In praise of snack time.

I read a rather stinging indictment 
of blogging the other day . . .  It was an author being interviewed about something else, but she happened to slip her opinion on blogs in there, saying something about how blogs are like fast food, empty intellectual calories devoid of substance, and after she reads them she always feels unfulfilled and slightly remorseful for wasting her time.


I have found, on the other hand, that my blog has been a useful tool for stimulating my brain, a handy vehicle for my art, and indispensable for bringing me new friends far outside my usual circle.  And the blogs I read are a never-ending source or inspiration, smiles, and general good feelings.

Blogs are a sort of "mental cookies" I suppose, but I love cookies of all kinds and would never wish to live in a world without them.

I have met several pen-pals through my blog, one of whom I became acquainted with after she wrote a post about my work. At the time (2 years ago)  I said this about it:

One of my happiest surprises lately came in the form of a new friend.  Julia (who is Russian but now residing in Canada), featured my work in a long and lovely post on her blog that I was delighted to have stumbled upon last week.  After I figured out that the language was Russian, I figured out that Google translator could "fix" it for me (Julia has since sent me a much better translation, but I learned that Google translator could have tremendous entertainment applications!  In fact, it might be run by the same people who are in charge of closed captioning). 

Julia, who is now once again living in Russia, 
sent me a surprise package the other day!

Just the box was an intriguing visual treat:

then there was the delightful card -- the writing on the envelope tells you everything about why I find Julia to be such a breath of fresh air:

and inside, two treats:

Julia creates whimsical, finely crafted crocheted characters, and I now have one happily living in the studio!

There was also a gorgeous book on Russian folk painting, a favorite style of mine, 
chock full of amazing eye-candy (although alas, I cannot understand a single word)

Such kindness from someone whose path I would otherwise never have crossed!  (I think perhaps the author I read the quote from is not running in the right blogging circles.)

Then yesterday, I found that I had received a blog award from my dear blog-buddy Leenie at perennial favorite, Side Trips.

The Leibster Blog award apparently originates in Germany, and means "dearest" or "beloved" -- such a kindness and an honor to be on Leenie's list with some of MY favorite bloggers!  Such a kindness and an honor to have Leenie as a reader, actually . . . as well as every one of you.

Thank you for every minute 
you have ever spent at Small Works.  

It is greatly appreciated, and if you have never actually said hello (lurkers, you know who you are!) please make yourself known.  Getting to know you, after all, is what makes it worthwhile. 

Together we can prove the blog-naysayers of the world wrong . . .

All the while enjoying a few delicious mental cookies 
from the blogosphere's seemingly endless supply.

Happy Tuesday! 




Sunday Scribble.


Red Spot II, Wassily Kandinsky


don't try to understand it
even if I did
I could not explain it to you
it tastes good, feels
easy going down
why peel back the casing
and poke at what's inside
call it our ink blot
whatever works for you
and let's go on



Must be time for The Mag . . .
 click on the link and hop on board!


Hello again, you . . .

So my favorite girl is back in the studio, 
having leaped from her usual sphere to land upright on my desk where she can quite literally wave her flower at me as if wagging a finger.  She has, as usual, words of advice,  and probably hopes I will apply them liberally in all the places where my life feels like it is pinching a bit and needs to stretch . . .

All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.

-- Henry Miller

Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure 
nor this thing nor that, 
but simply growth.  We are happy 
when we are growing.

-- William Butler Yeats

Love dies only when growth stops.

-- Pearl S. Buck

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.

-- Mortimer Adler

Growth, in some curious way, I suspect, depends on always being in motion just a bit, one way or another.

-- Norman Mailer

Only in growth, reform, and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.

-- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Thanks, friend. 
I have missed you, and I needed that.

Happy Thursday!



n'allez pas trop vite . . .

OR --

in the language of Simon & Garfunkel:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last...

Not that I'm not pleased in SO MANY WAYS when the winter months speed by, but lately it seems that the world is spinning at a dizzying rate, which has everything to do, I am sure, with a looming deadline.

(Although my father recently said something to the effect that the nearer he gets to 80, the weekends seem to come so quickly that soon he expects his life to be a series of Sundays with no weeks in between at all.  But then he suspects that has something to do with a looming deadline as well.)

So it could also be a function of age I suppose, but at any rate today seems like a good day to be reminded to slow down and smell a rose or two (or perhaps savor the diet coke a little...)

