Wednesday, October 31, 2007

happy hallowe'en

when i first moved to newfoundland in the 1970's you couldn't get a pumpkin for hallowe'en. pumpkins weren't grown here and it wasn't the tradition to decorate. a few friends remembered carving turnips as children. then some local grocers began bringing in pumpkins from nova scotia but there were so few that you could never count on getting one. the children made paper cut-out decorations and the windows were plastered with them. hallowe'en was my son's favourite holiday (more than christmas) and he would live the character of his put-together homemade costume. i miss simple.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


now it's down to the details. set up for the west coast craft fair starts thurs. afternoon and the show opens friday morning. basically what i've got is what i've got - with a few last minute tweaks. now it's sorting and organizing and packing. i'm making cards of new images (people who can't afford to buy my work often like going away with an image). emailing out invites (to the st. john's craft fair that opens the following weekend). labeling and pricing work. calming down...

Monday, October 29, 2007

what you wish for...

i talked florence into knitting me more booties by promising to "finish" them myself. so ... this weekend i got 20 more pair - that now need to be trimmed, sewn together and embellished with a little flower. each pair takes 1 hour to finish. i've run out of time so i think i'll be taking them in to st. john's to work on...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

badger and mole

for the days and weeks leading up to the craft fair season we are all working flat out in our studios. alone. not getting enough sleep or exercise. meals take as little effort as possible. we forget how to speak. the first day of the craft fair we all look like mole and badger (from the wind and the willows) . coming out of our burrows. pale. ruffled and squinty-eyed. thrown into 12 hour days of socializing - presenting our work to the public. chatting with other booth holders. reconnecting with friends and customers we haven't seen since last year. non-stop talking and smiling and putting out. it's an out-of-body experience.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

what's happening outside

with the craft fairs looming, it's hard being so house bound this time of year. the days are mild and bright and delightfully fragrant with fall decay. we haven't had a frost yet so the leaves are staying on the trees longer than usual. i try getting out every day to walk abigail (there's a wonderful stream trail right through town and another trail up on hospital hill that looks out over the bay) but with every precious moment earmarked for production, some days i just admire the beauty of the day from my studio window.

Friday, October 26, 2007

one week to go

one week to go until the beginning of the first craft fair and this is what my studio is looking like. everything is in motion. objects that usually have their place ( in the basement, in a closet...) are now on the move. sorting and resorting. packing. decisions made and made again. i love that my first craft fair of the season is always in corner brook because decisions can be made right up to the end.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

just one more fish

marine motifs are popular here with locals and tourists. it's what we know, it's what we're known for. sometimes i feel i can't paint or hook one more fish. but then i come up with a new way of doing it and i get excited again. this painting that i did yesterday (10"x10") is inspired by an art deco woodcut.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


i'll have 3 different kinds of ornaments for the craft fairs this year - 3" square hooked mats, 3" square painted wood (these are both fridge magnets and ornaments) and the new fabric ornaments (made from vintage chenille or quilting and fabric). they sell from between $15 - 20.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

my granddaughter is brave

my 2 year old granddaughter is fearless. she embraces scary. she wants to be a ghost for hallowe'en. when i asked her last night what nana should be she said "a blue mat". she has me all figured out...

Monday, October 22, 2007

and goals not met

every day now (leading up to the craft fairs) i set goals for myself (as to how much work i want to get done) and every day i manage to complete about half of what i'd hoped. so every day i feel like i've slacked off and failed. if i lessen my expectations i'm afraid i'll not work as hard...

i finished this commissioned box yesterday and am working on a pile of small boxes - all marine themes which sell well here in newfoundland. the product is piling up...

Sunday, October 21, 2007


i've been painting all week, but when i haven't been painting ( evening breaks in front of the t.v., the occassional visit with friends) i've been knitting. for the craft fairs i pictured this suitcase brimming with baby booties. it's almost there (i'm getting much needed knitting help from keith's mum florence). they're like colourful eclairs.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

what i did instead

i went with the weather yesterday. it was warm and sunny. i painted all morning but at noon keith got off work and we spent the afternoon in the garden. keith picked the rest of the plums and i'll make jam today. we planted the bulbs - 100 miniature daffodils on the front bank, about 100 more tulips in the flower beds. we spread compost, moved around some perennials that have never seemed to be in the right place. enjoyed sharing a beautiful autumn afternoon together. later in the day marilee and i took the dogs for a long walk around the pond. and last night i slept well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

production mode

i'm definitely in production mode . no matter how much planning and pacing, 2 weeks before the beginning of craft fair season, we all end up in a state that , last year, we promised wouldn't let happen again. each day i get up a little earlier in the morning and go to bed a little later. the house not only doesn't get cleaned but it slowly fills with product in various states of completion, shelving, extension cords, packed and partially packed boxes. meals - well meals... i'm looking at my garden, my unplanted fall bulbs, and wonder when life will get normal again. my dog, abigail, gets shorter walks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

my language

every professional artist has their own language. it's what makes their work recognizable. we all use the same words (colour, texture, balance etc.) but how we put these words together is what makes our work unique. no matter what medium i'm using - fabric, wool, paint, clay etc. - my language stays the same.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


