Portals Become a Series

Having the first “Portal” hanging on the design wall must have influenced the two pieces I started this summer. I meant to post weekly about my progress but got sidetracked as I worked toward a deadline for a Fiber Artists Coalition exhibit entitled “Wabi Sabi: Appreciation of the Imperfect.” which reflects the Japanese aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. I felt the “portal” was transient since it appears to float and this piece would be a good candidate to enter.  I set about working on additional pieces for the show.

I continue to gravitate toward greens, grays and browns.  Probably because that’s what I see living in the woods.  At some point I noticed doors and windows in the constructs. I didn’t consciously plan them; they just happened.  Thus, Portals became a series:

Portal #2 Through the Forest

Portal #2 Through the Forest 32″ x 25″

The next piece was more deliberate.  Two memories influenced the doorway and the branches obstructing entry: an abandon temple in a Balinese forest that has been taken over by monkeys, and the steps leading to a Mayan temple ruin.  I didn’t attempt to find my photographs since I was aiming for the feeling rather than a pictorial likeness.

Portal #3 Enigma  20" x 25"

Portal #3 Enigma 20″ x 25″

So now the first piece is renamed and also photographed with proper lighting.  All three will be exhibited together in Wabi Sabi.

Portal #1 Transition 21.5" x 22"

Portal #1 Transition 21.5″ x 22″

And now I will turn my attention to the Blue Door.  Another Portal.



Filed under abstract, Exhibits

Out on a Limb

Sometimes making a public declaration has helped me face a difficult task.  Getting my studio habit restarted has proved to be difficult for many reasons, one of which has been lack of enthusiasm for a concept. I’ve played a bit with color and while I love abstraction I still want to work with imagery.  I finished the binding and sleeve for a piece entitled “Portal” that I made well over a year ago and pinned it to the design wall. In studying it I got thinking about another piece “Doorway to the Future” that I made for the Mercy Education Foundation.  Both featured doorways.

Portal 72 dpiDoorway to the Future 72 dpi

Over the years I taken a lot of photos of doors, doorways and passages.  They interest me for many reasons.  A door can mean many things including entry, new beginning, mystery, opportunity.  It can be open, closed, locked. One series of photos that kept coming back to me was a blue door in Cotacachi Ecuador. I love the aged and worn appearance, the soft blue of the door and the contrast of the old nails and lock. So I will use this door as the subject of the next piece I start.  There are so many directions I can take with the composition.

DSCN2800 DSCN2801 DSCN2802Tomorrow starts a new year for me and I am determined to begin digging myself out of this hole. So I commit to work on this idea and to post my progress. I will try to post weekly to keep accountable to myself.


Filed under Uncategorized

April Accomplishments

Jenn's Mirror

My massage therapist is launching a life coaching practice and will use some videos in her sessions.  She had to mount a TV in the space and it looks very out of place in the surroundings.  So I made a piece to hang over it.  I used her chalkboard for color inspiration  but didn’t wish to compete with the images or the words so I kept to simple free-piecing.

What she has written on the chalkboard is interesting, particularly because I am going to try to make a piece fore an exhibit that is themed “Wabi Sabi”.

Jenn's quilt 72 dpi

I was the topic of a nice article in our regional weekly paper.  I was especially pleased the at the author did not resort to the tired phrase “not your granny’s quilts..” Northern Express 1 Northern Express 2Poppies Again 72 dpiCharlevoix area resident Kathie Briggs creates eyecatching landscapes and nature scenes, which is common for a northern Michigan artist. What’s more uncommon is that, instead of using oils, pastels or watercolors, Briggs’ medium is fabric and thread.

“I paint with fabric because I’m fascinated by the visual and tactile texture of cloth that is further enhanced by the impression made by the stitch,” she explains. “I enjoy combining my own hand-dyed and painted fabric with a wide variety of commercial fabrics.”

Growing up in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Briggs was exposed to art at an early age.

“My grandparents sent me to the Detroit Institute of Art for classes when I was really young, probably six or eight years old,” she recalls. “I just always enjoyed doing art.”

After earning her degree at Western Michigan University, she opted for a practical vocation and taught computer science. Briggs had a long and varied professional career before retiring to northern Michigan in 2001, making her full time in a region she had grown to love while spending childhood summers at Arbutus Beach on Otsego Lake, south of Gaylord.


I have always loved working with fabric. For many years I sewed artsy clothing and home decoration projects. About 25 years ago, I became fascinated with fiber art dolls. I created original art dolls and taught doll making at a quilt shop. Through the shop, I discovered artists creating paintings from fabric, employing some of the techniques used by quilters. I was hooked.


My studio is tucked in the woods and overlooks a small lake between Charlevoix and Ellsworth. No surprise that I find much of my inspiration in the ever-changing seasons and shifting colors of the surrounding woods and fields. The landscape, as well as the abundant northern Michigan wildlife, supplies endless opportunities for study and interpretation.


