Saturday, October 20, 2012


I spent yesterday into the night with a very dear friend who was not only willing to do more modeling for me, but to welcome me into her home and allow me to shoot the pictures with her new camera. Ah, technology... My camera and laptop were bought in 2005, and I'm still using them. Well, sort of. After shooting more than 1200 pictures, we sat at her Mac and used her Photoshop to check out the pictures and how to edit them. Oh my God, my brain hurt when I watched her with a few quick flicks of her index fingers alter the shading in a picture and highlight her body in a halo-like lighting. By the time I left there last night, I was anxious to get home and show Dan the few pictures we downloaded onto my flash. And of course, going to my older Dell after my experience at her house was like using an abacus to do calculus. And -- AHHHH! -- the pictures wouldn't come up on my computer.

That being said, I only have four pictures from that photo shoot yesterday because Rose, the model/techie extraordinaire, emailed those to me so I could put them on our etsy site.

Not only am I so blessed to have such a valued friend as Rose, but also to have her so willing to help me in this business venture that Dan and I have taken together. To have her such an integral part of this means so much to both of us, and it was really nice of her and her husband to paint their kitchen just the right color to accentuate the dress!

Here's the part about yesterday that has truly brought me to my knees in amazement and gratitude. Back in 2008 I had a reading done by a clairvoyant/channeler/seer, etc. from Australia. I knew she was divinely in tuned before I ever approached her (through email) to do a reading for me. When I received my reading via audio tape and listened to it more than four years ago, she told me that I would meet my Twin Flame and together we would make clothes together. She said I would sew these garments and they would alter those who wear them. At the time I was not dating anyone. I was sewing clothes that didn't seem to alter anyone, but I was optimistically looking forward to meeting this person and making clothes together. She said the energy that we put into the clothing would be like nothing else. I remained intrigued for years about this reading. I questioned, but not once did I think it would NOT come true.

Yesterday Rose told me how magical the dresses felt. What was interesting to me was how different she looked in every one of them. It was almost like she took on a different persona with each change. Today we spoke on the phone and she mentioned the magical quality of the dresses again. I just know that when I finish each one, slip it over the dress form, and then step back and look at it, I just absolutely fall in love. My heart just opens up. There are many times that I just hug them. It's a love fest in my studio. I feel like these dresses are the best things I've ever done, and looking at them on Rose and her daughter made me realize that I am on the right track. Working alone all day sometimes gets to me, crazy doubts about my own creativity might seep in and I wonder if I should be doing something else in my life. Oh, the craziness sometimes that goes on between my ears. What I do know for sure is that the most amazing tie-dyes come my way, and I lose myself in cutting them up and sewing them into dresses. Hours go by and I don't even notice the sun going down. And, by the time I look at what I've put on my dress form I am so deeply loving the latest dress. I just feel myself opening and filling up with the most extraordinary love. I wish I could explain this better, but I'm discovering the more I try to use words to describe it, the less potency the feeling has.

Thank you to Rose, to her daughter, to Dan, and to Ananara in Australia. I could not have done any of this without you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Studio Craziness

When I'm laying in bed trying to sleep, I think of all sorts of things to write. As a matter of fact, sometimes I can do nothing else but think of all sorts of things to write -- and sew. I've never known myself to become so obsessed with these two passions -- writing and sewing, but they now take over most of my thoughts and almost all of my dreams. I wake up some mornings exhausted because I've been "working" in my dreams -- making new dresses with belts, staging photo shoots, and of course writing about it all. Whew...

And if I'm not thinking/dreaming about making dresses, then I'm thinking about selling them. Every time I finish a dress and sit it on my dress form, I can feel that it belongs to someone. It's a matter of getting the dress to that very person that it's for. The last dress was for someone in France. I'm not sure what path led her to the dress, but the dress is now on its way to her.

Here's the dress winding its way across the globe to reach its final destination. What's really interesting about this is that the model in these pictures just took her husband to the airport yesterday to fly to France. Hm, never thought about that until just now...