7 years ago i started volunteering at the local animal shelter (the bay of islands spca). for 2 of those years i had a full time paying job with them. now that i'm working full-time at my craft my involvement is limited, but i still edit their quarterly newsletter, answer their emails and every wednesday evelyn (the shelter manager) and i go to the city pound to check up on the animals that are being housed there. we check on their health, their living conditions, and, if there is any room at the spca, we take what we can. none of the adoptable dogs get put down any more because we are able to send them to shelters around the island that have more space than we do. unfortunately there are always too many cats and kittens to find homes for. at least in their final days they are warm and fed and are euthanized with dignity and care. check out our web site at

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

off kilter

yesterday was an off day. i'm probably still recovering from my weekend migraine. my body didn't move right. my mind was slow. the energy and enthusiasm i can usually count on wasn't there. i needed the house to be quiet. no radio or tv. soft dark rain all day. i wanted to curl up on the floor with the dogs. but i can't afford another day of not working so i pushed through and finished a mailbox. today already feels better

Sunday, October 14, 2007

all the colours

yesterday i finished the last blanket and cleaned up my studio. my studio is for fabric, so i've moved into the living room and on to painting. for 30 years i thought of myself as a painter. it's what i grew up thinking an artist did. i have an mfa in painting. i exhibited my paintings across canada. about 7 years ago i stopped wanting to paint. thats when i got out fabric and began stitching and eventually was drawn to rug hooking. rug hooking is very labour intensive. i couldn't make enough work to meet the demand. a couple of years ago i realized that i could paint the motifs i was using in my mats and much faster. so now i use paint as i use fabric, as i use wool. it's simple and uncomplicated. and i have all the colours.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


colour for me is the most important art element. it's where i feel at home. it's what i know. no matter what medium - paint or yarn or rags - i know how to put colours together and it's what excites me. newfoundland is grey. the sky is grey. the water is grey. the rock is grey. even the low growing "tuckamore" trees are grey. but this time of year outside there's a riot of colour. the leaves. the bogs. the berries. the harvest. i lap it up and store it for winter.

Friday, October 12, 2007


i got a big cheque from the craft council shop yesterday for the wholesale order i took in a couple of weeks ago. and last week i got a good cheque from harbourfront for my hooked mats (they bought them wholesale). so i've paid off my visa and my credit line (debt that accumulated from my wonderful new york trip , booth fees for the craft fairs, materials for making my product and just every day expenses.) for now i'm debt free. this is how i live, and how most craftspeople/artists live. you learn to have faith.

ps. finished off 3 blankets yesterday and will try to get 2 more done today (along with house cleaning and an afternoon knitting visit with barb)

Thursday, October 11, 2007


last night anne manuel (executive director of the newfoundland and labrador craft council) came out to corner brook and gave a talk on funding for crafts people in the province. i must say again that newfoundland is very good to it's crafts people. thanks anne for including us.

sooo... i finished the ornaments yesterday and have started in on some baby blankets. my blankets are vintage chenille on the front (my friend marilee calls chenille the "macaroni and cheese" of fabric) and vintage flannel on the back. they are very soft and comforting. they're approx. 28"x34" - a good size for strollers and car seats and for the little one to haul around once they're walking. they sell for $65.00.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

chirpy birds

i'm sewing this week. alot. i'm making many many ornaments - little fish and chirpy birds. i paint and hook these motifs . now they're also three dimensional. made from scraps of vintage chenille and cotton, vintage buttons and ric rac. they'll sell for $10.00. i hope to finish them tomorrow and then spend the rest of the week sewing my baby blankets and jackets. then on to painting for the last 2 weeks before the craft fairs...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


no, i'm not writng about today's election in newfoundland...

i'm writng about not sleeping. i'm writing about night thoughts.i suffer from insomnia during periods of change or extreme activity. i have no trouble falling asleep but wake up after 2-3 hours and can't rest my mind. i'd love to use these middle of the night hours productively. i'd be happy if the thoughts i entertain in the wee hours were inspired or even rational. but they never are. it's like the moon and the darkness get hold of my mind and play.

