30 March 2011

embracing labels

Nobody likes to be labeled.

Let me re-phrase - no one likes negative labels. And for good reason.

But there are some labels that I’m happy to embrace. Artist is one of them.

I decided that I was going to attach two more labels to myself while I was at it - fiber and assemblage.

I decided that this year I was going to be more focused in the kinds of art I make. There are still some things that I wander off into - knitting, crocheting, art journaling.

But I want to build a portfolio and I’ve wondered for a long time if I've had trouble doing it because I’m too scattered.

When I first started making fiber art, I attached 3D objects to it - sort of like making a hybrid between an art quilt and an assemblage. I loved the fabric and the stitching and I loved having an excuse to hoard an odd assortment of found objects.

But when I fell in love with surface design, I started making faces at the 3D objects. They just didn’t seem to belong anymore. They covered up the fabric and detracted from the pattern that came from the thermofax screen printing or the soy wax batik or the stamping.

I started leaving it off and found a new way of working in fiber.

Every time I moved through my studio I’d see my neat little pile of odd objects - the bottle caps, the doll heads, the wishbones. I still loved them. I still wanted to use them. And I decided that it was time to put them to work.

I’ve done assemblages for several years but they were always just-for-fun side projects. I’ve been working to bring them more into my mainstream art making, giving them serious consideration and wondering just how far I can push them.
It feels like there is a balance now. Like there is a more focused purpose when I step into the studio and set about working.

Its a particular kind of clarity that I never really thought I would feel, I always rebelled against labels, thought they were too limiting and would hurt the creative process. But I’ve realized that’s only true if I let it be, so I’m going to continue to push forward with the work and see where the focus of these labels will take me.

28 March 2011

working in stages

My deadlines are getting rabid. I’ve got five whirlwind weeks to wrap up several things and while that sounds like plenty, we need to take into consideration the job that dominates my day that has nothing to do with artwork.

Makes things challenging.

But still doable.

I’m a firm believer in taking every opportunity I have to do something. When my to-do list is staring me down, a twenty minute block of time doesn’t seem like it would hardly be worthwhile but multiply that by five or ten or twenty times and suddenly things start getting ticked off the list.

Its probably my favorite way to work - those little time blocks.

This past Saturday saw that employed and if you were to watch me move between five different things at one time, you wouldn’t think there was any kind of focus to it. But there is.

So much of what we do takes several stages. Instead of waiting for one piece to run through all the stages, I work on several projects all at one time so that things just keep on trucking.

Here’s what a typical studio day looks like:

(1) I sewed. With the machine. Yes, you are at the right blog. Ever since I did the TV segment tapings for Quilting Arts where I was surrounded by so many incredibly talented machine quilters, I’ve had this little voice in the back of my head nagging me to give machine stitching another try.

I did and surprisingly, we got along fine. I’m thinking maybe the planets were aligned just so. Maybe I should buy a lotto ticket...

(2) I picked out fabric.

I could do this all day long, every day and never get bored with it.

(3) I made new thermofax screens...

(4) ...and then I laugh maniacally as I printed away with them and then set them to swim in the sink.

(5) I planned.

In all honesty, I’ve been planning for a long while but its all been in my head. I planned in reality today. I’m in another assemblage show in a few weeks and now that I’ve designed everything in my noggin, its time to make it so everyone else can see it.

(6) And that involves large amounts of paint and glue:

Assemblage work is definitely one of those things that needs to be worked on in those spare moments. There’s an awful lot of waiting time while things are drying. I’ve decided to continue on with my bird assemblages. I had some boxes built from me from barn wood and the natural rustic feel they are lending is really ringing my bell.

I figure if I can get at least one day like this in every week and then do my little time blocks during the week, those deadlines are looking defeatable.

How do you like to work? Are you a stage worker or do you like to work on a single project from start to finish?

27 March 2011

where i stand sunday

Its the beginning to my mornings, a quick shot of clarity to get my mind in working order. It is a catalyst for a rich variety of events - visiting friends, writing fiction, solving the mystery of math and metal. A simple cup of coffee is laced with ritual and habit, a necessary punctuation to daily details.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

22 March 2011

radio interview & DVD giveaway!

