Kim McMillan’s Felted Purses

August 20th, 2014
Kim McMillan

Kim McMillan’s first felted purse

A few weeks ago, my friend Kim, (who sews my potholders and scarves) said she has something to show me.  Then she pulled out this gorgeous hand made felted purse.  I’ve known Kim for a few of years and she’s always working on something, from quilts to elaborately decorated cakes.  But she always told me that she had to have a pattern to work from.  That she wasn’t interested in making up her own designs.

Until now.  Until Kim’s felted purses.  When Kim first showed me the purse, and I gushed over it, she asked me to be honest and said I could tell her if I didn’t like it.  And I knew just how she felt.  (no really, I know you said you love it and you can’t stop talking about it, but you’re not just saying that are you?)

But it really doesn’t matter what I said or even what Kim said or how she really felt or how she thought I might really feel,  because a week later she made another one. (so all of that other stuff doesn’t really matter)   This time she was inspired by an antique button.  And when she told me of the creative process that went into making the purse, I knew Kim had finally found the artist in herself.  To be inspired by a one thing, one idea  and build a whole piece around it, is how creating works.  After all these years of following other people’s patterns, Kim began following and trusting her own intuition.   And aren’t we all luckier for it.

The other part that makes Kim’s purses so special is her experience and professional craftsmanship. Each purse has a carefully chosen lining to match the exterior and one of them even has interior pockets.

So my next question to Kim was if she would sell them at the Open House in October and then, selfishly,  would  she was still  sew my potholders and scarves for me.  Thankfully, she answered yes to both of them and is now being inspired (by button) to start her next purse. Rumor has it that this one might even have a strap on it.   Kim still has to figure out the pricing and all those other fun details, but she plans on having five done for the Bedlam Farm Open House. (It’s going to be a good one!)

Here’s some photos of Kim’s second and third purse.  And I’ll post more as she makes them.

By Kim McMillan

By Kim McMillan

This one of the lady and the moon was inspired by the antique cameo button.

By Kim McMillan

By Kim McMillan

And those candy green buttons got her to make these flowers.   Below is a photo of  the inside of this purse (with pockets!)…

inside Kim Mc Millan

Kay’s Pillowcase Quilt

August 19th, 2014
The pillowcases Kay sent me

The pillowcases Kay sent me

I’m embarrassed to say it’s been just about a year since Kay sent me a box of pillow cases and asked if I would make them into a quilt. But I also have to say that if I made the quilt before I went on my trip to Gee’s Bend, it would have been a very different quilt.

Yesterday, when I was still spinning from my visit with Pamela at Blue Star, I did one of the  things that brings me back to myself.  I went to work in my studio.  Sometimes, walking works, sometimes talking or meditating, but yesterday morning I knew if I started working things would begin to fall into place.

So I took out Kay’s box of pillowcases and three hankies and began.  First I hand washed them, then spun them in the washing machine then ironed them and hung them out for a while to dry.  Then I looked through my Gee’s Bend Book for inspiration.  I had choices to make.  Do I used just the pillowcases and hankies or do I add fabric to them.  In the book I saw some of the quilts made from feed and seed bags, all shades of white and off white, strips of slightly different shades setting each other off. I knew what I would do.

I cut off the embroidered edges in different sizes then cut strips from the rest of the pillow cases to build around the embroidered pieces. pillowcase 3When I started sewing the “white” pieces together I saw just how different they really were.  Not only in color but in the fabrics too.  Like Mary Ann Pettway taught me, I worked on one piece at a time, not planning out the whole quilt like  I used to.  Cutting strips of fabric as I went, using the scarps when they fit.

pillowcase a

And I paid attention to the seams.  Some of them are visible through the fabric so they had to be just right.  This is my first quilt where the back is as neat as the front.  But the seams also become a part of the aesthetic of the quilt.  Thick and thin lines, the texture of the seams, how the seams connect the fabric all become important.

pillowcase 2

I top stitched the hankies onto a piece of plain pillowcase…

pillowcase 1

Then added onto them.

pillowcase c

When I had enough scraps, I sewed them together creating another piece of the quilt. (the Freida hairs will not be included in the finished quilt)

pillowcase quilt to beNow the pieces I began to work on and the ones I haven’t started yet are all laid out on my floor.  Soon they will all come together to make a quilt.  Subtle in color and rich in texture.

