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Inspiration and Influences, Part One

I’m certain that I have a series about the people, places and things that influence and inspire my artwork on my old Blogspot blog, but I need to begin again here.  I’ve hinted here earlier at one thing that inspired me to start making boxes, but there is more to my boxes than a Steinbeck quote.

While traveling two-lane by-ways and backroads, I have cultivated a fascination with run-down, abandoned buildings.  There are so many untold stories hidden in the crumbling walls, fallen fences, twisted signs and rusted metal.

Ice cream shop, Belle Valley, OH


Drive-in movie ruins, near Barnesville, OH


Over the years, I have collected many photographs from my travels of all sorts of weathered and forgotten structures, from the farm lanes of Southeast Ohio to the windswept deserts along Route 66.

Root cellar, Quaker City, OH


Broken windows, crumbling brick, gaps in wood planks, precarious listing to one side, patched holes, bent framing… the wear and tear of old buildings is visual poetry to me.  It wasn’t until I had completed several of my small fabric boxes that I realized I was subconsciously capturing architectural decay in them.

The boxes began where other projects ended.  The first boxes that I made used scraps from other fabric collages, and my decision to embellish each side independent of the others further conveys the spirit of dilapidated structures.  The process of pulling the box sides up and hand stitching them creates subtle warping, twisting and bending, completing my interpretation of things that are run down.  I love making them, and I like to think of them as little shrines to the past.


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Two Little Trading Cards

A day late, because I’d rather be stitching than typing!  The two artist trading cards that I talked about last week are mostly finished.  Here is a view of them after trimming the excess fabric, and with one piece of embellishing trim added:

Now, here they are after about fifteen minutes of machine and hand sewing:

All that I added to each card was one piece hand dyed lace trim, three pieces funky yarn and a glass ice cream cone bead.  That was it, and they end up looking wonderfully complex and multi-layered.  The last step that I need to do is add a piece of muslin to the back and zigzag stitch around the edges.  I also usually add a loop of ribbon to hang them.  Quick, easy, and beautiful!

I am still struggling with getting my online store up and running, meanwhile I have listed some of my crazy quilt top fabric boxes to Ebay, check out my listings here.


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Bits and Pieces of Boxes

Today’s project was embellishing squares and rectangles that will become more of the little boxes that I am obsessed with.  I am embarking on a winter-long surge to build up my inventory of finished art with a goal of applying to juried art fairs in the next year.

When I was in high school, I remember going to some higher-end art fairs and thinking about going on the road for a year, selling what I had made all over the country.  At the time, I still had not discovered the art media that worked best for me, nor had I developed any sense of my own creative voice.

Of course, I’m still working on developing that creative voice, and I always will.  Speaking of which, I want to get back to my boxes, so I will leave you today with the quote that inspired me to start making boxes.

You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?”

          I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”

          “What for?”

          “To put things in.”

          “What things?”

          “Whatever you have,” you said.

Well, here’s your box.  Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full.  Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts – the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation.

          And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you.

          And still the box is not full.

-John Steinbeck, dedication to East of Eden