’t GUSH over every new thing that comes along…she doesn’t squander her love or her language on mere THINGS. Her words are few, and choice, and simple. Unpretentious.

All that. I am drawn to all that like you wouldn’t believe.

So I went to her, this year, at last…perhaps to learn a thing or two about the way she works…but mainly just to be able to sit, as it were, at her feet, like a student, like a disciple, and be very quiet, and listen to her. And hopefully learn a little bit more about how to become such an unaffected, meditative, imperturbable and self-possessed woman…doing my quiet thing, in the forest of my spirit, still in the world but no longer excessively of it.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Mini-eco’s pixel pop-up Valentine’s cards

'woodburned' valentine card

By far the cutest idea I have come across for a paper-engineered Valentine’s Day card has come from the blog by a clever lady named Kate. This 8-bit pixel heart pop-up reminds me of more than just old computer graphics…I can see counted-thread cross-stitch charts, lego, and kids’ wooden building blocks being used to decorate the basic heart shape.

mini-eco's popup pixel valentine's card
Mini-eco is choc-full of gorgeous paper projects like these pop-up Valentine’s Day cards. Each and every one is a must-do for someone who loves playing with paper and sharp objects! ;)
Photo: Kate from

I made a couple of plain versions, first, using the same sort of brightly colored card used in the original post, just to get the hang of all the cutting and scoring. The first one wouldn’t pop-up properly and, upon closer inspection of how the pop-up thing ‘works’, I found that there was a small error in the cutting and scoring template provided with the tutorial. If you just keep in mind that each vertical cut in the top-half of the heart has to extend down to meet the horizontal scoring line of the previous ‘step’, you will solve the pop-up problem. Another way to think of it is that each vertical line in the top-half of the heart should be three pixels long, not just two (as it’s shown in Kate’s cutting/scoring guide) and that you will have to extend the two-pixel-long cut downward by the length one more pixel…till it meets a horizontal cutting line.

Starting out with Kate’s basic tutorial for the pixel heart, I used a really fabulous Japanese paper that mimics pale wood…it’s so realistic that at first I thought it was just very thinly shaved wood veneer! It even has the fine, hairline streaks of silvery film, like you find in the grain of real wood.

I cut the heart, but didn’t do any folding until after I’d decorated it. I used a dark brown felt-tip marker to do a design that sort of reminded me of wood burning and folk art. I tried to use dots and hatching to give the design some contrast. Then I gently went over some parts with a colored pencil to mimic the slight smoldering that forms around the dark design areas when you use an actual burning tool.

Cut a slightly larger piece of dark burgundy card for the backing, and glued the pop-up card in place. And that was it…easy, and such a pretty card to look at…I have been staring at mine for hours, enjoying its chunky dimensionality and the illusion, from certain angles, of a burned Valentine made from a solid piece of wood. :)
'woodburned' valentine