This year, I am undertaking a four-month leave of absence from my work, studio practice and teaching in order to travel the UK and Europe with my 16-year-old daughter.  My studio is packed up, my home rented out and my life on hold.   

We are now nearly seven weeks into this 15-week adventure.  When I left off my last post, we were still drifting about Norfolk in idle exploration.  Since then, we have completed more than three weeks of WWOOFing – volunteering our labour on organic farms in exchange for food and lodging.  Evenings and days off, we bus around Cambridgeshire, endlessly curious to discover, see and experience.
 The intellectual tasks of planning and organizing placements could not prepare me for the profound impact this life would have on my spirit and psyche.  The trip was intended as a gift for my daughter, yet has filled my lap with gifts of a different sort.   

 The greatest gift has been to my relationship with my daughter.  Teenagehood and menopause make for volatile housemates.  After a couple of years of constant conflict, we were far apart and individually worried about how we could possibly survive this trip.  Prior to our departure, I joked that we would either grow closer or only one of us would come back alive.  

These weeks have seen us in each other’s company 24 hours a day, sharing a tent or a room.  We ought to have been ripping each other’s throats out by now.  Yet, curiously, the reality has been quite different.  We talk.  Deeply.  We laugh uproariously in a way we never have.  We cry sometimes as the multiple griefs of the last two years work their way out of our flesh.  And we are silent together.  The little conflict that has arisen has been openly resolved.  I see a deepening maturity in her.  I see a deepening wisdom in myself.  The  profound gift of an opportunity to see each other differently has allowed us to break the pattern and forge a new path.  I love this girl more fiercely than ever.  Over these weeks, I have come to know how very much I like her.  Better still, I have learned to truly respect her.  I have witnessed a similar dawning in her eyes.  And through the gift of this time, I have finally learned to let go. 

 As this learning has come home to me, I have felt my spirit open like a flower.  We have spent these weeks living alongside others, often complete strangers thrown together.  Through it, I have felt by times exhilarated, anxious, joyful, scared, happy and resentful.  Everything about this trip has stripped me bare and hammered me hard in the areas I most desperately need to learn and develop.  Every day, I learn lessons of restraint, of humility, of service and sacrifice.  Of circumspection and respect.  Every day, I find these gifts within myself, resources to draw upon as I feed my soul from the land’s beautiful cycles.  From this time, new friendships are growing, my circle is widening and I am learning new things and remembering old ones I thought I had long forgotten.  Through it all, I am deeply, profoundly, lastingly in love.  Prayers of gratitude tremble on my lips a dozen times a day.  I am so grateful for the learning.   


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

And so in a month, I depart for CREATE New Jersey! The experience of CREATE Irvine was wonderful, and I will share some images and stories soon. In the meantime, there are many fantastic workshops to choose from in New Jersey, and places still available. I hope you will come join us for some creative play!

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CREATE 2013 I'm Teaching ButtonAs April winds towards its end, I am beginning my preparation to attend the CREATE Mixed Media Retreat in Irvine, California.  This is a time each year that I relish for multiple reasons.  The atmosphere, new and old friends galore and creativity combine to make for a fun and enjoyable time.  I lived in California until I was ten, and it is always a joy to return.  Best of all is that I get to travel with my dear friend and colleague Tiffany Teske.  Tiffany and I both lead busy lives in the same community, and so time for anything more than the occasional cup of tea together can be hard to find.  We look forward to the time of travelling (and co-teaching in a couple of workshops) as our time.

This year, in both CREATE SoCal and CREATE New Jersey, I am teaching six workshops!  Here is a…

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I enjoyed revisiting this blog post from February 2011, as I have once again been working with aspen trees, apertures and concertinas.

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I’ve had one of those wonderful days today where I was able to give undivided time and attention to mastering a new technique.  I am practicing some new book forms, always looking for new ways to express what my hands want to say, as well as having new and interesting techniques to share with others when they ask for playshops with me. 

Today, I wanted to practice a different type of concertina or accordion book utilising apertures and cutouts.  I never tire of creating books with apertures and views, and can’t seem to work fast or often enough to create all the ways I find to express this. 

The aperture and the doorway perpetually fascinate me.  I return again and again to the theme, photograph doors and doorways everywhere I have travelled.  I have built up a huge collection of photographs of doors and doorways, both humble and grand.  Last week, some of my favourite…

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Just a year ago, my DVD “CPS Workshops: Handmade Book Essentials” was released. I am so grateful to everyone who has purchased and commented on it since then. Now, as my publisher Interweave has recently been purchased by F & W Media, my DVD and many other Interweave products will soon become available through a much wider selection of media and sources in a greater number of countries. As details come to me, I will share them with you. Thank you so much for your support.

