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18 Sep 2006


We enjoyed beautiful, Indian summer weather this past weekend, and I took a photo break Sunday afternoon to capture some images of my bucolic little town where I work and live: Stow, Massachusetts.


When mishaps from the Big Dig aren't backing things up (which is kind of a rare event these days), Stow is a mere forty-minute ride from Boston.  You'd never guess it's so close by the looks of it. We're one of Boston's best kept secrets.  (Pictures below taken at "Little Farm.")



Stow's home to a state forest, a river, two traffic lights, five golf courses, a handful of farm stands, a couple of cool magazines, and three apple orchards.


On weekends, our streets are teeming with motorcycles and minivans as friends and families hail from New Hampshire to New Haven to come apple picking. Just listen to the names of some of the locally grown varieties: Russett, Golden Delicious, Vista Bella, Red Rome, Early Mac, Paula Red, Jonagold, Macoun, Ginger Gold, Red Delicious, Crab, Empire, Northern Spy, Winesap.



Meet Luther, a fifteen-year-old Golden who keeps busy as the "watch dog" at Carver Hill Orchards.

On Sunday, my husband and I stopped at Carver for a small basket of Cortlands and a bag of fresh peaches. When we returned home I brought some art supplies outside to our garden table, promptly plucked four apples from the basket, and sliced them in half---not for eating but for art-ing, of course.



Do you remember making apple prints as a kid? I do! That afternoon I spent a fun- and sun-filled hour transfer-dyeing and hand-dyeing apple prints onto Lutradur, muslin, Lokta paper, paper towels, and coffee filters. (The image below is a transfer-dyed coffee filter that I later stitched .)


Symmetrical, tart, curvaceous, ancient, crisp, and rich with meaning, the apple presents itself as a wonderful form to celebrate with paint and stitch (and I'll certainly be exploring and playing with it while I'm cooped up during the winter months).

I ask you: Is there an image, symbol, motif, or theme  that has you running for your sketchpad and/or needle?  Have you created a series? Would love to hear about what you've done and if you have a link, please share.

Soon I'll be posting a prelimimary schedule for the workshops for Make it University in Houston this fall.  (And I'll be teaching a sampler workshop where we'll be playing with a variety of coloring agents, papers, stabilizers, and stamping with what else? You guessed it!)

