Amber M.

Thursday March 23 2017

Is this how far I've come in 10 weeks? I don’t feel any different. 

Or do I?

Twice today, I have been hit with a Thor’s hammer of inspiration! This morning I wrote the word "dad" at the top of the page of my sketch/plan book – the one that says "See Jane Study" – put a box around it and my throat closed up and I had to go in and have a good cry about my dad.

I felt my dad around me all day today. I started to brainstorm about what a fabric project honoring my dad would look like. I wrote down things like "the corners won't match;" "the seams won't be straight;" "some of the strips will be not quite long enough and have something sewn to it to make it the right length. Another feature would have to do with the process, in that any time I ran into a problem or hit a snag, I would grab whatever was at hand to make it work. That's what my dad did. That's why my dad's construction projects were so funky. A fiber project honoring Fred Miller would be necessarily eccentric, to put it simply. Whimsical, eccentric, spiritual – funky. Wonky, in quilt-y terms.

This afternoon, Mark went off to deal with business things and I stayed home with nothing much to do, except make phone calls. I called Mary, my friend in Texas, whom I've been considering making a quilt for. The idea I had originally had to do with shoes. Mary is a shoe-holic, always has been, and due to hip surgery, now has to wear an orthotic shoe instead. I had an idea about Sun Prints and designs of shoes and handbags and fans and gloves and beautiful women and other sorts of fashion-y things, in a nine patch like the "Nine Suns" I made last year.

Mary and I talked today for more than an hour. Mark came home partway through and stood in my doorway for some time waiting for me to acknowledge him and then eventually gave up, for which I apologized later, and Mary and I had a wonderful talk. This doesn't always happen, as Mary seems happiest when she's miserable, and today was a good phone call. We talked about where we wanted to live-- among other things. Of course I am happy in California, and can't imagine why anyone would want to live anywhere else but the left coast of United States, and Mary was... well Mary's going to stick to Texas. Happiest when she's miserable. But we also talked about Arizona, specifically Sedona Arizona, where Mary spent some wonderfully spiritual and beautiful times back when we first met in the 80s.

About half an hour ago, I loaded up the sewing machine with a "Pinwheel" quilt I've been working on. You know, the one with the oranges and purples from a color test? It's meant to be a wall hanging with a Kokopelli print on the back that goes beautifully with the oranges and purples on the front? Commercial fabric, because it's planned to go back to the wall. Border and binding are Paint-Stik on Black? yeah, that's the one. I glanced over at it from my chair, all loaded up and ready to quilt. And a second Thor's hammer hit me between the eyes – that is *Mary's* quilt on the sewing machine. Those are the colors of Sedona. Kokopelli is on the back in a Sedona color. This is Mary's quilt!

Maybe that's why I can't get the sun prints to work.

March 29, 2017

It's a week later, and I haven't turned in my latest essay yet. Seems I’m still feeling the effects of a 10-week empowerment class, and needed a few extra days to work it out.

I don’t feel 10 weeks better an artist—like I never feel a year older on any birthday—yet I am a stronger artist than I was. The Thor’s hammer effects of last week are part of it; today, another.

I’ve been trying to fantasize my ideal studio for years now. Never felt like I knew what I needed, where, or how to store what I had, where, or what to put, where, etc…I even bought a book with several artists’ studios as examples, read it cover to cover, no inspiration. Plenty of envy, but no inspiration.

Today I had a few minutes between whatevers, and picked up the book on studios, came into my room and sat down with it. Before I even opened the cover, I shook my head, grabbed a sketchbook and sat down with it. “I need a sink here….” And an entire room took shape on the page. No dimensions, but exactly where and what and stuff. Mark looked at it and said, “Yeah…about the size and shape of an average garage. We can work with that.” Even though we don’t know where we’ll be living after August, we know what my studio should look like!

Saturday I have my first craft show since I went down in ’15. (Quick backstory: We worked ourselves silly for four months – weekends only – and when the show closed after Xmas (2014), and we’d put everything into storage or wherever, I hit the bed and stayed down for almost 2 years). See, I can do the impossible, but oh what an aftermath! And I haven’t set up the booth since. 

