Sunday, March 18, 2012


Last week I went on the most wonderful retreat with a group of girlfriends. We loaded in one van (6+driver) and drove north one hour from Mazatlan, turned off at the “59” marker, then wound around on dirt roads for another twenty minutes until we landed at Barras de Piaxtla, the site of our three day mosaic workshop. Gail Blackburn, owner and creator of her resort, La Rosa de las Barras, was not only inviting us all to stay at her wonderful ocean side retreat, but also to learn about making mosaics. For inspiration and ideas, we didn’t have to look far - they were everywhere: showers, tabletops, doorsteps, sink tops, etc., all produced by multi-talented Gail. We shuttled up the hill to her home and studio which she shared for our workshop, and after a brief intro to the craft we were off and running to producing our own creations. With the sweeping view of the Pacific in front of us, along with her hillside organic garden below us, we happily worked (and played) for 3 days on our individual mosaics.
For sustenance we were treated to amazing meals of her local cook extraordinaire, Judith (pronounced Yoo-deet) and cared for at the resort by another local, Carmen. (I really wanted to take these women home with me.)
 Each evening we gathered at the shore for a beautiful sunset, and gathered again in the hot tub just before retiring.
On day 2, Gail took orders for manicures/pedicures/massages by Benita (at nominal prices), and many of us took advantage. This was a fantastic (5 star!) vacation full of creativity, relaxation, great food, pampering and best of all, friendship. Thank you Gail for providing this time for us!
Construction of my journal quilt: This little quilt fits under the theme of “just stitching”. I knew I wanted to use a solid color but didn’t have any idea of the content until I was looking at Gail’s brochure the other day. On the front is the prominent lighthouse that graces the point and defines this beachfront community. It was the perfect icon to remember my Barras de Piaxtla experience.  I chose a navy blue, solid hand-dye and marked where I wanted to stitch with chalk. To keep with the nautical feel, I trimmed it in red. Sweet and simple!

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I’ve been quilt journaling since 2008. My 40+ collection of 8 ½ x 11 inch tiny quilts represent my hearty participation in this wonderful group of creative quilters who have signed on to share their quilt stories with each other. Early on in this journey, we had up to 13 members in our “Cybre Fibres” group, but slowly it became clear that for some of these women, their intention was greater than their abilty to produce. This past December we all made it known to what degree we were committed, and now we are down to eight. Our initial system was set to cycle through the list of women who would present a quilt journal theme for the month, and the circle would go round and round. With each completed quilt journal, we would send them, via internet, to the collective group with the story of their construction or of their inspiration (or maybe even both!). We now have changed this to each of us coming up with a theme for the YEAR (8 themes per year), and perhaps expanding on one or two of these themes.

With our Cyber Fibre changes, we quickly came up with our individual themes which are now giving us much food for thought. Here they are for 2012: Tree of Life, Light and Shadow, Finding Perfection in Imperfection, Mapping, All That Sparkles, Black Matters, Public Art, and Whirlwinds. Isn’t this a wonderful list?!

On my recent trip to Chiapas, I became familiar with the artist, Kiki Suarez, German-born but now living in San Cristobal. I quickly connected with her work: simple, bright, colorful, lively. I knew I had found new inspiration for my fabric work.

Birds had been on my mind, and I loved the whimsical birds I found in Kiki’s book. I thought I’d try out a few, and consider them to be a part of “The Tree of Life”.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


You might have been asking, “What’s been going on with those Mazatlan sewing ladies that Mary and Bev work with?” I haven’t been avoiding this topic, but rather waiting to get a complete look at what’s been done this season. I feel my first response should be something like “eating lots of tamales” or “having weekly parties” and there’s lots of truth here. But also we’ve been sitting on the sidelines, watching and waiting to see what happens with their new endeavor of their storefront in the Golden Zone (tourist district). My early December 2011 post tells of the inauguration of this shop, and they have faithfully been there each day to try to sell their wares to the small numbers of tourists that are coming to Mazatlan this year. They also have venues at “ex-pat” meetings where they are well known and well supported. I think they have survived, but the real truth will be told next fall, after the SLOW summer, when they will need to decide if they want to commit to another winter season in the shop. Maybe the cruise ships will return...hope, hope hope! For now, it’s too early to tell.
As far as my input, I invited them to my studio back in December (a horrible month for an invitation in the midst of the Christmas season) to print up a whack of local manta (muslin). I made up a schedule for 3 women per day to come over and spend 3-4 hours stamping, dyeing, bleaching etc. the fabric with the plan of later making their signature mariposa (butterfly) bags. Being the holidays, only 6 out of 12 were able to participate.

After the fabric-making was done, I created “kits” for them to make the bags. If I didn’t do this, the process would have been incredibly labor intensive, and probably would have driven me crazy with their primitive scissor method. Rotary cutters, mats and rulers make this process SO EASY for me and my modern northern friends, so I just took it over and zip, zip, zip…put together 18 kits. (IF it hadn’t been Christmas, I would have had them use the rotary cutter, to experience another way.) When I returned to our group after the holidays, I passed out 3 kits per participant with the other women looking on with envy. They ALL want to join in next year, and yes, I’ll do it in December. It’s a good month for me, before my own classes begin.

They made the bags and now have sold them. They are increasingly adding applique butterflies (and other objects) to their creations and their customers are snapping them up. Here in Mexico, the motto is “poco a poco” (little by little)…so true with these women.
In another two weeks, we’ll have another party as my good-bye. Everything is a celebration, with a little sewing in between. How fortunate I am to have these women as my friends!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Here come the cats! Once again, Mazatlan's "Bow-Wow Meow" fundraiser is happening and I'm a loyal fan who loves to create something in the dog or cat line for their silent auction. This year, my husband was very sick with a bad case of the flu and I had a week of free nights to sew and create to my heart's content.

On my recent trip to San Cristobal de las Casas, I discovered an artist who is a new inspiration for my fabric work. Kiki Suarez is German born, now living in Mexico, and produces lively, colorful, whimsical art that sings of life. Her figures are simple and primitive and perfect for rough-cutting fabrics and creating collages from my hand-dyes.

Our local animal group, Projecto de Animales de la Calle (PAC), are a devoted group of individuals who work to care for our local street animals and to control their populations. Often times they post photos on facebook looking for someone to adopt these special cratures. Recently two of them went to a weeklong spay and neutering clinic in La Manzanilla, and hope to have a similar clinic here in Maz in the future.

These four pillows will soon belong to folks who support PAC!