Thanks for visiting my blog! MudBay Musings chronicles creative journeys, with inspiration and humor I find along the way... including my mother's and my artwork, stories, local bird life and garden favorites...
all of which I hope will bring a smile to your heart.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Background Techniques

Just finished two fun-filled days of Art Play with Mom and Susan! We experimented with different background techniques using papers, paints, inks, stencils and rubber stamps. I’ve included the “before” and “after” pictures for five of the collages so you can see the dramatic difference a bit of paint and ink can make!

It was very difficult for me to get comfortable with the idea of uncontrollably brayering over the collages with successive colors of paint, but eventually my shrieks of terror gave way to the subsequent phases of contented humming and stamping. Although I felt a bit out of my element with this ‘free-wheeling’ style, I must say I like the outcome and am looking forward to doing this again. Thanks to Mom and to Susan for another fun and inspirational experience!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Whooo's Watching Whooo?

An unexpected sighting of a Barred Owl caused quite a stir at our household. It was quite inquisitive and seemed amused rather at my frantic photo-taking. I lingered for quite some time observing this beautiful creature, and couldn’t help but wonder - who was watching who?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Soldering Party

I am one of the luckiest women on the planet. For my - ahem - “milestone” birthday this year, what I wanted more than anything else was to spend the day with friends, creating art. My friends (and Mom!) graciously indulged me, and we had a soldering party! What a fun day. We wore tiaras, laughed, and created art all day long. It was the best birthday celebration ever, and I’m so thankful to have these creative, generous, talented ladies as my friends. I am truly blessed. It was a day I will always remember, and I cannot think of a more glorious way to be ushered into another decade. Thanks, ladies, for your laughter, generosity and friendship. You’re the Best!

Congratulations, Mom!

I was so thrilled to see my mother’s hard work recognized by her peers today at the West Sound Quilters’ show, and am happy to be able to share pictures of her and her prize-winning quilts! I adore everything she does and am her biggest fan.

The batik New York Beauty is my favorite quilt of all, and usually resides on my living room chair, warming me each evening with its beautiful, subtle colors. Each block is an amazing engineering feat in piecing – there are hundreds of points in this quilt, some of which have two pieces in each point. I love the way the blocks are juxtaposed against one another for a lively, dancing rhythm.

She created the whale mariner’s compass quilt for my father to commemorate their fifty years together. All around the border, there are various species of whales, outline quilted and done in trapunto. It is truly a labor of love. Congratulations, Mom!

Summer Mosaic

As fall rains are slowly setting in, I’m feeling a bit sentimental about those not-so-long-ago summer days. One early June afternoon, a leisurely beach stroll at low tide turned into an hour of blissful, sensory overload. As I absorbed the newly unveiled, still-glistening mosaic of textures and colors that stretched out before me, I began to ponder what other wonders in life I often overlook that lie hidden just beneath the surface...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bloom Angel

Bloom Angel was made for a friend to commemorate her move to a new home. The reverse bears the inscription “Those with strong roots will bloom wherever they are planted.”

Pretty Birds

I have a very creative and talented Mom! Here is Jo's latest creation, a cheerful Parrot jacket. Check out the cool lining! She is sure to bring smiles wherever she goes when wearing this!

I couldn't resist an in-progress picture too, with a few of her parrot figurines peeking over her shoulder. She whipped this up in a few days, just in time for our local quilt show. It's pretty, bright colors will certainly bring a spark to some of our upcoming rainy, Pacific Northwest fall days. Way to go, Mom!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gothic arches

Gothic arches are one of my favorite shapes! My mother and I recently took part in a collaborative art project, and here is a sneak peek of our pages. More details about the project will follow in a few months, but for now..... it’s a secret.....

Finding Sacred in the Ordinary

I’ve just finished the most extraordinary book – Taking Flight: Inspiration and Techniques to Give Your Creative Spirit Wings, by Kelly Rae Roberts. In one chapter, Kelly speaks of finding the “sacred in the ordinary”. Simple, ordinary moments in life bring that to fruition for me. We all have moments we can look back on, moments that stand out in their dramatic simplicity, moments when life suddenly came into focus.

