I recently was commissioned by a dear friend to make a talisman (medical bag). She suggested the colors. I started with an etching of mine that I had made into fabric (spoonflower.com).The embroidery is sort of a tapestry style. Other embroidered bags can be seen in earlier posts here or on my Easy site.


I was recently one of the finalist in the Windham Fabrics "New (surface) Designer Competition"in conjunction with Uppercase Magazine http://uppercasemagazine.com

Bessie's studio Winter 2016. Photo by Dana Hutchins.


My installation Art That Heals is currently exhibited at the USM art gallery in Gorham, ME. I am pictured here with my friend Kathleen Bender and "mini me".

January 28 - March 6, 2016
Closed February 15-19 for Winter Break 

The Offspring is this book I created for the exhibit which tell the story. 


Before Her Time
Hypatia of Alexandria, Egypt, was regarded the first female mathematician and astronomer of her time, 4th-5th c. A.D. She was an internationally renowned philosopher, physicist, author and teacher. A woman of science and reason and a civic leader.
Her father Theon was her earliest teacher but she learned from some of the greatest minds in history. She taught the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, interpreted Euclid’s geometry…

At a time when Christianity was trying to get a stronghold, she posed a threat to the leaders who called her a pagan and a witch. In reality, she was feared for her scholarship, deep scientific knowledge and her influence over her followers’ thinking and beliefs.

She was brutally murdered by those who feared her power. . . before her time.

This book was created for The Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt) International Biennale for the Artist's Book, 2016


This quilt is about 6' square. I scanned a number of designs from my calligraphy, cyanotypes, gelatin prints, drawings and collages, converted them to squares, pretty much grayscale. Then I had them printed on fabric. I used a cant stitch around the edges. My favorite part is designing rather than making.

My print (Al-Mutanabi Street, see below) will be in this exhibit.
Collage for notebook cover—drawn from bits and pieces
Unique & Imperfect
Book 3, Walnut ink, cola pen,
a line from Mary Oliver's poem 
Where Does the Dance Begin

Cover: Hand-made Cave walnut paper,
3-hole pamphlet stitch. 

choosing & assembling loose pages that work together: 

Dual Japanese stab- bound book, can create tunnel or not. Sumi & walnut ink on Japanese rice paper & Arches, one page waxed.

Japanese brush with sumi ink on rice paper over sepia text.

Unique & Imperfect

dual Japanese stab-binding
gouache, sumi and walnut ink calligraphy, Arches paper

Al-Mutanabi Street, Absence & Presence

On March 5, 2007, a car bomb was exploded on al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad killing or wounding 130 people. This street, getting its name from the revered 10th century Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabii, is the historic hub of book selling, where hundreds of bookstores and outdoor book stalls line the street and provide a center for the literary and intellectual community.  
In response to this, San Francisco poet and bookseller Beau Beausoleil began a coalition, inviting visual artists to create broadsides and artist's books, becoming traveling exhibitions in the last few years, purposely keeping this tragedy in the world's eye. It is not only a reminder of what happened there but symbolically what the insidious intentions of the perpetrators are to erode the strengths of peoples everywhere through striking their culture. 
Recently the coordinators invited 260 international participants (significantly twice the number of those killed and injured in the attack of 2007) to respond to this atrocity. The challenge in this project is for printmakers to express in one scene the meaning of "Absence and Presence." Not only what has been lost but also the determination of the Iraqi people to maintain their culture, having a strong continued presence.
My thinking as I approached this project was influenced by things I read or saw in videos of reactions to this bombing. Time and time again I heard, "Iraqi people read." This region can boast as to having one of the first recorded stories, Gilgamesh. This story survives 4,000 years to teach us what it means to be human, about love and compassion.
In the book "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here," Jim Natal writes, "When the mongols overran Baghdad, the Tigris was said to have first turned red with blood from the mayhem, and then black with ink from the books…that were thrown in the water."
"Fire and water to the same end, the same purpose, magnificent libraries ransacked, ravaged…"
With these thoughts in mind I portray a powerful symbol of literacy in the character Gilgamesh, bringing an ancient story through history, standing strong amidst chaos and destruction. Books of every language illustrate the union among nationalities and the people of many cultures repeating the words,"Literacy is power." and  "The pen is mightier than the sword." 
The Iraqi people are not alone, we all are threatened by the attach on free speech, the power of the written word and the exchange of ideas. They can destroy paper and ink but they will never destroy the knowledge, the power and understanding of humankind that emanates from that.

