Thursday, December 13, 2007

I know it's about time that I am finally getting to this task. We have been mildly usual since our return from Houston. We were home for a week and Al and I were lucky enough to be invited to a Bernina Teachers Retreat at their headquarters outside of Chicago. We were all (20) treated like royalty...everyone extremely grateful to be somewhere without piles of class kits, product, catalog sheets etc...just show up and learn about presser feet, needles and machine embroidery. Pictured above and taking a break from embroidered butterflies, is Allison with Rose DeBoer and Barb Sunderlage from Quilters Resource.

There was quite a range of talent present...pattern and clothing makers, beaders, machine quilting queens...applique, embroidery, cut work, on and on were the skills of this group. What's not to like about top of the line sewing machines, good teachers, lots of presents, snacks every two hours and lots of laughs??!!

Al and I went right from Bernina to a post Bar Mitzvah party just north of Chicago. It was with great pleasure that we surprised old friends and the grandparents of the Bar Mitzvah Boy, Ed and Shirlee Schwarz. It was a bounus to run into Shirlee right in the hotel lobby. It was a great ending to the weekend...sharing stories, meeting the other grandchildren, seeing Caroline and Tommy, good food and lots of laughs!

The morning after coming home from the Bernina festivities, I checked out our new studio space...the only thing that was in here was a little table with our loaner Bernina...I had to take this photo with the sun beams shining on the machine!!
Al was home for one day and then took off for LA with Midge to visit Midge's daughter for Thanksgiving.

Sue and I had a very relaxing Thanksgiving. We went for a walk (it was almost 60 degrees), went out to dinner with her parents, tore down the inside of the screened in porch, preparing for windows and then started hauling goodies into the lovely empty studio space. It quickly became filled with chaotic piles of fabrics, yarns, buttons, stamps, inks, paints, beads, office stuff, sewing machines, threads, needles, paper etc that we have been moving around, throwing out, making give away piles, moving some more....

We have done nothing since...moving everything around and around, adding a new computer, organizing new office spaces for Al and I, while trying to run the business. I am so grateful for our employees!!!!!! Below is the same pink space shown in the sewing machine picture above. Everyday we's coming along...

So now, one more week of the Foundry Show for those of you in the Providence, RI area. My first born arrives next Monday for a visit...Artgirlz Holiday party on stamps to finish, other new goodies for CHA '08, preparing for Tuscon...hoping to have creative time very soon!

Stay calm, festive and grateful!!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This is what my life has felt like lately...We got back from The International Quilt Festival and Market in Houston last week and are still barely on the planet. I was the only one that managed to avoid a return home far anyway. Houston went well. Market was busy and a very good show for us. We met great new people...Tina Givens is clearly one that you would like to have living on your street for coffee dates and fashion tips! Learned about "Sample Spree"...loved our bed and breakfast and happily watched the Red Sox play baseball!

We broke down our booth from Market...the wholesale portion of the program and taught a class that night. I hit the exhaustion wall the next morning, swearing that I wasn't going to teach anymore...I want to thank the women (seen above) that were in our house class that morning. They were all, willing, loving and competent individuals that helped me move thru that day!

Festival was very busy! I did this 3 hour Mixed Media thing with 12 or so other teacher types, each with their own table. 300 or so women came into the ball room and spread out and took seats in front of the tables...every twelve minutes the groups moved clockwise around the room, and we the teach types repeated our twelve minute show...15 times...whew...

We ran out of things every day and Midge moved what was left around our little store. The weekend brought a number of talented , smart girlz to our booth. They loved making things, knew what they liked and were very inspiring!
This is Katy Wiggins and she brought us three amazing little creatures. One of their dresses is the opening of a balloon.

Katy's mother Mary is quite the creature herself, and the mother of Cordelia...Now, Cordelia has her own blog and one of the dolls living here at Artgirlz World Headquarters insisted on going to Houston to live with Cordelia...I hope that she is happy. Anyway, thanks Katy for our great present!!! Keep up the good work!

Then there was Lizzie...she managed to make it into many many make and takes in the Mixed Media section of the show. She showed up on the weekend with her self modified jeans...cut below the knee with bright orange skirts stitched onto each leg...we were able to introduce her to Traci Bautista when she came by to say good-bye...she is another one with able hands and a bright mind.

Finally there was Linnea...I can't put my hands on our book that has the correct spelling of her name, but she was another one that warmed our hearts! I was wishing that we could get these lovely young ones together to play with materials and share their skills and teach them new things...She had saved her money to shop with us.
We set her up with a few extra goodies, introduced her to Pokey Bolton who came across with a free magazine! It was very inspiring to meet this young crew and we look forward to seeing them next year!!

We were exhausted by break down time...not to mention that the Patriots game was blocked in the Houston area.
Sue and Al took a little break and went to a sports bar to see it on the dish tv...We made it home safe and somewhat sound.

While we were gone we had two nice articles published. Bernina published an Artgirlz article in the recent "Through the Needle". It features directions for a cloth box that was made for us by Linda Willis. Thanks Linda!

Kalmbach Publishing just put out the Winter 2007 issue of "Make It Mine" and includes a bio and pics of some of our altered clothing. "Make it Mine will help you update your wardrobe and home with quick, simple projects. Embellish ready-made items, combine materials for new creations and get suggestions on how to make it from scratch with this new magazine."

Al and I are off to Chicago tomorrow to attend a Bernina Teachers Conference...we are looking forward to having time to sit at a machine and learn some new things!!

Stay calm!

Friday, October 19, 2007

It's a grey rain and warm day here in little rhody...Artgirlz Nation is in full swing with brains and fingers working overtime preparing for a trip to Connecticut this weekend and then onto Houston next Wednesday for a two week, whirlwind of selling, teaching, demonstrating, and catching up with quilting and mixed media buddies at the International Quilt Festival...The witches pictured above will be part of our doll class...which I understand is sold out. Our "Happy Home" class has lots of seats left if you are there and looking for something to do on Tuesday October 30th. Check out Quilting Arts and Pokey's blog for the Make It University schedule...Artgirlz will be offering three sessions...

There is so much going on that I can hardly think about it and how much I have to do before we head for the plane....but as usual, we get it done and when we get there, we just put one foot in front of the other....It is always exhausting, but extremely inspiring, invigorating and good for a lot of laughs and a few new treasures!!!

Friday, September 28, 2007

We have had the most beautiful weather this month. As it flew by my window, the temperature and moisture in the air were the perfect combination. It helped as the flurry and furry of building Artgirlz Nation continued on...jumping swiftly from one project to another trying not to freak out that Houston is less than a month and we've barely started...we have booths, demos, classes, and a slide show to pull together...not to mention product. So far, we have always managed to pull it all together.

On top of that, we have been moving everything out of one side of our basement to have a studio area constructed. Midge and Al seem to be working out a deal on their house so all of us will be moving everything we have around to combine and fit the very top favorite pieces of furniture, art, dishes from their life and ours to create one power house! The good news is that it is right next door! And then there is the garden. With the help of family and friends, last weekend we moved furniture, 20 yards of compost, trees, shrubs, perennials, rocks and of course the famous bathtub!!

So with infinite amounts of patience and strength, we will continue to look at and evaluate every piece of everything we have in our vast collections of everything and move them or get rid of them..and get ready for Houston, finish the article, learn how to use my fancy Bernina, decide on new product, watch football, and hope we have enough witch kits for the world!!!

better have some breakfast!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It is sunny and sort of chilly here in Rhode Island this morning and I have so much to do it is ridiculous. The last ten days were filled with travel, teaching, contracts and taping our big 3 minutes for tv...

September 7th and 8th turned out to be very hot as Al and I drove up to Topsfield, MA to teach three classes at AbsolutelyEverything. We had a great time checking out Kate's amazing collection of goodies for sale and interacting with a creative group of women that came to work with Artgirlz rubber stamps, wool felt kits and beads and charms. I love seeing what folks come up with during these classes. For example the piece above is created with two dresses stamped and put together...the top one upside down...Al told me to write the artists name so it was in the picture, so now I have to apologize once again that I don't remember her name...I can see her lovely self. The characters on the left were created by owner Kate herself...a very focused, fast acting student!!! Thanks for everything Kate!

We got home late Saturday after driving thru very scary thunder, lightening and rain. We had two days to prepare for a trip to Cleveland where we were going to do a short shoot for the new television program being put together by Quilting Arts. A few others have posted notices about their trips to the set and are linked thru Pokey's blog!

Prior to going we were trying to pick out the suggested black, no white, no dots, stripes, big prints...have long sleeves, a collar to hide the microphone...and finger nails...not to mention the project that was worthy of the amazing work that is consistently highlighted. Karen the make up artist started on my little head by plucking many stray hairs that make up my eyebrows. When she finished, I had more stuff on my face than I've had since high school musicals...We actually had a great time meeting up with other artists preparing for their segments, being nervous and glamorous...and doing our bit. Everyone was so supportive and encouraging...from makeup to the camera boys...Pokey was a pro by the time we arrived. You can check your local listing at should be up after Christmas...

We've been trying to figure out a way to do a show that allows a few swear words every now and then....

Back to work!!!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday morning and the window boxes really need water!

Wednesday afternoon we did our first live web radio chat on Diva Craft Lounge. To hear the broadcast check out their archives. Thanks Danielle and Rayme!

Al and I are off to Topsfield, MA to teach at AbsolutelyEverything tonight and tomorrow.

Trying to stay in the moment!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It is a beautiful day here and we are moving along with our tasks...had a relaxing weekend and spent some time with my wool beads and felting needle...see left image. Also last week received photos from Alexis Birkoff with images of the beads she got at the Bead and Button Show. She is an amazing young woman...11 ish with many Artgirl ideas. These are some things she came up with for zipper pulls! Thanks Alexis...keep up the good work!

Friday, August 31, 2007

It is the Friday before Labor Day...August was looking thru the summer issue of Quilting Arts Magazine and was amazed at the beautiful work that is being created out there in the world! Maybe this weekend we will have time...or take the time to play with all of the materials that are hanging around here just waiting to be manipulated!

While we were in New Hampshire at the quilt show, I finally took felting needle and roving to one of our big beads! Sue was worried that I was going to take someones eye out...I was walking around with my project and waving the scary felting needle around as I interacted with our customers! JoAnn Rupert, our loyal, hard working employee and sister stitcher was quickly going thru needles...snapping off the fragile working end as she earnestly built a garden on her bead. She searched the show for roving, finding suitable Artgirl colors. "Call your sister and have her order roving!!!" That's our Jo!

Will get a picture of the work Al whipped up on a wool bag. Look out!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Greetings from Artgirlz Nation! This summer has been ridiculously speedy...I can hardly believe that it is going to be September at the end of the week. The mosquitoes are having their own Woodstock around here. The gardens are very dry and crying for water. The bees are very busy. We had two juvenile hawks learning how to take a bath in our pond on Sunday...and it is dark at 8 o'clock...The photo above was taken at a Pow Wow in Charlestown, RI...

We've had a busy month traveling to Vermont for a festive family gathering, then to Manchester, New Hampshire for the Mancuso's Quilt Show (Sue and JoAnn are ready for the masses) and finally off to Cleveland to do some wheeling and dealing! If you are in the Northampton, MA area, check out Valley Fabrics, owned by one of our new best friends from the quilt show, Francesca DenHartog. Our best Artgirlz customer was young April seen here on the left. She was helping her grandmother Nhia Lo who was selling beautiful Hmong bags. Because our booth was in an Arctic zone we bought beautiful scarves from Usha Berlin's Handloom Batiks. Usha is quite the wonderful individual and it was soothing to be in her presence!
Two wonderful women from Conn that were attending the the show, carried on their own class in their hotel room and showed up with these amazing pins. I missed their visit on Sunday and didn't realize how beautiful the pins were until yesterday. I am sorry that I don't have their names. Sue might be able to guide me to that information.. Thanks for the very good work!! Their pieces are seen below!

We will be heading for Absoulutely Everything in Topsfield MA the 7th and 8th of Sept....we will be doing little dolls with our charms and rubber stamps, a wool felt Christmas elf and an Artgirlz Bracelet...Contact Kate for details...

We will be heading back to Cleveland to do a 3 minute segment for the Quilting Arts PBS program hosted by the one and only Patricia Bolton. We are trying to get to the task of project preparation and trying not to think of how goonie we will be feeling on camera...maybe it will be the start of a whole new career. We have often talked about streaming live from the Artgirlz studio....
Oh, we will also be doing a segment for Diva Craft Lounge Wednesday September 5th...12:40 PST...that is a first for us!

October 19-21 Sue and I will be Artgirlz goodies at ArtFest to Nurture the Soul in Cromwell, CT. There are lots of classes set up and we are looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new buddies!!

Then it is off to Quilt Market and Festival in Houston for two weeks...eeekkkk...writing this is making me very tired! That should be a fun filled, exhausting extravaganza!

