And now . . . A word from our sponsor:

I don't share my doodles very often, but this one seemed appropriate because something I've been thinking about for a LONG TIME is about to be realized!

Ever since I started stitching my Small Works I've wished I could share them with more people.  Because they're so gosh darn labor intensive (and one of a kind!) they're by necessity a little . . .*ahem* . . . pricey . . . but I'm always saddened when someone loves a piece that they just can't adopt.

However, because my pieces are so very tactile, I haven't known how to go about printing them in a way that would not diminish that part of their appeal.

But finally -- finally! -- I've devised a method I'm happy with.

The pieces are printed on Epson Radiant White watercolor paper in beautiful matte inks. Then they are painstakingly cut out and mounted on an even thicker watercolor paper.

The result is that the textures pop and the colors sing! 

And if you're the kind of person who wants to see every tiny stitch, you can!

Not every piece will be available.  Some of them reproduce better than others.  And any pieces that have things like wires popping off the tops present a challenge for this method.  But I love a good challenge.  (So if there's a particular piece you'd like, send me an email and we'll see what we can do.) 

I'll be listing them a few at a time in my Etsy shop, as promised, beginning Monday March 1. 

I have Chelsea to thank for the beautiful prints.  (My miracle printer is a little PICKY when it comes to things like loading paper, so I try to stay away from it.)  And Hannah's going to be managing my Etsy shop in return for some continued school funding. She spends a good deal of her time and money on Etsy anyway, so I think the job will be a good fit for her.

I hope you'll stop by soon to see what's new. . .




Wednesday already? Whoopee!!!!

I think we should celebrate.
So here's a vocabulary word to reflect the spirit of the day:


(or dog.)

Happy Whoopee-Wednesday,
one and all!


Who says Monday can't be F-U-N-D-A-Y?

They do rhyme, after all.

And I came across something last week that positively tickled me pink,
so I think a February Monday is exactly the place to share it!

But I think Paul Lynde should introduce today's post, which is subtitled:

I don't know what's wrong with these kids today!

Kids! They are just impossible to control!
Kids! With their awful clothes 
and their rock and roll!

Why can't they be like we were . . . 
Perfect in every way . . .
What's the matter with kids today?

The answer actually comes at the end of the song, if you remember, where we are reminded that

"Nothing's the matter with kids . . . to . . . day!"

And Small Works' Monday-Funday-Show-and-Tell 
consists of another reminder,
which comes to us courtesy of Debra Price Agrums (from her blog Artisun)
and her fantastic art students at Whitney High School,
an academic magnet school in Cerritos, CA.

I've had two daughters study art at the college level but neither one was required to do anything involving fabric.  Thank goodness we have people like Debra planting seeds for the Future Fiber Artists of America, or we might well be a dying breed!

Because I don't know a lot of today's young girls who are spending hours on end with their elders learning the needle arts.  Do you?

And even more unheard of . . . drumroll . . .
Debra's got the boys sewing, too!

So without further ado, 
Here are Debra's students and their delightful Appliquilts

First up we have Kevin Ni:

 Kevin Ni

Detail, Kevin Ni

Look at that embroidered embellishment!
Sort of makes you reevaluate your position on teenage boys, doesn't it? 

Next we have a piece by Jenny Dai:

Jenny Dai

Detail, Jenny Dai

And to round out the bird category, we have Brittaney Lee:

Brittaney Lee

Detail, Brittany Lee

Here's a sweet piece by Kelsea Lee, encouraging us to "Reach Higher":

Kelsea Lee

Detail, Kelsea Lee

And then another (fun!) piece from a boy, Daniel An:

Daniel An

Here's a piece in beautiful colors by Hilary Chan:

Hilary Chan

And one with amazing detail by Ashlee Chang:

Ashlee Chang

Detail, Ashlee Chang

And our show and tell concludes with this beauty by Anne Guu:

Anne Guu

Detail, Anne Guu


I'm just blown away by the creativity, the attention to detail (did you notice those backgrounds were all hand-dyed?), and the workmanship.  You all deserve a round of applause and a Small Works Salute!  Keep up the amazing work, because we can't wait to see where you go with all your talents.

Now admit it . . . our week's off to a better start just knowing these kids are in the world.  (And under the tutelage of such a wonderful teacher!)

