Saturday, December 26, 2009


heart 005
This wooden heart was delivered to my door last week. I am one of many local artists who agreed to participate in a local Hospice fundraiser by creating a piece of art out of a simple wooden heart. The hearts will be put up for silent auction at a Hospice dinner that I believe coincides with Valentine's Day.
I've had the heart sitting on an open shelf in my kitchen; we look at each other a lot. That's how I often times begin creations - starting with one element as a blank slate and letting the ideas and images that might possibly follow roll across my brain until something takes hold. This one hasn't been easy for me. It's the hard wooden object that's getting in my way. Yes, I'll add fabric (of course), but I seem to be stuck on dressing this heart, and that 3-d form of sewing is a bit out of my element. With a due date of February 1st not much more than a month away, I decided today would be the day to get started and at least see where my attempts lead me.
heart 006
So......wanting to put some feminine curves into this heart body, I began to imagine how I could do this. All I could think of were the darts and curves and piecing I did in high school (MANY years ago) when I was sewing my own clothes, so I reverted to that idea. I traced the heart and dissected it with some feminine lines, then cut individual pieces  of muslin and hand stitched them together again. I realized part way through that all I was doing was putting together another flat patchwork  piece, but now that I'm partially completed with this step, there seems to be some dimension to it so I can stuff batting into the covered form to get somewhat of a shapely object to work with.
I haven't yet decided if this is the direction I'll take. The jury's still out on this one. The next step is dyeing to a color somewhere in the red family, but that will be another day. Hopefully sooner than later!
I really love blank slates. I receive a new one each month with my quilt journal group. I participate in my guild's summer challenge that provides a theme and less-than-attractive swatch of fabric with the direction to "CREATE!". My pattern is to hear the task at hand, initially dig my heels in deep, deep, deep, and say something to myself like "no way will I ever come up with an idea for this...", and somehow, as the slate and I spend time together, gaze at each other, and those ideas start drifting and mulling around my brain, I grab on to something and go with it. I'm usually pleased with the results and my confidence builds with each completion. It's an affirmation to me to try different things, get out of my rut, be open, take challenges, accept new ideas.
So here I am again, the blank slate at hand, playing around with ideas, and seeing where we'll go together. There's such joy in the journey!

Friday, December 25, 2009


Pinatas. Parties. Music. Family. Food. Friendship. Lights. Celebration. More family. Late hours. More parties. More family. That's the holiday season in Mexico. Maybe a gift or two, but they aren't mandatory. It's lovely!
spool ornament
Decorations in our house consist of one very tall (9') artificial tree we purchased used in Anacortes, WA., and hauled down here in our truck. It cost us a whopping $25 and is even complete with lights. It graces our entrance, and because we have our front door open throughout the day, neighbors and visitors can catch a glimpse our beautiful tree. For decorations we have a few store bought items, some trinkets and memorabilia from travels and such, and then there's my homemade spool ornaments. I save my empties, cover them with glitter (ah, glitter!), then hang shreds of thinly sliced hand-dyes from the bottom (ah, the rotary cutter!). A sweet paper bead or two attaches to the string, and's my funky homemade ornament. I love them. Last year I had a stash of spools waiting to "glitter-up" when I decided to give a young neighbor teen this task. The perfect teen job, only I had no idea what to pay her and I hadn't bothered to count them. At my offer of 3 pesos each, those 150 spools (I had no idea!) cost me almost $35.  Oh well!
I have another Christmas item that never gets packed away. I use it as a coaster on my desk. Years back (maybe 5?) I wanted to try some flower pounding...and did so with my poinsettia. I treated my cotton with alum and salt, carefully placed the petals, and headed to the beach to look for the perfect rock for pounding. It's a bit faded now but the stitching keeps its poinsettia essence alive!  And it's reversible!
poinsetta reverse
Seasonal spirit in the streets and seasonal spirit in our homes....representing love in our hearts, generosity,  and hope for peace in our troubled world. May the spirit belong to all of us!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


