Carla Sonheim on Creativity and Play –

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, February 6th at 12:30 for a creative experience with local artist and teacher, Carla Sonheim. Here is the link to her website,

About: Carla Sonheim is a painter, illustrator, and creativity workshop instructor known for her fun and BIO2innovative projects and techniques designed to help adult students recover a more spontaneous, playful approach to creating. She is the author of Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun, a bestselling book!

She has two new books: Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals: A Mixed-Media Workshop (Quarry Books) and The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone (Perigee Books).drawbug

One of her students writes, “Carla just shines and is so gentle and generous that you will work hard all day and come out energised and inspired. Most importantly though, [her] class was a touchstone in my artistic journey, giving me the courage to stop resisting, and open myself to my creative voice.”

We will meeting at the University Branch of the Seattle Public Library, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E.,Seattle, WA 98105,206-684-4063. Bring your own lunch and catch up with each other;  the program with Carla will begin at 1 and end approx. 3:30.

 Also, please start brainstorming ideas for future programs and experiences  and consider being part of the dynamic program committee for this group.

SDA-Washington Member Exhibition “Dancing Surfaces” Announced


August-September 2013

Two dedicated SDA-WA members, Barb Zander and Barb Matthews are hard at work to produce an SDA-WA member show!!!! Thank you Barb and Barb!!!

Dancing Surfaces will show August-September 2013 at the Phinney Center Gallery in Seattle.

For information about participating, click HERE.

And if you know of anyone who might like to participate but isn’t a SDA member, this is a GREAT time to join!

Member Spotlight: In the studio with Maude May

Every month Lorraine Edmond will give us a closer look at an SDA member, their studio and practice.  This monthly post is a great opportunity to get to know our fellow SDA members a little better and to be inspired by our community. 

Maude-21. Describe your current medium and how you came to it.

Currently I’m working with collage and mixed media and want to make work that incorporates stitching and painting as well. I’ve revisited felting, too, making tea cozies and hot pads from wool sweaters sourced from Goodwill. Hand stitching is an obsession and I can never have too many French knots on a piece. Custom invitation work and graphic design still pay the majority of my studio rent and recently I had the opportunity to design a series of books for a client. My daughter did the illustrations and it was fun to work together on this project. “Making stuff” is just what I am compelled to do

2. If this isn’t your first studio– tell us about some the other work spaces you’ve had– what worked and what didn’t. How does your physical space influence your work?

This is my seventh studio away from home. Having a space I can that I can leave is paramount. Leaving projects out, in mid-process, allows me the opportunity to work on more than one thing at a time.

Originally my studios were wherever I was doing the work (school, classroom, etc.) My first undergraduate degree was a double major in photography and ceramics and after graduation I taught photography to children and adults. I also taught ceramics for a while, but I gave it up as I hated having my hands feel so dry all the time. Returning to school and getting an art education degree seemed like a logical step, but after one semester I bailed and moved to the fibers department after meeting the department head while I was working at the Univ. of Oregon’s art library. At that time no MFA at the University of Oregon was offered, so I got a second BFA. Upon graduating (again) I did a lot of weaving – receiving several commissions (weaving a “bajillion” yards of upholstery fabric for an attorney’s office and a series of five tapestries for a bank).

With another weaver, I helped start a cooperative studio in Eugene. We rented an enormous open loft in a warehouse situated above a spice factory, near the train tracks. To pay the rent I made other items – mainly elaborated-pieced silk and cotton wallets, covered with ribbon and embellished with antique buttons. This path started when I’d purchased a handmade wallet at a holiday show, but it was so poorly constructed that the contents fell out when the wallet was open. “I can make this better” was my immediate reaction and I decided to create an improved version. I didn’t know much about sewing, or the whole “right sides together” thing, so I covered the raw edges of the seams with ribbon.  A business making and selling those wallets all around the country was the result, but I didn’t know how to take that business to the next level, so I moved on. For me, it’s all about the making.  How to make it, how to make it better and learning from the process.

Upon moving to Washington, DC, for my husband’s job, I fell back on my cooking skills for work and was employed as a pastry chef. On the side, I’d been designing T-shirts for a Eugene charity for several years and wanted to learn the “correct” way to create the artwork for press so I took a class called “Design for Camera-Ready Mechanicals.” The instructor set me up with a friend of his who was a Creative Director at a large DC PR firm, who hired me as a freelancer and then later moved me to the position of  art director. I worked on a wide variety of projects including: the first Food Pyramid, the renovation and re-opening of Union Station, the Walt-Disney/Amtrak golf tournament (got to design a traveling miniature golf course). It was a wonderful learning environment.