Hey, what'cha doing this Sunday evening? Not much? Great! You can join me for a little interview over at Artistically Speaking Talk Show!

I'm super excited to be the guest for this week's interview with the fabulous Rebecca Parsons and Lyna Farkas. Here's what the show is about:

Artistically Speaking/C8C Talk Show...Every artist has a story!!!

We tell those stories because within them lies art history. AS/C8C gives voice to a new generation of creative entrepreneurs learning to make a living doing what they love!

Hosted by successful creative entrepreneur Rebecca E. Parsons and artist Lyna Farkas, the weekly show is a blend of lively conversation, cutting edge creative ideas and encouraging support with healthy doses of inspiration.

It is an opportunity to speak with and hear the creative journeys of other artists, craftsmen and creative souls who are doing what they love. Help us create art history by telling your story.

Artistically Speaking/C8C Talk Show airs live on BlogTalkRadio every Sunday at 6:30 (ET) (5:30 pm Central, 4:30 pm Mountain, 3:30 pm Pacific). Archived episodes can be streamed directly from the website or downloaded free through iTunes.

So its live and you'll get to hear me go on and on about all the things I love. If that's not incentive enough, how about a giveaway?

I got word from the good folks over at Quilting Arts that my DVD, Print Design Compose, will be available in April! (I don't have a specific release date but April is knocking on our door so it won't be long!) The DVD covers 3 surface design techniques (thermofax screen printing, soy wax batik and freezer paper stencils) and walks you through how to create the art quilt featured on the cover below. The design process can be used over and over for abstract quilts.

So I thought I'd do a giveaway for a copy of the DVD for those who listen to the show. You'll need to tune in to the show to listen to what you need to do in order to get in the drawing. I'll choose a winner at random on Saturday April 2nd and as soon as I get my hands on copies of the DVD, I'll whisk one off to the winner.

I hope you will join me and share some of your weekend to have a chat about art! :)

orange houses...

...and red, blue, pink, green, turquoise houses.

1. Super bright house in front of a super bright sky, 2. brightest house, 3. Random Bright House, 4. ISLAND OF BURANO, 5. Blue House - Island of Burano , Venitian Lagoon, 6. the orange houses, 7. The Green House, "U" Street SE, Historic Anacostia, Washington, DC, 8. Red House, 9. House near NMU, 10. pink house, 11. Orange House in Fall, 12. Merchants' Houses - Poznan - Poland, 13. Bicycle in front of an orange house, 14. Purple House, 15. pink house, 16. Little yellow house

21 March 2011

listening to the in between spaces

I've been feeling a bit...off lately.

Not really anti social or anything like that but I find myself stepping back and looking at everything with a certain degree of amazement. In many cases, just plain dumbfoundedness. (That's so not a word but I think it should be.)

There's so much going on. And I'm referring to the bustle inside and outside of my studio walls. Its hard to wrap your mind around. Feels like everything has turned into a sort of runaway train.

Add to it that there is good and bad mixed in there and the roller coaster just keeps on trucking.

Its just made me feel thoughtful, paying more attention to the things that I really love and cherish and am grateful for. As more mayhem seems to unfold everywhere I realized today that I'm paying attention more to the small pleasures, the little things - they seem more important and precious somehow, harder to overlook.

So I will take this:

...and sit next to Dooley love while he snores softly and be thankful for all that I have - including all of you. :)

20 March 2011

where i stand sunday

My constant quest for organization is a curious one. Unrelenting, unfinished, unforgiving. I'm constantly pushing things around, arranging into new containers, sorting and removing and adding. Its a reflection of the pace at which I live life, fast and ever evolving with an agenda all its own.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

18 March 2011

how i fell in love with creating

I am not one of those artists that starts her artist statements with sentiments such as "I began sewing at the age of five when my grandmother put needle and thread in my hand."

Truth be told, I distinctly remember my first trip to my fabric store. I was in my late twenties and I had no idea what the difference was between rayon fabric and quilting cotton. The wall of hand sewing and embroidery needles looked like tools from a torture studio. And there was no way I could tell you the difference between worsted weight yarn, fingering weight or sport.

