My Art Barn Reveal-Come on in!

At long last we had a photo shoot this past weekend to showcase the interior of the art barn, and I am really thrilled to share with you detailed shots of this building that took just about two years to see to fruition.




Barn for web

The front of the barn has three glass garage doors (they are all open in the above shot). I wanted glass garage doors so 1) the view can be enjoyed while working inside, 2) lots of natural light can come in, and 3) the porch can essentially be an extension of the work area.  What is lovely about the Bay Area/Napa, is the climate is very mild here (I don’t even own an a/c unit in my house or in the barn). So more often than not, I have those glass garage doors open.


Here’s a shot from the right side of the barn with the closest garage door open. The upstairs leads to my office and sitting area with a sleeper sofa. (I’d share a picture of that area but it is my office space…nothing to see except files of paperwork and a very cluttered desk.)


Detail of the left side of the barn. All of these tables rise and lower for either sewing (sitting) or screen printing (standing). I have 15 of them, and they are so lightweight and easy to move around. (Note: if you are looking for tables that rise and lower, you won’t typically find them in a big box hardware store, you have to order them online. I purchased mine online from Home Depot.)


Panoramic view of the barn from the bar area.


And yet anther angle.



My bins of fabric are about as organized as I will ever have them.


This antique hutch (anchored to the wall in case of an earthquake) houses all of my fabric yardage. I’ll come clean and tell you I took a lot OUT for this photo so it looked organized and neat, and you can’t see what a fabric hoarder I really am.




Above is an old antique workbench I found and where I house my ironing station. You can’t get a sense for how big this table is in this photo but it is enormous and great to put projects-in-progress on. The art quilt above is by Betty Hahn; it reminds me of my beloved city by the bay.


The sitting area for scheming new ideas.


Behind some very tall sliding barn doors is my wet studio with a deep, wide sink for fabric dyeing. To the left of that sink is a stacked washer/dryer and a shelving system where I store all of my printmaking materials.



The Pokey Pour bar area for wine and coffee, with a (smallish) Pokey Pour of a wine from a vineyard up the street.

Thanks for having an initial look! I have a lot more pictures that I’ll mostly be sharing on social media. All of the offsite workshops for Craft Napa 2017 that are taking place here at the barn are sold out, so shortly I will announce some other smaller offerings here and there.

Now I am going to do what I have wanted to do for a LONG TIME, and that is I am going to go turn this place into an arty mess.


*Photo credit for all photographs: Indigo Perez

Art Barn is Complete

Breaking my silence to finally be able to say…

My art barn is done.


It took, from concept to design to construction, two years. But it’s at long last complete (minus a backsplash and a chandelier, but hey, those aren’t necessarily requirements for making art).

PicMonkey Collage


There were some sizable setbacks, like the 6.0 Napa earthquake just two weeks after I closed on the property, and learning–after a soil test during pre-construction–that I needed to excavate thousands of tons of dirt and truck in engineered dirt that was more stable for a foundation. Tantamount to all of this was what I placed on myself: very high expectations. I have felt on shaky ground getting to this point, consistently asking myself, did I take on too much?

Upon reflection, all of those mornings over the past two years calculating every construction cost; waking to the skull-rattling sound of hammering and sawing on the hill; watching (and worrying) as construction workers balanced themselves on narrow wooden beams 30’+ above ground; and the rare, startling occurrences like the emergency landing of a hot air balloon have all collectively been the key part of the journey. Building anything is risky, but the exhilaration during the process and at the end is heady stuff!

I am looking forward to hosting small art gatherings here as well as a few offsite workshops during Craft Napa, but as my office is headquartered in the loft, I’m eager to execute other ventures too.

For the moment, though, I am pretty happy that the building part is finally behind me.






My Update & a Napa Fabric Giveaway


Nellie, Clarence, and Tyrion chillin’ on the front porch.

I have not updated this blog since mid-September, and it isn’t because I haven’t had much to write about. On the contrary, I have so much to write about…beyond quilting. (And yes, I’ll get back to focusing on textile arts, but for right now I have a lot of other things on my mind.)


Vines along Highway 29 in Calistoga this past weekend.

I am hyper-focused on launching Crafting a Life, LLC, a media and retreat business that I will base out of my newly acquired digs in Napa. The issue is, I am going to have to exercise something that I am horrible at: patience. I’ll akin this construction process to the slow cloth/ slow stitching movement. This is slow building, which means I have to enjoy the process. (I am trying very, very hard but it isn’t easy!) I envision the end result so clearly in my mind: after a day of creating (with a lunch-time hike thrown in), sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch, stitching and taking in the views, and later collectively cooking poolside on a cool California evening. I am also trying to devise a program for children, too, and that has been a lot of fun drafting a mini-sewing and quilting curriculum together.