Despite the evidence I see at the Mall of America that might lead me to suspect the contrary, I think the song may have been right --

Nothing's the matter with kids . . . to . . . day!


If 2010 is chugging along at breakneck speed, it must be time for . . . . T.G.I.F.F.T!

I can't believe we've passed so many Fridays in the new year without a self-indulgent exploration of some Small Works Favorites.  

Hopefully, at this point you're thinking:
Thank Goodness it's (finally) Friday Favorites Time!

(Otherwise, we should find a new name for this particular series.  I could add an "S" to the mix, as in "Thank Goodness it's Susan's Friday Favorites Time, but somehow I feel there is something lost. And I hope that my favorites become some of your favorites, as well.)

Anyway, today I wanted to show you an artist I have long admired, although I know very little about her.  In fact, despite exhaustive internet searching, I've been unable to find any images of her work online.  She appears in two books in my needlework library.  I also came across one reference to an exhibit of her work in 2000, but there were no pictures posted.

So we will call her "Vanessa Blackmore, 
International Embroiderer of Mystery." 
(She's British, which I think qualifies her for the title.)

When I first came across her pieces, I was immediately drawn to them. I think there may be something in the fact that she makes small hand-stitched and embroidered pictures with words on them using re-purposed fabrics.

Her Passage Through the Trees, 17.5" x 19", Vanessa Blackmore

I love her combination of a loose working style in the main body of the piece (sort of a Janet Bolton vibe, but with more movement) with dense, intricately embroidered centers.

Then to top it off, she adds a delicate machine embroidered edging. So much eye candy in one small space!

It's a visually delicious box of variety chocolates, 
and I devour them all.

Of this piece, Ms. Blackmore writes:  "Thinking about an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme led to the idea of creating an image that would represent Alice's transition between the ordinary and dream worlds."

Regarding her choice to use recycled materials in her work, she explains:  "I use mostly scraps from clothes.  This is a deliberate act as I feel the work takes on an essence of the person who once wore the fabric, the fabric almost takes on a life of its own, attached to it are memories and feelings".

Vanessa Blackmore

The book in which I found this picture gives no titles, but this description:  "This picture incorporates embroidery, applique and crazy patchwork.  The colours are taken from nature and the natural theme is carried through to the 'frame' of leaves."

The other piece in the same book appears to perhaps be a work in progress, or it is possible she decided to leave the edges raw.

Vanessa Blackmore

It is described thus:  "This appliqued and embroidered panel is made up of tiny fabric pieces appliqued onto a background fabric, as in crazy patchwork.  Fabrics were chosen for their organic qualities."

I've written here before about how I long to be able to work with such a loose and fluid style; I'm beginning to suspect that it is never to be.  These bad photos of pieces from my very first dabblings in fabric pictures are probably the closest I've come.

In the Garden, 1995, 6" x 6", Susan M. Hinckley

Home Sweet Home, 1995, 6" x 6", Susan M. Hinckley

And it seems that my natural control-freakish nature has only
continued to solidify in the ensuing 15 years.

Oh well. I dream of a studio in which I would have a Janet Bolton and a Vanessa Blackmore hanging side by side to encourage me daily to explore my easier self.

Flowers from my Garden, Janet Bolton

I can dream, can't I? 


Some genius built a snowman at the dog park . . .


To me, it seemed like a bad idea from the moment I saw it.  But someone was swept up in the merriness of that Christmas snowstorm we had and failed to consider the February ramifications of their actions.  And of course it's still there.

A snow hydrant, perhaps.  Something more conceptual.  Then each time a dog lifted his leg to defile it we would at least be enjoying performance art.

But a snowman? For dogs?  Its whole bottom half  is just so . . . yellow.

In fact, it is now a gigantic pee-pee cube wearing a scarf.

Cooper regards it as sacred, of course, a rich and detailed tapestry of the many who have gone before him.  He pays his respects enthusiastically as well, but not until he's read the complete guest register since his last visit. 

Bill Watterson said:  "If you have the personalities down, you understand them and identify with them; you can stick them in any situation and have a pretty good idea of how they're going to respond. Then it's just a matter of sanding and polishing."

I would have thought that everyone at the dog park understood dogs.
And the dog park is in Minnesota, so we should certainly identify with the snowman psyche.

So maybe our definition of "bad idea" is just different. 