I came to art much later in my life. I've always felt it was out of necessity, a way to help recovery from a back injury seem more bearable.

I would have never dreamt that I would still be at it so many years later, stepping back and looking at it and realizing just how integrated it has become in everything I do.

I fell in love.

There's simply no other way to put it. An overwhelming sense of happiness and calm takes hold when I set about making something. It doesn't matter if its a piece for a show, crocheting some little flowers just to keep my hands busy or pushing paint through endless screens on my print table.

Every second blurs away worries, pulls the world into a single line of sight, creates a voice that has a soul of its own.

I got to wondering about where that voice comes from. Especially when so many people can trace their creative streaks back to people in their families. I'm the only one in my family that finds fabric and thread so fascinating so I asked my mom.

Turns out I have some great aunts who were also fond of the quilting. They were traditional quilters but mom says that their work was always featured in fundraisers and they were quite skilled at their trade.

I also learned that my last name, Krawczyk, is the 17th most common surname in Poland and translates to "tailor."

There feels like there is a certain kind of fate in that. A label that came to me long before I knew what it was that suits me just fine. Granted, I don't make clothing and couldn't hem a pair of pants to save my life but the common line is there.

And that feels comforting. Sort of makes me feel like I was destined to do this work, like the voice that comes out when I create things has been there for a very very long time.

How about you? How did you fall in love?

16 March 2011

what's your dream class?

I've been thinking a lot about classes lately.

Ones I like to teach, ones I like to take. I definitely gravitate to technique based classes on both counts. I'm a little on the picky side when it comes to this stuff.

And then I got to thinking about what classes I would take if money and time were no object at all (people I haven't already studied with - I've had some incredibly awesome teachers so far). I'd love to learn from Nancy Crow, Linda Colsh (who I think sadly does not teach anymore) and Claire Benn & Leslie Morgan. They all have a very distinct style that really draws me in. That's my dream line up and got me wondering:

If time and money were no object,
who would you take a class from and why?

15 March 2011


{untitled} is a blog post series featuring photos only that I find inspirational - I hope you do too...

14 March 2011

shop talk

I thought today I'd give a little update on what's buzzin' over at the shop.

Its been busy and hopping and a whole lot of screens have been whizzing their way off to new homes - warms my heart to think of all that screen printing gong on! :)

A few new products have been added lately and I'd like to give them a wee shout out here.

The lovely and talented Jackie Lams has five new designs in the shop:

Top row: Blueprint and Kimono Chain
Middle row: Scissors & Thread and Sweet Bird
Bottom: Stitches

* * * * *

Many requests were made for screens of the images that I used to print the screen printed pendants in In Stitches so they've now got their own category in the shop. They are small but they are mighty! And great for more then pendants. Their teensy size endears them to all projects where you just want a little touch of something.

* * * * *

And last but not least, I've decided to start carrying some books in the shop. There are an incredible amount of resources for the surface design artist out there so it was hard to choose. I'd like to expand the category eventually but to begin, I've chosen two books from Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan of Committed to Cloth in the UK, Thermofax Printing and the one that they wrote with Jane Dunnewold, Finding Your Own Visual Language.

I have both and love them. I plan to only carry books that I personally have and enjoy (which is a pretty big category) so this seemed like a grand place to begin.

So that's what I've got - hope you find some goodies there that speak to you and want to take up residence in your studio! :)

13 March 2011

where i stand sunday

Its the mood colors produce that fascinate me most. Neutral calm or electric pulse, it creates the backdrop for every scene we paint in our lives. Even in the most mundane places, it creeps in and takes hold.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

11 March 2011


I love hands.

So much begins with them. And ends.

They comfort, create, celebrate. Make art. Are the subject of art.

We reach out to each other from our earliest days to our oldest. They tell the world if we have found our soul mate, they bear the weight of our lives in the wrinkles and cracks - they carry the history of what we do.

You can see a person's history in their hands.

Mine are small. But in constant use, building up my life around me and pushing my art into reality.

Hands are beautiful.

