Author Archives for pokeysponderings

About pokeysponderings

I live and breathe surface design, stitching, playing in my studio, and connecting with other fiber, quilt, and mixed-media artists. That about sums me up.

“When You’re Tired, You Take a Nap-a, You Don’t MOVE to Napa!” (…or maybe you do)

I love the above borrowed quote from “Sex and the City.” (Thanks to a good friend for recently reminding me of it!)

In reference to this quote, I’m not tired exactly, but I have been restless for a long while and I’m ready to run my own gig again. I’ve leaked via social media what my initial plans are, but here’s the full deal:

In 2015 I am moving to Napa and I’m launching a media and event business.

The name of the business is Crafting A Life, LLC. It will focus on quilting, sewing, mixed media, cooking, journaling, fitness and of course—being in Napa—oenology (wine). There are  also plans for children’s crafting programs too (sans wine).

fabric fence

The initial phase of Crafting A Life, LLC, will consist of boutique-style retreats—small classes in an artful, inspiring environment. For these retreats—while learning skills and perfecting techniques—there will be fun diversions, short hikes with incredible views of Napa Valley, music breaks, great food and drink, and discussions (taking place in rocking chairs) to collectively share studio and art tips.

I am also building an art barn to host retreats (date TBA ). However, the website for Crafting A Life, LLC, will launch within a few weeks.

So if you would like to join me for these retreats starting next year, and maybe take a nap-a while here, you are welcome to. After all, I plan on investing in a number of hammocks. :)

#craftingalife

#homeofthepokeypour

Cool New DVD Out on Fabric Manipulation!


Something about the term “heirloom” and Cheryl Sleboda in the same sentence seems oxymoronic. When I hear the word “heirloom” I think traditional and dainty…more Martha Pullen than someone like Cheryl: someone who works in the comic book industry, sporting bright red hair and a platinum blond streak as wide as a quilting ruler. When I think heirloom, I don’t think of someone whose logo is a skull with cross bones made of a needle and thread, nor someone who in many  ways is a quilting pioneer, using LED lights in her quilts.

il_570xN.578483866_1diz

 

But alas, Cheryl has surprised me because not only has she proven to be an innovative quilter,  but someone who can take the term “heirloom” and make it modern with her new DVD, “Heirloom Sewing Techniques for Today’s Quilter.” In this DVD, she demonstrates numerous techniques for dimensional fabric manipulation. Using running stitches and drawing guides, she covers everything from smocking, gathering, puffing, pleating, scrunching, and more.

14QM15-1

 

I am far, far down on the roster of Cheryl’s blog hop to help promote her DVD, and others (listed below) have covered in depth the content of the DVD. However, I just want to chime in and say that if you want your quilts to pop (literally), Cheryl’s DVD is the go-to learning tool because she makes complicated patterns easy.

I should also add that Cheryl has her own tool, an heirloom smocking template, that does the drawing grid work for you! I am going to get this tool because I think it would be GREAT for shibori work. In fact, her fabric manipulation techniques would be really fun to try with shibori.

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Hmmm…I think that’s my next studio project when I am back home again.

 

To learn more about the content of Cheryl’s DVD, check out the blogs below!

June 9 – Susan Brubaker Knapp – http://wwwbluemoonriver.blogspot.com/

June 10 – Maddie Kertay – http://www.badassquilterssociety.com/

June 11 – Faith Jones – http://www.freshlemonsquilts.com/

June 12 – Lynn Krawczyk – http://smudgedtextilesstudio.com/blog/

June 13 – Julie Creus – http://www.latodera.com/blog

June 16 – Catherine Redford – http://catherineredford.com/

June 17 – Megan Dougherty – http://thebitchystitcher.com/

June 18 – Pokey Bolton – (me)

June 19 – Jamie Fingal – http://www.jamiefingaldesigns.com/

June 20 – Cheryl Sleboda – http://muppin.com/wordpress/index.php/blog/

A Visit to the Big Apple & Zip Code 94558

I recently was invited to New York City for the weekend, and wanting to keep my mind occupied (more on that in a minute), I couldn’t have picked a a more picture-perfect weekend to go!

freedom tower

A view of the Freedom Tower in the distance. (Picture taken from the top of the Empire State Building.)