When I am a bit further along, I will post pictures and share more details, but in the meantime, Judy Coates Perez posted this behind-the-scenes blog of the photo shoot from September.

Since I am horrible with a hammer and a nail, right now I’m working on a lot of the boring business-y stuff to cross off my list: meeting with lawyers, website peeps, and insurance folks.

I am also trying to do something I am not very good at: slowing down and enjoying some time off.  When I went to Quilt Festival (which was so fantastic this year) several people came up to me and told me how relaxed I looked…and they’re right. I feel a sense of calmness, purpose, and focus that I haven’t felt in a long while.

I hosted an impromptu party when many were in town, which was so much fun…

IMG_0162And I invited some former co-workers from Quilts Inc. who have since chosen different work challenges but wanted the opportunity to reconnect with their quilting friends.


Left to right: artist Leslie Jenison, Amanda Schlatre (now Coordinator, Exhibits & Attractions at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo), artist Jamie Fingal, and Carmen Beck (now Manager, Convention and Meeting Services for the Pediatric Academic Societies).

We took a lot of photos that night but this is one of my faves:


This shot includes Allison Cooper (left) who is turning her wish of being a chef into a reality and now going to culinary school.

This past weekend I flew back to the Bay Area for some meetings and to visit my grandmother, but took in some downtime too. A must in the Valley is this little restaurant in Calistoga, the Calistoga Kitchen. If you order the grilled cheese sandwich, the cheese is melted literally into the slices of sourdough bread. I think it was the naughtiest thing I have ever eaten, and the ambience outside was pretty terrific, too!
IMG_0318 I also spotted four community tag olive trees that cracked me up. The first of four, the “I Want Less” tag tree:


The “One Thing I am Grateful For” tag tree (more populated with tags):


The “Past Loves” tag tree, also well decorated:


I loved this past love in particular:


And “The Best Decision I Made Was” tag tree:


My favorite response:


While at Quilt Festival, I visited with my friend Wendy Richardson of Quilt Tapestry Studio. I bought up the rest of her over-dyed Napa fabric and would like to give one yard of it away to a randomly selected responder to my question below, inspired by the Napa tag trees:

Question: What has been the best decision you have ever made?

I’ll keep this open through this Thursday night and randomly select a winner.


Happy creating!

**Blog update 11/17/14**

Giveaway winner: Congrats to Craftygoofy49! I will email you for your mailing address. Thanks to all who answered…I LOVED reading them. 🙂

Season 12 of Quilting Arts TV Taping Has Commenced!

I actually can’t believe I wrote that subject line…Season 12 already!? According to my calculations, that means we have taped 143 episodes over the last 11 seasons. This number, ironically, means “I love you” in text speak. How appropriate…because I love my hosting job and watching guests get a chance to share their amazing talents with a greater audience.

For season 12, we have taped two days of guest segments so far, and not even the constant misting of snow or bone-chilling temps in spring could dampen the energy in the studio.

Some highlights so far:

Pokey Bolton Vanessa ChristensonVanessa Christenson of V and Co. fame came to demonstrate several projects for us, and also shared her new fabric line debuting for Moda Fabrics at Spring Quilt Market. Stores are going to gobble this line up, it is simply striking!


Barbara SchneiderBarbara Schneider braved driving from Chicago to Cleveland in a snow storm to tape several segments. I am a big fan of Barbara’s, and I’m hopeful that I have convinced her to be a featured artist in Open Studios at our Chicago Quilt Festival in June. She does spectacular surface design work, including creating vibrant, abstract fabric interpretations of her nature photographs.

Barbara Schneider fabricSee what I mean? She had yards and yards of this stuff on set.

Pokey bolton Ana BuzzalinoAna Buzzalino and her bright smile were back to dazzle with five segments for QATV this season. She is one of the kindest, most generous art quilters I have come across, and she told me on set that she is teaching for International Quilt Festival/Houston in the fall!  Believe me, if you are coming to Festival, you will absolutely want to take one of her classes! She is extremely talented (and is a very patient teacher).

Ana Buzzalino quiltThe quilt above is one of Ana’s and it was at one time totally white. She pieced, appliqued, and quilted it (all in white fabrics and threads), and then took the plunge into a dye bath and dyed the entire piece orange. She is a brave soul!

