Deborah S.

Greetings! My name is Deborah C. Stearns.  I live in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC in the United States. I am a college professor (I teach psychology and women's/gender studies), but I also enjoy working with textiles and fibers, as well as embellishments of various kinds. I make wearables and items for use as well as purely ornamental pieces. I am also working in digital photography and I have been combining my photographs with textiles. I have trouble finding or making consistent studio time, though, and my practice has been in fits and starts, at best.  I'm hoping to get past my various stumbling blocks to find a pathway to work in the studio more consistently.

Susan L.

Hi all.

My name is Susan Lazear and I live is the San Diego area of California. I wear many hats in my work and creative life. I am a college Professor (Fashion), and I own a software business that develops software for the textile arts. I also love to create when I can manage it, and lately, that seems to have slid away. I do various textile arts (sewing, knitting, etc.) and I’ve started to dabble in some ‘art art’ as well, particularly mixed media. I also love to write and have published some. Music is part of my life as well, and I dabble in a bit of writing coffee house sounds, and currently am learning how to play the accordion (you may laugh).

So, as you might guess, I do a lot of things, but not necessarily to the level I wish I could. Attention span is a challenge. The Italian word for focus is ‘fuoco’. It’s also the word for fire.  I need a little of both in my life.

I’m taking this course for a variety of reasons. The primary reason is to spur on my creativity in my business. I need to work on new items, and ideas, and reinvigorate myself as well as my assistants.

I can take the prize for being the ‘slow’ one in posting here. Apologies., but I had a New York trip for a week, and actually did focus there… on New York.

I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone here.

Rayne V.

Hi! My name is Rayne and I work as a substitute elementary teacher for Pittsburgh.  I have played with a few art forms and crafts over the years.

The best times in life are when I see Art all around me or when I'm inspired to create something for a friend.  That has not happened in a long time.  I don't see poems and paintings anymore as much as my laundry list of work to do.  I don't listen to people as much as I want to hide away from family and friends and the jobs they need me to do.

I'm here because I miss the joy and fun that came from that flow of creativity.  I know it's all there but I need help finding it.

I was rereading a favorite book and came across my new favorite words I say in my head.  It talked about seeking a newer world and to "Seek it no longer.  Now, call it forth."  There is hope in the words "call it forth" and I like the idea to stop seeking and call upon what is already there.

Judy C.


I have been in my own business as an Occupational Therapist for over 20 years.  I find that it allows me some creativity in terms of helping others adapt their challenges of life to live basic day to day life.

For myself, while there is certainly gratification in what I do I find myself frustrated with finding me in creativity.  I have dabbled in all kinds of areas of art, from writing, to life drawing, to knitting, to crochet, to felting, to natural dying of yarn and fabric but I just keep wandering and never feel like I actually create anything.  I make various scarves or afghans and I just love learning about natural dyes using lichen and mushrooms and indigo (my favorites).  I even had my son help me make a vertical loom, rather large, with the idea to do some kind of community weaving but never have actually done it.

I find myself frustrated with myself because I think there is something deeper in me that I just can’t or don’t reach so then I stop.  I don’t consider myself an artist because I just dabble about.

I’m hoping this course will help me figure out how to use the missing pieces.

Joyce G.

Hello! I live on Marrowstone Island in Washington state and I am taking Janes class with my friend Margaret Blake. I love to create with fibers. Over the years I have made wearable art clothing, dyed cloth with acid, MX and plant materials, dye wool fleece, card and spin. I love to print fabric using the deconstructive method because the results are always a surprise. I also love dying with indigo and use Japanese Shibori methods and the smocking pleater to get fantastic results! I have a file drawer in my brain that is chock full

of ideas for projects that portray the worlds treatment of Women. So I am focused this year starting with Jane's class to pick one great idea and follow through and then build on that experience. 

Amber M.

My name is Amber. I'm struggling with a degenerative joint disease that will eventually leave many joints frozen/fused, and that takes up too much of my energy. (It also means I use a lot of pain medications, explaining why MY intro is the last posted.) Learning how to cope has taken precedence over making lovely things in the Creative Thinking Department, and I long to return to the sensual, textural, visual incredibleness of the fiber art I've loved all my life. 

I moved to Northern California from Southern a little over ten years ago, and when I discovered Dharma Trading Company was walking distance from my house (!!!) I flipped over fiber reactive dyeing. Seriously, had I known about them since they founded in 1969, I would have been a customer since 1969: that was around the year I failed to tie-dye a bedsheet, and gave it up for crochet and beading and embroidery and counted cross stitch and blackwork and historical costuming and..... many other small-muscle-motor crafts my joints won't let me do anymore. Dyeing takes many many steps, and time can pass between the steps, so I can do it in batches (no pun intended) so I can rest more or less as much as the joints demand. Too often, especially this time of year, the joints' demands are depressing, and the studio stays dark and cold. The TV does not, which is even more depressing at these times.