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I took advantage of three beautiful days in the city, starting every day with a run through Central Park…

skyline run

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…where I came across a most ambitious (and strong) dog walker. (That’s 10 dogs she is walking together.)

dog walker

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I also visited the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, spending a somber three hours there. There are no words for this…north tower pool

 

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ladder 3

 

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On a more cheerful note, I also went to Mood Fabrics of “Project Runway” fame, and I was so overwhelmed by the stacks and stacks of bolts towering over me, I didn’t buy a single thing. I also went to the Museum of Sex because 1) such a museum actually exists, and 2) you never know of you will learn something. ;)

Mood

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And on a G-rated note, I saw my best friend’s little sister perform as Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins, the Musical.” If you are in the tri-state area in the next couple of months, I highly recommend bringing your family to see this production!

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Lauren Blackman as Mary Poppins, playing at the Westchester Theatre in Elmsford, NY.

 

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I also spotted someone in Times Square who has gained so much notoriety for playing his guitar in nothing but tighty whities,  he recently gained national endorsements from Fruit of the Loom. Yes, I’m talking about the Naked Cowboy. Below we are scheming a pose for a picture.

 

staging

And here’s my 2014 Christmas card!

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Naked Cowboy

That’s a joke by the way! (And if you are wondering if I had any Purell in my purse, I am always packing.)

All in all, a great trip! One of the reasons I was trying to keep my mind occupied for the past few days is I had just made an offer on a property in Northern California, my homeland.  Knowing that it could take several days to hear anything back, I was very glad for the Big Apple distraction.

Just a couple days ago I found out my offer was accepted, and I am now back in California for two days to begin the due diligence process. This property isn’t just a place where I can live, but where I can work, too. (Hey, I can’t play and travel forever!)

The zip code? 94558.

Napa Valley.

I hope this works out,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica Recap

I recently went to Costa Rica where I spotted this mile marker in the sand. Made me think it would be fun to make my own mile marker and stick in my front yard with the distances of all the locales I want to visit! (Except my accompanying caution sign wouldn’t warn of jellyfish but rather of frogs, dogs, a cat, and my visiting turtle.)

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Reason for the trip? I went to Costa Rica to help celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday with his sons and their significant others. Meet Jim. He has been my biggest supporter the past year or so…and it’s time to out him. ;)

Affable and positive, humorous and kind–who despite his own hard knocks in life–maintains a perpetual smile on his face that is very, very hard to remove.

 

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Before he met me, he didn’t know much about quilting, but he stopped by every day at the International Quilt Festival last year to learn about the quilt world, to understand, to meet my friends, to watch me teach and demonstrate (and to check in with me at lunch and dinner to make sure I ate).

Last week while in Costa Rica, we went catch-and-release deep sea fishing, and by this picture collage below you can tell I caught a fish about the size of a guppy. I was still proud!

Fishingx

You may recognize Belen Timmins (bottom middle), also a former Quilts Inc., employee, who now works full-time at the George R. Brown Convention Center as an Event Coordinator. (Jim’s her father-in-law.) Fortunately for all of us, she caught a fish we could actually eat, a rather tasty mahi-mahi we grilled that night.

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photo 1

 

We also went zip lining through a rain forest–11 zip lines in total that sailed high, high above the tree tops (one zip line was more than a 1/4 mile long), and encouraged those of us afraid of heights to profess the most colorful, unique expletives I think I’ve ever heard.

 

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All in all, a great time, and before I left–although a bit faint–I had a rainbow sighting!

 

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Here’s to a summer filled with new adventures for all…

Happy Mother’s Day!

I recently came across a picture on my iPhone from February 2013 at my grandmother’s house that still makes me grin: three generations of women washing their faces before bed.

 

 

 

3 Generations

 

That’s my mom on the far left, my grandmother “Fooie” (Ruthie) in the middle, and me on the right in a very flattering shower cap and sporting my Texas Quilt Museum t-shirt.

This nightly ritual at my grandmother’s place–all together washing our faces–has been a ritual in place since I was a baby. It was the favorite time of day for me as I listened to all the stories, family gossip, and of course was given a lot of beauty tips and life advice.

