May 5, 2011

Hookers Don’t Do It Alone

I haven’t hooked a rug yet. Nope! But I have done some fun small stuff and am learning a lot.

For that I must thank two sources. First, I’ve already mentioned the talented hookers I’ve met during hook-ins at quilt/hooking shops in Fredericksburg, Tucson and Phoenix. Watching and questioning experienced artists as they work is just good medicine, inspiring and instructive. Hookers love to talk about and show their work!








At the annual Round Top antique/crafts sale near Austin, a gracious hooker showed me how she finishes the edges and recommended a couple of books. Somehow, she does beautiful large rugs on a 15” hoop just like mine!



Precious Wanda Kerr PortraitBut because we’re on the road so much, most of my learning takes place through The Welcome Mat, a truly special website presented by Wanda Kerr - artist, guide and voyager into life, art and beauty. The site is fired by hundreds or thousands (honest!) of active hooker participants. The Welcome Mat - – is a treasure trove including discussions, how-to’s, challenges, and problem-solving, and laughs. I spend time there daily. Here’s one of Wanda’s pieces, a lovely hooked portrait of her daughter Vanessa and Lucy the cat.

I aspire to do a portrait one day. Who will it be?

Here are my small projects. This 8 x 9.5” piece is first of a set. The second will be finished when I find one or two similar blues to replace the color I ran out of!





You can see here how hooking is done into burlap, linen or other materials using a hoop or other frame. These are two name tags and an ATC. Artist trading cards are remembrances exchanged with others. They’re generally about 3.5 x 2.5” though I saw them as postcard size when I worked at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans. The ATC is first of what could be a state collection. Guess what  state this is - it’s Chuck’s home state! These will be cut from the burlap (leaving a hem to be turned under) and finished on the edges.

I confess that all this has probably interfered with my own blogging, but I aim to do better. Yeah, I know, we all say that!

May 3, 2011

Earth Laughs in Flowers

     … Ralph Waldo Emerson







Is it a coincidence that Lady Bird Johnson had the same initials as her husband? He was a powerful and enigmatic man who left quite a legacy. Lady Bird has a legacy, also – one that is still growing! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lady Bird had a passion for the environment, and worked tirelessly to foster the preservation and use of native plants, particularly wildflowers. In 1982, she and actress Helen Hayes founded the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to protect, preserve and teach about North America's native plants and natural landscapes. The Wildflower Center, in association with the University of Texas at Austin, is a special place that demonstrates the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and their importance in the ecosystem. We spent a morning there last week amid birdwatchers, walkers, school kids and nature lovers.


TX LBJ WFC Aqueduct Rain Water 







Native stone architecture integrates gardens and plants that flourish through an amazing water catchment system with slanted roofs, gutters, aqueducts, rivulets and ponds. There are trails, a learning gallery, art gallery, shop and café with memorable oatmeal cookies.








Perhaps because we are temporarily staying in Austin, I found this place just incredibly peaceful. Did you notice the insect on the cactus?

TX LBJ WFC Lone BluebonnetSadly, Southwestern Texas is suffering from a multiyear drought, which we saw also in Arizona and New Mexico. This year, there are few wildflowers along the highways and in the meadows. The plants in the Center’s many gardens gave us a taste of those we’ve missed elsewhere! At last, a bluebonnet!


Each of these small plots is planted to a theme. By flower color, for instance, or deer- resistant (no guarantees!). The plots include plants that bloom in spring, summer or fall.





TX LBJ WFC Shou Ping 1TX LBJ WFC Shou Ping 3In the art gallery were watercolor images on cut paper with a three-dimensional effect by artist Shou Ping.





At you can learn how to avoid planting invasive species, see what flowers are native in your area of the US, and more. The online Native Plant Information Network offers a US map you can click to find out about native plants in 49 states.


Wait a minute! Forty-nine? Somebody’s left out! It’s Hawaii! I thought about this for a moment. Could it be that all of Hawaii’s plants are native to somewhere else? NOT! Websites describe native Hawaiian plants that arrived eons ago through winds, birds and currents, and have uniquely evolved since. I was born in Hawaii, but decided not to be miffed. I looked closer at some native Hawaiian plants. And I must admit, these plants do not look like wildflowers! Maybe Hawaii is truly unique in having NO wildflowers!

TX greensword

TX Silversword