Which brings me to the point --
I've been reading something really wonderful:

How Proust Can Change Your Life,  by Alain de Botton

Santa hit it out of the park with this gift!  Although I was an English major, I am unfortunately not well-acquainted with Proust -- a situation which will be rectified after I have finished this.  And it is one of the most delightful surprises of a little book!  One of the reviewers described it as "seriously cheeky...cheekily serious", a type of writing that has tremendous appeal to me.

I recommend it to one and all -- regardless of your previous relationship (or lack of one) with Proust.

Marcel Proust

In one passage, a young diplomat named Harold Nicolson recounts meeting Proust at a party in 1919.  Proust asked him questions about his work --

"Will I please tell him how the Committees work. I say, 'Well, we generally meet at 10:00, there are secretaries behind...'

[after which Proust interrupts him with a string of french -- which I'm delighted to say I could understand -- begging him to slow down and begin again. Roughly translated: 'You go to the building, you climb the stairs, you enter the room... and then?  Tell me everything....']

'So I tell him everything.  The sham cordiality of it all: the handshakes: the maps: the rustle of papers: the tea in the next room: the macaroons.  He listens enthralled, interrupting from time to time -- n'allez pas trop vite.'"

The author of the book continues:  

"And an advantage of not going by too fast is that the world has a chance of becoming more interesting in the process.  For Nicolson, an early morning that had been summed up by the terse statement "Well we generally meet at 10:00" had been expanded to reveal handshakes and maps, rustling papers and macaroons -- the macaroon acting as a useful symbol, in its seductive sweetness, of what gets noticed when we don't go by trop vite."

My stitching is so slow, but -- alas --  
my mind continues to go so fast . . .

Perhaps if I were to enjoy a mental macaroon or two along the way, 
it would improve not only the process but eventually the product as well. 

A perfect reminder for a too-hurried Tuesday.  

Pass the cookies, please.



Sunday Scribble




too many textures
chafe this tender shell

and even the softest
cords will cut
when tightly wound

sometimes world
I wish to say
stop touching me
in all my softest places

-- smh

A little Sunday-something for The Mag.  

Now pop over and add your own words to the mix . . .



Hello, my friend Friday!

You know, people never cease to amaze me with their kindness.  A lovely blog post featuring an interview with yours truly came my way yesterday, and it was enough to make me feel warm all over, despite our first real blast of Minnesota winter.  You can see/read it here.
Thanks, Nestle and Soar!

I've been very busy this week -- actually on task for a change! -- and it has felt good.  Some day I'm probably going to stop my procrastinating ways and be ready for a show in advance . . .

but please don't hold your breath.  Just know that when the calendar turns over to February, the wail you hear will be from my studio.  Because everything that should have been done in November is still sitting around tapping its foot and waiting for my attention.  Oh well -- I've never missed a deadline yet.  (Keep telling yourself that, Susan!)

One of the things screaming for my attention is getting my profile uploaded to the new TAFA website, which launched this week.

Rachel Biel has created something amazing in TAFA, and we owe her a debt of gratitude.  I hope you'll all stop by and visit, and keep coming back (because new profiles from slowpokes such as myself will keep appearing every day.) Thanks, Rachel!

So, as many of you know,   it sorta sucks being an artist in today's economy.  Yes, there may be more poetic ways to express that, but we'll call it what it is -- sucky.  I had just figured out the whole game when suddenly the game changed, and I (being somewhat more averse to change than most) was reluctant to do anything to adapt.  That was okay for awhile, because my art was not my livelihood, so I had the luxury of just going along my merry way.  HOWEVER...

Now it's becoming clear that we have not hit just a small pothole in our industry, but a completely different road altogether --

and it doesn't look like we'll be returning to our previous path anytime soon.  So I'm looking to incorporate a little something new for Baltimore.

I've tried a few alternatives along the way (the collages, for instance) but with the ACC shows the jurying parameters are so strict that I'm very limited in how much I can deviate from my usual work.

So I have been formulating a plan,

and today I will give you a hint:


She's so sweet, I'd almost like to eat her up . . . but she's not the finished product!  You'll have to stay tuned for that.  Or better yet, come to Baltimore yourself!  I promise that even if my work disappoints, you'll have hundreds of exceptional artists that will make you ooooh and aaaah and wonder why you waited so long to see this show...

For now, sending you 
warm wishes for a 
wonderful weekend!  

(full of alliteration, obviously... 
but also whatever makes a weekend just perfect for YOU.)



Tuesday Ta-Da!

My New Mexico Magazine arrived this week, and it was the photo issue.  Just the thing for this winter-weary Minnesotan's eyes.  My favorite image was the one they selected for the cover, (although it didn't scan very well for some reason)...

