Friday, July 29, 2005

Thank You for Your Responses to "Flames"

FLAMES - c2005 Pat Dolan

I don’t normally ‘expose myself’ quite so publicly, however this quilt ("Flames") is so powerful and so ‘speaking’ that I was willing to describe it’s origins on my blog… and I’m glad now that I did so. I have heard from many others, like yourself, that have identified with the drama contained in this quilt and the old dramas from which it arose.

"Flames" is now waiting for the arrival of some black YLI Jeans Stitch (heavy-duty, thick) thread to use in quilting much of the background – I want the quilting to be as strong as the design but complementing it, now out-doing it. I’ll also use lots of shiny rayon threads in & around the flames & such, but the background will mostly remain black in high contrast to the foreground.

Our history is precisely that – history. It has contributed to who we have become, but it need not DEFINE who we are. Discovering the authentic self beneath all the ‘family lies,’ is a major part of life’s journey – at least for many of us. I have found it to be the most fascinating, painful, beautiful, and exhilarating journey – through some very long, very dark times. I know I am a better woman for having lived my story and then chosen to relive it differently with the help of loving, caring others.

“Flames” is growing directly out of my personal experience – as authentic a piece of art as I have ever made. For 20 years or so I worked at creating beautiful watercolors – nostalgic paintings of cats, flowers, antiques and lace doilies. I also did commission work – usually in the same theme, but sometimes of wild-life plants, animals or birds.

HUMMINGBIRD NESTING - watercolor - cPat Dolan
(Collection of Elaine Dube)
Wildlife actually spurred me into changing my own life. Wildlife is beautiful – exquisitely so…but it is also dark, dangerous, and deadly. I’ve learned that I need to balance both light and darkness in life, not ignore or bury the darkness in fear of its truth. That only empowers the darkness to become stronger – all the more is needed to get our attention and to invite us into truth. Or so it seems to me…

HAWK SOARING - watercolor cPat Dolan
(Collection of Don Simmons)

Blessings to all of us as we journey into authenticity and personal truth!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another Quilt in Progress...

“ANGELINA GOES TO TOWN” 18”w x 29”h c Pat Dolan

The base of this quilt began with a piece of hand-dyed cotton I did several summers ago, and then set aside for the ‘perfect project.’ Last summer, I was playing with Angelina hot mix fibers and I fused numerous sheets of it – some of which were layered with various types of yarns, cording, feathers, and one even had a string of hand-crocheted copper embedded in the fibers. I made a large file folder full of these decorative Angelina sheets for later use in various art projects.

This spring, I put together several quilt sandwiches using my hand-dyed fabrics. For this particular piece, I decided to place several of those ‘stuff-embedded’ sheets of Angelina on the quilt top moving them around until I found a pleasing arrangement. Then, using 505 basting adhesive, I affixed the fused Angelina sheets to the cotton base in preparation for quilting.

This week I decided to quilt away – with no quilting pattern in mind at the outset - and see what would happen to all those Angelina sheets with free-motion quilting. The first step was to very broadly quilt a swirling single line across the entire quilt top – partly to ‘set’ the placement more firmly to the cotton, and partly to get a feel for how I would eventually quilt the top. I found myself responding to the pieces of embedded decorative yarns for some of the quilting, and eventually I realized I was creating something similar to topographical mapping across the surface of the quilt. Do you know of those maps that show the elevation of an area? The closer together the lines are, the more abruptly the land surface rises and/or falls. It provides a symbolic ‘birds-eye view’ of the land elevation formations and I’ve always liked those particular types of maps for that reason. And this quilt has taken on the feeling of those topographical maps in some way.

“ANGELINA GOES TO TOWN” – approximately 8” x 10” detail c Pat Dolan

Above you get a glimpse of the shiny Angelina atop the hand-dyed cotton. You can see two different kinds of decorative yarns embedded in the Angelina, and you can see the quilting, done with numerous colored threads.