Images of dresses meander through my mind at all times of the night and day. It's a never-ending movie in my head. I just go into my studio, grab a pile of scraps, and just serge until I can't serge anymore. There are so many times that (most of the time, actually) I have no game plan whatsoever. I pick up the piles and serge. I go into a serging mode that releases my thoughts to another world, and when I decide to "come back" to my studio I discover the pile of scraps have disappeared and the dress that they have turned into is heavy in my lap.

As a matter of fact, the end of September was a turning point for me. I had a birthday, and for a week I sewed until I couldn't. I sewed. I cut fabric. I dreamed. I thought. I mulled, and here are the results. I call these The Birthday Dresses.

These are all different sizes too. Dan, my partner, and I go to rummage sales, garage sales, bag sales, and anywhere else we can find amazing bargains. After bringing home our finds and looking at each one of them (and are there ever oohs and ahs over many of them!), he tie-dyes them in lots. As you can tell some of the above dresses are in golds, yellows, and browns so that I could mix and match the pieces. Once they're dyed and dried, they come to me in my studio where I pick a top to start with (at least that's what I did with the birthday dresses) and then slice up other shirts for the skirts.

Yep, from fabric to dresses. That's how it goes. Last step is drinking my coffee and putting my feet up!

But that was back in September. October's been a new month for me in every way. I've lost my mind in fabric, and I have one of my latest to prove it.
Looks not so crazy, right? Sort of? And then there's this...
Now that's what I'm talking about -- still crazy after all these years!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Trying out a new template for this blog as I'm trying out a new life -- again. Well, sorta new life... quit the job and focusing on teaching, vending, energy work, and selling dresses at a place of business here in town.

I quit the job because I decided I wanted to be treated better. Within hours I met new artists (one from Colorado), was asked to teach at a local venue, another request to sell my dresses as After Yoga Wear, and was given an opportunity to shed some light on the energy work I do. 

It all began when I chose to be treated with respect and appreciation. And, thanks to the wonderful man in my life, I was fully backed on that decision. Many opportunities have fallen in my lap, and it's up to me to see where they go. I've been doing research online, writing class descriptions, checking out vending opportunities in CNY, looking at fellowship opportunities and art exhibits, and putting a brochure together for my next talk.

I'm excited to be doing what I so enjoy. I'm thrilled that these opportunities have so easily and readily found their way to me as I have certainly embraced their presence in my life. Just knowing that I spend my time creating a better me thrills me beyond belief. I'm designing a novel-writing workshop that includes art. I'm chopping up t-shirts with my man to serge into dresses. Fun. The way life was meant to be.

Friday, June 8, 2012

new beginning again

Today is exactly 18 months from the day I moved in with Dan. We're also on the move again. This time together, a new beginning -- again...

One of the questions that we've been asking ourselves is what is most important to us? Since we've been looking at new places to live, we've come up against several factors that have made us question what we're willing to live without, and what we're not willing to live with.

We looked at a place yesterday that would put a few more bucks in our pockets since it's less expensive then where we live now. However, the more we talked it out the more we realized that those savings would come at a huge price to our freedom. Dan was already cooking up neighborly conflicts, and I was thinking about adding another job to my life to keep from being there so much. Too close quarters with unlike minds -- a people sandwich, Dan called it. Too small, or was it?

Smallness -- what do we live without? We discovered that we're willing to live with less. That's really easy for me. I live in a world where anything is disposable. Well, maybe not my one and only pillow...

Dan, on the other hand, is not so much like that. Dan loves having things around him, lots of things everywhere. I think I'm a closet Shaker because less is so much more. The more empty space in a room the better. Clean, uncluttered surfaces can become my best friends. I'm not necessarily into cleaning as much as not owning much. It feels simpler. I can breather easier, and inspiration comes to me readily in that kind of environment. I feel calmer in open space. I resonate with it. My thoughts simmer and my soul soars.