Pokey Bolton Pauline SalzmanPauline Salzman came to tape two segments, too, including one on how she created pet postcards for our Festival Pet Project (which will run for two more years). She is a pretty hilarious person, and pushes the envelope so to speak, so it was very, very hard for me to keep it together during her segments and not laugh the entire way through. (When you see the segment where she shares her quilt of a close up of Bruce Springsteen and what she actually said on camera about his anatomy, you will understand why.) She made MANY postcards for the taping, most of which will go towards our Festival Pet Project this fall!

Pet Postcards group 1She said she is addicted to making postcards now because of the project…

pet postcards 2

And lastly, Luana and Sophie Rubin from eQuilter came to tape. As seasoned guests, they were great on camera and shared many inspiring quilts and fabrics!


And Sophie was pretty charming when she explained different ikat fabrics from different cultures…

Sophie Rubin

Two days down, and three to go. More soon!

Paying Homage & Saying Goodbye to Two Beloved Quilting Arts Mascots

I know I have been off the radar this past week, and well…I have been, simply put, a bit heartbroken. Louie, my Min Pin, and my pal in All Things Mischievous, who graced many pages in Quilting Arts Magazine with ads and articles, appeared in online videos, Quilting Arts TV, e-newsletters, and countless pix posted on Facebook, passed away this past week. And two days later, our cat Dickens, the most amazing creature, who my friend and former colleague Larissa Davis lovingly adopted this past year so Dickens could be spared the Houston humidity, passed as well.

Louie model

Dickens and PokeyLouie and Dickens used to be best buds, and Dickens, who was three times the size of Louie, used to spoon Louie at night, cradling him protectively. I like to think that Dickens sensed Louie had passed, and Dickens, ever the gentle guardian, thought maybe it was time for him, too, to cross the rainbow bridge, and take care of Louie once again.

Dickens Larissa

Dickens with Larissa.


Louie Houston.

They inspired me to make a lot of artwork over the years. A small sampling…

pet portraitsDickensLouie Dog Jacket

lou postcards


It’s been hard for me to put this blog post together. I admit I can’t quite find the words, but I think a fitting thing to do is write a brief letter to them, letting them know–not just on behalf of me–but for John, the extended Quilting Arts family, Larissa and her family, and all the friends and fans these two had…how grateful we all were to them.

So here goes…

Dear my beloved Dickens and Louie,

I want to thank you for all of the love, compassion, joy, humor, and affection you gave to so many people, and also:

For being my little editing buddy…

Editing Lou


And being the Task Master during “National Take-Your-Dog-To-Work Day!”

Louie John.

For reminding me not so subtly to maintain my workout regimen…

Dickens Exercise


For supervising all photo shoots…

Louie photo shoot quilt scene


For forgiving me after I accidentally ran you over in the driveway. (That was the most harrowing day, but you forgave me right away!)

Dickens run over


For attempting to keep the chipmunk population under control…

Louie squirrels


For letting me know how much you will miss me.

Dickens says dont go again


For guarding art in progress…

Dickens watching fabrics dry


And for guarding art nearly finished.

Louie supervising


For showing me how yawning is done!

Dickens yawn


For being my copilot on long trips…

Louie copilot


And my pilot on the shorter ones.

Biker Lou


For gazing at me like I was the most special person ever.

Louie head tilt


For showing affection to those who just entered our world…

Louie Keller

And for showing affection to those who had been in your world a long time.

Animal love

For all of these reasons, you will be dearly missed.




About three years ago I was painting fabrics outside with the animals nearby. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon with a little Dave Matthews on the iPod docking station, and I grabbed my flip video to capture the moment. Nothing really happens here; it was just an inconsequential but exquisite moment on a happy day.

Love to you guys…Louie helping

Tips for Assembling a New Sewing Cabinet (& Quilt Book Giveaway)!

A few weeks ago while at Quilt Market, I ordered a couple of sewing tables: one was the Gidgit II, a portable sewing table on wheels that folds up for easy storage. I unpacked it this past weekend and was thrilled there was no assembly required. This is really a great portable sewing table, and it can even take the weight and size of some of the larger sewing machines, like the Bernina 830 series. Below is Gidget in my family room. I can imagine I will be sewing a lot on my back porch, and also at night in my family room where I can watch movies with my boys!

Gidget II by Arrow Cabinets

I also bought a sewing cabinet for my home studio, a space that is much smaller than my previous studio, so I needed something compact with good storage. I wanted a cabinet that was contemporary in style, with an air-lift mechanism to raise and lower my sewing machine, and I found just what I needed in the Sewnatra Cabinet by Arrow. Isn’t it adorable? I love the shuttered door!