I doubt that this piece is ‘done…’ and rather suspect it will sit around awhile before I decide what’s next for it. Or maybe I’m really waiting for IT to tell me what is next… In any case, the over-all experimentation went rather well. The Angelina fused sheets stayed where I placed them with very little shifting. Occasionally some of the looser fibers got entangled with the darning foot, but that was easy to fix.

What do you think, so far? Any ideas for what might be next? If worse comes to worse, I can always cut it up into fiber art cards for next years American Cancer Society fund raising event on Virginia Spiegel’s web-site!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

My Latest Quilt...

"FLAMES" 36"x65" before quilting c Pat Dolan

Well, here it is, fused and ready to be quilted. It's larger than most of the things I've been working on and way more powerfully designed than any previous piece. I couldn't sleep the on Monday night & felt rage/grief burning in my soul. So I got up at 1:30am to do some written or art journaling but was too stubborn to do either. Instead, I went to the studio, pulled out my recently received Kona black, some black batting, and all the reds I could find in my stash. Mind you, I've ordered more red fabrics in the past week than I've ever ordered...none of which have yet arrived! I guess that anger has been working its way up for at least the past week, if not longer!

Anyway, I designed this piece on all black that night between 1:30am and 4:30am. As I was finally going to bed at 5 as the sun was lightening the skies, I 'knew' that the background would need some stripes. On Tuesday, I made the striped background that you saw in last nights posting. Then I fused down the design, adding to it and subtracting from it as I went. Mostly adding, I might add...

This piece for me is about the anger + grief at the loss of my authentic self in my early childhood. As my artist/muse has been coming to life throughout the past year or so, I'm rediscovering those aspects of myself that have long been negatively judged by others. As the family 'scapegoat,' I've been accustomed to accepting guilt/responsibility for all sorts of things - whether or not it was appropriate. And now, as I step out from behind the masks of "victim, scapegoat, the problem child, the burden, the difficult one, the spoiled brat, the embarrassment, the weird one," I am discovering my authenticity, my power, my voice, and my art. I am embracing my personal truth, reframing my life story, and moving on...joyfully!

I wonder what the quilt will dictate insofar as the quilting goes... I'm hoping to be able to quilt it next week - I'm busy through Sunday so it will have to wait until Monday. I'll post the progress as it moves along.

This piece for me is about the anger + grief at the loss of my authentic self in my early childhood. As my artist/muse has been coming to life throughout the past year or so, I'm rediscovering those aspects of myself that have long been negatively judged by others. As the family 'scapegoat,' I've been accustomed to accepting guilt/responsibility for all sorts of things - whether or not it was appropriate. And now, as I step out from behind the masks of "victim, scapegoat, the problem child, the burden, the difficult one, the spoiled brat, the embarrassment, the wierd one," I am discovering my authenticity, my power, my voice, and my art. I am embracing my personal truth, reframing my life story, and moving on...joyfully!

I wonder what the quilt will dictate insofar as the quilting goes... I'm hoping to be able to quilt it next week - I'm busy through Sunday so it will have to wait until Monday. I'll post the progress as it moves along.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Quilt projects

"Flaming Feathers" 22"w x 46" c2005

"Flaming Feathers" detail c2005

Aside from all the wildlife that abounds nearby, I've been creating up a veritable storm myself. I'm not sure just where all these ideas are coming from or how I earned so much enthusiasm for my work, but things are humming along beautifully. Maybe having bunnies and cats reproducing at my front and back doors is the inspiration for my own creativity. Who knows? All I know is that I'm having a ball and loving every moment of it!

Above is the almost-completed "Flaming Feathers" quilt - a full shot and a detail of the machine quilting. It still needs a binding and rod pocket...

Below is the background for a brand new quilt - maybe tomorrow I'll post the top as it is evolving in the studio. But for now, the background is bold enough to command attention... I took this photo from the balcony overlooking the studio so it's not a straight-on shot, but you get the drift from the photo.

Bunnies and such...