If you have ever been to my home, you probably have noticed that some sort of fiber art, mostly mine, is on the walls. For a few years I was active in the "artwalk" scene here and I just went ahead and set up our new home as a personal gallery. It suited me well, and was ready to go when people came through. Plus, I love and am proud of my work.
But this piece jumped out at me at a local art show 4 years ago, and I instantly knew I wanted it. Plus, it was a few days before my birthday, so I had good reason to splurge. The texture, the color, the light and the content spoke to me. Suddenly my eye noticed other paintings from this artist, who signs SANDRA on each, that were equally amazing....a load of pinatas, bright woven satchels on a hook, stacks of traditional Mexican fabrics on a shelf. The choices, the choices, those textural choices . But my eye returned to the initial attraction and I began negotiations with Sandra.
If you have ever been to my home, I know you have noticed this painting in a prominent position high atop my kitchen sink. Everyone does. I don't take offense that it receives more comments than my work; I am honored to display them together. Everyday, without fail, it draws me to its light.
But those other paintings, particulary that stack of traditional fabrics, kept calling to me. So last April I called Sandra to see if she could create one for a space over my sofa. She checked my colors, measured for size and promised a finished painting in November on my return. Last week she delivered it and I am more than happy. These paintings face each other in my big, open-spaced home so I feel surrounded by their color and warmth. So lovely!
telas de sandra
Sandra Felix Donnadieau is my favorite Mexican artist. Who's yours?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


feliz navidad
This is my  quilt journal piece for the month of December, with the theme of "food". I'm not sure where this idea came from, but somehow watermelon had been swimming around my brain as such a lovely simple design element. I often see trucks brim full of watermelon driving down the road and I always wonder where they've come from and where they're going. The watermelon image kept swimming, and swimming some more and then all of a sudden did a flip or two and turned into the perfect Christmas tree...thus here is my holiday card this year! I first made the 3-layer circular cross section of the melon, then sliced it into sections and set them on top of the dark green fabric. how was I going to add the message? I first considered quilting it in, but there wasn't much space, so I decided to scribble "feliz navided" across my background fabric with my favorite little fine-tipped bottle filled with Soft Scrub with bleach. There's a few blobs and blurbs, but that's my style, I think. Stars atop each tree were added with embroidery floss as finishing touches.
I wish you a wonderful holiday season, my friends! Love, Mary

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Sometimes inspiration seems to be just beyond our reach. We know it's there, but the arrow just doesn't quite hit the mark. Fuzzy, blurry, out of focus, or maybe scattered. For me, I just plug on with some sort of project or another until it comes to me. Also for me, the inspiration I'm looking  for isn't just ANOTHER project. It's an expression of my soul, something that sparks me and touches me. Sometimes it is fabric-driven and other times it comes from someplace else. This recent one was a marriage of the two.
I belong to a wonderfully supportive women's group: four of us meet once or twice a month for sharing our lives, our goals, our fears, etc. At our last meet, one friend shared one of her "yoga" poems - she is a yoga teacher and was inspired to write lovely little poems to exemplify each pose. She read this one aloud to us:
mountain poem
Her words must have drifted around me like the smoke that lays down in a valley on a calm day. Her words were powerful and affirming.  Two days later, as the smoke of the poem was still lingering in my "valley", I found a fat quarter in my stash that was the perfect match for Mo's poem. It had a large white area for the words, a solar burst, and lovely earthy movement that I knew I could work with. Contrasting mountain pieces were easy to find. Originally I envisioned putting a small yoga stick figure on the mountain top, but since then I have decided to keep it simple. Maybe I'll lay a figure on top to see how it works, but for now I am happy with the strength and simplicity and message of this piece.
mountain piece