I've been doing a lot of hand stitching lately. Slow stitching. I immerse myself in the feel of the fabric, the rhythm of the stitching, and the sound of the thread slipping through the fibers. I can hear the quiet bliss. It's my favorite song. So, I can do without the stacks of fabrics (10 boxes so far). I'm letting go of all but one of the sewing machines and serger. This isn't my first time to pair down with supplies. Some very fortunate women in McKinney got some really great deals from me, and the fabrics, machines, and decorative threads that have come my way since then have been exceptional. So I know that letting go of things doesn't prohibit newer and better ones to show up in my life down the road.

I'm not afraid of letting go. It's been my mantra for years.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing Art

My Valentine's Day was the best day I've ever had, and I got to spend it with Dan -- on the floor in the kitchen with ink, watercolors, and paper!!
I have never just sat down and allowed myself total freedom to just play with no outcome intended. I've always thought about what my "play" was going to turn into. There always had to be a finished product in mind and how to market it, advertise it, sell it... So, what an amazing experience to just sit down on the floor and experiment with brushes, inks, and watercolors along with some instruction from the master.

What was really interesting was that while I was painting I came up with names for these faces. Stories popped into my head and for the life of me the writer in me was exposed!! Woo hoo!

And so the writing began:

When Myra Klemdensky came out of the Post Office she spied Mr. McClintock eyeing Persilla. She sees the look in those eyes -- those eyes of an endless depth, the trap of so many unsuspecting men.

Really, Mr. McClintock had nothing else on his mind that morning than to mail the package for the Mrs. Three point two five pounds was all it weighed. He had no idea what was in it, but he knew to say no to all the questions he was asked about its contents -- no liquids, no hazardous materials. He said no because he knew it would get him out of there quicker. He wanted to be done with his errands and back to the house. Well, not exactly the house, but the shed out back he'd converted to a studio of sorts, a place where he could pull up a stool, pick up a knife, and whittle away at a stick he'd found on his way in. He'd drown his moments with the clip of the blade against the stick. Eventually it'd be too dark to see, and he'd stumble through the shavings dripping from his jeans scattering like ants across the floor. He'd tell the Mrs. he'd mailed her package that morning because she'd be sure to ask as if he were incapable of remembering to do one damn thing. He'd make his way to the den where the TV would already be blaring "Wheel of Fortune" and he'd slide right down into his corduroy recliner where every bend and give in its construction fit his bottom and back to a "T". He'd pull the TV tray up to him and wait for the Mrs. to put his bowl of chicken noodle soup and plate of saltine crackers on it just in time for the first spin of the wheel.
Persilla wore her hair long. Some people said that made her look like a hussy. No one her age should have hair that long and skirts that short. She didn't much cotton to what people said about her. The words were spoken in whispers as light, as quick as the twitch of butterfly wings, and just as quickly -- poof! -- the words disappeared, as if they were never really spoken at all.

Persilla loved the finest silks and embroidered linens. She draped beaded scarves over her dresser and coffee table. Her lampshade's beaded fringe tickled her fingers when she turned the lever that brightened the room. And she loved to read in a way where her finger was locked at the edge of the page, being on the ready to flip it just as her eyes spied the very last word. Then up to the top of the next page without realizing any break in the sequences of letters. She trilled away her moments in silence, not even the tick of a clock, or a footstep on the stairs, as she lived alone. Alone with her books. Her imagination filtered in any missing descriptions in the paragraphs. Every single character became her closely-guarded friend. She imagined in great detail every crust of pie they rolled on their old wooden farmhouse table or granite kitchen counter top. She knew who was allergic to wheat or who broke out in hives after eating blueberries even if the author didn't note it. She knew these things because they were what was important to her. She cataloged this information to recall what she could and couldn't serve them.

Dan gave me paper that was all different shapes, and my aim was to paint on them without altering their sizes. Since I had a tremendous amount of long strips I went for the eyes.

Oh my gosh, I had so much fun it was decadent, luxurious, and positively sinful! I ended up painting for two full days.

And I even painted snacks...
which gave Dan enough energy to paint the village where all these characters will live. They're watching with bated breath!

And, after painting a million of these faces, I have to share with you my absolute favorite. This is one way that I'll have a puppy living with me!!