A mommy bunny has lived behind the house for several years. Last year she hollowed out a shallow nest for her young in the front garden by the street - where it was quickly ravaged, much to our dismay. This year, she has chosen the edge of forest for her nesting spot and it has seen some death as well as new life. Last week a single baby bunny was tentatively hopping beneath the leaves of my hosta - which tells you something of its size! I've taken a few photos of mom and of her solitary offspring - they are sitting in the side yard, about 20 feet from the house and at least that far from one another. I took the pictures from inside the front door.

New life has also appeared out back - in the form of kittens. The momma cat is a wild one, probably abandoned by someone leaving a townhouse in our community. She is well groomed, very clean, and very, very shy. She has had several litters of young under our next door neighbor's deck. Odd how the neighbor is never home, thus the deck is a perfect hiding place for the young ones - both from weather and from fox, coons, and other predators.

Several weeks ago Momma cat allowed her 4 young ones to come out of hiding - I heard them playing on our neighbors deck, jumping from chair to chair, and generally having a gay old time. Soft touch that I am, I immediately went out and bought some kitten food and proceeded to put food out each day. The Momma cat enjoyed her share, as did the kittens, when Daddy let them near the bowl!!! Daddy is a tame cat, comes calling at our back door now when he's in the neighborhood. He loves to be petted, but don't go near his tail or under-belly unless you want to be attacked! Mom cat is all black while Daddy has a white bib + under-belly and 4 white paws. The kittens are a mix of the two, nearly all are black with various small amounts of white on them.

I was surprised this weekend when a totally NEW batch of young kits came out from hiding - these must have been born while the other batch was still there, probably from a daughter of the aforementioned parents. These kittens all look just like the others. Pretty soon we'll have a whole herd of black cats prowling around! I'm not quite as enthusiastic today about that prospect as I was a few weeks ago with only 4 kittens showing up. They have since totally disappeared - replaced by their cousins or step-siblings or whatever! But they sure are cut... aren't they?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Virginia's Fundraiser! An Inspiration...


I just checked Virginia Spiegel's American Cancer Society fundraiser site ( and the fiber-art post card sales alone have raised $10,800.00!!!

It's quite likely that Virginia would be the LAST person to have thought this effort of hers would reach out and touch so many hearts, minds, souls, and spirits across the world. To Virginia and all those who donated art or money to the American Cancer Society fundraiser, may I offer you my heartfelt "THANK YOU!"

This is exactly the kind of inspiration that is needed by all of us - especially those who live in dread fear of cancer, terrorists, abuse, or anything else. Humanity is not represented in its worst and is much better than its best - and Virginia has offered us proof of that. She has given us a wonderful example of "the best" in humankind. And, just as important, she offers us a new model of HOPE for humankind. Virginia has proven that each individual CAN do something for the good of all, that we can do something that will result in positive major change(s). Her web-site has demonstrated that it's even easier to create the changes we most desire when other individuals join us in love to bring the dream to life.

Congratulations and blessings to us all. We have good reason to celebrate! Thanks, Virginia!!!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Noticing - the Artists Block...

Being somewhat confined to home (although not totally, by any means), I find myself with more time to create, play, mess around, have fun - and get stuck... As the deadline nears for the PA National Quilt Extravaganza show, I have just realized that I do not have a new piece large enough to enter either category. Last year, "Going In Circles" was juried into this show and I had hoped to enter "Flaming Feathers" this year - at least until I realized it is too small! It's amazing what an extra few inches means at times like this!

But that deadline, aside from calling my attention to size difficulties, also did something strange to my sense of fun in the studio. I was surprised to notice that I was "afraid" to start quilting “Flaming Feathers” – especially so since I really like the machine-drawing-quilting best of all the processes in the art of quilt-making! Somehow or other, the deadline/jury syndrome entered my being and all of the sudden, my art work became just that – WORK. I avoided the quilt for 3 full days before today when I finally decided to quilt SOMEthing on it, anything – just to get it going. That worked, of course, and the quilting has proceeded relatively smoothly since then.