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Elin wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 7:30 AM
I have several weird, random themes that keep showing themselves in my work - birds, fish, martinis, pears, sky scrapers, skeletons and the Virgin Mary. Lately it's hands. Here's a link to some of the hand pieces (the first six thumbnails)... Elin
Jody wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 8:09 AM
Dragonflies seem to be my image of choice. I have a few dragonfly rubber stamps and use them in almost everything I do. I like how dragonflies are irridesent and there are so many ways to duplicate that with rubber stamping. With Twinkling H2Os, PearlEx, Perfect Pearls, and glitter. My favorite technique is to stamp the dragonfly with VersaMark and sprinkle with different colors of PearlEx or Perfect Pearls and brush it around the stamped image with a small soft brush. This makes a great back ground or tear out the image and layer.
Barbara McCaffrey wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 11:18 AM
Having just driven through Stow last week, I really loved your blog on apples. Right now my theme is Crows. They are all around me in our rowan trees eating the berries and getting pretty loopy! I'm stamping and drawing onto all kinds of paper, fabrics and yes, coffee filters. It's fascinating to watch them interact with each other.
Sandy Jandik wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 1:41 PM
The picture of the paint covered apples is wonderful. I have a fruit salad for lunch most days. My recurring theme is leaves-big surprise living in the woods. It is nice to live near a small town. We don't even have l stop light yet.
Kelli Perkins wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 2:49 PM
Great tips and ideas! I am actually teaching potato printing to my arts council class in a few weeks. Maybe we'll slip in some other fruits and veggies. We'll be making wrapping paper for holiday gifts. As for my symbol...EGGS! Giggle. But I can't figure out how to print with them, they keep breaking, LOL.
Chris wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 6:08 PM
I have several face images I have been using in a lot of my recent work. I used one to create the focal point of my fiberart postcard which I'll be sending to Virginia Speigel for her fundraiser 'Fiberart for a Cause'. We live in central Wisconsin, also home to many apple orchards! The local farmer's market is brimming with a great selection of varieties.
Mary Wiggins wrote
on 19 Sep 2006 7:26 PM
I have this thing with stars. Uneven pointy child-like stars. Remember when you first figured out how to draw a star? And keys--key to my heart, key that locked the box of secrets, keys to happiness, a key to a door that leads to a [you pick a place]. Eggs. I just love the way an egg feels in my hand.
Lynda Thompson wrote
on 20 Sep 2006 11:43 AM
Thanks for your article. Brings back memories of 28 years ago when I lived in Leominster, MA - home of Johnny Appleseed. Belonging in clubs and challenge groups you tend to create series. I created series of star postcards, and bird postcards a couple of months ago. I mailed them out to individuals in swaps, but I have links to them in my postcard gallery: I do intend on doing more series on my own. I guess with my love of flowers and roses, that is just an ongoing series for me. Lynda
Lorri Chambers wrote
on 20 Sep 2006 8:15 PM
I am so sorry to hear about your father...My main concentration has been trying to do handwork in quilts 3-d style and applique. I spent the summer with my husband in Durham NC (we live on the Outer Banks) while he underwent treatment for lung cancer at Duke Hospital the morris clinics. I have wanted to work on my fiber arts as it was something that was mobile and passionate..I own a Bead Store presently mobile because of his illness...and when I would see someone who needed a pick me up in the treatment rooms I would give them one of my small quilts.I also made a 40x40 art quilt for the Caring house where we stayed for them to auction to raise money.It is a non-profit place where people can stay while receiving treatments. We will find out how things are healing October 31.
Jane LaFazio wrote
on 21 Sep 2006 10:20 AM
Tree of Life. Watercolor, mixed media, art quilts, painted quilts. Tree of Life.
Sandra Spagnuolo wrote
on 21 Sep 2006 12:07 PM
For the past few years a recurring theme in my work has been trees. First funky, sewn paper trees and hand dyed Xmas trees, but recently I spent a week as an artist in residence at a local conservation area and I've found my interest has become more detailed, bark,leaves,etc. rendered in fibre on fabric. Now that winter is approaching again I have been working on beaded trees on canvas. It has taken me awhile to post a blog but I think I've got it! Thanks for keeping us up to date and inspired. Have a great day. Sandra
Deb Hardman wrote
on 22 Sep 2006 4:13 AM
You know, if you slice the apple in half horizontally instead of vertically, you get a nice little star shape in the middle of a circle.
jaihn wrote
on 22 Sep 2006 10:26 AM
Hallo - I just read your news of the loss of your father, and send my best wishes to you. My dear Dad died in February this year, too. I found that my blog at the time ('truly playroom') really helped me along, too. Posting some of his beautiful photos, and my memories, and receiving lovely supportive comments there, as you have done here, was all good. I have a new blog now, ('truly spacious') of all kinds of creativities, and a website ('spaciouscraft'), mainly of my stitching work, now. All accessible via my name link, below! Please do drop over. I'd love to receive more visitors! You ask here about catalystic and recurrent images/themes/symbols/motifs (what a great quartet that is!). Mine include: Circles, squares, Leaves, Trees, Snowflakes, and many aspects/qualites of Nature. Butterflies and Crows are longtime deep favourites too, though I haven't stitched as much as photographed, or painted, them. Thank you for all your great work. The apple prints are delightful.
Tammy wrote
on 22 Sep 2006 6:31 PM
Trees, Trees & Trees. I've been working on tree dolls for a while & next up is a quilt that I have been working on for years - then somehow incorporate them into fabric jewelry. If you're near southern NH next weekend, I'll be in a local studio tour - come and see my quilted tree dolls: A sneak preview can be seen at my site:
Adriana Zobel wrote
on 24 Sep 2006 12:45 PM
Dyeing materials such as fabric, lace, paper, cheese cloth, and yarns has become my new obsession. I love to find new techniques and try them all. As I cut into the fabric I love to see what it can become.
Nici Derosier wrote
on 27 Sep 2006 5:43 PM
I never really considered what my recurring themes or personal petroglyphs might be! Looking through my work, I am seeing lots of leaves, leaves and more leaves, usually curling off of vines and wild curlycues. I must say, too, your apple-snapshots inspired me; I know we have some nice orchards here in CT as well, and I plan to take my boys to one soon! My heart goes out to you for the loss of your dad; we recently lost my FIL to asbestosis. There is nothing more unfair and difficult than such a departure. Blessings on your family.
Jennifer Henley wrote
on 28 Sep 2006 3:57 AM
Hi As an absolute beginner at aged 59 I want to say how inspirational I find Coth Paper Scissors. I discovered the magazine on a trip to the US last May -- am now a subscriber from here in the UK. The magazine is just what I need to kick start my creativity now that I have, at last, the time and space to do something. It would be nice to have some articles on techniques for beginners. Thank you. Jennifer Henley London, UK
Karen Mason wrote
on 29 Sep 2006 9:40 PM
Trees and leaves are the reoccurring themes in my work. I am new to art quilting after working hard to perfect my 1/4" seams in the traditional form. I am also very intrigued by labyrnths.
kelly snelling wrote
on 3 Oct 2006 3:58 PM
the cut apple prints are gorgeous. the apples themselves covered with paint are so vibrant and lovely. i frequently work in a series with a theme or icon. recently i made a series of collagraph prints for seven ATCs. the print was taken from another ATC i did last year. it was my first beeswax experiement. it is a man traveling through a set of arms. it symbolizes passes through from this world to the next. here's the link to see the seven collagraph atcs: if you look at this link, you will see the original from which the elements were taken: if you like them, give a shout in the guest book. thanks! kelly
Sue Cook wrote
on 29 Nov 2006 10:49 AM
Houston seems long ago, and I'm just getting to your blog today. Instead of being one of the first five to answer your question about inspiration, I'll be on of the last five. After wandering through all the quilts and booths, looking at some really fabulous and beautiful pieces of art, I found myself coming home to the one piece that continues to inspire me. I created a piece two years ago, during a difficult period in my life: divorcing, my Mom's death, quitting a 15 year job, moving to another state....all within about a 4 month period. During that transitional stage, I started cutting, glueing, stitching, and I'm finding that each time I look at that piece, I cry a little again, marvel at the emotions it evokes in me, and find myself wanting to do even more! Despite being very busy with my new and wonderful life, I'm able to find enough time to buy more "stuff" and create something new. As this is a new venture for me, I find it hard to call what I do art, but it's certainly fulfilling, and at my age (nearing 65 very rapicly), that's a huge benefit! To all who wonder what you'll do when you retire from the real world's job.....start putting together "stuff" and enjoy your life! It's wonderful!