Susie Monday

Artist, maker, teacher, author, head cook and bottlewasher.

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The art I make is the result of a life-long love of pattern, texture and color. How I teach is a skill honed by experience (I started teaching creative arts to younger kids when I was 12). After earning a B.A. in Studio Arts from Trinity University, I helped lead an internationally recognized educational foundation, designed curriculum exhibits for schools and other institutions, wrote and edited for a major daily newspaper, opened the San Antonio Children's Museum and then, a dozen years ago, took the scary but essential (for me) leap to become a fulltime artist and art teacher.

About This Blog

This weblog is about the maker's life. The teacher's path. The stitching and dyeing and printing of the craft of art cloth and art quilt. The stumbling around and the soaring, the way the words and the pictures come together. Poetry on the page and in the piecing of bright scraps together. The inner work and the outer journeys to and from. Practicalities and flights of fancy and fearful grandeur, trivial pursuits and tactile amusements. Expect new postings two or three times a week, unless you hear otherwise. 

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    Tooling Around

    S5000780.JPGI guess you could say it all started here:

    cuneiform writing and hieroglyphics

    Both images from art in the collection of Emory University 





    S5000789.JPGI've spent the morning playing with the Squarespace tools creating a special members-only area on this site for the ArtCloth Network (you'll see it at the bottom of the right sidebar). As with any endeavor, learning to make use of the powerful tools on this host site is both frustrating and invigorating. Now that I have made one area for a special audience, I think it might be fun to make another -- perhaps for participants in El Cielo Studio workshop retreats and/or those in my other classes, both in SA and around the country. Several students have commented that they wished they had an easy and fun way to stay in touch with each other -- including visuals --they just don't work easily as email-- and with interactivity that has a degree of intuitive communication.

    We are entering yet-another next-generation era of electronic conversation --  Yahoo group memberships seem clunky and not very visually satisfying to someone like me, who listens with her eyes first. I have such a problem with the visual clutter of Yahoo Groups that I get frustrated before I begin. Blogging is wildly colonizing the ether between us, and blogging tools and software are getting better and more flexible. (I highly recommend Squarespace if you are willing to pay a bit more to get a whole lot more -- and, no, they are not paying me to say this!)

    Of course, the downside is that most of us are probably spending too much time on-line and not enough time on-life these days! At any rate, I think I have had my fun for now, but if any of my former class participants are reading this, let me know if you would like a "members-only" area where you could post work in progress, brag on your accomplishments and get feedback on the art in your life and the life in your art. Leave your comments by clicking on the subtext below this post.


    Art Cloth in Atlanta


    To be more specific -- Decatur.  This once-upon-a-time small southern town is in the eastern part of the greater Atlanta sprawl, on the MARTA line, so still quite linked to the Peachtree heart of the city. Still, squint, and you might just be in one of Carson McCullers' stories. The old courthouse (now a history museum) governs the square with a sense of proper Southern decorum, and a passel of cafes and interesting shops gather round her skirts.

    The ArtCloth Network met here this weekend with 15 women artists of the 27-member group on hand: Sharing work, eating, walking, lives, trading resources and sources -- a generous gathering. All of us are, in one way or another, dedicated to the idea that fabric yardage, created through various surface design techniques, should be considered art in and of itself. without having to be quilted (even as a whole cloth quilt), turned into a garment, pieced or stretched or displayed in an installation. Not that many of us don't do one or more of those things upon occasion, or even often. However, as espoused by this group and other artists in the field, cloth as art can be just that.

    One would think that with so many anecdotal stories about cloth that is "just too..." to cut, stories one hears about almost any fabric junkie's stash, that such an art form has earned validity. But many exhibition venues, jurors, curators and even other fiber artists devoted to their particular art forms don't agree on this. The Art Cloth Network is just one such gathering of fellow travelers interested in promoting this idea, through education, exhibition and discussion. So, what do you think? Can artist dyed/screened/embellished/textured/painted/etc yardage be art or is it still unfinished until utilized in another art form? What makes it art?

    Whatever the debate's outcome, here are a few snippets of images and ideas from the weekend sessions, in no particular order. (My photos were erratic at best, so pardon to those in attendance for quality and/or missing your piece/s.) ALL artwork is copyrighted by the artist and images should not be used without permission.