Monday, October 8, 2007

thank-you stanley

my grandson is 7 years old. his was a difficult birth (a very large baby from a tiny mother) but fortunately all our fears of repercussions were unfounded. he is a sweet energetic healthy boy. a month after his birth we planted "stanley plum" in his honour . the plum tree has taken on it's own personality.we evenually hung a bird feeder from it . in the winter the birds swarm it's branches for food and protection. in spring we marvel at it's blossoms. in summer i sit and read or work in it's shade. yesterday keith picked it's fruit and i made jam. we are thankful.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

late bloom

my son came home for a visit mid-july. it had been over a year since he'd been back to newfoundland (he moved to montreal last year). it was wonderful having him home. he came with his girlfriend and they spent their days hiking and reconnecting with "the rock". at the end of the week i hated to see them go. on the last day they presented me with a calla lily. i didn't know they could grow here - we have short summers - so i was delighted last week to see it bloom in my garden. a sensual and delicate bloom. a late bloom.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

goals set, goals met

this time of year i have to set goals and meet them. each day i know how much work i have to get done. this week my goal was to make my pillows - 10 each of hearts, birds and fish. today i'll finish the last of the fish pillows and suddenly it looks like i'll have something to sell at the craft fair! during my "down time" i've been knitting - booties and scarves. this week i've also been taking care of my body - the dentist to repair a broken tooth, my annual medical checkup and a session of healing touch (gentle therapy for body and soul). knitting is a wonderful way to pass time in a waiting room.

Friday, October 5, 2007

this is what happens

this is what happens to my studio in the weeks leading up to the craft fairs. there are four weeks left till the first one (the newfoundland and labrador craft council's west coast craft fair in corner brook) and then the following weekend in st. john's at the craft council's fine craft and design fair. last year i did toronto's one-of-a-kind show so this isn't seeming quite as daunting. still, there's always the fear of not having enough work ready, of making the wrong decisions about what to make. worries about booth design, packaging, travel. enough to keep me awake in the middle of the night thinking i should just get up and work rather than lying here worrying. last year i did a lot of work at 3:00 in the morning. it hasn't come to that yet this year...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

shaped pillows

i have a new product that i'm excited about. i have a big stash of vintage chenille, cotton, quilt cutters and buttons. i make children's clothes but my favourite part of sewing is the selecting of materials that go together. for me that's the creative part. in my hooked mats, in my paintings, i use simple shapes and realized i could do the same with my sewing. recently i began to make shaped pillows. right now hearts, birds and fish. they are made from either vintage chenille or quilting with cotton on the reverse side and a vintage button. they are approximately 12"x14" and sell for $30.00. if you're interested in commissioning one (colour and shape) email me at

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

creative juices

we are a small town of just over 20,000 (that's corner brook and surrounding bay of islands) but here we have a growing and vibrant craft community. we cover textiles (knitting, felting, weaving, rug hooking, sewing), jewelry, glass, pottery. we were all working alone (meeting only at the annual craft council fairs and the occasional studio visits). last spring we came together and formed a collective. we get together every couple of months for an evening of sharing. last night we met at urve's in gillams (a stone's throw glass works). we each bring samples of new work or work we're having questions/problems with. we bring books to share. we drink tea and eat cookies. alot of talk and laughter and venting. we leave full - of ideas and inspiration, of good warm feelings of friendship.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


st. john's is known for it's "rain, drizzle and fog" but in a town noted for it's "large" weather, the jewel toned colours of the downtown row houses make a dull day bright. anything goes when it comes to colour. when i painted my house last summer (corner brook's standard is beige vinyl) i took my camera around st. john's and came home with ideas for all sorts of colour combinations. templeton's hardware on water street (and matchless paints) commissioned the development and naming of a collection of paint colours last year that represent what goes on in this city - names like "figgy duff", "little heart's ease" and "ferryland downs" (and my favourite -"christmas syrup").

my daughter and her family will be leaving this neighbourhood by the end of the month. their house is the bright green one. they have just bought a new house - still in the downtown- but in a neighbourhodd where the children will have a front yard and more freedom. they'll put this one up for rent for now - st. john's is booming and with so many people hopefully moving back they won't have trouble finding a tennant soon. these are all good changes but i'll miss the neighbourhood.

Monday, October 1, 2007

at the anna

spent a busy but wonderful 4 days in st. john's. always alot to do and see. spend good time with my daughter and son-in-law and the 2 grandchildren. dropped off my product at the craft council shop and took in a few exhibitions at the craft council gallery. the next day i babysat - a rare treat for me to spend alone time with the grandchildren. in the afternoon i took them to the gala reopening at the anna templeton centre on duckworth st. it's been closed for a few years to undergo renovations and expansion. the integrity of the old building has been preserved but the inside is now filled with light and space. the anna templeton centre provides art instruction for all ages but mostly offers an outstanding 2 year program in textile studies. if i was starting my art career now (if i was 30 years younger) i'd go there and really learn how to use and make textiles.