09 March 2011

what do you see?

It was a long day today. Nothing bad, nothing out of the ordinary. Just seemed to stretch on for longer then it really was.

I came home and after pushing some things around in the mail pile, I wandered into my studio.

I flipped open my laptop and played this song:

I stood in front of my print table where I left a piece of white fabric the last time I was working in there. I planned to start a new project on Sunday and got interrupted and never got a chance to go back to it.

The music filled the room and I stared down that white piece of fabric. I didn't really have the energy to work on it but I studied it. The emptiness. The vast possibility that it had. Some people fear the blank slate.

I think its quite possibly the most exciting thing on the planet.

I wondered what passes through other artists' minds when they begin?

Do you feel excited? Empowered? Fearful? Tentative?

Or do you feel like you can conquer the world?

Even though I didn't work in the time I was in my studio tonight, I listened to that song and let myself fall into that unprinted fabric; knowing that this was my santctuary, the place where everything converged into perfect sense and harmony.

and the winner is!

The In Stitches eMag blog tour drew to a close yesterday so that means that today we get to find out who the winner is from my blog tour post.

So without further ado, the winner is -

Sandy of Fiber on Focus

Congrats Sandy! Email me your mailing address at FibraArtysta@earthlink.net and your prize (the red bird pendant above and a prize package of fiber goodness from Quilting Arts) will be in the mail to you!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment - all the fiber love is extremely awesome! :)

08 March 2011

cleaning out the cobwebs

I know that technically the new year begins on January 1 but I've always felt like this time of year is the really the true beginning.

I've never really found winter depressing. Annoying? Certainly. I hate commuting in freezing rain and snow and feeling my face freeze when I walk into work in the morning but I've never been a summer girl so I don't mind the dim days and lack of color.

But at the same time, it does feel like it goes on for far longer then it needs to.

And when its finally winding down, it feels like its time to freshen everything up - physically and mentally.

It feels easier to make my yearly goals now then it does at the beginning of January when I'm still weary from the holiday craziness. I'm beginning to adjust them, shove them around, show them who is boss. :)

The studio is getting a slight re-arrange and the spare bedroom finally got fixed. And I'm turning my attention to tidying my website up. It dramatically out of date and I find myself going through the angst (again) of trying to figure out what to do with it.

There's a certain kind of energy creeping into the air. Even though I'm sure Michigan is no where near done with snow, you can start to feel spring in the way the air feels and the sun is sitting at just the right angle in the sky.

It makes me want to give everything a little shine. Cleaned up house, cleaned up goals, cleaned up outlook.

Sounds good all around. :)

06 March 2011

where i stand sunday

Its a perfect study of neutrals, mirrored by a dove gray sky, a worn weariness with the winter season. In a place where most people wouldn't look for color, there it is - all shades, tints, values, hues. The beauty of the subtly of its richness is a sharp breath of unexpected - a reminder that there is depth even when we can't see it at first glance.

Where I Stand is an ongoing photo essay examining the different places I spend my life standing. Too often we take for granted the everyday places we spend our lives walking on. The ground we tread on has its own stories to tell.

05 March 2011

the need to unplug

My day job has me working in front of a computer for at least eight hours a day. I have an online business. I love it. I also love my email (which explains the withdrawal I feel when I go "long" periods of time without checking it - *hint* the periods of time aren't so long), I love my blog, I love seeing what people are up to on facebook.

I love being connected.

But I've learned that my poor brain can only absorb so much. Combine that with the fact that I love to be b-u-s-y (seriously, its some super obnoxious drive in me that rarely leaves me sitting still and the times I sit still are spent planning what I will do once I begin to move again) and I used to find myself feeling like I was being sucked down the rabbit hole on a fairly regular basis.

These two things have led to the development of three habits that help keep things in balance and I thought maybe we'd have a little chat about it today in case some of us are still struggling in these areas. I'm not saying I don't get overwhelmed, I'm not saying you will zoom around the house in your superhero cape if you decide to use some of these habits but they might help take the edge off if you're feeling like you just want to go drool in a corner and ignore the world.

