Lessons Learned from the ‘Bird Series’


Bird Collage

I created this collage of all five pieces from the bird series so that I could see how they would look all together.  I liked the look so much that I shared it on the Facebook page last week and thought I would share it here now that the website is back up and running!

And, if you are getting tired of hearing about the Bird Series don’t worry- this is the last post on it until I get the last ones framed!!

Although this was a short and fairly straightforward series, I certainly did learn a lot of both artistic and personal lessons along the way:

Artistic Lessons

* I learned to look at other materials (ie. birch bark) in a different way which broke me out of a bit of a rut that I was in

* It allowed me to practice adhering new materials (here it was sewing on birch bark); this is something that I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of and look forward to exploring further

* It gave me the opportunity to try out the new technique of blending yarns.  I learned what it looks like when you blend different values of the same colour family.  And I learned what it looks like when you blend two completely different colours.  This helped me to determine what works and what doesn’t work.  This technique has opened up new possibilities for me- such as the ability to achieve looks that are easy to attain with paints but not so easy to attain with fibre unless you get into a lot of dyeing

* I learned that even small pieces can have a lot of impact if done correctly.  And it reinforced that framing pieces is definitely worth it when it adds to the overall look of a finished piece

Personal Lessons

More than anything else, I learned that I am so fortunate.

I am so fortunate to have so many good people in my life.

I am so fortunate to be able to say that I have people in  my life whom I love and who love me in return.

I am so fortunate to be able to have such an awesome relationship with my children and to look forward to growing that relationship in the years to come.

I am so fortunate that each day I am able to make wonderful memories with the people I care about and invite into my life.  Memories that will last a lifetime.

I am so fortunate to have so many people in my life who are inspirational, supportive and downright incredible.

I am so fortunate to be able to provide my children with a loving home.  To model for them what a loving family should look like.  To truly provide them with a safe haven.  They will never have to go without these things.

I could go on and on.  As I said, I am truly, truly fortunate.

As I mentioned before, I may revisit the concept of creating a larger single piece inspired by the meaningful people and meaningful relationships that make up my life.  Not sure when but don’t be surprised if it reappears down the road.

Those who know me well may think that I have been slightly remiss in that one of the Bird Series pieces was not devoted to someone with whom I was very close and who, while he was here, made a huge impact on my life.   There is a reason for this as  I plan to make a larger tribute piece for that furry little guy- hopefully later this year.  🙂

Sneak peek coming beginning of next week for sure!

Have a terrific weekend!!





New Labels and other Newness



I had shared this on Facebook but thought I would share them here too.  I already had some fabric iron-on labels that I was using on the back of my rugs.  But now that I am framing most of my pieces they wouldn’t work anymore.  I ordered some labels that would adhere to the frame backings and I think they look really great!

As mentioned in my first post of the year, I am trying to refine my approach this year and be more picky about the organizations that I join and the shows that I participate in.

In that vein,  I’m excited to announce that I have joined The Textile and Fiber Art List (TAFA).    I have a profile up on their website that you can check out.  I’m looking forward to participating in this very talented and diverse community of fiber artists!

I have also joined the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild.  I have had the good fortune to meet several awesome Ontario-based rug hookers online and I hope to expand on these relationships and perhaps even meet some in person through my participation in this guild.

So many things on the go.  So many good things happening already.  I have jumped into this new year with both feet and I’m not looking back anytime soon.

It is only January and I already know that 2013 is going to be an absolutely awesome year for me and my art and my business.



Bird Series: Part V

I put a bit of a push on to get this wrapped up and so here we are at Part 5- the final piece in the series!

The Piece:   Again, a disclaimer that this will look much nicer once framed.  The main problem is that right now we have run out of our Newfoundland driftwood (!) and it being winter we won’t be able to send my sister out hunting for more until spring (love ya sis!) so we’ll have to wait a bit.   I think once we have the driftwood, the plan is to frame Parts 3 & 4 together and frame this new one as its own separate piece.

While working on the piece I did quite a bit of deliberating as to whether or not I should use a contrasting colour for the fluffier portion on the bottom.  In the end, my love of this rich, velvety purple yarn won out and so the entire piece is in contrasting shades of purple.  I think it is quite pretty!  And I returned to the use of my proddy tool for the bottom which gave me those nice big textured lumps.

The Story:  This piece was inspired by, and pays tribute to, the people in my life that I am fortunate to be able to call my friends.  Originally I was going to spread this concept over two pieces, thereby adding a 6th part to the series, and have a bird to represent each friend.  In the end, though, I decided that that would be too ‘clunky’.  It is a concept that I may revisit if I do a larger piece based on the same theme of meaningful people in my life.  But it wouldn’t have worked here.