How does one know whether the idea one is kicking around is a GOOD idea


or a BAD one?

1) Well, it seems obvious, for starters, that 
if it sits on your brain-shelf it's not likely 
to generate a lot of success.

Nor is the cake mix in your pantry going to bake itself, frost itself, and serve itself to you on a TV tray.

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will each have one apple.  But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." George Bernard Shaw

And the more ideas the better, since it takes a lot of them to come up with a few good ones, right?

2) So a SHARED idea is probably better than one jealously kept. 

"Everyone who's ever taken a shower has an idea.  It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference."  Nolan Bushnell

An idea may look pretty, but you've got to stick a few pins in it before you can really see how it's going to hold up.

3) So DOING SOMETHING probably has an effect on the quality of an idea as well.  It's hard to refine something if you never get the raw materials out of the package.

I'm going to rearrange my position
on the dog park snowman a little.
I'm glad somebody decided to make SOMETHING
with all this never-melting snow.
And the dogs definitely thought it was a great idea.

But I would have liked it better if it were a hydrant. 
The snowman "sanded and polished" for its audience, so to speak.
But then again, I didn't do anything about it, did I? 

And sometimes a bad idea is just a bad idea. 
Is there anyone within the sound of my keyboard 
who thinks this hostess outfit has possibilities?



It's such a fine line between clever and stupid.

I hope everyone had a l-o-v-e-l-y weekend.

My valentine brought me home a large box of my favorite See's chocolates
when he returned from San Francisco late Friday.

The empty box went out with the trash this morning.
I'll let you draw your own conclusions . . . and feel free to judge.  My jeans are.

I, for one, am glad February 14 is over
because it means we can begin sledding the slippery slope that is the backside of February,

right on into the slim glimmer of hope that is March.
(But I'm going to keep my parka zipped until April, if you don't mind.)

Here at Small Works we strive to steer well clear of politics
(lest we offend our more delicate readers)

but today being President's Day,

George Washington, Andrew Johnson 1985

I thought it would be wholly appropriate to talk about a subject that is either loosely
or inextricably bound to it, depending on your position,
and that is LYING.

As in, your friends DO . . . your jeans DON'T.  

Although have you noticed that since they started putting stretchy stuff in every pair of jeans they make, it's getting a little harder to feel bad about yourself because they're so stretched out by the end of the day?  (And having just returned from spending a week with my parents and siblings, I could also add that "your GENES don't." Just a sidenote.)

The reason I was thinking about lying in conjunction with President's Day is that, although George Washington COULD NOT TELL A LIE,

your first grade teacher did when she taught you that story.

Which leads you to question the veracity of other things, of course.

There were times in school when I flat out knew what my teacher was telling me was wrong.

New Guinea, for instance, is NOT pronounced "New Gwin-ay-uh".  Duh.

Nor is the Danube the "Dan-you-bee." No surprise there.

And when Lindsay's Spanish teacher in Florida taught her class the "y'all" conjugation of the verb, I obviously had to do a little un-teaching later that night.

But there's a difference between malicious lying and stupidity 
(one of them is forgivable).

I would like to have a stern conversation, therefore, with the person who came up with and then sold the idea that technology would make our lives easier.

Because while I am posting this from my brand-spanking-new computer (at last!) there were plenty of little glitches connected with its setup.

We had to buy a new router, for one, because we eventually figured out that the wireless card was not compatible with the old one.  Which was fine -- except that now the other computer doesn't get the internet.  Hmmm.

And setting up the new router required two phone calls to tech support because the installation CD contained a bug.  Hmmm.

And since we seem to thrive on frustration, we also bought Russ a new netbook this weekend, and then went to the phone store to get a dandy little device that will let him take the internet wherever he goes.

Except in our own house. And the place he was trying to work today. (No broadband, which is the point of the device.)  Hmmm.  Back to the phone store. . .

While we were at the phone store (the first time), we realized Hannah was due for an upgrade and got her a cute and cool touch-screen phone, with which she was delighted.  Except that it would neither make nor receive calls.  The tech support people said it could take "anywhere from 2 to 48 hours to become active."  Hmmm.  

What they did not tell her was that she could wait 4800 hours and it wouldn't matter, since the SIM card was never activated.  Oops.