One such moment for me happened long ago, during the solo portion of a college backpacking trip. On the last hike of our outing, we spaced ourselves an hour or so apart, taking what was expected to be a solitary, meditative journey home on our winding, mountain trail. It was a cold, crisp morning, light snow crunching underfoot as I walked in the footsteps of my preceding companions. It was exceptionally quiet, save the sound of the wind in the trees and my own breathing and contemplative plodding, accompanied by the occasional tinkling of “bear-deterrent” noisemakers tied to my backpack. Being a Florida transplant to this Appalachian domain, I began my solo journey mostly preoccupied with the resident bears, hoping they were all comfortably hibernating. As time passed, and the further I progressed along the trail, I became less and less obsessed with myself. Fears and insecurities gradually became replaced with an awareness of my extraordinarily impressive surroundings.

At one point, as the path took a winding turn, I suddenly stopped still in my tracks. Ahead of me was a straight stretch of trail, lined with young trees. As their snow-laden branches entwined overhead, they formed an unearthly archway, rivaling the most glorious of man-made cathedrals. As I inched toward the arch, I was soon viewing it through tears of wonderment, wondering with each sodden blink if it would all suddenly disappear. As I slowly traveled through that arboreal archway, my life and thoughts came into focus. Hectic schedules and worries of college life soon faded away as I took an eternal moment to worship in that private, winter cathedral.

Although it’s been many years since I’ve hiked those mountainous trails, there are still daily sacred moments to be experienced, if I quiet myself enough to recognize them. Birds and the garden often provide that grounding solace for me. They bring me back to the wonderment of God’s creation, overshadowing the man-made stresses of daily life. They help me put Life into perspective. Where do you find sacred in the ordinary?


Another of my favorite assemblages is entitled Lepidopterix. The inspiration behind this creation all started with the gorgeous green feather fringe my friend Susan brought back from VVRouleaux London. That fringe started a lot of things…. I actually reorganized the supplies in my cabinets (as in my blog banner above) just to display that single coil of impossibly beautiful, “I-could-never-even-think-of-cutting-this!” fringe. After much prodding from Susan, I agreed to design an assemblage using a piece of this green feathered treasure. What to do?

Somerset Studio had recently issued a “Green” challenge, so that seemed like a good place to start. I was inspired by Lynne Perrella’s use of her vintage paper doll image in several beautiful assemblages, and started pouring over my photo stash for a suitable image. A picture of my grandmother was the stand-out of the crowd, but her simple black dress continued to be a design problem. In a fit of frustration at one point, I cut out her head and neck, leaving the scraps of her pretty portrait in shreds on the studio floor. Voila! Separated from her unimaginative attire, her face was suddenly a beautiful, striking component, laden with costume possibilities.

What would she imagine herself to be? After digging through a box of some of her “small things”, I came across a lovely little magnifying glass. Still pondering her story, the coil of feather fringe standing upright on the table began to sway slightly as I moved about. Hmmmm…. feather fringe now looked like lush, mysterious grass. Given my grandmother’s passion for natural sciences, I knew she would approve of this new alter ego that was slowly taking shape – world traveler and butterfly collector extraordinaire – Lepidopterix.

I was honored and thrilled beyond words to be included in Somerset Studio’s January/February 2008 issue – my first piece of artwork to ever be published.

Construction info: The background of the assemblage was made from an embroidered silk remnant attached to a foam core board base. I assembled her portrait components in small units, sewing each unit to a base of heavy interfacing. Her clothing and hat are made of silk. Additional feathers and trims, along with an antique 1890’s beaded ornament and vintage horsehair veiling were sewn to the hat assembly. A spacer bar covered in silk was placed behind her head. Clip-art butterflies were colored and resized, mounted to cardstock, and mounted to the background using foam tape. Antennae were fashioned from peacock feathers for the larger, “close-up” butterflies. The magnifying glass was mounted to a sculpted, padded base which was covered with a tattered piece of antique lace. The feather fringe was sewn to the bottom of the assemblage, layered with an additional piece of upholstery trim. The frame of the shadowbox was painted green with a glaze coat of metallic bronze.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Studio Muse

Today, I’m posting some of my older artwork. The first, my Studio Muse, is one of my favorite pieces. I made this assemblage on my birthday in December of 2006, and gave myself the daunting challenge of creating a “studio muse” in one day! My friend Susan, an amazing artist, and my mother, Mary Jo, also an amazing artist and I spent the entire day creating art together. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes… I usually agonizingly over-think things and as a result hit multiple artistic roadblocks along the way. This time, however, with the one day self-imposed deadline, it relieved the pressure in my mind of creating some “great masterpiece”. I let the artwork evolve, created from my heart, and greatly enjoyed the day. As a result, Studio Muse is by far my favorite piece I’ve ever done.

