I am a fiber artist and writer living in the ‘burbs of Boston. My two boys are in their twenties and one lives near the Pacific, the other in view of the Rockies. My husband and I share our home with an intense and lovable guy named Finn (half Belgian Malinois/half collie). He keeps us busy! Creative time is split between writing, quilting, and paper collage.
Not formally art trained, I’m not quite self-taught either since my mother was an art teacher. In our house, you dumped crayons into a shoe box and drew on scrap paper from Dad’s office. Later, as a family we enjoyed the tribal exercise of re-arranging furniture (nearly seasonally) and voicing opinions on where to hang mirrors or art. My mother considered creativity a given and therefore so did her children. What a gift! She also had a mantra that I hew to more and more as I get older: beautiful work comes from beautiful materials.
It seems so long ago now, but in high school, I crocheted and kept journals. College found me making collages, learning to hand spin and dye fiber with natural materials, and writing — mostly poems. I am not confident with pen and paper, but enjoy drawing. I am also not a very accomplished seamstress, but somehow got hooked on making quilts. Tellingly, after passing the Massachusetts bar exam in 1989, I deferred my hoity-toity job downtown in order to make a quilt.
I didn’t start sewing in earnest until my first pregnancy, which coincided with buying a house. Curtains, chair pads, crib bumpers, pillows, tiny onesies were all imperative nesting activities. The job downtown was left behind and the next job with a non-profit was on its way out, too. Somewhere along the line, I took a class with the Maine quilter Susan Carlson, whose collage approach to quilt making ignited me. A Ruth McDowell workshop followed. It did not ignite me — precise piecing is about as appealing as tax law — I cannot and will not do either. More recently, I’ve studied online, particularly with
Jude Hill at Spirit Cloth. From her introspective and poetic approach, I’ve learned to slow down and pay attention in a whole new way. She’s helped me remember things my mother taught me long ago, about beautiful materials, about the value of process.
Not selling or showing my cloth work these days, but I have — mostly at local, juried craft fairs, but also at galleries in Maine and New York. I participated in Newton Open Studios for five years. I used to teach a fair amount (children and adults) and until recently “operated” an esty shop (yeah, it was pretty much a bust and should’ve been shuttered long ago). I used to make a wide array of things — purses, dolls, blankets, wall quilts, sachets, pillows, but these days focus on small wall quilts, dolls and pouches.
I take weekly classes taught in “the Amherst Writers’ Method” during the school year. What a lot I have learned in there! I’ve kept journals my entire life. Julia Cameron and Natalie Goldberg were once upon a time big heroes of mine. Writing is essential to my balance. I write to figure out how I think and feel and who I am. Until recently, it’s been a fairly private endeavor. No more. A novel is in the works and I hope to finish it before I die.
I’ve talked about this project enough elsewhere, but in brief — it takes place in South Carolina in the 1730’s and 40’s and includes fictional renderings of some historic figures (primarily, Eliza Lucas Pinckney, but also Sarah Rutledge, Mary Chardon, and John Drayton). There are also three main characters who are completely invented bondwomen. The research has taken me on an intellectual/heart journey, one that was amplified by the shootings of Trayvon Martin, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice (and so many others). I got on to twitter and starting following some of BLM activists and reporters of violence against people of color. This has made me a better citizen. I won’t go so far as to say “I’m woke”, but I’m working on it.
Whether I should continue to invest in a work so fraught with issues of cultural appropriation and voice and historicity is up for debate. So far, I keep resolving the question in favor of continuing.
On a lighter note, the book’s research also inspired three actual journeys — to beautiful Charleston, a city I have fallen in love with for its history, architecture, water views, crafts, food, and people.