The portrait of my dogs, Charlie and Annie. The Jordan River Art Center had a Dog and Pony Show a few years ago. I was hesitant to try because black dogs are hard to depict, but I succeeded, and everyone who sees the pictures knows which dog is which, and both pieces are included in the recent book “1000 Dog Portraits.”


I can write with a sewing machine, and I once coached a men’s intramural football team for two years in college. I took a class in coaching football at Western. This was back in the ‘60s and a men’s team asked me to coach them. We made it to the semi-finals the first year with a bunch of freshmen. I come from a football family. My grandfather was Gus Dorais (former Notre Dame All-American quarterback and long-time coach at the University of Detroit. Dorais also coached the Detroit Lions during World War II.) My grandpa would be proud!


It’s really hard to narrow it down to one artist, but if I have to choose one, it would be Renoir for many reasons. He said ‘For me, a picture be a pleasant thing, joyous and pretty — yes, pretty. There are too many unpleasant things in life for us to fabricate still more.’ I pasted this in the front of my sketchbook.


Inspiration usually comes from doing the work, rather than before it.


At the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey, the Charlevoix Circle of Arts, Round Lake Gallery in Charlevoix and at http://www.kathiebriggs.com.

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Filed under abstract, free-piecing, Published

“The 100” – Winter Solstice

FFAC2015logoThis year 100 fiber artists were asked to create artwork that will be given to the first 100 donors who pledge $100 to the American Cancer Society through Fiberart For A Cause.  This goal of $10,000 will bring the total raised by Fiberart For A Cause to a quarter million dollars.  The fundraiser begins on February 4, 2015.  Details can be found of the Fiberart For A Cause website.

“Winter Solstice” was created specifically for this Fiberart For A Cause fundraiser.

Winter Solstice 12" x 15"

Winter Solstice 12″ x 15″

Winter is a time for nature to rest in anticipation of new growth in spring. The winter solstice marks the change from the days becoming shorter to the days becoming longer again. It can be a time of monochromatic landscapes that invite reflection.


You can see many more of the donated artworks on a special Pinterest Board.


Filed under abstract, free-piecing

Holiday Market and “The 100”

CTCA Holiday display 2014The Holiday Gift Market is open at the Crooked Tree Art Center in Petoskey, Michigan.  The format is different this year.  Rather than galleries set up like the usual holiday craft shop, the gallery artists were invited to participate and our “gift” items are displayed along with our gallery art.  I will not claim credit, however for the large ceramic vases but I think they look good with the quilts.

“Salvage-Selvage” an exhibit by the Fiber Artists Coalition opened at the art center this past weekend and I will get to the Crooked Tree again soon to take photos to share with you.

I have moved my sewing machine, cutting table, etc and some of my supplies from my studio to the house for the winter. I have winterized the studio so I don’t have to heat the building but I can still get access to supplies (wearing a coat, hat & gloves).  And with the sewing machine set up in the den its not as big a commitment to spend a little time sewing.

I am pleased to be an invited artist for “The 100” to be held on Wednesday, February 4, 2015. The goal for this fiber fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is to raise $10,000 in one day.

How? All the details are here: 


I have been making small constructs that might, or might not, be used in a new piece I am making specifically for this event.

small constructs

Quite a contrast between the brights and the neutrals.  The neutrals reflect how I feel right now and the brights project how I want to feel again.


Filed under Uncategorized

Baby Steps

I am finally spending a little time in the studio, sewing strips together then cutting them up and recombining.  Free-piecing, so to speak. Its therapeutic.  I am working from my scrap boxes.  I don’t feel like cutting into yardage and it feels right to be working with the leftovers from other endeavors.

My choices tend toward darker shades.  Not surprising.  I will just continue. I have lots of scraps. This little piece represents my first baby steps back toward making art.

darkness 72 dip


Filed under Uncategorized

The Last Gift

On May 30 my husband and I celebrated out 39th anniversary.  We decided against gifts since we had just purchased a house in North Carolina and we had our hands full getting our Michigan house ready to sell.  We’d be celebrating our 40th in a new house. We went out for a nice dinner and its a memory I will always cherish.  Bill died suddenly 12 days later.

Bill’s funeral is this Saturday, on his birthday.  Family and friends are coming from out of town.  Its going to be a bitter-sweet weekend for me seeing all of them.

After our parents died we discussed our funeral arrangements and agreed that neither of us wanted simple services and no fancy urns but when I picked up Bill’s ashes a few days ago I saw how tacky the box was.   I knew right away that I had to make a fabric box to cover it.


So for the first time in 6 weeks I picked up fabric and scissors and began to work.  Years ago I made embroidered fabric boxes and I pretty much remembered the process. I had a nice piece of white dupioni silk for the base fabric and for each of the four sides I designed a simple motif representing one of the four seasons here at the lake. Bill loved nature and the gorgeous setting we’ve lived in and I wanted to honor that. I finished last night and I realized that while I was working on this one last gift for Bill that I started to feel a little alive again.


People start arriving tonight so I need to get ready for that now but I feel I have accomplished something and perhaps I will find some solace in working again.



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