Horse Lesson

August 18th, 2014
The Horse statue that Pamela gave me.

The Horse statue that Pamela gave me.

Yesterday I left the Carriage and Draft Horse Sanctuary, Blue Star, with a  beautiful statue of a horse, four t-shirts, a video of Phillip Whiteman’s Medicine Wheel Model to Natural Horsemanship and a day of compliments, praise for my work, a new connection to Pamela, a ton of stories to think about and the experience of having ridden Piper, the giant horse I fell in love with the last time we were there.

So that’s what happened, that’s what knocked me off balance and kept my head spinning and me wondering who and where I was.  Too much?  No, all good stuff and a lot of it.  I’m just not used to it. I felt like Boo Radley coming out of the basement.  And it’s not like I’m not used to having my picture posted all over Jon’s website or meeting new people or even getting compliments on my work.  But yesterday was a lot.  A lot more than I’m used to, I guess.  And the thing is, I made this connection, all of this happened, because of my work.  Because as important as it is to me, my work is just what I do.  It’s special in  that it’s my passion and keeps me sane and is a part of me like my brain or my heart, but to Pamela it was so special and meant so much to her (she saw meaning in every part of it) that it seemed too good to be true.  And so a part of me wanted to doubt her sincerity and another part of me wanted to believe her and trust what was happening.  Because when things are “too good” (especially when it’s focused completely on me) I begin to think that at any moment someone’s going to start laughing and then I’ll find out it’s all a joke. And that someone will say: You look really stupid  on that horse and that thing you made is nice, but you don’t really expect me to use that on my website do you?  Ha Ha Ha etc. etc….

So I think what happened is there was a battle going on inside of me.  It was the trust thing again. (like when Lisa Dingle handed us the trip to Disney from all those nice people who really wanted us to have it).  But this time (I guess,  because it was about me and my work) grace didn’t step in.  And my heart didn’t exactly shrink, but it cowered in the corner, shocked and uncertain.

Which makes me think of one of the many stories that  Pamela told me yesterday.  This one about how horses have been evolving into what they are now for millions of years.  And they’ve survived, not by growing a hard shell but by opening their hearts to humans. By learning to live in partnership with us.  Which, of course,  requires trust.

So the question is, what will I do with my horse lesson. Crouch in the corner, hide in the basement or take a chance and choose to trust.  Actually, I think I already made the decision, that’s part of what happened yesterday.  My head may not have understood what was going on, but the rest of me was making the adjustment stretching my legs and opening my arms, expanding my heart, getting ready to believe without cynicism and trust without fear.

Delivering “Blue Star”

August 17th, 2014

Pamela Rickenbach, co-founder of Blue Star Equiculture with their new logo that I made

Jon and I took a trip to Blue Star Equiculture to day to deliver the quilted piece I made for them. It will be their new logo.   So much happened (including that I got to ride Piper, the Percheron I fell for on our last visit) and I’m still overwhelmed by the whole experience.  I’m not yet able to put into words what I’m feeling.  Stories from the day are swirling around my head.    I’m going to have to  let it settle and write about it later.

Vivian Maier Inspired Self Portraits

August 17th, 2014
Me and Jon Reflected Twice

Me and Jon Reflected Twice

Jon and I stopped at an antique/junk market today and instead of looking for things to buy we were snapping Vivian Maier inspired self -portraits in every reflective surface we could find.   Him with his big expensive camera and me with my iphone.   All these self portraits are about identity.  When I take a self portrait I’m saying “this is who I am” and not letting other people define me.   It’s a really fun and creative thing to do, revealing too.  I’d encourage anyone to try it.








“Freedom Potholders” and “Happy Housewife Potholders” for Sale

August 15th, 2014
Freedom Potholders

Freedom Potholders

I just got my latest batch of Freedom Potholders back from Kim.  These were made with from a bag of scraps from Laura Israel’s fabric collection from the 1970′s.   I used up the last of that bag of scraps on these potholders, so you won’t be seeing these colors and patterns again.

Happy Housewife Potholders

Happy Housewife Potholders Sold Out

And this is what I have left of my latest batch of Happy Housewife Potholders.  These and I have 3 Freedom Potholders still available.  They are $15 each + $5 shipping for 1-2 and $10 shipping for 3 or more. If you’re interested in any potholders, just email me here at  I take checks or can email you a paypal invoice.