So, the great idea that came from this was something I experimented with this morning in Dan's life-drawing class. While I was painting for these two days, Dan was putting together his next lesson for class. I was looking at his books with the nude model sketches, and wondered what it would be like to WRITE nude models as they pose, to come up with character sketches, story lines, etc. while the nude is being drawn by students all around me. So, this morning for two hours (I had to stop due to a cramp in my hand!) I wrote 17 pages, single spaced, front and back while a nude model posed. I've taken creative writing classes and been part of creative writing critique groups for most of my adult life, and I finally hit upon something that keeps the "writer's block" away. I wasn't staring at a blank page in my typewriter (as I'd done years ago) or looking at a white computer screen waiting for the muse to hit. Instead I was given time limits to "sketch" a drawing. Characters sprang to life. Their thoughts hurled at me faster than I could record them, and as Dan was calling time, I was jumping into the next pose that sent my imagination reeling into yet another scene.

I call my experience this morning "writing art." I just glanced at the model, soaked in his pose, and my hand took off writing. I didn't look up until it was time for him to change poses. I haven't read what I've written, so I have no idea even if it makes sense, but I do know that the scenes that played out in my head were so vivid I felt as if I were living them. I could rewrite the dialogues and character sketches in a heart beat if I needed to. I consider the experiment a huge success and one I would love to try again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sacred Stitching

For whatever reason I sometimes have what I consider a build-up of vast quantities of explosive energy that creates an implosion in my thinking and then my body. These past 16 months have been the first time in my life since I got into energy work back in November 2000 when I have had absolutely no massage, energy therapy, regular yoga, and extensive meditation. Oh, and I'm surprised that I've got pent-up energy???

So, last week when I could feel the excessively whirling vortex of energy that consumed me, I knew I had to go within. I can blame the people I live with, associate with, the town where I occupy space, etc., but it always boils down to the fact that my problems come from within.

I went to my bedroom with a linen napkin that Dan had tie-dyed and some embroidery floss that he'd splashed with some dye too. I sat in a yoga pose, breathed deeply, and let my thoughts go before putting the threaded needle to the fabric. As I stitched, I returned to a peaceful place. When I was done with the first piece, I put it in front of me while meditating, staring at it, relaxing my eyes, and allowing my vision to dance upon the sacred cloth. It changed me. It calmed me.

the first sacred stitching
I discovered that it wasn't finishing the piece and then meditating that altered me, but the process of stitching it and letting go of my thoughts, the not knowing what I was going to do on the cloth until I did it. It was the surrendering of the process and allowing what felt right to be the whole purpose of the stitching.

The stitching became the meditation.

I do not have a background of hand sewing or embroidery. I've mastered the sewing machine and have taught thread painting for decades, so for me to pick up a needle, thread it, and hand stitch is just absurd. I've spent most my adult life going full speed ahead, my foot flat on the sewing machine pedal and my hands pushing the fabric under the needle as fast as I could. Speed, productivity... more, more, more...

The first week I bought into a quilt shop back in the 1980s, I had 10 commissioned pieces to make or finish. When it comes to fabric and thread a sewing machine has always been involved -- until now.

It took me days to finish the above piece because I took it slow. I breathed slowly. I stitched slowly. I put the needle into the fabric where it felt it needed to be, and I didn't contemplate whether or not it was pleasing to my eye. I just let it be. What I discovered later when it was finished, and I used it as a focal point in my meditation, I could relax my vision and the stitches along with the designs in the fabric became mobile. There were reasons for each stitch to be exactly where it was. Go figure...

I'm now in the middle of the second sacred stitching. Dan dyed new floss for me to try out, and I just pick up what instinctively feels right, and make a stitch where I feel it. The artist in me sure jumps out every now and then criticizing my work. However, I know the real purpose of these pieces has nothing to do with the finished product being aesthetically pleasing as much as a powerful meditative tool.

This one is still a work in progress. I feel I'll be stitching on it for days to come yet. Because of this process I've centered myself, breathed easier, and have been more creatively inspired and have initiated many new opportunities for myself. This process will be a class I'll be offering in Oswego soon. Stay posted...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Tie-Dye Christmas

Now living with the master of repurposing, I've learned how to re-use everything possible. I can't remember the last time I even bought something new. We hit rummage sales, bag sales, thrift stores, and garage sales. Friends give us bags of fabric, decorative papers... you name it, it comes our way.

