Summer, day 5.

I had a hard time getting started today, the general anxiety of family worries hung over me. Eventually I sewed the binding for half a dozen more little brown lunch bag journals before starting the project I really wanted to work on, the finished incarnation of the Berehinia binding.
It took most of the afternoon to very carefully punch all the holes, and more time to set the tension with a double row of kettles at each end of the book block – slow going. I was using some beautiful antique Irish linen thread, but it had been wound tightly for a long time, so sewing with 4 needles involved several tangles!
By dinner time I was ready to start the fun part, sewing the exposed embroidered design. I designed the pattern and sewed the model 2 years ago, so even deciphering my decisions has been slow going. By late evening I am about a third of the way through the pattern.
Hopefully I will finish it up tomorrow.



Maple binding tutorial.

This weekend I am at SMU in Dallas teaching at the DeGolyer Bookbinding Conference. I was very surprised to be asked to come and share my “embroidery as binding” technique with this wonderful group of fine art binders. Please follow the link – their work is amazing!

I have been teaching a maple binding pattern in workshops for about a year, but this event is a challenge because the workshops are quite short at 2.5 hours, so I modified the pattern to a smaller, single leaf version for this group.

I am trying to put together a book of my binding patterns and so I have not put any of them online yet, but now I have taught this particular pattern several times, so it is already loose in the world and I thought now might be the moment to post a free tutorial.

If you’d like to give it a try you will need:


A text block, 88 sheets of 80lb text weight paper sized 7.5″ h x 9″ w, folded and collated into 11 signatures
2 boards 7.5″ x 4.75-5″
Decorative paper to cover each board
Paste or glue and a glue brush
Decorative ribbon or tapes for sewing
Colored linen thread or embroidery cotton
An awl
2 blunt sewing needles
This downloadable PDF: small maple pattern


Step 1: use the decorative paper to cover the boards.


Step 2: cut the punching template from the handout. You will need to add two stations based on the width of your ribbons or tapes. Lay the ribbon next to the second mark at the head and tail. Mark a sewing station next to the tape\ribbon and another .25″ from that mark.


Step 3: punch all the signatures!


Step 4: sewing on the bench, using two needles to sew the head and tail simultaneously, attach the ribbons using a French link stitch and two kettles on the 4 sewing stations at the head and tail.


Step 4: beginning on the one inside of signature 2, station B follow the sewing diagram, according to the handout.


The version I created had room to sew the pattern twice, but the finished sewing should look like this! If you’d like to try the double pattern – this is the sewing pattern: maple binding but you will need  to create your own template for punching the signatures.

Finally to attach the covers you can glue down the decorative ribbons to the cover, and if you like you can trim the front page down and glue it down like an end sheet.

And you are done!!

Happy Birthday to me!!

Today is my birthday – another year gone by – but FINALLY I can say – she is finished – yes! A Woman’s Work is finally done! I finished the sewing earlier this week, but was stumped on the covers – I opted for a textured but plain paper, as there is already a lot going on with this book. I snapped some quick pictures with my phone – she has a date with a real photographer later this week. Really, I can’t believe this two year project has finally ended, (unless I change my mind about those covers – it could happen).

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

It began with this idea during my residency at TLC.

and then I started collecting the LISTS

and then I started collecting the LISTS

poor book - still in progress - will I ever finish?

poor book – still in progress – will I ever finish?

the book block ready to sew

the book block ready to sew

and FINALLY all done!

and FINALLY all done!

except - a woman's work is NEVER done

except – a woman’s work is NEVER done

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

bottom of the block showing all the lovely strings

and the cover - hmmm still not sure

and the cover – hmmm still not sure

I want to give a huge thank you to Turkey Land Cove for the residency where this project was born, and to all the brave women who shared their to-do lists with me. This project had a LOT of help, and much encouragement from many of my readers & friends – THANK YOU everyone! Next up – snowflake bindings & a serious windfall of maple leaves!

AEDM – NYC part 1

Well the past weekend was exciting! It began on Thursday with a trip through the arctic tundra of Buffalo (you may have heard we had some weather here!) to catch a plane to NYC. I would never have made it without the help of my wonderful hubby Glenn who drove through a blizzard to get me there. He’s a good man – I am so lucky to have him as a part of my life. I flew to the city Friday morning and arrived tired but safe at the Center for Book Arts that afternoon. After a little time prepping for class and getting the lay of the land I checked into my hotel with some take out and collapsed!

sun comes up in the concrete canyons of Manhattan

sun comes up in the concrete canyons of Manhattan

Saturday dawned and as the sun came up in Manhattan I was serenaded by the gentleman in the next room as he showered. and the sound of hammers from a renovation going on across the street, the fabrics they were using to cover up the furniture in the room were lovely, a spot of colour in a sea of grey stone.


