The Beginning is Not The Starting Point


In the beginning…….God created…….In the beginning……..was the Word……

In the beginning of 2016, I stalled out. In the midst of stacks of fabrics, committed projects, commissioned work, beckoning ideas, and pots of paint, I struggled to create a plan and to write a schedule that would contain and direct all these good things.  The elements of a blessed beginning were drowning me through my own inaction.

The inner coach screamed: cut, stitch, paint. Madeleine L’Engle’s words whispered in my head, “Inspiration come in the midst of work.”   Studio action created 31 little art tags this morning.  My happy hands cut, stitched, and painted,  completing one of the elements for a presentation next week.

Cleaning picture files yesterday, I discovered the included photograph of Genesis, a privately owned piece.  I like the swirling, undulating energy in it.  The contrast of the oranges and blues creates both friction and clarity.  It was made by cutting, stitching, and painting. Beginnings are complex. A starting point is not.




Traveling in Spirals: Begin in the Present


Where do I begin?  Do I clean up holiday clutter?  Do I assemble what I need to achieve new year’s resolutions?

I prefer to begin in a familiar place, taking a couple of steps.  And then a few more.  I discover new vistas through well known landscapes.  My breathing eases and my mind quickens.


2015 art work at StudioThree 17 begins with a self portrait, a fabric mini-me.  Join us on our path.  Where does your spiral begin?

Advent Interlude 3

advent Interlude 001

Let every heart prepare him room.

Some years, preparing room is as simple as changing the sheets in the guest room.  Other years, the room has been renovated.  But this is a year that requires an empty space.

The tree is decorated.  Presents are wrapped.  Packages are shipped.

I need this empty little stable with its one wandering sheep as a vision of empty space.

A Year of Listening: Week 23

What it comes to is that anybody can win with the best horse. What makes you good is if you can take the second- or third- best horse and win. — Vicky Aragon

These few words evoke great connections for me: my daughter loving an odd little horse, my Grandma Alice combining the remains of Sunday dinner with pantry staples to create a tantalizing lunch, my brother making inlaid wooden boxes from little bits.

I also remember a long-past 4-H foods demonstration contest at the state fair.  Minutes before I was to go on stage in the large auditorium, I discovered a third of my half-baked pie was missing.  This was the pie in which I was to pour the wonderful custard filling. Oddly, the fully cooked pie remain intact in the refrigerator. Momentary panic gave way to the next good idea. I had themed my presentation on the tempting quality of this apple pie.  The judges laughed about how the thief had proven my point.

What gets you across the finish line?  How do you define winning?


Farm to Art Initiative: To The Table

Beginning today, fibergig will donate 10% of the sales of our food-related products (aprons, mug mats, table runners, napkins) to local and world hunger efforts. Our heritage includes daily stewardship practiced on a family farm in Illinois. I used funds from my part of this farm to create the craft business I share with my daughter Emily. We are moving farm money through textile art and crafts to bring food to tables. We will contribute non-local funds to ELCA World Hunger.

My parents, Wesley and Juanita Terpening, valued good food and the sharing of it. Wes actively farmed, even on crutches, until his body said no more. Juanita worked in a nutrition program and with the community food pantry to improve meals for many people. Every holiday meal began with her request, “Come to the table.”  Every family meal began with a table blessing. Their grandchildren are now a generation of foodies.

Loss of employment during the economic downturn reduced our generosity. We want to recover the act of sharing good food. You can help. Products are available at our Fibergig shop.

runners 012. mug mat 001napkins 052

aprons in kitchen 018notecards 005 - Copy


The party’s over; the work’s done.

Empty wine glasses. Three cashews in a bowl.  An abandoned sweater.  When the guests have departed, I remember bits of conversation as I load the dishwasher.  The owner of the sweater will need to claim it; I don’t know whose it is.

blog and arboretum 002Stencils on the table.  Fabric tossed in a bin.  Invoice filed.  When I deliver the large commissioned work, I am at a loss.  I want to play with color and texture on my own terms.  Just for a day.

I make sketchbook covers.

What do you do when the party is over, when the work is done?

Good Tools


I listen and observe when artisans speak about the tools in their hands.  Passion infects the speech.  The tool is clearly an extension of the hand.

The hair stylist demonstrated scissors that rotate with her hand, reducing the chances of injury.  The gardener quickly cut tree branches with a lopper that has gears, not a spring.  He proudly explains it was a gift from his brother.  “Best gift, ever,” he declares.

My friend watches me snip around the appliqué shapes.  “Aren’t you afraid you will cut those threads?”  I hold up these scissors and smile, “Expertise, and good tools.”

Stewardship in The Display Department

display pieces 003Craft market season begins this weekend for fibergig, the craft branch of studio work.  We are setting up on “new to us” display pieces, freshly painted by my son.  I acquired some of the pieces through a local auction; the pieces were originally part of a bricks and mortar shop.  Others were found at a local thrift shop.

One of the core values of this business is to carefully use our resources.  We encourage and support others by offering some products made from upcycled materials and by creating useful objects that will wear well.  We are all the more delighted to have furnishings that have been used before.

My father farmed as a steward of the soil.  I am a steward of fabric and space.  Which resources do you carefully manage?

A Year of Listening: Week 13

Poetry is like a bird; it ignores all frontiers. — Yevgeny Yevtushenko

I am ignoring my guidelines today by not using a quotation from my collection.  Yesterday I had tea and talked about Russian poetry with my son. I searched for this poet whom I read in college.

My practice of listening is enjoying flight.

A year of Listening, Week 12

Go on with a spirit that fears nothing. — Homer


These words reside on my refrigerator door.  I have given these words no notice, no thought for months.

Today is a cranky day.  Going on is not as appealing as staying in pajamas. The spirit is cowering.  Who gave me this magnet?  Why have I kept it ?

These are good words for spring.  The little chick breaks through its shell and the seed pushes through soil, working the transformation to new life.

Now get going.

And work on those fears.