11" x 15" serigraph over acrylic underpainting

This talisman bag is my favorite so far. It tells a story that is close to my heart.
I started on an old piece of black linen, worn and soft. A number of batiked pieces were added. I like the sober colors making it more mysterious.

Talisman bag made from fabric I had dyed with leaves in a bundle.

Talisman bag for my friend in Japan whose favorite color is pink. 
I started with black fabric which I batiked and bleached.

This talisman bag is made with a number of pieces of batik or hand-dyed pieces of cotton. The back has the "chop" of the Japanese friend I made it for.

I have enjoyed embroidering talisman bags. Front:
This one was created for a friend who indicated her favorite 4 colors were red, yellow, green & blue.
I used pieces of used clothing which I dyed and a piece of sari. Kantha actually means "rags," in India the women embroider 2 pieces of cloth together to create a new useful piece. Back:

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
The long, long winter inspired me to create a "slow stitching" scroll.
Starting with winter, then the rainy season, finally relieved by spring, Emily Dickinson's words "Inundation of the spring enlarges every soul,"expressed my sentiment exactly.
The unbound book is 23" x 12", cotton and silk, layered with hand-dyed, hand-painted, transfer photos and batik. All embroidered by hand.

My book for the Kate Cheney Chappell Center for the Book Arts/ Book Arts' Critique Group exhibit at the USM Wishcamper Center 
March-May 2014
"Rescued, Revived, Redeemed"

Bees and Monarch Butterflies

Concertina format, acrylic paint,
photo transfers, collage, rubber stamps,
bees' wax, Arches watercolor paper
on book board. 15" x 24"  both sides
2014. Includes a take-away brochure.

Masseria della Zingara

In September of 2013 I took a class with textile artist Dorothy Caldwell in Puglia, Italy.
The class was entitled The Human Mark. It was held in a beautiful converted farm called Masseria della Zingara or the Farm of the Gypsy. Puglia is known for its unique small stone structures called Trulli. 
I have created a book using a variety of techniques combining cloth, paper, thread and photo transfers.
Please take a look on Youtube.


In many cultures we find color, especially dyeing, to be in the hands of women. Perhaps because it originally was wrapped in secrecy like that of childbirth. The dye pot, the womb and the cooking pot are handled by women, and the goddesses who are the keepers of the hearth are their protectors. Because of gender identification myths grew out of dyes and dyeing.

    This book (which is a prototype) contains a selection of some of those stories and the way women and color have a strong connection. Whether on cloth, paper, housewares, flags or skin, color communicates. It can express social status, age, political or religious associations, mood, or gender. It is a symbolic language that crosses many boundaries. See Pages: Inside COLOR SPEAK

Alice in Wonderland Literacy Card Game
Altered book=cover, built-in trays lined with velveteen book cloth,
20 cards: off-set printed on coated card stock, my art work based on John Tienniel
illustrations. 20 game pieces: handmade of clay, fired and painted in acrylic paints,
chains on 2 pieces, paper tags on 2 pieces.
Box: 8.25" H x 5.5" W x 1.5" D
I have written 20 questions based on the story, player gets a token for each
question answered correctly, the player with the most tokens wins the game.

Painting for Belarus

In rural Maine where I am from people in my community supplemented their limited food budget with wild game, fruits and vegetables. Coots, clams, fiddleheads, berries and apples were common fare. Families relied on getting a deer at hunting season. This is a painting I made of my mother hanging out clothes during hunting season. She is dressed in red so that she won't be mistaken for a deer. A white tailed doe runs wild in the background.

No Simple Matter

In November 1988, 37-year-old Karen Wood of Hermon was hanging laundry in her backyard when she was shot by hunter Donald Rogerson, who said he mistook her white-palmed mittens for the tail of a whitetail deer.

Notebook of Natural History:"Cahier d'Histoire naturelle"

This book has recently been accepted in an upcoming exhibition called Infinite Possibilities
23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, OR.
2012, 7.5" x 9"
Plexiglass covers front and back.
16 pages of acetate, hand painted (acrylic) 
plus 5 Inkjet-printed pages for title page and separation pages
Bound into linen book cloth (note red stitching front and back), running stitch.

I discovered an old (turn of the century?) French notebook in an antique shop. Since I couldn't read most of the beautiful handwriting it became a lovely textural pattern; the illustrations of natural history made exceptional objects of modern art. 

I copied a number of the pages onto acetate and painted in the drawings. Every four pages is separated by the grid paper of the original notebook allowing the illustrations and the handwriting to interact. 

It can be viewed in a number of ways, single pages, a montage of images and texture of each section of 4 pages but I also like the shadows that each page creates when lifted off the page.