Last December commemorated my first year with the master dyer/re-purposer himself, Dan Leo, and we had an absolute ball making gifts for friends and family without spending a penny.


First off, I must show you our Christmas stockings, all made from tie-dyed t-shirts that Dan dyed, some he did in the '90s. You might notice some plaids or shirt material I gathered from shirts I received from friends. Dan's stocking on the far left is made from a tie-dyed t-shirt as they all are. His name is from a batik shirt he made, and the SYR (Syracuse) train and train station are from some men's shirts also. (I arrived on a train in Syracuse where Dan picked me up.) My stocking is next. I embroidered my name out of tie-dyed embroidery floss, used a batik shirt Dan made and made the flower from other tie-dye t-shirt scraps. Jeremiah's and Alyssa's stockings are made from two different shirts, just reversed -- his name in her stocking fabric and vice versa.

stockings hanging from bookcase with care
 Ben's stocking has a sailboat for the sailor that he is made out of men's shirts and tie-dye fabric. For Nick I cut out a t-shirt Dan gave me that happened to be commemorative of his childhood, as his Jake's Pokeman and Rufus' Calvin and Hobbes.

squished together and still missing one
Zane had his at home so there's still one missing. However, all of the stockings are gone but three now. Jeremiah's, Alyssa's, Ben's, and Jake's went to TX, and Zane and Nick took theirs.

So, that left room for the next ones to make on our lists...

Believe it or not, those stockings weigh about 50 pounds apiece fully stuffed with all the things we "found" to give to our beloved friends. Again, the stockings are made from tie-dyed t-shirts and other garments. We made a sneak attack in the "middle" of the night (relatively speaking) and dropped off their treats.

Here's the making of one of the stockings. They (the lucky people receiving this conglomeration) happen to have a chicken coop, so Dan drew a likeness for me on paper, and I made it out of fabric and appliqued it to the toe of the stocking.

before chicken coop fully appliqued

I know not everyone has access to the plethora of fabrics that I do. I used to own a quilt shop, and I consider this by far the richest and most abundant time of my life with fabric. Quilt shops just don't hold the appeal for me anymore.

Here's a slice of the wall hanging I made for Dan. Again, made of tie-dyes and men's shirts. It depicts his four oldest boys and my daughter.

It represents the first year of our lives together. The top left hand block is the train stopping dead on its tracks. The block next to it is our tie-dye farm with a tie-dyed cow, chicken, and wheat so we can have the ingredients for our tie-dyed pancakes in the dining room below.  The picture on the bottom left is Rufus, Dan (otherwise camouflaged as John Lennon), and me.

And lastly, my "sewing room"... It has never looked like this either. I have six sewing machines, umpteen boxes of fabrics, three mannequins, bags of cotton to be dyed, hanging rows of tie-dyed clothing, shelves of beads, tie-dyed jewelry makings, a cutting table overflowing with nonsense... I was just too overwhelmed to sew more than what I did. And besides, it gives the look of un-clutter (my new word).

And speaking of that said sewing room, here I am on the floor of it making a tree of life to go into one of those gigantic stockings. The tree is made out of men's shirts, and the background is a piece of sheet that Dan had tie-dyed.

And here's an uncropped picture of the completed wall hanging. I know, I know I have an amazing collection of tie-dyed fabrics at my disposal, but what I'm wanting to show is that it is possible to give from the heart without breaking the bank. I happen to use fabrics, thread, and craziness. What can you use? As my daughter's boyfriend said, "I look at what I have and see if I'm using it to its fullest capacity." Now, he might not have said it just like that, but you get what I'm trying to say that he means. Look at what you have at your disposal. Can you extend the life of it in some way? I happen to cut shirts for fabric, snip off buttons and zippers to put onto purses. Make whatever you have last even longer than you originally thought. Use your imagination and just go wild!