The Sewnatra opened:

This Sewnatra  sewing cabinet does require assembly. Here’s what my family room floor looked like on Saturday morning:

And the hardware seemed a little overwhelming at first in the big plastic bag, so I opened it up and sorted the metal and plastic bits all onto a tray:

I have put together a lot of furniture over the past few months–even an entire bedroom set from scratch–so I thought I had this in the bag. (And I almost did.)

Attaching the storage bins, thread holders, and hinges onto the back of the shuttered door.

Some tips for sewing cabinet assembly:

1. Read ALL of the directions first, and really familiarize yourself with all of the hardware.

2. If there is an online video, watch it from start to finish, first. Then while assembling, pause it in places as you assemble your cabinet.

3. When in doubt, reread the directions or re-watch the video. Never assume you think you have it right until confirming, and remember that slow and steady win the race.

3. If they say you need two people to assemble it, take heed. This is because the cabinet—as you assemble it—is unwieldy, and especially when you have the top cover opened, a panel or part of the cabinet cannot support the full weight of the cabinet. Unfortunately I had most of the cabinet assembled, but then it started to fall, and I quickly grabbed the front piece, which then promptly cracked in half.

At that point I decided to take a pool break with my assistant.

The good news? I called Arrow and they are getting a replacement front piece to me ASAP. I will need to partially take apart the cabinet to replace the front panel, but then I should be good to go. Furthermore, Arrow was very helpful on the phone, offering tips and advice to complete the assembly.

I have the vision: I see this Sewnatra cabinet in my sewing room. It is going to look so adorable in there and I know I will enjoy it. The price–let alone its sheer cuteness–are well worth the minor set back, and even though I goofed during assembly, there is something about taking pride in having assembled a sewing cabinet (mostly) by myself!

Weeks Ringle’s Latest Modern Quilt Book Giveaway!

So how was your weekend? Did you quilt? Let me know what you did in the comments area and I’ll randomly choose a winner on Wednesday to win Weeks Ringle’s and Bill Kerr’s latest book!

My Family- and Quilting-Filled Memorial Day Weekend Recap (And Free Fabric Giveaway!)

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!

I partook in my 21st B.F.R (Bolton Family Reunion). Since the Boltons took pity on me in 1991 when I was  a junior at Boston College from San Francisco stranded in Boston over Thanksgiving (which happened to also be the time of their BFR), I have been fortunate to attend every BFR since. This is a very, very special family…

A family that indulges in celebrations, including Memorial Day.

A very patriotic bunch…

Each year the BFR is held in a scenic New England locale, this time in the Sunday River region of Maine. It was so gorgeous. I miss mountains as part of my daily landscape, so I just really enjoyed the beauty of Maine.

And covered bridges, too…

On the big day of the BFR lobster celebration, most of the men can be found sporting BFR collared shirts (every year the shirt color changes) manning the steamer and lobster pots.

The first course is a tasty steamer repast. This year we enjoyed wine with my in-laws on the label.

I have always tried to find a way to bring in quilting/ crafting to the BFR. In 2010 I poured almost my entire studio onto my backseat of my car so I could introduce my nieces and nephews to quilting…

And I got them going on my Bernina!

This year, however, coming from Houston with only carry-on luggage, I couldn’t bring anything to stitch or craft with the kids. But the first day I was itching to do something so I went to the nearest quilt store in Newry, Maine, which was a bed and breakfast that had a quilt store in the backroom. The clerk told me that the owner was out of town and she seemed  a little stressed I wanted to go back there. She asked, “Um, do you know what you may want?” And I responded that I’m sure I could find my way around and get something.

And look what I found!

Polka-dot fabrics!

As well as the Clover yo-yo tool! I had been curious about this tool (which proved very easy to use), so I thought it would be a great weekend activity: to make polka-dot yo-yos. I am not a huge fan of yo-yos, but polka-dot yo-yos are a different matter all together!

Imagine my surprise and glee when I learned my fabrics matched the women’s BFR shirts. I wish I had made yo-yo necklaces in advance!

All in all a good time. Lots of family down time with some stitching thrown in.

Johnny, my godson, posing with me.

I hope you enjoyed a fantastic weekend. In honor of Memorial Day, I thought it would be timely to give away some more fabric from Sample Spree from this past Spring Quilt Market. I was very delighted with this new line of “Bella” fabrics distributed with Windham.I will be honest; I want to keep this fabric because it is so whimsical and fun, and I have a hundred ideas for it in a quilt. However, I know it will go to a good home if I give it away.

