Dragon Draft

I think I’ve created a pretty good design for my dragon.  The hardest part was the head and it went through several manifestations before I got one that seemed powerful but friendly.  This is a Seeing Eye Dragon who will accompany a visually impaired woman in a fabric sculpture I’m creating called “Shared Vision.”

It’s for the show A Somewhat Secret Place: Art and Disability.  The show will open on July 7th at PRESENTspace at 939 NW Glisan here in Portland, Oregon.  There is still an active Kickstarter campaign going on to help with expenses and to produce a new kind of book that will make the exhibit accessible to visually impaired art lovers.  The curator and visionary behind the show is a visually impaired artist and I think her work on this exhibit has the capacity to influence how art shows are put together in the future.  But it’s a pretty expensive process and the deadline is closing in, so we need all the help we can get. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here:


I will have three pieces in the show.  My art is almost always about the physical challenges and transformations of life.   I’m very excited about the Shared Vision piece, which I am creating specifically for this exhibit.   While making it, I sometimes take off  my glasses and just work in the blur.  I want to make this a very touchable piece.   I plan to do the title for the piece in “braille” done in french knots.

I wanted to make the service animal a dragon because it symbolizes a mythic sense of power.  I want this piece to be about the power of symbiotic relationships and how our vision is shaped not only by what we see but how we see it.

Like all my dolls and cloth sculptures, I’m starting with an idea and figuring out how to put it together.  I’ve researched how stuffed animals are made and even made a pretty awful alligator from a a pattern.  I didn’t even photograph it and I blame the pattern.  But here, at last, is a pretty good “draft” or prototype of the dragon.  This is without wings or spikes and I’ll probably fatten it up and lengthen the tail, but this is the basic pattern.  It’s going to be a combination of a Western and Eastern dragon, as well as having some canine attributes.

Enter the Draft Dragon

Her face is detailed with markers here but the visionary dragon will have beaded and embroidered eyes and a painted mouth.

Dragon Head

And these are the main fabrics I’ll be using — a pearlized gold with green contrasts.

Dragon fabric

This visionary dragon will take approximately 40 hours to construct and I’ll try to post it at various stages over the next week.  Then I’ll build her visually challenged companion.

Meanwhile, here’s the website of another artist who will be participating in the show.  I love the work of Pat Krishnamurthy who has a wonderful range of styles.  I love that she uses quilts as an inspiration and blends together fragments into singular pieces.  She has a great sense of color and story and her Archetypes for Aging series is vibrant and compelling.


Art Doll / Wallhanging

I finished my new fabric art piece today — a sort of combination doll, quilt and wallhanging.   I often see a figure in the pattern of a fabric — in this case a kind of blurred birch bark print — I don’t really know why.  I also often “see” patterns of color when I look at people.  When I was younger, I had epilepsy and used to think I had second sight and could see people’s auras.  Now I just think I have a visual blip that’s kind of cool.  You should see the characters in my dreams.

I’ve made a series of pieces where figures emerge out of the fabric.   They are very hard to photograph, but I hope you can see this one well enough.  This one is called “Not Out of the Woods Yet.”

We’re often in situations where we’ve struggled to recreate or recover some aspect of ourselves.  We struggle with our health.  We struggle with our relationships.  This piece speaks to that urge to move forward, even when we are still intimately tied to our situations.  When I first envisioned this piece, I thought I would embellish it with lots of floral embroidery and beading — vines, leaves, and lots of representation of the forest.  Instead, as I created it, I settled for more subtle stitches with perle cotton embroidery thread.  I used painted fabric for the few leaves, embellished with gold gel ink.

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I love the way the fabric flutes around the figure.  I originally mounted it on a piece of foam board but it looked too flat for me.  I think leaving it to hang “naturally” makes it more inviting to the touch, too.  What do you think?

This unique work is for sale in Etsy shop for $200.  Click here for a link:



Recovery Doll

Art Doll Detail
Art Doll Detail
Recovery Hand and Heart

I got to deliver my latest commission to my friend Mary yesterday.  She liked the pose of the Survivor Doll, but she wanted something more in line with her own story, a story of recovery — so this is Recovery.  Mary is a skilled needleworker.  I imagined her covering herself, protecting herself with her own craft.  Arts and crafts are a major part of how we save ourselves and how we recreate ourselves.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to make this doll and think about how hard it is to re-invent ourselves.  But in that struggle, there is so much beauty.

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She is a cloth doll over a wire armature.  Her hair is made from lamb and alpaca wool and silver thread.  Her dress is hand knitted from a linen, silk and rayon blend yarn.

The object in her hand is a symbol of the vision it takes to imagine a better life for oneself. I was lucky to find a silver origami crane charm as a focal point for her.  Her heart is symbolized by a smooth red glass fragment secured with silver wire and a locked locket.  She protects her heart and moves forward.

If you are interested in commissioning an art or medicine doll, please contact me.

New Doll — Birdie

I just put this doll up for sale on my Etsy shop for $35.  I wanted to make something simple after the last one.

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Birdie is a 21″ companion or bed-doll. I was inspired by some of the sweet elder women I see walking through parks, feeding birds and enjoying life. She just beams with happiness and is happy to take a minute to listen.

She’s hand-stitched from cotton fabric with acrylic yarn. Her body is a bit abstract, but I wanted her to have a bird spirit and found this little piece of bird fabric that suited her perfectly. She is partly stuffed with rice to help her sit, but she still needs a little back support. I love the sort of goofy, languid look the extra long arms give her. They are loosely stuffed with thick yarn and are very limber. (She’s been doing her yoga!)

Her face is needle-sculpted and hand painted. She wears hummingbird earrings bought at a hummingbird festival in Mississippi.