In 1990, we moved to Seattle, with our two-year-old daughter and I really wanted to work from home.  I started painting kids furniture, which was sold at galleries and at Best of the Northwest. Re-designing their marketing materials subsequently led me back to graphic design. Through a series of random circumstances I ended up designing custom invitations for all sorts of Seattle events, but my fascination with fabric continued as well.

We built a studio behind our house and I worked there until we down-sized when our daughter went to college. Then I rented at the ActivSpace building in Ballard, which is where I was during the studio tour that was part of the SDA symposium last spring.  During that studio tour, I came here, to the BallardWorks building, and I wanted to move in immediately!  The place I was in was roomy, and had nice western light, but it was isolating. This studio is much more social—there’s activity outside—it’s Spark Studiojust more interesting. It’s inspiring to be around other creative people.

I didn’t know Leah Adams that well when we decided to take the plunge and rent a studio together. We have very complementary skills and we brainstorm and bounce a lot of ideas off each other. She is helping me learn Etsy and I designed the labels for the felt coasters she makes.  We have somewhat different hours, so we both have time alone as well as time together in the studio.

When people come in, they usually ask “where’s your space?” but it’s really a shared space.  We both have work tables, but the bookshelves I brought have both our books, the storage shelves have both our stuff.  We are respectful of each other and we are both willing to share, so it’s been pretty seamless.

3. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment or technique for keeping your studio organized?

My materials have to be pretty organized. It’s often less expensive to overbuy for a project in order to get the wholesale price. But everything has to be labeled, so I can find it again. I work to put everything back at the end of each day, but right in the middle, it’s organized chaos.  But that works, too– I see things out of the corner of my eye, even just a flash of a color sometimes, and think “Oh! That’s a good combo!”

I create packages of components and spare parts from different projects called “My Trash Becomes Your Treasure.”  I sell these at studio sales and other events. Because I don’t like to repeat myself with my custom invitations, I don’t save them for new client projects.

My hands are my most important tools. They enable me to make stuff. As for conventional tools, I couldn’t live without my tape guns—I have three of them. I was using double-stick tape on a roll, and before that, spray mount. Such a huge improvement!

4. Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?

I like to go around and look at stuff—seeing what people are doing in stores and other places. It’s not about art specifically, just about tracking what’s going on in the world.  I am a huge reader of newspapers, New York Times and others, and I’ll read about what’s happening in a lot of different mediums. It’s about gathering visual inspiration. For example, I belong to a group that makes Maude_handspostcards and mails them to each other, so I went to a Mail Art expo recently. There are these weird little niches you’d never know about— like people who make their own stamps. I often work small, so that was inspiring, to see what others create at that scale.

5. What is the best art tip you’ve ever received (or discovered)?

I once took a class on colored pencil drawing and the instructor taught me how to sharpen a pencil (Really! How to do it without ending up with just a stub), and how to choose colored pencils. Here’s the tip: Never buy the whole set. Look at the end of each one, and buy the pencils where the lead is the most centered.

6. What inspires you to work and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?

If I didn’t create stuff, I would perish! It’s just a matter of figuring out what to make next. Like every artist, when I make something that’s successful, I wonder “How did you come up with that?” and “Was that my last good idea?”

It’s the process of figuring out HOW to create something that drives me. I DO like making multiples—this may come from making invitations, but I don’t like to actually repeat myself from project to project. Recently I’ve started incorporating collage into my invitation designs and my clients have been very receptive. So now I’ve got a new direction – one that is bringing everything full circle. How cool is that?

To see Maude’s work online, go to To see it in person, check out the Ballard Art Walk, May – December, the second Saturday of each month.

BAM Fiber Symposium Explores How Artists Are Creating New Works With Fiber

The Bellevue Arts Museum is having a Fiber Symposium on Feb. 9 to go along with the Fiber Biennial (info below). The room only holds not much over 100 people, so it could easily fill. To learn more and to register, click HERE.

Location :  Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way Northeast,  Bellevue
TimeSaturday, February 9, 2013, 10:00am – 5:30pm
Cost: $25

Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

Join us for an educational endeavor that explores how artists are creating new works with fiber. This day of presentations and panels is designed for those interested in the past, present, and future forms of fiber arts. The event will begin with a private tour led by Stefano Catalani, Director of Art, Craft, and Design, an opening keynote presentation with Elissa Auther, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Colorado and Adjunct Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, and a closing keynote presentation with renowned artist Lia Cook. Reinventing Tradition, a panel moderated by artist Barbara Lee Smith will feature BAM Biennial 2012 artists Nate Steigenga, Jiseon Lee Isbara, and Howard and Lorraine Barlow. Point of Departure, Time of Arrival moderated by the Editor of Surface Design Journal, Marci Rae McDade, will feature artists Margie Livingston, Scott Fife, Vanessa Calvert, and Michael Cepress.

