Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The big feathered serpent called Alaska Airlines leaves today at 1 and takes us to our northern home. As we prepare to depart Mexico after another winter season, passing through the neighborhood to say our goodbyes, carefully storing my quilted works to protect them from the elements, we reflect on another special moment in our lives.

The warmth of the Mexican sun touches our souls. We carry the warmth of the Mexican people in our hearts. It will last forever.
This recently completed piece, save for the button on the eye of the serpent, was created in response to the trip I took to the Mexico City area this winter. I was moved by the idea that Quetzlcoatl, the winged serpent, was a part of Aztec legend that was long awaited for by the people. What arrived instead, and was sadly mistaken as Quetzlcoatl, was Cortes in his winged sailing ships, followed by his complete takeover with the Catholic Church at the helm. My friends and I climbed the Pyramid to the Sun, raised our hands high at the top to see who was the tallest, and felt the energy of being at this sacred place. 
I hand painted the background, found interesting hand-dyes for the serpent and pyramid, added the sun and feathers, and proceeded to stitch away. Skulls in the pyramid (a common theme), details on the serpent and feathers, and an attempt at the Aztec calendar inside the sun were bleached out.
This 32" x 50" piece is now displayed above my bedroom doorway.

Monday, March 28, 2011

MI TALLER (my studio)

This winter has sped by! We are two days from leaving Mazatlan and I'm amazed at how another snowbird season was so fast, furious (in a positive way) and full!  A good part of the richness of my experience here can be attributed to my associations with those who came to share in my studio "play days". Twice a week I opened my workshop to up to 4 who came to explore in the arena of fiber arts. In past years I have held more structured classes, complete with handouts and a schedule, and packed the day with everything I believe that EVERYONE should know about fabric dyeing. I took a more open approach this year, just wanting to share studio time with others, giving them the basics and allowing them to "do their thing". I was so amazed at the range of directions that people took, at the variety of projects and products that evolved. We all truly learned from each other...maybe me the most!
Robyn, who shares my hometown of Tacoma, Washington, really enjoyed making these tablecloths. She also added some stamping to a very traditional cross-stitch done by her aunt. Beautiful!

Pam, my non-sewer (I'm working on her!), had fun making tie-dye shirts for her husband. Some she liked so well, she vowed to keep them for herself. On her third and last session, she came with ideas she pulled off the internet for new and interesting techniques. Here's an amazing shirt she produced.

Anne brought her artistic skills from painting and eagerly applied them to fabric. Her first project was to create pillow tops for her grandchildren.

Then she moved into painting on fabric. She pulled two images from the internet and chose one for reproducing on cotton. She put her painting experiences to good use here. I have little experience in that area, so together we took the process poco a poco (little by little) and she ended up with an amazing piece. After washing, she decided to add more color.

Anne's second computer image was used by Olivia, a Mexican neighbor who happened my way. She wasn't quite sure what she wanted to do, so she jumped right in and started putting thickened dye to cloth. I admired her courage and she too came out with an interesting piece.

Basha was one of the last to join in on the fun. She came with a keen and energetic interest in all things dyeable. She set herself up with a collection of beautiful hand-dyes to keep her busy through the long summer ahead here when life slows down to nothing. Plus she created some new outfits for herself.

Here's to this winter's wonderful partners in the fascinating world of dyeing: Bobbie, Anne, Edwige, Heather, Ann, Kathi, Marie, Rosemary, Sharon, Aldo, Basha, Pam, Robyn, Joyce, Nancy, Olivia, Val, Doreen and Anne Marie! Thank you for all your blooming creativity and inspiration. And special thanks to Edwige for her gelato contributions!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


My Mondays in Mazatlan are set aside for working with the local sewing ladies. Typically Toy (our fearless leader, in the foreground above) picks us up (Bev and I) and takes us to the community center in one of the outer colonias. Bev starts with her English lesson, while Toy follows with a meeting to organize selling, discuss marketing ideas, or lead a reflection pertaining to self-development. I add to the mix with some sort of sewing idea or ways to add personal, artistic touches to their wares. These 12 women make my Mazatlan experience very special.

There are others that are connected with the group. Art and Jackie Plunz (pictured above, Art is the tall guy in the back and Jackie wears the pink scarf in the front) have endeared themselves to this group in many ways. They aren’t regulars with us on Mondays, but certainly are there for special events. Last year they brought down a dozen sewing machines to Mazatlan, and distributed one to each woman. Through their church, they have collected donations to help us with special projects. Art, a retired dentist, has helped one family whose daughter has some serious dental issues. They are incredibly kind and generous and lots of fun too. Jackie loves to sing and joins in with the few Mexican women who entertain us with their talents at our parties.
Art and Jackie invited all of us to their oceanside apartment today for a lovely catered luncheon.  Judith and Gustavo created an amazing feast for us on the grill while we had an hour of our regular meeting time. Patty (our one women now working on her degree in social work) led us in an activity.

After lunch, Art brought out maps of Alberta and showed the women where he and Jackie lived, and showed photos of their northern life. Images of snow, dogsleds, snowmachines, ice roads, mining operations, small planes and decorated parkas were source of stories and questions (happily translated by Toy).

With dessert we were treated to our delightful singers, Ceci, Lola and Jackie. Their voices and creative talents penetrate my soul!Thank you Art and Jackie!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Ligia is a friend of mine. She is a single mom with two teenagers (Ligia, 19, and Juan Jose,15) and her 78 year old father. The weight of her family falls on her shoulders, as is so typical in many Mexican homes.  She’s tough, she’s strong; Tom calls her a “pitbull”. On top of that, she’s funny and talented. She began as our half-day-a-week housekeeper more than five years ago, but now she’s certainly more than that.
Her young daughter was scheduled to have her baby at the end of February.  Because Ligia works for a myriad of northerners who make Mazatlan their winter or full-time home, it was only fitting that we have a shower for her. Two neighboring sisters from Holland were the hostesses (with the mostest-es!) and the rest of us were the fortunate guests who just brought sweet baby gifts and enjoyed the pleasure of giving to a woman and her daughter who gives so much to all of us. Oh yes, and the food was fabulous!
I made her a colorful diaper bag. I remember the one I had when Ben was born – dark green, nothing special, jammed with clothes and diapers, pacifiers and toys. I’m hoping it will be a tiny, cheery moment in the reality of crying and dirty diapers; a comment that this baby is special! (as all babies are).
Baby Ligia was born last Monday. Both momma and baby are back at the family home now, settling into new roles. A small group of us went to visit (and get our turn at holding her!) and arrived just in time for her little bath. What a beauty!
Life is tough for our friend, and now there is another mouth to feed. We see the stress she lives with and can only hope and pray that this little girl brings her grama incredible joy and happiness and love to overshadow life's daily struggles.