While I’m in the creative mode, I rarely consider anyone or anything else other than the piece with which I am playing. Often, I have many such pieces in various stages of beginning, middling, and ending – although one piece usually has my major attention. When I get stuck on that one, or have only a little time to sew, I’ll pick up one of the other pieces laying around and play with it to see what will happen if I try this or that or something else.

But the prospect of entering a show with a piece that has yet to be completed makes me freeze up like a cars’ locked brakes as it skids across a frozen lake. As long as I forget about showing my work, entering competitions, having the judges look at the back (!!!), and/or other such nonsense, I create happily, freely, and lovingly. I experiment, play, mess around and have a great time. But when the ‘judge’ comes to visit inside my brain, I falter and hesitate, stop, read, do errands or (heaven forbid!) housework – anything to avoid completing my budding creation. You’d think I’d know by now that even if I ‘mess up,’ it’s OK – life goes on and I’ll make more art, some of it good, some of it less so. And even the presumed ‘failures’ have given me something in return – I’ve learned what not to do, or that I moved too quickly without listening to the quilt and its movement, or that part of it can be salvaged and used in other projects, yada, yada, yada.

Well, now that I’ve given myself this little pep talk, maybe I’ll go back and sew. Thanks for being here…

Saturday, July 16, 2005

One More Postcard Donation to Cancer Fund Drive

"Ice Blue"
4x6" fiberart card

Available for a purchase via your donation to the American Cancer Society at the following web address: Fiber Art Postcards

Friday, July 15, 2005

Two More Cancer Fundraiser Post Cards Donated Tonight

"Owl" 4x6" art card c2005
SOLD to Karey Bresenhan for the Collection of the International Quilt Festival-
Houston and Chicago

"Fall Feather Foliage" 4x6" artcard c2005

To purchase either of these cards as a way of donating to the American Cancer Society, please go to the following website:
Fiber Art Postcards

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hummingbird Insect???

Sitting on my deck on a sunny afternoon with my good friend, we happened to see what she thought was a Hummingbird and what I thought was an insect. It was zipping around much like a Hummingbird, and going from petunia blossom to petunia blossom as the hummers do. And it did have a hummers long beak sort of thing… along with a pair of long black antennae! And it was brown – a hummer color we do not have on the East coast… It was really too small for a Hummingbird, despite the fact that hummers are very tiny - about 4 1/2" long. In a way, it looked like a large brown moth – with a bright orange rump spot! Then again, it had dragonfly-like wings! What on earth was it???

My dear friend looked it up on-line under: hummingbird+insect. Duh! She discovered that it was a Clearwing Hummingbird Insect – also known as a copycat! Well, goes to show that we both were right, as per usual!

Hope you enjoy the photos! We had a great time with it...playing around as much with the symbolism of everything involved. We especially liked the 'copycat' image - maybe we should both pretend to be like a Hummingbird - in true copycat fashion - on our way to authentically becoming like Hummingbird...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fiber Art Cards for Cancer

MIXED BAG 4x6" Cottons with painted paper, chiffon and foiling, machine quilted. c2005 SOLD

ORANGE SWIRL 4x6" cotton + painted paper, machine quilted SOLD

I'm donating two more post cards to Virginia Spiegel's website for Cancer donations at I'll post them here since they aren't even in the mail yet to Virginia! Thanks to all who have purchased the 5 cards already donated. Glad to have the opportunity to contribute to such a good cause.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My Quiet Holiday Play-Time Weekend!


Fabric Bundles a la Sonji - made last week while resting the sprained knee.
copyright Pat Dolan


Fabric Beads a la Somerset Studio-Sharilyn Miller, made this weekend. There are over 120 beads in that little bowl!
copyright Pat Dolan

This was one fun weekend – my husband was dear enough to offer to do the cooking for most of the meals, which is a real vacation for me! After almost 40 years of meal preparations, I’m bored silly with meal planning. And, of course, I’d much rather be creating in the studio than cooking in the kitchen!