Ship Rock Following a Storm, Bob Ayre

This photo shows everything I love about NM, minus the food, but that's okay -- I can imagine myself walking along with a basket of sopaipillas/green chiles/guacamole and being completely blissful.

That's the feeling I was thinking about when I decided to make this piece:

Don't Fence Me In (working title), Susan M. Hinckley, 2012, 7.25 x 9.75"

For some reason, this little creation fought me every step of the way!  I felt like I'd just competed in a stitching rodeo of some kind by the time I finally put the backing on.

Hannah saw the finished product last night and said, "I love the pink cloud!  She's in New Mexico!"  I knew I raised her right -- a girl after my own heart.

My Kind of Town, Susan M. Hinckley, 2005

When I made my first cowboy piece years ago, I had many people comment that they wish it had been a cowgirl instead.  Being my feminist self, I couldn't believe I didn't think of that! But I've wanted to remake it ever since, and now I finally have.  She's not saying anything, but the tune she's whistling will be evident on the piece of 1944 sheet music that will be in the frame with her.  It is, of course, "Don't Fence Me In", and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival in the mail.  I hope it is in good condition, the paper is a good color, it looks right with the piece, etc. etc. etc. I have a feeling she's not done bucking yet -- fingers crossed!

Whew!  One down, and so many more to finish before the big show!


Back to work, Susan....

Happy Tuesday Trails to You!

[You know, it just this moment occurs to me that I fully intended to give the horse in this piece spots....cover your ears, kiddies.... SHE'S GONNA SWEAR LIKE A COWBOY!]

Later, back at the ranch . . .

Tuesday Ta Da . . . Part Two.

So we all know that creating things by hand is a messy and imperfect process -- emphasis on the process.  If you want someone to remember the spots ALL the time, hire a machine, right?  But I don't think I've ever had to remove the backing/mounting board from a piece in order to keep stitching on it.  Good heavens.  Chalk it up to one of those cases of looking at something for so long that you stop seeing it.  That's the danger with really slow work.  I had to start cleaning up my desk and unearth my original drawing, and THEN find the pile of spots I had cut out to play with (2 weeks ago) to remember my original intent.  And I'm glad I did: 

Aha . . . that's more like it.

What's the point of being friends if we can't share our mistakes and imperfections? Now:

Happy Tuesday (whatever's left of it) Trails to You! 2.0

ps.  look what arrived in the mail:

mint condition.....yeehaw!!  



Sunday Scribble.



So deep underwater
heart weighted to keep me
lost in you
I hear your muffled sounds, feel
your call from far away
your shape, a trick of light
and I can only hope you see
my siren bubbles
hear their song breaking
your surface, a reminder
that I am here beneath you

-- smh

[sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor]

Magpie Tales turns 100!  

(Thanks, Tess, for all the inspiration.) 

Now... Stop by and join the celebration for yourself!




Always a pleasure 
to find oneself in good company . . .

and I had just that kind of luck earlier this week when I was fortunate
to be included in Nestle and Soar's "Top Ten Tuesday" collection.

The piece Georgianne featured is my painting, "And Your Bird Can Sing".  I hope you'll check out her blog -- it's lovely to look at, interesting and informative . . . and her wool work is wonderful! 

In other news....

Chelsea came over last night and helped me make my new card for 2012, in preparation for the upcoming Baltimore extravaganza.  Last year's card caused me no end of difficulty, because although it was an attractive image, I received the feedback over and over that it was not truly representative of my work.  I knew I'd made a mistake with it after the first show.  So I tried to be more careful with my selection this year.  I can't wait to see the finished cards when they arrived -- went with a nice, oversized 5 x 7.  Here's a preview, front and back:

(If THAT card doesn't say Susan M. Hinckley, I'm at a loss for what to try next.)

And lastly...
I truly hoped to have a new piece finished to show you today, but due to a VERY unruly cactus, as well as a host of technical difficulties (read: piece from hell) it is not yet finished.

Alas and alack. Seriously.

However -- it will be ready for a Monday reveal!  
You have that promise in writing.  (Please hold me to it.)

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep . . .

-- Robert Frost

(Yup.  Working weekend.)

Happy Friday!



Show and Tell......well...sorta.

One of the nice things . . .

. . . about getting the holiday clutter put away is that it gives me a chance to better appreciate my familiar old things.

We like each other much more after a few weeks apart.  By the time December rolls around and we've been staring at each other all year, unfortunately it seems we hardly notice each other anymore.