Instead, I decided that it would be kind of cool to write the initials of each friend directly onto the rug warp.  Although those initials are now covered over by the yarn, it is neat knowing that they will be a part of the piece for all time.

Each set of initials represents someone that I am close with.  Each of them is a lot like me:  a 30 or 40 something woman struggling to balance her career, her interests and her children.  Many of them are also friends with each other.

With all of these women I have laughed a lot, and with a few of them I have even shed a tear or two. With many of them I have shared stories about the good things in my life as well as the less pleasant things in my life. With all of them I have shared good times- either on our own or with our kids.  Each of them is someone that I enjoy being around and who adds value to my life.

We may not all see each other all the time, but we do all make a point to stay in touch.  My husband has said in the past that I am extremely loyal to those that I love and care about.  It is my hope that each of my friends realizes that I am loyal to them and that even though we may not be in contact with each other every day or even every week, I hope that they feel that I take a real and genuine interest in their lives.  I hope they know that I will always make time for them if they are in need.

Each of these women I fully respect and each has a different characteristic or personality trait that I admire.  Here’s a random sampling of some of them:

– confidence and the ability to always speak their own mind

– patience even in the face of caring for many children

– an amazing ability to balance motherhood with career

– incredible intelligence

– an ability to retain a sense of humour in even the most trying of situations

– the ability to give of their friendship freely

– the courage to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things or change their lives completely

And I could go on.

Why three birds in this piece?  I felt that three better summed up the idea of a circle of friendship.  I don’t really have a subtitle for this piece.  The message of the piece is simply that these are the women who add to my life and without them my life wouldn’t be nearly as fun, interesting or fulfilled.

I am also fortunate to be meeting some new friends and rekindling old friendships through my son and so if this piece were to be repeated a year from now I like to think that there would be a few more initials to add to the mix.

Next week I will do a recap summing up of lessons learned in doing the bird series and when they are all framed I will show that too!

In the meantime, time to start up on a bigger piece- that one I sketched out before the baby was born is calling my name and I need to start sketching out my even bigger piece that I’m hoping to have done for Vermont in the Fall!




Bird Series: Part IV


The Piece:  I can’t believe I am already on the fourth piece in this series!

Like the others, this one is also hooked on rug warp and measures 5″ x 7″.  I had originally envisioned it in shades of green but when I was looking through my yarns I came across the pretty blue-green (bottom third of the piece) and decided to work with that shade instead.  It was then easy to find darker values of the same shade to create the necessary gradation.  In a departure from the others, instead of using my proddy tool for the bottom portion of the piece I instead used novelty yarn.  No reason why- I just wanted to add a bit of interesting texture and I love using novelty yarns to give that sort of wispy look.  This yarn had much longer black threads throughout it but I trimmed them back just a little to tidy up the look.

The Story:   So anyone who follow this blog regularly should have had no difficulty in anticipating that it would be my sister who would inspire this piece.  What can I say about my little sister?  Well, I would start by saying that our relationship wasn’t always so rosy.  In the early years we had the usual sibling squabbles.  She liked to follow me around and do everything that I did, while I wanted my own space.  She wanted to be included in things that my friends and I did, and I had other ideas.  Like every other older sibling, I kind of viewed her as a bit of a burden on my oh-so-hopping social life as a pre-teen in the late 1980’s.

When did it all change?  Well, we grew up and as a consequence we began to have a lot more in common.  This combined with a very long and painful shared experience in our life brought us very close and we became, of all things, friends!  And then we became very good friends.  And now I can easily say that she (along with my husband of course) is my dearest and best friend.

Here’s what I love about her:

– we talk either by phone or by email just about every day.  So many funny things happen to her and there are many times that we laugh so hard together until our guts are on the verge of splitting

– when we are together we do “girly” things and talk about things that make us happy

– I know I can  confide in her without judgement, complain to her and she will listen and she always cheers me up.  We tell each other pretty much everything

– she loves my kids and they adore her.  There is already a special bond between her and each of them

– if I ever need anything at all she is always right there for me without hesitation or question. In return I always make time for her.  In fact, no matter how busy we both get we always make time for each other.

– I am proud of her accomplishments. I admire her strength in dealing with adversity and her confidence in moving away from everything familiar to make a better life for herself.  I am proud of the decisions that she has made in her life.

The birds in this piece are placed high in the sky which kind of wasn’t planned but it actually makes a lot of sense.   I am subtitling this piece: “Though you may be far, together we soar.” A little cheesy perhaps but I think this is appropriate as she and I have had the tenacity and determination to soar above troubles and dark periods in our lives.  By not letting that define us we have gone on to enjoy many happy and joyful times together and have a wealth of memories to look back on.  I hope that she and I continue to rise and follow our respective dreams- I have a good feeling that we will continue to add to each other’s journey through life.  No matter what, she knows I am only a phone call away.