All you have to do is answer the following question and I will pick a winner randomly on Thursday.

Question: Did you incorporate any quilting in your Memorial Day weekend? If you didn’t have time, it’s ok. Be honest and tell us what you did!

I have read through all of the responses from my last question about studio space and will post something about those later along with some pictures of my new studio. In the meantime, congratulations to Becky Greene! You were randomly selected to win the Riley Blake jelly roll. Please email me your mailing address to

Wanted! Ideas for Fast and Easy Quilts

I’ve been slowly putting my home together, but my family room is coming along too slowly for my tastes and I want to speed things up. I love my big white comfy couch and my flat screen TV (which is just crying for two art quilts to flank it). But the room is void of color and texture, and that needs to change ASAP!

So it just so happens that I love this console table I found online at Ballard Designs. It’s been sitting in my shopping cart for weeks, but I haven’t pulled the trigger yet.

I can just imagine placing it right behind my white sofa, and storing a lot of patchwork quilts in it, folded one on top of the other, stacked so you see a lot of color, pattern, and texture right when you look into the room. Problem is, I don’t have any patchwork quilts, except for the one my great grandmother made, and that’s my bed quilt. Louie is especially partial to it…

So now on my to-do list, I want to make about 6-8 lap quilts that I can store in my console table (which I will finally order tonight). I’m not going to make quilts that have terribly intricate designs, I am going for FAST, EASY, and MINDLESS.  My friend Melly Testa posted a blog entry about making a jelly roll quilt that looks quite handsome in her living room. I think I’ll see if I can get some jelly rolls at Sample Spree at this upcoming Spring Quilt Market, and then make a few when I get home.

But I am curious…have you made some quick, easy, and mindless quilts lately, and do you have pictures of them on your blog that I could see? And do you have any suggestions for patterns?

Free Quilt Book! (and quilt-y light bulb moments)

I had a nice weekend. Did you? I had grand plans going into it of all I would accomplish: I wanted to assemble the porch chairs that came in while I was away in Cincinnati, find cushions for them, clean my grill (I had never done that before), finish a quilt project, plant about five pots of flowers, get in a couple of focused workouts, work on my art journal, watch the first two seasons of “Downton Abbey,” finish reading The House of Tyneford, write a blog entry, buy some work clothes, run with Clarence, catch up with laundry, make a Sephora run, and pay bills. Most important on this list was that Sephora run, and I did do that as well as watch “Downton Abbey,” finish the book I was reading, and do some gardening.

Here’s my Little Man, Louie, posing in front of my newly planted snapdragons:

I also went to a favorite consignment furniture store in my neighborhood called Alabama Furniture and stumbled across this little number:

I was looking for a piece of furniture that could serve as a linen cabinet to store sheets and towels for my upstairs hallway, but this vintage piece just grabbed me. I couldn’t decide whether it was super cool or super ugly, so I snapped a shot of it on my iPhone and sent it to my Facebook friends to poll them. They agreed with me that it was actually super cool (minus the sun stencils), so I bought it, and two hours later…

I had it delivered to my house and sorted my journaling and painting goods. I am really thrilled with this piece of furniture as it adds a lot of character to my studio and hides all of my messy jars of paints and things, and has a little fold-up writing desk for me to place my works-in-progress. It meant that I had to move my design wall outside of my studio, and that is when I had a light bulb moment: Why am I trying to stuff all of my studio things into one 10′ x 10′ guest bedroom when I have an entire house? Why am I so hesitant to spread my studio throughout my house and celebrate my quilt-y self everywhere? So I decided I am going to put a wooden frame around my design wall, stain it, and feature it in my living room. If anything, it will give people something to talk about when the conversation slows. (i.e. “What the heck was she thinking when she started that ugly thing?)

I also took my bookshelf of embellishments and dragged it around the corner from my studio and into my guest bathroom so people can admire my pin cushion collection and jars and jars of buttons. I’ll keep my dye supplies in my kitchen, and one of my bedrooms upstairs I may turn into a second sewing studio.

When I get more settled, maybe I will share pictures of my studio and house to show how I’m storing and featuring all of my quilting things.

Maudlin-Free Monday Giveaway

So it is time for my giveaway. Today I have a book that I am guessing a lot of people may want: Modern Minimal by Alissa Haight Carlton, a popular quilter who helped launch the Modern Quilt movement.

All you have to do is answer the following question and on this Friday I will randomly choose a winner and announce on my blog.

My giveaway question: Is there a piece of furniture or tool that had you thinking in a new way, or gave you a light bulb moment about your approach to quilting or your creative process?

Happy Monday!