This, for instance, is one of my most prized possessions:

Desert Bloom, Robert Daughters, 34 x 24, hand-pulled serigraph of 27 colors

It lives in my dining room, where I pass it 100 times per day.  But eventually I stop seeing it.  Despite its imposing size.  And despite the fact that it has so much of what I love -- movement, sky, amazing color, the desert. 

So I have spent the past few days apologizing to it and getting reacquainted -- giving it the notice it deserves -- and I think we're both happier as a result.

Which leads me back to last Friday's post, 
my Beauty Scavenger Hunt challenge.  

I often have pretty good ideas, but sometimes I don't think them through very well before I blurt them out, and it can get me in trouble.

I should have considered, for instance, before I issued the challenge, whether I would have the technology

to do it justice when I reported on it later.  It only took me about 3 seconds (after I hit publish, of course) to smack my head and remember that I can't take a decent photo to save my life.


I stewed about it all weekend, while simultaneously enjoying the search for the items I would like to include on my list, but had no idea what to do when Monday rolled around.

Then yesterday, the lovely Leenie at Side Trips  (unhampered by a lack of talent in any area)  posted her results in an ABSOLUTELY PERFECT array . . . I hope hope hope you will visit!  Her list is splendid, and it's difficult to choose which item of her collection I like best.

I am so glad she did it so very well.  Because now I feel much better about taking my own report another direction entirely...I'm much better at the TELL than at the SHOW, after all, so I decided to try to communicate my scavenger experience in words.

Yes, I know a picture is worth a thousand of them . . .

But the idea was for me to get in touch with 7 items of beauty, and I definitely did so! My list is contained in the following poem.  I'm only sorry I was not able to buy beautiful postcards to better share my experience with you, Dear Reader.  Please forgive me.

Scavenger of Beauty

no thanks is given
for what is left unseen
beauty un-grasped
un-savored, empty
eyes and hands, minds
that walk a straight line, look
ahead but not around
and fail to find a gift
along the way --

lines that trace their change
in sticks, in stems and branches, buds
a curl of hair, a wrinkle
at the corner of an eye
the song of a voice, its sound
or the silent hole it leaves
the color of light, spilling
weightless love on all it touches
words that bump and spin a dance
ideas, thoughts fleeting, minds that chase
the heart, its beating blur of movement
moon's blunt glow on ice
a drift, a graceful skiff of snow
clouds crossing sky, their mark of time
a crowd of anything, alive
and teeming with itself
our moment standing in this place
still, one breath between us

there for all if we will take them
to pocket, wonder, praise --
our thanks is in our notice
keep collecting


P.S. This just in -- best horoscope ever:

Gemini -- You're a sensual being.  As intellectual as you may be, you're always operating on another level, too, a level that is affected by things like color, warmth and music.  You'll gravitate toward beauty....

Hey, thanks, Ms. Fate!


Monday means....ALMOST 50 DEGREES??!!! See you in a bit -- I'm going ...um...out.

I'm having a bit of a hard time 
staying focused these days...

Usually, I'm able to maintain some semblance of discipline in my life

but so far this January, I'm feeling a bit like 
I really need someone to put an electronic collar on me 

and then sit me down at my desk and tell me to STAY.

No, no, no!!!  

Not like that..... that's where I WANT to be
(and with a good book, please.)

Well, while we're at it, this would be even better...

But I seem to be under the spell of something 
even more insidious than my usual post-holiday lazy stupor . . .

I'm going to blame 
Mother Nature.

It's a little disconcerting, the way she's toying with us...

Last January, I was writing about it being 46 degrees BELOW ZERO in our fair state.  This year, someone in MN saw a fly on their porch rail the other day.  It was ALIVE.  


In Minnesota!  

In January!

We're all a little confused, I think.  Maybe completely addled.

Human life itself may be 
almost pure chaos, 
but the work of the artist 
is to take these handfuls 
of confusion and disparate things, 
things that seem 
to be irreconcilable, 
and put them together in a frame 
to give them some kind 
of shape and meaning.

-- Katherine Anne Porter 

I love you, Katherine Anne Porter -- you are one of my favorite writers EVER, and you are exactly right again! 

The work of THIS artist, at least, is to take these handfuls of wooly, thready, un-stitched snips of confused nothingness and put them together, and THEN put them in a frame and hope they have some kind of shape and meaning.  

And do it before Baltimore, 
which is mere weeks away.  

Weeks!  EEK.

If anyone sees me move from my desk, will you please push the button on that collar?  Just a little twinge should do it.  Actually, do the same if you see me going after a piece of cake.  

Thank you!  
(You are true friends.)

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