To all of you moms out there: new moms, old moms, soon-to-be moms, step-moms, mothers-in-law, single moms, grandmothers, teachers, fur baby moms, great grandmothers, Big Sisters, and nurturing women everywhere…I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

Mahalo (Thank You) and Getting “Mauied”

Since I announced my resignation, I have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of letters, emails, FB messages, and kind gestures  of support. Thank you for being so understanding and for taking the time to reach out! I am really looking forward to a bit of a break, and time to think about next steps. So as they say in Hawaiian…Mahalo. Thank you.

Speaking of Hawaii, I went to Maui last week and attended the wedding of my best friend from high school. She is going to throttle me for posting this particular ephemeral bit of embarrassment from more than 23 years ago…

Universal Studios

 

I think we look a lot better today, laugh lines and all…

CindyPokey

Meet Cindy–one of the kindest people I have ever met. She has been through so much in the last few years, and on top of keeping it together, raising her two girls,  (and doing it all with an exemplary positive attitude), she is a nurse in pediatric oncology at UCSF. She is–quite simply–resilient.

Fortunately, her kind nature was noticed by a similarly nurturing and humor-loving person: a research doctor, “Dr. Rob,” in pediatric oncology, also at UCSF. Cindy and Rob have been in a relationship for several years, and at long last he got a ring on her finger.

Luckily for all of Rob and Cindy’s friends, they made it a destination wedding in Maui so we could all take some time off, chillax, and celebrate with them.

After a nearly 10-hour flight, I arrived to this view…

SunsetI spent time with old friends and meeting their children for the first time. Below is Rose, Cindy’s college roommate from Georgetown, and her daughter Kiera. I was hell-bent on getting Kiera to like me…but it wasn’t easy and it took me a while.

RoseKiera

 

A couple days later, I was honored to help watch over Kiera on the beach when she felt “sleepy,” and when she asked me to be her escort to go to the public bathroom, well…I’ve never felt so important to anybody or anything in my life.

Sleeping Kiera

 

 

I also watched my friend’s kids giddily do the hula on stage at a luau.

KidsHula

And the night before the wedding, the adults toasted with Pokey Pours.

Cheers

The morning of the wedding, we took the groom for a 7:00 AM Cross Fit session (where I got my ass kicked).

Training Day

 

Before the ceremony I caught up with an old friend from high school days (and we toasted you, Bud Chatham)!

TalPokey

And when it came time for the ceremony, we all got our tissues ready. Below, Rob is escorted by his two daughters.

Rob and girls

Then Cindy’s two daughters made their way up…

Lily and Maggie

And then I saw Cindy make her way, flanked by both her parents. If you thought I was crying and putting my waterproof mascara to work, you’re right.

DickCindyDiane

 

And Cindy, always the ham, did this when she got kissed…

Cindy and Rob married

I am so glad to see my friend happy.

RoseCindyPokey

 

And the best news of all, by the end of the trip I had won over a new BFF!

PokeyKiera

 

An incredible time.

I’m staying the course. I am keeping to my promise of welcoming new adventures, embracing change, and exploring new opportunities.

Mahalo.

My Big News

I have been incredibly fortunate the last two (plus) years to work alongside some amazing individuals who have been nothing but family to me:

 

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I have loved being Chief Creative Officer at Quilts Inc., but I have been giving it a lot of thought lately, and have decided to be the Chief Creative Officer…of me.

Last week, I submitted my resignation, and after teary hugs with coworkers, and a wonderful meeting with Karey Bresenhan who has always been so supportive of me,  I departed, and am officially now my own CCO.

I resigned for no other reason than I am ready for a break after a lot of change in my life the past few years.

My bucket list over the next few months:

• See if I can train Tyrion, my new puppy to be a service dog, and go to hospitals to bring smiles to children’s faces.

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• Finish the baby quilt for my great nephew who was born last October. (I hope to finish it before he turns five in 2018.)

• TRAVEL! To date, the roster for the next couple of months looks like this:

Hawaii next week, with a trip to San Francisco, Napa, Marin County, and Monterey the following week. Later in May, I’m heading to Costa Rica, and in June, I’m going to Zurich, Amsterdam, and London…where I will sit court side at Wimbledon (and eat strawberries and cream).