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Recent weeks have been very busy ones for me.  In the past week, I travelled to Loveland, Colorado to visit the offices of Interweave Press.  Along with four other teachers, I was there to record a workshop DVD for Interweave’s ‘Cloth Paper Scissors Workshops’ DVD series.  It was an exciting new adventure for me.  I was blown away by the welcome and the professionalism, and how I was made to feel very much part of the team.  I hope you will like the result!  We had a good few laughs making it and did some fun work too.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Today, my book arts work was kindly introduced to the public at Elevation Gallery as part of their Get Sm(art) Give Sm(art) exhibition contributing to the Christmas Spirit Campaign.  It is a privilege to be welcomed into this creative community, and another new adventure that…

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Hurricane Sandy has blown itself out, the holidays are on their way, thoughts are turning to pumpkin pie and gifts and family . . . but what about all those families – parents, children, grandparents, furry friends – whose lives and homes have been destroyed by Sandy?  This picture was taken for Greenpeace on the New Jersey shore.  Those families are still very much in need, they will not be enjoying the comfort of home for the holidays.  So, what can you do to help?  Well, let me tell you.

Art is . . . You Art Retreats is rallying the artistic community and its supporters to lend a hand.  YOU can help.  Art is . . .You is working with the charity Family to Family to help raise funds through the artistic community to provide food and home comforts to displaced families.  I have included a message from Family to Family Executive Director Pam Koner below.  Click on the Art is . . . You image and it will take you to the website where you can donate.

There’s a bonus in donating through this channel!  Every person who donates will be entered into a draw to win some beautiful and fantastic art prizes donated by artists in support of the cause.  What are you waiting for?  Get clicking!

A special Message from Pam Koner,
Executive Director of Family to Family

Good evening all…..

A triage system is underway right now, with community leaders and outreach workers necessarily focusing on the immediate problems of housing, warmth and food.

It’s a slow process gathering the individual families (as I mentioned in an earlier email), since many are temporarily out of the area since their homes are gone or flooded… our goal is to be there for the longer run for these families, not just in the coming days, but in the critical upcoming period as they start to rebuild their lives.  We’ll keep you updated with our progress as more information comes in.

We learned that at least for today, both UPS and FedEx have suspended deliveries to many of the affected areas, including the Rockaways and Breezy Point.  If you ship anything through one of these carriers, be aware that it probably will take a few extra days to get things delivered.


So please…if you are going to send anything…..send blankets, space heaters (new)!! winter gloves, diapers, batteries, face masks, laundry detergent, new socks and new packs of underwear in all sizes  for men and women.

For food items….cans of soup (easy to heat and eat)  would be perfect…and  don’t  forget a can opener!! 🙂

Please email us at moreinfo@family-to-family.org to tell us what you’ve sent.

All items can be mailed to:

Rev. John Rocco Carlo
Christian Pentecostal Church
900 Richmond Rd.
Staten Island, N.Y. 10304

The Broad Channel Vol. Fire Dept.
Attn: Tracy Moccio
15 Noel Road
Broad Channel, N.Y. 11693

 Councilman James Sanders, Jr.
Attn: Steve Behar
1526 Central Avenue
Far Rockaway, N.Y. 11691

The Catholic Club
Attn: Keir Johnson
204-10 Rockaway Point Blvd.
Rockaway Point, N.Y. 11697

Rockaway Beach Surf Club
Attn: Samantha Casolari
302 Beach 87th St.
Rockaway Beach, N.Y. 11693

Knights of Columbus, Council #126
Attn: Eddie Velinskie
3051 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11229

Also, we received this request today…..

“My friend, Lynda Collins is president of the Home & School Association at St. Rose of Lima in Rockaway, in Rockaway Beach, NY. Many schools were affected by Hurricane Sandy. They are hoping to have the kids back in school ASAP.  Lynda is asking that as many people as possible mail a welcome back card to the school. St. Rose of Lima School, 154 Beach 84th Street Rockaway Beach, NY 11693. They will hang these cards for all the children and leave them until every child who has been forced to move or is displaced is back together under one roof. Donations are also accepted! Thanks everyone – every little bit helps.”

Last, daily we are adding on new “on the ground” partners….who are taking our help gladly, and we anticipate we will have many families registering with us for help.

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I find myself in a pleasant lull between activities.  CREATE California and some big submissions have been completed, the next sizeable deadline is a couple of weeks off.  It is good to be able to look forward and begin work toward some longer-range goals and deadlines.

What is even better is to get some dedicated studio time in.  I have been teaching so much of late that studio time and the creation of new work has suffered.  It’s to be expected, as it is the teaching season.  I’m enjoying this little oasis of peace and stillness to begin work on a piece I have long wanted to create.

Some time ago, I came across some images that had been created simulating music sound waves.  The patterns were so ethereal and beautiful and I was fascinated to discover how these images had been made.  Some research led me to learn that…

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Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by my blog during this week’s blog party.  As part of the celebrations, I am giving away a copy of Daniella Woolf’s new book and DVD “The Encaustic Studio” to one lucky participant who left a comment.

And we have a winner!  Our random number generator came up with Nan Robkin as our lucky winner, congratulations Nan!  I’ll be in touch with Nan direct to arrange shipment, but in the meantime, check out her blog:

Thanks everyone, and keep exploring.  I hope Nan will share some pictures of the tricks she gets up to from this wonderful book.  See you soon!

There are still a few places available on this workshop! I hope you will come and join us.

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