And what did I do with all this time? After following Sonji’s lead and making bundles last week, I decided the most obvious choice of all was to make fabric/fiber beads… This was a weekend to remember, a weekend of remembering, a weekend of bundling up old memories and repackaging them into delightful little beads + bundles – recycled for use in new art projects.

I also completed (except for framing or a border of some sort) two of the memory mini-quilts I began after Rayna Gillman’s class on various forms of printing on fabric. There are photos in the Blog entry for June 12, showing the placement of various items I planned to attach to each piece. Well, the objects are attached, and others have joined them. I went digging into boxes of old paraphernalia to locate some of the stuff. And I dug into my three antique button jars to locate a few more buttons.

Here is “Remembering Grandma” 13 ½”w x 11”h

"REMEMBERING GRANDMA" c2005 now complete - except for framing/hanging device. 13 1/2"w x 11"h
copyright Pat Dolan

All that digging through stuff is somehow an appropriate way to honor the 20th anniversary of my parents’ deaths. They died 8 days apart from totally separate causes…leaving us with a 3 story home with 45 years worth of miscellanea ad nauseum. Being the quilter that I am and was, I saved all the 100% cotton clothing that remained from our childhoods in the attic. I made 4 separate wall quilts from those clothes – one for each of us three sisters and one for my daughter. I also saved some of the vintage greeting cards – both my mom and HER mom saved every greeting card they ever received! I saved Dad’s old love letters to Mom prior to their marriage in 1937. Buttons, of course. A few treasured kitchen utensils. Dad’s old watch. Mom’s special porcelain jewelry box with roses on top. Old stamps. Etc. We three girls split up the jewelry, the furniture, the special china and silver, etc. Yet somehow it is all the littlest things that remind me of my folks, my childhood, times past.

As for my bundles, I didn’t bother digging out old fabric – I have plenty of scraps I’ve been saving for just such projects as these! Scraps of fabric, yarns, threads, cording, crochet threads, feathered yarns, fluffy stuff and simple stuff. Sounds just like my parent’s attic, doesn’t it. But my scraps are mostly less than 15 years old – purchased after our move to NJ. And so I began wrapping small strips of fabric. Sealing them with Gluestic. Then adding another slightly narrower strip of fabric, going perpendicular to the first, and gluing it down. There is a rhythm in doing such a mundane project, and the rhythm suited my mood rather well. When I had made 50 or so bundles, I quit making them and decided to tie some of them up like gift packages. So most of my little bundles have become mini-gift-bundles with little string ties dangling off them.

The bead came next – somehow it seemed like a perfect project to follow the bundles! I first saw them in one of Somerset Studio’s magazines. Last week I purchased their latest book: “HandCrafter-50 of Our Favorite Crafting Projects” at my local bookstore. And I found the fabric beads once again. This time, I immediately got all my supplies out and ready – after all, the house is already a huge mess. It’s been 6 weeks since I twisted my knee and there’s been no house cleaning in the interim. Perhaps in another week or two, after physical therapy is over, I may decide to resume cleaning. Meanwhile, my stuff is everywhere and all I needed were drinking straws to begin this latest endeavor. It took me one day to make the beads and a second day to decorate them. By the time I was done with something over 125 beads, I think I’ve figured out all the steps, especially the wiring & beading part, to my satisfaction.

Both bundles and beads have already found their way into one previously incomplete art quilt. I’ve titled it: “Gifts From the Sea” and have little beads & packages floating upward along with sea shells, beading, paint, Angelina fibers, etc. And I found the perfect embellishment to finish this piece – a machine embroidered blue dragonfly! Dragonflies hover above the water so I figured it was the perfect adornment to complete this piece.

And finally, “Gifts From the Sea” 10”w x 18”h

"GIFTS from the SEA" c2005 10"w x 16"h The addition of bundles and a bead or two was just what this piece needed for completion..
copyright Pat Dolan

So there you have my quiet weekend in word and pictures.