I’m scared. Mornings are impossible. I can’t get my joints moving until after 10 am on the best of days; what the heck was I thinking getting involved in a show that starts at 9 and setup at 7:30??! At least I arranged to set up the afternoon beforehand, so we won’t have to be there until 8:30 thank goodness. 

Strong enough to make sure I get what I need—or at least make the effort.

Wish me luck. The Fabric Fool is doing her first show in 2 years, and on April Fool's Day. There’s a pleasing symmetry in that.

March 30, 2017

One more, then I’m turning in this baby.

10 weeks of Creative Strength Training has made inspiration a more predictable entity. This afternoon, I brought together some items I’ve been considering for a small Miraculous Ladies project.

Some time ago, a square-ish mandala came out of the dyebath with a distinctive central niche, as if a Virgin of Guadalupe needed to go there. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been collecting bits of this and that, without any real idea what or where to put how or how much. Today, I took a closer look and started an Actual Plan. Okay. Guadalupe in the middle…other miraculous ladies I’ve collected in the corners: Boudicca over here; Sister Theresa in that corner; the Joans (Pope and Saint) opposite. Okay. Batting, easy. Backing. Oh dear.

Then inspiration hit. A piece I’d almost given away in the last Stash Purge: a half yard of commercial I Love Lucy print. It was a light in my head. An actual light went on in my head, and off I went to rescue Lucy. She was miraculous, too; as was the Original Lucy (the one found in the ground in Africa).

This one could be a prize winner too! Because all the parts of it work together in JUST THE WAY I WANTED IT TO IN THE FIRST PLACE!! This, by one of my most stringent definitions, makes me An Artist.

In terms of future intentions, I’m at a loss. I can never be certain what my disease will let me do on any given day/week/season, so setting tangible goals, such as “I will list 5 new items on Etsy per ______” make for a very guilty Amber when the disease won’t let me finish all the steps to list items on Etsy in the time frame I put in that space. The experience with Mary’s Arizona quilt tells me that, even if I have no specific destination in mind for a project, just a pattern I want to try and fabric to try it with, the important part is making the work, because when a specific destination or a completion goal or whatever is required, Providence will Provide. That’s why they call it Providence, and not, say…Ignorance. Which ignores.

The confidence I wanted to gain from the class, I believe I’ve got more of it. Instead of thinking I’m not an Artist because I can’t make what I see in my head come out of my hands—I now believe that what I saw in my head might not be what I actually needed to make. To return to my original metaphor from 10 weeks ago,, maybe I don’t really need to draw a cow today. Maybe what I really need to do is make black spotted thigh high socks.

Thanks, Jane! It's been memorable.

Thanks, Zenna! You are amazing.

Welcome Zira! Great family you've joined!

Susan L.

My Intentions

Through the progress of this online class, I have been able to crystalize various things that are important to me, as a person, and as an artist.

I intend to make time to create, even if it means scheduling it into my life like any other appointment. I will work towards achieving a focus and delve deeper into a few areas of the many textile arts I do. I will move towards that perfection that could still use improvement. I will bring writing into my process, which is a pleasurable act for me; possibly in the form of a creative journal (still ruminating on how to do this). I will continue my education in all things creative, and I will enjoy the process.

These are my intentions, simple and determined.

Thanks for the tools I’ve gained.


Rayne V.


  1. My husband’s high school teacher is giving an art class at the end of May
  2. at a local library that I want to go to.
  3. I found 4 online classes on Craftsy. (Thank You Jane!)  The first one I will sign up for is The Art of the Picture Book.  The other three are about drawing characters.  The goal is that two book ideas The Rescue Series-Charlie’s story and Alomon the Dragon are finished books I can read out loud with a class.
  4. I have to start teaching full time but the thought of being an elementary teacher for the next 20 years is depressing.  I sent an email out to see what I would need for an art teaching certificate.  I could work as a elementary teacher as a stepping stone to teaching art for the next 20 or years. The unfinished crafts need done.  My mom’s afghan will be done in 1 week. I will give it to my stepdad for Easter.  The basket weave afghan will be done in 3 months and then I will put all this stuff away for now.