Good thing we have our own personal geek squad ready for any emergency!  (translation:  children born after 1985)

Although I'm afraid we've abused their services as of late.  Sorry.

We'll try not to buy anything that requires your help for awhile.

I'm truly sincere.
I don't want any technology that I can't fix by jiggling the antenna and adjusting the wad of tin foil a little.

(Will that be considered a lie if I call my daughter to come install the new Photoshop on my computer when it arrives later this week? Or will she think I'm just stupid?) 


If it's February 14, it must be time for some good old-fashioned poetry. And a pink sugar cookie. Okay . . . and chocolates.


And flowers too, of course . . . if you insist.

While I was visiting at their home, my parents were busily preparing for a little gathering they had planned to celebrate Valentine's Day.

The festivities were to include a poetry reading . . . A POETRY READING! . . . and every guest was instructed to bring a love poem to share with the group.

Surely that's something the current generation could use a little more of -- people getting together and reading poetry to each other.

Part of the reason I gave up writing poetry seriously (it was my first love and always my career intent) was that no one read it anymore.  And that was in 1982.

I had other plans the night of the party and therefore missed the actual event, although I heard that the results were perfect.  One guest wrote a love poem to his wife as a surprise and read it to the group (hardly a dry eye in the room) and many of the old standards were shared as well. One gentleman wrote a love poem to the airplane he had built himself.

For his selection, my father pored over his old books searching for just the right thing to share, and when he showed me his choice, I was simply delighted.

It was in a well-worn book of poems his mother had given him for his 8th birthday.  (I loved that tidbit of info as well, because not every mother gives every boy a book of poetry for his birthday.

So touching, to think of him reading it 
and thinking of my mother . . . 

He said he was hoping he could read it without crying.
And that thought, of course, made it difficult for ME to read it without crying.

So I brought home a copy to add it to my favorites.

And now it becomes my 
Small Works Valentine to You:

by Carol Haynes

Let us be guests in one another's house
With deferential "No" and courteous "Yes;"
Let us take care to hide our foolish moods
Behind a certain show of cheerfulness.

Let us avoid all sullen silences;
We should find fresh and sprightly things to say;
I must be fearful lest you find me dull,
And you must dread to bore me any way.

Let us knock gently at each other's heart,
Glad of a chance to look within -- and yet
Let us remember that to force one's way
Is the unpardoned breach of etiquette.

So shall I be hostess -- you, the host --
Until all need for entertainment ends;
We shall be lovers when the last door shuts,
But better still -- we shall be friends.

They have indeed had a splendid love affair, my mom and dad . . . one for the ages.
And how lucky we've been to be along for the ride.

Happy Valentine's Day.


Vacation . . . All I ever wanted . . . Vacation . . . Had to get away . . .

Still Winter!

I haven't 
missed it 
after all.

Unfortunately what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas . . .
it eventually flies home to Minnesota.

Because vacations end. 
But it was lovely while it lasted!

And soon I'll surely stop humming all these Four Seasons tunes,
a residual effect of being treated to "Jersey Boys" while I was there.

And I'll take a much needed break from guacamole.

And I will certainly be pleased to wear (to church on Sunday) my newly acquired
Ankle High Red Cowboy Boots With Peace-Sign Zippers

(a gift from my mother, although I suspect that if she had noticed the peace signs on them 
she would have been less eager to purchase them than she was -- 
surely her still-active "Hippie Detection/ Warning System" 
would have been on high alert.)

And I suppose I will also quit eating everything within my reach and then getting in the car to drive to the things that are slightly out of my reach.

And I'll be happy to be reunited with my snuggly parka.  
(No more irresponsible running around without being properly dressed!)

And yes, Jillian, I hear your gentle words of encouragement and will respond
with a workout SOON.

No, really.
I'm just busy . . . uh . . . unpacking.

And I'll not complain as I pull on my snowboots to take Cooper out for a walk

(actually more of a slog --  I'm afraid the weather here wasn't what it was there!)
through the mountains of fresh snow in the park.

And I'll even be glad to be home.

(Now we've come to a promise I can keep. 
But please don't hold me to the others.
Except the one about the red boots. 
This Sunday.  
You know . . . for Valentine's Day.
And because I'm trying to cultivate
a reputation for being 
"that eccentric lady" at church.
So far it's going well, btw.)

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