This morning I realized that, a month after buying the book accompanying this class, I've been making lovely things one after another -- amazingly beautiful stuff that takes my breath away. I cried a little, because I can't really share any of it, at all, outside my own household. This stupid disease has left me unable to set up shop anyplace, or attend local guild meetings with regularity, and my photos are bloody awful (see attached if you don't believe this).

I guess that's what I want most out of this class: a means to share what's happening in the dyepot. Besides, after the unfolding, after the washing and drying, after the ironing and subsequent astonishment, the question always arises -- but what will I *do* with it? That's the other thing I want from the class: what to do with it all.

I confess I'm excited and intimidated in equal measure here. Jane is kind of a *star* to me, 'cuz I've read all the books and seen the DVDs, even the ones with the British Ladies, so I'm kind of agog. Fortunately, we've exchanged an email or two, so it's not as bad as it might be.

And of course I have no idea what to expect from my fellow students. Hi, fellow students! From what I've read of your bios, you ladies are talented -- some of you way better than me -- but I guess that's why we're all here. I look forward to sharing and learning from you all.

Linda K.

Writing an introduction makes me uncomfortable, which explains why mine is the last posted. I could list careers and accomplishments. But that’s what I’ve done, not who I am.

I have forgotten who I am.

I have also forgotten, as in abandoned, the dreams I once had. The passion for helping others traverse the bridge from dogma to spirituality…that’s gone. The drive to succeed in a man’s world…that’s gone; well, that’s a good thing. The dream to see my books stacked up in the front window of a bookstore…that’s so far behind me I’m not sure it will ever catch up.

I did needle crafts in my younger years but I didn’t consider it art then.

It wasn’t until my 50s that I dared pick up a paintbrush or attempt a monoprint. It was another ten years before I accepted I had talent. It was another five before I let go of needing anyone else to like what I created. Now, at 67, I am homeless, again, and therefore I have a perfect excuse for ignoring my creativity. For three months I’ve been renting successive Airbnb spaces, which absorbs 95 percent of my fixed income. Thank goodness for food banks. My luggage contains a small amount of art supplies. In my assignments you will see alternatives to such things as full-size paper.

When I do do art, it’s all over the place. I can’t even decide on one type of mixed media. In a 10x10 storage container are bits and bobs of… Collage. Hand prints. Dyed fabric. Photography. Acrylic abstracts. Digital abstracts. Watercolor abstracts. An unfinished trilogy of acrylic abstracts combined with photographic transfers on 12x12 stretched canvas. An unfinished trilogy combining shibori, handprints, embroidery and beading, begun to honor the Year of the Horse. An unfinished pentalogy collage of ink-dyed paper and text to honor William Blake’s line “As a man is, so he sees.” 

My goals from this course stem from Jane’s core concepts: discover my style, dare to be authentic, find the strength to become strong, finish something, and going forward, want to do art daily.

Linda Kenny, January 11, 2017, from snow-covered Battle Ground, Washington

Lynda C.

My name is Lynda Cavens.  I live in Victoria British Columbia.  We moved here after 25 years on the sunshine coast of BC - two ferries away!  

I am a weaver, spinner and dyer of fabric and yarn. I have had an interest in surface design but have not done very much except take a few courses.  I find that when I sit down to do something my mind goes blank!  I took a class with Jane this past summer and was inspired to sign for this class.

My word is focus!  

Margaret B.

Picture from a visit to Glacier Park, MT

Picture from a visit to Glacier Park, MT

My name is Margaret Blake, Lake Oswego, Oregon

I sew, dye, stitch, quilt and print/screen. I am a member of the Columbia FiberArt Guild, and the Creative Wearables Group. We like to wear our art, and have fun. I like to travel, my most exciting trip was this summer to Prague, Budapest, and Vienna.

I have 3 children who have almost flown the coop so now I can get some thinking and making more. This is my first on line class, and so glad to be joining the class with my good friend Joyce Gordon.

Looking forward to diving into the lessons and focusing on making art, pushing myself to  I would like to develop more of a pattern/commitment to work daily. Look forward to meeting/seeing other class members work.


Ann B.

Hi, my name is Ann Boland.  I have been a fiber artist for many years.  I have used it as an outlet when I had a corporate career.  I dropped out of that world to go back to school as a Fiber Artist.  It was an amazing experience!  But I was not able to finish because I am an adult with a mortgage and all of the things that go along with that world.  My husband and I have a small business in Baltimore that takes up so much time.  I don’t allow myself any windows to play and experiment.

I bought the book but have not had time to read it!  My purpose in taking this class is to reconnect with what I love to do and learn, to allocate time for myself to explore ideas that I have.  I am very excited to be a part of this group.