Thanks to everyone who helped make the Ryther’s event such a success!

Many thanks to all of you who contributed materials and time for the project at Ryther. Lots of supplies were dropped off at my house and we had a hard working team here last week cutting paper, gluing reinforced tops on the flags, punching holes for the ribbon and cutting ribbon to tie the flags together. Yesterday, there was an enthusiastic group of young people making banners. One of the kids commented that it was so nice to have something special to do since they are still on break from school and getting a bit bored. The kids seemed proud of their creations and will now have something cheerful to hang in their rooms.

Clay, the volunteer coordinator from Ryther, put a photo and thank you on Facebook and you can see one of the kids (face excluded) holding their banner by clicking HERE.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this such a success!

 Happy new Year!

Barbara & Suzanne

Join us in January! Carving Rubber Stamps Revisited

The weather was awful for the November Evening SDA meeting (sheets for rain). Only two brave souls made.  We had so much fun I thought we would try it again (hope photo fabricthe weather is better this time).  The Starbucks on Olive way turned out to be a very nice place to meet. We had a room with a table and stools to sit on while we carved stamps. And of course there was easy access to any hot beverage you could want. What a great way to end the day! They even have a small parking lot.

Between now and the January meeting take moment to consider what shapes you are drawn to and might want to carve.  Bring some examples. Are you drawn to linear shapes, circles, or maybe shapes from nature like leaf shapes.   We will talk about what shapes keep turning up in your work and then we will carve rubber stamps (out of erasers).  I will have paint and ink to try out our new stamps.  During the evening you will be able to make at least two (maybe three) stamps which you can stamp separately or combine to make new designs.

Date: January 21, 2013
Time: 6:00 to 8:00
Location: 1600 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA
Bring: Bring fabric or paper for testing your stamp designs. If you have a utility or exacto knife please bring it.  If not, I will bring extras.  I will bring the erasers, some paint and ink to test out our stamps.
Supply fee: $3
RSVP: Deb Taylor (I want to make sure I have enough supplies)

Don’t Miss The Upcoming BAM Tour!

(For a prettier version and to see images, please click on the title and view it on the website)

From Janet Kurjan….

I have a nice group coming to see the exhibits at BAM on the 19th, as announced in December, but there’s still room for a few more. I’ve repeated the information below.

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Location :  Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way Northeast,  Bellevue
Time:  Jan. 19, 2 pm (meet at front desk)
Cost: $10 (reduced rate for seniors or if we have a group of 10 or more

For those of you who haven’t seen the BAM Biennial:High Fiber Diet at the Bellevue Arts Museum, or would like to see it again, I’m inviting CQA and SDA members to visit while I have my gallery duty as a BAM docent on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 2-4.

There are two other wonderful exhibits on view as well, a Japanese bamboo exhibit and an exhibit of Nikki McClure’s papercut work. Click HERE to learn more. I will provide a tour of the bamboo and fiber exhibits starting at 2 pm and then you can spend additional time on your own.

If there are at least 10 participants (who are not members of BAM), there will be a group rate of $6. Otherwise, admission is $10. If you would like to attend, please let me know at

41 Harker Students Exhibit at the Schack Art Center in January

Ever wonder what kind of art comes as a result of taking classes at the Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts in La Conner?

Susan Lenarz_LRYou can see for yourself Jan. 10 through Feb. 16, 2013 at the Schack Art Center in Everett when 41 Harker students present Complex Threads.

Visitors will be astonished at the diversity of work created, which includes intricate embroidered vessels, large 3-dimensional wall hangings, soft sculptures, complex designs, and other contemporary fiber art and multimedia pieces.

“The items on exhibit exemplify the skills in design, media, and technique that are the hallmark of our courses,” said Gail Harker, Center founder.  “I’m really pleased that that the work of these artists will have a platform for wider appreciation.”

Exhibitors include students from Portland, OR, Seattle, and several cities in California and British Columbia, among others. To download a PDF of the full list of artists and view small thumbnails of the work, click HERE.

The Harker Center was recently featured in Fiber Art Now.  You can find a PDF of the article by clicking HERE.

For more information, see the Gail Harker website or call (360) 466-0110; or visit the Schack Art Center.