So here goes:

(1) USING MY SUPERPOWER. I've talked about my superpower here before: The List. I structure much of my activities around The List. Obsessive? Perhaps. OCD? A touch.

But The List gives me focus so I can keep working toward my goals (that tend to multiply like dust bunnies). And it gives me something really great: peace of mind.

My brain gets a break, it doesn't have to remember everything. The List has it covered. All the brain has to do is remember to look at the list (and not loose it).

(2) THE ONE HOUR RULE. At least one hour prior to bed, the laptop goes off.

Shut down.

Put aside.

During that hour, I give myself permission to forget everything. The day is done. I've got The List. I can pick up where I left off the next day.

I read. I watch TV. I antagonize Dooley:

Anything but online. It slows my mind, it lets it get still and quiet for a bit and actually makes sleep better.

(3) SAYING NO. I admit that I'm still working on this one.

Its not an easy thing to let some things slip through your fingers. But consider the alternative: banging your head against the wall as you beg the universe to either add ten hours to the day or allow you to exist on one hour of sleep a day. (Or ideally both).

Like I said before, I love to be busy. Makes me all giddy. Its my drug. But I reach a point where I crash. And its no good because when my body decides for me that I need to slow down, it just makes things more tense and difficult and just...blah.

Its about balance, right?

So stepping back when an opportunity presents itself and giving it a good consider helps keep things more manageable. The biggest question is this: do you want to do it? Then ask yourself if you'll enjoy it and finally, do you have the time to do a good job?

I find I can normally squeeze things into my schedule. But I can't always fit them in and do a good job. So even if the first two questions are a positive (yes, I want to do this and yes, I'll enjoy doing it), if the last one is a big fat no, it gets skipped.

As is life's tendency, it doesn't always work that I can employ these habits. There are times The List gets set aside for more pressing matters or there are some days when I need down time more then I need to work. But I've found I keep on track better with these for one major reason: I'm taking care of myself - which is just as important as everything else.

So go pet the dog (or kitty) or go read your book or pick up that knitting and do a few rounds without guilt. The schedule and to-do list will be waiting the next day.

Unplug! :)

04 March 2011


{untitled} is a blog post series featuring photos only that I find inspirational - I hope you do too...

01 March 2011

in stitches eMag BLOG TOUR! :)

A couple posts back I talked about the article I have in the new eMag from the folks at Quilting Arts - In Stitches.

I've got an article in it detailing how to make thermofax screen printed pendants like these.

I admit it - I geeked out over it pretty hard. Its incredibly nifty in every way. I've got bookcases full of magazines but this one? This one I can interact with.

Sort of makes me feel like a kid with a brand new box of crayons.

And just when you thought the team at Quilting Arts couldn't get more creative or generous, they have decided to do a blog tour (complete with prizes so keep reading) with all the artists who have an article in this edition (this is the second edition - remember, PC people go here, Mac people go here).

Its brilliant because I don't know about you but I love getting to know the artists I read about and learn from - makes their work more intense for me.

And if that isn't enough, how would you all like a little giveaway? Well - you've got it!!!

Quilting Arts is donating a special prize package full of fiber goodness and your's truly is including this screen printed pendant (the ribbon necklace is included):

All you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post (anything will do but would love to hear what your favorite article in Quilting Arts or Cloth Paper Scissors ever was or what you most love about being a fiber artist if you would like to share) and you'll be in the running!

You have until Tuesday March 8 so get commenting. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Wednesday March 9.

And don't forget to snag your very own copy of the eMag! :)

Next on the blog tour is Jackie Cardy - check her out! :)

If you'd like to visit all other blogs on the tour (and who doesn't???), here is the full schedule:

Sunday February 27 - Pokey's blog

Monday February 28 - Jane Davila

Tuesday March 1 - right here! :)

Wednesday March 2 - Jackie Cardy

Thursday March 3 - Deb Bates

Friday March 4 - Deborah Boschert

Saturday March 5 - Michelle Allen

Sunday March 6 - Liz Kettle

Monday March 7 - Lyric Kinard

Tuesday March 8 (tour wrap up) - special surprise guest on Lindsey Murray's blog