Coffee and a bagel, and it was time for class at last! I was really nervous about meeting my class, but wow! what a wonderful group! What is so wonderful about the opportunity to teach classes like this is all the things I learn from my “students”. Right from the start there was an amazing energy in the room, and ideas were soon flying for innovation and improvisation.  It was such a privilege to work with this group. Together we retraced some of the pivotal discoveries and ideas that led me to start making the embroidered bindings, beginning on day one with a two needle cross-stitch binding and then moving on to create a soft cover fabric journal using Portuguese stem stitch.

IMAG1695 IMAG1701

I was buzzing with energy by the end of the day, and was glad I had some prep work to do that gave me some time to process all the new ideas and information. After a great meal I was glad to get back to my cushy hotel room and rest up for the next day!

book of hours

a tiny book with embroidered covers and pages

Many of you may remember the map of hours I have been working on for AGES now, well here is a baby version – a tiny book of hours, each little page embroidered in the same way as the larger work by listening to the paper and following its lead, sometimes in circles, sometimes in completely new patterns. Here’s a little glimpse inside…

tiny embroidered page made of kozo paper IMAG1448

Want to own this little gem? It is headed off as a donation to the Morgan Conservancy for their annual benefit.

back view of the tiny book

I am especially pleased with the beetroot dyed silk covers.

So glad to have finally finished something! And now back to grading and housework with a sense of accomplishment!

wordless wednesday (laundry)

Well –  I am not doing very well on my resolution for posting, one week in and I am behind again already – but a new opportunity may be around the corner that would give me back more free time. In the meantime, here are today’s pictures – a new work on display through July 31st at the Dykeman Young Gallery in Jamestown, NY.

installation view - laundry (a servant's heart) at the Dykeman Young Gallery.

installation view – laundry (a servant’s heart) at the Dykeman Young Gallery.


Laundry detail – embroidery in sulky metallic thread on used dryer sheets

detail 2 - metallic cotton floss embroidery

detail 2 – metallic cotton floss embroidery

detail 3

detail 3 – metallic cotton floss embroidery


missing… the trials & triumphs of an art-filled life.

I haven’t been blogging much lately – not because I have nothing to say (never gonna happen!) but because I have been busy doing – living an art filled life. So many opportunities have come my way and I am finding it hard to fit everything in. And then when I sit down to blog, there is so much to fill you in on I find myself unable to start. So this week I decided to try and get back to three weekly posts – one about current goings-on, art & studio & life etc, a wordless Wednesday post from the studio, and then a “throwback” post where I attempt to document some things I have been up to in recent months. I hope this is really plausible, I miss my blog, which I really started as a way to create a document of my studio/life. To make a record of the trials and triumphs of an art-filled life.

So then – what am I up to THIS week. Well – that obsession with sewing on leaves has developed further – as everyone I (barely) know keeps sending me more & more examples of other artists who sew on leaves. Like this artist – Hillary Fayle or this one, or this one. What I have discovered is an intense love of “needle lace”, and I have been spending hours reading old embroidery manuals. So many of these are available online through digitized archives, like Project Gutenberg, which has a crafts bookshelf! – the only draw back is that the pictures are often hard to see clearly on the scans. I am a pretty intuitive embroiderer – I can figure things out better from the pictures than from the instructions sometimes. I find it easier to let my hands do the thinking! This interest in needle lace has sparked a whole slew of new project ideas – and I find realjob is really getting in the way of progress! Here are a few pictures, These are just experiments as I try out new techniques.


beginning a needle lace bar on a magnolia leaf

beginning a needle lace bar on a magnolia leaf

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

magnolia leaf with needle lace bars

needle lace on a grape leaf - supported by hand made paper

needle lace on a grape leaf – supported by hand made paper

Also I am curating another show – woven, sewn & pressed. I will post more about that next week as I start to install the work, and tell you all about the artists in that show. in the meantime, thanks to everyone for your patience. And please come back later this week to catch up on the last few crazy months.

and now back to some sewing – tonight a book from antique fabric remnants – catch up to you all later in the week!