I am happy that we almost have all of our wool in house to put our new kits and new bead sizes together. Customs has not been very cooperative!! Will be sending out a newsletter very soon to let everyone know that they are ready!! Off for some breakfast...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well, we made it to Chicago and back and had a wild ride in the middle!! Once again, we saw old friends, made new best friends and are trying to regroup! We were very happy to have Midge on the Artgirlz team and we were all amazed to experience the mix of energy from our combined forces! There was so much going on at any one moment that we are still catching up on stories. We talked with magazine editors, tv producers, online hostesses, distributors, store owners, acquisition big shots, and most importantly our loyal supporters and "old" customers from all over the place! There is nothing more heartwarming than hearing that we have nudged someone along their creative path!!

I continue to be inspiried by the young designers that are out there writing books, looking for work and doing tv and generally bringing a freshness to the scene. We were lucky to run into Traci Bautista, Katie Hacker, Candie Cooper and Margot Potter.

The garden needs lots of work with weeds growing, Japanese beetles munching away...but the lilies are beautiful, the bees are very busy, baby angelicas are all over the place, the fish and frogs seem to be happy in the pond. Sue and Al checked the bees last night. There are so many of them and we don't want them to swarm. We are beekeepers driving without a license, so we have to call one of our mentors today for advice. We had the joy and privilege of tasting the honey right out of the comb!

Back to work! Hi Lennis!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Monday morning at Artgirlz Nation. We will be finishing up packing and all preparations for CHA today so that we can celebrate Allison's Birthday tomorrow! Happy Birthay Big Al!! As part of that preparation, I wanted to get a few more samples of our new wool felt kits up for the world to see.
The Christmas Tree contains the cone with wool felt beads and a second pack of mixed beads for additional color and texture. Of course any number of sequins, ribbons, trims, presents and embroidery can be added to the mix!


Sue and I traveled in Africa in 1994 and '96. While in Kenya we were privileged to hook up with and spend most of our time with a very interesting Kenyan family. They worked as ambassadors, representatives in the government, writers and entreprenures. Our hostess Sophia Odero worked with street children offering food and guidance and with widows, helping them develop skills and micro businesses.

Four years ago we received a call from a young man who introduced himself as the son of one of our favorite Kenyan friends (far left). We offered words of wisdom for survival in the US and sent bits of cash for college fees. A couple of years ago we were heartbroken when we learned that his mom had died. So it was with great pleasure that we headed out to Portland to actually meet Pamela's beautiful son Myque and attend his wedding over the 4th.

After an introductory breakfast with the groom we went to help him check things off of his "honey do" list. Under the sure guidance of Myque's brother Elijah (seen above right with girlfriend Tana), we spent the next two hot, laugh filled days, chopping up the ingredients and cooking the post wedding rehersal Kenyan feast...and we finally met Abby, the Bride!!

We were very excited to reconnect with Joseph Otieno, who as a teenager in his family home in Nairobi, gave us his room as a landing zone. He filled us in on family news and promised to send greetings to his mom who is working in Afganistan. Hope to meet up with him when we head to Houston for Quilt Market/Festival! The wedding was beautiful, the food was perfect, the cake was the best I've ever tasted.

We were thrilled to meet Myque, his brother Elijah and friends and to observe their love and respect for each other. They are loving, smart and very funny young men and their mom would be very proud of their journey into the world!! We miss them madly!

The other great part of our trip to Portland was spending time with our host David Fones! We met David on our journey thru the craft industry and were very excited that we would be able to drink coffee in his kitchen, read on the porch, study his garden and neighborhood and enjoy his personal guidance around town (which we loved)!! My sister was afraid we wouldn't come home from the land of organic mindsets, art, gardens, gardens and more gardens, light, warm, mosquito free evenings, amazing mexican food...

Part of our Portland tour was a look at the Chinese Gardens with their amazing stone mosaic walkways.

And then there was VooDoo Donuts..

We had heard about this joint on Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, that was aired on the travel channel. It was immediately put onto our Portland list! After the relaxing greenery of the Chinese Gardens we trotted down a couple of blocks and there it was! On the left is the "Dirty Bastard"...a lovely raised donut with chocolate frosting, crushed oreos, and a drizzle of peanut butter. Yes, we actually consumed it...and here is Sue enjoying a bit of maple frosting and bacon on an oblong raised dough ball...It is probably a once in a lifetime event!

We had a great trip and are very grateful to David and Lyle for sharing their home and special adventure filled automobile...and we are grateful for the twists and turns that led us to Myque and Abby's wedding.

On to is a view from 35,000 ft....