Janel T.

My third grade teacher put a classical music selection on the phonograph (yes, really, a phonograph!) and instructed us to draw what we felt.  I was lost when she took my ruler away. There were no marks that I could make on my own that would be ok for anyone to see.

I grew up believing that creativity and art belonged to and resided in other people.

Life has a way of forcing us to tap into new ways of coping and new ways of seeing the world. Art and writing became two of those in the really hard years. I was more centered, happier, a better person, a better parent and better at my job when I made time for creativity to flow. I learned, at times, how sacred those moments could be.

I have written bad poetry, infested art journals with low-brow family drama, strung beads, twisted metal, folded paper, turned wood, dyed fabric, made "stuff" on my sewing machine--a dilettante in search of a medium, a closet artist in search of a voice.

So it is that now, in my later adult years, I find myself empty when I ignore the creative part of myself. But acknowledging it and even giving it leftover time is not enough anymore. I need structure, community, feedback, and dare I say the word, discipline. I want support, I want to hold myself accountable for offering the work of my hands and the work of my heart to the people in front of me. I approach this class with a fear, hope, longing and excitement.

Sara N.

Hi.   My name is Sara.

When I first read Jane's book, Creative Strength Training, I was enthralled.  So many things made sense to me.  I consider myself to have been a 'maker' for most of my life, sewing, spinning, knitting, etc, and thirty years ago I was very productive!  And didn't really think about it.  Since then my family have grown, I had a career change, lots of study, and my creative side became just dreams and ideas.  I worry, procrastinate, dream, collect ideas.....  but I seem to lack the courage and process management to have a real go at these ideas.   I am in a 'vague' spot in this whole area at the moment.

I did start to work through the exercises in the book, but when I realised there was an online class I thought this would be the ultimate for me!

I admire greatly the textile work and design process of Marcy and Katherine Tilton, Lois and Dianne Ericcson, to name a few.  And yet I lack the confidence to wear these fashions.   And I equally enjoy the concept of slow stitching and more ethical considerations in my projects.

My phrase for 2017 is 'just do it', so I am confident this course will be the springboard so I can understand myself better in this regard and start to really do what I dream about, and take it that next step.

Christine W.

Hi. My name is Christine Watters.

I agree with the rest of the internet that 2016 was a momentous year. For me and my small family, we relocated from Toronto the San Francisco East Bay area. This was a greater personal challenge than I anticipated.

Now, after years of being a working mother with a challenging job and full home life, I am a stay-at-home mom with plenty of time to create and a mid-life identity crisis. I’ve dabbled in fibrearts for 20+ years, but over the last few years my work consumed more and more of my creative energy and I had less and less time (and energy) to create my art. Now I have the time but don't know where to (re-)start. So, here I am.

I don’t really have a favourite word but this morning I came up with two words that particularly apply to me right now: blessings and phoenix.

Helen B.

Hi, I have always been a sewer and like most people started off making my own cloths, children's clothes and doing patchwork.  My love of patchwork and a lack of a place to by contemporary fabrics in my country area ( I live in Victoria, Australia 4 hrs east of Melbourne) led to me opening a patchwork shop which I owned for 4 years.  During this time I made some lovely friends and we decided to start a fibre arts group in our area, we had Quilting Arts as our inspiration and guide to all sorts of exciting things. The group is still going strong with a membership of 40 and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year.

The following year after the shop closed our fibre arts group ran an arts programme through a state funding body with an artist in residence as our mentor, we had many tutors from weavers, felters and printmakers culminating in a group exhibition.  When this finished I felt a bit flat so I decided to do a Diploma of Visual Art followed by and Advanced Diploma.  That was it I had been bitten by the bug!!! Since then I have become a printmaker mainly using lino cut and am a regular at Ballarat Fibre Arts forums.  I have exhibited in Melbourne 3 times and have my work in both private and public collections.

The thing is I suffer from a lack of direction when it comes to a subject, I procrastinate to the point of ridiculous and stress that I won’t meet deadlines because of it.  Through the next 10 weeks I am hoping to have some clarity and direction to resolve some of these issues.  I have janes book and having read it from cover to cover so the course was a no brainer, I am very excited about starting and look forward to what is to come.

Jo Van L.

          I have loved ART my whole life and began my college career as an Art major....fear of failure or not having a vision of surviving as an artist, I became an elementary school teacher. I taught for 30 years in classrooms of minorities and non English speakers. I learned as much from them as they learned from me. In 2004 I retired from teaching and reinvented myself as an Artist. I began as a traditional quilter and grew to be a fiber artist creating multi media artworks with my own fabrics. As a natural bridge from teaching to art, I have shared my love of fabrics teaching sewing and quilting in Uganda, Haiti, Nicaragua, Canada and the US.  I have always had a thirst for learning and am excited to see where this adventure takes me.