Love you, sista.



The Bird Series: Part III




The Piece:   Again, this photo is of the piece unframed and just off the hoop so it isn’t the greatest look at it.  I’ll post another photo of it once it is framed!

Like the other pieces in the ‘Bird Series’ this one also measures 5″ x 7″ and is hooked on rug warp.  I continue to try out my new technique of “blending” yarns and I really like the progression in this piece from the darker burgundy to the grey (It’ll look much nicer when set off by a nice frame in a new photo!)

The Story:  This piece was inspired by my relationship with my son.  I have to start off by saying that this relationship is quite new as he is only 12 weeks old!  Safe to say that I know very little at this point about having a little boy in my life- I am sure that he has much to teach me over the coming months and years.  What I already know is that his little smile and adorable giggle send my heart to almost bursting with warmth so I can’t wait to see what is to come.

I will confess that I was a bit wary when I found out that I was having a boy.  Having spent the past 5.5 years caring for a daughter and being surrounded by princesses and pink I felt ill-equipped to deal with boyhood.  With a girl (unless you damage your relationship with her in some way) a mother is pretty much guaranteed a friendship for life.  With a son, it appeared to me to be a bit more muddied and unclear.

I have many friends with sons and each and every one of them has told me that little boys really love their mothers and that I will be the number one person in his life.  This has been such a consistent message that I am inclined to believe them.  But all of those same friends have expressed in some way their own trepidation of their son’s adulthood, when they become “the mother-in-law” and are no longer the number one woman in their son’s life.

These thoughts have also crossed my mind.  While still pregnant I came across a blog where the writer was also struggling with the exact same thoughts with regards to her newborn son.  In the end, she concluded that as long as you go into it realizing that there will be this shift in relationship later on, it will all be ok.  It is important to enjoy the time that you have now and do your best to teach your son through your relationship with him how to treat women in preparation for his future life with a partner.  I found this approach quite touching and a nice way of looking at the issue.

To be honest, I think that with children of either gender it is important to go into parenthood with the realization that one day they will take flight and follow their own path in life.  I consider it extremely important to have my own career, my own aspirations and accomplishments so that one day I am someone that my children can be proud of and someone that they will enjoy spending time with because they find me interesting in some way, on my own merits.

In this vein, I am subtitling this piece “I will always watch over you,” because although the relationship with my son may not always be as close as it is now in his childhood, I hope to have a relationship with him that is based on mutual respect and admiration.  And if and when he needs me, and as others come and go, I hope that he he will always know that I am there cheering him on in life as his number one fan.

I’m almost done Part IV of this series.  Followers of this blog should not have much trouble figuring out who that piece is inspired by!




2012 Recap!

Marzipan Road 2012 Collage

Happy New Year!

Hope you had a fantastic holiday season.  My sister was staying with us for ten days and our holiday was filled with love, laughter and good times.  The perfect mix of fun and relaxation.

Before outlining my goals for 2013 in the coming days, I wanted to take a look back at the year that has just ended.

2012 was busy and successful!

The highlight of the year was undoubtedly the 16th annual Hooked in the Mountains show in Shelburne, Vermont where my piece “Solitude” won a Viewer’s Choice award.  The whole family looks forward to this show each year as a weekend getaway and I love to see all the fantastic art on display.  It is a tremendously motivating show to visit as an artist and so I was greatly honoured that my piece was one of those selected for recognition.  I encourage anyone with an interest in fibre art, and rug hooking in particular, to drop by if you are in the area next November!

In addition, my piece “Fungus Adventure” was awarded 2nd place for “Other Media and Mixed Media” at the Arteast Juried Awards Exhibition in Ottawa.  This very pleasant surprise was my first award as an artist.  Finally, my abstract piece “Mudpools in Hverir, Iceland” was selected for inclusion in the Arts Ottawa East Selections show, one of my favourite local annual juried shows.

Corner Brook, Newfoundland continued to be a great supporter of Marzipan Road in 2012, with pieces selling through both the Harbour Grounds coffee shop and the Newfoundland Emporium.  Thank you to both establishments, and to everyone who purchased a Marzipan Road piece this year!  If you are in the Corner Brook area in 2013, please be sure to drop by either locale!

In 2012, we celebrated the arrival of a new child into our family.  Of course, this meant that I had to moderate my expectations for producing new pieces.  Nonetheless, even when I was unable to pick up a hook or a needle, this year was an opportunity to travel and study paintings in several art galleries, to once again tour my favourite landscapes in Iceland, and even to try my hand at painting (with humorous results).  While I was still able to experiment with some of my new ideas and techniques in 2012, I still have new artistic directions that I want to try in 2013 and a growing stockpile of ideas to try them on!

Can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring!