The long and winding road

3ofswordsquilt1I’m long over due in sharing about my time at Quilt Festival in Houston, but I’ve been having a hard time writing about something that was so fun and happy when I feel like I’ve been hit with a ton of bricks. I’ve run through dozens of first paragraphs in my head over the last week trying to figure out how to even start.

I know there are people that visit here on both sides of this election, so I won’t go into what I think about the outcome, but I’m sure you can guess.

This was not a normal election. I’ve been disappointed with elections in the past, but I’ve never actually felt the effects of PTSD or depression from them before. I’m not alone in these feelings, I have many friends saying they are having a difficult time too.


In the past when I’ve been devastated emotionally, I’ve turned to art to work through my pain. I find it the most emotionally therapeutic and healing exercise one can do.


So, I pulled out fabric and acrylic ink, stamps and thermofax screens, and words and quotes printed on abaca paper to make prayer flags. It feels so good to get lost in the work and step back from reality for a bit.prayer-flags-2


The vitriol, and negativity feels overwhelming at times and it’s hard to imagine we as a nation have not been permanently scarred by it. Immersing myself in the beauty of color, texture, symbols, imagery and words of affirmation and positive intentions have really helped calm me and I feel some what grounded again.

The strings of flags I’m making now will be sent over seas to England to an American friend who is dying of cancer. I’m hoping they’ll arrive in time for her to enjoy them on Thanksgiving.

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After spending several days making prayer flags, I think I’m in a better place to be able to write about my week in Houston. I have quite a bit to share so I’m going to break it up into several posts.


tsukineko-1I taught 4 classes at International Quilt Festival, but I taught Tsukineko inks twice, on both Tuesday and Thursday, so I’m going to share examples from both classes in this post and then Tea and Ephemera next, followed by my Prayer Flag workshop.


But first Tsukineko inks, these are photos from Tuesdays class

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.and these photos are from Thursdays class.


It was fun having my old friend Sherri McCauley from Austin in my class. We both belonged to of one of the first art quilt groups there in the mid 90’s.

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This class is probably the hardest one of all the different mediums I teach people to paint with on fabric.

Tsukineko inks definitely have a learning curve, it takes a while to master them because they don’t feel viscous and smooth like textile paints, but Tsukineko inks have a lovely bright clear transparent quality, looking like watercolors, where as textile paints look more like acrylics.

And that’s what makes this work even more impressive is they worked through several exercises with different techniques in the morning and progressed up to more complex imagery in the afternoon achieving this level of success in 6 hours.


and now for some pics with friends


I was so happy I got to have dinner with Melly Testa and her friend Thedra on my first night in Houston. Melly was just finishing up her time at Quilt Market when my daughter Indigo and I arrived.


It was great to catch up with Kate Ozko too. Kate is the editor of Australian magazine Down Under Textiles. I first met Kate when I was teaching in Brisbane a couple years ago.

Stay tuned for my next post on International Quilt Festival in the next couple days.

Keep creating, Judy

IMG_5538Judy is an artist, explorer, image wrangler, knowledge seeker, instructor, speaker, creative alchemist, and purveyor of inspiration, helping others channel creativity on a daily basis.

20 Responses to “The long and winding road”

  1. marysalmon says:

    Your article has helped a lot. Thank you,

  2. Debbie Maddy says:

    We can not let this situation defeat us. We need to stay positive and move forward. Keep creating and may all be well. May 2017 bring us all peace and happiness inspite of our trials a tribulations.

  3. Linda says:

    Proof that art heals! Your photos are great, and I especially love the prayer flags. So much positivity…thank you for sharing!

  4. Cathy Willoughby says:

    As your closest neighbour, ally and trading partner, we too are concerned about the possible fallout from this election. But worrying won’t change things. We need to continue to lead kind, helpful and creative lives that will enrich the world.
    I’ve never made prayer flags but am inspired to do so.

    • Hi Cathy,

      I’m guessing your in Canada? Please don’t build a wall! lol I agree anger and finger pointing doesn’t get us anywhere, listening, kindness and understanding go a long way. And yes you’ll have to try making some flags, they are really fun and so beautiful when they are all strung up.

  5. Your prayer flags are beautiful. So glad they do their part to help heal you as well as the blessing they will be for your friend, and to us who get to see them here. Sending you love across the miles, Lynette in New Zealand

    • Hi Lynette,

      thanks! Glad you’re ok with the earthquake, it must have been really frightening. Someone said it lasted 2 minutes. I’ve been in a few large earthquakes in Los Angeles, and I know a minute can feel like an eternity. Btw the flags you make are beautiful too.

  6. Love your work! the prayer flags are beautiful. Turning all the negative energy of the stress associated with disappointment and anxiety for the future with the change of Government into positive creativity is the best way to deal with it!

    • Hey Sue! The flags have been so wonderful to make. I think they’re a bit addictive because they are such an accessible size to work on and look so beautiful when they are all hanging together. Thinking about the meanings of the different words, phrases and symbols for each different colored fabric is really a good meditation.

  7. catherine says:

    your prayer flags are stunning. Just love them and the idea of them.Such a good way to heal

  8. fairymama says:

    Your prayer flags are beautiful. May your spirit find peace. Remember we are strong and still have a voice.

  9. mjkasz says:

    ideas for dealing with the challenges of acceptance and dealing with the results. Will now dig in to my creativity to help heal and go on.

    • the rebel in me doesn’t ever want to accept it, so I will try to find balance and do things that nurture my soul and speak out against wrongs with my voice and my art. Right now we have to help each other get through the shock and try to get on with things. We’re going to need to be strong.

  10. The prayer flags are beautiful! A powerful reminder that art heals.

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