    Lynn Harris's felted stitchwork and recycled tablelinens

     LHarris1.JPG LHarris2a.JPG Lharris3a.JPG

    Rayna Gillman's found-object soy batik

    RaynaG2.JPG RaynaG2_2.JPG 

     Wrenn Slocum's pixilated woods, fashioned from one-inch squares of acid dyed silk, flowing like water









    Katherine Sylvan's dashingly sensual silk art cloth and scarves, using vat dyes, and also imagery based on arial view landscapes

    Sylvanscarf.JPG Sylvanscar2.JPG Sylvanscarf3.JPG

    Linda Campbell's weaving experiments, and her plans for folded fabric art cloth


    Susan Ettl's desert inspired dyeing and art quilts using art cloth 

    Ettlpgs.JPG Ettldye1.JPG

    Maggie Weiss's layered cloth with images that visually produce the sound of water over river stones

    maggdet.JPG  MaggWaterstones.JPG

     Sue Copeland Jones' deconstructed screenprinting with oak leaves, and sewing rediscovered

    SUEDET.JPG Suejaacket.JPG copy.jpg

    Peggy Sexton's dangerous plants and dangerous women installation ideas

    Sextondet2.JPG Sextondet3.JPG 

    Darcy Love's natural histories on cloth 

    Lovedet1.JPG Love1.JPG 

    Jan Giroud's color studies


    Judy Langille's strong compositional studies, layers upon layers of torn paper shapes and dye printing

    JudyL1.JPG   JUdyLdet.JPG

     We worked on future plans, tied up the ideas for a couple of exhibition proposals, and traded stories about our lives as artists, business owners, students and teachers, mothers and daughters, wives and lovers. Stories tie us together and keep us sane, with the knowledge that we are not lonestrangers, but community in the making -- even when it happens in fits and starts, with disappointments and discouraging news, with jurors who don't get it and exhibit proposals that don't get accepted, members who move on leaving gaps, new members who haven't quite checked in. Still, we humans seem to need and heed this kind of coming together, and isn't it nice that in this time and with these women, the comings and goings are so broadly defined, so geographically and culturally rich.




    As a dyer I  depend on sodium carbonate to activate the Procion dyes I use. And as I looked through my photo collection today it was easy to see how dependent I am on the inspiration of limestone -- calcium carbonate. My chemist father would be proud of me for noticing the familial similarity.

    "Sodium carbonate (also known as washing soda or soda ash), Na2CO3, is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. It most commonly occurs as a crystaline heptahydrate which readily effloresces to form a white powder, the monohydrate. It has a cooling alkaline taste, and can be extracted from the ashes of many plants. It is produced artificially in large quantities from common salt." (from Wikipedia)

    "Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound, with chemical formula CaCO3. It is commonly used medicinally as a calcium supplement or as an antacid. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime. It is a common substance found as rock in all parts of the world and is the main component of seashells and the shell of snails. It is usually the principle cause of hard water." (from Wikipedia)

     Here are some examples of the latter:









     River fern.jpg

     Carved rock.jpg


    If you have a great photo of limestone in nature or limestone in architecture, send it to me at and I will include it and a credit for your photo in a followup post.



    The day has ended as one of those brilliantly blue-skied almost October afternoons, surprising and glorious after a humid morning that couldn't decide its season. Just after noon a small group of us took off from El Cielo following the scenic route to Kerrville (Hwy. 16 to Hwy 173 north) for the opening of the Texas Invitational Art Quilt exhibit.

    The show was hung in a renovated and repurposed post office, with high ceilings, good lighting and warm hospitality.

     Mary Ann Littlejohn, Houston, and Martha Grant, Boerne, were two of the other artists whose work marched around the room.


     Martha's piece, the puzzle-shaped one is titled "No border, no picture on the lid of the box, no box..."

    Mary Ann's square of pieced original fabrics is "Neon Etude." 

    Martha and Mary Ann both visited the studio  before we drove to Kerrville.

    Here's what we ate before the opening -- a fritatta made with eggs from a local farmstead.  First preheat the broiler. Mix the following well:
    10 beaten eggs
    8 pieces of finely chopped sundried tomatoes
    6 oz.feta, crumbled
    2 T. chopped red onion
    1/3 cup sliced fresh basil
    salt and pepper
    Melt 1/2 stick butter in a large oven proof skillet, preferably non-stick
    Add the egg mixture and cook over medium hot heat, pulling away the sides to let the liquidy eggs on top flow under. When almost completely set, add about 2-3 more T of cheese, any kind, put under a hot broiler to toast and puff the top.
    Slide out onto a warm platter, cover until serving and serve either warm or room temp.

    And here's one of my two pieces in the exhibit. (I've been posting teasers, you notice!). If you'd like to know more about the processes that turn a stack of fabric into one of my art quilts, see this blog journal for Sept. 9.

    "Our Lady of San Pedro." 2006 

    Our lady SP.JPG