While I replenish my creative tank and embark on my Eat Pray Love adventure, I will always remain a friend of Quilts Inc. Although I am sitting Spring Market out, I will attend the Festivals…but as a civilian. ;) And of course I am going to champion Festival’s Pet Project at the 40th anniversary of Quilt Festival this fall!

As I make this transition in my life, a picture from my childhood came to mind:

Captain of my own journey

Above, I am at the helm of Freedom, the 12-metre racing yacht, which a few months later, won the America’s Cup in 1980. (Skipper Dennis Connor, my dad’s friend, is cheering me on behind me.)

I am ready to be the skipper of my own adventure.

Thanks to all of my quilting friends who have been so supportive of me over the last 14 years. I hope you’ll continue to read my blog and stay friends as I craft a new life.

With love,

Pokey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it look like to pursue a dream (or follow a hunch)?

I got to do something pretty sweet this past weekend: hang out with Leslie Jenison and meet Tim Jenison of “Tim’s Vermeer” fame:

Leslie Tim Pokey

For those who don’t know,  art quilter Leslie Jenison is married to Tim Jenison, an incredibly gifted and talented inventor who took a sabbatical from his company, NewTek, to take it easy and relax (::::cough::::):  and attempt to paint Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”

Musiclesson

The original Vermeer painting resides in Buckingham Palace. After some cajoling, Tim was able to go inside the palace and have a 30-minute audience with the painting (no camera equipment allowed).

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Never having painted before, Tim had a theory about how the 17th century Dutch Master was able to paint such photorealistic paintings, and surmised that Vermeer used optical lenses and mirrors–technical aids–to help create his masterpieces.

The documentary chronicles Tim’s journey to recreate a Vermeer in the exact conditions Vermeer painted: everything from constructing the actual room in “The Music Lesson” (from scratch) in a warehouse in San Antonio; mixing pigments (only pigments that were available to Vermeer); creating lenses using 17th century technology and tools; carving furniture (which Tim had never done before); making the windows (never did that either)…everything.

In the documentary, Tim’s first attempt to test his theory was by painting a picture of his father-in-law, and angling a mirror in such a way on the canvas, that he could essentially match the tone of the paint to the photograph, and recreate an image.  When the edge of the mirror seamlessly blended with the color of the paint on the canvas, then he knew he had a perfect tone, and that’s how he painted. (Go see the documentary…he explains it much better than I am trying to!)

Leslie's Dad

It took Tim seven months to finish his Vermeer masterpiece, but in total–including building the actual room–Tim’s Vermeer took five years.

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Bitsy

Above: Bizzi the schnauzer guards Tim’s Vermeer.

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And the painting now resides in his bedroom.

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It was incredible having the chance to see the painting in person!

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Bed

And of course I loved the quilt on the bed. Leslie shared with me that she purchased an antique quilt top (a grandmother’s flower garden pattern), then had a friend free-motion quilt it with black thread in whimsical designs.

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quilt

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It was a memorable experience, too, seeing the documentary in San Antonio not only with the Jenisons, but with one of my very favorite artists, Jane Dunnewold.

Leslie Jane

All in all, an incredibly inspiring weekend, and one of those experiences that makes you do a life inventory. Any quilter or creative person reading this post, I highly recommend seeing this documentary.

Trust me, you will come away changed.

What do fabric flowers have to do with selfies?

Yesterday afternoon, a few of us in the office got together to try Alisa Burke’s tutorial for making dimensional fabric flowers for wreaths for our Community Garden at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!  Here’s just a small sampling of what we made:

fabric flowers staff

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Seeing my colleagues having a good time together around the crafting table, I was reminded of a picture that I thought would be fun to replicate:

Oscars selfie

Photo Credit: Ellen Degeneres (…but you knew that already)

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So we each posed with a fabric flower:better selfie

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The above picture is lovely, but one of our very hip, social-media savvy co-workers Carmen Beck pointed out that in order to be an authentic selfie, we needed to take it ourselves. So we tried. First shot didn’t work out so well…

bad selfie

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But we got it on take two!

Quilts Selfie

(And if you are wondering why Kim is wearing Blues Brothers glasses, he is recovering from cataract surgery.)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Flower Tutorial #2 for Our Community Garden at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!