I didn’t quite finish the entire assemblage in one day, but did have the mat designed and planned out even though I had to complete it the final construction following day. It was my “best challenge” to myself, and I learned a lot through the process.

Construction info: The base portrait is from a Botticelli painting. I attached silk and cotton fabrics, new fancy trims, vintage millinery leaves, dyed feathers and organza by sewing them in assembled units to a base of heavy interfacing. The inside background is a peach colored music print scrapbook paper covered with a layer of tulle. The mat was constructed using foam core board and a base layer of crackle textured wallpaper, accented with of torn pieces Gothic style script from an anaglypta wallpaper border. I filled in some of the cracks and the areas where the border was joined to the background with a lightweight spackling compound to suggest an ancient, deteriorating wall. The mat was then painted with several colors of gold and bronze fluid acrylics and antiqued. The shadowbox frame was painted gold, and the inside of the shadowbox was lined with the same eggplant silk used in the assemblage.

Butterfly Quilt

Earlier this week, I was able to snap a picture of one of my mother’s latest creations. Isn’t it beautiful? She used all silks in this piece and constructed the butterfly separately so it dramatically stands away from the background. I can hardly wait until it flies back home after the upcoming quilt show!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Shades of Blue and Green

As summer draws to a close, I find myself snapping pictures of colors and textures in the garden to sustain me during the rain-filled days ahead. This lovely hydrangea certainly fills the bill with its infinite shades of turquoise blues and greens. In keeping with that lovely palette, I’ve included a partial view of one of my favorite studio cabinet shelves. I’ve kept several top cabinet shelves for use as “inspiration vignettes”, with some of my favorite new and vintage items arranged by color – silk fabrics, vintage beads, trims and millinery, along with a few crafted items and experiments. After a year or so of having all of my items boxed and labeled, I realized that I need some space dedicated for these visual feasts…and have been much happier since allowing myself that indulgence.

I spent some time last week experimenting with various patinas on raw brass stampings. Some of the best results were obtained by applying a first coat of Novacan Black Patina solution, then a subsequent coat of one of Sophisticated Finishes’ Rust or Bronze patinas. I originally intended this dolphin stamping to be used as an ornament on the Waterhouse Mermaid beveled glass piece shown here, but the patina did as patinas do and surprised me with a beautiful shade of green, not quite suited for this particular piece.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Fledgling Treasure"

My mother found a beautiful little feather on our front porch a few days ago, and I promptly snatched it up and scurried on down to the studio. A 1”x3” necklace charm seemed like a fitting way to honor this lovely little treasure.


Fledge was created for Randy, of “A Place 2 Fledge”, using a few of his Conures’ feathers. He and his wife are in the midst of relocating their exotic bird rescue, and in spite of their busy schedule Randy generously presented me with a bag of beautiful parrot feathers before their departure. He lovingly collects dropped feathers from their many birds and provides schoolchildren (and artists!) with these wondrous treasures, along with inspiration and education. To learn more about their rescue, visit

Garden Hummingbirds

We watch our resident birds with joy and passion, recording their behavior, noting each new bird in our logbook. Relatively rare sightings always cause excitement, but it’s the resident Anna’s and Rufous hummingbirds that continue to take my breath away. Upon each observation, I find myself frozen, transfixed on their every move. I recently took some time in the garden, quietly waiting and hoping to capture a few images. It turned out to be an exciting afternoon as a fledgling loudly pleaded to be fed and subsequently took short little naps in between pestering the adults. A pair of adults fed silently together and then raucous chattering broke out as two males squabbled for garden territory. These scenarios repeated several times, leaving me to contemplate the rich existence that transpires in the garden while I’m caught up in the business of everyday life.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Garden Triptych

I’ve been experimenting with soldering beveled glass lately and am quite taken with house and shrine shapes. The Enchanted Garden triptych artwork was fun to design, although I’ll admit getting it stabilized after soldering was a challenge. (Some copper wire soldered into the channels on the back did the trick.) What better way to brighten some of our rainy Pacific Northwest winter days than with a few enchanting pansies and bunnies?

Studio Table Vignette

Sometimes it’s fun to have a few favorite things out on the studio table. I have a little shelf clustered with such treasures – an old beaded lampshade that will someday be an art doll, an old metal tree, a fossil shark’s tooth, rocks and geodes, beach glass, pebbles and shells, birds nests rescued from downed trees and bushes, paper wasp nests (don’t ask!), buttons, feathers and the loveliest bronze baby shoe with the most beautiful patina… colors and textures that inspire me.