Friday, December 4, 2009


shirts1 010
Mazatlan is my social fix. For all the solitude I have in the summer at Refuge Cove, I have a world of events and people at my fingertips here in Mazatlan. It's quite a nice blend, and I love the diversity. I feel like I'm given a fantastic menu to order all the fun things and interesting friends that I care to consume at this retirees' cafe. There's never an end to activity.
So when my friend, Linda, moved back to Michigan last summer, she left a hole in many hearts here. She was well loved and oh, so talented. She became a friend last year when she took my dyeing class, and became instantly hooked. We spent many a dye day together, and I lent her lots of tools and books and etc. when I went north last spring. But she decided to move north herself, and when she returned my things, she also bestowed a bevy of hand-me-downs to my doorstep. One item was a 30 yard bolt of beautiful white rayon that she had recently ordered from Dharma and hadn't used an inch of it. Wow! What a what to do with it?
About 5 years ago, I made the shirt above out of dyed cotton...I wanted a simple Mexican-like shirt that was cool, colorful and comfortable and I achieved it with this design. This summer, I made a few more, with side pockets, but they never did quite fit the same as this first one (I didn't have the original with me to use as a pattern). So, why not try more shirts with rayon. And why not include others who might be interested? So I contacted two friends, Val and Edwige, who both like to sew, have done some dyeing, and have sewing machines. Also, Edwige has a most wonderful book,Clothing from the Hands that Weave, (Anita Luvera Mayer) that reduces all ethnic clothing to the simple rectangle and gives wonderful ideas for making all kinds of simple garments. With the rayon, my dyes, the book, and our ideas and collaboration, I knew we could have some fun in designing and constructing rayon shirts, or other items of choice.
Last week we got together to get our fabric (to wash at home) and to decide on a color palette so I could have the dyes mixed and ready. Today we each dyed our 3 yards of rayon with our individual designs in mind.
shirts1 004
These final results will now be used for our shirts. Next week we'll work on design and cutting.  Our finished products are just a few weeks away.shirts1 006

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Sundays can be such lovely days. Quiet, peaceful, with minimal agendas that even can disappear. Here in Mazatlan, the streets are relatively quiet and families are gathered together for food and togetherness, one aspect we love so much about this country. For me, it was reading and writing, then a trip to the market with neighbors. Afterwards we shared lamb tacos together...yummmm!
Slowing down lends its way into digging back through time, like perusing through an old photo album, remembering fondly times gone by or old friends who warmed your heart. Or, in my case today, looking through the archives of old pieces from the past. They too are like old friends, time spent together lovingly, and maybe not with us anymore or perhaps ones that we've just lost contact with. Good memories.
This piece started out as a whole cloth that I just loved. I produced it in the early days of using water filters, and the light and movement attracted my attention. It was a storm at sea, and the Pisces in me was drawn to do something with it. I was new at foiling which became the perfect glowing medium for an orb of energy.
There is a lovely hotel/apartment comlex here in the heart of Mazatlan Centro called the Melville. Outside its entrance is a plaque with a quote by Herman Melville: "as for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas and land on barbarous coasts". I have always been moved by that quote and it seemed to be the perfect marriage with my whole cloth stormy sea scene. So I put them together into a piece approximately 20"x24", hung it on the wall at one of the artwalks, and it was quickly purchased by my good friend Maureen. She also is a kindred spirit of adventure and risk and listening to the spirit within. It found a good home, and I smile about that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


nov. quilt journal
I'm not sure what it was about Tom's "denial in Canada" situation (June, 2009 - "Locked Out of Life"), but it shook things up enough inside of me to know that I wanted some "time off". I really hadn't taken a moment after retirement to really breathe in the waters of life, to reflect on myself, and to just take the time to devote to myself. Yes, I do live an interesting life in two very special places, my husband and I work extensively in building our homes in both of these places, and I have been avidly pursuing my passion of fiber art in BOTH places. (I wondered where that word "schizophrenic" came from?)
This winter I have been totally into myself....journaling, searching, breathing, exploring...all of the above and then some. I have dropped out of pressing commitments, yet have maintained one or two that are quite meaningful to me. I wake up each morning saying "the day is mine".  (I don't think my husband has figured this out yet!)
November's quilt journal theme was "inspired from a nursery rhyme". My imagination stops short here, because when one is given the nickname of "Muffy" as a young child, its hard to go much further than the tuffet and the curds and whey. So what was I going to do with that damn spider???!!!!  I throw alot of things onto the page in my morning journal write, and lots of issues surface. The spider has come to represent all the "junk", the fears, the issues and all that needs exploration and reflection.
Its a friendly spider... he's going to be sitting next to me quite often, and I won't be running away!