 

 

 

 

 

Fiber artist Julie Creus at La Todera generously offered  me the opportunity to re-post her tutorial for making a sakura brooch as a  project idea for our Community Garden for Quilt! Knit! Stitch! (Thanks, Julie!)

I have gotten some questions about whether the fabric flowers for our community garden need to have stems, and the answer is no, they do not. We plan to not just “plant” fabric flowers but also to hang them from lattice work that will be the backdrop to the garden. Also, we welcome all types and kinds of flowers made from knitting, crochet, quilting, and mixed media (yes, we welcome paper flowers, too!)

 

I think this brooch would be cute to make with polka dot fabrics:

D9RdN409LXARihDL_6YOGO7AJzpEVzCPpIdv1bPwxKE-450x450

Materials:

  • 1 fat quarter of pink fabric
  • 1 fat quarter green fabric
  • 1 fat quarter yellow fabric
  • Thread
  • 3 small pearl-like beads
  • Poly-fil stuffing
  • Embroidery floss: dark yellow
  • 1 sheet crafts felt: green
  • 1 pin back (1-1/4″ long)
  • Long hand-sewing needle (that will fit through your pearl-like beads)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pinking shears

Finished brooch: 4-1/2″

Cut Fabric:

Click this link to download the pattern templates in a PDF.

From pink fabric, cut:

  • 5 pattern A

From green fabric, cut:

  • 5 of pattern B

From yellow fabric, cut:

  • 1 of pattern C

From green felt, cut:

  • 1 of patterns D and E

**Note: After cutting the green felt circles, cut around them again with pinking shears for a decorative edge.

Assemble the Brooch:

flower brooch

1. Fold pink shapes in half lengthwise with right sides out; press. Fold green circles in quarters with right sides out; press.

flower brooch

2. Thread needle with 20″ strong thread. Sew a 3⁄8″ running stitch 1⁄8” from raw edge of one pink shape. Begin and end sewing on top side of work. Do not backstitch or cut thread.

flower brooch

3. Continue with one green shape. Stitch three in-and-out stitches as shown and leave it on the thread next to the large pink petal.

flower brooch

4. Add the rest of the pink and green shapes in the same manner, alternating between the two. You should have a total of 5 large and 5 small petals on the thread.

flower brooch

5. Gather the 10 petals to the center of the thread. Scrunch them together as closely as possible. Tie ends of thread together so that petals form a donut shape. The ‘hole’ of the donut should be as small as you can make it (around 3/4″ across); clip threads. Find right side of flower. Pull small green petals up and away from larger ones. Manipulate large pink petals into spoon shapes by pushing your thumb into the center of each petal.

flower brooch

6. Stitch 1/8″ away from the raw edge of the yellow circle using 1/4″ stitch length. Stitch all around the circumference, starting and ending on the right side of the fabric.

flower brooch    flower brooch

7. Gather the circle up into a cup shape, insert a tiny amount of stuffing, and pull thread tight to close the circle. Tie off and trim thread. Press to flatten puff.

flower brooch    flower brooch

8. Use three strands of embroidery floss about 20″ and tie large knot at end. Starting from the backside of puff, bring needle up 1/4″ in from edge. Wrap thread around to the back side of the puff and bring needle up through the same hole. Again wrap thread around to the back side of the puff and bring needle up through same hole. Pull tight. Now bring needle back down so that floss is now on back side. Bring needle up about 1/4″ over from first stitches, 1/4″ in from edge. Repeat wrap stitches until you have 5 ‘dents’ around perimeter of puff.

flower brooch    flower brooch

9. Use sewing thread that matches the beads and make a large knot at the end of the thread. Bring thread up at edge of a floss line. Thread a bead on, and stitch back down through the center. Repeat with the two remaining beads. Tie off in back and clip threads.

flower brooch

10. Apply small amount of hot glue to inner ring of petal ring. Apply center puff, covering the hole.

flower brooch

11. Apply hot glue to larger circle of felt and center over opening on back of flower. Glue pin on center of felt. Apply glue to small felt circle and apply over pin as shown.

To see more ideas, check out Julie’s blog!

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