Simon Out My Window

August 15th, 2014

simon grazing


August 14th, 2014


I have a thing for lamps.  I’m drawn to them because I like to  use them as a symbol for light and enlightenment and because I enjoy drawing them.   So when I thought about making another stitched piece on one of those 6 inch doilies I have (like my piece “Boot”), a lamp seemed most natural.  This time I attached the  doily to an old white hankie and stitched the lamp with my sewing machine. (I wouldn’t be able to use my machine stitching on something as small as the doily).

all of lamp on hamnkie

Then I colored the lacy edge of the doily yellow with a marker and cut away the hankie.


I hand stitched the cord coming out of the lamp and beaded it with white vintage  (some of them made of shell) buttons.


Then I hand stitched another doily  on the back to finish it off.    Like “Boot”, it’s held onto the wall with six straight pins.

Last week I was listening to an interview with installation artist Ann Hamilton.  She spoke about trusting the things we cannot name.   This is the part when a person is creating and they have an idea but don’t understand what it means or if it makes any sense.  It is something that at the moment can’t be explained with words.  But she said it’s important for the artist to thrust the idea and not let anyone talk them out of it, just because they can’t explain it.

This is what I thought of when I was making this piece.  I can’t really explain it further than I already have.  I don’t know why the buttons.  But I’ve decided to trust it.

“Lamp” is for sale.  It’s measures 6″ by 16″ long and is $45 + $7 shipping.  If it speaks to you, please let me know what it’s saying.  And if you’d like to own it you can email me here or  at  I take checks or can email you a paypal invoice.


Winner of The Common Thread Give-a-way

August 14th, 2014
"Everyday Goddess" Notecards

“Everyday Goddess” Notecards

Congratulations Becky Wells!  You’re the winner of a pack of my Everyday Goddesss Notecards  in this month’s Common Thread Give-a-way.

Next Month we’ll have guest artist and Poet Veronica Hallissey give away a copy of one of her books.  So come back on Monday, September 1st to enter.  Click here to read one of  Veronica’s most popular poems “Bless the Experience”

Blue Star Equiculture Wall Hanging

August 13th, 2014
Blue Star

Blue Star

My days have been scattered and stretched and in between I’ve been going to my studio and getting some work in.  It feels so good to be there even if it’s just for a couple of hours at a time.   Today, around my  weekly lunch with Mandy and Athena and Jon’s doctors appointment I was able to finish the wall hanging for Blue Star Equiculture.

Looking at it after it was all done, I saw some things that I wasn’t conscious of when I was making it.

It started the piece by knowing that (as Pamela requested) it needed to have a person (neither male nor female or both) a horse and Blue Star.  It took about a week for those three things to roll around in my head before I saw, in my mind,  the circle with the person and horse in it.  Pamela told me the story of Blue Horse singing the Blue Star Prophecy (a story of  new beginnings) and I immediately had an idea of the blue fabric I would use to make the horse.  But when I did, it wasn’t right.  The pattern was too big, too distracting.  In looking for the “right” blue, I found a piece that I didn’t even know I had.  Something that came in a box from Kenna and I had somehow missed.  It was patterned with leaves and it seemed just right.

I used the reverse of the same fabric for the pants of the person.  Their shirt is made from a yellow fabric with spirals on it. I made the Blue Star last, giving it a yellow aura to match that of the person. Then I found the perfect button in my button tin for its center.   It was one I had looked at so many times, but couldn’t use because the hole to sew it on with was broken.  But it was perfect and this time I was determined to use it. So I heated a needle with a candle and poked a new hole through the back of the button, glad I hadn’t thought of doing that the last time I wanted to use that button.

When I was all done sewing, I tacked the orange circle with orange thread to “quilt” it in place and hold it all together.  And when I stepped back to look at it I saw how the piece connected earth and sky.  The person, like a tree, grounded and reaching up to the sky.  The Blue Star completely of the sky.  And Blue Horse connecting them all in its placement between the two and in its mystical and earthly presence.

What a surprise to see this come together and be some much more than the sum of its parts.

Blue Star with button

Blue Star with button